Shaping the Future

Watching the President speak about health care reform this evening, I’m reminded why I voted for him. His words were clear and his tone was assertive. He took those who spread misinformation about the bill to task and actually used the word “lie”. He spoke in no uncertain terms that he was willing to listen to ideas from both the right and the left, and yet while he was doing this, Republicans in the room treated the occasion like so many town hall meetings that have degenerated into shouting matches these past few weeks.

I don’t agree with everything Obama has done so far in office. I’d like the transparency he promised in the campaign and an end to Bush era provisions such as warrant-less wiretaps. I’d also like to see more of what he showed tonight. A willingness to stand up and fight for his beliefs and to challenge those who would stand in the way of progress simply to score political points.

His presidency is still young but when he takes the time to assert himself, it demonstrates why we believed in him despite his relative inexperience. Tonight, the right was made to look like the obstructionists they are. The GOP agree reform is needed, but they are unwilling to compromise on the key points that will make the health care proposal effective at lowering costs and providing care for those who lack it. Near the end of his speech, the President said: “We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.” I firmly believe this administration can do great things, Barack just needs to get out in front a bit more. We’re buying, it’s just that up until now, he’s hasn’t really been selling. That changed tonight. It’s about time.

Following Through

I can’t honestly remember the last time I was rooting for my President to succeed so vehemently. So far, Barack Obama has done a pretty good job of keeping his campaign promises. His first official budget, which he delivered to Congress this week, continues that resolve. The sheer fact that unlike Bush, he didn’t attempt to hide the cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan by leaving it out of the budget signals the true nature of change he represents.

In this latest weekly video address Obama foreshadows the huge lobbying effort that is gearing up to fight the changes his administration will bring. At the 3:40 mark he lays it out bare: they are getting ready for a fight. His answer to those deep-pocketed special interests is even better – “So am I”. You are not alone Mr. President, we’ve got your back. This is going to be good.

O-Day +1

So after yesterday’s celebration, today Barack Obama got down to business. Not wanting to waste any time, Obama took off his coat, sat down in the Oval Office and started doing good things immediately. In case you missed it, here’s some of the awesome stuff President Obama got accomplished on day one:

• In order to set a good example for the country during this time of economic crisis, Obama froze the pay for many members of his administration making over $100,000 a year. Unlike the previous administration, evidently the buck stops here.

• Obama introduced sweeping new ethics reform for how lobbyists can function in his administration. The new rules Obama laid out seem pretty obvious now, but for some reason were never put into practice by previous administrations.

• Put the wheels in motion to get Gitmo closed within a year. Given how poorly the military tribunals there have been received by world governments, human rights groups and Americans at large, restoring captive’s rights toward a fair trial is critical to regaining the moral high ground.

• He pissed off Rush Limbaugh by issuing a Presidential memo restoring transparency to any and all White House records. Obama made it a point of distinction that his administration would function under the notion of more openness, not less. Secrecy, while important, should only be invoked in matters of national security or high sensitivity. Rush said on his radio show today that he’s worried the new openness will make it easier for people to dig up Bush misdeeds. You don’t say Rush, really?

• Obama re-took the oath of office late today after the botched job by Justice Roberts during the inauguration. Although he most likely didn’t have to, he none-the-less did and thereby corked any possible dispute that might have arisen from the incorrect oath he took yesterday. Obama’s willingness to correct a small error like this speaks volumes about how different he is from George W. Bush.

Five positive steps in one day. Not bad Mr. President, not bad. If you keep this up, you just may live up to all the hype. Color me impressed.

GOP Jerkwads

You’d think that after the pasting they received in November, the GOP would be busy figuring out why they are so out of touch with the American people. Of course, you’d be wrong. Apparently Republicans are interested in alienating even more of the country as they insist on playing to the hard base.

Witness the arrogant and bigoted tone of one RNC Chair candidate, Chip Saltsman. Saltsman sent out copies of a song entitled “Barack the Magic Negro” as part of his Christmas greeting. The song, originally publicized by Rush Limbaugh earlier this year, came under fire from the media and anyone with a brain for its racist overtones. Somehow Saltsman saw fit to make the tune part of his holiday message. All this with less than 30 day to go until the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. To top it off, in the 20+ hours since this story first broke, only one high-ranking Republican has condemned Saltsman’s actions. Just one.

If the GOP has any hope of regaining the respect it lost over the past eight years, they must begin by pulling their heads out of their collective asses. It’s bad enough making a joke by calling someone a “magic negro”, but when that person is the next President of the United States and you actually defend said remarks, you deserve huge helpings of ridicule and scorn.

Sadly, this is yet more evidence that the right has no interest in doing what’s best for the country. Until this dipstick stunt, the prime example of the GOP’s pandering attitude was McCain pulling Palin out of obscurity as his running mate. Saltsman’s actions flow from the natural progression of this costly strategy and I for one hope they keep it up. Their foolish bravado is laying the foundation for a long-term Democratic majority the right hasn’t seen in decades. Saltsman says his song was “just a joke”, but the really funny part is the joke’s on him.

UPDATE: Peter Yarrow, one of the artists behind “Puff the Magic Dragon”, speaks out on the whole affair and hits the nail right on the head. He writes “Obama is not a candidate. He is the President-Elect, and this song insults the office of the Presidency, the people who voted for him, as well as those who did not — and taking a children’s song and twisting it in such vulgar, mean-spirited way, is a slur to our entire country and our common agreement to move beyond racism.”

UPDATE II: Simon Rosenberg, head of the Democratic organization NDN, is quoted in a recent Huffington Post piece as saying the GOP just don’t get it. “The core play in the GOP playbook for 44 years has been the magic negro playbook, whether it is Willie Horton, or welfare queens and tax and spend, or the way they have dealt with immigration… they don’t have a play in their playbook that doesn’t start with the exploitation of racial divisions. They are going to have to reject 44 years of GOP politics in order to have any chance in the 21st century America.”

Take My Hand

Last night I watched our new President-Elect, Barack Obama, give his acceptance speech to a crowd of over 150,000 people gathered in Grant Park and millions more around the globe. I’ve been a strong Obama supporter from day one, but I really didn’t think I’d actually break down and cry. As Barack spoke to all of us, my mind raced and my heart slowed. I could feel the fear and anxiety that have been my constant companion for the last 20 months melt away.

Earlier in the evening I and a few friends exchanged tweets regarding just how nervous we were for Obama. When the news came that media outlets were calling the election in favor of Barack, I rejoiced but part of me didn’t believe it. The specter of loss sat next to me right up until John McCain gave his concession speech and quelled the boos of his supporters. In that moment McCain reclaimed much of what he had lost. I saw the man I had respected and admired break through the fear, uncertainty and doubt he and Palin had helped to sow. When McCain left the stage to return to his former life as an elder statesman from Arizona, it was then that I felt a wave of peace wash over me.

Like so many other Americans, I’ve been worried about Barack. Worried that harm would come to him. Worried that America wouldn’t step up and make the right choice. Worried that we would again choose the politics of fear instead of hope. All that worry had washed away as Obama took the stage in Chicago. Despite speaking from behind walls of 2 inch thick bulletproof glass, all I could see was the man. All I could hear were his words. He appealed to the “better angels of our nature” and reminded us that we have a steep climb in the days and years ahead.

Through all this I sat and listened. At the very end, after the on-stage goodbyes had finished, you could see Michelle hanging way back waiting for Barack. She was proud, but also calm. I saw myself in her and knew that her fear and anxiety had dissolved just as mine had. In this moment, she was all of us, waiting for him to take our hand. Barack walked to her and just then Michelle touched his face, gave him a kiss and they walked hand in hand into a new and hopeful future together.

That’s when I started crying.

Day of Days

After 22 months, today is the day Americans elect a new President and no matter what happens, the results will be historic. We’ll either have the first woman Vice President or we’ll have the first African American President. Obviously I’m rooting for the latter, and although I voted early there is a part of me that would have liked to go to the polls today in my deep, royal blue shirt and voted for Barack.

All that is past me now and thankfully the campaign commercials (on both sides) are at an end. A quick check of Quicken reveals that I gave a total of $150 to Obama’s campaign split among 5 seperate donations. I’ve never given that much to a political candidate before, ever. I’ve written over 40 blog posts that either are directly about, or mention Barack Obama since July of 2007. I think it’s fair to say I’m invested in an Obama victory. And although I was rooting for Kerry in 2004, this time it’s different.

Back then I was really voting against George W. Bush. When I voted this past week, I was voting for Obama. I was voting for change, hope and a new direction for this country. I voted to gain back the respect of the world which this country has lost these last eight years. I voted to support the rule of law and against cronyism. I wasn’t voting for abortion, I voted for a woman’s right to choose. I voted for renewable energy and wrangling in the ballooning cost of healthcare. I voted for Obama to support net neutrality and to make sure the Supreme Court doesn’t slip further to the right than it already has. I voted against torturing prisoners (even the ones the CIA holds), taking our eye off the ball in Iraq and most of all, I voted for man whom I believe will actually find and kill Bin Laden.

When all the polls close and the votes are counted, I believe that America will have made the right choice. People are craving to make a difference this time around. The lines will be long and problems will surface but in the end, there can be only one. Today will be remembered as the day when we all looked fear and division in the eye and instead chose hope. I can’t wait.

I Voted for Barack Obama Today

I took off from work today to head to the early voting location near the Iconfactory. I arrived at the Leonard Recreation Center on Ballinger Rd. around 4pm. I went inside to find a line of about 100 people stretching from the voting room to the gymnasium, and so I took my place at the end of the line. As I settled in, I started the chronometer on my iPhone to see just how long it would take to get to the front. Although the line was long, it did seem to move right along. People were in good spirits and I saw many young and African American voters come into the gym and head to the back of the line.

While in the gym, I was able to check my tweets and email and generally stay busy playing games and surfing the web. As I got near the front of the line more and more people started to come in, presumably trying to beat the rush before 5pm. When I reached the voting room, the nice volunteers took my name, printed my voting confirmation sheet and then asked me to wait for a free machine. To my surprise, the gentleman who showed me to my station recognized me and said “I know you, you’re the “icon man!” I’m not sure if he recognized me from past years voting in Greensboro or from the Fox 8 piece that aired a few months back. Either way it was a pleasant surprise and he and I chatted for a bit before I actually set about the business of voting. He explained to me that the rec center had been processing about 900-1100 voters per day for the last week and a half.

He gave me my instructions and warned me about voting separately for the presidential candidates if I chose to do a straight ticket and then we parted ways. I was very proud to press the button that was labeled Barack Obama / Joe Biden for President and Vice President of the United States. I double, then tripled checked it was correct and then set about voting on the rest of the ballot. I skipped many of the local judges since I wasn’t familiar with them.

When I confirmed my choices and stepped out the exit, I looked at my iPhone’s chronometer and it read 38 minutes. Time had really flown by there in line and the poll workers knew their job very well so all in all I had no problems. I was pleased to see so many of my fellow North Carolinians voting early. But most of all, I was happy that for the first time in recent memory, I actually had a candidate that I was proud to cast my vote for as President. Many people in line were smiling while they waited, I could tell the mood was upbeat and positive. I think many of them were voting for Obama too.

It’s Sarah Palin’s World. John McCain is Just Living In It.

The cracks started to show several weeks ago when Palin disagreed with the McCain’s idea to pull out of Michigan. The cracks grew into fractures when it was reported that the campaign spent some $150,000 of GOP donor money on clothes and makeup treatments for Palin and her family so they could “look good” during the run up to the election. Accusations flew, and some within the McCain camp started leaking nasty things about Sarah to the press. “She’s gone rogue” said one advisor. Then this week came the infamous “whack job” comment. Now from ABC news comes the icing on the chilly cake that is the Palin/McCain campaign. Sarah’s ready for 2012!

“Gov. Sarah Palin suggested that if the Republican ticket is defeated on Tuesday she expects to be a player in the next election four years from now, saying “I’m not doing this for naught.”

In an interview with ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas, the Republican vice-presidential nominee was asked about 2012, whether she was discouraged by the daily attacks on the campaign trail, and would instead pack it in and return to her home state of Alaska.

“I think that, if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we’ve taken, that would bring this whole & I’m not doing this for naught,” Palin said.”

It seems that someone has a taste for their new found, conservative popularity. It would be a shame for all that stumping to go to waste if and when McCain loses. So Sarah seems to be hedging her bets for the next go around four years from now. The fact that she’s talking about 2012 six days before the 2008 election is nothing less than stunning. If I was John McCain, I’d be positively livid, but all things being equal it serves him right. This is what McCain gets when he listens to the likes of mr-thinks-he-knows-everything-but-really-knows-nothing Bill Kristol. Palin is turning out to be the single best thing Kristol’s ever done for the left in his long and illustrious career of being completely and utterly wrong. You betcha!

Colin Powell’s October Surprise

I’ve written before about the elder statesman, Colin Powell, who served as National Security Adviser and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Today, Colin Powell officially announced his support for Barack Obama for President with a little more than 2 weeks to go until the election. Good for him.

His statement, which was released on NBC’s Meet the Press, goes to the very heart of the matter about why the GOP will lose on November 4th, and not just for the Presidency, but across both houses of Congress. Powell forcefully criticized his own party for what he called its “narrow focus” on irrelevant personal attacks instead of the major challenges to the American people. Powell went on to say McCain’s choices in the last few weeks — especially his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his vice presidential running mate — had raised questions in his mind about McCain’s judgment:

“I don’t believe [Palin] is ready to be president of the United States. By contrast, Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is ready to be president on day one.”

Powell also expressed disappointment with the GOP’s apparent determination to question Obama’s religion and heritage, speaking directly to members of the right who seem to think Obama is a Muslim or an “Arab”. Although Powell once again reiterated that Barack is neither, he addressed the larger question which was brought up in the comment thread of one of my earlier posts – “The really right answer is what if he is?” Powell said, praising the contributions of millions of Muslim citizens to American society. “I look at these kind of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me,” Powell said. “Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party has become narrower and narrower.”

That’s exactly right Mr. Powell. What if he was? In this incredible country of ours, your race, religion, sexual orientation or heritage shouldn’t be the litmus test for job fitness. This nation needs to move beyond the fear and mistrust of the “not like us” promoters. Colin Powell thinks Barack Obama is the man that will help us do just that. I happen to agree with him 100%.

Let’s Play Palin VP Bingo!

With the eagerly anticipated Vice Presidential debate between Alaska Govenor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden, I thought now would be a good time for Sarah Palin Bingo. Although Sarah came on like gangbusters, lately her star has been falling. From the get-go she has lied about her record on the “bridge to nowhere”, Alaska’s energy contribution to the United States, her position on climate change and a whole host of other subjects. And although she’s conducted only a handful of interviews, her answers have made conservatives increasingly cringe.

Given all this and the fact that a growing number of right-wing strategists have said she should resign from McCain’s campaign, I thought it would be fun to keep track of the items sure to pop up during the debate on October 2nd. You can download and print out the PDF version of Palin VP Bingo so you can play along at home, or just check the Palin Bingo Page following the debate to see how we did.

NOTE: If for some strange reason the VP debate gets cancelled, it’s an instant Bingo. Now go download and have fun!

UPDATE: Well the debate is now one for the history books (thank goodness). I’m sorry to say we didn’t manage to call a Bingo! but it was fun none-the-less. If every space on the board had been filled with “maverick” then we all would have easily won. Sarah seemed to mention it ALOT in the last half of the event, especially in the closing minutes. And while she held her ground and didn’t provide the train wreck that I think so many on the left were hoping for, I think it’s pretty clear she doesn’t have the stuff to be one heart beat away from the Presidency. She didn’t answer questions, kept falling back on talking points, repeatedly mispronounced names and relied too heavily on “folksy” sayings.

Biden for his part seemed off-stride for the first half, but picked up steam in the end. He didn’t put his foot in his mouth as I expected he would (which was great) and gave more solid answers to a number of questions than Palin did. In the end, I don’t think this debate changed much, and after the right’s relief that Sarah didn’t screw up wears off, I think people will realize how little she actually said.

Building Bridges

There were many parts of Obama’s acceptance speech tonight that were really appealing, but near the end he spoke about common ground and our need to move into the future, not dwell on the politics of the past. I was very proud of him for not shying away from the issues that Republicans have used like so many blunt weapons in recent elections. Barack grabbed them and addressed them as only he could. He speaks to the “better angels of our nature” and as Marla Erwin said on Twitter tonight, if we do not elect Barack Obama as our President, then we do not deserve him. I agree 110%.

“We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This, too, is part of America’s promise — the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

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.

Obama Isn’t the One Playing Cards

Bringing myself to admit, and perhaps to some small degree, promote the disgusting hatred of racism turns my stomach. But media outlets, and some local bloggers have started to promote the idea that Barack Obama has finally “played the race card” in recent days by predicting that the GOP will try to use the issue against him. To all those reporters, bloggers and other misguided folks out there, I’ve got news for you: It’s too late for all that.

From the moment Obama put his hat in the ring, the “cards” started to fall. It wasn’t Obama that sold racist Curious George t-shirts with “Obama in 08″ on them. It wasn’t Obama that sold racist campaign buttons at a Republican state convention reading “If Obama is President… will we still call it The White House?”. No, that was the GOP. Let me state that again, it was the Texas state Republicans who distributed and promoted that particular brand of hate.

And now we have word from the Washington Post that interest in white supremacist groups has been sharply increasing. These Neo-Nazi and skinhead organizations (or cockroaches as blogger Oliver Willis calls them) have seen a dramatic increase in traffic to their online websites because of the prospect of an African American president in their future. So much for a color-blind society.

So don’t you dare tell me that Barack Obama is the one playing the race card on the electorate. Thanks to the scores of racists that have reared their ugly heads (both in private and public channels) these past few months, that hand was played long, long ago. For Obama to leave them sitting there without making the rest of us aware of the danger they represent is naive. Race is an integral part of his campaign, whether for good or bad, which is why a win in November would be all the more historic. Deal with it.

Things Younger Than John McCain

While surfing tonight, I found a great site that highlights just how old John McCain really is. If elected, he would become the oldest first term President in our nation’s history. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but being the leader of the free world is the most demanding, stressful job on the planet. Can a man who would take office at the age of 72 deal with the pressures, both mentally and physically, that the job would require?

This fall, the country is looking to elect someone who represents real change as we look to the future to solve important problems such as renewable energy independence, health care reform and global warming. Electing someone who is older than the state of Alaska itself is not a vote for the future, it’s a vote for the past. Here are some other things younger than John McCain (born Aug 29, 1936):

• The AARP (1958)

• McDonald’s (1940)

• The Polio Vaccine (1955)

Bugs Bunny (1938)

• Both of Barack Obama’s parents (1936 & 1942)

Dick Cheney (1941)

Many, many more…