Muslims are the most loyal American religious group, new poll says


Bet you didn’t know this did you?

Muslim Americans are loyal to the US and optimistic despite facing high levels of discrimination, a Gallup poll on American religious groups finds.

A poll released Thursday revealed curious contradictions in the Muslim-American community, which is more enthused about its country and president than any other religious group, yet is the least politically active and faces the greatest discrimination.

The Gallup poll on American religious groups offers a counterpoint to the stereotype that Muslims in the US lead isolated lives because they do not feel comfortable fitting in or associating with mainstream American culture. Moreover, it also offers insights into the Muslim-American experience – from how dramatically the election of President Obama affected them to how little they trust the activists who work on their behalf.

In total, the poll paints a picture of a community characterized by optimism but still seeking acceptance among its fellow citizens.

For instance, 93 percent of Muslim Americans say they are loyal to America. They have the highest confidence in the integrity of US elections (57 percent), and they are the most hopeful about their lives over the next five years, compared with other groups.

Yet 48 percent of Muslim Americans report they experienced some kind of racial or religious discrimination, a finding that places them far ahead of Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and atheists/agnostics.

One reason for the optimistic outlook despite discrimination could be that Muslim Americans see their financial fortunes improving. Some 64 percent of Muslim Americans in 2011 reported their standard of living got better, compared with 46 percent in 2008.

But the presidency of Mr. Obama has arguably had an even more powerful affect on Muslim Americans. Muslim Americans give him the highest approval rating – 80 percent – of any religious group. American Jews are a distant second, giving Obama a 65 percent approval rating.

The number is even more striking when compared with Muslim American support for George W. Bush in 2008, which was 7 percent.

The shift in leadership in Washington was “truly transformational” for US Muslims in how they viewed their loyalties to democratic institutions and the nation at large, says Dalia Mogahed, director and senior analyst of the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, based in the United Arab Emirates.

After the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Americans faced intense scrutiny, both individually and from federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Obama is credited with helping smooth tensions through his outreach to the US Muslim community and his effort to end the Iraq war responsibly. The poll shows that 83 percent of Muslim Americans – more than any other religious group – say the war was a “mistake.”

Despite the positive signs, “there are still obstacles” for Muslim Americans, Ms. Mogahed says.

“They embrace American values and democratic principles but aren’t sure if the rest of American embraces them,” she says.

Some 56 percent of Protestants said American Muslims had no sympathy for Al Qaeda, the lowest number of any faith group. By comparison, 63 percent of Catholics and 70 percent of Jews thought Muslim Americans had no sympathies for Al Qaeda.

“That’s certainly a challenge for the [US Muslim] community – to have their loyalty questioned by such a large number of their fellow Americans,” Mogahed says.

Those challenges, however, have not led Muslim Americans to try to affect change at the ballot box. They are the least likely religious group to vote, with just 65 percent of Muslims in America are registered. One reason is age: The average age of a Muslim-American is 35, while the average American Protestant is 55. Younger people tend to be less politically active, Mogahed says.

Another reason is affiliation: Poll findings show that the majority of Muslim Americans say that none of the leading Muslim organizations in the US, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations or the Islamic Society of North America, represents their interests.

With the 2012 election around the corner, Mogahed says political parties that want to reach out to Muslim-American voters might be better off establishing partnerships with local mosques than focusing on winning endorsements from national advocacy organizations. This is especially relevant considering that Muslim Americans who attend a religious service once a week are two times more likely to be politically active than those who attend less frequently, the poll found.

“The mosque should be more the mobilization engine” for get-out-the-vote drives than it has been in the past, she says.

The poll surveyed 2,482 adults, 475 of whom were Muslim. For Muslims, there was a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 7 percentage points.

Which begs the question, where does everyone else rank in comparison?  This article addresses that with respect to Christian evangelicals, one of the groups largely responsible for the current Islamophobic public attacks going on in America today.  Citing a Pew Research Center poll the article makes the point that Christian evangelicals are far less patriotic than American Muslims

Among Christians in the U.S., white evangelicals are especially inclined to identify first with their faith; 70 percent in this group see themselves first as Christians rather than as Americans, while 22 percent say they are primarily American.

so the upshot of this is the next time you hear someone ranting about the Muslim fifth column or taqiyah or any other cliches used by people on the right to justify casting suspicion of members of the Islamic faith remind them that they are more a threat to the national security than the Muslims against whom they rail.

Americans Should Not Remember 9/11


The memory of 9/11 should be buried in a time capsule and sent to the earth’s core to be forever forgotten.  As we approach September 11, 2011, what happened 10 years ago should be blocked from the Nation’s conscience.  At the very least, if not, then we should also remember what we did and have done since 9/11.

We have invaded two countries whose governments had nothing at all to do with the events of that day.  We oversaw the assassination of one country’s president/ruler/leader and attempted to kill or murder another.  We fostered an entire administration of international war criminals who went about justifying everything that before 9/11 we opposed and fought against ourselves.  We re-elected a president who was responsible for the plunder of the national treasury at the hands of greedy, despotic bankers who felt no remorse nor sense of responsibility to the welfare or anyone but themselves.  We became cannibals on September 11, 2001, turning against ourselves, engaging in demagoguery and hatred that haven’t been seen since the days of Reconstruction; pitting one religious community against another in nonsensical, fabricated assertions that are not even remotely connected to reality.  We have exaggerated the political differences among us to heights of disrespect and rude discourse to the point the Nation’s interests are no longer important, only partisan political gains.  Whereas just 5 short years ago we were demanding the country respect its president, we now heap scorn upon him with sophomoric imagery becoming of elementary illiterates and all this under the gaze of an omnipotent media which spun the corporate line to make it palatable to an angry country that wanted nothing more than blood…….anyone’s blood, even the blood of innocents.

We will be regaled with images and orchestral music evoking the pain and suffering we experienced that day, while our own war criminals’ victims have no place in our national conscience  and the crimes which they suffered go unpunished.  We were once a nation that demanded justice, yet we willingly want to see our criminals spared that process.  We no longer have leaders who inspire us, we elect and want leaders who frighten and anger us, who push us towards hatred of our fellow citizens who are different than us because of faith or skin color.  We have gone backwards in time…..to the time of our primal ancestors who killed their brothers for no apparent reason than jealousy or envy and that seems to be ok with a great many of us who want to “remember” 9/11.

I want to forget 9/11 and  all that because our country is greater than all the things previously mentioned in this piece.  Born out of hope and struggle we achieved greatness until we started remembering 9/11 at which time we fell out of Grace.  We cannot continue down the paths we started on 9/12 without negative consequences, yet we seem to not even consider what those consequences are, focusing instead on our suffering while ignoring what we have reaped on others.  In other words, we’ve become a country of cry babies….bellyaching about every perceived injustice we’ve had while forgetting about our own criminality.

I want no part of remembering 9/11 because I remember everything that happened after 9/11 and it was/is just as much a nightmare for me as the events on that awful day.  But unless we as a Nation make amends for what happened on 9/11 and beyond there will be more 9/11s, not by unknown, foreign, dark skinned people with funny names invading our shores, but rather at the hands of people we elect to office, or listen to or watch on our ever present media, or our neighbors unemployed for years with no sign of hope, or business people who either want more or don’t have enough and on and on it goes.  I want no part of that America and I want no part of anything that brings it on.  I want to forget 9/11.

A Disturbing Trend


New York Has the Most Millionaires
Robert Frank

According to the new Metro Wealth Index, created by consulting firm Capgemini, the New York Metropolitan area had 650,000 high-net worth individuals, or people with $1 million or more in investible assets in 2009. That is 18.7% higher than in 2008.

Once again, the New York area topped the list of metro-area wealth centers. Its total was greater than the combined total of the next three runners up–Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.

Of the top 10, Houston posted the the fastest growth, at 28.9%. But all enjoyed strong growth.

Here are the tallies of millionaires for the top 10, along with the percentage growth:

New York – 667,200, +18.7%

Los Angeles – 235,800, +13.3%

Chicago – 198,100, +15.1%

Washington, D.C. – 152,400 +19.3%

San Francisco – 138,300 +14.5%

Philadelphia – 104,100, +20.1%

Boston – 102,300, + 14.4%

Detroit – 89,100, +12.1%

Houston –- 88,200, +28.9%

San Jose — 86,500, +24.5%

What are the takeaways?

First, that the U.S. taxpayers’ bank bailouts certainly helped those on Wall Street (though why New York still has huge budget problems given the wealth surge in 2009 and much-publicized tax burden of the wealthy remains a mystery).

Second, that finance, technology and oil remain the main sources of wealth in the U.S.

Third, while New York, D.C., Houston and San Jose are now above 2007 levels, the rest are still below the 2007 heights.

Fourth, that 2010 may not be as rosy as 2009 when it comes to minting new millionaires or re-minting the old ones.
What patterns do you see in the numbers?

The seat of government, Washington, DC,  placed in the top five American cities with millionaires and that should say something about what government has done to its citizens.  In a city where the only business is government which then goes and has a steadily increasing number of millionaires from one year to the next but was virtually deadlocked and or engaged in acrimonious debate on increasing unemployment benefits for the country’s unemployed says something about what many people in government think is their role.  The war on terror has led to the enrichment of many private citizens whose wealth depends on a fearful government willing to empty out its coffers to fight or demonize people who either don’t exist, mean them no harm or are incapable of inflicting harm, at the expense of the majority of the American people.  In this case, the expression ‘follow the money’ has meaning!

Ten signs the US is becoming a Third World country


This is a very compelling read that I hope you will take time to absorb.   I wanted to excerpt points I find particularly relevant to today’s debates

Declining civil rights: Everyday freedoms are often a casualty of a society in collapse.  As the anger of the populace mounts in response to declining economic conditions and political corruption, the government counters by increasing draconian measures that restrict the political rights and civil liberties of its citizens.

America is becoming a country like China, which has one of the lowest scores according to Freedom House.  In America, private discussions and movements are monitored, free speech is corralled, the freedom to assemble for protest is by government decree, and independent thought that questions the political system is increasingly looked upon with suspicion.  A final indicator is when the government insists upon secrecy for its own actions, while new laws and systems are created to put the individual under nearly constant surveillance.

Failing infrastructure: As 46 of 50 states are on the verge of bankruptcy, cities are going dark, asphalt roads are returning to the stone age, and nationwide budget cuts are leaving students without teachers, supplies, or a full-time education.  These are common features one will see as they travel through the poorest of Third World countries.

Controlling the media: A government-influenced media that censors information is a key component of Third World countries.  In some countries it is openly owned by the State.  In America, privately-owned major media is not as balanced or as diverse as it seems; the concentration of ownership has led to censorship when national and corporate interests have sometimes overlapped.  The persecution of high-profile investigative journalists such as WikiLeaks is set amid a backdrop of the proposed Internet censorship of bloggers who wish to remain anonymous.  The end of net neutrality creates a pay-to-play system that can lead to further corporate and government control of information and opinion.  Cybersecurity initiatives are the final nail in the coffin, as the entire free flow of information can be vetted in a China-style system of “identity management.”  On the street, the police state and media control have converged in the recent rise of arrests for those who videotape the police.  This is a huge blow to First Amendment rights and the role of photojournalists who wish to document public police behavior.

American elections spun to enable Israeli aggression


The American election cycle of every two years is increasingly being used to advance or stifle political positions in favor of one political party or special interest, to the detriment of the country’s interests.  Presidential appointments are delayed, bills filibustered or back room maneuvers made in order for one group to gain an advantage over another.

Now, however the tactic has turned to making war and not a war that would be fought initially by Americans but it is hoped would certainly see them as participants at one point or another.

During election years in the U.S. (including mid-terms), Israeli leaders are particularly confident of the power they and the Likud Lobby enjoy on the American political scene.

This prime minister learned well from Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon……

The power of the Likud Lobby, especially in an election year, facilitates Netanyahu’s attempts to convince those few of his colleagues who need convincing that there may never be a more auspicious time to bring about “regime change” in Tehran.

And, as we hope your advisers have told you, regime change, not Iranian nuclear weapons, is Israel’s primary concern.

Money down the drain


I saw this story about the Pentagon misplacing or not being able to account for $8.7 billion  and had to jump on it.  It’s not news if you’ve been reading Miscellany101; we first wrote about this penchant of the Defense Department to mismanage funds…I still think that’s fraud, in February ’09 and claimed the amount was far more than the 8.7 billion dollars being reported today but closer to 10 billion, and underscored it with this quote

Though Defense has long been notorious for waste, recent government reports suggest the Pentagon’s money management woes have reached astronomical proportions. A study by the Defense Department’s inspector general found that the Pentagon couldn’t properly account for more than a trillion dollars in monies spent. A GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S. Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. And before the Iraq war, when military leaders were scrambling to find enough chemical and biological warfare suits to protect U.S. troops, the department was caught selling these suits as surplus on the Internet “for pennies on the dollar,” a GAO official said.

The Iraq war was a windfall for everyone but the tax payer who saw the revenue generated by their taxes squandered by people who pushed upon the nation a needless war, to the detriment of millions of jobless and homeless Americans.  One trillion dollars lost, and that’s what we know about, for nation building?  Someone should ask the homeowner who just lost their house, or the person unemployed from a company that couldn’t afford to keep them whether the loss of the national revenue to fund the Iraq war was worth their circumstance today.  Regrettably the story making the rounds today by AP about the Pentagon not being able to account for “X” billions of dollars isn’t news……it’s pathetic!

Have You Driven a Ford lately?


If you have, the US economy thanks you, for the Ford Motor Company is posting its fifth straight quarterly profit. What’s remarkable about that is Ford is the one car company that while losing money just two short years ago, to the tune of millions of dollars, did not seek government bailout funds to facilitate its turnaround.  Rather, it worked with its unions as well as its developers to reduce labor costs while producing cars wanted by the public.

All in the family


In a previous post I alluded to how people in media with a certain interest are neglectful of trends that are staring them in the face when those trends don’t suit their agendas, such as advancing the notion that one group of people has invested in it all the anti-social behavior and negative traits are the worse while ignoring the very same inclinations in other groups.   Here is an article written by Alison Weir that states that case far better than I could.

Recent exposés revealing that Ethan Bronner, the New York Times’ Israel-Palestine bureau chief, has a son in the Israeli military have caused a storm of controversy that continues to swirl and generate further revelations.

Many people find such a sign of family partisanship in an editor covering a foreign conflict troubling – especially given the Times’ record of Israel-centric journalism.

Times management at first refused to confirm Bronner’s situation, then refused to comment on it. Finally, public outcry forced Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt to confront the problem in a February 7th column.

After bending over backwards to praise the institution that employs him, Hoyt ultimately opined that Bronner should be re-assigned to a different sphere of reporting to avoid the “appearance” of bias. Times Editor Bill Keller declined to do so, however, instead writing a column calling Bronner’s connections to Israel valuable because they “supply a measure of sophistication about Israel and its adversaries that someone with no connections would lack.”

If such “sophistication” is valuable, the Times’ espoused commitment to the “impartiality and neutrality of the company’s newsrooms” would seem to require it to have a balancing editor equally sophisticated about Palestine and its adversary, but Keller did not address that.

Bronner is far from alone

As it turns out, Bronner’s ties to the Israeli military are not the rarity one might expect.

• A previous Times bureau chief, Joel Greenberg, before he was bureau chief but after he was already publishing in the Times from Israel, actually served in the Israeli army.

• Media pundit and Atlantic staffer Jeffrey Goldberg also served in the Israeli military; it’s unclear when, how, or even if his military service ended.

• Richard Chesnoff, who has been covering Mideast events for more than 40 years, had a son serving in the Israeli military while Chesnoff covered Israel as US News & World Report’s senior foreign correspondent.

• NPR’s Linda Gradstein’s husband was an Israeli sniper and may still be in the Israeli reserves. NPR refuses to disclose whether Gradstein herself is also an Israeli citizen, as are her children and husband.

• Mitch Weinstock, national editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune, served in the Israeli military.

• The New York Times’ other correspondent from the region, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli citizen. Israel has universal compulsory military service, which suggests that Kershner herself and/or family members may have military connections. The Times refuses to answer questions about whether she and/or family members have served or are currently serving in the Israeli military. Is it possible that Times Foreign Editor Susan Chira herself has such connections? The Times refuses to answer.

• Many Associated Press writers and editors are Israeli citizens or have Israeli families. AP will not reveal how many of the journalists in its control bureau for the region currently serve in the Israeli military, how many have served in the past, and how many have family members with this connection.

• Similarly, many TV correspondents such as Martin Fletcher have been Israeli citizens and/or have Israeli families. Do they have family connections to the Israeli military?

• Time Magazine’s bureau chief several years ago became an Israeli citizen after he had assumed his post. Does he have relatives in the military?

• CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, while not an Israeli citizen, was based in Israel for many years, wrote a book whitewashing Israeli spying on the US, and used to work for the Israel lobby in the US. None of this is divulged to CNN viewers.

Tikkun’s editor Michael Lerner has a son who served in the Israeli military. While Lerner has been a strong critic of many Israeli policies, in an interview with Jewish Week, Lerner explains:

“Having a son in the Israeli army was a manifestation of my love for Israel, and I assume that having a son in the Israeli army is a manifestation of Bronner’s love of Israel.”

Lerner goes on to make a fundamental point:

“…there is a difference in my emotional and spiritual connection to these two sides [Israelis and Palestinians]. On the one side is my family; on the other side are decent human beings. I want to support human beings all over the planet but I have a special connection to my family. I don’t deny it.”

For a great many of the reporters and editors determining what Americans learn about Israel-Palestine, Israel is family.

Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth, writes of a recent meeting with a Jerusalem based bureau chief, who explained: “… Bronner’s situation is ‘the rule, not the exception. I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

Cooks writes that the bureau chief explained: “It is common to hear Western reporters boasting to one another about their Zionist credentials, their service in the Israeli army or the loyal service of their children.”

Apparently, intimate ties to Israel are among the many open secrets in the region that are hidden from the American public. If, as the news media insist, these ties present no problem or even, as the Times’ Keller insists, enhance the journalists’ work, why do the news agencies consistently refuse to admit them?

The reason is not complicated.

While Israel may be family for these journalists and editors, for the vast majority of Americans, Israel is a foreign country. In survey after survey, Americans say they don’t wish to “take sides” on this conflict. In other words, the American public wants full, unfiltered, unslanted coverage.

Quite likely the news media refuse to answer questions about their journalists’ affiliations because they suspect, accurately, that the public would be displeased to learn that the reporters and editors charged with supplying news on a foreign nation and conflict are, in fact, partisans.

While Keller claims that the New York Times is covering this conflict “even-handedly,” studies indicate otherwise:

* The Times covers international reports documenting Israeli human rights abuses at a rate 19 times lower than it reports on the far smaller number of international reports documenting Palestinian human rights abuses.

* The Times covers Israeli children’s deaths at rates seven times greater than they cover Palestinian children’s deaths, even though there are vastly more of the latter and they occurred first.

* The Times fails to inform its readers that Israel’s Jewish-only colonies on confiscated Palestinian Christian and Muslim land are illegal; that its collective punishment of 1.5 million men, women, and children in Gaza is not only cruel and ruthless, it is also illegal; and that its use of American weaponry is routinely in violation of American laws.

* The Times covers the one Israeli (a soldier) held by Palestinians at a rate incalculably higher than it reports on the Palestinian men, women, and children – the vast majority civilians – imprisoned by Israel (currently over 7,000).

• The Times neglects to report that hundreds of Israel’s captives have never even been charged with a crime and that those who have were tried in Israeli military courts under an array of bizarre military statutes that make even the planting of onions without a permit a criminal offense – a legal system, if one can call it that, that changes at the whim of the current military governor ruling over a subject population; a system in which parents are without power to protect their children.

* The Times fails to inform its readers that 40 percent of Palestinian males have been imprisoned by Israel, a statistic that normally would be considered highly newsworthy, but that Bronner, Kershner, and Chira apparently feel is unimportant to report.

Americans, whose elected representatives give Israel uniquely gargantuan sums of our tax money (a situation also not covered by the media), want and need all the facts, not just those that Israel’s family members decree reportable.

We’re not getting them.

The French Government and Hypocrisy- One and the same


lorealLet me see if I understand this correctly, the French government can impose limits on what a hijab-demo-17jan04-741person can wear or not wear in order to attend government schools, yet a private company cannot say who it can hire to be sales staff for its products, even when the people appearing in those products are people of color?

France can ban the wearing of religious symbols even when those wearing them are doing so of their own free will in an expression of their religious beliefs in a society thatsupposedly  promotes, liberty, fraternity and equality, while insisting at the same time that companies do not have the right to determine who they can  employ in selling their products?  No one sees the slightest bit of hypocrisy in the French position?

People, who of their own free will,  practice a faith that may be different and not customary to the wider society  and choose to wear clothes that express themselves in ways different than the majority, but who are at the same time law abiding citizens who do not  frighten or intimidate others, should not have laws legislated which seek to limit or curtail that expression.  In fact the beauty of liberty and freedom means acts of social interaction are interpreted based on the law, which should should not be enacted to deny expression, but rather the acts of illegality that expression may or may not encourage.  Therefore, if a school girl walking down a French street is the victim of sexual harassment or assault it is the perpetrator of that action who should be limited not the girl wearing an article of clothing.   What the French want to do is take the act of discipline off their hands by removing the object of people’s ire, and in the process limit the freedom of its citizens.

Likewise, companies who have broadly used women of color in their advertising campaigns but choose to hire a sales staff they think may be able to sale their product to a broad based clientele should not have the weight of the State descend on them in a punitive way.  L’Oreal in France has to have the support of a majority of women of color in order to be profitable.  If hiring people that reflect a certain demographic will give them that market, how can the State justify changing that dynamic and jeopardizing the viability of the Company?  Will the State then say that the public MUST buy certain products in order to insure the success of a company so that it doesn’t go under because of the financially oppressive measures of the State?  Don’t be surprised if that happens next.

For now, France is following in the tradition of other western countries that seek to use expressions of liberty and freedom as slogans  which fall quickly when government wants to intervene in the lives of its citizens.  The tools the state uses for this intervention are usually fear and loathing of opponents who are unknown or unfamiliar.  Civilized people should recognize such tactics for what they are.  Ignorant people are too easily persuaded and succomb to the deceit.  The two cases above highlight how France is counting on the latter with its citizens!  Que sera, sera!

Neo-Conservatives are bad for America


neocons+straussIt’s been extraordinary watching how neocons have made everything up, down, everything black, white and everything evil, good and back again.  In the process they have managed to weaken America, tarnish her image in the world community and imperil the world.  In my wildest of conspiratorial dreams, I surmise they are responsible for the election of Barack Obama in order to undo some of the damage they have done, but they have not kept themselves out of the policy making apparatus of government; they are rather firmly entrenched there and have installed gate keepers at every door of the branches of government.  Rahm Emmanuel in the executive, and policy wonks at State, two previously mentioned here on the pages of Miscellany101.  They are not working in the best interests of the US; American interests take a back seat to interests feuled by tribalism and history they want to rewrite in order settle old scores at the expense of an unconcerned and uninitiated American public.  Sure most of it is based on OIL, oil, Israel and logistics, but personal aggrandizement and wealth also play a part in their deception.

So while going through my daily reading I wandered on this article which reinforced these notions above.  What picqued my interest and aggravated my anger was the explicit statement that Saddam wanted the help of America and would have entered into a defense pact with the US in order to defend him against Iran.  That’s not altogether surprising since Saddam fought the Iranians before in the 80s for eight years, at no expense to US personnel or materiel.  Saddam wanted to talk to Bush about that and if he had been successful in pitching the idea all the American lives killed and money wasted at great expense to the country could have been avoided with an even better policy result!  But Bush was convinced to ignore Saddam’s overtures, no doubt with the blessings of the many neocons entrenched in his government who advised against such acceptance.  Instead these people using fascist tactics of deception and the increased powers of the state  got Bush to promote the lie of WMDS and consequently,  America has  installed  a pro-Iranian regime, and destabilized one of the largest Arab speaking countries of the region.  All this happened because neocons have been pitching the idea of regime change to Democrats and Republicans alike since the mid 90s.

They have managed to pitch war at the expense of peace before, when they similarly got Bush to ignore Iranian attempts at rapprochement with America in 2003.  Now a second US administration is being led by the nose with the help of a belligerent ally, Israel, that wants a war and ostensibly drag America into it, with a country that wants peace and is willing to  make major concessions towards that aim.  Such a war would not be in the interests of America and could prove to be more costly than even the Iraq debacle.  The authors of American government advised this country in its infancy from foreign entanglements and that advice still reverberates throughout time but there are few in government who are able to hear it because of the noise being made by neoconservatives and their spin doctors.  The fact that Obama has further embraced them, making government positions a revolving door for the enemies of America to spin, deceive and escalate and involve this country in military adventures means there isn’t much that has changed with his election.  It’s time for Americans to show neocons the door.

Clinton’s run in with the Lobby


I was really blown away by the headline, Jewish Leaders Blast Clinton over Israel Criticism and see it as one more descent into the abyss of extremist Zionism taking over American politics.  What is it Clinton criticized Israel for?

“Israel is not making enough effort to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza,” senior U.S. officials told Israeli counterparts last week, and reiterated Washington’s view by saying that “the U.S. expects Israel to meet its commitments on this matter.”

Sources at the defense establishment confirmed last night that pressure is increasing on Israel to reopen the crossings to larger volumes of aid for the Gaza Strip. Defense sources said that Israel will find it increasingly difficult to counter the pressure, and may agree to more extensive use of the crossings for aid. Currently, fewer than 200 trucks carrying aid are allowed through daily. The U.S., the EU and the UN are demanding that at least 500 trucks carrying aid be allowed into the Strip daily.

When Senator John Kerry visited the Strip, he learned that many trucks loaded with pasta were not permitted in. When the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee inquired as to the reason for the delay, he was told by United Nations aid officials that “Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid – only rice shipments.”

American Jewish leaders are upset that a US secretary of State insists the Israeli government allow in pasta, and because she, Clinton, has demanded the Israeli government allow that aid into Gaza, America’s Jews are angry?  Why, would be the logical question, are they angry?  Clinton was elected to the US Senate as a senator from New York, one of the most heavily populated Jewish states and has given Israel everything it has asked for in the form of American largess yet a simple declarative sentence that Israel must allow aid to the Palestinians has leaders turning on their heads.

Methinks what has happened is the old slight of hand trick, where the media pundits have used words to categorize Clinton’s remarks on the issue to inflame public reaction.  In fact, the only direct quote from Clinton I could find was this statement from the above link:’ “We are working across the government to see what our approach will be,” Clinton said’, otherwise Kramer, the CBS reporter goes on to characterize Clinton’s remarks as “hammering”, a “change of position”, “a swift about face” and “angry messages”, all terms designed to signify a change in Clinton’s positionvis-a-vis Israel.

However, even if the essence of Clinton’s remarks was that Israel must allow aid into Gaza is that such a bad thing?  The Gazan people’s ability to maintain themselves has been decimated; their agricultural subsistence is threatened daily by Israeli snipers who shoot at people working in the farm fields of Gaza or Israeli navy ships which intimidate fisherman as they fish in Gaza’s territorial waters.  In effect the Israelis “own” Gaza and the people living there are wholly dependent on what aid the Israelis allow in.  A territory with over 1 million people living there deserves more than 200 truck loads of aid a day.  That’s a nobrainer!  So American Jewish leaders don’t have anything to cry about.   Israel always had carte blanche with the Bush administration, which meant they got away with doing whatever they wanted, no questions asked, not a peep was made, and therefore Clinton’s protestations are markedly different in style than Bush’s way of handling things.  In order to get things back to “normal” as it were, this article was able to drum up the necessary sentiment that Clinton, and by extension the entireObama administration, should keep quiet.

It will be interesting to see what Clinton’s reaction will be.  If she buckles and gives in to the white noise about her remarks it means she probably has future political aspirations.  If she ignores them and continues on the same way she began it means she realizes she has reached the end of her political career and she should finally ‘do the right thing’.  Clinton is 62 years old and if  Obama is a two term president and she tows the line, she will be gainfully employed until she reaches 70 and the party nomination for president will most likely be only a twinkle in her eye.  I wish I could say she’ll do the right thing, but American politics and the closed door wheeling and dealing that goes on with it don’t make that possibility a sure thing.  Most likely what will happen is she will moderate her comments and send all that need assurance the sign that hers will not be a wayward State department as the Powell department of State was during the first Bush term.  Remember that one, where we heard talk from the religious right about how it should nuked? I’m not much of a Clinton fan and whether she’s able to win me over depends a lot on how she deals with Jewish leaders  in and outside America.




The Elephant party with an un-Elephant like memory


The  ‘era of big government is back’ screamed the headline with a quote from republican minority leader John Boehner, talking about the stimulus package President Obama is trying to implement. “My question to my Democratic friends is how are you going to pay for it?”, claims Boehner and my answer to him would be why don’t we try to recoup all the money wasted on the Iraqi misadventure, that was documented here

Overall, the Defense Contract Audit Agency has found $4.9 billion in overpricing and waste in Iraq contracts since 2003. US auditors have identified another $5.1 billion in expenses charged without documentation.

“Clearly there has been some significant level of corruption,” says Steven Kosiak, director of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

But the biggest problem may be the waste that results from doing big-budget projects quickly, with little oversight, in a war-torn country.

“Fraud has not been a significant component of the US experience in Iraq … waste is another matter,” said Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq, at a House hearing on February 15.

here

The three top auditors overseeing contract work in Iraq told a House committee of $10 billion in spending that was wasteful or poorly tracked. They pointed to numerous instances in which Defense and State department officials condoned or otherwise allowed poor accounting, repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for work shoddily or never done by U.S. contractors.

and here.

Though Defense has long been notorious for waste, recent government reports suggest the Pentagon’s money management woes have reached astronomical proportions. A study by the Defense Department’s inspector general found that the Pentagon couldn’t properly account for more than a trillion dollars in monies spent. A GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S.

Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. And before the Iraq war, when military leaders were scrambling to find enough chemical and biological warfare suits to protect U.S. troops, the department was caught selling these suits as surplus on the Internet “for pennies on the dollar,” a GAO official said.

Let’s not forget the $700 billion with a “b” Bush got Congress to approve that would place no restrictions on the administration of that money other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress.  That some of that money went on to build up the personal wealth of many people at the expense of the American taxpayer is without question.

The 116 banks that are receiving billions in taxpayer-provided bailout money this year actually paid out $1.6 billion in compensation and benefits to their top executives last year – even though the results at some of these institutions were so poor that they would soon have to turn to Washington for a government-engineered rescue.

The $1.6 billion was paid out to nearly 600 executives at the 116 banks that have so far accepted federal money to bolster their financial foundations, The Associated Press concluded after a review of U.S. securities filings. In addition to salary, the compensation included bonuses paid in both cash and stock. The benefits reaped by top executives included the use of company jets for personal purposes, personal chauffeurs, home-security services, country-club memberships and professional-wealth-management services, the news service said.

All of this happened during the Republican watch, so it’s really disingenuous of Boehner to claim that Obama has returned to big government spending…it’s never gone away or at least not in the last eight years.  With the Republican track record on the economy the way it is, the Party really shouldn’t throw rocks while they live in their glass houses.  My last parting shot at the Republicans who claimed the stimulus package bill was not read before passage comes this

This is not the first time this has happened. It happened with the TARP bailout bill (2008) that was rushed through Congress with few provisions for accountability; the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 which was Congress’ Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout and the PATRIOT Act (2001) that was rushed through Congress before the bill was even printed.

Congressional legislation, which can consist of hundreds or even thousands of pages of text, is routinely drafted by congressional staff members, special interest groups and/or lobbyists and oftentimes is not even read by the members of congress themselves. Although the people, via the U.S. Constitution, have exclusively given Congress the power to write our laws, many of our representatives have delegated this power to their staff members, government agency bureaucrats, special interest groups and corporate lobbyists who prepare much of the legislation.

There’s nothing new to see here people, just move along.

My heroes of the day


I want to congratulate two men who took a principled  stand at the risk of their careers and even their lives when you look at who they are and what they represent, to categorically denounce positions taken that were detrimental to the people suffering in Gaza.

Tayyip Erdogan, whose country Turkey is trying to get admitted into the European Union as well as NATO probably jeopardized those chances when he made an impassioned plea at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland against the Israeli aggression and genocide in Gaza.  He criticised the audience of international officials and corporate chiefs for applauding Peres’s emotional defence of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Not sparing any measure, Erdogan said what needs to be said to an Israel that seems to think it is above reproach.  You can view his comments, translated into English, here

Imagine all the things in store for Turkey now that he, its prime minister, did what he did?  Threats will be made against the country’s application to the world bodies it wants to enter, as well as against Erdogan himself and the usual cries of anti-semitism will come from every corner of the world, but the substance of his remarks, that Israel engaged in wholesale slaughter of a population, much like that which occured between Turkey and Armenia which will be thrown in Erdogan’s face, will be ignored.  Nevertheless, kudos for Tayyip Erdogan for being principled.

My other hero is Mohammad Baredei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who said a BBC decision not to air an aid appeal for victims in Gaza violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people, irrespective of who is right or wrong.  The BBC said it wasn’t airing the appeal because, now hold on to your seats, it would get in the way of their objectivity in covering the events in Gaza.  Several other channels in England aired the appeal, but the BBC and SkyNews, owned by James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, *ahem* refused to do so.  As a result Baradei has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC, without mentioning how long such a boycott would last.  Kudos to him as well.  He too chose principle over political expediency, taking a position in light of today’s news which is necessary to stem the Israeli juggernaut that refuses to accept any criticism or consequences of and for its actions.   Here is the highly milquetoast ad the BBC refused to air.

The Republican Epiphany


It’s a bit too late and dishonest, but it’s now being said that Bush is a socialist.  Progressives and people on the left have been saying the same thing but were excoriated for it, accused of being traitors and in so many words told to leave their country.  However, the signs of Bush’s socialist leaning tendencies have been apparent since 911.  That marked the beginning of big government, although that may not quite be the “big government” Republicans now have in mind.

“We can’t be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms,” said Solomon Yue, an Oregon member and co-sponsor of a resolution that criticizes the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries.

What seems to have particularly drawn the Republicans’ ire is the financial bailouts and that indeed should be enough to upset EVERYONE within the borders of the US.  The Republicans however, are responsible for the mechanism behind the bailouts and how it works.  Although the country has been in a recession for over a year, the Bush Administration made the economy a priority only within the last 6 months and hurried initiatives through Congress, much like they did after 911, scaring all who opposed them with dire political consequences (this was an election year) as well as economical ones for the country.  In that kind of atmosphere all felt obliged to give the Administration what it asked for, but this is how Bush has worked throughout his two terms, turning every issue into a national crisis which could only be solved through the immediate and direct involvment of Government.  At every turn Democrats and Republicans participated in this turns towards “socialism” and very few people, except those on the fringe, complained.

Now, Republicans are claiming Bush is a socialist? Bush is NOT the target of this resolution being mulled within the RNC, rather it is Obama.  In fact the resolution itself won’t be considered until after Obama takes office, but what party officials want to do is tie Obama to Bush’s policies and plaster the “socialist” pejorative to the Democrats to use against them in ’12.  Republicans are quite happy with the big government they voted in during the last eight years and they know much of what they instituted will not be rescinded.  Government rarely if ever gives back power, and Bush has done a very good job of handing Democrats hot button issues that are irreparable in the short term so Republicans can position themselves as a “viable” opposition party….much like the Democrats did in ’06, and regain control of the executive and legislative.  Why anyone would want to be President under these circumstances is beyond me.

So the Bush is a socialist accusation is only window dressing to ensnare the Dems who will be forced to defend what transpired during Bush’s term, because once government gives, they can’t taketh back, while they, Republicans argue what they indeed voted for is no good and irrelevant.  A neat political trick.

It was greed that killed the Beast


Fifty billion dollars to be stolen by ONE man is a lot of money.  How did he get away with that?!!?!?  It really boils down to that fact that Bernard Madoff played on the greed of his investors who forked over huge sums of money in hopes of even larger returns.  The old adage if it’s too good to be true means it usually is was ignored by many who saw visions of large dollar signs flashing before their eyes.  Madoff was a consummate con man, but his deceit didn’t fool everyone.

Hedge fund investment adviser Aksia LLC warned clients not to put their money with Bernard Madoff after learning of “red flags” at his company, including that its books were audited by a three-person accounting firm. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC used Friehling & Horowitz, an auditor operating out of a 13-by-18 foot location in an office park in New York City’s northern suburbs.

New York-based Aksia urged clients last year not to invest with Madoff’s firm after learning the identity of the New City, New York-based auditor, according to Jake Walthour, head of advisory services at Aksia. Friehling & Horowitz included one partner in his late 70s who lives in Florida, a secretary, and one active accountant, Aksia said.

“Our judgment was swift given the extensive list of red flags,” Aksia wrote Dec. 11 in a letter to clients.

Aksia’s Jim Vos said he spent several months probing Madoff’s firm on behalf of clients, only to recommend against investing in it. Vos, who had an investigator stake out the New City office, said eight “feeder funds” invested about $15 billion with Madoff. Vos declined to name the clients.

“I’m shocked by how investors turned a blind eye to returns that were too good to be true, constant steady small positive monthly returns,” Vos said. “When something is too good to be true, it probably is.”

It’s interesting that red flags were galore but only now, amidst all the other bad economic news is this getting any play in the media.  in my wildest dreams the scenario playing out in my head is the corporate media is finally getting their revenge on a Bush administration which had so easily manipulated it for every conceivable illegal and immoral purpose, and like a woman scorned has decided to get back at its former lover with all the bad news a President concerned with his legacy cannot afford.  Possibly, however, something more sinister than that is at play with the release of all of the bad news at the end of a president’s tenure, but I can’t say what it is…..yet.

Another day another couple of billion dollars


I read stories like this, Wealth of richest Arabs plunged in 2008

The wealth of the richest Arabs plunged in 2008, with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the richest of all, seeing his investments shrivel nearly 20 percent, according to a list published in Dubai on Sunday.

The Saudi prince’s wealth has shrunk by four billion dollars to 17.08 billion under the impact of this year’s global financial turmoil, Arabian Business online magazine said in a survey of the richest 50 Arab people.

The combined assets of the top 50 have plummetted by 25 billion dollars or 12 percent to 199.48 billion dollars, based on data calculated on December 2, the magazine said.

Despite his losses, Prince Alwaleed remains top of the list, though his wealth sank twice as much as that of second placed Nasser al-Kharafi, a Kuwaiti businessman whose value is estimated to have dropped by two billion dollars to 9.6 billion.

In May, Prince Alwaleed ranked 19 in the Forbes list of world billionaires with 21 billion dollars. His wealth includes a five percent stake in the troubled US banking giant Citigroup and a private Airbus superjumbo A380, dubbed as the “flying palace” and valued at 330 million dollars.

and am forced to remind one and all that all of those “Arabs” losses put together don’t equal what this one guy swindled from American investors!

Bernard Madoff, a quiet force on Wall Street for decades, was arrested and charged on Thursday with allegedly running a $50 billion “Ponzi scheme” in what may rank among the biggest fraud cases ever.

The former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market is best known as the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, the closely-held market-making firm he launched in 1960. But he also ran a hedge fund that U.S. prosecutors said racked up $50 billion of fraudulent losses.

Madoff told senior employees of his firm on Wednesday that “it’s all just one big lie” and that it was “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme,” with estimated investor losses of about $50 billion, according to the U.S. Attorney’s criminal complaint against him.

The Bush legacy: A failed economy


bushiv1Having built his Administration on lies beginning with 911 and the sordid attempt to justify the invasion of Iraq because of what happened in NYC, it’s completely characteristic of Bush to obfuscate and deny the inevitable: The U.S. economy has been in a recession since December 2007

By one benchmark, a recession occurs whenever the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, declines for two consecutive quarters. The GDP turned negative in the July-September quarter of this year, and many economists believe it is falling in the current quarter at an even sharper rate.

*snip*

The White House commented on the news that a second downturn has officially begun on President George W. Bush’s watch without ever actually using the word “recession,” a term the president and his aides have repeatedly avoided….

*snip*

Many economists believe the current downturn will be the most severe since the 1981-82 recession. The country is being battered by the most severe financial crisis since the 1930s as banks struggle to deal with billions of dollars in loan losses.

Loss revenue and jobs are the mark of this recession.

In a worrisome sign of further weakening in the U.S. labor market, November saw the highest number of layoffs in the private sector in more than 32 years.

*snip*

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, as recently announced by the National Bureau of Economic Research (see “Congratulations, It’s A Recession”), the number of unemployed persons increased by 2.7 million, and the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points with two-thirds of these losses sustained in the last 3 months.

What started out as a $700 billion bailout has now ballooned into over $8.5 trillion dollars of US taxpayer money which can be given away in any way the chairman of the Federal Reserve sees fit, with or without the consent of ANYONE, including Congress.

“Most of the money, about $5.5 trillion, comes from the Federal Reserve, which as an independent entity does not need congressional approval to lend money to banks or, in “unusual and exigent circumstances,” to other financial institutions.

Now Bush is even faced with rebellion within his own party as the bailout for the automobile industry he was in favor of has been defeated in the Senate with the help of members of the Republican party.

The war in Iraq- a boondoggle for everyone but Iraqis


There’s money to be made in war.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  We cloak war’s death and destruction in patriotic terms and speak of the nation’s interests, but war and especially this last Iraqi war is waged for no other reason than economic gain.  The costs in human lives on both sides is immeasurable, but some hope to make up for it by stealing the wealth of nations, theirs, ours and anyone else.  So I’m particularly upset but not surprised to read that even people in the US military were making off with big bundles of cash.

A federal jury in Trenton, N.J., today convicted U.S. Army Col. Curtis G. Whiteford and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael B. Wheeler of conspiracy to commit bribery and interstate transportation of stolen property, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced.

*snip*

According to testimony at trial before U.S. District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper, Whiteford and Wheeler conspired from December 2003 to December 2005 with at least three others—Robert Stein, at the time the comptroller and funding officer for the CPA-SC; Philip H. Bloom, a U.S. citizen who owned and operated several companies in Iraq and Romania; and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bruce D. Hopfengardner—to rig the bids on contracts being awarded by the CPA-SC so that more than 20 contracts were awarded to Bloom. In total, Bloom received more than $8.6 million in rigged contracts. Testimony revealed that Bloom, in return, provided Whiteford, Harrison, Wheeler, Stein, Hopfengardner and others with more than $1 million in cash, SUVs, sports cars, a motorcycle, jewelry, computers, business class airline tickets, liquor, promise of future employment with Bloom and other items of value.

Meanwhile all that supposed good will we had planned for the Iraqis, the good will that would replace Saddam’s repressive rule, still has not reached fruition.  Iraqis are still in the dark, with their electrical capacity below pre-war levels.

Obama, the affirmative action President


I really like the line of reasonsing of a fellow blogger, Xymphora when he/she says the old Washington guard wanted to take back power from the neocons, or the crazies as Ray McGovern calls them, and the only one giving them this chance was Barack Obama, so they backed him and he won.  The reasons why the old Washington establishment preferred Obama to a McCain ticket that would probably pack more certified neoconservatives is because the neocons have an in your face foreign policy attitude which is reckless and not in the best interest of the US, but rather of Israel.  Old Washington wants US and Israeli interests to coincide, converge and move forward whereas neocons toss all caution to the wind and conclude what’s in Israel’s interests automatically is in the US’ interests.

Obama sent a sign to both old Washington, the people to whom he is indebted and the neocons, those folks who are always lurking on the periphery of government that he is a faithful soldier of both camps, by picking Rahm Emanuel, and many have seen the sign and understand it’s ramifications. A Saudi Arabia newspaper, The Arab News noted, ‘Far from challenging Israel, the new team may turn out to be as pro-Israel as the one it is replacing.’

I’ve already mentioned how I don’t think his choice signifies much of a change in foreign policy.  Emanuel is certifiably insane, a true sociopath, with all the stories of him sending dead fish to people he doesn’t like or stabbing a table while shouting out the names of political opponents/enemies, who could conceivably be called terrorists.  Emanuel’s personal history is steeped in Zionism which means there is no way an Obama administration will realize Condolezza Rice’s claim that ‘a Palestinian state will be realized soon’.  Moreover, Obama asserts economical issues will take priority, as they should right now, in his Administration so there’s plenty of time for the territorial borders to be further clouded and more blood to be shed in Gaza and the West Bank.

As if to further solidify this notion comes word that an Obama Administration might include the likes of Dennis Ross, returning in his role as the Middle East’s peace envoy.  He is the nail in the Emanuel coffin for the notion of Palestinian statehood and the cessation of bloodshed .  As well as being a supporter of the Iraqi war, Ross is chairman of think tanks with a decidedly pro-Israel, pro Likud slant. You can read all about him here.  I’m still not seeing much change in an Obamanation’s policies?!! Suffice it to say if picked, Ross would compliment Emanuel very well.

So why are we happy that Obama is the new president instead of McCain?  Image.  Obama is an example of what can happen in this great Nation of ours.  He is an affirmation for us that America is the land of opportunity and that we as a people believe in the precepts on which the country was founded that ‘all men are created equal.’  He inspires us and makes us feel better about ourselves, that despite our flaws, which there are many, we can rise above them and be a better nation.  That’s why Obama is president, but none of that means anything to a people dispossessed and terrorized by an ally of the United States.  Old Washington’s claim to Obama is based on the former notion, without giving a damn about the latter.

The Republicans’ hopes for shotgun weddings and being AWOL


This campaign is about as bad as the 1996 contest between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton.  The Republicans have chosen a hapless candidate and an even more pathetic running mate for him.  I can see John McCain gnawing his teeth in absolute anger at the decision thrust upon him to take Sarah Palin, for this is what her candidacy has been reduced to.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

*snip*

Johnston was greeted with a handshake and friendly slap on the back by McCain in St Paul, Minnesota, and treated as a member of the family during the Republican national convention when he appeared on stage after Palin’s speech.

The ice-hockey player wrote on his MySpace page he was a “f****** redneck” and stated, “I don’t want kids.” But a McCain insider predicted he would marry Bristol whenever his future mother-in-law wanted. “It’s a shotgun wedding. She kills things,” the source joked.

If we’re lucky at all, perhaps she’ll kill any chances of this ticket winning the election. Once again the party of family values is swirling in hypocrisy. Palin’s daughter was off limits as a target by McCain/Palin opponents but can be used to garner sympathy and votes?  And did you get the part about how such an event would shut down  the campaign for a week?!  There’s a lot of that going on lately with this bunch of folks.

On another note, I was taken to task by a reader for a blog I wrote where I questioned McCain and Bush’s decision to not attend the Republican Convention because of a hurricane.  Unless they both were going to go to the affected areas and fill sandbags to help residents protect their homes I thought such pronouncements on their part was political grandstanding.  McCain this campaign season has made it a habit of suspending his campaign or getting out of appearances because of perceived emergencies that didn’t always turn out to be emergencies.  There is his withdrawal from the David Letterman show because of his claim he had to go to Washington, DC to deal with the financial crisis. Letterman aired a live feed of McCain sitting down for an interview with Katie Curic a couple of blocks from the studio of the Letterman show during the time he agreed to appear with Dave to refute the urgency McCain gave for getting out of appearing on his show.  He wanted to suspend the first debate because of the same reason, the economic crisis, but was obliged to show up when Obama insisted he would be there.    This last gaffe is equally distasteful. Simply there was no need for the announced drama by the McCain campaign that their candidate needed to take a hands on approach to the negotiations surrounding the economic bailout but they did, and he was caught making phone calls from his limo instead of going to Capital Hill or meeting with other congressmen/women. He was irrelevant upon his return just as he was during the natural emergencies of the hurricane before the Republican convention, but the necessity of him being personally involved was spun that way and he was caught up in a lie, much like the Letterman fiasco.  It really makes one think perhaps this campaign and its strategist are pathological sociopaths, with all the lying, implied violence and sensational sex and sexism taking place in it.