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It's Time for our Corporate News Media to Hold McCain Accountable for his Lies

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:58 AM
Original message
It's Time for our Corporate News Media to Hold McCain Accountable for his Lies
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 01:36 AM by Time for change
On Tuesday June 3rd, the last day of the Democratic primary season the day that Barack Obama became the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party John McCain chose to take some of the spotlight off of Obama by giving a speech to the American people. Ok fine, thats his right. Just as its the American peoples right to assess how well his speech measured up to the ideals of the McCain straight talk express that McCain so often brags about. So lets take a look at the issues that McCain covered in his Tuesday speech:

Running for George W. Bushs 3rd Term

It is understandable that a major party Presidential nominee would want to distance himself from an incumbent President of his own party with record low approval ratings. John McCain is quite aware of the problems that that could present, so in his June 3rd speech he warned the American people that Obama will try to tie him to George Bush:

You will hear from my opponent's campaign in every speech, every interview, every press release, that I'm running for President Bush's third term. You will hear every policy of the President described as the Bush-McCain policy. Why does Senator Obama believe it's so important to repeat that idea over and over again? Because he knows it's very difficult to get Americans to believe something they know is false

False? Admittedly its a little difficult to assess how often John McCain has voted along with George Bushs desires this year, since McCain has missed more votes this year than any other U.S. Senator. Nevertheless, just counting the 231 Senate votes that McCain has cast this year, the percentage of those votes for which hes voted with George Bush is 100%. He voted 95% with Bush in 2007, and in 2001 through 2006 he voted a little less frequently with Bush only about 90%. Perhaps McCains increase in Bush voting in 2007-8 is explained by his need to shore up the radical right wing base of the Republican Party as the presidential primaries neared.

So, in what way is tying him to Bushs policies false or even an exaggeration for that matter? Well, maybe its the personal animosity that he has for Bush, which you can see in this picture if you look very closely:

Or, maybe McCain is referring to specific policies on which hes disagreed with Bush. He does say later in his speech:

He and I have not seen eye to eye on many issues. We've disagreed over the conduct of the war in Iraq and the treatment of detainees; over out of control government spending and budget gimmicks; over energy policy and climate change.

So lets take a look at some of those specific policies on which hes disagreed with Bush.

The Iraq War

McCain makes a big point of disagreeing with Bush on the Iraq War. From his speech:

I disagreed strongly with the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq. I called for the change in strategy that is now, at last, succeeding where the previous strategy had failed miserably.

Really John? Youve disagreed strongly with Bushs mismanagement of the war? Then why did you proclaim earlier this year that No one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have.

And the strategy in Iraq that you called for is succeeding? I guess thats the point you tried to make when you visited Baghdad to show us all how safe Iraq has become since the onset of the surge that you advocated for while neglecting to mention that you were wearing a bullet proof vest and accompanied by U.S. military air and ground support:

He (McCain) says one sign of progress is that the Republican congressional delegation he's leading was able to drive from Baghdad's airport to the city center, rather than taking a helicopter as prominent visitors normally do. McCain told reporters there are many other signs of progress

Today he told a reporter that his visit to the market today was proof one could "walk freely" in some areas of Baghdad. Of course NBC News reports that for McCains stroll today he needed 100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead

Furthermore, McCain has demonized those who criticize the war, with statements such as I believe to set a date for withdrawal is to set a date for surrender and by calling those who opposed the surge intellectually dishonest. He has consistently opposed any plan for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He has said that we should stay in Iraq for a hundred or even maybe a million years.

So, how exactly, does any of this count as disagreeing strongly with Bush on the war?

Funding for veterans benefits

McCain noted in his speech that Senator Obama opposed the new strategy and voted to deny funds to the soldiers who have done a brilliant job

Uh, no, John. Obama didnt vote to deny funds for the soldiers. He voted to deny funds for the war. There is little that I can imagine that is as disingenuous as claiming that Congress cutting off funds for a war is tantamount to denying funds for soldiers. Does McCain understand the difference?

The truth of the matter is that when it comes to denying benefits for veterans, McCain is pretty near the top of the list, as shown in this detailed accounting of his Senate votes:

The candidate who talks the best talk on veterans issues (McCain) has demonstrated a tendency to work against veterans' interests, voting time after time against funding and in favor of privatizing services in other words, of rolling back the VA's improvements by supporting some of the same policies that wrecked Walter Reed

When there are two competing proposals, he generally chooses the cheaper one, and often, when only one proposal to increase benefits is available, he opposes it. But this doesn't seem to be because he is in general in favor of fiscal discipline: in 2006, in particular, he voted against several bills that actually tried not just to increase spending on vets, but to pay for it If you think that we ought to be spending more money on veterans' benefits and health care, it's not a very good record.

Barack Obama has also questioned McCains record on veterans benefits, comparing McCains record to his own:

Here's what I don't understand. I don't understand why John McCain would side with George Bush and oppose our plan to make college more affordable for our veterans," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "George Bush and John McCain may think our plan is too generous. I could not disagree more."

Fighting against climate change

Another issue on which McCain claims to oppose George Bush is on climate change:

With forward thinking Democrats and Republicans, I proposed a climate change policy that would greatly reduce our dependence on oil. Our approach was opposed by President Bush

Yes, McCain has made a big deal of pressing for measures to slow or stop global warming. I myself have received e-mails from him that emphasize this issue. But what about his Senate voting record on the issue?

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gives him a 24% lifetime score for his global warming policies, and a 0% score for 2007. His overall environmental score with the League of Conservation voters is 0%. And in an act of political cowardice, he was the only Senator to fail to show up for a recent vote on a clean energy bill that failed to pass by one vote.

Straight talk express, huh? I think that John McCain has some explaining to do on this issue.

Taking on special interests

McCain makes a big deal about taking on special interests, saying on his website that Too often the special interest lobbyists with the fattest wallets and best access carry the day. In Tuesdays speech he compared himself favorably to Obama on this issue by saying:

I opposed subsidies that favor big business over small farmers and tariffs on imported products that have greatly increased the cost of food. Senator Obama supports these billions of dollars in corporate subsidies

Its hard to answer such a statement, due to its almost complete absence of specifics. So lets talk about some specifics: Despite McCains efforts to hide the fact, he has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign. He also appears to be gaming the system with respect to his own (McCain-Feingold) legislation and use of lobbyists. As a campaign finance expert explained:

John McCain's campaign struck a canny deal with a bank in December. If his campaign tanked, public funds would be there to bail him out. But if he emerged as the nominee, there'd be no need for public financing, since the contributions would come flowing.

It's an arrangement that no one has ever tried before. And it appears that McCain, who has built his reputation on campaign finance reform, was gaming the system. Or, as a campaign finance expert who preferred to remain anonymous told me, referring to the prominent role that lobbyists have as advisers to his campaign, "This places McCain's grandstanding on public financing in a new light. True reformers believe public financing is a way to replace the lobbyists' influence, not a slush fund that the lobbyists use to pay off campaign debts."

And lets not forget the Keating 5 scandal, which cost the American tax payer $2.6 billion. McCains role in that was not innocent:

After McCain's election to the House in 1982, he and his family made at least nine trips at Keating's expense, three of which were to Keating's Bahamas retreat. McCain did not disclose the trips (as he was required to under House rules) until the scandal broke in 1989. At that point, he paid Keating $13,433 for the flights.


In Tuesdays speech, McCain tried to nail Obama on the liberal tax and spend stereotype:

Senator Obama proposes to keep spending money on programs that make our problems worse and create new ones that are modeled on big government programs that created much of the fiscal mess we are in. He plans to pay for these increases by raising taxes on seniors, parents, small business owners and every American with even a modest investment in the market.

Where on earth does Mr. straight talk express come up with the idea that Obama would raise taxes on seniors, parents, small business owners? Obama has laid out plans to reverse the Bush tax cuts for the rich, while reducing taxes and simplifying filing for working and middle class Americans. Specifically, he has said:

The Bush tax cuts people didn't need them, and they weren't even asking for them, and they ought to be relaxed so we can pay for universal health care and other initiatives. We have to stop pretending that all cuts are equivalent or that all tax increases are the same. At a time when ordinary families are feeling hit from all sides, the impulse to keep their taxes as low as possible is honorable. What is less honorable is the willingness of the rich to ride this anti-tax sentiment for their own purposes.

Obamas tax policies are very much the opposite of McCains, who would do very much what Bush has done, and even more. According to his own website, McCains idea of an economic stimulus plan is to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%, claiming that such a tax cut is essential to U.S. competitiveness, will expand the U.S. economy, creating jobs and opportunities for prosperity, and lead to higher wages. Other McCain ideas for tax cuts include lowering taxes on capital gains and dividends and fighting the Democrats crippling plans for a tax increase in 2011. What McCain means by that last statement is that he will ensure that the Bush tax cuts for the rich, including the total elimination of the inheritance tax, become permanent in 2011.

So, lets be absolutely clear about this. The difference between McCains and Obamas tax policies is not lowering taxes vs. raising taxes. The difference is for whom their tax policies would benefit. McCains tax policies would benefit the wealthy, whereas Obamas would benefit everyone else. And McCain would pay for his tax breaks for the wealthy by cutting the social programs that he so much abhors, such as those dealing with health and education, which have been used since FDRs New Deal in an attempt to equalize opportunity in our country.

Health care

McCain disparages Obamas health care plan by saying:

Senator Obama thinks we can improve health care by driving Americans into a new system of government orders, regulations and mandates. I believe we can make health care more available, affordable and responsive to patients by breaking from inflationary practices, insurance regulations, and tax policies that were designed generations ago, and by giving families more choices over their care. His plan represents the old ways of government.

Allow me to translate that: Obama has a specific plan for providing health care to the American people, whereas McCain only parrots generalities about reducing inflation, increasing choice, etc.

McCain discusses health care on his website. The only concrete step that he provides in his plan (not counting all the generalities about promoting competition, reform, and reducing costs) is tax credits of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families, which families could use towards the purchase of private health insurance. Such a plan leaves our current for-profit health insurance system fully in place without coming anywhere near achieving universal healthcare coverage. In order to be eligible for McCains $5,000 tax credit a family would have to give up their employer based health care. Who would that help?

In what way can McCain claim that Obamas health care plan represents the old ways of government? That is absurd. Obamas plan is a major step towards universal health care for Americans. How is that the old way? The only thing close to that has been Medicare, which Obamas plan would emulate while expanding coverage available to all Americans, not just the elderly. Does McCain advocate doing away with Medicare?


In McCains Tuesday speech he disparaged Obamas advocacy of diplomacy, as if talking to ones adversaries is the equivalent of appeasement:

Americans ought to be concerned about the judgment of a presidential candidate who says he's ready to talk, in person and without conditions, with tyrants from Havana to Pyongyang, but hasn't traveled to Iraq to meet with General Petraeus, and see for himself the progress he threatens to reverse.

Why should Obama (or anyone else) travel to Iraq to meet with a Bush administration lackey when he has already exercised the opportunity to question him during Senate hearings?

Yes, it is true that Obama favors diplomacy with our adversaries substantially more than McCain does. That is an honest difference of opinion.

McCain is much more inclined to favor the alternative to diplomacy, giving every indication of extending our war to Iran if elected President: At a press conference, McCain began singing Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran to the tune of the Beach Boys Barbara Ann. He has repeatedly lied to the American people that Iran harbors al Qaeda. Our national news media refers to such statements as gaffes. But they are not gaffes. They are lies. If they were truly gaffes he wouldnt continually repeat them, despite being corrected about his mis-statements.

Worst of all is his enthusiasm for illegal preventive war, as described by Matthew Iglesias in an article titled The Militarist When it Comes to Foreign Policy, John McCain is More Bush than Bush, which sums up McCains views on war:

The strategic concepts he outlined back in 1999 came to be at the core of what we today term the Bush doctrine. Most significant is the emphasis on preventive war as a tool of policy. As outlined in McCain's disquisition on North Korea, the fact that some state does not, in fact, pose an imminent threat to the United States is no reason to refrain from attacking it. On the contrary, the fact that a state is non-threatening is a reason to attack it as soon as possible, lest it become more powerful over time. In Bush's hands, this concept has led not only to the fiasco in Iraq McCain has pushed this doctrine longer, harder, and more consistently than has Bush.

Foreign trade

McCain has little tolerance for the criticism by Obama and others of our so-called free trade agreements:

Senator Obama pretends we can address the loss of manufacturing jobs by repealing trade agreements and refusing to sign new ones; that we can build a stronger economy by limiting access to our markets and giving up access to foreign markets.

Hmmm. So, what is he trying to say? That NAFTA addresses our loss of manufacturing jobs? Well, if thats the point hes trying to get across, all I can say is good luck with that.

The straight talk express

It is way past time that our corporate news media re-evaluate its characterization of John McCain as the straight talk express. The examples Ive noted above from a single speech provide plenty of evidence to contradict that characterization. A recent commentary on the subject provided plenty of additional evidence:

McCain's self-laudatory label of "straight-talker" despite his stark inconsistency on numerous issues, including the Iraq war, immigration, and tax cuts

Another way to get to the bottom of this is to have Obama and McCain appear one on one in a long series of debates. Our corporate news media can try to spin the results of those debates any way they want, but I have a hunch that they might not have too much success with that. I can hardly wait to see it.
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Jim Sagle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:55 AM
Response to Original message
1. Holding Republicans accountable is not what the media do.
They're paid to let Republicans off the hook and make up shit about Democrats.
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:56 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. And then when they are called on it they blame the consumer.
"Well, if you don't like it, don't watch it" they say. :puke:
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cyclezealot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 02:49 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Plus 1
You want some truth, don't turn to the American media. What a silly assumption.
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 03:43 AM
Response to Reply #1
7. Yep- that's our job
Anyone who expects the corporate media to act responsibly or honestly is naive.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 08:58 AM
Response to Reply #1
13. It's not what they do, but it's their responsibility
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 09:03 AM by Time for change
The Telecommunications Act of 1934 made it clear that licensing a corporation to use our public airways carries with it a responsibility to serve the public interest. Holding back damaging information about the lies a presidential candidate tells is not serving the public interest.

As early as 1927 our government began requiring licenses for use of the public airways, in the Radio Act of 1927, which was expanded in the Communications Act of 1934. Since then, the underlying standard for radio and television licensing has been the public interest, convenience and necessity clause, which is explained here by Sharon Zechowski:

The obligation to serve the public interest is integral to the "trusteeship" model of broadcasting the philosophical foundation upon which broadcasters are expected to operate. The trusteeship paradigm is used to justify government regulation of broadcasting. It maintains that the electromagnetic spectrum is a limited resource belonging to the public, and only those most capable of serving the public interest are entrusted with a broadcast license. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the government body responsible for determining whether or not applicants for broadcast license meet the requirements to obtain them and for further regulation of those to whom licenses have been granted.

I know that our corporate news media will help McCain and hurt Obama. That's why we have to call them out on it.
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bridgit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:59 AM
Response to Original message
3. Our vaunted 4th estate needs to stop being paid by the column inch...
and then *start* to do something, oh, say, like perform the function of a free press in a democracy
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blonndee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 02:55 AM
Response to Original message
5. Bookmarking for later, and for my republican mom. Nice.
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 02:57 AM by blonndee
Thanks for the work and thought in putting this together.

Edit: Might you consider posting this in GD so more will be likely to read it?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #5
14. Thank you
I don't think it's necessary to put this in GD, since it's on the DU Home page. Maybe GD would have been more appropriate for it to begin with, but the rules say that if the post is about a Democratic nominee it should be in GD-P. This post is primarily about McCain, but it is also about Obama.
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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 03:32 AM
Response to Original message
6. I checked out his site
and he promises permanent repeal of the AMT which he says is largely paid by the middle class. I am not sure what his source is for that b.s. It sounds similar to the 75% of the people who benefit from the capital gains tax rate make less than $50,000 a year. Which is true, but their average benefit is about $150. Meanwhile over 70% of the benefits of the capital gains and dividend tax cuts goto people making more than $500,000 a year.

Also, about the AMT I find this:

"It is important to recognize that the benefit of repeal would be directed to taxpayers at the top of the income distribution. Almost 96 % of the tax cut resulting from repeal would go to the top quintile and 80% would go to the top tenth. More than half would go to taxpayers with income in excess of $200,000."

He's not talking very straight on that issue, nor is he differing from Bush.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:17 PM
Response to Reply #6
16. Yes, he advocates a tax policy that is even worse than Bush, if that is possible
Republicans win elections by pretending that any tax policy that benefits the wealthy will benefit all of us as well. Once Americans learn to see through that bullshit it's going to be mighty difficult for Republicans to get elected at all.

On the other hand, eliminating the AMT also will benefit the high income range of the middle class. If it was accompanied by increased marginal tax rates and increases on the inheritance tax above a certain level, eliminating the AMT could benefit some of the middle class without providing a break for the wealthy. At least, that's the way it seems to me.
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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. but the AMT is a loophole closer
the same benefit to the upper middle class could be obtained just by lifting the dollar amount where it kicks in.

Of course, I am not all that concerned about helping the upper middle class either. It's not like they are more needy than the working poor.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 08:28 PM
Response to Reply #17
20. That's true -- May as well just lift the amount where it kicks in
It was never meant to apply to the middle class, but it didn't adjust for inflation, so now it is applying to more and more middle class.

I agree that the working poor need the break before the upper middle class do. But the middle class are an important voting block, and the AMT was never meant to apply to them anyhow.
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mwb970 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 06:14 AM
Response to Original message
8. This jerk is every bit as dishonest as bush.
What a horrible loser of a candidate. My God! If Americans choose this silly, sorry old man as president, with such a glowing, promising alternative right at hand, I'll know we've gone insane as a nation. It's hard to believe anyone even takes his idiotic candidacy seriously.

(OMG! This sounds exactly like what I said about bush before he stole the 2000 election and slithered into the Oval Office, which he continues to defile with his obscene presence each and every day!)
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shadowknows69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 06:16 AM
Response to Original message
9. We'll get no help and probably some harm from the MSM in this GE
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 06:51 AM by shadowknows69
The netroots has to be mighty.
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Triana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 06:55 AM
Response to Original message
10. Corprats Hold Repigs Responsible for Lies and Crime? Bwah! Not gonna happen..
...Repigs help line their pockets. The Plutocracy watch each others backs.
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TexasObserver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:01 AM
Response to Original message
11. "What will John McCain do differently from George Bush, Senator McCain?"
"Will you prosecute the War in Iraq better?"

"Will you do more to protect American jobs?"

"Will you end the war any faster?"

"Will you do anything to change the price of gasoline?"

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USA_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:40 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Good Questions!
i would one more: how do you plan on paying for Bush's war without raising taxes??

This is an issue that Obama and the Dems have failed to ask up to now.
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Politicalboi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. I think
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 11:12 AM by BecauseBushSaysSo
Once Obama is President he will look over the no bid contracts and hopefully get rid of Blackwater, Haliburton and KBR. I think most of the funds are going to Bush/Cheney buddies. It's obvious that the soldiers aren't seeing any of the 12 Billion a month going towards what they need. My guess is this war doesn't cost as much as they claim if you take out the pork spending. This is just another way to launder money.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:07 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. A major purpose of the war was to funnel billions to Bush/Cheney cronies
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 05:36 PM
Response to Reply #11
18. He won't do anything differently, except he says he'll lower taxes on corporations
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puebloknot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 09:24 PM
Response to Original message
21. Laying in a store of wine and cheese, to enhance the joy of ...
... seeing someone with integrity beard McLion! :)
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 10:25 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. I can hardly wait to see Obama do it at their first debate
Of course he'll be obligated to be more gentle than I am.
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puebloknot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-06-08 08:03 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. My less-than-better nature longs to see something like...
...the storming of the Bastille, in which we all get to be less gentle than we might be with those who are running the show!

But I'll settle for Obama verbally guillotining McCan't, and watching John Boy staggering off into the sunset, holding something BIG and soft and round in his hands. :)
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NotThisTime Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-06-08 08:35 PM
Response to Original message
24. Corporate sponsored media is NOT going to rat out the corporate candidate
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