Joe Sixpack has morphed into Joe the Plumber, an avatar for the everyman who actually does not have a license to plumb. He may have been interested in the debate last night since he got a direct answer from Senator Obama concerning the cost of his medical benefits proposal. US Person, however, turned it off after the first ten minutes because he has heard it before: the same patient explanations from Obama, the same errant attacks from McCain fighting to stay in the race and prevent a Democratic landslide. Senator Cool came out ahead simply by not loosing it, and taking a fat pitch over the plate by the new Walter Cronkite, Bob Schieffer of CBS News (I mean it as a compliment, Bob) concerning the qualifications of Governor Sarah Palin, the most under qualified candidate for national office since Dan Quayle. Senator McAngry did not pass up another attempt to tie Obama to the former Weather Underground leader William Ayers. Frankly, Americans are tired of hearing about it. Ayers was never convicted of a bombing (he has admitted his participation in the violent anti-war struggle of the 60's), and he has since lead the life of an upstanding college professor and citizen. The federal charges of crossing state lines to incite a riot during the "Days of Rage" and conspiracy to commit bombings were dropped in 1974 for prosecution misconduct including illegal surveillance. His other crimes, if any, are long past any applicable statue of limitations.
Obama has used little of the smear tactics so favored by the GOP. So the average voter does not get to hear about the less laudable connections of its candidate. Allow US Person to rectify that omission. John McCain endured his Vietnam ordeal still a committed hawk believing that the US military did not loose Vietnam--the civilian leadership did. In line with that firm belief, he wholeheartedly supported the Reagan doctrine of armed suppression of communist revolution in Central America. AP tells us that when McCain was starting his political career in the early 80's as a congressman he met Army Major General John Singlaub who founded the anti-communist group, the U.S. Council for World Freedom. General Singlaub was the former US chief of staff of forces in South Korea but was relieved of duty by President Jimmy Carter after publicly criticizing the President's decision to reduce troop levels there. Singlaub invited the new congressman to serve on the group's board because he knew McCain's father. Singlaub was asked for advice concerning his McCain after he was shot down and became a POW. McCain was elected to Congress in 1982 while a board member of Singlaub's council. He expressed support for the Contras, a CIA guerrilla force operating in Honduras and Nicaragua. Congress cut funds to the Contras in 1984, but months before the Reagan administration put Col. Oliver North in charge of a covert supply network to keep the Contras in the field until public money could again be appropriated. Singlaub's council became the public cover for the operation. Singlaub and North worked secretly, in violation of Congress' mandate (the Boland Amendment), to raise millions from foreign governments including Iran's which was holding American embassy personnel hostage in Tehran. Eventually the North operation, approved by his superior in the White House, Admiral John Poindexter, sold weapons directly to Iran and funneled the profits to the Contras. When the covert operation was blown by a Lebanese magazine, it became known as the "Iran-Contra Affair".
Human Rights Watch issued a report in 1987 accusing the Contras of gross human rights violations, "so prevalent that these [abuses] may be said to be their principle means of waging war." The Catholic Church issued a similar evaluation which said "the record of the Contras in the field...is one of consistent and bloody abuse of human rights, of murder, torture, mutilation, rape, arson, destruction and kidnapping." McCain claims he resigned from the council in 1984 and asked to have his name removed from its letterhead in 1986. Singlaub does not recall any such resignation nor does Joyce Downey who oversaw the group's daily activities. Singlaub told AP, "That's a surprise to me. This is the first time I've ever heard that. There may have been someone in his office communicating with our office." The council was a chapter of the World Anti-Communist League, an organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right wing death squads operating in Central America. The Anti-Communist League was founded by Chiang Kai-shek, the nationalist Chinese leader in 1966. By the mid-eighties the League was the world's largest NGO supplier of arms to anti-communist rebels. In 1987 the Internal Revenue Service withdrew the council's tax exempt status because of its activities on behalf of the Contras. You slice 'em, we dice 'em.
[photo: Secretary Fawn Hall testifies to Congress about her boss, Col. Oliver North]