Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Real McCains

The Candidate We Still Don’t Know


AS I went on vacation at the end of July, Barack Obama was leading John McCain by three to four percentage points in national polls. When I returned last week he still was. But lo and behold, a whole new plot twist had rolled off the bloviation assembly line in those intervening two weeks: Obama had lost the election!

The poor guy should be winning in a landslide against the despised party of Bush-Cheney, and he's not. He should be passing the 50 percent mark in polls, and he's not. He's been done in by that ad with Britney and Paris and by a new international crisis that allows McCain to again flex his Manchurian Candidate military cred. Let the neocons identify a new battleground for igniting World War III, whether Baghdad or Tehran or Moscow, and McCain gets with the program as if Angela Lansbury has just dealt him the Queen of Hearts.

Obama has also been defeated by racism (again). He can't connect and "close the deal" with ordinary Americans too doltish to comprehend a multicultural biography that includes what Cokie Roberts of ABC News has damned as the "foreign, exotic place" of Hawaii. As The Economist sums up the received wisdom, "lunch-pail Ohio Democrats" find Obama's ideas of change "airy-fairy" and are all asking, "Who on earth is this guy?"


Did McCain Plagiarize His Speech on the Georgia Crisis?

A Wikipedia editor emailed Political Wire to point out some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. Given the closeness of the words and sentence structure, most would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived directly from Wikipedia.

First instance:

one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion (Wikipedia)


one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion (McCain)

Second instance:

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia had a brief period of independence as a Democratic Republic (1918-1921), which was terminated by the Red Army invasion of Georgia. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 and regained its independence in 1991. Early post-Soviet years was marked by a civil unrest and economic crisis. (Wikipedia)


After a brief period of independence following the Russian revolution, the Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922. As the Soviet Union crumbled at the end of the Cold War, Georgia regained its independence in 1991, but its early years were marked by instability, corruption, and economic crises. (McCain)

Third instance:

In 2003, Shevardnadze (who won reelection in 2000) was deposed by the Rose Revolution, after Georgian opposition and international monitors asserted that the 2 November parliamentary elections were marred by fraud. The revolution was led by Mikheil Saakashvili, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze, former members and leaders of Shavarnadze's ruling party. Mikheil Saakashvili was elected as President of Georgia in 2004. Following the Rose Revolution, a series of reforms was launched to strengthen the country's military and economic capabilities. (Wikipedia)


Following fraudulent parliamentary elections in 2003, a peaceful, democratic revolution took place, led by the U.S.-educated lawyer Mikheil Saakashvili. The Rose Revolution changed things dramatically and, following his election, President Saakashvili embarked on a series of wide-ranging and successful reforms. (McCain)

Granted the third instance isn't as close as the first two, which seem quite obviously taken from Wikipedia.

It should be noted that Wikipedia material can be freely used but always requires attribution under its terms of use. Whether a presidential candidate should base policy speeches on material from Wikipedia is another question entirely.


A Cut-and-Paste Foreign Policy

by Joe Conason

The discovery that John McCain's remarks on Georgia were derived from Wikipedia, to put it politely, is disturbing and even depressing — but not surprising. Under the tutelage of the neoconservatives, who revealed their superficial understanding of Iraq both before and after the invasion, he favors bellicose grandstanding over strategic thinking. So why delve deeper than a quick Google search?

Worse still, neither he nor his advisers yet grasp how our misadventure in Mesopotamia has diminished American power and prestige. In fact, the Wikipedia episode — an awful embarrassment that would have devastated the presidential campaign of Barack Obama or any other Democrat — revealed an underlying weakness in Sen. McCain's vaunted grasp of foreign policy.

Still enthralled by an exhausted ideology, he seems unable to analyze how we can avoid manipulation by allies or adversaries while advancing our own real interests. Those interests include the cultivation of democracy but also the promotion of regional stability and international security. Pretending to confront Russia from a position of weakness doesn't help.

Frankly, the Arizona Republican's latest foray onto the world stage suggested that he is not quite ready for the responsibilities of the presidency. When he emphasized that Georgia was "one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion," he sounded like a politician who will gladly damage our global influence merely for the sake of pandering to his partisan base.


The Hillary conundrum

Peak Oil, Missing Oil Meters and an Inactive Pipeline:

by Paul Chefurka 


In this article I will present research that supports a rather startling hypothesis: that the USA invaded Iraq primarily to enable the secret diversion of a portion of Iraq's oil production to Saudi Arabia. This was done in order to disguise the fact that Saudi Arabia's oil output has peaked, and may be in permanent decline.  The evidence for this conclusion is circumstantial, but it does knit up many of the loose threads in the mystery of the American administration's motivation for invasion.

To lay the groundwork we need to set out a couple of assumptions.

The primary assumption is that the world's oil production has been on a plateau for the last two years, and in fact we may be teetering on the brink of the production decline predicted by the Peak Oil theory. Such a decline could be dangerous to the world economy, both directly through the loss of economic capacity and indirectly (and perhaps more importantly) through the loss of investor confidence in the global economic structure.

The second assumption is that the oil production of Saudi Arabia is key to maintaining the global oil supply.  Saudi Arabia supplies over 10% of the world's crude oil, with over half of that coming from one enormous field named Ghawar.  There is a large and well-informed body of opinion that believes that if Saudi oil production goes into decline the world will follow because there is not the spare capacity anywhere else to make up for such a decline.  Saudi Arabia is notoriously tight-lipped about the state of their oil fields, and in fact oil production information is considered to be a state secret. The only trustworthy information the world really has about Saudi Arabia's oil are their aggregated production figures.

The conclusion that can be drawn from these two assumptions is that if Saudi Arabia's production began to decline and the world found out about it, there would be a significant risk of a world-wide economic panic that would destabilize markets and throw nations like the USA into a recession or depression that would be worse than the actual damage done by the loss of the oil.  We can assume that the prevention or postponement of such a crisis would be an extremely high priority for the administrations of both the USA and Saudi Arabia.


Paul Krugman: Accentuate the Negative

by Paul Krugman

So the Obama campaign has turned to the politics of personal destruction, attempting to make a campaign issue out of John McCain's inability to remember how many houses he has. And the turn comes not a moment too soon.

Over the past month or so many Democrats have had the sick feeling that once again their candidate brought a knife to a gunfight. Barack Obama's campaign, inexplicably, was unprepared for the inevitable Republican attack on the candidate's character. By the middle of last week, Mr. Obama's once formidable lead, both in national polls and in electoral college projections based on state-level polls, had virtually evaporated.

Mr. Obama's waning advantage brought back bad memories of the 2004 campaign, whose key lesson was that there are no limits to the form G.O.P. character attacks can take.


Why Joe Biden?

Posted by royters

Sen. Barack Obama is on the defensive, already being forced to explain why he chose Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware to be his running mate.  Critics of the decision point out the following:

1) Biden voted in favor of the Iraq War, which contradicts Obama's central message of judgment;

2) Biden has been a Senator for almost 40 years, which contradicts Obama's message of change,

3) Biden is from a small Mid Atlantic state, this makes Obama's 50-state strategy look like a PR campaign only,


4) Biden's age makes it unlikely that he will be able to run for office following a potential Obama administration.

Obama forcefully defended his pick.  "Joe brings a lot of foreign policy experience to the ticket," said Senator Obama while measuring the White House for curtains, "And you need to have someone with such experience in your Administration.  It's not like there's a cabinet position that deals with foreign-policy every single day.  Had there been a cabinet spot whose job description involved meeting with world leaders daily and troubleshooting international crises, I certainly would have put Biden in that slot.  But since such a position doesn't exist, I had no choice but to make Biden my VP."

Political commentators have learned that Obama tried to select the Feres twins, but that the two failed to meet the constitutional requirements forcing him two go with Biden instead.


Recession? Not yet.