McCain’s “Days of Blunder”

SCLM Missing in Action (Again)

When will the mainstream press — you know that ubiquitous “liberal media” we keep hearing tell of — shake themselves free of their enthralled love affair with “maverick” John McCain and actually start reporting in earnest on some of his more egregious flip-flops and catastrophic blunders? I mean aside from the highly partisan folks at Countdown that is?

Would it surprise you to learn that in addition to catting around on his crippled wife with a fetching young beer heiress, McCain was also a bigamist — at least in the sense that he had a marriage license with wife #2 before his divorce to #1 had been finalized? Although this was discretely mentioned in the LAT earlier in the week and caused some tittering amongst a few liberal blogs, can you imagine the relentless exposure this would get if it were Obama (or any other Democrat) and not McCain?

As John Avarosis put it:

Imagine if Barack Obama had two marriages at the same time. Imagine had Barack Obama lied about living with his first wife while having a mistress on the side. Imagine that all this happened while Obama had promised to speak out vocally about how gay people are a threat to marriage. We’d never hear the end of it from the Republicans and the media.

How exactly does McCain’s behaviour when he was an “amoral dingus” (to quote Wonkette), square exactly with the “family values” that Republicans are always mercilessly beating everyone else over the head with?

And what of McCain’s utterly bizarre revision to his own autobiography last week? Campaigning in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, on Wednesday McCain told Pittsburgh TV station KDKA that he recited the names of the Steelers defensive linemen when he was asked under interrogation for the name of his squadron mates.

When I was first interrogated and really had to give some information because of the physical pressures that were on me, I named the starting lineup — defensive line — of the Pittsburgh Steelers as my squadron-mates!

It’s a great story, but there’s one tiny problem — it’s not true. When McCain was shot down, the Steelers were one of the worst teams in the NFL, in a stretch of six straight losing seasons. As a navy man stationed on aircraft carriers around the world, McCain would have been highly unlikely to have ever seen the mid-60s Steelers play a game.

Moreover, in his own autobiography Faith of Our Fathers, McCain claimed that the names of the starting lineup he passed off as squad mates to his Vietnamese captors were those of the Green Bay Packers!

In the book he wrote: “Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line…” When his life story was made into an A&E cable TV movie in 2005, the Green Bay version of the story was acted out, complete with the names from the Packers’ 1967 defensive lineup: “Starr; Greg; McGee; Davis; Adderly; Brown; Ringo; Wood,” the movie McCain repeated.

Maybe it’s not a big deal, but it’s definitely more than a little weird to needlessly prevaricate about something that’s so essential to McCain’s “character” one would think. His campaign sloughed it off as nothing more than “an honest mistake” which seems like a highly implausible excuse all considered. More likely it was a case of shameless pandering and as such, doesn’t that speak to McCain’s integrity? Surely it would be spun that way if it were anyone else. The alternative would be to regard it as yet another example of McCain’s shoddy memory — or “a senior moment” as Fox News anchor Britt Hume charitably called it when the so-called “expert” on the Middle East repeatedly confused Shia and Sunni factions in Iraq.

When Obama mistakenly credited his great-uncle, Charlie Payne, as being among the U.S. troops who liberated the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, the RNC seized on this gaffe issuing a memo saying that Obama’s “frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief.” Shouldn’t that same standard apply to John McCain? Not according to our drowsy press corps it seems.

New U.S. Embassy: “Banal” & “Cheap”

Pictured above: The new embassy and the pre-WWII building.

After 70 years, the United States re-opened its embassy in Berlin last week. Despite being taken as a sign of renewal in German-American relations by some, the building’s aesthetic has been subject to withering criticism:

…architecture critic Gerwin Zohlen is unimpressed. He partly called the newly unveiled exterior “boring” and a “rather uninspired” example of 1980s post-modernism that was already out of date.

He suggested Berliners nickname the building by California architects Moore Ruble Yudell the “Pancake,” in reference to the main-road side that tourists will pass on their way to the Holocaust Memorial.

“It gives the impression of being horizontally stretched out,” he told DPA news agency.

Instead of projecting the grandeur of a superpower, the building suggested a nation that had given up being world policeman and withdrawn into self-defense, Zohlen said.

“It would look okay in the US Midwest. But it doesn’t suit an inner city in ‘Old Europe.’”

Zohlen said the stonework was shoddy and the building looked “cheap,” a view that has a basis in fact, since the US Congress pared back the construction budget by $60 million compared to the original proposal.

He called the building “bunker-style,” a charge also lobbed at the French embassy, which opened across the square in 2003.

The Germans, according to former US Ambassador John Kornblum, “criticize almost everything that gets built.” It’s a “sort of public sport,” he said.

Tony Snow Dead At 53

Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow — who once told reporters “I’m a very lucky guy” — died early this morning at the age of 53, following a protracted battle with colon cancer. Snow is survived by his wife and three children under the age of 15.

From The Moderate Voice:

Snow will likely be missed for several reasons. For one thing, it’s hard to find partisans on either side of the aisle these days who truly seem to have FUN with politics. The death of NBC’s Tim Russert took away a media figure who also seemed to enjoy the give or take of a process that to many seems increasingly unsavory. For another, the Republicans don’t seem to have many “happy warrior” partisans anymore but, rather, angry media faces. If the White House had to put its best face forward, Snow was a smart and as effective as possible choice.

It was hard not to like Snow, even when you knew he was spinning something six ways to Sunday, he was clever and genuinely amusing — something all too rare in politics, even at the best of times.

Preston Manning — Science Advisor?

News late Friday afternoon that Reform Party founder Preston Manning had been appointed by the government to the Council of Canadian Academies must surely be evidence of Stephen Harper’s devilishly subversive sense of humour. I mean, what could be funnier than appointing someone with absolutely no scientific background whatsoever to a federal science advisory panel charged with providing an “independent, expert assessment of the science underlying pressing issues and matters of public interest”? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Well that pretty much summed up my initial reaction, anyway. But perhaps before being quite so entirely dismissive of Manning, maybe his appointment deserves a little more credit than that. Consider this passage from his biography as a professional speaker:

Science and technology is one of the dominant influences shaping modern thinking and societies, yet our Parliament has no efficient mechanism for bringing science to bear on its decisions.

With the dangers and opportunities that lie beyond this vast frontier, whether it is with climate change or the genetic revolution, it is clear that Canada must take steps to establish more consistent and meaningful dialogue between the scientific and political communities.

Throughout history, the most useful scouts have been those who have been excellent interpreters, the kind who came to know the ways of the settlers and the Plains Indians, and spoke the languages of both.

The new scouts of the science and technology frontier must also be good interpreters. In the next few years, I hope to ride along this frontier in the company of others, with the goal of helping to interpret the political perspective to members of Canada;s scientific community, and assisting them to better communicate science to politicians.

It should also be noted that Manning was a Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto several years ago, where he taught a course entitled Public Policy and the Genetic Revolution.

So, maybe all told, Preston Manning isn’t exactly the absolute worst person that could have been appointed to this science advisory body, even if he’s certainly not the best or most qualified one either.

Update: Desperate for attention, the tragically retarded Patrick Ross launches yet another hopelessly misbegotten personal attack, this time because I failed to note that Preston Manning once took an undergraduate Physics course and is chairman of the National Institute for Nanotechnology board of trustees. Hence, he has a “science background.”

The only thing is that had the doughy slackwit read what I actually wrote, he would have realized that I said it was my initial reaction that Manning had no science background whatsoever, something that I subsequently corrected with information about some of his pursuits (albeit maybe not exhaustive) in this area after leaving elected office. The fact remains that Manning is not a qualified scientist; unless one still regards theology as the “queen of sciences” or economics as “the dismal science.”

Links With Your Java

• In a confidential report, food safety experts say the government’s plan to wash its hands of inspection programs is “a recipe for disaster” especially if there’s an outbreak of food-borne disease. The government wants to cut CFIA’s budget by 5%, so screw public safety, it seems. The plan was apparently approved last year, but deferred mysteriously “owing to significant communications risks” (whatever that might mean). Question: What’s going to happen to inspections of imports at the border?

• Is the Obama “glow” fading? A Newsweek poll reports Obama now leading McCain by just 3 percentage points, 44 percent to 41 percent, a statistical dead heat. What’s most disturbing is that white voters continue to be a challenge for Obama, with McCain leading in that category 48 to 36 percent. Cap’n Ed is beside himself with joy at Obama “sinking like a rock” but as Digby says, “keep in mind that this poll could very well be macaca.”

• Reid Scott, one of the first NDP MPs ever elected, defects to the Liberals out of disillusionment with Jack Layton’s leadership and calls Dion “basically pretty solid” by comparison. Perhaps only in Canada would such an equivocal expression be regarded as a term of relative praise.

• Attempts by the Conservatives to discredit Cadman biographer Tom Zytaruk may fall flat if the seeming contradiction of accounts rests solely on the definition of what “inside” is.

• Yesterday, federal regulators in the U.S. seized and shut down IndyMac, one of the largest savings and loans in the country with about $32 billion in assets. “The blood tide is just starting to wash in, and this corpse will soon be joined by many others,” says Firedoglake with dramatic flourish. Incredibly, the wingnuts blame the economic failure on the Dems (Chuck Shumer, specifically).