Friday, September 5, 2008

Epic Stock Footage Fail

Remember that giant mansion looking place behind McSame's speech last night? It wasn't a mansion. It was Walter Reed. No, not Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, Walter Reed MIDDLE SCHOOL.

A lot of people were asking tonight: what the hell was that mansion up behind John McCain tonight during the first part of the speech? As I noted below, the TV close-ups only showed McCain's head against the grass in the picture, which made it look like he was reprising his famed green screen performance. And when they panned out, it looked like McCain was showing off one of his mansions.

Well, several readers have written in to tell me that the building is actually the main building on the campus of the Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, California. And sure enough, this page on the school's website makes it pretty clear that they're correct.

You can compare below ...

So it's not a mansion, but a middle school. But that still doesn't answer the question of why they picked this picture to have him standing in front of -- when I would imagine that 99.9% of the US population would have no idea what they were looking at.

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Readers JR and EK for cluing us in.)

Late Update: I'm surprised this hadn't occurred to me. But several readers have suggested that perhaps one of the tech geeks charged with setting up the audio/visual bells and whistles for the evening was tasked with getting pictures of Walter Reed Army Medical Center but goofed and got this instead. At first I thought, No, that's ridiculous. This is a major political party with big time professionals putting this together. Nothing is left to chance. I mean, is this the RNC or a scene out Spinal Tap or Waiting for Guffman? I still have a bit of a hard time believing they're quite that incompetent. But when you figure in what appears to be the utter lack of any logic for this school being behind McCain and the fact that it has 'Walter Reed' in its name, I'm really not sure you can discount this possibility.

(ed.note: Special bonus snark: That's not stock photo keyword searching we can believe in.)

In other words, that photo used as propaganda for McSame's speech last night was THE WRONG WALTER REED BUILDING. Walter Reed Middle School officials were not happy.

Okay, the McCain-Walter Reed Middle School backdrop debacle is getting weirder by the second. Now the principal of the school is hammering McCain for using footage of the school during his convention speech without seeking the school's permission.

Here's the statement from Donna Tobin, the principal...

"It has been brought to the school's attention that a picture of the front of our school, Walter Reed Middle School, was used as a backdrop at the Republican National Convention. Permission to use the front of our school for the Republican National Convention was not given by our school nor is the use of our school's picture an endorsement of any political party or view."

One other interesting development: The California Democratic Party is actually holding a press conference in front of the school within minutes, where Dems will hit McCain for not knowing the difference between the school and Walter Reed Medical Center, which is believed to be the backdrop the McCain campaign really wanted.

Oh yes kids, this is EPIC FAIL. If this isn't symbolic of how the GOP is a bunch of political hacks that aren't even competent enough to get their own political hackery right, I dunno what is. It's totally appropriate symbology for the idiocy from the top the GOP has brought us, and is such a really lame ass failure I don't know where to begin.

Honestly, we have the McSame people obviously trying to use the Walter Reed Medical Center, where injured war veterans like McSame himself received such dismal coverage that Walter Reed itself became the symbol of the broken medical health care system that McSame's Republicans provided for our supposedly honored warriors, and they compounded the sin of using that symbol to represent McSame's OWN efforts to capitalize on his war injuries for the thousandth time by not even getting the damn picture correct.

If I am a veteran, I am steaming fucking mad at McSame for this. There is dishonor on top of dishonor on top of dishonor here for a man who has exploited his tragic story for political gain for the last 30 years. The very thought of Walter Reed -- and what the Republican Party did to our military forces, burdening them with two wars so that Walter Reed failed our men and women in uniform and their families after they fought and were maimed and crippled and injured for assholes like George W Bush -- should be enough to drive any military veteran straight to the boiling point.

This is such a perfect example of the GOP in 2008 that it's actually quite sad and bile-inducingly maddening at the same time.

Our country deserves better than these morons.


More Important Issues

This article from the Jerusalem Post is gaining rapid attention, and for good reason.
The Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, has called off an operation aimed at infiltrating and sabotaging Iran's weapons industry due to an assessment that a US attack on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program is imminent, according to a report in the country's De Telegraaf newspaper on Friday.

The report claimed that the Dutch operation had been "extremely successful," and had been stopped because the US military was planning to hit targets that were "connected with the Dutch espionage action."

The impending air-strike on Iran was to be carried out by unmanned aircraft "within weeks," the report claimed, quoting "well placed" sources.

The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the De Telegraaf report.

According to the report, information gleaned from the AIVD's operation in Iran has provided several of the targets that are to be attacked in the strike, including "parts for missiles and launching equipment."

"Information from the AIVD operation has been shared in recent years with the CIA," the report said.

On Saturday, Iran's Deputy Chief of Staff General Masoud Jazayeri warned that should the United States or Israel attack Iran, it would be the start of another World War.

On Friday, Ma'ariv reported that Israel had made a strategic decision to deny Iran military nuclear capability and would not hesitate "to take whatever means necessary" to prevent Teheran from achieving its nuclear goals.

According to the report, whether the United States and Western countries succeed in thwarting the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions diplomatically, through sanctions, or whether a US strike on Iran is eventually decided upon, Jerusalem has begun preparing for a separate, independent military strike.

Now, this could very well be more Israeli bluster, or it could be the ultimate October Surprise. But with both Obama and McSame kissing AIPAC's ass and promising to "protect and preserve Israel" (show me where in the Constitution that is) the fact of the matter remains Israel attacking Iran is the wild card that could thrust America into yet another shooting war...or a nuclear one.

The Other Side: We Deserve Better Than Obama

As an African-American, I do have one major issue with Barack Obama. He's a great orator and intelligent. He's a good politician. He's a great motivator. But...his record is weak.

There's a theory out there among us that goes something like this: "We really do deserve better than him as far as America's first black president, let's be honest." He's not Jackie Robinson, or the Tuskeegee Airmen, or anything along the caliber of great black history-makers who had to be better than anyone else regardless of race at what they did so that there was no doubt about their bona fides to be first.

Obama does not fall into that category, is the analysis. Not by a long shot. He's middling at best. Now, he might very well be a great President. But there's going to be a pretty large segment of the population that will assume that he's the ultimate endpoint of affirmative action in this country. "If Obama were white, he wouldn't be running for President, he'd be an unknown state senator at best."

It doesn't matter if it's true, but America will believe that about him anyway. They won't vote for him, the theory goes. They'll Bradley Effect him at the polls, he'll lose in a landslide to a hack like McSame, and because he wasn't The Best, he will have set blacks in politics back a generation...ask Geraldine Ferrarro how that works out.

So the question is this: Is Barack Obama worthy of being history's first, or will he go down as a sort of cosmic joke, becoming a code word for the pinnacle of affirmative action and white derision and scorn? Would African-Americans be better off with Obama losing...and losing in a order to forge a better black Presidential candidate in the future who really CAN deliver on Obama's promises?

It would be nice. But cold, hard political reality is this: The next four years are going to be a disaster. This country is going to be in very bad shape. Even Obama, as flawed as he is, is better than letting McSame and Palin get their mitts on this country for another four years.

No, he's not Jackie Robinson. He is not the best politician in America. He will have his detractors and may end up failing us all anyway. But the chance for real greatness IS there...and he's the candidate we have. In other words, stopping the GOP at this juncture in history is that important...even to put Obama and Biden in charge.

So yes, I'm voting for him anyway.

And The Sun, Being Fusion Powered, Is Hot

In other pieces of complete obviousness, Steve Benen comes up with the fact that the GOP hasn't run on issues since Nixon and isn't about to start now.

We didn't hear too much of this from McCain last night in his acceptance speech, which at least tried to strike an above-the-fray tone, but his convention and his campaign has been less than subtle. When talking about McCain, Americans hear amorphous soundbites about patriotism and service. When attacking Obama, we hear character attacks about celebrity, elitism, and presumptuousness.

Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, summarized the Republicans' perspective perfectly a couple of days ago: "This election is not about issues." Indeed, it can't be -- McCain is on the wrong side of practically every policy dispute Americans care about.

There are two angles to keep in mind. First, if voters are genuinely desperate for change, playing on their cultural insecurities won't be enough. These guys tried this approach in '92, for example, and came up short. This year, with three-in-four Americans convinced the nation is badly off track, only so many people can be swayed by talk of Paris Hilton, arugula, and Obama being "uppity."

And second, let's also note how entirely unoriginal all of this is. Atwater did it, Rove did it, and now Schmidt is doing. Without these cultural insecurities, Republicans would lose every election.

The LA Times report added that GOP strategists are convinced, probably with good reason, that there are voters "who may be struggling economically, detest President Bush and oppose the Iraq war -- but still may vote based on a visceral sense of which candidate respects their way of life."

With that in mind, watch how both campaigns spend the next 60 days, not arguing over who's right on the issues, but over whether issues matter at all.

I'll go even further. The GOP makes up crazy social conservative bullshit and declares it to not only be the actual issues that supercede the real concerns voters have, but they frame it in such a way that the Democrats are the cause of the problems. It's not "the economy is bad" that's the issue, it's "Democrats spending government money on worthless programs that is causing the economy to be bad" that is the issue, despite Republicans having been in charge and spending trillions to increase the size of government. Anything a Republican does is inherently good, anything a Democrat does is inherently bad, even if they do the same thing. Everything is spun from their own narrow viewpoint, and then that narrow viewpoint is then foisted upon the public through the media.

If you can't win on the issues, change the issues.

It's Nixon(land) All Over Again

Rick Perlstein, author of the book Nixonland, takes a scathing look at how the RNC was boilerplate Nixon and Agnew.

Enormously gratifying to see how many bloggers have found my book NIXONLAND illuminating of Sara Palin's speech last night, and of the Republicans' convention narrative generally. It really is textbook: Rudy Giuliani braying how Sara doesn't wear a mink coat, she wears a respectable Republican cloth parka; Sara herself, with a genial fury that frankly recalled for me Ronald Reagan at his most effective, pulling out all the stops for the pity-party strategy I describe in the book thusly:

[you] jab at a bunch of bastards who were piling on, kicking a man when he was down, a regular guy, just because they could do it and he couldn't fight back.... you inspire a strange sort of protective love among voters whose wounds of resentment grow alongside your performance of being wounded. Your enemies appear to die of their own hand, never of your own. Which makes you stronger.

It was, even more—Sara's the Veep pick, after all—Spiro Agnew: a whimpering foreign policy, a mulish obstructionism in domestic policy, and a pusillanimous pussyfooting on the critical issue of law and order.... The troglodylic leftists who dominate themselves into a lather over an alleged shortage of nutriments in a child's box of Wheaties." They "cannot get exercised over that same child's constant exposure to a flood of hard-core pornography that could warp his moral outlook for a lifetime."

I watched the speech couch-bound and spellbound, at the home of a tall and taciturn prominent St. Paul radio personality, his gracious wife, and a staffer from a liberal magazine. I found that watching the speech with fellow liberals turned out to be more useful to me than watching it in the hall, for reasons I hope to explain later. I scribbled the most salient lines madly in my Moleskin. Forthwith, an annotation:

It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves. With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost - there was no hope for this candidate who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. But the pollsters and pundits overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off. They overlooked the caliber of the man himself - the determination, resolve, and sheer guts of Senator John McCain. The voters knew better.

And so, in the the lingering afterglow of a staggeringly intense standing ovation, the keynote is struck: the media hates John McCain. That is because the media hates victory. The media, by association, also hates you. John McCain will protect you from them.

He really is right: Nixon was all about the Damn Dirty Hippies that were assaulting him and America from every avenue, he was the master of playing the victim card at the same time he would attack everybody who looked at him cross-eyed with blistering rancor. McSame is very much the same, especially with the paranoid hypocrisy. Here is a guy who at the same time says he is the only qualified person to be President in a rough world and is ready to do whatever is necessary to defend America, and we're supposed to believe he is qualified because of the sympathy he constantly attempts to provoke with his POW story. He says he is the agent of true change in Washington after having spent the last 8 years voting 90% of the time with Bush. He says his party is inclusive and he'll reach across the aisle, and picks a hard core fundie VP who is the new face of the culture wars.

John McSame is not just Bush, he's Nixon.

Just A Reminder

...About the wonderful GOP economy, and McSame's plan for more tax cuts, more war, and more of the same.
The unemployment rate soared to a nearly five-year high in August, topping 6%, as employers trimmed jobs for the eighth straight month, according to the latest government reading Friday that came in weaker than forecasts.

The big surprise in the report was that the unemployment rate rose to 6.1%, the highest level since September 2003. That's up from the 5.7% rate in July and 4.7% a year ago. Economists surveyed by had forecast the rate would remain unchanged.

There was a net loss of 84,000 jobs in August, according to the Labor Department, compared to a revised reading of a 60,000 job loss in July. Economists surveyed by had forecast a loss of 75,000 jobs.

With the August report, the U.S. economy has now lost 605,000 jobs so far this year.
And things are only going to get worse. The McSame Economy is the Bush Economy.


So what did people who make waaaaaaaaaay more money than I do think of McSame's McSpeech?

Slate's Mickey Kaus:
The Larger Issue: The speech reeked of extra cooks making too many unintegrated additions. What does it say about McCain's management ability if he let the process for this crucial effort get out of control? It's not like he didn't have months to prepare. Or were the months the problem? Palin's Wednesday night text, presumably written in a few days, was much better. Maybe the McCain campaign didn't have time to kill it with improvements. ...
CNN's Bill Schneider:
My view is: It was a simple and sincere speech that gave testimony to his character, avoiding most divisive social issues. But it did not seem to answer the question, "What are you going to do about the nation's terrible economic problems?"

His answers seemed very much part of the past: cut spending, cut taxes. He really needs to find a new and bolder economic plan.


He tried to claim some of Obama's major campaign themes Thursday: unity and change. But when McCain talks about change, he talks about changing Washington. When the Democrats talk about change, they're talking about changing the way things are going in the country.

If voters are choosing between two men, they will probably choose McCain. If they're choosing between two policies, I think Obama has the edge: His are newer, smarter and fresher.
The NY Times goes over the righty blog reactions:
As Rudy Giuliani wasn’t on stage tonight, we actually got to see the movie we were promised — although the Opinionator thinks Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, has a point that “it was pretty weak. I can’t believe they didn’t do a better job given what they had to work with” and Megan McCardle of the Atlantic has a good question: “Do we need the tribute videos? There’s something of the whiff of creepy totalitarian propaganda films about them.”
The Power Line guys were...not impressed.

It took a bit of courage to begin by expressing gratitude to President Bush for "leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history, and keeping us safe from another attack many thought was inevitable." While McCain is obviously his own man, I don't think he can run entirely away from the record of the Bush administration, which he supported more often than not.

It was nice, too, to say a few kind words about Barack Obama and his supporters.

So far, the loudest applause has been for his comments about Sarah Palin.

There were two Code Pink protesters who had to be dragged out. They pulled them up the aisle right next to where I'm sitting. I shared some thoughts with them.

I'm not crazy about the recitation of McCain's sympathy for individuals who live in various swing states. I suppose this is a response to polls that say one area where McCain lags behind Obama is in "understanding the problems of people like me."

Paul Krugman nails the entire theme of the RNC however:

What’s the source of all that anger?

Some of it, of course, is driven by cultural and religious conflict: fundamentalist Christians are sincerely dismayed by Roe v. Wade and evolution in the curriculum. What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception — generally based on no evidence whatsoever — that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.

Thus Mr. Giuliani asserted that Wasilla, Alaska, isn’t “flashy enough” for Mr. Obama, who never said any such thing. And Ms. Palin asserted that Democrats “look down” on small-town mayors — again, without any evidence.

What the G.O.P. is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you’re supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an elite that thinks it’s better than you. Or to put it another way, the G.O.P. is still the party of Nixon.

And that's pretty much it. With eight weeks and four days to go, the real race begins now.

Strap in. The country's at stake.


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