Our American President

This past Tuesday, Barack Obama handily won re-election to hold his title as President of the United States. I must admit that going into the election on Tuesday I was confident but still nervous. Nate Silver’s pragmatic election forecasting had kept me calm and reasonable during the entire campaign but when CNN started showing red states populating the electoral college map, I must admit my stomach did summersaults.

We now know that Nate was right all along for as the night drew onward, the polls of the last few months bore out his math and Obama won state after battleground state. In fact the only one he lost was my own of North Carolina. While NC did go red this time around, the decision here was extremely close which honestly surprised me. In the end NC’s electoral votes didn’t matter as Barack won Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, and yes, even Florida. I must admit I did enjoy tuning in FOX News throughout the night just to see the next four years slipping away from Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove. As Rachel Maddow pointed out this week, and as many pundits have rightfully written, Tuesday’s election results hit Team Romney, and many on the right as a complete and utter shock. For months they had deluded themselves into thinking the exit polls were wrong and that victory was the only possible result. Heck, Romney didn’t even have a concession speech ready to go. Who does that anyway? What kind of man running for the President doesn’t prepare for every eventuality? Evidently Mitt Romney, that’s who.

I face the next four years with hope and a huge sense of relief. We will not have new conservative supreme court justices. Roe v. Wade will not be overturned. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay (thank GOD), and world leaders will continue to respect our President. Obama hasn’t been a perfect President by any stretch of the imagination. There have been many issues he’s been unwilling or unable to tackle such as immigration reform and climate change. He’s also done things I’m not proud of such as the continued detaining of prisoners without due process. But in the end his pluses far outweigh his minuses. Despite the faux outrage from the right-wing elements in our country this past week, the United States is indeed on the road to recovery. We’ve not turned into a socialist state overnight and we won’t be one tomorrow. And no, Barack Obama didn’t kill the country this past Tuesday, Nov. 6th., he actually saved it. Saved it from regressing 50 years in policy and mindset. Saved it from extremist, conservative ideology that threatened to destroy a woman’s right to choose and American’s access to affordable health insurance. And in a small way, he saved this country from the rampant racism and hate that has reared its ugly head during his first term. A vote for Obama re-affirmed that he was no fluke, he was here to stay despite the efforts of the dwindling, white majority who has tried to paint him as “different from us” and “un-American”.

I’m very proud of my President and my country for making the right choice this past Tuesday. I wish I knew what the next four years will bring, but I feel confident that Barack will meet the challenges head-on and do what’s in our collective best interests. I sincerely hope he listens to the will of those who elected him and grows a spine when dealing with Republican obstructionism, thankfully there are signs of this already. Above all, I’m grateful that we’re moving forward as a country instead of backwards, making laws instead of repealing them. I wish our President good luck and God speed because unfortunately as history has demonstrated, he’s going to need it.

Entrenched

Over the past few years, there’s been a significant increase in the polarization of people’s opinions in this country. More and more, folks are unwilling to put themselves in other people’s shoes, to see their side of the story or even just listen to what they have to say. Increasingly, we as a society are either unwilling or unable to compromise on important topics that affect the vast majority of us. I’m not sure where or when this started, but I do think much of it has to do with the Internet.

Since it came into wide-spread adoption, the Internet has been a way for people of widely varied viewpoints to express themselves on any number of topics. We can read, post, blog and tweet all from the comfort of our own homes and what we say is seen by hundreds, thousands or even millions of people. More importantly, when we say something online we do so from the relative safety of digital anonymity. Although some people hide behind pseudonyms online, these days it’s more common to see people representing themselves honestly and openly. Just because they do however, doesn’t mean that we “know” them or are friends with them or even have met them in real life and I think that is an important distinction.

When we sit down and have a conversation with our family, friends or even acquaintances, we often censor ourselves for the good of our relationships. We may think someone’s opinion isn’t valid or is something we consider to be foolish, but we probably won’t tell them that to their face. Instead we often try and steer those we disagree with towards mutual understanding, we give and take, we compromise. I love my family very much but I disagree heartedly with many of their political viewpoints. When I get into a discussion about these topics with them, I don’t call my Uncle an idiot or a bozo, I calmly listen to his opinion, and if I’m feeling feisty I’ll attempt to convey some opposing viewpoints. If he listens great, if he entrenches himself and refuses to hear what I’m saying I often change the subject and move on. I love him too much to risk hurting him or his feelings and so I censor myself to some degree. I firmly believe it’s for the best.

But when I frequent political blogs and forums and told I’m an “ignorant liberal” or when I tweet about Apple’s court victory over Samsung and am called a “typical Apple fanboi”, the people that do so have no pretenses about censoring themselves. Indeed, I too am more likely to let loose when I’m exchanging ideas and thoughts with someone I’ve only met online than I would if I were sitting with them face-to-face in a restaurant or coffee shop. Yesterday, Macworld editor Dan Frakes tweeted this about Apple’s original iPhone:

As soon as I saw that tweet, I knew Dan was in for an earful. I had tweeted several times on Friday about the $1.01B judgement against Samsung by Apple and was not prepared for the amount of staunch anti-Apple sentiment that flowed into my Twitter timeline as a result. It seems that in platforms, as in politics, people have firmly chosen sides. You’re either with us or your against us and for some reason there can be no middle ground. I make my living using Apple products and have enjoyed them for well over 20 years so I have a strong affinity for technology that comes out of Cupertino. I also like to think that I’m fairly objective and have criticized Apple when I strongly disagree with a position they take. Sadly, some don’t see it this way. Apple is either the perfect corporate citizen who can do no wrong or a demon that is out to destroy open standards and lock all smartphone users into walled gardens manned by underage Chinese workers from Foxconn.

The reality, of course, is somewhere in-between. Apple’s victory over Samsung can be right and just in accordance with U.S. patent law but that doesn’t mean they “invented rounded rectangles”. It also shouldn’t mean that you and I can’t have a friendly discussion on the topic without it devolving into the digital equivalent of the Jerry Springer Show. Admittedly, when we are so entrenched in our positions it is difficult to give up any ground, especially when one feels passionately about something. However, if we are to survive and flourish as a society and have meaningful conversations, we all need to try and make a concerted effort to climb out of our fox holes and meet somewhere in the middle.

‘Obamacare’ Vindicated

Back in 2007, two full years after my doctor pronounced me cured of my malignant lymphoma, I sat across a conference room table and listened to my insurance representative tell me I was ineligible to receive life insurance. I questioned him at length and asked why I was being denied even though the doctor had certified me cancer free. His response was simply “Because that’s the way the insurance industry works.” In that moment I felt a rush of anger, frustration, sadness and helplessness all at once.

Needless to say today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act brought with it feelings of joy and satisfaction. The court affirmed the government indeed has the ability to require individuals to purchase health insurance or face a penalty. This means that children can remain on their parent’s health insurance longer, people no longer have to fear losing their insurance when they switch employers and that people (including children) with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be denied coverage. All in all, some 30+ million American’s will now be able to receive health insurance who could not before.

Predictably, conservatives are not happy about the decision and immediately began trying to spin Robert’s reasoning in their favor. It never ceases to amaze me how some people can manage to contort the facts of a given situation to fit their special world view. The topic of personal responsibility is a perfect example and one that illustrates the hypocrisy of many right-leaning folks, some of which are in my own family. Like them, I believe that people should basically be responsible for their own successes or failures, but unlike them I also realize people sometimes need help from their government. I often hear from conservative family and friends how they dislike liberal “entitlements”, ie people shouldn’t be able to game the system and receive free services at the expense of hard working folks. So, given the fact that the Affordable Care Act requires people to stand up and take responsibly for themselves by paying their fare share of health care costs, you would think they would support it. This, paradoxically, isn’t the case.

Many would rather have freeloaders continue to game the system, raising everyone else’s premiums than levy a penalty or “tax” as Justice Roberts wrote, and be forced to take responsibility. This is especially damning when you consider the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act was originally created and promoted by conservatives. It seems as though such people are perfectly content to alter their principles simply to express their opposition to President Obama. It makes me very sad when my fellow Americans are willing to sacrifice the good of the many out of spite.

The good news is that as I write this, millions of people are better off today than they were yesterday. Many will be receiving rebate checks from their insurers who spent too much on administration, advertising or lobbying and not enough on making people better. Friends and followers on twitter who have family members that were finally able to obtain insurance due to Obamacare can breathe a sigh of relief, and I can think back at that frustrating meeting so long ago with my insurance agent and smile. The Affordable Care act isn’t perfect by any means, and Republicans will do their best to try and repeal the law (good luck with that), but today was a very good day in the history of our country. A very good day indeed.

UPDATE: A wonderful post over on Reddit that explains every detail of the ACA in easy to understand terms and explains just how the bill will or will not affect you. I really suggest everyone read it. (via @bigzaphod)

Right Wing Roundup

The level of conservative paranoia in this country is rising fast. In the span of just a few days the media has reported on a wide range of threats to the President. Some are small, others are blatant, but all have the potential to be dangerous. Here’s a round up of just some of the extreme political posturing that is currently going on in right-wing America:

• The United States Secret Service investigates an online Facebook poll that asks if “President Barack Obama should be killed.” The Facebook application has been suspended while the poll is being looked into.

• Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), in a speech Saturday at the How To Take Back America conference, called President Obama an “enemy of humanity“. He also suggested the President provide his birth certificate (something Obama has already done) to prove his constitutionally eligibility to hold office. Franks later clarified his remarks saying he should have made it clear he was speaking about Obama’s abortion policies. So Obama is still an enemy of humanity, just the unborn humans.

• Conservative author John L. Perry writing for Newsmax postulates a “Military coup to resolve the ‘Obama problem’ ” is not unrealistic”. Perry, obviously not content with the normal process of democracy in the United States theorizes that the President may have to be removed from power prior to the next lawful election.

• Conservative speaker Kitty Werthmann recently led a workshop called “How to recognize living under Nazis & Communists.” She warned her audience to get their guns ready for “Bloody Battle” with Obama the Nazi.

UPDATE: Media Matters provides its own round up of extremist right-wing rhetoric and it’s not pretty. Meanwhile at Pleade The First, my friend Anthony rightfully calls out conservatives and dems alike to stand up to this subversive speech and denounce it out for what it is – treason.

The Election Broke Their Brains

To date I’ve not heard someone so well define what’s wrong with the conservative movement, specifically the extremists who have hijacked their party. Franklin Schaeffer, former conservative author of Crazy For God hits the nail squarely on the head and gives us a good idea of what’s in store in the days, weeks and months ahead. Watch the entire clip.

I find it fascinating that the right can be so upset with Obama after only 6 months on the job. We’re already at the point where threats are being made and violence could erupt at any moment. All this and the President hasn’t even completed his first year in office! The fall from power must have hit certain people in this country harder than the rest of us could expect. It’s the only way I can explain the absolute fanaticism and hate we’re seeing directed at Obama. That, and of course the fact that he’s not white and doesn’t have a typical American upbringing. A large portion of them would rather spend time asking for Obama’s birth certificate than trying to actually help the country.

In their own minds many conservatives have managed to ignore the fact that they lost the last election. America decided to try a new direction (for at least 2 years) and see what happens. I’m not opposed to getting their input if they would simply have some to give, but they don’t. Since November the GOP has been saying “No!” and playing to their base each and every day since Obama took office. Now they’ve decided that since they can’t offer any real solutions, and since they were relegated to minority status for the foreseeable future, they’ve going to throw a perpetual hissy fit.

The scariest part is that we’re only now seeing the tip of the “hate” iceberg.

Rebutting “Obama’s 1st QTR Report”

I love my family (on both sides) very much, but unlike myself, they are all very conservative. I’m not exactly sure how I eventually came to lean so far left, but I like to think it’s because my parents always taught me to “do unto others” and that no one was better than anyone else.

So when I recently received the “Obama First Quarter Report” chain email that has been going around from my family, I was compelled to respond to it. Many of the items here are outright falsehoods. Some make some good points. Most are too biased to even be considered seriously. If this post helps you to respond to your own family, or just helps stop the spread of lies about the 44th President of the United States, then I’ve done my duty.

• • •

Do you have any questions on the below? Agree or Disagree. How about health care?

My parents have Medicare and my father has veteran’s health care. Both government run health care systems. They love them and think they are much better than their privately run HMO’s.

My company’s biggest expense after salary is health care. One year rates from our private insurance company rose 15% the next year 33%. And you’re telling me that conservatives are content to sit and do nothing to reform health care in this country, let alone try and cover the now over 50 million people who don’t have any coverage what-so-ever?

It is estimated that some 1.5 million people will go bankrupt in the United States in 2010 due to illness thanks to insurance companies who are unwilling to cover them. Is that the kind of health care you want for you and your children?

Some facts vs right-wing claims on health care reform.

Observations on YOUR President’s Early Days:

1.  Offended the Queen of England.

The only ones “offended” were right-wingers. Obama gave the Queen of England the gift *she requested*. An Apple iPod filled with Broadway musical numbers, and video of her previous trip to the US. In addition, she also received a signed, rare edition of a Rogers and Hammerstein manuscript. The queen was not offended, she was actually quite pleased.

2.  Bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Is that better or worse than Bush kissing him and holding his hand whenever they met? I forget.

3.  Praised the Marxist Daniel Ortega.

If by “praise” you mean cutting $64 million in aid to his country because of his posture and remarks, then yes, Obama praised him. Obama knows the difference between words and actions. In addition, at a speech given by Ortega in Spain in April, Obama is reported to have “endured” it. He didn’t praise Ortega, nor did he rebuke him.

4.  Kissed Hugo Chavez on the cheek.

Obama and Chavez shook hands (as did George W. Bush) and had a joking conversation.

5.  Endorsed the Socialist Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Obama initially pledged co-operation with Boliva because of long-standing trade agreements with the country. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t always get to pick and choose the leaders of various nations (that doesn’t go for Iraq and Afghanistan obviously).

But on July 1st, the US halted $25 million in annual trade benefits to Bolivia, prompting Morales to say “Obama “lied” about cooperation”. So much for that so-called praise:

6.  Announced we would meet with Iranians with no pre-conditions.

Yes, you’re absolutely correct. I happen to think the President is right for doing so. You may disagree, but we tried it your way (not talking to Iran) for over 8 years and it got the USA no where. You’re guy lost, it’s time to give a carrot a try instead of a stick.

7.  Gave away billions to AIG also without pre-conditions.

Actually there are many measures in place to protect tax payer money with the bank bailout, but I agree there could be more accountability in this area.

8.  Massively Expanded the bailouts.

What was the alternative? Let unemployment drop at an even faster rate? Sink even deeper into recession faster? Would you have not attempted to stimulate the economy at all and just “stuffed money under your mattress”?

Again, this was tried for 8 years. Tax cuts for the rich, huge spending in Iran and Afghanistan (foreign nations, not the US). Didn’t work. I’d rather go into debt for money spent in our own country than giving away billions to other countries to wage war.

9.  Insulted everyone who has ever loved a Special Olympian.

Wow, the President is human being who makes mistakes! Imagine him making an in-appropriate remark about the Special Olympics! Was it bad, sure. Did it offend everyone associated with the Special Olympics? No. Plus, unlike Bush who could not, EVER admit a mistake, Obama later apologized for the remark

10.  Tripled our national debt in his first 100 days in office.

Completely untrue and a lie. Most of the current debt (over 80%) is due to Bush policies and bailouts that was started BY HIM. In addition, Obama removed the traditional “let’s hide all the debt” accounting used by presidents in the past to give the American people a true picture of the federal budget. Sometimes reality is a tough pill to swallow.

Conservatives seemed fine with it for 8 years while the country was going deeper and deeper into debt fighting 2 wars and cutting taxes. Now, that money is being spent on America and American programs, you have a problem?

I suggest you go read this excellent piece by the NYT and then reconsider this unfounded accusation.

11.  Announced a termination of the space defense system the day after the North Koreans launched an ICBM.

Everyone agrees that missile defense is important, but not when it doesn’t work. The so-called missile defense shield has been plagued with problems from day one.

In addition, other, newer systems are now being tested.

12.  Despite the urgings of his own CIA director and the prior 4 CIA directors, released information on intelligence gathering.

Sometimes transparency can be a good thing. That being said, I don’t know enough about the subject to speak with any authority regarding if the United States should or should not be announcing how intelligence is gathered.

13.  Accepted without public comment the fact that five of his cabinet members cheated on their taxes and two others withdrew after they couldn’t take the heat.

I never agreed with Obama’s willingness to post people who hadn’t completed their taxes correctly. He should never have appointed those people in the first place. I agree with this point.

14.  Appointed a Homeland Security Chief who quickly identified as “dangers to the  nation”, groups including veterans of the military, and opponents to abortion on demand….and who ordered that the word “terrorism” no longer be used but instead referred to such acts as “man made disasters”.

Like it or not, the department of Homeland Securities report on disgruntled veterans is right on the money. Levels of extremism have been rising in this country since Obama’s election and some of them have to do with ex-military people who seem to think it’s their right to take up arms against the President of the United States.

Two Atlanta area police officers were even suspended for doing an unauthorized “background check” on the President.

Gun owners have been stockpiling weapons and ammo for fear that Obama is “about to take away their guns” although, historically speaking gun owners enjoy more rights now than they did under President Clinton. Not only that, but Obama recently signed a bill that makes it EASIER for people to carry guns in National Parks. Reagan opposed such a measure. Obama backed it.

15.  Circled the globe so he could openly apologize for America greatness.

This one is soooo slanted it’s difficult to reply to with a straight face. The right pulled what they wanted to out of Obama’s trip around the world, regardless of context, tone or actual words spoken. If you want to believe that Obama put down the US at every stop, that’s your right. I actually listened to the speeches and heard a fair, even handed assessment of the history of this country’s actions abroad. Like it or not, we’ve done some bad things over the years. You can bury your head in the sand and try to ignore this fact, or you can try and rebuild relationships with other nations that was destroyed by George W. Bush. Take your pick.

16.  Told the Mexican President that the violence in their country was because of us.

It partly is. If America didn’t have such a demand for illegal drugs, the violence in Mexico wouldn’t be at the levels it is at today. I find the President’s honesty in these matters to the leaders of other nations, refreshing.

17.  Politicized the census by moving it into the White House from its Department of Commerce origins.

Robert Groves, Obama’s nominee to head the US Census Bureau has said on several occasions that he is opposed to sampling or so-called “politicizing” the 2010 census. Until there is actual evidence of this happening (like the massive politicizing that happened under Bush with the Attorney General’s department), simply moving its organizational structure isn’t setting off alarm bells for those of us not wearing tin-foil hats.

18.  Appointed as Attorney General the man who orchestrated the forced removal and expulsion (from America to Cuba ) of a nine-year old whose mother died trying to bring him to a life of freedom in the United States.

A wonderful example of the right’s “situational outrage”. Elian Gonzalez was just a boy looking to escape economic and political oppression and so he should be allowed to stay in the US. At the same time, the thousands of aliens that cross our borders every day looking for the same exact thing as Gonzalez are “destroying the country”. Which is it? Is the United States a nation of laws or not? Why is one boy allowed to stay but not those who cross the border to try and help feed their families or who need health care?

19.  Salutes as heroes three Navy SEALS who took down three terrorists who threatened one American life… and the next day announces members of the Bush administration will likely stand trial for “torturing” a terrorist who had played a part in killing 3000 Americans by  pouring water up their nose.

Yes yes, these two instances are exactly alike. Let’s compare the systematic deconstruction of the Constitution and rule of law that was issued by Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney over a period of 5 years to the necessary killing of 3 pirates.

I’m sorry that we disagree about water boarding, but anyone who has experience with it, John McCain included, has called it torture. The United States doesn’t torture. That’s what George W. Bush said. And yet we did. On multiple occasions and for purposes that had nothing to do with “ticking bombs”, but to justify the illegal invasion of foreign nations.

20.  Air Force One over New York City with a fighter close behind.

Equating this as the work of President Obama is offensive. Obama knew nothing about the flyover and was “furious” about it when he learned of it. People in the defense department will likely lose their jobs because of it.

21.  Sent his National Defense Advisor to Europe to assure Europe that the US will no longer treat Israel in a special manner and they might be on their own with the Muslims.

It is true that Obama has been more heavy handed with Israel than any President in recent memory. It is also true that Israel likes to think they are the only “valid” nation in the region. They are not.

Israel also has one of the strongest, most well run militaries and can handle themselves more than well when it comes to their conflict with Palestine. That being said, I don’t doubt for a second that if Iran were to become involved, the United States would back Israel up to the very end. They have been, and will always be an ally of the United States, no matter what right-wingers would like us to believe about the President.

22.  Began the process of nationalizing the Auto Industry and the Insurance industry.

The auto industry hasn’t been nationalized. Like many other industries in this country, the government has been forced to take a stake in its survival so that you don’t end up eating tuna fish for dinner every night and heating your house with kerosene. The government doesn’t own the auto industry, it doesn’t even have a controlling portion of it. Same goes for the insurance industry although I’d say that I wouldn’t mind some government control of them. They are crooks and unfeeling liars who refuse health care for things like acne and foot odor.

23.  Announced that for intents and purposes the Health Insurance Industry will be nationalized, despite the fact that such a thing is a miserable failure everywhere it’s been put in place.

Everywhere except in the 36 countries that rank higher than the United States in world heath coverage.

Or in the national programs of Medicare and Veteran benefits (US government run programs) that conservative columnist William Kristol recently admitted are “the best” in the world.

And people are paying more attention to Michael Jackson than to defending their own liberties.

The same was true while Bush was passing the Patriot Act and setting up “free speech zones” during his presidency. Wire tapping American’s phones, bank and medical records. Letting thousands drown in New Orleans, letting the drug companies screw over senior citizens time and time again, turning a huge surpluses into massive deficits and appointing crony after crony to government run positions.

1360 more days to go… God help us all!

Yes God help us because Obama seems to be doing okay for a new President 6 months into his position. So let’s not forget all the good things that the President has either succeeded in passing or is in the process of passing while we’re at it. Things like:

• Direct military leaders to end war in Iraq
• Create a foreclosure prevention fund for homeowners
• Establish a credit card bill of rights
• Expand loan programs for small businesses
• Expand eligibility for State Children’s Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP)
• Expand funding to train primary care providers and public health practitioners
• Extend unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits
• Reverse restrictions on stem cell research
• Appoint at least one Republican to his cabinet
• Signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
• Grant Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send money to Cuba
• Release presidential records
• Create a $60 billion bank to fund roads and bridges
• Close the “donut hole” in Medicare prescription drug plan
• Create a small business tax credit to help with health premiums
• Push for enactment of Matthew Shepard Act, which expands hate crime law to include sexual orientation and other factors
• Create a White House Office on Urban Policy
• Support increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts
• Appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer
• Work to overturn Ledbetter vs. Goodyear (equal pay for women & minorities)
• Weatherize 1 million homes per year
• Enact tax credit for consumers for plug-in hybrid cars
• Provide grants to encourage energy-efficient building codes
• Enact the single most successful stimulus program “Cash for clunkers” which has helped sell an estimated 220,000 cars in a little over a week

To Thine Own Self

Ever since President Obama was elected, conservatives have looked for anything, no matter how small, to profess their disgust for the man. The things that send them into severe conniption fits are the very same behaviors that keep Barack grounded in reality. Taking his jacket off in the Oval Office, throwing his feet up on the desk, tossing a football around his house or sitting on the steps outside the ambassador’s office in Paris are all excuses for why the man isn’t fit to hold the office of the President.

Naturally, all of these things are what people do every single day. When Obama leans back in his chair he cues us in to the fact that, perhaps like no President before him, he is one of us. But when you compare the right’s distain for Obama’s casual habits to those of his predecessor, the hypocrisy is deafening.

The right used to point to the “folksy antics” of George W. Bush as an asset. They argued his inability to put coherent sentences together and his refusal to read the newspaper were because he was “an average guy”, someone Americans wanted to “have a beer with”. Yet when Obama tosses a football in his own home he’s denigrating the country and his office. How times have changed.

Unlike Bush, who spent 1/3 of his Presidency on vacation, Obama has had his sleeves rolled up and the jacket off from day one. In doing so, both figuratively and literally, he has stayed true to his roots and allowed us to see ourselves in him. Republicans would do well to remember there is nothing wrong with being yourself, particularly if you are the President of the United States. That’s one of the reasons why we elected him in the first place.

Conservatives On Winning Friends & Influencing People

At the rate conservatives are putting their feet in their collective mouths, they may never regain the majority in this country. Here is a sampling of some of the brilliant things that were said this week regarding Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to “stir the base” of the ever-shrinking right wing.

Newt Gingrich: “White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

Tom Tancredo: “If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino — it’s a counterpart — a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that’s going to convince me and a lot of other people that it’s got nothing to do with race.

G. Gordon Liddy: “Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then.”

Rush Limbaugh: “So here you have a racist. You might — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. And the libs, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one.”

Alexander Bolton: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.” This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ tongue and ears — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.”

Thankfully not all Republicans are so confident that Sotomayor is a racist, that her diet of “rice and beans”, or her menstrual cycle will unduly influence her decisions from the bench. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) have both expressed disappointment in the attacks. Unfortunately, if history holds, we’ll be hearing apologies from these two moderate Republican’s to Rush Limbaugh before mid-week. All I can say is keep it up Brownies, you’re doing a heck of a job!

‘Judicial Activists’? Look to the Right

There’s a great deal of talk this week from the right-wing that Obama’s nomination for the Supreme Court is just another “judicial activist” judge. That is to say she’ll vote to overturn or make policy, not uphold existing laws. Before conservatives start to hoot and holler too loudly however, they should take a deep breath and look at the judges on their own side of the isle.

A study in the NYT today attempts to shed some light on which Supreme Court judges have voted to strike down the most laws passed by Congress, which is considered to be the most telling factor if a judge is an “activist”. The result? the justices that voted to overturn existing law, or “make policy” the most frequently were… drum roll… the right-wing or conservative judges. From the NY Times:

“We found that justices vary widely in their inclination to strike down Congressional laws. Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, was the most inclined, voting to invalidate 65.63 percent of those laws; Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton, was the least, voting to invalidate 28.13 percent. The tally for all the justices:

Thomas 65.63 %
Kennedy 64.06 %
Scalia 56.25 %
Rehnquist 46.88 %
O’Connor 46.77 %
Souter 42.19 %
Stevens 39.34 %
Ginsburg 39.06 %
Breyer 28.13 %

One conclusion our data suggests is that those justices often considered more “liberal” – Justices Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens – vote least frequently to overturn Congressional statutes, while those often labeled “conservative” vote more frequently to do so. At least by this measure (others are possible, of course), the latter group is the most activist.

Imagine that. All of this is moot of course, because Sotomayor will most likely be confirmed easily and join the court in its fall session. She has the votes and by all regards (except for the 25% of the country clinging to Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove like grim death) is a fine choice for the bench. She graduated with honors from two Ivy league schools and has even been known to side with conservatives from time to time.

To all those who rue Obama’s selection for the Supreme Court, I really have nothing to say to you except elections have consequences. Obama was the victor, and now he, not you, gets to fill vacant seats on the court. That’s just the way things work. If you need some small measure of satisfaction, you can choose not to participate in National Fist Bump Day (June 3rd). Huzzah!

Lessons Rush Never Learned

Ask any parent what’s one of the first things they teach their kids and they’ll probably say “Don’t call people names.” It’s a lesson we all learn and one that helps keep discourse civil between functioning adults. Although we all do it occasionally, there are some that wield it so often it eventually becomes a crutch.

Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh is one such person. Rush has never been known for his ability to discuss topics like an adult, but over at Wikipedia they actually have an entire page dedicated to Rush’s on-air jargon that he uses to belittle and berate others. You can read the entire list, but here are just a few of the more egregious examples Rush uses on his daily show.

This list is just one of many reasons why the GOP has seen its most dramatic decline in membership in decades, despite what Dick Cheney thinks.

Banking Queen – Barney Frank. Reference to Frank’s homosexuality, his seat on the House Financial Services Committee and the controversy surrounding his views that there were no problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Rush would often accompany this with a parody of the ABBA song, “Dancing Queen”.

Bela Pelosi – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a pun on the name of Hungarian film star Bela Lugosi, best known for his portrayal of Count Dracula.

Benedict Arnold – Nevada Senator Harry Reid, after the famous soldier and traitor.

Feminazi – “Feminazis” are those that Limbaugh claims are so devoted to feminist ideology (and the pro-choice cause in particular) that they are as repressive and hostile to personal freedom as members of the Nazi party were in Germany.

Nostrilitis, Nostrildamus – Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

Senator Dick Turban – Senator Richard Durbin, (D-IL). Limbaugh began using this moniker after Durbin made controversial remarks on the Senate floor which according to Durbin’s critics amounted to a comparison of the alleged abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay by U.S. military personnel, with the war crimes of Pol Pot and Hitler.

“Osama” Obama – President Barack Obama. Limbaugh uses this alternate name for Obama as a reference to Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) mis-speak during a luncheon at the National Press Club (Jan 11, 2005). Kennedy, making mention of Obama’s large win during the 2004 elections, stumbled over Obama’s first name, stating “Osama bin Laden, Osama Obama, Obamamam.”

From the Mouth of Babes

Conservative blogger and daughter of Sen. John McCain, Meghan, has been slowly emerging from her father’s shadow since his failed election bid. Meghan’s been active on Twitter and making waves in the Republican party for months, but her latest appearance before a crowd of Log Cabin GOP on Saturday could be the tipping point:

“I feel too many Republicans want to cling to past successes. There are those who think we can win the White House and Congress back by being ‘more’ conservative. Worse, there are those who think we can win by changing nothing at all about what our party has become. They just want to wait for the other side to be perceived as worse than us. I think we’re seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party. But it is not between us and Democrats. It is not between us and liberals. It is between the future and the past.”

No doubt these words only further to strengthen the perception of the ultra-right that Meghan is simply a RINO (Republican in name only), as is demonstrated by recent attacks against her by Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter. Such posturing toward the young conservative only adds credibility to McCain’s central thesis that “old school Republicans” are “scared shitless” and party shills such as Coulter, Limbaugh and Malkin represent the failed GOP past.

I find it fascinating how conservatives can dismiss the views of someone like McCain simply because she dares to speak the truth. Like many young people, her take on social issues is more tolerant than those of just her father’s generation. She courageously called on conservatives to re-examine their position on gay marriage not because she’s a closet liberal but because she’s knows that social equality always trumps bigotry.

McCain also knows the right will need to make fundamental changes in the way they conduct politics if they have any hope of courting new voters and growing the party. By striking the right balance between conservative and liberal ideals like a true Independant, Meghan may one day be able to achieve that which eluded her father. If she keeps speaking truth to power like she did on Saturday night, one day I just might vote for her.

Red Flagged

Local blogger Dave Ribar reports on a story originally from the Greensboro News & Record. It seems as though some of the tea party participants in North Carolina and around the nation sent their state and federal tax returns in with tea bags attached to them. Responding to these sour grape antics, Dave hits the nail squarely on the head:

“…the net result of the “tea-baggers” childish behavior is to increase the costs of government and to make it more difficult to discern genuine security threats. Last November, the voters weren’t buying what these selfish, spoiled children were selling. Now, these same brats are going to show their true colors by throwing an expensive tantrum.”

Add to their waste the cost of the unused tea bags themselves and you have the ultimate example of hypocrisy this country’s seen in a long time. If I worked at the IRS and received a return that included anything but the standard paperwork, it’d be audited faster than you can say “Nestea Plunge”.

Blinded by the Right

Each and every day that passes it becomes painfully clear how far the conservative movement in this country has fallen. Still reeling from their massive losses on November 4th, right-wingers seem to have thrown all caution to the wind and embraced anything and everything extremist. Of course, not all of them feel so passionately about the dark road Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and others are steering them down. But as conservative author and blogger, Rick Moran is discovering, if you dare to speak reason in the midst of a pack of rabid dogs, you’re bound to get eaten.

Moran made an honest and tough to swallow plea to conservatives with a post on April 8th titled “Glenn Beck and the Radical Right” in which he breaks with the rank and file and calls Beck and his ilk what they are – kooks. He also rightfully posits that one can disagree with our President on many things without having to resort to cries of “fascism” or “tyranny” like so many have done these last few weeks.

“Beck worries me. Conservatives worry me. I worry about myself. I feel trapped in a huge ball of cotton, trying gamely to make my way out but don’t know which direction to start pushing. I am losing contact with those conservatives who find Beck anything more than a clown – and an irrational one at that. Same goes for those who worship at the altar of Rush, Hannity, Coulter, and the whole cotton candy conservative crowd. I can’t take those people seriously. The fact that they are popular mystifies me.”

It’s obvious reading his recent posts, Moran is struggling to bring order to political chaos. He sounds like the one sane man shouting for calm amidst a firestorm of political nihilism. But the worst part comes in a post just 2 days later, after he’s evidently taken a savage beating at the hands of his conservative readers.

“Only The Glad Game for me. I will take note that Rush is a funny, smart, real conservative who is almost always right and who conservatives would do well to take whatever advice he offers. I will wax poetic about Ann Coulter and her charm, her wit, her balanced critiques. Same goes for Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and all the other popular conservatives.

I see the error of my ways. And this goes for anything I say about the GOP too. No more dire pronouncements of electoral disaster. From here on out, it’s tea parties and triumph at the polls for me. I promise to ignore polls that don’t have Republicans sweeping to victory in 2010. And I will enthusiastically cover the tea parties that are going to change America.

Although he obviously writes with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, I can’t help but think that moderate conservatives like Moran are a dying breed. Republicans have been lead up the garden path by the likes of Rove, Bush, Limbaugh and others for so long that they can’t bring themselves to find their own way. What’s worse, their frustration over losing in the last election cycle and seething resentment of Obama keeps them from recognizing are they are self-destructing. It would be better for all Americans if they would grow a pair, wake up and cast off the dead weight. Doing so however, takes real courage and that’s something that, at least for now, the right is sadly lacking.

UPDATE: There might be hope for conservatives yet.

Limbaugh Insults & Dishonors GOP Veteran on Air

How anyone can listen to one word that comes out of this hate-spewing, hard-core right-wing loon is beyond me. Conservatives always try to make comparisons to Olberman or Schultz when you talk about Rush, Hannity and their ilk, but they don’t even come close. No one on the left would do to a veteran who served in two branches of the military what Rush Limbaugh does to this caller. This loyal GOP voter simply had had enough of Rush’s bullshit and decided to call him on it.

Rather than take his lumps and move on, Limbaugh decides to cut him off, berate and insult him and the entire United States military in one fell swoop. Our brave men and women in uniform deserve far better than anything this neocon has to offer. In addition, no one on the right who listens to this man has a moral leg to stand on when accusing the left of not loving their country or the military. Listen to the whole thing, it’s simply disgusting.

Sometimes They Eat Their Young

On Monday, conservative Mark Frum wrote the following in his weekly column:

On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of “responsibility,” and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating!

That didn’t sit well with fellow conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin who launched into a 10 minute tirade on his show on Tuesday on how Frum was out of line. Levin used words like “putz”, “a-hole” and “frat boy” to describe Frum. Turns out Frum’s 15 year old son heard the nasty things Levin was broadcasting and attempted to call into the show to take the radio personality to task. Levin wouldn’t let him through cause he was just a kid, but he did later let Frum himself on and the result was a 30 minute slice of Republican hell. If you enjoy listening to two right-wing ideologues ripping each other apart as I do, then this audio clip is for you. You can read Frum’s account of the dust-up on his blog.

I find it utterly hilarious that the GOP and their neocon allies have fallen so far so fast. The entire party is in disarray and with each passing hour they seem to bury their heads even further into the muck. Oh sure they’ll eventually climb back up, probably stronger than they were before to take their rightful place in American politics. But as of this very moment, we can all see them for what they are and what they are not offering – solutions.

They have no vested interests in helping this country get back on its feet, even if it means swallowing just the smallest amount of pride. No, they are only concerned with currying favor with the base and making sure everyone who disagrees with them knows how wrong they are. I’d like to slap some sense into the entire lot, but then the dog and pony show would be over, and where’s the fun in that?

No Christmas for Right-Wing Carol

Box office results reveal that the anticipated right-wing comedy, An American Carol, has tanked in its first weekend of release. The conservative comedy should have faired well, especially considering it was produced and directed by one half of the hilarious Airplane! team, David Zucker. The film opened on an impressive 1,639 screens and was publicized on conservative blogs and in the media. But when compared to comedian Bill Maher’s documentary Religulous which also opened this weekend, the results are startling:

Film Box Office Gross # Screens Average
American Carol $3,810,000 1,639 $2,325
Religulous $3,500,000 502 $6,972

Although Religulous opened on just 1/3 the screens as Carol, it made almost as much, with triple Carol’s per screen average take. It reminds me of the supremely unfunny Half Hour Comedy Hour produced by FOX as a right-wing answer to The Daily Show. That attempt at conservative humor lost 82% of its audience after it’s tortuous premiere and was soon cancelled. If conservatives think they can do comedy, they have yet to prove it to the rest of us.

100 Reasons Why McCain Won’t Be President of the United States

For years I greatly admired Senator John McCain. He had a reputation for being a political maverick and seemed to vote with his conscience instead of with his party. When it came down to choosing between what was right and what the GOP wanted, John McCain more-often-than-not chose what was right.

Then he set his sights on the White House.

During the past year I’ve watched McCain’s positions on things like tax breaks for the rich, a woman’s right to choose and keeping social security strong, morph and change. He went from calling Jerry Falwell an “agent of intolerance” to speaking at his university’s graduation address. Most disturbingly he created a moral exception in his own mind that it was okay for the CIA to torture U.S. detainees, even after years of working tirelessly to end all forms of U.S. held torture.

As a way to vocalize the ways John McCain has lost much of the respect progressives like myself paid him, I’ve compiled a list of 100 reason why I don’t think he’ll ever become President. The most ironic part about compiling it was that so many of the items were first mentioned on conservative websites. McCain was never a friend of Republicans, that is until he became their nominee. I sincerely hope McCain makes an effort to rediscover himself, his values and his voice once the election is complete. If this list is any indication, his influence will still be felt for years to come, just not from Pennsylvania Avenue.

• • •

100. He has trouble selling fundraiser tickets in his own state.

99. One month after 9/11, McCain made unfounded claims that the anthrax used in the deadly attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, might have come from Iraq. McCain’s assertions, based soley on his personal beliefs, not the government findings, helped bolster the case for the invasion of Iraq.

98. He voted with Bush 95% of the time in 2007 & 100% in 2008.

97. John McCain has flip-flopped on a number of important issues including windfall profits for big oil, social security privatization, the estate tax and many others.

96. Has a lifetime rating of only 24% from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). By contrast, Barack Obama, has a rating of 86%.

95. He mistakenly has said that “Iran is training Al-Qaida”.

94. Giving prepared remarks is not one of his strong suits.

93. McCain used to oppose Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, but he reversed course in February of 2008.

92. By mid 2007, he had missed 10 of the past 14 votes on Iraq.

91. Rather than support Jim Webb’s 21st Century G.I. Bill to greatly expand educational benefits to vets, McCain skipped the vote. Both Hillary & Obama voted for the measure.

90. Later, when Webb’s G.I. Bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate 92-6, McCain had the audacity to suggest that he both supported the bill all along AND that he voted for it, when in fact, he did not.

89. The GOP Congressional Group refuses to back him.

88. His campaign is tied to dozens of lobbyists, particularly from telecom companies, an industry he helps oversee in the Senate.

87. When asked, he didn’t know what kind of car he drives.

86. Angered the Catholic League after accepting the endorsement of evangelicalist John Hagee who called the Catholic Church “apostate”, the “anti-Christ” and a “false cult system”.

85. McCain has said that he would consider Dick Cheney for a post in his administration.

84. Has said that Vladimir Putin is the president of Germany.

83. Early polls show Bob Barr taking away enough votes from John McCain to give Democrats a chance to win states that should be safely Republican.

82. In 2007, McCain worked with the Bush Administration on the so-called “amnesty” bill for illegal immigrants, angering the conservative base in the process.

81. McCain wants to give the majority of tax breaks to the richest Americans instead of the working class. The majority of Americans (those who earn $38K-$66K) would save only $319 under the McCain plan. That number jumps to $1,042 under Obama.

80. McCain has stacked town hall meetings with only those people who supported his own viewpoints then has denied it to media outlets.

79. McCain is trying to float the privatization of social security once again, only this time he’s calling it “personal accounts”.

78. While the victims of Katrina were drowning, McCain ate cake.

77. McCain helped propose the “Gas Tax Holiday” that would save drivers an average of only $2.35 every time they fill their tank.

76. His campaign used music without the artist’s permission.

75. According to a June CCN poll, 63% of Democrats are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this year. Only 37 percent of Republicans feel the same way and 36 percent of Republicans say they are not enthusiastic about voting.

74. When it comes to energy policy, he has a tendency to contradict himself.

73. McCain opposes comprehensive sex education.

72. McCain was the only senator to skip voting on Amdt. No. 3035, a Hate Crimes Amendment that would have expanded the definition of hate crimes and the government’s ability to investigate and prosecute them.

71. McCain voted on numerous occasions from 2003-2007 against additional funding for Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

70. McCain favors teaching the Christian religious doctrine of the Ten Commandments in public school systems.

69. McCain’s tax returns reveal that he annually collects over $58,000 in tax exempt funds as part of a “disability pension”. A spokesman for McCain said this is because of his “limited body movements due to injuries as a POW”.

68. McCain now sides with the Bush Administration to help end the off-shore oil drilling ban of 1981, a reversal of the position he took in his 2000 presidential campaign.

67. McCain wrongly claimed that 401ks are taxed by the capital gains tax and used this to further his point that “[Obama] obviously doesn’t understand the economy.”

66. McCain voted against Amdt. No. 2634 which was to provide additional funds for the mental health of veterans.

65. He skipped voting on the Lieberman-Warner climate change legislation that would have have included tax breaks for solar power. McCain said he skipped the vote because it didn’t finance the nuclear industry enough and he was busy running for President.

64. McCain is overly superstitious.

63. Thinks a $300 million prize to develop a better car battery is a sufficient amount of money compared to the $720 million dollars the United States spends in Iraq every day to wage war.

62. McCain has seven times fewer online followers on the leading social networks than Barack Obama.

61. McCain voted against Reed Amendment 2737 which would have repealed a capital gains tax that would have funded American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

60. John and Cindy McCain have failed to pay taxes on a California property they own for the past four years. Only after a reporter inquired about the bill with the McCain campaign did they send San Diego County a check.

59. McCain was for talking with Hamas before he was against it.

58. John McCain’s understanding of eminent domain is flawed. In May, 2008 he said: “There is a very clear standard in the Constitution requiring not only just compensation in the use of eminent domain, but also that private property may NOT be taken for public use.” In fact, the rule of eminent domain, as outlined in Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, states that private property can indeed be taken for public use if proper compensation is issued.

57. McCain doesn’t know if condoms help stop the spread of HIV.

56. McCain praised President Bush in 2001 when he said he could trust Putin because Bush had “looked the man in the eye” and got “a sense of his soul.” Asked by Chris Matthews how Bush did in his Russia trip, McCain replied, “I–I give him an A. I’d give him an A.”

55. McCain received only a 20% approval rating from the Disabled Veterans of America.

54. He scolded the U.S. Congress for taking the 4th of July holiday weekend off, but has seen fit to miss more votes than any other Senator in the 110th Congress.

53. When the incident between Russian and Georgia irrupted, McCain said that it was the ‘first serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War.’

52. On at least three separate occasions, McCain made references to Czechoslovakia, a country that hasn’t existed since 1993.

51. Polling data suggests that John McCain may not be able to carry his home state of Arizona in the upcoming election.

50. Rolling Stone magazine reports that McCain’s campaign schedule is “relaxed” to say the least. Unlike traditional candidates who usually put in multiple appearances each day, McCain limits himself to one event per day.

49. John McCain supports huge tax breaks for the oil industry, but not for wind power.

48. In an interview with CBS News, McCain said that Iraq (and not Afghanistan) was the “first major conflict since 9/11″ for the United States.

47. Days after McCain’s reversal on the subject of off-shore oil drilling, Multiple oil company executives gave huge contributions to electing him. The total collected from the Hess family alone was $285,000. Total contributions from the oil industry to McCain’s campaign jumped from $208,000 in May to $1.1 mil. dollars in June.

46. At the Saddleback Church, McCain famously said that a child’s right to life begins at the “moment of conception”. Yet despite this firm position, McCain supports forms of embryonic stem cell research.

45. McCain campaigns on a promise of fiscal responsibility, and yet he and his wife carry more than $100,000 in credit card liabilities as of 6.13.08.

44. McCain compares the conflict in Iraq with the historical conflicts of South Korea, Japan and Germany and has said that America might be in Iraq for “100 years” and that it would be “fine with me.”

43. Thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border. They do not.

42. McCain’s foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, has been linked to controversial businessman Stephen Payne who was caught trading money for access to President Bush in the construction of his Presidential library.

41. McCain graduated fifth from the bottom from his Naval Academy class.

40. In recent weeks both President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have moved away from McCain’s stated position of not setting any kind of deadlines for withdrawal from Iraq. Indeed, as reported by USA Today, the U.S. & Iraqi governments are close to completing a security agreement that tentatively calls for U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn from Baghdad and other cities by summer of 2009.

39. McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, has attended zero of his committee’s six hearings on Afghanistan over the last two years.

38. McCain received a grade of “D” from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

37. He can’t decide if he’s a Baptist or an Episcopalian.

36. McCain now says that gay and lesbian couples “should be able to enter into legal agreements” but not be able to marry. But last year McCain campaigned in his home state of Arizona for Proposition 107, an expansive amendment so broad it would have overturned local decisions by school districts, cities and counties to give benefits to unmarried couples – straight or gay.

35. McCain has said $5 million is the line between being considered middle class and “rich”.

34. McCain regularly turns to ex Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina for advice on economic matters. Fiorina was forced out of her position at HP under charges of mismanagement.

33. When asked by a reporter how many homes he and his wife Cindy own, he could not give a number and said he would have to have his staff get back with the answer. Politico later reported that the McCain’s own at least 8 properties, but that it could be as high as 12.

32. Despite a smear campaign that George Bush and Karl Rove launched against McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary, years later McCain would forgive the lies that were spread in his name and give Bush “the hug”.

31. McCain consistently calls Obama an “elitist”, but admits that he “doesn’t know the price of gas“, and can’t remember the last time he bought any himself.

30. McCain voted against Florida Everglades restoration.

29. At the start of the US invasion of Iraq, McCain told NBC that “the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.”

28. McCain has admitted that he didn’t really love his country until he was 31 years old.

27. Over a seven month period, John McCain used a corporate jet owned by a company headed by his wife instead of paying full cost for normal airfare, effectively giving his campaign a “discount” on air travel. This use of Cindy McCain’s corporate jet violates the spirit of campaign finance laws that McCain himself helped pass.

26. McCain can’t seem to connect with young voters.

25. While on the campaign trail in 2000, McCain said “I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.” The term “gooks” is a racial epithet that has historically been used to demean all Asians.

24. McCain consistently has a problem remembering the difference between Shia and Sunni.

23. During his 1986 run for Senate, John McCain used an assumed name to make over $225,000 in renovations to a house owned by his father-in-law James Hensley, presumably to avoid perceptions that he was carpetbagger.

22. McCain used an unauthorized image of General Petraeus to help promote his fundrasing material which was done without Petraeus’ knowledge or approval.

21. Has admitted he “needs to be educated” about economics.

• • •

The Top Twenty

20. John McCain opposes net neutrality. Barack Obama supports it.

19. He doesn’t understand the legal term “habeas corpus”.

18. John McCain leads every politician in the amount of funds accepted from “Big Oil”, to the tune of $724,000 through 5/08.

17. He voted against the Martin Luther King holiday in 1983.

16. McCain claims he “supported every investigation” into the government’s role regarding Katrina, when in fact he twice voted against an independent commission.

15. He favors warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.

14. He professed that Baghdad was “safe enough” to stroll through a market as any normal person would, but neglected to mention his trip was accompanied by 100 soldiers, 3 Blackhawk helicopters and 2 Apache Gunships.

13. He has a long, problematic history with fits of anger.

12. McCain admitted in his memoir “Faith of My Fathers” that he was unfaithful to his first wife Carol, who had been disfigured in a near-fatal car accident on Christmas Eve, 1969. McCain recounts the events leading up to his divorce and says it was “my own selfishness and immaturity. … I cannot escape blame by pointing a finger at the [stress of] war. The blame was entirely mine.” In return for giving him a divorce, McCain agreed to pay for his ex-wife’s medical care for the rest of her life.

11. McCain has implied that the Iraq war was fought over oil.

10. In 2002, McCain criticized preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” but later changed his mind, giving the graduation address at Falwell’s Liberty University in May of 2006.

9. He doesn’t know how to use a computer.

8. In May of 2008 John McCain said: “I believe that it’s not an accident that our hostages came home from Iran when President Reagan was president of the United States. He didn’t sit down in a negotiation with the religious extremists in Iran, he made it very clear that those hostages were coming home.’’ But the fact of the matter is that Reagan did negotiate with Iran, albeit unknowingly, through Oliver North. Acting under the Reagan administration, North traded arms for hostages as Reagan later admitted. McCain is either lying or he is ignorant of the historical facts of the Iranian hostage incident.

7. Believes in appointing judges that would help to over turn Roe v. Wade and take away a woman’s right to choose.

6. McCain voted against the Webb amendment calling for adequate troop rest between deployments.

• • •

The Top Five

5. Corruption: John McCain was part of the Keating Five scandal accused of corruption in 1989 in conjunction with the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980′s and early 1990′s.

4. Age: Although age shouldn’t be a factor for determining the next President of the United States, in the eyes of voters, it is. If he were to win the Presidency, McCain would be inaugurated at the age of 72, making him the oldest person ever elected. POTUS is the most stressful, demanding job on the planet and McCain has a history of health problems including multiple treatments for skin cancer. McCain has already outlived both his father, who died at the age of 70, and his grandfather, who died at 61.

In addition, McCain has made numerous gaffes while on the campaign trail, more than can be explained as mere accidents. He’s had trouble with geography (Somalia for Sudan, Iraq’s borders, etc), he’s re-written history, and made several of these mistakes on several separate occasions. Critics are starting to notice the mistakes are piling up.

Finally, while he claims to be fit enough to “hike the Grand Canyon”, he also sees nothing wrong with collecting tax payer funds in the form of a POW “disability pension” (see #70). Despite claims to the contrary, McCain’s age has become a legitimate campaign issue.

3. Torture: Himself being a former POW, he believes that prisoners of the United States shouldn’t be subjected to various forms of torture including water boarding. That is unless they are being held by the CIA, in which case, they can be. His decision to flip-flop on this key issue, one with which he has fought long and hard against, has cost him dearly with independents, moderate Democrats and even some Republicans who see the shift as hypocritical.

2. Money: McCain has had an extraordinarily hard time raising funds for his campaign. In March, McCain raised a mere $15 million dollars to Obama’s $40 million. For every dollar McCain raises, Obama raises 3. Such a massive financial advantage will allow Obama to compete in more states than McCain and force him to defend states that should rightfully be Republican wins.

Although the Republican National Committee helps make up for McCain’s fundraising shortfalls, it none-the-less can’t keep pace with the Democrats and Obama. Diverting cash from the GOP coffers to McCain’s fight for the White House will have detrimental effects on other, smaller GOP races. Obama has more than 1.5 million donors while McCain has just a few hundred thousand.

1. Bush: By any metric chosen, clues point to voters favoring Democrats in the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House this fall. President Bush’s approval records are at an all-time low, hovering around 28%. Democratic voter registration is 2-3 times higher across the country than their GOP counterparts. And for the first time in 3 election cycles, Democrats are raising more money than their right-leaning counterparts. In addition, wedge issues which were so effective against John Kerry in 2004 such as gay marriage have taken a back seat to topics like Iraq, the economy and energy.

John McCain has attempted to distance himself from the Bush administration, while at the same time aligning himself with the majority of his critical policies. From Iraq and his tax proposals, to his flip-flop on women’s choice and the types of judges McCain would appoint, there is virtually no difference between the candidate and Bush. Obama easily fills entire stadiums with voters hungry for change, but McCain must be content with relatively small gatherings of loyal, core followers. McCain may make a go of the election through the use of fear, misinformation and doubt, but in the end, signs point to an Obama victory, due in part by Bush weary voters.

Fear & Loathing Illustrated

In an effort to underscore just how much the right fears Barack Obama, I’ve put together this helpful info graphic. Inspired by something Britt Whitmire said this morning on his radio show, I decided to check out the total number of entries for both Obama and McCain at Snopes.com, a non-partisan website that tracks urban legends and scam emails. They say animals that are cornered tend to go on the attack, so judging from what’s happening at Snopes, one could theorize conservatives are feeling “trapped” this election cycle.

Emails, rumors and media reports filled to the brim with misinformation about Obama have been circulating for months in an effort to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about the Senator from Illinois. This might have worked in 2004 against John Kerry, but Obama is being proactive with sites like Fight The Smears and surrogates that counter media lies at every possible opportunity. It’s about time too because, like millions of progressives in this country, I’m tired of the Democrats running defense these last eight years. The recent flap over McCain’s multiple homes is just the sort of thing Karl Rove would unleash on Obama if he had the chance. Don’t believe me? The data at Snopes doesn’t lie.

Neal Boortz, Asshat

While I was on my lunch break the other day, I thought I would tune into FM Talk 101.1 and see if I could stomach what Boortz was dishing out, even if just for a little while. It didn’t take long to realize that was a mistake. After bloviating for about 10 minutes on the fair tax, he went into a section where callers who disagreed with him are allowed through the screening process so Boortz can berate them on national radio.

Even before the gentleman came on the air, Boortz made fun of the man because he dared to call the host a hypocrite for his stance on the fair tax. What followed was typical for right-wing conservative radio hosts and a lesson for anyone who thinks they can teach these clowns a lesson by simply making a phone call.

First, the segment was done at 12:56pm right before the hard break, so you knew it wasn’t going to last long. Second, Boortz let the caller get about 20 words out before cutting him off. Literally. Boortz interrupted the caller after he tried to make a very relevant point about just how unfair the supposed “fair tax” was by launching into his “you’ve got to be back up your position with more than just calling me a hypocrite” bit. But as he spoke it was evident that even if the caller wanted to back up his position, he couldn’t because Boortz had cut him off over a minute ago. So Boortz continues to “lecture” the caller about how he’s an idiot, asking him questions he can’t respond to and calling him a “closet liberal”, all while he’s talking to dead air.

If radio hosts like Neil Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingrahm actually had a spine, or the ability to defend their positions publicly, they wouldn’t need to hang up on callers. When presented with well-reasoned arguments they usually resort to tricks like hard breaks, or the covert disconnect.

Thankfully some radio hosts actually listen to their callers and let them get more than 2 words out. These are the good guys and I thank them for being, you know, human. I also admire people who have the guts to call into Boortz and Limbaugh to try and set the record straight, but sadly, most of the time they are just taken back behind the “radio barn” and shot. So the next time you’re thinking about picking up the phone to lecture an asshat, remember the words of Sean Connery in The Untouchables – “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.” Here endeth the lesson.