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…