Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bush, McCain Uproar over Georgia: Political Opportunism

If you believe that the outrage by George Bush and John McCain over Russia's attacks on Georgia are motivated by humanitarian concern, I have some WMDs I'd like to sell you. It is the height of hypocrisy for Mr.Bush to berate the Russians for dealing with a country on it's border. What's to stop Putin from demanding that the U.S. pull out of Iraq? That was just as illegal and immoral. No, the outrage is about diverting attention from failing presidencies and campaigns, as the case may be. It is a desperate attempt to take attention away from Iraq, Afghanistan and the economy. It is also a way for McCain to look like a commander-in-chief and create a contrast with his opponent, Barack Obama. Let's not forget that Bush became very popular after 9-11 when it was he who failed to protect us from the al Qaeda attacks. The danger is that the exaggerated rhetoric from the White House could escalate into a serious rift between the U.S. and Russia. America is no position to picking another fight in the world.

Both John McCain and Barack Obama will be paying particularly close attention to the polls early next week to see what impact the Russia-Georgia crisis has had on the US presidential race. Most analysts expect that Mr McCain, who on Wednesday trumpeted "We are all Georgians now", will be the beneficiary.

Mr McCain's robust response at the start of the crisis eight days ago preceded by several hours what Mr Obama and, indeed, President George W. Bush had to say.

His statement, in which he warned Russia of "severe long-term negative consequences", also exceeded what either Mr Obama, who returned yesterday from a week-long holiday in Hawaii, or Mr Bush, who was attending the Beijing Olympics, could produce.

[...]Yet not everybody admires Mr McCain's confrontational stance towards Russia or, by extension, the position Mr Bush has now adopted. A number of Mr Obama's advisers privately express concern that their candidate has been railroaded by campaign politics into talking a similar - although more modulated - stance to Mr McCain on the crisis. "The whole tone is slipping much too easily into cold war rhetoric," says one.

[...]Given the prominent role both Mr McCain and Mr Scheunemann played in beating the drums for the invasion of Iraq, many cringed this week when the Republican contender said: "In the 21st century nations don't invade other nations."

McCain is exaggerating the significance of what is happening in Georgia. It isn't World War III.
Apparently John McCain thinks the Russian invasion of Georgia is "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War." This is, pretty obviously, factually wrong, since you could trot out the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, the al-Aqsa Intifada, 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq at a minimum as other serious international crises since the end of the Cold War. But in a way, that doesn't matter. What this demonstrates is McCain's urgent, deep-seated desire to believe that he, John McCain, is right smack in the middle of world historical events, a desire remarkably similar to one we've seen from George Bush since he took office. That temperament hasn't worked out so well for the past few years, and I'm not sure the country is ready for a repeat.

Bush's belligerent style could create a dangerous situation, much worse than he's made it over the last 7 years.
“Realist” diplomats from Henry Kissinger downwards are pointing out that America can’t do both because a contained Russia won’t be a cooperative Russia. However, if Georgia were to join Nato, the consequence could be a much more serious confrontation with Moscow, as the alliance works on the understanding that an attack on one member is an attack on all. Is the invasion of Georgia the first step towards an armed confrontation between America and Russia?

On Friday, Russia even threatened Poland with nuclear retaliation for agreeing to host US rockets as part of its antimissile shield.

Georgia didn't even exist in the media until recently. American's at this point do not care about what's happening in that control. We have too many things to worry about right now to even worry about what is happening along the Russian border. Don't we have enough problems along our own border? And there is another factor: oil. It was a major factor for the Bush/neocon invasion of Iraq.
In fact, that expectation of restraint by the Russians toward their 'independent' neighbor is what the U.S. has been counting on from the instance they decided to encourage and support the construction of the oil pipeline which runs through Georgia from Azerbaijan to Turkey. The expectation was that the West could have a potential control over the flow of oil out of the former Soviet state which supplies Russia's allies (like Bush's nemesis, China). That, undoubtedly, is what has the Bush administration so jazzed about the Russian military incursion.

Bigfoot Capture Hoax and the Press Coverage

The media can't pass up a good story regardless of how untruthful. Even from the earliest reports it was clear this was a hoax. The NY Times reported it this way:

Results from tests on genetic material from alleged remains of Bigfoot, made public at a news conference in Palo Alto held after the claimed discovery swept the Internet, failed to prove the existence of the mythical half-ape and half-human creature.

[...]One of the two samples of DNA said to prove the existence of the Bigfoot came from a human and the other was 96 percent from an opossum, said Curt Nelson, a scientist at the University of Minnesota who performed the analysis.

To MSNBC's discredit they have 3 references (as of 5:47pm) to this hoax, including:
  • "Sasquatch hunters claim hairy corpse is Bigfoot"
  • "Bigfoot 'Proof' Revealed In Palo Alto"

Of course, FOX has it on it's site. Their attempt at some journalism:
The much-anticipated Bigfoot press conference Friday afternoon in Palo Alto, Calif., revealed little more than two men — introduced by a self-styled Sasquatch seeker — claiming to possess the 7-foot "body" of a "bipedal creature" on ice in a secret location, awaiting an autopsy.

They shouldn't even mention these clowns names. But they do. I will not:
******** showed reporters two blurry photos, claiming one was the mouth of the "creature" while the other was another creature running through the Georgia woods. The men claimed they "stumbled on the creature," but would not reveal more because they were concerned about it being an "endangered species."

******** reiterated his invitation to FOX News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly to come to Georgia and view the body, and plugged his Internet radio show.

He said there wouldn't be anything more revealed Friday, but promised that he would "assemble" a group of scientists to examine the alleged corpse.

******** recounted how he and ******** found the "body," and said that more Bigfoots "paralleled" them as they were loading it onto a flatbed truck.

Here's the AP coverage:
Two men who claim to have stumbled across a Bigfoot corpse in the woods of northern Georgia indignantly stood by their story at a news conference in Palo Alto during which they offered an e-mail from a scientist as evidence and acknowledged they wouldn't mind making a few bucks from the "find" they have kept stuffed in a freezer for over a month.

"Everyone who has talked down to us is going to eat their words," predicted ********

[...]******** and ********, a former [...] announced the discovery in early July on YouTube videos and their Web site. Although they did not consider themselves devoted Bigfoot trackers before then, they have since started offering weekend search expeditions in Georgia for $499. The specimen they bagged, the men say, was one of several apelike creatures they spotted cavorting in the woods.

As they faced a skeptical audience of several hundred journalists and Bigfoot fans that included one curiosity seeker in a Chewbacca suit, the pair were joined Friday by ********, head of a group called ********. Other Bigfoot hunters call ******** a huckster looking for media attention.

Obama Outraises McCain 2 to 1 in July, Still Ahead in Polls

Despite every effort to cut into the lead of Barrack Obama, John McCain still trails his principal opponent in the polls and money race. And there is no indication that will change between now and election day in November.

Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid added more than 65,000 donors and raised more than $51 million in the month of July, the Obama campaign said in a statement released Saturday.

The Obama campaign recently announced that it has surpassed the 2 million-donor mark and said Saturday that it now has $65.8 million cash on hand.

For June, the Illinois senator's campaign reported raising $52 million, with more than $72 million cash on hand.

[...] Earlier Friday, the McCain campaign announced that it had raised $27 million in July, the presumptive Republican nominee's largest one-month fundraising total to date.

The campaign also said it had $21 million cash on hand, all of which must be spent before the party's convention in early September because of McCain's choice to accept federal campaign dollars.

Although Obama's poll numbers have dipped recently (according to, the bad news for McCain is that his numbers have also dropped - by even more. This despite the Democratic nominee being on vacation. Obama has dropped approximately 3 points since early July when he peaked at nearly 49%. McCain is now at the lowest point since the middle of July. He is also now lower than he was at the beginning of the year. Obama, on the other hand, is 2 points higher than he was at his lowest point, at start of the year. The trend is clear. McCain is not making up any ground. Only 1 poll has had McCain ahead during the last 3 months.