Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

By "old dog" I mean John McCain and by "new tricks" I mean how not to be a liar.

Have you seen John McCain's latest exercise in obfuscation? Just got this gem of an e-mail in my inbox (TPM has the e-mail in its entirety):

I appreciate the discussions President Obama is having with my Republican colleagues, but the time for talking has come to an end and we must now begin some serious negotiation. But as of yet, Republicans have not been given the opportunity to be involved. The House of Representatives passed a stimulus bill without a single Republican supporting it. In the Senate, the Democrat leadership is trying to jam the existing proposal through regardless of reservations from a number of members. With so much at stake, the last thing we need is partisanship driving our attempts to turn the economy around.

I have long been a fighter against wasteful spending in Washington and long an advocate for a balanced budget -- that will never change. I realize we face extraordinary challenges with our economy today, but that is not an excuse for more irresponsibly from Washington. I hope you will join me in saying no to this stimulus package as it currently exists by signing this petition.

It's hard to know where to start, really. For me, the nut here is his liberal (very small 'l') use of the word "partisanship." Umm, John, I don't think it means what you think it means.

In McCain's twisted telling, it's the Democrats who are being partisan when in fact it was the Republicans who were the ones who voted all together as one bloc, not the Democrats. If that's not the definition of partisanship, what is? But the thing is, there's nothing wrong with it, they're a united opposition, part of me admires their complete and utter disregard for the popularity of the new president and the stimulus package in apparent fealty to their base. Gee, wouldn't that have been nice a few years ago? But McCain here is throwing around the word "partisanship" with such abandon it completely loses all meaning. And while he concedes that Obama has reached out to Republicans, there's apparently absolutely no onus on those Republicans to reach out in kind. They're completely blameless -- how nice that must be. So much for personal responsibility, I suppose. You see, in McCain's words, "time for talking must come to an end" and instead begin "serious negotiation." What does he think negotiation is, exactly?

Oh, and one more thing, someone should tell McCain that, just as with "partisanship" here, he threw around the phrase "wasteful spending" with such utter disregard for any meaning during his campaign -- exactly what government spending in his world isn't wasteful? -- that he lost any and all credibility on that issue (where he was actually perceived to have had some.)

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Bernard Goldberg's "bias" against the facts

Hey folks, I wanted to share my latest column with everyone here at MyDD -- a review of Bernard Goldberg's latest book, "A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media". If you like what you see, feel free to recommend this diary and share it with your friends.


That certainly didn't take long. Just shy of a week after Barack Obama took the oath of office, becoming America's 44th president, the nation's foremost right-wing publishing house has released a new tome by Bernard Goldberg that seeks to trash the supposedly liberal "mainstream media" for being in the tank for Obama.

The three-ringed circus of liberal media bias cryptozoology is nothing new for Goldberg. He's been part of this factually challenged freak show for years. This isn't even his first book on the subject -- he wrote 2001's creatively titled, Bias.

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John McCain Will Not Support Stimulus As Currently Written

Today on Fox News This Morning John McCain has indicated that he will not vote for the stimulus bill as currently written. So much for Mr. Cooperation, eh?

The stimulus currently includes $275 billion in tax cuts and doesn't include Republican input or a spending timeline, McCain said.

"There should be an end point to all of this spending.say two years...The plan was written by the Democratic majority in the House primarily. So yeah, I think there has to be major rewrites, if we want to stimulate the economy," McCain said. "I am opposed to most of provisions in the bill. As it stands now. I would not support it."

McCain wouldn't say whether he would filibuster it.

"We need serious negotiations," he said. "We're losing sight of what the stimulus is all about and that is job creation."

The benefit of starting out with a stimulus bill that is further away from what Republicans want rather than closer is that it forces Republicans, especially those like John McCain who've touted cooperation and unity, to come out of the gates as opposing the ridiculously popular new President instead of supporting him. Will this early indication of his opposition to the bill lead other potential Republican supporters to join him? Doubt it. He likes to think of himself as a sort of Senate leader but, let's face it, they're just not that into him. I think in the end he'll find that, as Chuck Schumer predicted:

"'ll find large number of Republicans behind this," Schumer said. "I regret Sen. McCain said he won't be voting for it."

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Why are Liberals Still Defending Sweatshops?

I was surprised to see Ezra Klein endorse Nicholas Kristof's column arguing that "the central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don't exploit enough." Back in my college Macroeconomics class, this argument was expressed as "They're not poor because they work in sweatshops.  They work in sweatshops because they're poor."

Well actually, they're poor because they don't make enough money to support themselves.  If the people who hire them paid them enough, they would not be poor.  Providing jobs to people who would rather work them than stay unemployed doesn't release whoever provides the job from responsibility for how they treat them, just as saving someone from drowning would not give me any more right to mug that person than I have to mug anyone else.

The Postreported in 2005 that National Labor Committee Head Charles Kernaghan

gets angry when he recalls what a worker told him in Bangladesh: "If we could earn 37 cents an hour, we could live with a little dignity." (As opposed to the 21-cent hourly wage that barely staved off starvation.)

As CAPAF's Sabina Dawan observes, it's not as though the International Labor Organization and allied groups working to close such gaps and to see basic human rights protected in plants that make Western companies so rich are out to drive the people of Cambodia out of their jobs - or as though that's the inevitable result of letting workers go to the bathroom, or leave work to give birth.  Does Kristof believe that the Bangladeshi worker Kernaghan references makes 21 cents an hour because at 22 cents his plant would stop making a profit?

As Richard Rothstein wrote in his rejoinder to Kristof:

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Santorum: McCain is Obama's "Ace in the Hole"

Former Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum, whose 41.3 percent showing in his failed 2006 reelection bid was one of the worst showings for an incumbent in recent memory, is getting a little worried:

I believe Obama has an ace in the hole among Senate Republicans. This unlikely ace can deliver not only the GOP moderates needed to break a filibuster, but also the stamp of bipartisanship: the 2008 GOP standard bearer, John McCain.

McCain was once the mainstream media darling, back when he joined Democrats on a host of issues. He prized his maverick moniker and used it to propel himself onto the national scene in the 2000 Republican presidential primary. Early in the Bush years, he shored up his status as the media's favorite Republican by opposing Bush on taxes and the environment.


In McCain's mind, however, losing the presidency will not be the final chapter of his life story. He knows the path to "Big Media" redemption. Working with the man who vanquished him in November will show them all the real McCain again.

Remember, it was this onetime prisoner of war who led the charge to open diplomatic relations with Vietnam. If that past is prologue, and McCain's legislative record is any guide, he will not just join with Obama but lead the charge in Congress on global warming, immigration "reform," the closing of Guantanamo, federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research, and importation of prescription drugs.

I have written about this before, and I think Santorum is right to be concerned. While I don't necessarily foresee the relationship between Barack Obama and John McCain developing to the same degree as the post-1940 election relationship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie, the defeated GOP nominee who subsequently became a diplomat on behalf of the Roosevelt administration, it does seem apparent that all of the reaching out Obama has done to McCain -- the face-to-face meeting, retaining Bob Gates at the Pentagon, hiring James Jones as National Security Advisor, standing up for Joe Lieberman, etc. -- could well pay off.

The fact of the matter is that Obama will not need McCain on most issues, because the Democrats will already be so close to breaking GOP filibusters with their 59-seat majority, not all of which (but the vast majority of which) will support the President on important votes. That said, having McCain on board would help not only get the Democrats to 60 in the Senate but also help draw popular support for Obama's measures, which is also important. So if the tea leaves do turn out as Santorum worries and I believe highly possible, this could be a bad few months, or even years, for the far right of the Republican Party.

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