HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Monday, October 20, 2008


As we started another chapter in Kiev, Putin, of all people, ratified our perspicacious vision on Georgia’s 2 invasions 10 days after I ran it (GEORGIA’S FOLLY)- that maybe the neocons engineered the first Georgian S. Osettian incursion, for which there is some evidence. He could be reading my articles, since I criticized him in almost every one, and this controlling strongman doesn’t allow any criticism to go unmonitored.

And then of course, the economic meltdown- the category 6 financial hurricane that I predicted in my March article, THE BUSH BATTERED DOLLAR, and have been warning friends about since last Oct, hit, and it won’t be finished for maybe 5 years, 10 if we are unlucky. Millions will die, and billions will be impoverished. The criminal Republicans created an unlimited casino with these fragmented mortgage bonds derivatives and credit default swaps, which wasn’t necessarily a problem, but they destroyed all government regulation, and the “financial instruments” thus increased exponentially in 4 years- till they dwarfed the real stock market and economy.

Ironically, the meltdown has trashed developing countries, because everyone pulls money out of them first in panic, so Russia’s (+ Ukr) stock market has collapsed by 70%, and the dollar has risen everywhere, though the US caused this mess. My Bloomberg financial journo ex-friend Will Mauldin is finally happy- he “couldn’t wait for the collapse”, so sick of the arrogance and face-control abuse of Russian thugs (but having lived in Russia for 2 years- he’s become Ratzo Rizzo-ized too). Finally- after 2 years of steady decline- the dollar has risen 20-30% here, but I still lose, because I have accumulated some Hrivnas. Ukraine, because of the success of Orange Revolution, is one of only places in the world where Bush is popular- had an hour conversation with a Kiev editor who thought he was fine. But the Kiev American Library ran the US Embassy sponsored movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, trying to ease the shock of a chorney President to virulently color-conscious Slavs- which Frank Rich just happened to use as a title.

PRESIDENT..: IF you had said 3 years ago America would be electing a black President, I would have bet 20 to 1 against it. But it is a new morning in (broke) America. McCain's pathetic charges of socialism should be called what they are: stupid. The simplest response is that "I'm returning to Clinton tax levels (when times were good)- was he a socialist?". 1/3 of actual voters have already voted early. McCainians have insanely taken possible plant Joe the Non-Plumber as a traveling mascot, amazing considering the guy doesn't have a plumbing license, owes taxes, makes way less that $250K to "buy his own business", and just happened to live before in AZ and AK. When Joe (Sam) pontificated on how Obama would destroy Israel, even Fox's Shepard Smith (he of the creepily widely spaced eyes) smacked him down. McCain's group is becoming dangerously divorced from reality, and acting so blithely clueless that it spotlights his erraticness.

St Louis Dispatch offers a well-done endorsement of BO; even conservative financial papers like Economist + Financial Times have endorsed Obama and Reagan shill Peggy Noonan reaches for eloquence in WSJ, whereas McCain received the endorsement of Al Qaida- remember OBL's advise to destroy the US economy- he wants to reward the Repubs for obeying; and Dick Cheney, the most hated figure in America.

Steven Colbert (hero of the WH Correspondents Dinner and the smartest performer ever) says McCain's only hope for victory is endorsing Obama... and The Daily Show, which sustained us during the dark days when the MSM were intimidated into silence, now has full shows online. While Obama draws crowds of a hundred thousand, McCain had to bus in 4000 schoolkids to make up a 6000 person crowd. A Montreal radio comedy group got Sarah Palin on the phone for 6 minutes pretending to be Sarkozy (even "from my house I can see Belgium", or thanking Hustler for porn film Nailin Palin wasn't enough to clue the starstruck Gov in). McCain+Cindy appeared on the last SNL and humanized himself with his once trademark humor and humility (selling pork knives on QVC) with Tiny Fey (making a "sad grandpa" appeal). The right wing dug up an illegal Obama half-aunt living in Boston who had contributed to his campaign.


Latest polls have Obama up by 4-11 points nationwide: 6.4% average; but FiveThirtyEight. com has a Obama win pegged at 96% likely. McCain dumped huge Hail Mary energy into Penn. and has managed to only close the gap from 11% to maybe 7%. And there is 60% probability of 58 Dem Senators.

Brian Adams, a mathematics and computer science professor at Franklin & Marshall College, reports that there's a 99.98% chance that Sen. Barack Obama will win the presidential election on Tuesday. "Adams has developed a simulation model that involves running 50 million simulated state-by-state races, using the late-October poll results for each state.

Obama is about to do do something that no Dem Prez has done since LBJ- win the white male vote; his dominance is such that he is winning in Repub stalwarts IN (birthplace of KKK), CO, VA, NV (ND is a tossup)- he could lose Ohio and Florida and still win! This is maybe shaping up to be 1964, with a Dem wipeout of a very conservative AZ Senator (barely holding there!), though after 2000 + 2004, I won't believe anything until BO is ensconced in the Billy Dom with an army of Secret Service. Only strange or sour note is Missouri, which has picked the winner for 100 years, but is dead even. Massive Dem dominance in state races will allow them to gerrymander districts after the next census in 2010-11 to consolidate their advantage for the next 20-30 years, long deserved. Since the Bill Clinton Jihad, Repubs have operated less as a party than an ongoing criminal conspiracy.

Recent Reuters/Zogby poll had Obama up by 12 points, Pew by 14 points, meanwhile a deeply suspect AP poll had it neck in neck with a 1 point Obama lead: turns out their full sample had a 10 point BO lead, while the 70% likely voters were almost tied. Smells like someone wanted to make news with a radically different story, but when numbers diverge that much there is something rotten. Pew is estimating likely 12% black turnout, while AP has it at only 9% from old elections.

From David Sederis: To put undecideds in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of sh*t with bits of broken glass in it?”
To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

OBAMISTORY: Here is WP Obama's story by ace biographer David Maraniss of his young life in Hawaii and Indonesia, with the tremendous courage and wisdom of his peripatetic mother after being (pretty much) used and abandoned by Obama's father, who already had a wife + child in Kenya. It is a moving story, with some portions paralleling my own Odyssey from Cambridge to Seattle to Hawaii. Hawaii is a bizarre place with violent racial divisions, with whites having roughly the status of blacks in 1920's Mississippi- one can be attacked, beaten, even killed with relative impunity. Blacks were almost non-existent (except in military) but also suffered discrimination- but browns, which Obama really is, ruled, which is why he is different than any other black man we've ever seen. With the influx of immigrants, Hispanics, and incorporation of black culture; America has seemingly finally transcended race with even racists grudgingly voting for BO.

And in the spirit of American inclusiveness, here's a Newsweek portrait of John McCain, who, though would be disastrous as Prez and is lately breathtakingly dishonest, still has had an amazing and courageous life.

4 days, baby, that will shake the world.


The Repubs have moved to another level of criminality in their desperate attempt to purge voters, with Sen. Minority Leader Cong. (Delay's rt hand vermin) Boehner asking Bush to order AG Mukasey to order Ohio Sec State Jennifer Brunner to match voter's registrations with SS or Drivers License numbers. This was subject of a suit by the local Repubs, and some Ohio court went along with them. But the SUPREME COURT voided that decision and said she did not have to do the notoriously inaccurate procedure (over 10% -200,000 unmatching for various reasons that have nothing to do with fraud).

So this cartoon President is now trying to jimmy a third election with the crudest of illegal partisan stunts- ignoring a applicable SC decision, and send the top cop out to disenfranchise voters. There should be riots and effigy burning all over America over this. There is a chance Mukasey will say “no thanks” to Bush's contemptible order. Should have impeached and removed Bush + Cheney 5 years ago- if it had been possible.


This is an hour This American Life (which is a gonzo hip funny program on culture fm Chicago NPR-audio) that completely explains the mortgage casino meltdown- making $1/2 million NINA loans to destitute "homeowners" (no income, no assets) which were then repackaged to Wall St houses and then resold to Japan, Europe, Middle East. They got up to CDO- Credit Debt Obligations? (where weasel middlemen repackaged toxic garbage that somehow acquired AA ratings). It is good, and amazing, where the mortgage agents would just fill out the form and make up 5 fold more than real incomes for "applicants", who only needed a pulse. In fact one issued about a dozen to dead people, so you didn't even need that.


Obama’s last debate (video-trans), as the first, was intensely frustrating. Given multiple chances to put McCain away with devastating honest counterpunches on his responsibility in this economic catastrophe, Obama instead wasted much time reacting to McCain’s distracting and total bull attacks- who cares about a 3-8% tax hike if you have over $¼ mil income- compared to many tens of millions being out of work and losing their homes, who cares about William Ayres or so-called “class warfare”, when McCain’s primary economic advisor, pal, and campaign co-chair, Phil Gramm, wrote the bill that will wipe out the world economic system, deregulating credit default swaps !!!!!!@!! That is class warfare, enriching the obscenely moneyed class by stealing from everyone. There are $62 trillion of these things (most worthless cause they bet that housing prices would always rise), far more than all the monetary reserves in the world- so this meltdown is just beginning. And he didn’t even mention it- the wimp. Seriously, Dems have a death wish- when you spend most of your time reacting to the other’s attacks, you are asking to lose. What would you do if Kitty Dukakis was raped and murdered? There were shades of that in BO’s professorial response- instead of slapping it back down McCain’s throat. Obama has a 4-12 point lead, but it is soft- he will lose half of it to racism, 2-3 points to disenfranchisement and machine fraud?, and any last minute desperate trash attack might swing it.

But, still, it seems Americans have grown up- out of the yahoo jackass “patriotism” that inflicted the traitor GB2 on the world (who wanted to invade Iraq right after 9-11 and ignore OBL, till Blair talked him out of it)- and they are sick of stupid. And they won’t elect the snarling crotchety old man McCain, whose festering anger, contempt, and imagined superiority was so on display in all the debates and many of the speeches, and reckless horrible judgment (A QUESTION OF JUDGMENT) in the Palin choice and every other position he has compromised to appeal to the wacko right. Watch the Des Moines Register interview- he snarls and attacks them on every question and answers nothing, and witness his 120/minute blink rate on this last debate- a symbol of nervousness and honesty- this guy should be nowhere near the nuclear button, as even 3 Repub Senators have said.

I questioned him (realp) about his crazy decision to remain in a NV prison for 4 1/2 years rather than go home, mostly because he was ashamed of facing his 4-star admiral father after cooperating with his brutal captors after hideous torture.

I long thought he was unelectable just on his Iraq and hard right positions, but he has run his campaign and honor into a ditch with his embrace of the extreme religious right. McCain is a bottom of his class goof-off protected by his famous heritage who learned the formula of telling reporters something spirited that conflicted with his party, and earned gigantic kudos for it. But it’s a circus trick and the real McCain is a right wing fool who is pumping these disastrous boilerplate Republican tax and trickle-down theories that have been proven wrong for 30 years- as 5 trillion more dollars of debt and a global collapse proves. He created this financial disaster with his unending support for deregulation, and Obama hasn’t brought it to the center of the campaign. People are exhausted with Repub smear and slander tactics, and have finally, after so much sheep-like following, have turned against it. It is quite incredible- one after another media figure and voter turning against McCain for his sleazy tactics. Chris Mathews skewered some McCain spokesman, furiously repeating ten times, "Do you think Obama pals around with terrorists?", until the guy was out of time.



Obama was much tougher on McCain + the issues and looked vibrant, young, and healthy, while McCain looked old and feeble. BO kicked back firmly and effectively and dispelled the overly cerebral nerd image he gave in the first debate. I believe that barring some major vicious successful slander (which will come), BO has clinched the Presidency. We gonna have a black President. Shazam.

As I was telling Moroccans in March when I voted in the Primary by Internet from Fes due to the great org Democrats Abroad, which with massive registration of the 12 million US ex-pats around the world, may tip the scales. I was swept up in Obamamania, but quickly had second thoughts about Obama's conservatism (only #44th most liberal Senator, next to Lieberman, voted for illegal spying immunity- though McCain constantly lies, calls him the most liberal Senator)- that I had betrayed Hillary, who suffered for us- maybe the most unfairly attacked person in US political history, who knows what the Repubs were and how to deal with them, and arguably was tougher and had a more concrete agenda.

Obama, however, has transcended so many boundaries and will change the equation on what it means to be an American… to something positive and honorable again. And he will have a massively Dem Congress to help manage the catastrophic hard times the Repubs have left us, and finally pick the best and brightest, rather than the worst and dimmest. But still, not a mention of Phil Gramm- absolutely inexplicable- a top woman in campaign says Gramm doesn't poll well with Joe Six Pack. Jeez.


I did media advice and produced commercials for candidates all the way back to Gary Hart and Mondale and have maybe 70% accurate record in forecasts over 2 1/2 decades of commentaries (see exact prediction of this economic meltdown from March). Kerry used a phrase of mine in a speech.

I am amazed that Obama isn't repeating "Phil Gramm" in every speech- it's the silver bullet against McCain, but I haven't heard anybody mention him. Why talk about Keating 5 when his economic "genius" caused this economic disaster? Screw the focus groups- you educate people with your ads- it's the truth, though I know that's lost so much currency that it's easier to exaggerate some silly detail. Explain this economic disaster in a few clear sentences and lay the blame on Gramm and McCain- that should terrify people that they might elect the moron who helped cause it. And just keep running it over + over, like the Repubs do with their slanders and lies- repetition is what crams things into the heads of our moronic electorate (42% think Palin is qualified to be Prez?).

Keating is ancient history- nobody under 42 even remembers it. And when people realize McCain's culpability in this mess, it will expose the virulent hypocrisy and dishonesty of his charges against Obama. Obama's hopes for a different campaign were always naive- Repubs always go for the slime, but you can tie this economic disaster so tightly around their neck they can't escape the reckoning. Others also don't understand why you weren't clubbing McCain with this nonstop.

My heart fell when McCain challenged Obama's judgment and Obama did his Roots speech- people want to see a liar slapped down; and Obama has to stop McCain when he gets on a rant- "Enough!", trying 8 times unsuccessfully looks weak. You want to connect to Joe Sixpack, punch your way out of clinches- there were times last debate that Obama looked like a jr high schooler unhappy that his opponent wasn't following the rules. Elections are won and lost on perceived toughness, black or white, if you can't face down an American liar, how can you do that with Putin or Kim or Ahmadinejad? Don't praise his record on torture when he rolled over and gave away the store- this flip flop business is potent.

No candidate has ever been handed a more perfect tool than McCain's responsibility in this financial wipeout. If you don't use it you are crazy, if you do you probably can't lose. Or you can sit on your hands and wait as the Muslim ads and vicious garbage activate enough unconscious racism to sway fence sitters.

Specific Phrases
: "That's dumb, John. And we've done dumb for 8 years- that's why we're in this mess." (McCain is a screw-up who graduated in the bottom 1/2% of his class- but people don't know that.)

"You've changed your position on everything you've stood for in the last 10 years. Where's the old John McCain? What do you really believe?"

"Do you really think Sarah Palin is the best person in America for Vice President?"


Ukraine will have another election- the third in 3 years- as the once hero President Victor Yushchenko further damaged his legacy by suicidally dissolving the Parliament- Rada- and the ruling coalition with PM Yulia Tymoshenko, she of the infinite braid (bet she hates it now). Suicidal because his popularity is somewhere between 3 and 7%, but his party now has 15% representation, and it will likely lead to domination by ex-con mugger Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions. “It’s the end of Our Ukraine,” said the director of Fullbright scholarships in Ukraine, Myron Stachiw, flatly. The bitter junior high school rivalry between Victor Yushchenko and Yulia has become so dysfunctional that when she jetted off to Moscow to successfully charm Putin into permitting another few years of vastly subsidized gas to keep Ukraine afloat… Vic appropriated her plane, leaving her to scramble for a charter. YT for her part, has refused provide the $83 mil for the election and her BUTE party avoided a vote by jamming the Rada voting machines with garbage. While the leaders endlessly quarrel, an economic semi is coming down the pike that will smash the burgeoning young country flat- they failed to finalize an incipient World Bank loan of $16 billion.

Yushchenko went ballistic about the Russian invasion of Ossetia/Georgia, castigating the Russians, flying off to Tbilisi to show support with his friend Saakashvili, and making idiotic threats that the Russian Navy wouldn't be allowed to return to Sevastapol after they had annihilated the Georgian Navy. Timoshenko was far more circumspect at alienating their mammoth neighbor, for which Vic accused her of treason, even tried to bring charges against her for plotting with Russia. This was the final straw in their relationship - she had already allied with the Regions to cut the President's power and make it easier to impeach him (although that was reversed). Victor also is a huge booster of joining NATO, while Yulia realizes the instant violent reaction it would provoke in Moscow (NATO NO)- instigating revolt in the Crimea or Donbass.

People are deeply disgusted by the squabbling and waste of energy… and VY own hallowed star has fallen to the depths, even as he is feted in Washington by a despised President desperate to touch base with perhaps the only success of his sorry destructive reign.


Sarah Palin tried to humanize herself on Saturday Night Live to defang the most perfect impression ever done by Tina Fey (capturing the inarticulate half baked jn high school golly gee whiz personality to a tee), but they basically used her as a prop and savaged her with a hilarious rap. She, as I thought, has put a nail in the coffin of McCain- many Repubs are terrified of this creature becoming President and 52% think she's unqualified to be President.

Apparently this grating-voiced frightening brittle woman has filled the entire AK state gov with school pals from 5000 person (when she was mayor) city she grew up in.

=====As she assembled her cabinet and made other state appointments, those with insider credentials were now on the outs. But a new pattern became clear. She surrounded herself with people she has known since grade school and members of her church.

Ms. Palin chose Talis Colberg, a borough assemblyman from the Matanuska valley, as her attorney general, provoking a bewildered question from the legal community: “Who?” Mr. Colberg, who did not return calls, moved from a one-room building in the valley to one of the most powerful offices in the state, supervising some 500 people.

“I called him and asked, ‘Do you know how to supervise people?’ ” said a family friend, Kathy Wells. “He said, ‘No, but I think I’ll get some help.’ ”

The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government. Ms. Palin appointed Mr. Bitney, her former junior high school band-mate, as her legislative director and chose another classmate, Joe Austerman, to manage the economic development office for $82,908 a year. Mr. Austerman had established an Alaska franchise for Mailboxes Etc.

But careers were turned upside down. The mayor quickly fired the town’s museum director, John Cooper. Later, she sent an aide to the museum to talk to the three remaining employees. “He told us they only wanted two,” recalled Esther West, one of the three, “and we had to pick who was going to be laid off.”

Days later, Mr. Cooper recalled, a vocal conservative, Steve Stoll, sidled up to him. Mr. Stoll had supported Ms. Palin and had a long-running feud with Mr. Cooper. “He said: ‘Gotcha, Cooper,’ ” Mr. Cooper said.

In 1997, Ms. Palin fired the longtime city attorney, Richard Deuser, after he issued the stop-work order on a home being built by Don Showers, another of her campaign supporters.

Your attorney, Mr. Showers told Ms. Palin, is costing me lots of money.

“She told me she’d like to see him fired,” Mr. Showers recalled. “But she couldn’t do it herself because the City Council hires the city attorney.” Ms. Palin told him to write the council members to complain.

Meanwhile, Ms. Palin pushed the issue from the inside. “She started the ball rolling,” said Ms. Patrick, who also favored the firing. Mr. Deuser was soon replaced by Ken Jacobus, then the State Republican Party’s general counsel.

“Professionals were either forced out or fired,” Mr. Deuser said.

The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.

“People would bring books back censored,” recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin’s predecessor. “Pages would get marked up or torn out.”

Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

Last summer State Representative John Harris, the Republican speaker of the House, picked up his phone and heard Mr. Palin’s voice. The governor’s husband sounded edgy. He said he was unhappy that Mr. Harris had hired John Bitney as his chief of staff, the speaker recalled. Mr. Bitney was a high school classmate of the Palins and had worked for Ms. Palin. But she fired Mr. Bitney after learning that he had fallen in love with another longtime friend.

“I understood from the call that Todd wasn’t happy with me hiring John and he’d like to see him not there,” Mr. Harris said.

“The Palin family gets upset at personal issues,” he added. “And at our level, they want to strike back.”

Democrats and Republicans alike describe her as often missing in action. Since taking office in 2007, Ms. Palin has spent 312 nights at her Wasilla home, some 600 miles to the north of the governor’s mansion in Juneau, records show.

During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing “Where’s Sarah?” pins.

Many politicians say they typically learn of her initiatives — and vetoes — from news releases.

Mayors across the state, from the larger cities to tiny municipalities along the southeastern fiords, are even more frustrated. Often, their letters go unanswered and their pleas ignored, records and interviews show.

“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”

“I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”

Laura Chase, the campaign manager during Ms. Palin’s first run for mayor in 1996, recalled the night the two women chatted about her ambitions.

“I said, ‘You know, Sarah, within 10 years you could be governor,’ ” Ms. Chase recalled. “She replied, ‘I want to be president.’ ”==========

With this creature as VEEP, McCain better have a constant taste-tester. In another (Frank Rich called a chilling) speech, she compared herself to another small town Prez Harry S, who just happened to become Prez when FDR died.

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