In the last week of the 1860 election; Stephen Douglas essentially conceded the election to Lincoln and went South to try to talk the idiots out of seceding. History praises him for it.
Here is a snippet:
A U.S. military officer warned Pentagon officials that an American detainee was being driven nearly insane by months of punishing isolation and sensory deprivation in a U.S. military brig, according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to The Associated Press...
They were deprived of natural light for months and for years were forbidden even minor distractions such as a soccer ball or a dictionary.
"I will continue to do what I can to help this individual maintain his sanity, but in my opinion we're working with borrowed time," an unidentified Navy brig official wrote of prisoner Yaser Esam Hamdi in 2002. "I would like to have some form of an incentive program in place to reward him for his continued good behavior, but more so, to keep him from whacking out on me."
Initially, I was an Obama doubter.Update: Neil responds to a friend, but it's pertinent...
I was backing John Edwards - now of course it is clear where my doubts should have rested, but even as I have come to appreciate the manifold talents, temperament, and decency of Mr Obama - indeed, even as I have thrown myself into campaigning on his behalf, I retain a sense of reservation. I am subtly but increasingly wary and even resistant to the pull of hero-worship that seems to infect everyone around me.
Deep down a voice inside me whispers with urgency "We do not need a savior, a hero on a white horse, a great man - this is a path away from democracy and the end of our great republic." After eight years of the Cheney administration's "Unitary Executive", I want to avoid a counter-reaction from the left, a swing in direction but a continuation of a governing power that resides not in the Congress but in the White House, a continuation of the emasculation of checks and balances and the withering of the applicability of laws to those residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
When the President does it, it isn't illegal - these words of Richard Nixon's have been the credo of Mr Cheney and his ilk. The underlying mindset that permitted the return of this pirate ethos to the Presidency is a willingness among a broad swath of Americans to place their trust in one man, believed to be in touch with God Almighty, rather than in the laws, traditions, and institutions of o ur government.
The government is not the solution to our problems - it is the problem, argued the great man-leader of Republicans. This attitude produced the tragic ineptitude and neglect that was so evident in the aftermath of Katrina, in the administration of the ruinous war in Iraq, and in the meltdown of our financial markets and institutions.
We do not need more of the same. I support Barack Obama, and I hope with all my heart he has the wisdom of Lincoln, the genius and perserverance of FDR, the energy and political mastery of LBJ, and the goodness, idealism, generosity of spirit, and humane decency that is needed in such a time of crisis and hardship. But my deepest hope is that my elected representatives in Congress will assert the power of their institution and regain my trust and the trust of the nation. My deepest hope is that that my President and my Congress will work together to meet our great national challenges - and to heal the injuries to our constitutional, republican and democratic government.
I fear that in placing the halo on Obama's head, we are repeating the mistake made by those who placed that same halo on the head of George W Bush. I am uneasy, even as I tingle with anticipation of the coming Democratic victory.
Does anyone else share this concern, or am I just a wet blanket?
Actually, I am not concerned that Obama would do mischief. The man was a professor of constitutional law - whatever his policies, one can be assured that the rule of law matters to him. Nor do I begrudge anyone a celebration after eight years of darkness. Light the torches and let's all sing a song of change - it is good for what ails us. For myself, I am not alarmed at the profound joy that I note among my freinds and neighbors. I am not chagrined that small children sense the hopeful spirit of their parents.
My worry is that Americans have grown accustomed to a weak Congress, and Congress itself, under the mind-numbing incompetence of Pelosi and Reid, seems to be unable or unwilling to play its Constututional role. We all need to be more involved in elections and governance - if we hope to revitalize our institutions, we cannot sit back and wait to see if Obama or any other individual will work it all out for us.
What we have lost in the past eight years, aside from our honor, the lives of our volunteer troops, and about $5 trillion in borrowed funds is even more precious - we have lost our sense of responsibility to steer our government, to preserve our liberty, and to share the rewards and costs of citizenship [emphasis mine]. I do not criticize people for cheering Obama -- my point is that we will all need to do more. Obama, the community organizer, gets this - he knows that our power comes from joining together in concerted action. The great issues of our time will not be resolved by Executive action but through the positive collaboration of concerned and energetic citizens.
National Security And The Financial Crisis
(Or, how the Bush administration sold the nation to the Saudis and Chinese.)
An op-ed by James M. Ludes and Bernard I. Finel at the American Security Project makes the point that, no matter how we might ignore it, the current financial meltdown leaves foreign nations with a massive amount of leverage over the U.S. (h/t MyDD)All told, this crisis may cost the United States more than $1.5 trillion - a staggering, if necessary, sum. And with the federal budget already in deficit, every single penny of this will be financed by adding to the national debt.The concrete example the authors use is the way in which Eisenhower called in America's financial markers with Britain and France to get them to back off during the 1956 Suez Crisis.
Yet too little attention has been paid to who is financing that debt and what it means for the national security of our country.
... The debt we owe to countries that do not share our interests or whose interests may run at odds with our own has grown ... In 2001, we owed oil-exporting nations $48.5 billion - we now owe them $173.9 billion. In 2001, China held $61.5 billion in U.S. debt; it now holds $518.7. In 2001, Russia held less than $10 billion; it now holds $74.1 billion.
The new debt we are assuming in this crisis needs to be understood as a potential strategic vulnerability. Clearly, those governments buying our debt are investing in America, but they are also gaining leverage that we might wish they did not have.The United States had a stake in Britain's economic stability. But Eisenhower concluded that in this crisis, America had an even larger stake in forcing the British to back down. The Chinese, or others, may make a similar calculation about the United States in the future.It's a theme that Francis Fukuyama also visited recently. Someone has to pay actual money for the $700 bn bailout, the Pentagon's bailout-a-year budget and all the deficit spending the Bush administration has sunk into its misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. isn't - as my colleague Fester puts it, the US is, as Fester puts it the U.S. is "broke and overpromised" - the Bush administration has been borrowing the money from China, the Saudis and so on. And the chances of their never, ever being strings attached to those billions in credit are absolutely nil.
... Debt-financed tax cuts and overly zealous deregulation have proven to be a failed social experiment with potentially dire national security consequences. We have long recognized that cuts to defense spending can sometimes hurt national security; so too must we acknowledge, once and for all, that tax cuts and runaway spending can do the same.
It's another fine mess the Stan and Ollie of the Republican Party have gotten America into in the last eight years, and perhaps the biggest one of all.
Troopergate investigation finds Palin ‘abused her power.’h/t TP
The investigator authorized by the Alaska Legislative Council to examine the “Troopergate” scandal released his report today, and found that Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) “abused her power” by pushing State Police Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire her former brother-in-law Mark Wooten:For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 2952.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 2952.110(a) providesThe investigation also found that Monegan’s refusal to fire Wooten “was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety.”“The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”
Palin is right. When she is up in front at the rally, spouting her bile, she is speaking, as a member, to a group of people who at this point occupy the base of the base of the Republican Party. These people are the ones who think Jews and black people are ruining everything. They are the ignorati, the closed minded, the sheep. They do not see America the way Obama sees it. They see America as a white, Christian, cowboy, ass-kickin', nigger-hating, Jew-baiting bastion of beer and chips, where people are free to read absolutely nothing and watch reality shows for hours and hours on their flat screens they got 2nd mortgages to purchase, shoot wolves from helicopters, and secede from the union.
I mentioned in a previous post that McCain has now decided to denounce the hateful words that come from the mouths of the mob. However, it is clear that the mob is not happy about this turn of events. McCain now has nothing. He can't use fear because he said he won't, and his base hates him for it. He can't use anything else because he is basically a failure. Good riddance, McCain campaign.
So, the next time you hear a Republican say "You don't see America the way I do" say thanks and remind them how badly they are going to lose this election, because it is they that are the minority now! Most of America see themselves the way Obama sees America. And so Obama will win.
McCain Denounces Pitchfork-Wavers
Here in Lakeville, the traveling press was pretty sure we'd see more of the kind of vicious anti-Obama attitude that's becoming a hallmark of McCain rallies of late.
As the town hall started, McCain was off with more pep than usual. Making the same old jokes, but with energy that reminded us of "the old McCain." But would he use his power for good or evil? An audience member teed up a great big softball that could totally hit a dark side home run, asking, "We want you to fight at your next debate... we want to see s REAL fight at the debate, we want a STRONG leader for the next four years." That is Minnesota nice for "RevWrightACORNAyers," etc.
But then something weird happens: He acknowledges the "energy" people have been showing at rallies, and how glad he is that people are excited. But, he says, "I respect Sen. Obama and his accomplishments." People booed at the mention of his name. McCain, visibly angry, stopped them: "I want EVERYONE to be respectful, and lets make sure we are."
The very next questioner tried to push back on this request, noting that he needed to "tell the American the TRUTH about Barack Obama" -- a not very subtle way, I think, to ask John McCain to NOT tell the truth about Barack Obama. McCain told her there's a "difference between record and rhetoric, and I plan to talk about his record, respectfully... I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity, I just mean it has to be respectful."
And then later, again, someone dangled a great big piece of low-hanging fruit in front of McCain: "I'm scared to bring up my child in a world where Barack Obama is president."
McCain replies, "Well, I don't want him to be president, either. I wouldn't be running if I did. But," and he pauses for emphasis, "you don't have to be scared to have him be President of the United States." A round of boos.
And he snaps back: "Well, obviously I think I'd be better. "
Of course, this is kind of the best of both world: Crazy base-world gets to bring up Ayers and whatever else, really, and he gets to say, "Be respectful." But I think he means it.
UPDATE: Indeed, he just snatched the microphone out the hands of a woman who began her question with, "I'm scared of Barack Obama... he's an Arab terrorist..."
"No, no ma'am," he interrupted. "He's a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements."
In a barely noticed development last week, the Army stationed an active unit inside the United States. The Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Team is back from Iraq, now training for domestic operations under the control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The unit will serve as an on-call federal response for large-scale emergencies and disasters. It’s being called the Consequence Management Response Force, CCMRF, or “sea-smurf” for short.
Meet Sarah Palin's radical right-wing pals
Extremists Mark Chryson and Steve Stoll helped launch Palin's political career in Alaska, and in return had influence over policy. "Her door was open," says Chryson -- and still is.
By Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert
Editor's note: Research support provided by the Nation Institute Investigative Fund. For Salon's complete coverage of Sarah Palin, click here.
Oct. 10, 2008 |
On the afternoon of Sept. 24 in downtown Palmer, Alaska, as the sun began to sink behind the snowcapped mountains that flank the picturesque Mat-Su Valley, 51-year-old Mark Chryson sat for an hour on a park bench, reveling in tales of his days as chairman of the Alaska Independence Party. The stocky, gray-haired computer technician waxed nostalgic about quixotic battles to eliminate taxes, support the "traditional family" and secede from the United States.
So long as Alaska remained under the boot of the federal government, said Chryson, the AIP had to stand on guard to stymie a New World Order. He invited a Salon reporter to see a few items inside his pickup truck that were intended for his personal protection. "This here is my attack dog," he said with a chuckle, handing the reporter an exuberant 8-pound papillon from his passenger seat. "Her name is Suzy." Then he pulled a 9-millimeter Makarov PM pistol -- once the standard-issue sidearm for Soviet cops -- out of his glove compartment. "I've got enough weaponry to raise a small army in my basement," he said, clutching the gun in his palm. "Then again, so do most Alaskans." But Chryson added a message of reassurance to residents of that faraway place some Alaskans call "the 48." "We want to go our separate ways," he said, "but we are not going to kill you."
Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin. An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin's campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory.
Palin backed Chryson as he successfully advanced a host of anti-tax, pro-gun initiatives, including one that altered the state Constitution's language to better facilitate the formation of anti-government militias. She joined in their vendetta against several local officials they disliked, and listened to their advice about hiring. She attempted to name Stoll, a John Birch Society activist known in the Mat-Su Valley as "Black Helicopter Steve," to an empty Wasilla City Council seat. "Every time I showed up her door was open," said Chryson. "And that policy continued when she became governor."
When Chryson first met Sarah Palin, however, he didn't really trust her politically. It was the early 1990s, when he was a member of a local libertarian pressure group called SAGE, or Standing Against Government Excess. (SAGE's founder, Tammy McGraw, was Palin's birth coach.) Palin was a leader in a pro-sales-tax citizens group called WOW, or Watch Over Wasilla, earning a political credential before her 1992 campaign for City Council. Though he was impressed by her interpersonal skills, Chryson greeted Palin's election warily, thinking she was too close to the Democrats on the council and too pro-tax.
But soon, Palin and Chryson discovered they could be useful to each other. Palin would be running for mayor, while Chryson was about to take over the chairmanship of the Alaska Independence Party, which at its peak in 1990 had managed to elect a governor.
The AIP was born of the vision of "Old Joe" Vogler, a hard-bitten former gold miner who hated the government of the United States almost as much as he hated wolves and environmentalists. His resentment peaked during the early 1970s when the federal government began installing Alaska's oil and gas pipeline. Fueled by raw rage -- "The United States has made a colony of Alaska," he told author John McPhee in 1977 -- Vogler declared a maverick candidacy for the governorship in 1982. Though he lost, Old Joe became a force to be reckoned with, as well as a constant source of amusement for Alaska's political class. During a gubernatorial debate in 1982, Vogler proposed using nuclear weapons to obliterate the glaciers blocking roadways to Juneau. "There's gold under there!" he exclaimed.
Vogler made another failed run for the governor's mansion in 1986. But the AIP's fortunes shifted suddenly four years later when Vogler convinced Richard Nixon's former interior secretary, Wally Hickel, to run for governor under his party's banner. Hickel coasted to victory, outflanking a moderate Republican and a centrist Democrat. An archconservative Republican running under the AIP candidate, Jack Coghill, was elected lieutenant governor.
Hickel's subsequent failure as governor to press for a vote on Alaskan independence rankled Old Joe. With sponsorship from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vogler was scheduled to present his case for Alaskan secession before the United Nations General Assembly in the late spring of 1993. But before he could, Old Joe's long, strange political career ended tragically that May when he was murdered by a fellow secessionist.
Hickel rejoined the Republican Party the year after Vogler's death and didn't run for reelection. Lt. Gov. Coghill's campaign to succeed him as the AIP candidate for governor ended in disaster; he peeled away just enough votes from the Republican, Jim Campbell, to throw the gubernatorial election to Democrat Tony Knowles.
Despite the disaster, Coghill hung on as AIP chairman for three more years. When he was asked to resign in 1997, Mark Chryson replaced him. Chryson pursued a dual policy of cozying up to secessionist and right-wing groups in Alaska and elsewhere while also attempting to replicate the AIP's success with Hickel in infiltrating the mainstream.
Unlike some radical right-wingers, Chryson doesn't put forward his ideas freighted with anger or paranoia. And in a state where defense of gun and property rights often takes on a real religious fervor, Chryson was able to present himself as a typical Alaskan.
He rose through party ranks by reducing the AIP's platform to a single page that "90 percent of Alaskans could agree with." This meant scrubbing the old platform of what Chryson called "racist language" while accommodating the state's growing Christian right movement by emphasizing the AIP's commitment to the "traditional family."
"The AIP is very family-oriented," Chryson explained. "We're for the traditional family -- daddy, mommy, kids -- because we all know that it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And we don't care if Heather has two mommies. That's not a traditional family."
Chryson further streamlined the AIP's platform by softening its secessionist language. Instead of calling for immediate separation from the United States, the platform now demands a vote on independence.
Yet Chryson maintains that his party remains committed to full independence. "The Alaskan Independence Party has got links to almost every independence-minded movement in the world," Chryson exclaimed. "And Alaska is not the only place that's about separation. There's at least 30 different states that are talking about some type of separation from the United States."
This has meant rubbing shoulders and forging alliances with outright white supremacists and far-right theocrats, particularly those who dominate the proceedings at such gatherings as the North American Secessionist conventions, which AIP delegates have attended in recent years. The AIP's affiliation with neo-Confederate organizations is motivated as much by ideological affinity as by organizational convenience. Indeed, Chryson makes no secret of his sympathy for the Lost Cause. "Should the Confederate states have been allowed to separate and go their peaceful ways?" Chryson asked rhetorically. "Yes. The War of Northern Aggression, or the Civil War, or the War Between the States -- however you want to refer to it -- was not about slavery, it was about states' rights."
Another far-right organization with whom the AIP has long been aligned is Howard Phillips' militia-minded Constitution Party. The AIP has been listed as the Constitution Party's state affiliate since the late 1990s, and it has endorsed the Constitution Party's presidential candidates (Michael Peroutka and Chuck Baldwin) in the past two elections.
The Constitution Party boasts an openly theocratic platform that reads, "It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions and to restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations." In its 1990s incarnation as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, it was on the front lines in promoting the "militia" movement, and a significant portion of its membership comprises former and current militia members.
At its 1992 convention, the AIP hosted both Phillips -- the USTP's presidential candidate -- and militia-movement leader Col. James "Bo" Gritz, who was campaigning for president under the banner of the far-right Populist Party. According to Chryson, AIP regulars heavily supported Gritz, but the party deferred to Phillips' presence and issued no official endorsements.
In Wasilla, the AIP became powerful by proxy -- because of Chryson and Stoll's alliance with Sarah Palin. Chryson and Stoll had found themselves in constant opposition to policies of Wasilla's Democratic mayor, who started his three-term, nine-year tenure in 1987. By 1992, Chryson and Stoll had begun convening regular protests outside City Council. Their demonstrations invariably involved grievances against any and all forms of "socialist government," from city planning to public education. Stoll shared Chryson's conspiratorial views: "The rumor was that he had wrapped his guns in plastic and buried them in his yard so he could get them after the New World Order took over," Stein told a reporter.
Chryson did not trust Palin when she joined the City Council in 1992. He claimed that she was handpicked by Democratic City Council leaders and by Wasilla's Democratic mayor, John Stein, to rubber-stamp their tax hike proposals. "When I first met her," he said, "I thought she was extremely left. But I've watched her slowly as she's become more pronounced in her conservative ideology."
Palin was well aware of Chryson's views. "She knew my beliefs," Chryson said. "The entire state knew my beliefs. I wasn't afraid of being on the news, on camera speaking my views."
But Chryson believes she trusted his judgment because he accurately predicted what life on the City Council would be like. "We were telling her, 'This is probably what's going to happen,'" he said. "'The city is going to give this many people raises, they're going to pave everybody's roads, and they're going to pave the City Council members' roads.' We couldn't have scripted it better because everything we predicted came true."
After intense evangelizing by Chryson and his allies, they claimed Palin as a convert. "When she started taking her job seriously," Chryson said, "the people who put her in as the rubber stamp found out the hard way that she was not going to go their way." In 1994, Sarah Palin attended the AIP's statewide convention. In 1995, her husband, Todd, changed his voter registration to AIP. Except for an interruption of a few months, he would remain registered was an AIP member until 2002, when he changed his registration to undeclared.
In 1996, Palin decided to run against John Stein as the Republican candidate for mayor of Wasilla. While Palin pushed back against Stein's policies, particularly those related to funding public works, Chryson said he and Steve Stoll prepared the groundwork for her mayoral campaign.
Chryson and Stoll viewed Palin's ascendancy as a vehicle for their own political ambitions. "She got support from these guys," Stein remarked. "I think smart politicians never utter those kind of radical things, but they let other people do it for them. I never recall Sarah saying she supported the militia or taking a public stand like that. But these guys were definitely behind Sarah, thinking she was the more conservative choice."
"They worked behind the scenes," said Stein. "I think they had a lot of influence in terms of helping with the back-scatter negative campaigning."
Indeed, Chryson boasted that he and his allies urged Palin to focus her campaign on slashing character-based attacks. For instance, Chryson advised Palin to paint Stein as a sexist who had told her "to just sit there and look pretty" while she served on Wasilla's City Council. Though Palin never made this accusation, her 1996 campaign for mayor was the most negative Wasilla residents had ever witnessed.
While Palin played up her total opposition to the sales tax and gun control -- the two hobgoblins of the AIP -- mailers spread throughout the town portraying her as "the Christian candidate," a subtle suggestion that Stein, who is Lutheran, might be Jewish. "I watched that campaign unfold, bringing a level of slime our community hadn't seen until then," recalled Phil Munger, a local music teacher who counts himself as a close friend of Stein.
"This same group [Stoll and Chryson] also [publicly] challenged me on whether my wife and I were married because she had kept her maiden name," Stein bitterly recalled. "So we literally had to produce a marriage certificate. And as I recall, they said, 'Well, you could have forged that.'"
When Palin won the election, the men who had once shouted anti-government slogans outside City Hall now had a foothold inside the mayor's office. Palin attempted to pay back her newfound pals during her first City Council meeting as mayor. In that meeting, on Oct. 14, 1996, she appointed Stoll to one of the City Council's two newly vacant seats. But Palin was blocked by the single vote of then-Councilman Nick Carney, who had endured countless rancorous confrontations with Stoll and considered him a "violent" influence on local politics. Though Palin considered consulting attorneys about finding another means of placing Stoll on the council, she was ultimately forced to back down and accept a compromise candidate.
Emboldened by his nomination by Mayor Palin, Stoll later demanded she fire Wasilla's museum director, John Cooper, a personal enemy he longed to sabotage. Palin obliged, eliminating Cooper's position in short order. "Gotcha, Cooper!" Stoll told the deposed museum director after his termination, as Cooper told a reporter for the New York Times. "And it only cost me a campaign contribution." Stoll, who donated $1,000 to Palin's mayoral campaign, did not respond to numerous requests for an interview. Palin has blamed budget concerns for Cooper's departure.
The following year, when Carney proposed a local gun-control measure, Palin organized with Chryson to smother the nascent plan in its cradle. Carney's proposed ordinance would have prohibited residents from carrying guns into schools, bars, hospitals, government offices and playgrounds. Infuriated by the proposal that Carney viewed as a common-sense public-safety measure, Chryson and seven allies stormed a July 1997 council meeting.
With the bill still in its formative stages, Carney was not even ready to present it to the council, let alone conduct public hearings on it. He and other council members objected to the ad-hoc hearing as "a waste of time." But Palin -- in plain violation of council rules and norms -- insisted that Chryson testify, stating, according to the minutes, that "she invites the public to speak on any issue at any time."
When Carney tried later in the meeting to have the ordinance discussed officially at the following regular council meeting, he couldn't even get a second. His proposal died that night, thanks to Palin and her extremist allies.
"A lot of it was the ultra-conservative far right that is against everything in government, including taxes," recalled Carney. "A lot of it was a personal attack on me as being anti-gun, and a personal attack on anybody who deigned to threaten their authority to carry a loaded firearm wherever they pleased. That was the tenor of it. And it was being choreographed by Steve Stoll and the mayor."
Asked if he thought it was Palin who had instigated the turnout, he replied: "I know it was."
By Chryson's account, he and Palin also worked hand-in-glove to slash property taxes and block a state proposal that would have taken money for public programs from the Permanent Fund Dividend, or the oil and gas fund that doles out annual payments to citizens of Alaska. Palin endorsed Chryson's unsuccessful initiative to move the state Legislature from Juneau to Wasilla. She also lent her support to Chryson's crusade to alter the Alaska Constitution's language on gun rights so cities and counties could not impose their own restrictions. "It took over 10 years to get that language written in," Chryson said. "But Sarah [Palin] was there supporting it."
"With Sarah as a mayor," said Chryson, "there were a number of times when I just showed up at City Hall and said, 'Hey, Sarah, we need help.' I think there was only one time when I wasn't able to talk to her and that was because she was in a meeting."
Chryson says the door remains open now that Palin is governor. (Palin's office did not respond to Salon's request for an interview.) While Palin has been more circumspect in her dealings with groups like the AIP as she has risen through the political ranks, she has stayed in touch.
When Palin ran for governor in 2006, marketing herself as a fresh-faced reformer determined to crush the GOP's ossified power structure, she made certain to appear at the AIP's state convention. To burnish her maverick image, she also tapped one-time AIP member and born-again Republican Walter Hickel as her campaign co-chair. Hickel barnstormed the state for Palin, hailing her support for an "all-Alaska" liquefied gas pipeline, a project first promoted in 2002 by an AIP gubernatorial candidate named Nels Anderson. When Palin delivered her victory speech on election night, Hickel stood beaming by her side. "I made her governor," he boasted afterward. Two years later, Hickel has endorsed Palin's bid for vice president.
Just months before Palin burst onto the national stage as McCain's vice-presidential nominee, she delivered a videotaped address to the AIP's annual convention. Her message was scrupulously free of secessionist rhetoric, but complementary nonetheless. "I share your party's vision of upholding the Constitution of our great state," Palin told the assembly of AIP delegates. "My administration remains focused on reining in government growth so individual liberty can expand. I know you agree with that ... Keep up the good work and God bless you."
When Palin became the Republican vice-presidential nominee, her attendance of the 1994 and 2006 AIP conventions and her husband's membership in the party (as well as Palin's videotaped welcome to the AIP's 2008 convention) generated a minor controversy. Chryson claimed, however, that Sarah and Todd Palin never even played a minor role in his party's internal affairs. "Sarah's never been a member of the Alaskan Independence Party," Chryson insisted. "Todd has, but most of rural Alaska has too. I never saw him at a meeting. They were at one meeting I was at. Sarah said hello, but I didn't pay attention because I was taking care of business."
But whether the Palins participated directly in shaping the AIP's program is less relevant than the extent to which they will implement that program. Chryson and his allies have demonstrated just as much interest in grooming major party candidates as they have in putting forward their own people. At a national convention of secessionist groups in 2007, AIP vice chairman Dexter Clark announced that his party would seek to "infiltrate" the Democratic and Republican parties with candidates sympathetic to its hard-right, secessionist agenda. "You should use that tactic. You should infiltrate," Clark told his audience of neo-Confederates, theocrats and libertarians. "Whichever party you think in that area you can get something done, get into that party. Even though that party has its problems, right now that is the only avenue."
Clark pointed to Palin's political career as the model of a successful infiltration. "There's a lot of talk of her moving up," Clark said of Palin. "She was a member [of the AIP] when she was mayor of a small town, that was a nonpartisan job. But to get along and to go along she switched to the Republican Party … She is pretty well sympathetic because of her membership."
Clark's assertion that Palin was once a card-carrying AIP member was swiftly discredited by the McCain campaign, which produced records showing she had been a registered Republican since 1988. But then why would Clark make such a statement? Why did he seem confident that Palin was a true-blue AIP activist burrowing within the Republican Party? The most salient answer is that Palin was once so thoroughly embedded with AIP figures like Chryson and Stoll and seemed so enthusiastic about their agenda, Clark may have simply assumed she belonged to his party.
Now, Palin is a household name and her every move is scrutinized by the Washington press corps. She can no longer afford to kibitz with secessionists, however instrumental they may have been to her meteoric ascendancy. This does not trouble her old AIP allies. Indeed, Chryson is hopeful that Palin's inauguration will also represent the start of a new infiltration.
"I've had my issues but she's still staying true to her core values," Chryson concluded. "Sarah's friends don't all agree with her, but do they respect her? Do they respect her ideology and her values? Definitely."
-- By Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert
Deficit Shackles: Will January, 2009 Repeat January 1993?
Both presidential candidates have been criticized for failing to name any promises or plans they’re going to have to scrap because of the bailout and the failing economy. That criticism is unwarranted. The assumption that we are about to have a rerun of 1993 — when Bill Clinton, newly installed as president, was forced to jettison much of his agenda because of a surging budget deficit — may well be mistaken.
At first glance, January 2009 is starting to look a lot like January 1993. Then, the federal deficit was running at roughly $300 billion a year, or about 5 percent of gross domestic product, way too high for comfort. By contrast, the deficit for the 2009 fiscal year is now projected to be $482 billion, or about 3.3 percent of gross domestic product. That’s not too worrying. But if the Treasury shovels out the full $700 billion of bailout money next year, the deficit could balloon to more than 6 percent of gross domestic product, the highest it’s been since 1983. And if the nation plunges into a deeper recession next year, with tax revenues dropping and overall domestic product shrinking, the deficit will be even larger as a proportion of the economy.
Yet all is not what it seems. First, the $700 billion bailout is less like an additional government expense than a temporary loan or investment. The Treasury will take on Wall Street’s bad debts — mostly mortgage-backed securities for which there’s no market right now because of the slump in housing prices — and will raise the $700 billion by issuing additional government debt, much of it to global lenders and foreign governments. As America’s housing stock regains value, as we all hope it will, bad debts become better debts, and the Treasury may well be able to resell the securities for at least as much as it paid, if not for a profit. And if there is a shortfall, the bailout bill allows the president to impose a fee on Wall Street to make up the difference.
Another difference is that in 1993, the nation was emerging from a recession. Although jobs were slow to return, factory orders were up, companies were expanding, and the economy was growing. This meant growing demand for private capital. Under these circumstances, the deficit Bill Clinton inherited, combined with his own agenda, threatened to overheat the economy, causing inflation. He had no choice but to trim the deficit and abandon many of his plans, a point that the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, was not reluctant to emphasize. Unless President Clinton did so, interest rates would rise and the economic recovery would be anemic.
Next year, however, is likely to be quite different. All economic indicators are now pointing toward a deepening recession. Unemployment is already high, and the trend is not encouraging. Factory orders are down. Worried about their jobs and rising costs of fuel, food and health insurance, middle-class Americans are unable or unwilling to spend on much other than necessities.
Under these circumstances, deficit spending is not unwelcome. Indeed, as spender of last resort, the government will probably have to run deficits to keep the economy going anywhere near capacity, a lesson the nation learned on a large scale when mobilization for World War II finally lifted us out of the Great Depression.
Finally, not all deficits are equal. As every family knows, going into debt in order to send a child to college is fundamentally different from going into debt to take an ocean cruise. Deficits that finance investments in the nation’s future productivity are not the same as deficits that maintain the current standard of living.
Here again, there’s marked difference between 1993 and 2009. Then, some of our highways, bridges, ports, levees and public transit systems needed repair. Today, they are crumbling. In 1993, some of our school children were crowded into classrooms too large to learn in, and some districts were shutting preschool and after-school programs. Today, such inadequacies are endemic. In 1993, some 35 million Americans had no health insurance and millions more were barely able to afford the insurance they had. Today, some 50 million are without insurance, and a large swath of the middle class is barely holding on. In 1993, climate change was a problem. Now, it’s an emergency.
Moreover, without adequate public investment, the vast majority of Americans will be condemned to a lower standard of living for themselves and their children. The top 1 percent now takes home about 20 percent of total national income. s As recently as 1980, it took home 8 percent. Although the economy has grown considerably since 1980the middle class’s share has shrunk. That’s a problem not just because it strikes so many as being unfair, but also because it’s starting to limit the capacity of most Americans to buy the goods and services the nation produces without going perilously deep into debt. The last time the top 1 percent took home 20 percent of national income, not incidentally, was 1928.
Perhaps it should not be surprising, then, that the Wall Street bailout has generated so much anger among middle-class Americans. Let’s not compound the problem by needlessly letting the bailout prevent the government from spending what it must to lift the prospects of Main Street.
She really is what Bush pretends to be -- she 's a true anti-intellectual. She's has this very Pentecostal view of the world. We don't need to study the Bible, we don't need ministers, we can just feel the spirit and let the spirit speak through us. It's this classically Alaskan value system that places experience over all other values. I know what mothers need because I am a mother.
We don't need to read or even learn because that just fills our heads with confusing ideas and facts and figures. We feel.
Bush plays at this anti-elite stuff but he's Harvard/Yale/Andover, all of that. She is really a celebration of a glorious know-nothingness that is truly dangerous....
She's terrifying and represents a streak of the Republican party that is a permanent minority. She will not play well with suburban women in Montgomery County [OH]. They want their kids to go to good schools and college. Palin basically says that isn't necessary. You can just speak plainly from the heart and that's good enough. But that's how you end up a fish picker from Alaska.
It's not that she is an idiot that bothers me. It's that she celebrates non-learning and anti-knowledge. She celebrates ignorance.
McCain evidences the underlying motivator attributed to Bush in Stone’s movie: the distorted priorities of a son of privilege doing battle with the legacy of more gifted and responsible family ancestors. Both grew up as spoiled screw-ups repeatedly bailed out of trouble by their highly accomplished fathers, in McCain’s case an admiral, and both assume, as a matter of legacy, that they have a right to rule. What they ignored in their legacy was a Christian’s obligation to make the economic system that handsomely rewarded their kin at least minimally responsive to the needs of ordinary folk.Go read it.
This from the idiots who can't pronounce nuclear. What morons! They can't speak, then they complain about someone who can. Wow. Just wow!
– “When Obama says Pock-i-stahn I have an uncontrollable urge to read the New Yorker and find some Chardonnay. Fortunately I have an old copy of NR and a Coors Light to snap me back to reality. Seriously though — no one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It’s annoying.” [E-mail posted by Kathryn Jean Lopez]
– “Re Senator Obama’s ostentatiously exotic pronunciation of Pakistan, one thing I like about Sarah Palin is the way she says ‘Eye-raq’.” [Mark Steyn]
– “Most overwrought pronunciation of the night: The academic way that Obama says ‘Pakistan,’ with a soft ‘a’ - reminscent of a 1980s ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch in which newscasters over-pronounced ‘Managua, Nicaragua.’” [Philadelphia Daily News]
– “Drinking Game: A shot every time the candidates pronounce ‘Pakistan’ or ‘Taliban’ in an annoying way?” [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Oh, and it's not ostentatiously exotic to pronounce words correctly. It's correct.
The easy answer to why the bailout hasn’t worked is it hasn’t been implemented yet. But its purpose was largely psychological – to boost confidence that the government is doing something big to clear out bad debts that have been clogging the system. That psychological boost should have happened as soon as the bailout was enacted.Whole thing below...
The Meltdown (Part II)
The easy answer to why the bailout hasn’t worked is it hasn’t been implemented yet. But its purpose was largely psychological – to boost confidence that the government is doing something big to clear out bad debts that have been clogging the system. That psychological boost should have happened as soon as the bailout was enacted.
Yet no one seems to believe that 700 billion dollars will make much difference. And today’s interest-rate cut, coordinated with the European Central Bank and Bank of England, may not, either. This isn’t a liquidity crisis. It’s a crisis of trust. Lenders don’t trust that borrowers will be able to repay, because they don’t think borrowers will be able to collect on what’s owed to them. Every major player is moving to safer ground – holding money, hoarding it, putting it under a giant global mattress.
Bad mortgage loans from the era of anything-goes credit standards started it. But now that America is tipping into deeper recession and unemployment is mounting, more bad loans are cropping up because more people can’t pay their bills. And as consumers pull in their belts, more businesses can’t pay their bills. Which means more layoffs, and more bad loans, and a global sell-off.
The Fed and other central banks can pour endless money into the system but the problem is no longer just on the supply side. It’s now also on the demand side. Which means the federal government, as spender of last resort, has to jump start the economy, as do other governments. Now’s the time to start rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – roads, bridges, levees, public transit. And help cash-starved state and local governments invest in their schools.
It does make sense to help homeowners directly, as Barack Obama has said. But John McCain last night came up with the stupidist plan I've heard yet for doing so. He wants the government to buy mortgages from the banks at face value and then write down the principal for homeowners. This would be the biggest handout yet to the financial industry. Taxpayers would take all the losses, including the downside risks of additional defaults if houses drop further in value, while the banks would get off scott free.
Presidential hopeful John McCain has a connection to a former Alabama state trooper charged with the murder of a man at the height of the civil rights movement, according to documents obtained by The Star.You must go read it.
In the early 1990s, Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., wrote a letter to the State Department regarding James B. Fowler, who was at the time imprisoned in Thailand on narcotics charges.
McCain's State Department letter was dated Nov. 15, 1991. It briefly explains Fowler's situation and asks Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Tamposi of the Office of Consular Affairs to look into his case.In 2005, The Star published an interview with James B. Fowler who admitted publicly for the first time that he shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, during a melee in February 1965 in the west Alabama town of Marion. Fowler insisted it was in self defense.
Jackson's death a few days after the shooting proved pivotal for organizers of the civil rights movement, leading indirectly to the Selma-to-Montgomery march and, many historians argue, the passage by Congress of the landmark Voting Rights Act in August 1965.
Third world America?
One thing I learned way back in grad school was that there was a big difference between the assets of first-world, mature-country central banks and those in rickety developing economies. The Fed and its peers had clean balance sheets, with basically nothing but Treasury bills on the asset side. Third world central banks, on the other hand, did a lot of direct lending to the private sector, and had all sorts of dodgy assets on their books.
Now the Fed is in the business of directly buying commercial paper, in some cases unsecured. Wow.
I’m not saying this is a bad idea — until Treasury comes back with a bailout plan that actually makes sense, Bernanke has to try everything he can to hold the system together. But it is shocking how fast things have gone downwill.
The U.S. Army on Monday unveiled a new field manual for stability operations — the panoply of activities to secure a government’s control over its populace and keep the peace — taking yet another step beyond the military’s traditional role of preparing to fight and win the nation’s wars.
AIG executives went on luxurious retreat one week after receiving $85 billion bailout.
Today, the House Oversight Committee discovered that, just one week after the federal government bailed out insurance giant AIG, company executives went on a retreat to a luxury resort. The executives spent nearly $500,000 on manicures, facials, pedicures, and massages, among other things. During a hearing today, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asked, “Have you heard of anything more outrageous?”:
CUMMINGS: Let me describe for some of you the charges that the shareholders, taxpayers, had to pay. AIG spent $200,000 dollars for hotel rooms. Almost $150,000 for catered banquets. AIG spent $23,000 at the hotel spa and another $1,400 at the salon. They were getting manicures, facials, pedicures and massages while American people were footing the bill. And they spent another $10,000 dollars for I don’t know what this is, leisure dining. Bars?
They were giving speeches, trying to get anyone to vote for them. Because of who they are and what they stand for, their crowds are filled with assholes. Dangerous assholes.
One shouted that Obama is a terrorist, and McCain said nothing.
Palin had a guy shout out "kill him" in reference to Obama.
Now, I am no shrinking violet, and I usually don't put much weight on stupid statements by morons. But these morons are different because they are motivated by hate and fear. We all know what hate and fear will get you.
So, McCain: Get it together and denounce these statements. Do it publicly, and do it in the morning. Remind everyone that anyone who foments that kind of hate and fear is an accessory to anything bad that may befall Obama. And if you don't, you are also an accessory. Indeed, you are an accessory right now, and your silence is as good as an endorsement of the two statements. I think you agree with them because I have not heard otherwise. Prick.
This is a scary time. Like most middle-classers, my money is in my humble abode, which is worth less than the mortgage. I just told my 11-year-old that he will be able to go to college and have a job at the same time!
I am disappointed in Congress, rich-greedy-investment-bankers-who-stand-to-make-millions-more, and Obama/Biden. I think of all the possible 2012 candidates who will have a shot, Kucinich has the right trajectory. Read Reich here or down there...
Monday, October 06, 2008
The Meltdown (Part I)
Global capital markets have seized up. Confidence is evaporating. Put simply, no lender trusts any borrower to repay, fearing that that borrower won't be able to rely on anyone else to honor obligations. Even banks are hoarding cash, unwilling to lend to other banks. Everyone with any savings is heading for the hills -- for gold, for under the mattress, for wherever savings can be watched. We're witnessing a huge international bank run. We have not seen a global financial crisis on this scale since the 1930s.
What's happened? Put simply, the Bailout of All Bailouts has been a dud, at least so far. Most obviously, it hasn't done what it was intended to do -- reassure financial markets that the Treasury and the Fed would have enough money to handle any financial crisis.
So it's everyone and every institution -- and every country -- for itself. Several nations (Ireland, Greece, Germany) have basically guaranteed all deposits. As a result, global capital is moving their way. They're also thereby creating a new form of socialized capitalism. At the rate they're going, these nations will soon own and run their financial markets, and maybe a big chunk of the world's.
I fault Hank Paulson, first and foremost. He never succeeded in explaining to anyone what exactly he'll do with the bailout money -- how, for example, an auction to acquire mortgage-backed bad debt would work, and whether and to what extent he's planning to recapitalize the banking system. Even now, the American public has no idea what he's up to. Nor, for that matter, do many insiders.
Leadership isn't just about passing a big piece of legislation. It's about explaining and thereby gaining trust and confidence from a public -- including a global public -- that's otherwise afraid and confused. A credible and powerful explanation is necessary right now -- about where we've been, how we got into this mess, and how a particular plan (in this case, the bailout), will get us out of it. Yet Paulson has proven himself uniquely unable to explain anything to anyone. George W. Bush, for his part, is hopeless and hapless. Worse than a lame duck, he's a seriously disabled parakeet, with no remaining store of public trust. Ben Bernanke seems like an able fellow but his capacity to communicate is almost as bad as his predecessor's. Congressional leaders are too busy pointing fingers of blame to be capable of explaining much of anything and summoning confidence. And fewer than three weeks before a national election, both candidates are inevitably caught up in partisan wrangling. Obama does understand what's happening, and could calm global capital markets if he were already president. But he is not president as yet, nor even president-elect.
The leadership vacuum could not happen at a worse time. If credit markets remain frozen, we'll soon witness a huge round of business bankruptcies. We're in completely uncharted terrain.
“We face a perfect financial storm,” Kucinich warned. “The elements are the deficit spending for the war of 3 to 4 trillion dollars, the trillion and more tax cuts, the war itself and the lack of serious investment in the country. We are being hollowed out. We are going to see more unemployment and more people losing their homes. With $700 billion we could have made a real investment in the country, in jobs, in infrastructure and in homes. Instead, we got robbed.”Dennis Kucinich
The crash was one of three early in McCain's aviation career in which his flying skills and judgment were faulted or questioned by Navy officials.
Update: More here.
Mishaps mark John McCain's record as naval aviator
Three crashes early in his career led Navy officials to question or fault his judgment.
By Ralph Vartabedian and Richard A. Serrano
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
October 6, 2008
John McCain was training in his AD-6 Skyraider on an overcast Texas morning in 1960 when he slammed into Corpus Christi Bay and sheared the skin off his plane's wings.
McCain recounted the accident decades later in his autobiography. "The engine quit while I was practicing landings," he wrote. But an investigation board at the Naval Aviation Safety Center found no evidence of engine failure.
The 23-year-old junior lieutenant wasn't paying attention and erred in using "a power setting too low to maintain level flight in a turn," investigators concluded.
The crash was one of three early in McCain's aviation career in which his flying skills and judgment were faulted or questioned by Navy officials.
In his most serious lapse, McCain was "clowning" around in a Skyraider over southern Spain about December 1961 and flew into electrical wires, causing a blackout, according to McCain's own account as well as those of naval officers and enlistees aboard the carrier Intrepid. In another incident, in 1965, McCain crashed a T-2 trainer jet in Virginia.
After McCain was sent to Vietnam, his plane was destroyed in an explosion on the deck of an aircraft carrier in 1967. Three months later, he was shot down during a bombing mission over Hanoi and taken prisoner. He was not faulted in either of those cases and was later lauded for his heroism as a prisoner of war.
As a presidential candidate, McCain has cited his military service -- particularly his 5 1/2 years as a POW. But he has been less forthcoming about his mistakes in the cockpit.
The Times interviewed men who served with McCain and located once-confidential 1960s-era accident reports and formerly classified evaluations of his squadrons during the Vietnam War. This examination of his record revealed a pilot who early in his career was cocky, occasionally cavalier and prone to testing limits.
In today's military, a lapse in judgment that causes a crash can end a pilot's career. Though standards were looser and crashes more frequent in the 1960s, McCain's record stands out.
"Three mishaps are unusual," said Michael L. Barr, a former Air Force pilot with 137 combat missions in Vietnam and an internationally known aviation safety expert who teaches in USC's Aviation Safety and Security Program. "After the third accident, you would say: Is there a trend here in terms of his flying skills and his judgment?"
Jeremiah Pearson, a Navy officer who flew 400 missions over Vietnam without a mishap and later became the head of human spaceflight at NASA, said: "That's a lot. You don't want any. Maybe he was just unlucky."
Naval aviation experts say the three accidents before McCain's deployment to Vietnam probably triggered a review to determine whether he should be allowed to continue flying. The results of the review would have been confidential.
The Times asked McCain's campaign to release any military personnel records in the candidate's possession showing how the Navy handled the three incidents. The campaign said it would have no comment.
Navy veterans who flew with McCain called him a good pilot.
"John was what you called a push-the-envelope guy," said Sam H. Hawkins, who flew with McCain's VA-44 squadron in the 1960s and now teaches political science at Florida Atlantic University. "There are some naval aviators who are on the cautious side. They don't get out on the edges, but the edges are where you get the maximum out of yourself and out of your plane. That's where John operated. And when you are out there, you take risks."
The young McCain has often been described as undisciplined and fearless -- a characterization McCain himself fostered in his autobiography.
"In his military career, he was a risk-taker and a daredevil," said John Karaagac, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies and the author of a book on McCain. "What was interesting was that he got into accidents, and it didn't rattle his nerves. He takes hits and still stands."
McCain, the son and grandson of admirals, had a privileged status in the Navy. He was invited to the captain's cabin for dinner on the maiden voyage of the Enterprise in 1962, a perk other aviators and sailors attributed to his famous name, recalled Gene Furr, an enlisted man who shared an office and went on carrier deployments with McCain over three years.
On another occasion, McCain was selected to make a commemorative landing on the Enterprise and had his picture taken in front of a cake in the officers' galley, Furr said.
McCain's commanders sarcastically dubbed him "Ace McCain" because of his string of pre-Vietnam accidents, recalled Maurice Rishel, who commanded McCain's VA-65 squadron in early 1961, when it was deployed in the Mediterranean. Still, Rishel said, "he did his job."
Here is a closer look at those three incidents:
Corpus Christi, Texas, March 12, 1960
McCain was practicing landings in his AD-6 Skyraider over Corpus Christi Bay when he lost several hundred feet of altitude "without realizing it" and struck the water, according to the Naval Aviation Safety Center accident report on file at the Naval Historical Center in Washington.
The plane, a single-engine propeller plane designed for ground attack, sank 10 feet to the bottom of the bay. McCain swam to the surface and was plucked from the water by a rescue helicopter.
While he has contended that the engine quit, investigators collected extensive evidence indicating otherwise. Cockpit instruments that froze on impact showed the engine was still producing power. When water quenched the exhaust stack, it preserved a bright blue color, showing that the engine was still hot. And an aviator behind McCain reported that the engine was producing the black smoke characteristic of Skyraiders.
Investigators determined that McCain was watching instruments in his cockpit that indicated the position of his landing gear and had lost track of his altitude and speed.
The report concluded: "In the opinion of the board, the pilot's preoccupation in the cockpit . . . coupled with the use of a power setting too low to maintain level flight in a turn were the primary causes of this accident."
Southern Spain, around December 1961
McCain was on a training mission when he flew low and ran into electrical wires. He brought his crippled Skyraider back to the Intrepid, dragging 10 feet of wire, sailors and aviators recalled.
In his 1999 autobiography, "Faith of My Fathers," McCain briefly recounts the incident, calling it the result of "daredevil clowning" and "flying too low." McCain did not elaborate on what happened, and The Times could find no military records of the accident.
When he struck the wires, McCain severed an oil line in his plane, said Carl Russ, a pilot in McCain's squadron. McCain's flight suit and the cockpit were soaked in oil, added Russ, who nonetheless said McCain was a good pilot.
The next day, McCain went to the flight deck with his superior officers and some of the crew to inspect the damage. A gaggle of sailors surrounded the plane.
Clark Sherwood, an enlistee responsible for hanging ordnance on the squadron's planes, recalled standing on the deck with McCain. "I said, 'You're lucky to be alive.' McCain said, 'You bet your ass I am,' " Sherwood said. "He almost bought the farm." Sherwood, now a real estate agent in New Jersey, said he considered McCain a hero.
Calvin Shoemaker, a retired test pilot for the Skyraider's manufacturer, Douglas Aircraft, said extended low-level flights are difficult in any aircraft and for that reason Skyraiders were seldom flown at altitudes below 500 feet.
After hearing a description of McCain's record, Shoemaker said the aviator appeared to be a "flat-hatter," an old aviation term for a showoff.
Cape Charles, Va., Nov. 28, 1965
Over the Eastern Shore of Virginia, McCain descended below 7,000 feet on a landing approach in a T-2 trainer jet, according to accident records. He said he heard an explosion in his engine and lost power. He said he tried unsuccessfully to restart the engine.
He spotted a local drag strip and considered trying to glide to a landing there but finally had to eject at 1,000 feet. The plane crashed in the woods. McCain escaped injury and was picked up by a farmer.
In his autobiography, McCain said he had flown on a Saturday to Philadelphia to watch the annual Army-Navy football game with his parents. The accident report does not mention Philadelphia but rather indicates that McCain departed from a now-closed Navy field in New York City on Sunday afternoon and was headed to Norfolk, Va.
In a report dated Jan. 18, 1966, the Naval Aviation Safety Center said it could not determine the cause of the accident or corroborate McCain's account of an explosion in the engine. A close examination of the engine found "no discrepancies which would have caused or contributed to engine failure or malfunction."
The report found that McCain, then assigned to squadron VT-7 in Meridian, Miss., had made several errors: He failed to switch the plane's power system to battery backup, which "seriously jeopardized his survival chances." His idea of landing on the drag strip was "viewed with concern and is indicative of questionable emergency procedure."
The report added, "It may be indeed fortunate that the pilot was not in a position to attempt such a landing."
McCain also ejected too late and too low, was not wearing proper flight equipment and positioned his body improperly before ejecting, the report said.
The official record includes comments from pilots in his own squadron who defended McCain's actions as "proper and timely."
About two weeks after issuing its report, the safety center revised its findings and said the accident resulted from the failure or malfunction of an "undetermined component of the engine."
Edward M. Morrison, a mechanic for VT-7 who is now retired and living in Washington state, said that the plane McCain checked out that day had just been refurbished and that he knew of no engine problems.
"McCain came to the flight line that day, carrying his dress whites, and said, 'Give me a pretty plane,' " Morrison said. "Nobody had ever asked me for a pretty plane before. I gave him this one because it was freshly painted. The next time I saw him, I said, 'Don't ever ask me for a pretty plane again.' I think he laughed."
McCain was a pilot on the carrier Forrestal, off the coast of Vietnam, when one of the worst accidents in Navy history killed 134 crew members and damaged or destroyed various aircraft, including McCain's.
On July 29, 1967, he and other pilots were preparing for a bombing raid when a Zuni rocket from one of the planes misfired.
The rocket hit the plane next to McCain's, killing the pilot, igniting jet fuel and touching off a chain of explosions, according to the Navy investigation. McCain, who jumped from the nose of his jet and ran through the flames, suffered minor shrapnel wounds.
Three months later, McCain was on his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam when a surface-to-air missile struck his A-4 attack jet. He was flying 3,000 feet above Hanoi.
A then-secret report issued in 1967 by McCain's squadron said the aviators had learned to stay at an altitude of 4,000 to 10,000 feet in heavy surface-to-air missile environments and look for approaching missiles.
"Once the SAM was visually acquired, it was relatively easy to outmaneuver it by a diving maneuver followed by a high-G pull-up. The critical problem comes during multiple SA-II attacks (6-12 missiles), when it is not possible to see or maneuver with each missile."
The American aircraft had instruments that warned pilots with a certain tone when North Vietnamese radar tracked them and another tone when a missile locked on them.
In his autobiography, McCain said 22 missiles were fired at his squadron that day. "I knew I should roll out and fly evasive maneuvers, 'jinking,' in fliers' parlance, when I heard the tone," he wrote. But, he said, he continued on and released his bombs. Then a missile blew off his right wing.
Vietnam veterans said McCain did exactly what they did on almost every mission.
Frank Tullo, an Air Force pilot who flew 100 missions over North Vietnam, said his missile warning receiverconstantly sounded in his cockpit.
"Nobody broke off on a bombing run," said Tullo, later a commercial pilot and now an accident investigation instructor at USC. "It was a matter of manhood."
So here's John McCain's radical plan in a nutshell: he taxes health care benefits for the first time in history; millions lose the health care they have; millions pay more for the health care they get; drug and insurance companies continue to profit; and middle class families watch the system they rely on begin to unravel before their eyes. Well, I don't think that's the change we need. I think we can do better than that.
October 05, 2008
Obama Says McCain Wants to Distract from Issues
Asheville, North Carolina
As Prepared for Delivery
With just a month to go until election day, I know you've all been hearing a lot about politics out here in North Carolina. I know you've been seeing a lot of ads, and getting a lot of calls, and reading a lot about this election in the newspaper.
But none of you need the papers, or ads on TV, or folks like me to tell you what this election is all about. You know what's at stake. You're living it.
Here in Asheville, and across America, you've seen your incomes go down as the price of just about everything has gone way up. It's harder to pay the bills. Harder to send your kids to college. Harder to save enough to retire.
And on Friday, we learned that we'd lost another 159,000 American jobs in September. It was the ninth straight month of job losses - more than three quarters of a million this year, including 24,000 here in North Carolina. And it came just as we finished a week in which our financial markets teetered on the brink of disaster.
Yet instead of addressing these crises, Senator McCain's campaign has announced that they plan to turn the page on the discussion about our economy and spend the final weeks of this campaign launching Swiftboat-style attacks on me.
Think about that for a second. Turn the page on the economy? We're facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and John McCain wants us to "turn the page?" Well, I know the policies he's supported these past eight years and wants to continue are pretty hard to defend. I can understand why Senator McCain would want to "turn the page" and ignore this economy.
But I also know this:
You're trying to pay your bills every week and stay above the water - you can't ignore it.
You're worrying about whether your job will be there a month from now - you can't ignore it.
You're worrying about whether you can pay your mortgage and stay in your house - you can't turn the page.
In 30 days you are going to elect the next president, and you need and deserve a president who is going to wake up every day and fight for you, and fight for the middle class, and fight to create jobs and grow our economy again -- not another president who doesn't get it. Not another President who ignores our problems. Not more of the same.
Senator McCain and his operatives are gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance. They'd rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up. It's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time.
I want you to know that I'm going to keep on talking about the issues that matter - about the economy and health care and education and energy. I'm going to keep on standing up for hard working families. We're not going to let John McCain distract us from what we need to do to move this country forward.
Because November 4th, you and I are going to turn the page on the disastrous economic policies of George W. Bush and John McCain.
And one of the issues we must face and can't ignore is the explosion of health care costs that is crushing families and businesses across our country.
Understand, this is very personal to me.
I'm thinking today about my mother. She died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53. She fought valiantly, and endured the pain and chemotherapy with grace and good humor. But I'll never forget how she spent the final months of her life. At a time when she should have been focused on getting well, at a time when she should have been taking stock of her life and taking comfort in her family, she was lying in a hospital bed, fighting with her insurance company because they didn't want to cover her treatment. They claimed that her cancer was a pre-existing condition.
So I know something about the heartbreak caused by our health care system.
I know something about the anxiety of families hanging on by a thread as premiums have doubled, and debt piles up, and more than half - half - of all personal bankruptcies are caused in part by medical bills.
I know about the frustration of the nearly 40 percent of small business owners who can no longer afford to insure their employees - folks who work day and night, but have to lay people off, or shut their doors for good, because of rising health care costs.
I know the outrage we all feel about the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance - kids who can't see a doctor when they're sick; parents cutting their pills in half and praying for the best; folks who wind up in the emergency room in the middle of the night because they've got nowhere else to turn.
But I also know that this is not who we are.
We are not a country where a young woman I met should have to work the night shift after a full day of college and still not be able to pay the medical bills for her sister who's ill. That's not right - and it's not who we are.
We are not a country where a man I met should have to file for bankruptcy after he had a stroke, because he faced nearly $200,000 in medical costs that he couldn't afford and his insurance company didn't cover. That's not right - and it's not who we are.
That is not who we are, and that is not who we have to be. Enough is enough - it's time for change.
Now I know that at this moment, when we stand in the midst of a serious economic crisis, some might ask how we can afford to focus on health care. Major financial institutions have collapsed. Families across America are struggling. And it's clear that the rescue package we just passed in Congress isn't the end of what we need to do to fix our economy - it's just the beginning. Because contrary to what Senator McCain says, the fundamentals of our economy are still not strong. And we've got to address those fundamentals right now.
In other words, the question isn't how we can afford to focus on health care - but how we can afford not to. Because in order to fix our economic crisis, we need to fix our health care system too. Let's not forget, it's not just small businesses and families who are suffering. Some of the largest corporations in America - including major American car makers - are fighting to compete because of high health care costs. They're watching their foreign competitors prosper - unburdened by these costs - as they struggle to create the good jobs we need to get our economy back on track.
So it's clear that the time has come - right now - to solve this problem: to cut health care costs for families and businesses, and provide affordable, accessible health insurance for every American.
And you'd think that anyone running for president would understand this. You'd think any candidate for the highest office in the land would have a plan to achieve these critically important goals. Well, if you think that, you haven't met my opponent, Senator John McCain.
Now, it's not that he doesn't care about what people are going through. I just think he doesn't know. That's the only reason I can think of that he'd propose a health care plan that is so radical, so out of touch with what you're facing, and so out of line with our basic values.
It starts with his proposal to deregulate our insurance industry and leave families across America without the basic protections they rely on. You may have heard about how, in the current issue of a magazine, Senator McCain wrote that we need to open up health care to - and I quote - "more vigorous nationwide competition as we have done over the last decade in banking." That's right, he wants to deregulate the insurance industry just like he fought to deregulate the banking industry. And we've all seen how well that worked out.
It would be equally catastrophic for your health care. Right now, different states have different rules about what insurance companies have to cover. Senator McCain will let companies avoid these rules. He'll let them cherry pick the state where they're based - and sell plans anywhere in America.
It's the starting gun for a race to the bottom. Insurance companies will rush to set up shop in states with the fewest protections for patients - states where they don't have to cover things like mammograms, vaccinations and maternity care.
Now what does this mean for folks here in North Carolina? Well, this state requires insurance companies to cover mental health care, cancer screening, contraception, treatment for alcoholism and more. And here in North Carolina, you have the right to appeal when your HMO refuses to cover the treatment you need.
Under John McCain's plan, insurance companies wouldn't have to follow any of these rules. These are commonsense protections to make sure that you and your doctor - not insurance company bureaucrats - are making decisions about your health. And John McCain wants to let insurance companies go around them.
So while Senator McCain talks a lot about preserving states' rights - when it comes down to it, his plan is all about protecting insurance companies' rights. Well, I think it's time we started putting the health of our families before the profits of our insurance companies - and that's what I'm going to do as President.
I also want to talk a little about how exactly Senator McCain would pay for his plan. He's been eager to share some details about that - but not all.
He tells you that he'll give you a tax credit of $2,500 per person - $5,000 per family - to help you pay for your insurance and health care costs. But like those ads for prescription drugs, you have to read the fine print to learn the rest of the story.
You see, Senator McCain would pay for his plan, in part, by taxing your health care benefits for the first time in history. And this tax would come out of your paycheck. But the new tax credit he's proposing? That wouldn't go to you. It would go directly to your insurance company.
It's an old Washington bait and switch. It's a shell game. Senator McCain gives you a tax credit with one hand - but raises your taxes with the other. He's hoping we won't notice.
Well, I've got news for John McCain: we notice, we know better, and we're not going to let him get away with that.
Because here's what happens when Senator McCain taxes your benefits: a lot of younger, healthier workers will opt out of the insurance they get at work - and go out into the individual market, where they can buy a cheaper plan. That leaves employers with older, sicker workers who are more expensive to cover - so many employers will drop their health care plans altogether.
It's the same approach President Bush floated a few years ago. And it could be the beginning of the end of our employer-based health care system. In fact, studies show that under the McCain plan, at least 20 million Americans will lose the insurance you rely on from your workplace. Your families will have to go out into the marketplace with that $5,000 tax credit and buy insurance on your own.
But what Senator McCain doesn't tell you is that the average cost of a family health care plan is more than twice that much - $12,680. So where would that leave you?
Senator McCain also doesn't tell you that insurance in the individual market is more expensive and includes fewer benefits. Many of these plans don't cover things like prescription drugs or pre-natal care.
And Senator McCain's health care plan won't do a thing to stop insurance companies from discriminating against you if you have a pre-existing condition like hypertension, asthma, diabetes or cancer. Employers don't charge you higher premiums for these conditions, but insurers do - much higher. So the sicker you've been, the harder it'll be to get the care you need.
So here's John McCain's radical plan in a nutshell: he taxes health care benefits for the first time in history; millions lose the health care they have; millions pay more for the health care they get; drug and insurance companies continue to profit; and middle class families watch the system they rely on begin to unravel before their eyes. Well, I don't think that's the change we need. I think we can do better than that.
In the end, my opponent's plan reflects the same bankrupt philosophy he's subscribed to for three decades in Washington: take care of the healthy and wealthy, and good luck to everyone else. They call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Your job doesn't give you health care? The market will fix it. Pre-existing condition? Tough luck. Insurance company won't pay for your treatment? Too bad, you're on your own.
This approach hasn't worked these past eight years, it won't work now, and it's time for change.
Let me be clear - I don't think government can solve all our problems. But I reject the radical idea that government has no role to play in protecting ordinary Americans. I reject the thinking that says preserving our free market means letting corporations and special interests do as they please, and everyone else has to fend for themselves. I believe that if you work hard and do everything right, you shouldn't live in fear of losing everything because of a fluke of genetics, or a bad diagnosis, or a stroke of bad luck.
That is why, if I'm elected President, we're going to fix our health care system. We're going to take on the drug and insurance companies; reduce costs for families and businesses; and finally provide affordable, accessible health care for every American.
We'll start by lowering premiums by as much as $2,500 per family - and we'll do it by taking the following five steps to lower costs throughout our health care system.
First, we'll take on the drug companies, tell them thanks but no thanks for the overpriced drugs, and take steps to lower prices so people can afford them. And we'll tell the insurance companies: no more discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. It's not right, and we won't stand for it.
Second, we'll focus on prevention. We'll make sure insurance companies cover services like weight loss programs and smoking-cessation programs to help people avoid costly, debilitating health problems in the first place.
Third, we'll reduce waste and inefficiency by using the latest technologies to move our health care system into the 21st century. This will save tens of billions a year, reduce medical errors, and let doctors and nurses spend less time with paperwork and more time with patients.
Fourth, we'll reduce the cost of our care by improving the quality of our care. We'll track which drugs and procedures work best and reward providers not just for the quantity of care they provide - but for the quality of outcomes for their patients.
Fifth, we'll help businesses and workers by picking up the tab for some of the most expensive illnesses. Under my plan, the federal government will pay for part of these catastrophic cases, which means lower premiums for you - and less money out of your pocket.
But cost-cutting isn't enough. Because today, in the year 2008, 45 million Americans still don't have any health insurance at all. This is one of the great moral crises of our time. It's not who we are - and it's not who we have to be.
That's why my plan will cover all Americans. And unlike Senator McCain, I'll do it by building on - rather than dismantling - our current, workplace-based system. So if you have insurance you like, you keep that insurance. If you have a doctor you like, you keep that doctor. The only thing that changes for you is that your health care costs will go down.
But if you don't have insurance, or don't like your insurance, you'll be able to choose from the same type of quality private plans as every federal employee - from a postal worker here in North Carolina to a Congressman in Washington. No one will be turned away because of a pre-existing condition. If you change jobs, this insurance will go with you. And if you can't afford this insurance, you'll receive a tax credit to help pay for it.
We'll also provide substantial help for small businesses in the form of tax credits that will cover up to 50 percent of the cost of insuring their employees. This will help them create not just new jobs, but good jobs - jobs with health care that stay right here in America.
And here's how I'll pay for my plan. First, I will aggressively cut health care costs by reducing waste, greed and paperwork; lowering the cost of prescription drugs; and eliminating wasteful subsidies to private plans in Medicare. That will save a lot, but will still leave a cost of about $65 billion a year.
I'll cover that remaining cost with a portion of the money I'll save by ending George Bush's tax breaks for people making more than $250,000 a year. They'll go back to paying the kind of rates they paid when Bill Clinton was President. So we'll get this done responsibly without blowing a hole in our deficit.
In the end, none of this will be easy. We're up against a powerful, entrenched status quo in Washington that will say anything and do anything and fight with everything they've got to keep things the way they are.
But I know that if we come together, and work together, we can do this. So many people are counting on us.
A woman named Robyn who I met in Florida, is one of those people. Back in May, her 16 year old son Devon [DEH-vinn] came to one of our events, and I got to meet him at the airport in Fort Lauderdale. Later that day, Devon became seriously ill. His heart started racing, and his lips turned white. He was rushed to the hospital and almost went into cardiac arrest. He was later diagnosed with a heart condition and told he needed a procedure that would cost tens of thousands of dollars. Robyn's insurance company refused to pay -- they said it was a pre-existing condition - and Robyn's family doesn't have that kind of money.
But until Devon has that procedure, he has to take medication and stop all physical activity. No more gym classes. No more football at school. No more basketball at the park with his friends.
After we met, Robyn sent me an email in which she wrote, "I can't help but feel as if somehow we failed Devon. Why couldn't we be the rich family that has the great insurance or could whip out 50 grand like it is nothing?"
She ended her email with these words, "I ask only this of you - on the days where you feel so tired you can't think of uttering another word to the people, think of us. On the days when you are playing basketball, think of Devon, who can't. When those who oppose you have you down, reach deep and fight back harder."
Today, I want to say to Robyn and Devon and everyone like them across America, you have my word that I will never back down, I will never give up, I will never stop fighting until we have fixed our health care system and no family ever has to go through what you're going through, and my mother went through, and so many people go through every day in this country. That is my promise to you.
And if all of you here today will stand with me in this work - if you'll talk to your friends and neighbors, get people to the polls, and give me your vote, then together, we won't just win this election, we will transform this nation. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.
Barack Obama, a Democratic Senator from Illinois, is the Democratic presidential nominee.
Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/10/obama_says_mccain_wants_to_dis.html at October 06, 2008 - 12:27:34 AM PDT