Enough Is Enough (UPDATED)

A.J. is right:

While right-wing pundits furiously try to spin Rev. Wright’s comments as speaking for anyone other than Rev. Wright, it’s vital that progressive observers and commentators remember that their machine will do anything — anything — to confuse people and divert attention from the failures of conservative governance. On the economy, on values, on social policy, and, perhaps most of all given the current situation in Iraq, on foreign affairs.

Our policies in Iraq — not to mention places like Pakistan, Indonesia, Somalia, Iran, North Korea — make America and the world a more dangerous place. Expert upon expert and report after report say so, and they’re correct. The right wing wants to tie this common-sense argument to controversial figures so they can marginalize ideas along with individuals, and it’s a smear tactic that can be devastating if people don’t stand up and identify it for what it is. They’re not making substantive critiques, they’re using the politics of destruction and distraction.

The politics of destruction. The politics of distraction. That’s what fuels the Right-Wing Noise Machine–conservatives know that if the election hinges on the issues, they’ll lose. So they try to distract the American people, paying ‘gotcha’ and distracting us from the very real problems we have to face every day.

This is why the right is pushing Wright above the fold day after day:

Bush — not Wright or Bill Clinton — is voters’ main concern

[…]

According to the poll, 73 percent of respondents disapprove of Bush’s handling of the economy and 81 percent believe the United States is in a recession.

[…]

What is your preference for the outcome of this year’s congressional elections––a Congress controlled by Republicans or a Congress controlled by Democrats?

Republican-controlled Congress ……34

Democrat-controlled Congress ……..49

And then there’s this:

The current data show that the most commonly mentioned characteristics about McCain are that he is “too old,” that he is a “good man”/”likable,” that he would give the country more of the same/be another George W. Bush, that he had a good military background, and basic dislike of him.

Interestingly, enough, “Good military background” has actually dropped from 11 percent to 8 percent. His age and the George Bush connection are quickly overshadowing his military service.

The politics of distraction give us headlines like this one:

While Malkin & Co. Continue Endless Circle Jerk On Wright, Deadliest Month Of 2008 In Iraq Gets Worse

The stakes in this election are the highest they’ve been in decades. The economy’s in ruin. Our foreign policy is in shambles. Our military is stretched to the breaking point. Gas prices are at record highs. America is in the midst of a health care crisis. Our deficit is the highest it’s ever been. Our enemies are stronger and our defenses are weaker. We as Americans face some of the biggest issues and the toughest battles of our times; we can’t afford to be distracted.

As I’ve said time and time again, Republicans can’t govern. They controlled all three branches of our government for years–we saw the effects of Republican control, and they were disastrous. They can’t win on the issues, so the GOP fires up the Right-Wing Noise Machine to distract us from the issues and focus us on trivial, pointless nonsense.

This time we can’t afford to fall for it. This time we can’t afford to fall for the politics of distraction. This time we have to stand up and tell them that this will not be tolerated. This time we must stand up and change our country for the better, and we will not let these right-wing charlatans stand in our way.

Enough is enough. Once and for all, enough is enough.

UPDATE: Bob Cesca nails it:

Have You Left No Sense Of Decency?

If the corporate media had been as diligent about watchdogging President Bush as they have been about watchdogging Reverend Wright, it’s very likely we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq.

If the corporate media had spent as much time exposing the obvious flaws and grotesque inequalities of Reaganomics throughout the last 30 years as they’ve spent on Wright, we wouldn’t necessarily be staring into the maw of another depression.

If the corporate media were as diligent about debunking the lies surrounding Iran’s so-called nuclear program as they’ve been about Wright, there wouldn’t be such a sense of inevitability in terms of attacking — or entirely obliterating — Iran.

[…]

So I have to ask the appropriate network executives the familiar yet appropriate question: Have you no sense of decency at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

John McCain Misses Key Senate Vote (UPDATED)

Shorter John McCain: I am all in favor of pay equity for women just as long as I don’t actually have to do anything about it.

UPDATE: Also, there’s this:

McCain has topped both candidates, missing a staggering 58 percent of his votes during the 110th Congress, according to the Washington Post’s congressional votes database.

To put this in perspective, McCain has now missed more votes than Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, who suffered a brain hemorrhage in December 2006 and was unable to return to the Senate until fall of last year. McCain has now missed nine votes more than Johnson.

John McCain can’t be bothered to even show up to the Senate anymore; how can we trust him to do any better as President?

The last thing America needs is another Bush term, another out-of-touch President who spends more time going on vacations than solving America’s problems.

The Pennsylvania Primary: Results (CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED)

Tonight’s outcome won’t change the election, but the margin of victory will determine how the delegates are distributed.

From CNN.com, 8:37 PM EST:

1,649
66%
838
34%

_________________________________________________

UPDATE: From CNN.com, 8:51 PM EST:

34,724
55%
28,310
45%

_________________________________________________

UPDATE II: MSNBC and FOX News are both calling it for Clinton. A Clinton win is expected, but what matters is her margin of victory–if she doesn’t get at least 60% of the vote, PA’s delegates will be split nearly evenly, leaving Clinton more than 150 pledged delegates behind Obama.

UPDATE III: CNN has also called it for Clinton, but the gap is narrowing.

From CNN.com, 9:04 PM EST:

76,544
52%
70,881
48%

____________________________________________________

UPDATE IV: Now we’re back to where we were 20 minutes ago.

From CNN.com, 9:12 PM EST:

112,145
55%
93,488
45%

___________________________________________________

UPDATE V: From CNN.com, 9:22 PM EST:

169,044
53%
149,783
47%

___________________________________________________

UPDATE VI: From CNN.com, 9:39 PM EST:

248,905
53%
220,301
47%

___________________________________________________

UPDATE VII: Up then down and up again…

From CNN.com, 9:49 PM EST:

465,521
55%
385,483
45%

__________________________________________________

UPDATE VIII: From CNN.com, 10:05 PM EST:

587,373
55%
488,242
45%

___________________________________________________

UPDATE IX: From CNN.com, 10:17 PM EST:

699,573
54%
586,963
46%

____________________________________________________

UPDATE X: From CNN.com, 10:29 PM EST:

833,630
54%
703,784
46%

___________________________________________________

UPDATE XI: From CNN.com, 10:59 PM EST:

1,014,228
55%
825,222
45%

____________________________________________________

UPDATE XII: From CNN.com, 11:27 PM EST:

1,110,776
55%
904,685
45%

____________________________________________________

Pennsylvania Blues

Tonight is the Pennsylvania primary.  No, it won’t be the end of the primary season and no, it won’t decide the Democratic nominee.  Now, I’m not saying that PA doesn’t matter–any time American citizens go out and make their voices heard, it matters–but I am saying that PA won’t be the deciding factor.

At this point, though, Hillary Clinton can’t win.  She can’t win more states than Obama.  She can’t win more pledged delegates than Obama.  She can’t win more votes than Obama.  And she’s not going to be able to convince the Democratic superdelegates to overthrow the entire primary and throw the nomination to her.  As I said weeks ago, the Democratic primary is over; Barack Obama is the nominee.

Let’s face it, a Clinton victory is expected tonight.  She began the year with a 20% lead over Barack Obama, which has been whittled down to somewhere in the neighborhood of a 5% to 10% lead.  After tonight, Clinton will say that Obama shouldn’t be the nominee because he can’t win swing states or large states like PA, and that PA is key to any Democratic victory.  But that’s a nonsense argument–the dynamics of a Clinton-Obama race are far different than the dynamics of an Obama-McCain race, and just because you don’t win a state in the primary doesn’t mean you can’t win that state in the general.

But her campaign is in the red, and she’s bleeding support.  The longer she stays in, the more damage she’ll do–to Obama, to the Democratic Party in general, and to her own reputation.

So don’t expect any surprises tonight.  Expect Obama’s delegate lead to basically stay the same.  Expect the rhetoric we’ve heard before–from both camps–to be repeated.  And expect everyone to ignore the fact that Clinton has no chance of winning and to turn their focus onto the next big primary state.

BREAKING: McCain Releases Tax Returns (UPDATED)

Surprise surprise, one of the wealthiest men in the Senate has a lot of money:

For 2006, Senator McCain paid $72,771 in federal income, alternative minimum, and self-employment taxes (LINES 57 and 58) on taxable income of $215,304 (LINE 43), which is a 33.8% tax rate. View

For 2007, Senator McCain paid $84,460 in federal income, alternative minimum, and self-employment taxes (LINES 57 and 58) on taxable income of $258,800 (LINE 43), which is a 32.6% tax rate. View

McCain earns upwards of $200,000 a year, putting him far above what most Americans make. In fact, John McCain’s taxes are higher than most American’s yearly salaries.

And that’s just his own income–McCain’s wife Cindy is an heir to the Anheuser-Busch brewing fortune, worth well over $100 million. The McCains have eight homes together, and John often flies around on private jets. In other words, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to John McCain’s wealth.

In 2004, the media savaged John Kerry for his wife’s wealth, portraying him as an upper-crust, out-of-touch aristocrat. Will they apply the same standards to John McCain, or will this be another sad, shameful case of IOKIYAR?*

* “It’s OK If You’re A Republican”

UPDATE: Also keep in mind that Cindy McCain hasn’t released any of her tax returns, so we don’t know exactly how much wealth she has (or where she invests it). But there’s no question that John McCain might not have even had a political career–let alone a Presidential run–without his wife’s inheritance:

Nearly 30 years before John McCain became the Republican presidential nominee, he worked in public relations at his wife’s family company.

Within a few years of marrying Cindy Hensley, the daughter of a multimillionaire Anheuser-Busch distributor, John McCain won his first election. He was new to Arizona politics and fundraising in the 1982 House race, and his campaign quickly fell into debt. Personal money — tens of thousands of dollars in loans to his campaign from McCain bank accounts — helped him survive.

Anheuser-Busch’s political action committee was among McCain’s earliest donors. Cindy McCain’s father, James Hensley, and other Hensley & Co. executives gave so much the Federal Election Commission ordered McCain to give some of it back. McCain’s campaign used Hensley office equipment such as computers and copiers, and Cindy McCain personally paid some of the campaign’s bills.

The campaign gradually reimbursed Hensley for use of its equipment and Cindy McCain for her expenses. The loans — described initially by John McCain as coming from him and his wife — caught the eye of the FEC, which repeatedly questioned him about them; spouses are held to the same donation limits as everyone else.

John McCain owes his Presidential campaign and–most likely–his entire political career to his wife’s money. Without it, who knows whether or not he would have even gotten elected, let alone become a Presidential candidate.

Kerry got attacked for benefiting politically from his wife’s money, even though he became a Senator long before he married Theresa Heinz. So why isn’t McCain being attacked for benefiting politically from his wife’s money, especially since it’s an intrinsic part of his entire political career?

Just wondering.

John McCain & Earmarks

Recently, John McCain has promised to eliminate all Congressional earmarks, no questions asked.

Sounds like a good plan to eliminate wasteful spending, right? Wrong. As it turns out, there are some important programs that are paid for with earmarks.

Like military aid to Israel and Egypt:

Some observers define earmarks in a more limited way, identifying only provisions that direct spending for items not requested by the Administration or in excess of levels proposed for activities or countries. Although many Foreign Operations earmarks fall within this more narrow definition, congressional directives specifying spending amounts that are the same as shown in the Administration’s illustrative listing for country distributions also are regarded as earmarks. Annual earmarks for economic and military aid to Israel and Egypt are examples of such directives.

Earmarks also pay for military housing:

The Congressional Research Service analysis counts not only the [military] family housing units added by Congress as earmarks but also those requested by the Pentagon and the White House.

CRS identified $6.6 billion in spending in the 2005 Military Construction Appropriation bill associated with earmarks. This included 205 units at Fort Huachuca at a cost of $41 million and 250 units at Davis-Monthan Air Base at a cost $48.5 million—both in McCain’s home state of Arizona.

So either McCain is going to cut aid to Israel, military housing, and other important programs that are funded by earmarks (all to pay for his corporate tax cut), or he’s going to break his campaign promise.

As Politico’s Ben Smith says, “That’s one thing about spending cuts: Much harder when you get to the details.”

McCain can’t even be bothered to read his own plan–how is he supposed to be President, again?