Canadian Embassy emails reveal Canadian, US lobbying on tar sands-derived oil

Recently released emails written by employees of the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC and other Canadian government workers show that the Embassy directly lobbied the Bush Administration and Congress in an attempt to influence regulations and legislation that could restrict exports of Alberta tar sands-derived bitumen and petroleum. The emails further reveal that the Bush Administration had asked the Canadian Embassy to lobby Congress and to use its influence with key oil companies to convince them to lobby on Canada’s – and the Bush Administration’s – behalf. Continue reading

Shootout at the DC Corral

The independently minded political animal always wrestles with times of transition, and the changeover from the Bush to Obama regimes has been worse than most. During the Dubya years it was easy to identify the enemy and to hate him with a blinding passion. Sweet Jesus, George II and his sidekick, The Dick Cheney, played their roles with less nuance than the bad guy in Rambo 12: Return of Ming the Merciless (directed by Roland Emmerich), making it easy to identify with the loyal opposition just on principle.

But it’s important to remember that the enemy of my enemy isn’t necessarily my friend. They might just be fighting over which one gets to eat my tender bits. Continue reading

Finally, a reasonable argument in favor of torture

It’s been maddening over the last few years listening to the “debate” over torture. On the one side you have your basic horde of patchouli-soaked dirty fucking hippie liberals wringing their hands and screeching over anything that damages a terrorist’s self-esteem, while on the other side you have a well-dressed cadre of chicken-hawks who think that Jack Bauer is a real person.

Seriously, can I get a bipartisan “amen”?

The closest we’ve ever gotten to a conservative breaking ranks on the issue is John McCain, who has paid a lot of lip-service to how torture is bad. Continue reading

Republicans are "rebranding": round up the usual suspects

You have to love the headline: GOP set to launch rebranding effort

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Coming soon to a battleground state near you: a new effort to revive the image of the Republican Party and to counter President Obama’s characterization of Republicans as “the party of ‘no.'”

CNN has learned that the new initiative, called the National Council for a New America, will be announced Thursday.

It will involve an outreach by an interesting mix of GOP officials, ranging from 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and the younger brother of the man many Republicans blame for the party’s battered brand: former President George W. Bush. Continue reading

Let the economy die?! Rushkoff's goals are noble but his plan needs work

A couple of weeks ago author and NYU media theory lecturer Douglas Rushkoff penned a provocative essay for Arthur Magazine. Entitled “Let It Die,” the essay explains why we should stop trying to save the economy.

In a perfect world, the stock market would decline another 70 or 80 percent along with the shuttering of about that fraction of our nation’s banks. Yes, unemployment would rise as hundreds of thousands of formerly well-paid brokers and bankers lost their jobs; but at least they would no longer be extracting wealth at our expense. They would need to be fed, but that would be a lot cheaper than keeping them in the luxurious conditions they’re enjoying now. Even Bernie Madoff costs us less in jail than he does on Park Avenue.

Alas, I’m not being sarcastic. Continue reading

Mapping American progress

About three weeks ago, Jim Moss over at The Seminal laid the 2008 electoral results map over maps of poverty and income inequality. The visual comparison was illuminating, and Jim’s post got me to thinking – what if you did the same thing with a wider range of measures and rankings? What kind of picture would emerge? (Jim has himself expanded on the exercise in a couple follow-up postings here and here.)

So I spent some time digging, looking for data that may tell us something about how America is constructed at our current moment in time. Continue reading

Concession speeches, mandates and the post-partisan reach-around

A few nights ago John McCain treated us all to a masterful concession speech. He was gracious, articulate, noble – he said all the right things and struck all the right chords as the nation and his party look toward the future in the wake of an epic statement on the part of the American electorate.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering: where the hell was this guy for the last several months?

I always marvel at the civility of concession speeches. Your opponent spends months degrading your character, questioning the legitimacy of your parentage, slandering you, your momma, your horse and everyone you ever passed in the street, fabricating the most staggering and colorful lies imaginable, and then when the votes are in he extends his hand like you’d been trading good-natured barbs over the monthly potluck in the church fellowship hall. Continue reading

ElecTunesDay: ending the War on Music

Trusting is one thing I don’t know
When it comes to the campaigning men
But I’ll meet you at the election
When I vote for the hope of this land
Sean Kelly

You may have noticed, if you’ve been paying attention, that the music industry has gone to hell of late. It isn’t that nobody is making good music anymore – on the contrary, there are legions of fantastic bands and artists out there. It’s just that the best ones rarely get played on the radio; the recording industry cranks out nothing but imitation, prefabricated product – the musical equivalent of Cheez-Whiz (Now With Zero Intellectual Calories!); the RIAA – the body that’s allegedly working on behalf of artists – never misses a chance to kneecap young, developing musicians; and if an artist is making a living, it’s probably at a day job and not with his or her music. Continue reading

"You're not really voting for John McCain, are you, Mom?"

With the election two days away, I’m wondering how many Scholars & Rogues readers suffer from Archie Bunker syndrome. That is, does someone close to you — mother, father, sister, brother — hold political beliefs diametrically opposed to you?

Does it poison your relationship and create a wall between you and him and her? How do you continue to carry on a relationship? Are you especially resentful because that person’s beliefs — and choice in the presidential election — seem the product of ignorance?

Kindly respond in the comments section.

What's keeping Condi from pulling the trigger on McCain?

Back in August, on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Condoleezza Rice if she were supporting John McCain for president. She replied that “as secretary of state, I think it’s a tradition that I’ll take a nonpartisan role here. … And I as an American will make my choice, like all Americans, at the ballot box.”

Condi an undecided? Knowing her talent for detecting which way the wind blows, it’s not surprising. Is she another Republican preparing to jump ship. There has been talk that she has reservations about Sarah Palin.

In fact, perhaps Condi plans to make a future run at the presidency and is just trying to steer clear of the train wreck this election has become for Republicans. Continue reading

Prop comic Gallagher replaces top McCain strategist

by Brad Jacobson

Trailing in both national and state polls with Election Day drawing near, John McCain’s campaign announced this morning that legendary prop-comic Gallagher — famed for smashing produce, especially watermelons, with a sledgehammer — will take over strategy and messaging from Karl Rove disciple Steve Schmidt. It’s a major shakeup in a campaign already known for embracing the unconventional.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told Joe Scarborough, “We’ve done pretty well pulling a new rabbit out of the hat every day. But Gallagher is the godfather of prop comedy, a master of the random tactic. Who better to keep Barack Obama off balance?” Continue reading

Nota Bene #46

Link of the Week (as opposed to the Weakest Link):

Shaun Mullen at the Moderate Voice:

It is no accident that there are so many older African-Americans waiting in the long lines at early voting stations. These folks have long memories and they fear that they won’t be able to vote on Election Day because of the usual reasons given for suppressed minority turnouts — faulty machines, improper registration cards, not enough poll workers. Continue reading

FOX declares McCain campaign dead, consigns them to the racist scrap heap of history

Wow. Didn’t see this coming.

Yesterday: FOX News VP John Moody said that “If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.”

Today: Police: McCain volunteer made up robbery story.

There you have it, in black and white (as it were). But still, McCain? Race-baiting? I declare, I just might faint.

*ahem* The George Wallace McCain camp issued an official statement yesterday, before Ashley Todd confessed, saying, “We’re shaken up by this. It’s sick and disgusting.” Continue reading

Welcome to Double-Reverse Vote-Fixing Theatre

In a smoke-filled back room in an elite, moneyed private club on the East Coast, the following scenario is being discussed between two of the power elite’s more powerful elites. Let’s call them Dick Toole and Harry Johnson.

As Dick and Harry see it:

  • The numbers have been crunched and the party’s McCain problem looks terminal. This presidential election, they conclude, can neither be won nor safely stolen. Continue reading

Mitchell calls Obama '90%' ad 'remarkably negative'

by Brad Jacobson

The media continues to present this phony moral equivalency: Obama’s ads are somehow just as negative as McCain’s. On Meet the Press Sunday, Andrea Mitchell exemplified this ludicrous meme, unintentionally entering Onion and Saturday Night Live territory when she called the following “a remarkably negative ad”:

Here’s the specific context in which Mitchell presented this specious notion:

TOM BROKAW: Can they continue to tag John McCain with George Bush?

MITCHELL: They can, and, in fact, they’re doing it with a remarkably negative ad. I mean, we talk a lot about the negativity on the Republican side. But the fact is that Barack Obama has so much more money, and some of these targeted ads, one that they unveiled on Thursday and Friday of this week and it’s on national television, has John McCain in his own words saying, in another interview, in another context, “I voted, I supported George Bush 90 percent of the time.” So they’ve got him on videotape. And the fact is, that this ad is running and running and running. …Yes, the robocalls are reaching hundreds of thousands of people, the negative robotic calls from the Republican side. But these ads are reaching millions and millions of people.”

With all due respect to planetary travel, what planet is Mitchell on? Continue reading

Can you relate?

by Alexi Koltowicz

As the story goes, G.W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 because enough people wanted to “have a beer with him.” Bush was a reformed alcoholic, so the idea was metaphorical. What people meant was that they felt that they could relate to G.W. Bush. Of course few of us really could. Was your daddy a president? Did you go to Yale and Harvard? Have you ever had dinner at the bin Laden house? No. None of the people who spouted the beer rationale could actually relate to Bush. The trick was that he didn’t talk about his father or Yale or what it’s like to roll around in oil money. Continue reading

America's Negro Cracker Problem: none of us are free

Part two in a series.

There’s a rising tide on the rivers of blood
But if the answer isn’t violence, neither is your silence

– Pop Will Eat Itself, “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”

When all is said and done, nothing communicates the racism and knee-buckling stupidity of all-too-wide swaths of our nation quite like video. So if you don’t trust me to tell the truth about these folks, maybe you’ll trust their own words.

Continue reading

Nota Bene #45

Link of the Week (as opposed to the Weakest Link):

In an American Prospect article, “Business as Usury,” Thomas Geoghegan writes: “Had we protected the poor and the weak, the problems of our mighty banks might not be so great. Why don’t we have a ‘National Usury Act’? Why, in the party of William Jennings Bryan, is there no one demanding an interest cap on our Visa cards and our MasterCards?. . . We may be the first society since the Code of Hammurabi to be operating with no law against usury at all.” Can the last sentence possibly be true? Continue reading

America's Negro Cracker Problem: Ich bin ein Auslander

Part one in a series.

Listen to the victim, abused by the system
The basis is racist, you know that we must face this

In 1991 Pop Will Eat Itself produced one of the most damning comments on racism in society in the history of popular music. “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” was specifically aimed at anti-immigrant racism in Europe, but over the past 17 years it’s been impossible for me to hear the song without mapping its penetrating, undeniable truth onto our American context. Our black auslanders aren’t recent arrivals (although many of our brown ones are), but they nonetheless remain social, political, economic and cultural outsiders, and whatever progress they may have made in the several hundred years since they first arrived in shackles, only a fool can believe that the basis is no longer racist.

I said some time back, as the presidential election lurched into overdrive, that the heavy racist stuff was coming. Continue reading