Bring It

Prior to the 2008 election, I was understandably nervous about the possible outcome. The potential of President John McCain and Vice President Sarah Palin shook me to my core and I followed the political scene very closely. I blogged about politics quite a bit, every chance I got actually and set out to do my part to try and help get Barack Obama elected. The thought of another four years of republican policies and control combined with Palin being just one step away from the Oval Office often kept me up at night. I was anxious, nervous and worried.

Looking back now, I probably shouldn’t have been so stressed. In hindsight, the country longed for a new direction, a vision to lead us away from the war in Iraq, away from torture as an official U.S. policy, and away from the leadership disasters of Katrina and a tailspinning economy. Obama stepped in at the right moment, won the nomination and then the Presidency and made history in the process. I remember wondering the night before the first presidential debate if Barack really had what it took to lead the nation. He was young and full of hope an enthusiasm, but would it be enough? Would the elder, more experienced statesman win the debate and the presidency? No, he would not.

Now, four years later my thoughts return to that election and how I felt leading up to it. Hate for this President has run deep, deeper than even I have thought possible. Almost since the day he took office, republicans have been blocking, obstructing and denigrating him and his position in the hopes of getting the upper hand this November 4th. Questions about his birth certificate still circulate in right-wing circles. Cries of socialism and a “government takeover” of healthcare have rallied the conservative base. Billionaires, backed by the Supreme Court’s mis-guided Citizen’s United decision have poured gobs of money into Karl Rove’s coffers and flooded the airwaves with negative ads all designed to convince the country that Obama hasn’t done enough to turn the economy and the country around fast enough. These last few months I’ve started to wonder, could Romney actually win this thing? I mean, Mr. Bland, Mr. RomneyCare, Mr. Also-ran Mitt Romney?

No, I don’t think so. In fact, the closer we get to election day, the more I think Barack will prove his worth with voters and handily win re-election. He now has a laundry list of accomplishments that he will be able to wield like Batman wields his utility belt. Want to talk about terrorism? He’s ended the war in Afghanistan, killed dozens of Al Qaida operatives and oh, Osama Bin Laden has shuffled off that mortal coil. Obama’s fought for the rights of gays and lesbians repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and signed laws designed to help give women equal pay for equal work. Obama’s administration saved the auto industry. Mitt didn’t even want to touch the problem with a ten-foot pole, preferring instead to let the industry go belly up, and thousands upon thousands of Michigan jobs with it.

And then there’s health care. The right sees it as their war cry. “We’ll repeal Obamacare! Socialism! Socialism!” but more and more Americans’ agree that the fundamental principals that the Affordable Care Act provides (insurance for pre-existing conditions, more of your dollars paying for care instead of overhead, etc) are good ones. Just this week Romney, in a bid for independent voters said that there are parts of Obamacare he wants to keep. This flies directly in the face of his fellow hard-line conservatives who have said they want the entire act repealed. Nothing less will do. That’s the problem with extremism, it doesn’t win elections. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, politics is rarely a black and white endeavor. It takes compromise and a willingness to walk in the other guy’s shoes in order to get things done. This simple principal has been Washington’s way since its inception, but it’s also seemingly been abandoned by the right in their bid to regain control of the White House. Indeed, no other congress has stymied the lawmaking process as much as this one has. In order to get anything done, the President has had to take some unusual measures which, predictably, has only increased right-wing cries that he’s “power hungry” and refuses to work with republicans.

I have no delusions that Barack Obama has fulfilled all his promises as President. Obama’s White House isn’t nearly as transparent as he had promised it would be. We still hold prisoners without hope of ever getting a fair trial before their peers. He was naive to pretend he could make bipartisanship a household word. Perhaps most distressingly he’s been unable to communicate effectively to the American people just why he’s done some of the things he’s done. Then I look at the other side of the coin, all that he’s accomplished despite the massive pile of dung he was handed by his predecessor, and I look forward with hope. The country is indeed in a better place today than it was when he took office. I absolutely cannot WAIT for the political debates which being October 2nd. I believe Barack will wipe the proverbial floor with Mitt and seal the deal in the process. I also think deep down inside, conservatives won’t mind because like McCain, most of them don’t like Romney anyway. I’m starting to get excited about this election, and while there is still a huge level of uncertainty, (much can happen in two months) I look across the aisle to my conservative counterparts and think – “Bring it.”

UPDATE: As if almost on cue, conservatives have started to publicly decry Romney’s anemic campaign. Like I said in the post, things are still early but it’s obvious that Romney is an also-ran for the GOP. He was really the only viable choice to contend with Obama, but he’s failed to bring the “right-wing goods” as it were and therefore the knives are showing. I have a feeling things are about to get very ugly for the republican party as they face some unpleasant truths.

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.

The Tea Party & The Circus

I firmly believe those who hold extreme views on any topic are less educated about the issue than those in the middle. Such people do not choose to arm themselves with facts but with feelings. Even so, the stunning ignorance of the Tea Party members interviewed in this short piece is nothing short of embarrassing. Person after person admits they don’t know what is and what isn’t in the bill. All they know is what Fox News and Glenn Beck has told them and that’s good enough for them.

If I didn’t have family members of my own that felt this exact same way, I’d think the entire Tea Party movement was a joke. Unfortunately it’s not, it’s deadly serious. The rise in selfishness in the modern conservative movement in recent years has really taken me by surprise. The “I’ve got mine, you’re on your own.” attitude that pervades Republican and right-wing circles is both frightening and counter-culture to the very Christian ideals so many on the right profess to hold.

Some of the Tea Party members in this video don’t believe there are millions of uninsured citizens in our country. To them the emergency room heals all wounds, treats all diseases (even cancer, heart disease and mental illness) and doesn’t raise the cost of health care for the rest of us year after year. This week I listened to caller after caller on the Brad & Britt show phone in to say that they either didn’t care about those who were uninsured or who didn’t believe the rising cost of health care was worse than doing nothing.

The health care bill that is about to be passed in the U.S. Congress isn’t the best legislation that could have been written, not by a long shot. It is a highly imperfect attempt to fix the growing problem of spiraling health care costs that also helps to protect consumers from being dropped for pre-existing conditions (among other things). It is by no means the final solution, but rather simply a step in the right direction. However, if Tea Party members had their way, we wouldn’t even be having the discussion in the first place.

Your Right Wing

CNN reports from yesterday’s Tea Party demonstration in Washington D.C. and discovers a “dark fringe“. Better late than never I suppose. The problem is that this so-called fringe is not really just a few people, it’s tens of thousands and growing every single day. These are people who spout complete and utter lunacy as if it were fact. Sterilization camps, the return of communism, forced abortion and much more are all part of their world view. If watching this clip doesn’t scare the living crap out of you, then you must be a Republican.

The problem I have with these people isn’t that they are taking to the streets to express their batshit crazy views. This is the United States of America and they are pretty much free to say whatever they want (short of actually threatening the President). I also think it’s wonderful they can protest out in the open and are not confined to “free speech zones” like those set up by the previous administration.

My problem is that all of these people seem to forget that issues like health care reform were part of the process running up to the election last fall. America listened to the discussion, we watched the debates and we decided we liked what Obama represented and put him into office. If that simple truth is too bitter a pill for the right to swallow, then they should have showed up on November 4th to vote for John McCain in greater numbers. They can protest to high heaven, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re all sore losers and unfortunately more than a few of them are closet racists. Something tells me if our President was a white southerner who was pushing for these kinds of health insurance reforms, we wouldn’t be seeing this level of anger and protests. Think I’m crazy? Then why were so many of the Tea Party members silent while George W. Bush was running up the largest deficit in U.S. history? No, it’s never been about the money or the policies for the majority of these people, it’s about Barack Obama and their loss of power. Plain and simple.

UPDATE: Politico puts some of this in perspective along with the idea that Obama has a heavier burden than most new Presidents due to his race. There is strong evidence that many people in this country can’t bring themselves to accept a black President. I whole-heartedly agree. Gwen Dawkins, Democratic activists says “Black people have lived under white presidents since day one,” Dawkins observed, “So would you give him a chance?” Unfortunately it appears blind hate and ignorance of facts trumps history, tolerance and common sense.

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!

Republicans Can’t Let Go

Liberal comedian and commentator Bill Maher isn’t always my cup of tea. He often diverges into shallow attacks of the right and when he does he hurts his credibility. But friday’s New Rules was right on the money. His New Rules segment summed up what I’ve been saying for weeks about what’s happened to the right since the election.

Conservatives have nothing left except the word “No.” They have no ideas of their own, have lost the reins of power in both houses of Congress, and the President and his policies continue to be very popular. As a result, the right is floundering in tea parties, talk of secession and made up facts. It’s like the entire right-wing of the country needs to go to group therapy to work through their Obama issues. Maher recognizes this and hits the nail on the head as only he can. Skip forward to the 2:21 mark for the noteworthy bit:

Obama 1, Pirates -3, Fox News 0.

It was amazing over the course of last week to watch right-wing bloggers and media outlets like Fox News hedge their bets in regards to the Somali pirate situation and President Obama. TV personalities like Britt Hume complained that Obama wasn’t stepping up and stating his position while others tried to paint the administration as weak when it came to the security of the U.S. and its citizens.

Turns out they were all wrong. Obama stayed in the background because he didn’t want to endanger the captured captain’s life nor give the attackers any additional information. Obama also personally authorized the use of force twice during events and proved to the shills what he and his administration were made of. Now those on the right who bet against America and our President are trying to hem and haw and find any possible excuse for doing what they did. They should all be taken to task for their deplorable behavior. Witness this:

UPDATE: Military expert Andrew Exum, a fellow at the Center for National Security Studies says Gingrich, Beck and other should have “held their tongues” while the operation was unfolding. “It’s bad form. You don’t make this a partisan issue until an operation has been assessed. It’s fair game ex post facto. But during the emergency, I think that our elected leaders deserve our respect.”

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.”

NC ‘Straight Ticket’ Votes Not Counted for President

If you reside in North Carolina and are getting ready to vote in the 2008 elections, then you need to be aware of a potential problem that is giving both poll workers and voters alike, headaches. Due to an obscure law passed back in 1967, when you vote a so-called “straight ticket” (pressing the button on the electronic voting machine for all Democrat or all Republican), no vote is recorded for President of the United States or judges.

In order for your vote for President to count, you will have to manually select the candidate of your choice in addition to the straight ticket choice. A Daily Kos diary of a poll worker in North Carolina has outlined the problem and the worker personally saw at least 200 votes that were meant for one candidate not counted because of the confusion. Spread the word about this NC voting quirk if you can, the more people that sound the alert, the better.

Hat tip to David Miller for this post.

McCain’s Pride & Joy

In last night’s final Presidential debate, John McCain said he was “proud” of the people that come to his and Sarah Palin’s rallies. While I have no doubt that vast majority of these people are fine, upstanding Americans, some are not. When I watched this video capturing the reaction of McCain / Palin supporters after a rally, I literally felt sick to my stomach. A list of just some of the hateful, bigoted words that were hurled at Barack Obama follows. I pray for the souls of these poor, ignorant folks. They are the antithesis of what America is all about.

“I’m afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over. He’s not a Christian! This is a Christian nation! What is our country gonna end up like?”

“When you got a Negra running for president, you need a first stringer. He’s definitely a second stringer.”

“He seems like a sheep – or a wolf in sheep’s clothing to be honest with you. And I believe Palin – she’s filled with the Holy Spirit, and I believe she’s gonna bring honesty and integrity to the White House.”

“He’s related to a known terrorist, for one.”

“He is friends with a terrorist of this country!”

“He must support terrorists! You know, uh, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. And that to me is Obama.”

“Just the whole, Muslim thing, and everything, and everybody’s still kinda – a lot of people have forgotten about 9/11, but… I dunno, it’s just kinda… a little unnerving.”

“Obama and his wife, I’m concerned that they could be anti-white. That he might hide that.”

“I don’t like the fact that he thinks us white people are trash… because we’re not!”

UDPATE: Since McCain and Palin are unwilling to quell the fear, bigotry and loathing they themselves have helped spread, things are getting worse, not better. Hate is an ugly, ugly thing and unfortunately John McCain and Sarah Palin have preyed on it to advance their weak agenda. Something tells me however, this time it’s not going to work. At least I have to keep telling myself that or risk total despair for my fellow Americans.

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.

Elephant In The Room

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out why I chose the road of becoming a liberal Democrat, especially when my entire family are die hard Republicans. I remember when I first registered to vote I remained cautiously neutral as an Independent for fear of disappointing my parents. In many ways I am my father and mother’s son. I share their strong work ethic, their morals and their love of God and family. My mother taught me at an early age to see things with the eyes of an artist and how translate those things to canvas be it physical or digital. From my father, I learned the importance of our family heritage and to always strive for the very best in everything I do, from work to relationships. Like so many others, my parents molded me in important ways in their image. I’m proud to be their son and love them beyond words.

And so when I spoke with my mother recently and she told me how John McCain’s acceptance speech at the RNC brought her to tears with pride, and how she was really looking forward to McCain and Palin being our next President and Vice President, I had to fight back the wave of sadness that swept over me. I’ve long given up trying to persuade my folks that Republican’s don’t always do what’s in the best interests of our country. Mom & Dad are set in their ways, just as I am in mine and arguing about it only brings strife between us. But at the same time there is a big part of me that wonders where the “compassionate” part of my conservative parents went.

Being raised a Catholic, I was taught that Jesus loves us unconditionally, but ask conservatives if gays deserve God’s love or even equal treatment under the law and you’re apt to get an earful of “one man to one woman”. Some conservative churches, like Sarah Palin’s, actively promote the conversion of gay people to heterosexuality. Jesus taught us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and yet conservatives see nothing wrong with waging endless war based on lies, while killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of innocents. And what ever happened to Jesus’ mission of helping the poor, and tending to those among us that are sick or affirmed? Raising people from the depths of poverty and providing healthcare for all Americans are Christ-like endeavors that have somehow become tenants of the evil “socialist left” considered by Republicans to be despised and opposed at all cost.

We are the sum of our experiences. Events in our life, and the people we surround ourselves with, shape us and hone our world view. My family was always the first to lend a helping hand to those in need. We never looked down on others less fortunate or different from ourselves. Without realizing it, my parents nudged me out the door and down the path to becoming the progressive, liberal individual I am today. I only wish they had decided to come along with me for the ride.

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.