The Media Call McCain and Palin on Their Trail of Lies

The McCain campaign has spent the last couple weeks making claims and accusations of dubious accuracy, mocking independent fact checkers, and telling everyone who will listen that the "media filter" doesn't matter.

They better hope they're right, because they're getting a lot of pushback:

The Boston Globe has a story reporting that Sarah Palin's claim to have visited Iraq last year was false -- she only got to a Kuwait/Iraq border station on a trip to meet Alaska guard troops. Previously, she acknowledged that her visit to Ireland had involved changing planes.

Bloomberg reported that the campaign's estimates of crowd sizes last week during McCain/Palin joint appearances may have been false.

McCain's assertion on "The View" on Friday that Sarah Palin didn't take any earmarks as governor of Alaska when she did earned him four Pinnochios -- a liar ranking -- from the Washington Post's factchecker.

The NYTimes frontpaged "an avalanche of criticism" of McCain for "regularly stretching the truth" on Saturday.

And, in a memo, the Obama campaign helpfully summarizes a litany of other denunciations:

The reviews are in on McCain's strategy of distorting, distracting and outright lying to the American people and what that says about his character, but the St. Petersburg Times put it best when they said his "campaign of lies disgraces McCain" and "McCain's straight talk has become a toxic mix of lies and double-speak. It is leaving a permanent stain on his reputation for integrity."

St. Petersburg Times (Editorial) "Campaign of lies disgraces McCain" McCain's straight talk has become a toxic mix of lies and double-speak. It is leaving a permanent stain on his reputation for integrity, and it is a short-term strategy that eventually will backfire with the very types of independent-thinking voters that were so attracted to him. LINK

Atlanta Journal Constitution (Jay Bookman) The volume and audacity of lies pouring from the McCain campaign is startling and even historicThat's really something, lying straight out about a FactCheck group, knowing that you're going to get caught but not giving a damn about it. With stuff like this, the McCain camp has cut any remaining tethers to reality and integrity and is now floating wherever the winds of illusion and whimsy may take them. It's quite remarkable, and quite insulting to the intelligence of the American people. LINK

Pittsburg Post Gazette (Tony Norman) Where have you gone, John McCain? You once said you'd rather lose an election than lose a war. Is it worth winning an election if it means forfeiting your soul on the altar of political expediency?Where is the honor in reciting lies for something as transient as political advantage? What are we as voters supposed to make of political ads that accuse Barack Obama of advocating sex education for kindergartners? Despite the intellectually dishonest maneuvering of your campaign, many Americans admire you, John McCain. Before you embraced the darkness, I was among those who disagreed with your politics, but considered you honorable. Now it's hard to look at you without seeing the scoundrels who made you what you are today. LINK

Kansas City Star (Barb Shelly) McCain stoops to deception, distortion: Maybe you've seen it. The campaign ad cites the authoritative journal Education Week to claim that Democrat Barack Obama has been missing in action on education reformShamelessly misleading the public?These are old tricks we've been seeing in local elections for years. Distort. Twist. Deceive. Damage. And the winning candidate drags a load of public contempt into office. I had hoped for better from McCainJohn McCain may win the presidency this way, but he will lose the respect he has acquired over the years. LINK

Boston Globe (Scot Lehigh) Pretzel logic from the McCain campaign: Here's the question voters should be asking themselves this week: Just how stupid does the McCain-Palin campaign think I am? The answer: Dumb enough to hoodwink with charges so contrived and cynical they make your teeth acheAs the nonpartisan campaign watchdog has made clear, this is a thoroughly dishonest ad [Kindergarten]. No matter. The McCain campaign has shown it's ready and willing to say preposterous things to win. LINK

Washington Post (David Ignatius) Stopping at nothing to win: Thinking about the Palin choice, you begin to ponder other moves McCain has made on the road to winning the Republican nomination. McCain was right a few years ago to warn that Bush's tax cuts would have potentially ruinous fiscal consequences; now he favors extending the cuts that have produced a crisis of debt and deficit. Why did he switch his position, other than political opportunism?In May 2006, after McCain had courted the Rev. Jerry Falwell in an effort to win conservative support, I asked him if he was bending his principles for the sake of winning. "I don't want it that badly," McCain answered. "I will continue to do what is rightIf that means I can't get the Republican nomination, fine. I've had a happy life. The worst thing I can do is sell my soul to the devil." He was right. LINK

Washington Post (Eugene Robinson) The Scream Machine: There was a time when Republicans campaigned on their ideas, programs and values. This year -- lacking ideas, programs or values -- John McCain and Sarah Palin are running for the White House on an elaborate fictional narrative of victimhoodCreating the false impression that Democrats and journalists are unfairly attacking Palin serves another purpose as well: It helps create the impression that legitimate and necessary questions about her record -- such as her one-time support for the Bridge to Nowhere or her history of seeking the congressional earmarks she now claims to reject -- are somehow out of bounds. LINK

Chicago Tribune (Steve Chapman) To McCain the truth is expandable: McCain has concluded that a fact-based case about Obama isn't enough to prevail in November. So he has chosen to smear his opponent with ridiculous claims that he thinks the American people are gullible enough to believe. He has charged repeatedly that his opponent is willing to lose a war to win an election. What's McCain willing to lose to become president? Nothing so consequential as a war. Just his soul. LINK

Chicago Tribune (Frank James) "McCain plays dirty on Obama & sex-ed" So the McCain ad, in the way it contorts the truth, is pretty shocking from a candidate who has promised to bring change and reform to Washington, a man who's urging Americans to live for a cause larger than themselves. This is an old-fashioned, unreconstructed politics whose goal, first and foremost, is to get the candidate elected, the truth be damned. McCain has said he'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war. But it appears from this ad he'd rather lose any purchase he has on straight-talk than lose this presidential election. LINK

Chicago Tribune (Eric Zorn) `Sex ed' ad educates us on the character of John McCain: The surprise came at the end: I'm John McCain and I approved this message. With that infamous admission, McCain surrendered his integrity and signaled a willingness to say or do anything to get elected We used to expect better from John McCain. No longer. LINK

TIME (Joe Klein): A new rule here: Rather than do the McCain campaign's bidding by wasting space on Senator Honor's daily lies and bilge--his constant attempts to divert attention from substantive issues--I'm going to assume that others will spend more than enough time on the sewage that Steve Schmidt is shoveling and, from now on, try to stick to the issues. LINK

TIME (Joe Klein) Apology Not Accepted: he is responsible for one of the sleaziest ads I've ever seen in presidential politics, so sleazy that I won't abet its spread by linking to it, but here's the McClatchy fact check.. I just can't wait for the moment when John McCain--contrite and suddenly honorable again in victory or defeat--talks about how things got a little out of control in the passion of the moment. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig. LINK

TIME (Joe Klein) Another McCain Flip Flop: Army Times, which is not--last time I checked--a radical left wing publication, takes John McCain to task for changing his position on the Future Combat Systems program. This is yet another example of how running for President has driven McCain off the deep end. In the past, he was one of the more consistent voices against foolish Pentagon weapon systems. Here's a program that McCain previously wanted to end. Then Obama says he wants to slow-walk itand McCain--reflexively, it appears, and unable to recall that he previously opposed it--decides to support it. LINK

New York Times (Paul Krugman) Blizzard of Lies: I'm talking, instead, about the relationship between the character of a campaign and that of the administration that follows. Thus, the deceptive and dishonest 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign provided an all-too-revealing preview of things to comeAnd now the team that hopes to form the next administration is running a campaign that makes Bush-Cheney 2000 look like something out of a civics class. What does that say about how that team would run the country? What it says, I'd argue, is that the Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse. LINK

New York Times (Editorial): The most disheartening aspect of a scurrilous Republican ad falsely accusing Barack Obama of promoting sex education for kindergarten children is its closing line: "I'm John McCain, and I approved this message." This from that straight-talker of yore, who fervidly denounced the 2004 Bush campaign's Swift Boat character attacks on John Kerry's military record. What a difference four years makes, especially after Mr. McCain secured the nomination by hiring some of the same low-blow artists from the Bush campaign. LINK

New York Times (Larry Rohter): The advertisement ["Disrespectful"] is the latest in a number that resort to a dubious disregard for the facts. The nonpartisan political analysis group has already criticized "Disrespectful" as "particularly egregious," saying that it "goes down new paths of deception," and is "peddling false quotes." LINK

New York Times (Michael Cooper and Jim Rutenberg) McCain Barbs Stirring Outcry as Distortions: Mr. McCain came into the race promoting himself as a truth teller and has long publicly deplored the kinds of negative tactics that helped sink his candidacy in the Republican primaries in 2000. But his strategy now reflects a calculation advisers made this summer -- over the strenuous objections of some longtime hands who helped him build his "Straight Talk" image -- to shift the campaign more toward disqualifying Mr. Obama in the eyes of voters LINK

ABC News-Political Punch (Jake Tapper): One can only imagine what the John McCain of 2004 - who called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads "dishonest and dishonorable" - would say about this ad I suppose one could twist this stuff any way you want if your only point is to make an inflammatory charge. And win an election The New York Times' "Checkpoint" ("Ad on Sex Education Distorts Obama Policy "), ("Obama, contrary to the ad's insinuation, does not support explicit sex education for kindergarteners") and the Washington Post's Fact Checker ("McCain's 'Education' Spot Is Dishonest, Deceptive") say the ad is a gross distortion. I agree -- in both senses of the word "gross." LINK

AP (Charles Babington): The "Straight Talk Express" has detoured into doublespeak. Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a self-proclaimed tell-it-like-it-is maverick, keeps saying his running mate, Sarah Palin, killed the federally funded Bridge to Nowhere when, in fact, she pulled her support only after the project became a political embarrassment. He said Friday that Palin never asked for money for lawmakers' pet projects as Alaska governor, even though she has sought nearly $200 million in earmarks this year. He says Obama would raise nearly everyone's taxes, when independent groups say 80 percent of families would get tax cuts instead. LINK

Huffington Post (Sam Stein): When does being a governor or mayor for a short period of time not disqualify your credentials on national security? When you are John McCain and your task is to defend your vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. When does being a governor or mayor for a short period of time ABSOLUTELY disqualify your credentials on national security? When you are John McCain and your task is to defeat primary opponents Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani . . . Fast-forward nearly a year, and the argument McCain made back then is being used against his vice presidential pick today. Only Sarah Palin held the post of mayor of Wasilla for less time than Rudy Giuliani headed New York City. And her gubernatorial stint in Alaska is shorter than that of Mitt Romney's in Massachusetts. McCain, not surprisingly, has changed his tune. LINK

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.

AlterNet is making this material available in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

How Commercial Banks and Private Firms Are Dictating Who Goes To College

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo addressed the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee recently on his continuing investigations into the conflicts of interest in the student loan industry.

He concentrated on private loans, not guaranteed by the federal government -- recommending a code of conduct to keep lenders from receiving university "finders-fee" kickbacks.

He also suggested the federal government get involved. Easier said than implemented.

First, the federal budget has consistently slashed education funding. In his last budget, President George W. Bush even called for cuts in subsidies to companies participating in federally guaranteed student loan programs to force diversion of loan business to private programs.

Second, there wasn't a word of caution uttered on Capitol Hill when the nation's largest education lending institution -- Sallie Mae, which manages $150 billion in student loans -- decided to sell itself to Wall Street: to Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and two private equity companies, to be exact.

Not that education lending privatization is something new. Sallie Mae was created in 1972 as a government-sponsored agency. During the Clinton administration in 1997, it began turning private, completing the task under the Bush administration in 2004. It was no coincidence that between 1997 and 2004 the amount of total college funding received from private institutions quadrupled.

On April 11, Sallie Mae came to an agreement with Cuomo: It would limit conflicting relationships (limit, not cease) and pay a $2-million fine. Five days later, the company announced its $25-billion sale, not a bad price for that payoff. Its stock has leaped 30 percent since, and not because it will make loans more affordable to more students.

The deal is the largest indication of how commercial banks and private equity firms will be able to dictate who goes to college. Banks advertise the advantages of consolidating existing student loans, much as they do for home loans and credit cards. But this line is merely attractive bait used to capture market share now, in return for higher fees and interest rates later.

Similarly, private equity firms won't have affordable education as their top priority. It's just not profitable. Instead, they will determine how to squeeze the most out of students and parents, which is far more lucrative.

This issue has not been seriously addressed by any of the presidential candidates, although former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has proposed College for Everyone, a national program modeled on one he launched in Greene County, N.C. Students there would receive free freshman-year tuition in return for agreeing to work at least 10 hours a week.

Still, no candidate has raised a flag linking the increasingly racially and economically segregated education financing due to the privatized nature of lenders. Yet, the situation is getting worse fast in the absence of federal attention.

Last year, the Department of Education spent $38 billion. But federal spending accounts for only 9 percent of education spending. The rest comes from state and local sources, and isn't enough to go around. Six of 10 high school graduates go to on postsecondary education, more than half to cheaper two-year colleges.

Minorities get hurt. Just 38 percent of black high school graduates and 28 percent of Hispanics enroll in college. One of five students enrolling in college are in the bottom 25 percent in family income, while 7 of 10 are from the top 25 percent. Talk about educational class segregation. A year of private college costs half the average American family's income per child.

Meanwhile, interest rates have been rising. This means student loans, in the noose of private lenders, will find their unregulated, uncapped rates rising, too. This pain would be alleviated if more lending returned to the federal government's hands.

Supporters of education privatization, such as Senate Banking Committee ranking Republican Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), say that because college costs are rising we should encourage the growth of private lending. Yet, privatization makes it harder for the already economically disadvantaged to afford the education they need to turn their lives around.

The solution, beyond establishing a code of conduct between lenders and universities, is to increase federal funding for college and graduate school education, establish national federal guidelines a la Edwards' work-for-tuition programs, regulate existing privatization, cap interest rates and establish debt cancellation programs for important professions in which salaries hamper one's ability to repay loans.

While our presidential candidates are spinning such topics as Iraq and religious faith, they should think about whether they'd be where they are if they weren't able to finance their college educations -- and they should consider making this issue an important election topic.

@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by