John McCain's campaign thinks it's entirely fair to bring up the issue of whether Barack Obama is an acquaintance of a man who performed some detestable acts when Obama was 8 years old, acts that Obama has denounced. Obama has given absolutely no indication that he agrees with the political beliefs that brought them about.

Well, then, if that's so, it's entirely fair to point out that McCain's running mate has had an ongoing sexual relationship with someone who could be considered a traitor, who was part of a movement that had ties to a white supremacist group.

Or that she has ties to a minister who performs witch hunts and was responsible for the murder of a suspected witch's pet snake.

Or that McCain himself is somehow connected to the infamous suicide of the former treasurer of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on live TV.

Or that McCain belonged to a group that had ties to Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America.

Or that McCain is culpable for the current financial meltdown that threatens to destroy the world's economy.

Or that McCain is essentially a snake-oil salesman, a narcissistic con artist whose personal ambition trumps his alleged patriotism, a hypocrite who condemns those who secrete sleaze into our discourse while vomiting huge amounts of political bile, all while sporting that reptilian grin of his.

That would be entirely fair under the standards set forth by McCain and his running mate, Caribou Barbie.


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Let's start with Sarah Palin and the allegations of having an ongoing sexual relationship with a would-be traitor.

Her husband, the Toddmeister, was a member of the Alaska Independence Party from 1995 to 2002. The Alaska Independence Party has pushed for Alaska to secede from the United States. Advocating secession could be considered treasonous. (And just plain stupid, considering that Alaska is the biggest federal welfare state in the country, getting back much more federal tax dollars than its residents pay, according to the Tax Foundation.)

The Alaska Independence Party has ties to a group called the League of the South, a neo-Confederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group with white supremacist leanings.

And Palin lives with a guy who belonged to the secessionist party.

The party proudly displays this quote from founder Joe Vogler on its Web site: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

Palin herself hasn't distanced herself from the group. In March, she sent a videotaped speech to the group's convention thanking it for its "good work."

Palin has also suggested bringing up the issue of Obama's former minister, a man whose wacky beliefs Obama has rejected. If that's fair, let's look at one of Palin's minister buddies, a man whose beliefs she has not rejected in the slightest.

The preacher in question is a guy named Thomas Muthee, an African evangelist known for his witch-detecting skills. Muthee prayed over Palin during a service at her church, asking God to make her governor of Alaska. Palin's response? "That was awesome, Pastor Muthee!"

Leaving aside the theological question of whether God cares who governs Alaska, let's take a look at Muthee. In his hometown of Kiambu, suburb of Nairobi, in Kenya, Muthee identified a woman as a witch, claiming that she used her special powers to cause car accidents.

Seriously.

The pastor led a crusade against the car-accident-causing witch, which prompted police to storm into the suspected witch's home and shoot her pet python.

You can't make up stuff that good.

Anyway, the mob ran the witch out of town, forcing her to relocate somewhere else where she was apparently free to cause car accidents.

And Palin, according to the Associated Press, praises the guy. "Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he's so bold," she said on a video making the rounds on YouTube.

Call it building a bridge to the 14th century.

Moving on to John McCain, the co-chair of his Pennsylvania campaign is a guy from suburban Philadelphia named Robert Asher, a bigwig in Republican circles.

Asher is also a convicted felon, having been found guilty of perjury, racketeering, conspiracy and bribery charges in the same case that brought down former state Treasurer Budd Dwyer in 1987. Dwyer, of course, is notorious for ending his final press conference with a .357 magnum.

McCain hasn't said anything about that, as far as I know. Nor has he said anything about the multitude of lobbyists for the industries that are currently leading the American economy down the drain who staff his campaign.

He has spoken in the past about his infamous membership in the Keating Five. If you'll recall, the Keating Five stood accused of helping savings and loan swindler Charles Keating avoid federal regulation while he defrauded investors out of more than $1 billion. Keating gave McCain and the four other senators in the group some $1.3 million in campaign contributions.

When his savings and loan collapsed, it cost taxpayers more than $2 billion.

That was a lot of money in 1989.

McCain said he learned his lesson from that, but what the lesson was remains unclear. He still pushes for deregulation of financial institutions, which is what led to the savings and loan collapse in the'80s and the current debacle that may wind up costing taxpayers more than $1 trillion.

And let's not even start on McCain's own preacher problem - such as seeking the endorsement of an evangelist who blamed gays for Hurricane Katrina and supports the state of Israel because it will bring about Armageddon.

Or McCain's membership in the U.S. Council for World Freedom, a group that ran guns to anti-government rebels in Central America and was tied to the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s. The group has been tied to Nazi collaborators and anti-Semites, the Associated Press reported.

The lesson, I suppose, is people in glass houses - or in the case of Caribou Barbie, glass igloos - well, you know the rest.

McCain has taken to asking, "Who is the real Barack Obama?"

The question could easily be turned around: "Who is the real John McCain?"

Did he ever have any principles or integrity? Was it all an act? Did he, as some people have suggested, sell his soul to win this election and now the Devil is screwing him over?

Back in 2000, when McCain was the victim of the kind of sleazy politics he is practicing now, he told Jim Lehrer of PBS's NewsHour, "Uh, I, I just have to rely on the good judgment of the voters not to buy into these negative attack ads. Sooner or later, people are going to figure out if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future or you're not ready to articulate it."

Sounds about right. He can't win with his ideas, such as they are. He has to resort to sleaze.

Back in March, McCain promised that he would run "a respectful campaign."

It would be more than fair to point out that he was lying.