Five Long Weeks to Go.

OK. Here is the state of the race with 36 days to go until Election Day:

• Obama has - as of today - the momentum in this race. McCain’s post-convention bounce has dissipated.

• However, there can easily be one or two more radical swings in the momentum of this race. We have already seen two swings: Obama went ahead in June before his European trip and then things swung back toward Mccain from the Berlin speech right up through the Palin pick and the GOP Convention. But right now Obama has it all going in his favor.

• Obama helped himself in the first debate by appearing calm, relaxed, and capable of talking about all issues. McCain, too, made some good points, although he looked angry and refused to look at or directly address Obama, indicating a seething rage against his opponent and perhaps some sort of emotional instability.

• Polling since the debate gives the edge to Obama. Previously undecided voters - and these are often oddballs to try to understand - said Obama won the debate.

• McCain’s strange campaign antics last week - lurching from one strategy to another - may have been fueled by total panic over a recent Rasmusen poll of a solid-red state - North Carolina. On Wednesday - right as McCain was “suspending” his campaign - and how strange was that? - the new Rasmussen poll showed Obama ahead 49%-47%. This is a stunning result - and one certain to have spooked the Mccain campaign to its core.

• If McCain cannot win - and easily win - a Red state like North Carolina - he could be is dire, terrible trouble come November 4th.

• McCain’s odd behavior all week - constantly changing tactics and strategies and then “suspending” his campaign - has hurt him badly. He does not look Presidential; instead, he looks panic-stricken.

• And that ties in with his odd behavior of never looking at or addressing Obama on Friday night - which on ABC’s THIS WEEK on Sunday he denied.

• Plus, after the debate Obama went to North Carolina and Virginia to hold huge rallies; McCain went directly to DC and has basically disappeared from the stump. Odd.

• Then comes the Palin Problem: her Katie Couric interview was an unmitigated disaster - and all Couric did was turn the camera on Palin and let her talk and talk. The poor woman just fell apart. It has become all the talk in political circles - with even several GOP strategists and conservative female columnists calling for her to leave the ticket and go home to Alaska.

• She is not leaving the ticket. Instead, the pressure on the Governor is ratcheted up for Thursday’s debate. She needs to at least hold her own - and allow the Human-Gaffe Machine, Joe Biden, to make a few more flubs.

Conclusion: for over a year I have been writing in this space that John McCain is a bad candidate; he is erratic, not-too-smart, over-rated, a product of the so-called Mainstream Media - who have predictably now turned on him - and a deeply damaged man.

The more the nation sees him directly - not through the filter of the media or TV commercials - the less the people will trust him or want him to be their leader.

No Bailout

Watching the latest from the Administration as they push hard for the whopping $700 billion Wall Street Bailout, it is clear that they are trying to ramrod this deal down our throats before the American people know what they are swallowing.

We should all oppose it - vehemently - until we are told much, much more.

Here is why:

• Who can believe anything this Administration tells us anymore?

• This rush-to-pass a huge piece of legislation smells just like the 2002 Resolution to Authorize the Use of Force in Iraq. In both cases the Administration used fear of impending doom to scare the Congress into passing a bill many had private doubts about.

• In 2003 the Administration lied to the Republican Congress about the real cost of the Medicare Prescription Drug Program - hiding the fact that the bill actually cost $400 Billion more than they told the Congress;

• The news that the FBI has opened criminal inquiries into Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - for fraud - should make us all wonder if our tax money will be handed over to criminals who have already run their companies into the ground and will now live to rip us off another day;

• If we do this bailout, perhaps we should force drastic changes: in return for the $700 Billion from the taxpayers, these Wall Street firms should be forced to change their entire compensation system and to hand over an equity stake in their companies. We cannot have the average American taxpayer subsidizing rich, overpaid executives. No, it is time for real pain to be shared by the rich who have so mis-managed their own firms by taking on such huge debts. Their perks, their country club memberships, their “toys,” their secret partnership “good bye” funds all have to be a part of this story.

• And the taxpayer has to get a firm something in return for such a massive bailout/loan. Equity - something of more value than almost-worthless mortgage-backed-securities - needs to be put up to secure such an unprecedented loan/subsidy/bailout;

• Secretary Paulson cannot be given sole power to distribute money to his former colleagues on Wall Street. That just isn’t the American Way. We don’t have dictators and un-checked potentates. There will have to be an entity that shares the power to distribute this massive bailout

• One other political note: this Financial Crisis has sucked the air out of the Presidential race. Have you noticed how off-to-the-side both Obama and McCain seem? Almost irrelevant. Almost as though they don’t count. Amazing. As one of them - in 42 days - will be the most powerful person on the planet.

The Race Turns - A Bit

Here is where we are now in the Presidential race:

• The McCain-Palin post-convention “bounce” has ended. This was predictable - and inevitable as gravity always ends any bounce;

• The Palin Effect - that explosive, exuberant excitement that a new and attractive political figure brought to the political table - is wearing off.

• It seems more exposure to her through the campaign and even the Charlie Gibson ABC interview has started to erode her polling numbers; the new NYT/CBS poll shows a one-week decline in her “readiness to be Vice President”;

• Have no doubt about the powerful - if subtle - effect of the weekly headlines and stories in the National Enquirer about Sarah Palin; more people read that magazine each week than read Time and Newsweek combined; for the third week in a row the Enquirer has hammered the Governor for an alleged adulterous affair and other dysfunctional family issues; these stories do bleed into some voters’ minds;

• Obama’s campaign has gotten off their high horse and - finally - realizes that they might lose an election that was teed up for a Democrat to win this year. They have stopped the empty and lofty and useless rhetoric and gone on the attack against John McCain.

• The have started hammering McCain on his lack of economic experience;

• They have also realized that Palin can and will sink or swim on her own and they don’t need to attack her. Instead, stick to attacking McCain.

• Now comes the earth-shattering Financial Crisis: first shot out the box, what does McCain say? Forgetting that he is not yet the President, McCain tries to reassure a jittery electorate by saying, “the fundamentals of the economy are good.” Hmmmm...true or not, the public does not believe that - and thus by saying it McCain seems - again - out of touch and old and “not with it.”

• The McCain Camp soon realized their candidate’s mistake and tried to correct it. But in this age of constant news cycles, the Internet, blogs and 24-hour cable that “fundamentals are good” statement was McCain’s (bad) signature moment of the week;

• Now, here is the rub: the ending of McCain’s bounce - empirically seen in a number of polls: Zogby, Rasmussen, CNN, NYT/CBS - happened before the latest bad financial news hit. So what we need to look for now is whether or not the fear that our economy is teetering on an even bigger collapse helps or hurts either presidential candidate.

• Many suspect this fear will help Obama - as the candidate of the Out party - and hurt McCain who, hard as he may deny it, is inextricably tied to Bush;

• Neither Obama nor McCain have a clue about business or economics or markets; instead, both candidates are “government men” - those people who basically just want to be inside government all their lives in one capacity or the other.

• Neither candidate has a coherent World View - ala Ronald Reagan, who saw the interconnection between all thing: economics, the role of government, business, trade, defense and foreign policy.

• One of these candidates ought to realize the proper role of government in overseeing the economy: to be a referee who says what an industry cannot do; but not to be telling an industry what to do; this is not a narrow distinction.

• Conclusion: whatever momentum exists in this race has (slightly) switched from McCain back to Obama.

• It may very well switch again - and again in the 6 ½ weeks we have left.

• The September 26th Presidential Debate will be a possible Turning Point - one way or another.

• Plus the always-unexpected events - like this week’s still-ongoing-financial-meltdown.

Vetting John McCain

I have known and worked with John McCain for more than three decades.

In my efforts to get to the truth about the U.S. POWs abandoned in Laos and Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War, I encountered a John McCain radically different from the glowing, effusive press coverage heaped on him by a fawning DC press corps.

Beginning in 1983, I found Congressman and then Senator John McCain to be the single most duplicitous, nasty, sarcastic, condescending, mean-spirited and dishonest politician I have ever met.

I had hoped that this former POW would become an ally in the quest to get the US Government to cough up the truth about the men our government knowingly left behind in 1973; instead, he became our side’s chief opponent, siding with the very same USG agencies - DIA, CIA, NSA - which stonewalled and lied about the concrete proof of the existence of US POWs still signaling their survival in 1992.

In VETTING JOHN MCCAIN, Ted Sampley, a two-tour Vietnam Green Beret and the publisher of the US Veteran Dispatch, has done something the so-called mainstream media never has: taken a long, serious look at the real John McCain. Not the flattering bio pieces the media has been recycling for the past 35 years; no, Mr. Sampley goes into every aspect of McCain’s background, with a heavy focus on the truth about his POW years and his less-than-stellar Navy record both before and after his incarceration.

VETTING JOHN MCCAIN can be purchased at - and it is worth it for all voters to read the truth about the potential next President of the United States - before they vote for him.

Interestingly, the so-called Mainstream Media - who for years McCain only half-jokingly referred to as his “base” - is finally beginning to see the truth about McCain. They are now using the term dishonorable to describe McCain’s campaign ads and tactics.

McCain has never been vetted the way other political candidates have been precisely because the media was so enthralled by his POW status. Well now comes a book which properly examines all aspects of McCain’s military service and private life.

Perhaps these media types will finally try to learn the truth about their former darling by reading VETTING JOHN MCCAIN.

The John McCain I know should be disqualified from serving this nation as Commander-in-Chief. His behavior toward the POWs left behind was analogous to committing attempted murder. As you will read here, he was presented concrete proof that US POWs were still alive in 1992 and he deliberately destroyed, distorted, mocked, ridiculed, photo-shopped and lied about this evidence.

Any man who would behave that way has no business in public life. Period.

VETTING JOHN MCCAIN opens the window into a dark, evil soul.

I have seen that soul in action - and I do not want to see it inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

McCain's POW Card and "An Enormous Crime"

John McCain has every right to play the POW card. Five and one half years in various North Vietnamese POW camps is a major part of John’s life and if he chooses now to bring it up on the campaign trail - and to highlight it in his convention speech, who can deny him the right?

The media has lately been getting on him over this; back in the 2000 campaign he would never discuss his Vietnam years. Now, since Steve Schmidt , a former Karl Rove deputy, has taken over, suddenly both the campaign and McCain himself invoke his POW past in virtually every setting - from Jay Leno to questions about how many houses he owns.

Clearly Schmidt knows that McCain’s distinguished military record is an invaluable asset - especially in a campaign during wartime against someone who never wore the uniform.

The GOP’s use of McCain’s fellow former POWs in St. Paul was masterfully done. They were a part of each speech - and added much to flesh out the inspirational story of McCain’s imprisonment.

But John McCain has opened the door to something he may not want to brag about: his own record in the US Senate dealing with the issue of living US POWs left behind at the end of the Vietnam War.

On this issue McCain and his campaign spokesmen remain silent.

And for good reason. As detailed in AN ENORMOUS CRIME; The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in SE Asia by former US Rep. Bill Hendon and Elizabeth Stewart (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martins Press), a 2007 New York Times bestseller, John McCain is one of many US Government officials - Republican and Democrat - who have behaved perfidiously and corruptly on this emotional and sensitive issue.

To keep it simple: McCain and others on the US Senate Select Committee on POWs in 1991-1992 deliberately, willfully and knowingly hid, destroyed, altered, photo-shopped, distorted, denied and lied about concrete evidence brought to them from the DIA, the CIA and other USG intelligence agencies. This evidence showed that US POWs - at that very time in 1992 - 19 years after McCain and his group of POWs came home - were still laying down their names and Escape and Evasion codes in rice paddies and trails and fields adjacent to their prisons. These authenticator codes - unique to each US airman shot down (similar to a bank PIN code) - featured a combination of letters and numbers.

McCain was shown aerial and satellite images of these signals, which basically mean, “I am alive! Please come and get me the Hell out of here!!!”

In his convention speech last night Senator McCain was repeatedly interrupted with shouts of “USA...USA...USA!!!” Well, one of the most startling Escape and Evasion codes captured by an American satellite in 1988 was a gigantic USA with a letter K (known as a ‘walking K’) underneath it placed by a downed American pilot in Laos fifteen years after the end of the Vietnam War. This photograph is on the cover of AN ENORMOUS CRIME.

McCain was also shown transcripts of intercepted Laotian military radio transmissions in which communist Pathet Lao soldiers discuss the movement of “American prisoners.”

And he was shown over 900 first-hand, live-sighting reports of US POWs held against their will in both Laos and Vietnam.

Did McCain, a decorated and heroic former POW, jump up and use his clout and special status to demand that everything possible be done to rescue these men?


He did not.

Instead he played politics in order to help an embattled President George H.W. Bush try to defeat Ross Perot, a strong POW advocate, and Bill Clinton.

By burying the truth about the POWs, McCain helped the Bushes - and thus earned his stripes inside the Republican Party.

So McCain - the so-called “man of integrity, honor and character” who says he always puts “country first” - abandoned these poor men to a cruel fate. Their cries for help went unanswered. And John McCain went on to run for President.

Caution on Palin Pick

“Take a long, slow breath. Relax. Slow down. Don’t hurry. Wait a bit.”

This is my advice to everyone about the selection of the almost-totally-unknown Sarah Palin to be the GOP Vice Presidential nominee.

[Note: this column was written before the revelation that Governor Palin’s 17 year-old daugher is 5 months pregnant - a fact conveniently omitted when she was announced as Veep last Friday. All the more reason to wait - as no one yet really knows Sarah Palin - including John McCain. You can bet the Mccain staff is now apoplectic over what they do not know about their new running mate.]

None of us knows much about her - and what we do know comes from Team McCain, an entirely un-trustworthy enterprise with a motive to spin her the way they want. Her announcement speech was written by McCain’s alter ego, Mark Salter, a complete manipulator who cannot ever be trusted to tell the truth.

We all need to slow down and wait a bit to see Sarah Palin in action - and to see what may surface about her.

Here is what we do know:

• John McCain and his high command believe they are substantially behind the Obama/Biden ticket and thus they threw a Hail Sarah Pass; the public daily tracking polls, which show this nationally as a 3 point race at the moment belie the crucial state polls which worried Team McCain;

• McCain offered the Veep slot after just one substantive meeting with her - a stunning way to make the most important decision of your life, after selecting your spouse!

• And speaking of marriage, would anyone in their right mind propose on the first date? No! But he offers her this crucial position based on some mild staff vetting and then just one meeting? What a way to run the country!

• The conservative and Christian Right did the same thing as McCain and has fallen head-over-heels in love with her virtually overnight. Why? Because they do not like McCain, are not happy with what the Bush presidency devolved into and - most importantly - they want to believe in someone!

• We have already seen the Right swoon twice before in this 2008 election cycle: first in the summer of 2007 with Fred Thompson as he leaked out his plans to run (they soon fell out of love when they saw a lazy, tired, unambitious candidate - even though what he said made a lot of sense) and then last December with the rise of Mike Huckabee. In fact, that love affair was an exact replica of this Palin Affair; he zoomed out of nowhere backed by fervent Christian conservatives and cornered that segment of the GOP caucus vote in Iowa.

• However, Huckabee, too, flamed out over time. He had a limited but fervent appeal; he was unable to grow that support beyond his base.

• Palin is so new that it will take a while to see whether her initial popularity on the Right will endure and will it spread to other constituencies? Or will she, too, flame out?

• Underneath it all is this sad fact: John McCain is at the head of the GOP ticket. And he is someone not to be trusted.

• He may see himself as a GOP Maverick. But Team Obama will paint him as the Third Term of Bush - and that message is hitting home. In the most recent NBC/WSJ poll, 77% of voters believe McCain will continue the policies of the Bush Administration. No matter how hard the McCain campaign tries to portray the GOP ticket as Two Mavericks, they are running an uphill battle to see that notion take hold nationally.

• And now here is the real kicker: Barack Obama ain’t dumb. He and his super-sharp strategist, David Axelrod, now know one thing: if Sarah Palin somehow crashes and burns, then McCain will be destroyed in November. So you can bet their Opposition Research Team is operating at full speed ahead. All they have to do is dig up something damaging to Palin, and that will guarantee Obama’s election.

• This is exactly why McCain’s hasty vetting and decision-making process is so suspect. And yet another reason why the GOP never should have nominated McCain in the first place.