Saturday, August 09, 2008

McCain's Green Eyed Monster

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I know, I know, it seems like I keep picking on Sen. McCain. I really tried to find a topic this week other than Honorable John. But the guy's like PETA: when it comes to comedy, he's a gift that just keeps on giving.

McCain's most recent series of political ads seems to be zeroing in on the idea of Barack Obama as a "celebrity." One shows him in front of thousands of cheering fans during his recent overseas trip, juxtaposed with pictures of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. The ad refers to him as "the biggest celebrity in the world."

One of his campaign advisers sneered that "Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars, and bottles of organic Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. "

I'm no political consultant, but it would seem that pointing out that Barack Obama is more charismatic, draws bigger crowds, and is more physically fit than McCain would work against McCain. But there may be another agenda at work here.

If you go to McCain's page at the trusty Internet Movie Database, you find appearances by Sen. John McCain on "Saturday Night Live" (twice), the movie "The Wedding Crashers," a 2004 episode of "24," "Entertainment Tonight" (twice), "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (three times), "The Daily Show" (12 times!), "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (10 times), "The Late Show With David Letterman" (eight times), "The View" (twice), "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee," "WWF's Raw is War," "ESPN Sports Century," etc. etc.

Unfortunate though it may be, "celebrity" is the lot of any serious candidate, and has been for years, ever since Tricky Dick Nixon appeared on "Laugh-In" all those years ago. So why, I wondered, would Sen. McCain be so grumpy and out of sorts about Obama being a "celebrity" when he himself apparently is one?

That's when it hit me. McCain's jealous! He's mad that Obama's getting better gigs than he is! Obama's working big crowds all over the world, whereas Honorable John, after paying his dues by appearing as an extra in a Vince Vaughn movie, is reduced to opening for Kid Rock at the yearly biker rally in Sturgis, S.D., and offering his wife Cindy as a candidate for the bikers' often-topless "beauty pageant."

(No, I am not making that last part up. "I encouraged Cindy to compete," McCain told the drunken, cheering crowd. "I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip." OK, I'll admit that Mrs. McCain is well preserved in that heavily lacquered way common to the very, very rich, but all I can say is: John. Dude. Eww. But I digress.)

Then there was the whole "tire gauge" flap. It seems that part of Obama's comprehensive strategy for reducing dependence on oil is reducing the amount of gas we use. That would include higher mileage standards. But it would also, Obama pointed out in a speech, include things we all can do. Things as simple as making sure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure. If everyone did that, Obama pointed out (quoting actual studies), we could reduce consumption by 3 to 4 percent.

Now, "you'll save gas if your tires are properly inflated" is advice that's been given to me by everyone from the Department of Energy to Triple A to my car's owner's manual to my dad. But apparently, when commonsense advice is proffered by Barack Obama, it's an occasion for big yuks from the McCaniacs. They started passing out tire gauges to people at their campaign events, embossed with the words "Obama's Energy Plan" on them.

I'm having trouble trying to work out who McCain thinks his new base is. Is it out-of-shape bikers who hate celebrities and don't care about automotive maintenance or their gas mileage? I'm not sure how many electoral votes you can carry with that demographic, but again, I'm no political consultant.

Frankly, the entire McCain campaign is starting to sound like a fat, pimply high school outcast posting furious screeds on his MySpace page about the popular kids, complete with multiple exclamation points: "They think they're so cool!!! They think they're so smart!!!! But they're NOT!!!!! I LAUGH at them!!!!! HA!!!"

Then, the other day, McCain did an about-face on tire inflation. He came out and admitted that Obama (and the DOE and Triple A and my car's owner's manual and my dad) are right. He stated in a "telephone town hall" meeting with voters in Pennsylvania that, "Obama a couple of days ago said we all should inflate our tires. I don't disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it."

Which raises the question: Is John McCain flip-flopping on tire pressure? Or does he just not remember what his own campaign just said?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

You Might Be a Writer If.......

Over at Murder by 4, the mysterious S.W. Vaughn channels Jeff Foxworthy with You Might Be a Writer...

For those of us who have seen the look of horror on a waitress's face when she overhears a conversation about disposal of human remains over lunch, it's spot on.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Thank You, Frazer! or, that Notable Thing Again....

As you no doubt are aware, BREAKING COVER was recently named a "notable book" by the independent booksellers' association Indiebound. And I have Frazer Dobson of Park Road Books in Charlotte to thank for it. His review at notables notables notables notables:

Brilliant FBI agent Tony Wolf has been in hiding for years, from both the bureau and the murderous biker gang he was investigating from within. He thinks he's managed to evade his past, but the past has an aversion ot staying dead. Rhoades is a writer to watch--his sly, graceful way of evoking character and setting makes BREAKING COVER shine.

Frazer rulez. Go show him and Park Road Books some love.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Not The Baseball Pitcher

Another North Carolina homeboy, Randy Johnson, has some nice things to say about Breaking Cover over at his blog, Not the Baseball Pitcher.

Love the blog title, by the way, and believe me, I can relate.

Thanks, Randy!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Right Back Atcha, Kristy!

My buddy Kristy Kiernan has a new blog out, and being the lovely and gracious person that she is, one of her first posts is an appreciation of BREAKING COVER.

So permit me to return the favor.

Kristy's new book MATTERS OF FAITH hits the stores on Tuesday (although some early sitings have been reported). Get it. get two and give one to a friend. It's that good, and I'm not just saying that because Kristy's a friend.

It's about faith, it's about redemption and forgiveness, it's about the deep wounds family can inflict and the healing they can find. It brought tears to my eyes at the end, and that's happened maybe three times in the 40 plus years I've been reading. Kristy Kiernan writes with grace and empathy, and I cannot recommend this book enough.

The Honorable Man

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Friends, Americans, countrymen -- lend me your ears.

Recently, during his European trip, presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama canceled a trip to visit the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany when the Department of Defense told him he couldn't bring along a retired Air Force general who serves as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign.

This, according to Obama, "triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political."

The John McCain campaign ran an ad, sneering that Obama "made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras."

What McCain's ad doesn't tell you is that Obama visited wounded troops at Walter Reed Medical Center on June 28, without allowing the press to accompany him.

But McCain says Obama doesn't care about the wounded troops unless there are cameras around, and McCain is an honorable man.

What the ad also doesn't mention is that Sen. Obama, along with Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel and Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed, visited the combat support hospital in Baghdad on the Middle East leg of his trip, and that there were no cameras allowed. According to Reid, who spoke up in response to the McCain ad, the visit was "to thank those nurses, those doctors, to see patients that were there, to bring a bit of greetings from home and profound thanks."

But John McCain says Obama doesn't care about the wounded troops unless there are cameras around, and McCain is an honorable man.

NBC's Andrea Mitchell, a frequent apologist for the Bush administration, has said of McCain's claim that Obama wanted to bring cameras with him, and I quote: "It's literally not true. I was there, and Obama had no intention of bringing any cameras with him."

But McCain says Obama wanted to bring cameras, and McCain is an honorable man.

The ad also doesn't let you know that the footage in the ad of Obama shooting hoops is from a visit Obama made to troops in Kuwait the week before his European trip. In fact, the shot is blurred so that you can't see the troops cheering Obama's three-pointer.

But McCain says Obama doesn't care about the troops, and McCain is an honorable man.

Neither the ad nor the McCain campaign mentions, as Sen. Hagel has, that the difference between the Middle Eastern part of the trip and the European one was that during the Middle East leg, Obama was part of a congressional delegation, and that "we saw troops everywhere we went. We went out of our way to see those troops." In contrast, since Obama went to Europe alone, it was regarded as a campaign trip, which would mean that a hospital visit would be regarded as a campaign event, and thus, out of bounds.

But McCain says Obama doesn't care about the troops unless there are cameras around, and McCain is an honorable man.

The ad says that Obama "never held a single hearing on Afghanistan." But the ad doesn't tell you that the Foreign Relations subcommittee that Obama chairs covers Europe. Nor does the ad mention, as noted by the nonpartisan site, that Obama has attended a meeting of the full Foreign Relations committee on Afghanistan, and that "McCain himself attended none of the Afghanistan hearings held by the Armed Services Committee on which he serves."

But McCain says he cares more about Afghanistan and the troops there than Obama, and McCain is an honorable man.

For his own part, Sen. McCain recently suggested that the Veterans Administration go back on years of practice and only treat those injuries and ailments that are clearly combat-related. In other words, John McCain has suggested rationing medical care for thousands of people who've served our country.

But McCain says he's always there for our troops, and McCain is an honorable man.

McCain missed a vote on an expanded GI Bill that would pay tuition and other expenses at a four-year public university for anyone who has served at least three years since the 2001 terrorist attacks. McCain was away at a campaign fundraiser. Obama and Hillary Clinton returned from the campaign trail to cast their votes for the bill, which McCain opposed.

But McCain says he's always there for our troops, and McCain is an honorable man.

McCain has said that Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan, endorsed by the Iraqi prime minister, is a "pretty good timeline." Then he denied using the word "timeline," even though he's on video using that exact word.

But McCain is an honorable man.