Thursday, October 30, 2008

More From Comrade McCain's Socialist Past: Defending Progressive Taxation


At a town hall meeting at Michigan State University in 2000, John McCain defended progressive taxation against a student who criticized it. Excerpts:

I think your question — questioning the fundamentals of a progressive tax system where people who make more money pay more in taxes than a flat, across-the-board percentage. I think it’s to some degree because we feel, obviously, that wealthy people can afford more.

...But I believe that when you really look at the tax code today, the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do when you just look at the percentages. And I think middle-income Americans, working Americans, when the account and payroll taxes, sales taxes, mortgage pay — all of the taxes that working Americans pay, I think they — you would think that they also deserve significant relief, in my view…

...So, look, here’s what I really believe, that when you are — reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.

...But I think the debate in this country is more about tax cuts rather than anything else. And frankly, I think the first people who deserve a tax cut are working Americans with children that need to educate their children, and they’re the ones that I would support tax cuts for first.

So not too long ago, John McCain supported the very concept that he vehemently condemns as "socialist" now that his opponent Barack Obama advocates it. McCain has made a remarkable journey over the past eight years, from doctrinaire Marxist to Republican presidential candidate.

Hagan Fires Back At Dole's Smear Ad

Yesterday (Oct. 29) I posted about the shameful ad that Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole ran about her opponent, Kay Hagan, Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly. The Dole ad condemned Hagan for taking "godless money" from the Godless Americans Political Action Committee and misled the viewer into thinking that a voice stating, "There is no God," was Hagan's.

The Hagan campaign fired right back at Dole with the ad above. That's the kind of rapid response Democrats need against the Republicans' politics of personal destruction, perfected by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove and used recently by Dole.

Hagan, a Sunday school teacher and an elder in her Presbyterian church in Greensboro, North Carolina, denied that she accepted the money and sought permission to file a legal complaint after the election is over.

Dole is the latest in a number of Republicans who have attempted to tar their opponents for not being "regular Americans." We've recently seen Sarah Palin talking about the "pro-American" parts of the country; Michele Bachmann calling for a media inquiry into the patriotism of members of Congress; Representative Robin Hayes stating at a McCain rally, "Liberals hate real Americans"; McCain's brother John stating that northern Virginia is "communist", and McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer referring to southern Virginia as the "real Virginia."

How can these individuals claim that they love America while making such divisive comments about so many parts of the country and so many of their fellow citizens?

Palin As President: The Fun Interactive Game

Want to know what a Sarah Palin presidency would be like? Neither do I. Still, there's an interactive Web site that offers a fun, satirical look at Palin in the highest office in the land. As you can guess, she's mighty impressed with herself–and clueless.

To visit "PalinAsPresident," click here. Point and click your cursor on any object in the picture. Watch what happens!

It's all quite amusing–as long as it remains in the realm of fantasy. To actually see Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency would turn an amusing fantasy into a nightmare.

Recommended Viewing: Barack Obama's Inspiring Informercial

Barack Obama's half-hour infomercial on Wednesday night contained an inspiring interplay of empathy for the struggles of American families and practical solutions to the major issues facing the nation. I highly recommend it. If you want to watch it for the first time or view it again, you can do so right here.

Obama Supporters: Now's Not The Time For Complacency

Loving those polls? Feeling like we Barack Obama supporters can coast to election victory? Don't get complacent. The McCain-Palin campaign continues to throw everything they can at our candidate in the hope that one of their false accusations will stick.

I've been a Democrat and a Mets fan long enough to know that "It ain't over till it's over." The ad above is a warning to all of us.

What can you do? Click here to donate to Obama-Biden. Click here to find your polling location or volunteer for the campaign. It's up to all of us. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Elizabeth Dole Runs Shameful Religious Litmus Test

Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina recently released an ad that shows how desperate and shameful her campaign has become. 

The Godless Americans Political Action Committee, which advocates for atheists' rights, held a fundraiser for Dole's opponent, Kay Hagan. The ad darkly asks what Hagan promised in return for taking "godless money." It's followed by a voice that states, "There is no God," accompanied by a picture of Hagan. 

Yet the voice is not Hagan's. She's a member and elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro.

Dole states that she approves this message. Do the citizens of her state want to elect leaders based on Dole's religious litmus test–a misleading test at that?

To learn more about Kay Hagan and contribute to her effort to unseat Dole, click here.

Military Wives Speak Out For Obama

I've written about how John McCain is not a friend of our veterans. In the first debate, he referred to veterans and said, "I'll take care of them." Really?

Obama did a fine job in all three debates. Yet at that moment I wished that he had called McCain out on his terrible record regarding veterans.

We last heard from McCain on this issue in his opposition to the Webb Amendment, which would expand benefits for veterans to help them pay tuition and other benefits at four year public universities. Why did he oppose it? In order to keep soldiers on a treadmill of deployment to Iraq, a conflict for which he offers no proposal for withdrawal–only vague promises of "victory."

McCain's opposition to the Webb Amendment was part of his record of supporting Bush "over 90% of the time," as he put it.

The ad above underscores these very points as military wives state why they support Barack Obama. It was produced by Blue Star Families for Obama. For more information about the group, click here. To learn more about McCain's poor record on veteran's issues from Veterans for Common Sense, click here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

McCain Campaign Focus In Final Week: Who Bought Palin's Clothes?

Conservative commentator Fred Barnes, speaking on Fox News, lamented the poor position Sarah Palin was put in as a result of the Republican National Committee's $150,000 shopping spree in her behalf. Barnes criticized a staffer, reportedly Nicole Wallace, for purchasing the clothes and not admitting that she made a mistake.

Wallace responded, "There's obviously an organized campaign to lay blame for things at my feet, and I’m not going to engage before the campaign ends. I have a very long relationship with Fox News and the notion that someone would call me a coward on the air and accuse me of putting $150,000 on my credit card without a single person calling and checking with me suggests that something is going on."

Meanwhile, McCain aide Nancy Pfotenhauer said that the wardrobe splurge was the idea of the Republican National Committee. Mike Duncan, RNC chairman, rebuked this notion, saying that it was only doing the campaign's bidding.

Palin said at a rally that she hasn't worn most of the clothes and that they don't belong to her. McCain staffers were angry at these comments, stating that she's only looking out for herself.

They have a point. Who forced the hockey mom to accept all of these fancy duds from Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus?

This clothing p.r. fiasco has clearly spoiled the longtime Republican strategy: projecting a just-plain-folks image to appeal to the lower and middle classes while quietly advocating tax and corporate policies that benefit only the wealthy.

So here we are, a week before the election. McCain is fighting for his political life in the red states. Meanwhile, his supporters are squabbling over who's to blame for purchasing Sarah Palin's clothes. That's fine with me. I think that they should keep going until they get to the bottom of it.

McCain And Palin Staffers Hurl Brickbats At Each Other

Infighting has erupted among McCain and Palin staffers, according to a report from Chris Matthews' "Hardball" on MSNBC. One McCain staffer said of Palin:

She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone. She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only themselves, as they see themselves the beginning and end of all wisdom. (Source: CNN, Oct. 25)


On the other hand, a Palin ally said:

The campaign as a whole bought completely into what the Washington media said–that she's completely inexperienced. Her strategy was to be trustworthy and a team player...but she felt completely mismanaged and mishandled and ill advised. Recently, she's gone from relying on McCain advisers who were assigned to her to relying on her own instincts. (Source: Politico, Oct. 26)

Roger Simon of Politico commented that the McCain campaign clearly didn't vet Palin–and that this was the first presidential decision that McCain made. "If you can't run a campaign, can you run the government?" Simon continued. 

The answer is no. After the Palin novelty wore off,  it wasn't long before McCain's pick of Palin rang alarm bells throughout the nation. The idea that the campaign "bought into the Washington media" makes no sense. Palin is clearly out of her depth, and McCain picked her for completely cynical reasons: to pander to the right wing and to appeal to women, not realizing that he insulted their intelligence. 

Add in the "campaign suspension" gimmick, the reeling from message to message and the absurd, negative attacks on Barack Obama, and you have a campaign that speaks quite poorly about McCain's ability to manage the country.

McCain Offers Straight Talk On Shared Philosophy With Bush

John McCain's presidential campaign has peddled all sorts of falsehoods, from depicting Barack Obama as "palling around with terrorists" and as a "socialist" to recasting McCain as a deregulator to stating that Sarah Palin is qualified to be president.

Yet McCain was once known as a straight talker. Here's a example of his former straight talk: "I voted for the president over 90% of the time, higher than a lot of my Republican colleagues." 

On "Meet The Press" this past Sunday, McCain gave us another glimpse of the straight talker when he said, in reference to Bush, "So do we share a common philosophy of the Republican party? Of course."

He could elaborate, of course, by stating that he supports Bush's tax cuts and rationale for the war in Iraq, as well as Bush's opposition to a woman's right to choose, universal health care, labor rights and veterans' rights, among other issues.

Still, the admission on Sunday was the first bit of straight talk we've heard from McCain in recent memory.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Californians: Vote No On Proposition 8 Gay Marriage Ban

Proposition 8 in California calls for a ban on same-sex marriage in California. It would reverse a ruling by the California Supreme Court in May that gave gay couples the right to marry.

I believe that the Connecticut Supreme Court recently had the most just ruling of all on this issue: denying gays the right to marry violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law. Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote, "To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others."

From this principle of equal protection, the majority cannot vote on whether the minority is also to enjoy the same rights that marriage confers. As a popular slogan among gay marriage advocates puts it, "Can I Vote On Your Marriage?" Regardless, California is putting the proposition to the test on November 4th and the religious right is out in force, according to The New York Times:

Conservative religious leaders from across the country are pouring time, talent and millions of dollars into the state in support of Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage. They are hoping to reverse a California Supreme Court ruling in May that gave same-sex couples permission to marry, resulting in thousands of exultant same-sex weddings.

Similar marriage amendments are on the ballot next month in Arizona and Florida. But religious conservatives have cast the campaign in California as the decisive last stand, warning in stunningly apocalyptic terms of dire consequences to the entire nation if Proposition 8 does not pass.

California, they say, sets cultural trends for the rest of the country and even the world. If same-sex marriage is allowed to become entrenched there, they warn, there will be no going back.

I agree that California sets cultural trends. That's why I hope that the citizens there vote no on Proposition 8–and that there will be no going back. 

I don't feel that my marriage or, for that matter, Western civilization, need defending from the gay couple up the block who want to get married. What needs defending is tolerance, equal rights and equal justice under the law. Inequality has no place in any state constitution. The ad above succinctly makes these points.

For further information, visit Vote No On Prop 8.

Troy Davis Granted Stay Of Execution

I've been writing about the Troy Davis case and was pleased to receive word from Amnesty International that he was granted a stay of execution. Davis was scheduled to be executed today, October 27th.

The case, however, is far from decided. An excerpt from Amnesty's statement:

While we pause to celebrate this good news, we cannot forget that Troy still faces the very real possibility of execution—despite the fact that no physical evidence tied him to the 1989 murder of a police officer in Savannah, GA, and that 7 of the 9 eyewitnesses have since recanted their testimony.

This case has taken many twists and turns. On September 12th, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis, and scheduled his execution for September 23rd. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed Davis' execution just hours before it was scheduled to take place. But in deciding not to hear his case, the court lifted its stay and a new execution date was set for Monday, October 27th.

We now await the decision of the federal appeals court, which will determine whether Troy's case warrants a new hearing. We believe their ruling could happen at any time during the next month.

According to Amnesty, at least 30,000 individuals have written letters of support for Davis. Former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Pope have called for justice in his case. Amnesty also recently held a Global Day of Action for Davis, with rallies in Atlanta, Paris, Seattle, New York and Milan. The European Legislature called for his execution to be halted. The photos above are from rallies in Atlanta and Paris.

There is clearly a case to be made for a retrial for Davis, especially with his life on the line: seven recantations, no physical evidence, no murder weapon and three witnesses pointing to another man.

To find out more about the Troy Davis Case from Amnesty International and to learn how you can get involved, click here.

The Vet Who Did Not Vet: A Cautionary Tale

John McCain's hasty choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate raised questions about how carefully he vetted her following numerous background disclosures and doubts about her readiness. The amusing Dr. Seuss-style video above counsels caution in screening nominees, especially for the vice presidency. Enjoy!

Alaska's Largest Daily Endorses...Barack Obama

When asked by Katie Couric which newspapers and magazines she reads, Sarah Palin couldn't name one. Now she'll never forget the Anchorage Daily News–but I'm not sure she'll ever read it again. Alaska's largest daily newspaper offered a strong endorsement for Barack Obama and a stinging critique of John McCain:

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

Since his early acknowledgement that economic policy is not his strong suit, Sen. McCain has stumbled and fumbled badly in dealing with the accelerating crisis as it emerged. He declared that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" at 9 a.m. one day and by 11 a.m. was describing an economy in crisis. He is both a longtime advocate of less market regulation and a supporter of the huge taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout. His behavior in this crisis -- erratic is a kind description -- shows him to be ill-equipped to lead the essential effort of reining in a runaway financial system and setting an anxious nation on course to economic recovery.

And what about Alaska's governor? The newspaper praises Palin's passion and charisma, but expresses common, grave doubts about her readiness to assume the presidency:

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

Absolutely. To read the entire editorial, click here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Suspense Is Over: The New York Times Endorses Obama

Granted, you don't have to sit down before finding out that The New York Times endorsed Barack Obama. But even if the element of surprise is missing, the paper presented a most eloquent case for choosing the Democratic candidate:

Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems.

In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.

The entire endorsement is required reading for Liberal Curmudgeon regulars. To get going, click here.

Letterman To McCain: What About Liddy?

For all his insistence that Barack Obama speak about his relationship with Bill Ayers–which Obama did during the third presidential debate–has John McCain made a statement explaining his relationship with G. Gordon Liddy? 

Reasononline explored this very contradiction:

The extremist McCain has befriended is Gordon Liddy, who got a 20-year prison sentence for multiple felonies in the Watergate scandal—including burglary, conspiracy, and illegal wiretapping.

...Working for President Nixon, he committed a raft of crimes to secure Nixon's re-election and punish his perceived enemies. He proposed to do still more—bomb the liberal Brookings Institution, kidnap anti-war activists, and murder a couple of inconvenient people. But cooler heads prevailed.

...His contempt for the law has not abated. After the 1993 raid in Waco, Liddy urged lethal violence against federal agents. "Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms," he told listeners. "Kill the sons of bitches."

...Liddy, who as a convicted felon is forbidden to possess a firearm, has bragged about keeping guns in his house and using them for target-shooting...

For at least a decade, this unreformed criminal and enemy of democracy has been McCain's loyal friend, supporter, and contributor. It may be a mystery just why the Republican nominee consorts with a lawless radical. But it's no mystery why he doesn't want to talk about it.

In an interview on October 16th, shown above, David Letterman asked McCain about his relationship with Liddy. McCain at first had little to say: "I met him." He later said that Liddy "paid his debt." Despite that, Liddy has expressed no remorse for his crimes.

Letterman exposed McCain's hypocrisy: "But you understand that the same case could be made of your relationship with him as is being made with William Ayers." McCain responded, "Anything about any relationship I've ever had I will make completely open and give a complete accounting of." We're still waiting.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

SNL: "A Vote For John McCain Is A Vote For George W. Bush"

Saturday Night Live's recent sketch of George W. Bush's endorsement of a reluctant John McCain contained the following lines:

John was there for me 90% of the time over the last eight years. When you think of John McCain, think of me, George W. Bush... A vote for John McCain is a vote for George W. Bush.

The sketch is hilarious–but I can't think of a truer or better warning for every voter on November 4th.

McCain Held "Socialist" Views On Taxes In 2004

On April 11, 2004, Tim Russert and John McCain had the following dialogue on "Meet The Press":

Russert: Since the Civil War, every president who has been at war has increased taxes. Should the president consider postponing his tax cut?

McCain: I would have--I voted against the tax cuts because of the disproportionate amount that went to the wealthiest Americans. I would clearly support not extending those tax cuts in order to help address the deficit. But the middle-income tax credits, the families, the child tax credits, the marriage tax credits, all of those I would keep.

Do such views resemble those of another presidential candidate? Four years ago, McCain agreed with Barack Obama on taxes. 

I suppose that was when McCain was a "socialist," a "wealth distributor," a "destroyer of small business." McCain's change of mind is no doubt due to his principles, not political expediency. The deficit has been addressed, you see.

Palin Not Sure If Abortion Clinic Bombers Are Terrorists

When asked by Brian Williams of MSNBC whether an abortion clinic bomber was a terrorist, Sarah Palin wasn't quite sure:

I don't know if you can use the word 'terrorist' there. It's unacceptable and it would not be condoned, of course, on our watch.

Following this evasion, Matthews gave a few concrete examples:

...protesters in cities where fires were started, Molotov cocktails were thrown, people died.

Palin responded:

I would put in that category of Bill Ayers anyone else who would seek to campaign to destroy our United States capitol and our Pentagon and would seek to destroy innocent Americans.

Matthews was clearly not talking about Bill Ayers, the capitol or the Pentagon. He was talking about those who bomb abortion clinics. 

Palin's definition of terror clearly has nothing to do with the means they use, only the ends. Palin does not agree with a woman's right to choose, so she will not directly state that abortion clinic bombers are terrorists. Their use of fire, bombs and murder are merely "unacceptable."

Help El Tinklenberg Defeat Michele Bachmann

Due to Minnesota Republican Representative Michele Bachmann's questioning the patriotism of Barack Obama and members of Congress on Chris Matthews' "Hardball," her Democratic challenger, El Tinklenberg, has received more than $1.4 million in contributions.

Bachmann's campaign states that it has received hundreds of thousands since her comments. In an ominous sign, however, the Republican National Committee has cancelled two upcoming TV ads.

The above ad for Tinklenberg states it correctly: Bachmann represents "the worst in Washington, even questioning the patriotism of others in Congress."

Bachmann's divisive comments, mentioned in the Tinklenberg ad above, evoke the McCarthyism of the 1950s and the McCain-Palin attacks of today. To help support Tinklenberg, click here.

Bachmann: Matthews Laid A Trap

An excerpt from Chris Matthews' interview of Republican Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, October 1:

Matthews: You believe that Barack Obama may, you're suspicious because of this relationship, may have anti-American views. Otherwise it's probably irrelevant to this discussion...

Bachmann: Absolutely...I absolutely...yes...

Matthews: So you believe that Barack Obama may have anti-American views?

Bachmann: Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views. That's what the American people are concerned about.

Matthews asked his questions clearly and repeatedly. Bachmann left no doubt that she understood the questions and was "absolutely" suspicious that Obama harbors "anti-American views."

Now listen to the following video, taken in St. Louis, where Bachmann states that her "misstatement" was the fault of Matthews, who laid a trap for her:

According to Bachmann, Matthews' use of the term "anti-American" hypnotized her to the point that she was powerless to stop using it herself. More evidence of the spellbinding, malignant effect of the "liberal media."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rep. Robin Hayes At McCain Rally: "Liberals Hate Real Americans"

Is the McCain campaign the most divisive in modern American history?

Despite the clear yearning of the nation's citizens for relief from economic turmoil and a way out of the war in Iraq, the McCain campaign sticks to the playbook of campaign manager Rick Davis: focus on Barack Obama, not the issues.

There is a certain logic to it. When McCain stands for the policies of George Bush, a failed president, why would his campaign want to stick to the issues?

Regardless, there's a string of absurd comments whose point is to divide the country–comments that don't seem to be turning the election around for McCain. Obama is "palling around with terrorists." He's a "socialist." Palin praises the "pro-American" parts of the country. Representative Michele Bachmann calls for the media to investigate members of Congress to see if they're "pro-America or anti-America." McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer refers to the "real Virginia." McCain's brother Joe calls northern Virginia "communist." Then there are the vile anti-Obama robocalls.

The message is clear: if you're a patriotic American, you vote for John McCain. Voting for Barack Obama is tantamount to treason.

Far from responding to contemporary issues, the McCain campaign is actually fighting the cold war all over again. This is a campaign that Joe McCarthy would be proud of.

So now we also have Republican Representative Robin Hayes of North Carolina telling a McCain campaign rally that "Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God."

Right. Every time I spot someone walking down the block who works, accomplishes, achieves and believes in God, it just sets my teeth on edge.

Hayes tried to deny making his statement, but Politico obtained an audio file that caught him in the lie.

Amazingly, before commenting on liberals, Hayes warned the crowd to "make sure we don't say something stupid, make sure we don't say something we don't mean." And after admitting that he made the statement, he said, "I actually was trying to work to keep the crowd as respectful as possible, so this is definitely not what I intended."

How do we explain this outrageous behavior on the part of so many prominent McCain supporters? Is the possibility of a black president or a Democratic president or both driving them completely over the edge?

McCain's Brother: Northern Virginia Is "Communist"

McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer recently referred to southern Virginia as "real Virginia." That is, the part she thinks will vote for McCain (see my post, 10/19/08).

Apparently John McCain's brother Joe also sees a sharp division between the northern and southern parts of the state. His comment at an event in Loudon County, Virginia: “I’ve lived here for at least 10 years and before that about every third duty I was in either Arlington or Alexandria, up in communist country.”

So apparently putting up a sign supporting Obama-Biden is synonymous with putting up a red flag featuring a gold hammer and sickle. It's either the Republicans or the Communists.

McCain and Palin have set the tenor for these comments with their divisive, negative campaign. It starts at the top.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Palin's Unresolved Question: What Does The VP Do?

Interviewed in July, Sarah Palin, shown in the video above, stated, "As for that VP talk all the time, I tell you, I still can't answer that question until someone answers for me, what is it exactly that the VP does, every day?"

Apparently she still can't answer.

Palin's handlers stuffed her brain with ninth grade civics so that she could offer folksy platitudes during the vice-presidential debates. You'd think they would have covered that.

On Monday, during an interview with an NBC affiliate, Palin took a write-in question from a third grader: "What does the vice president do?" Listen to her answer:

The vice president is " charge of the United States Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes..."? No, the vice president's role is much more limited, according to Article I of the Constitution:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

Think Progress received a comment from Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

This comment is all the more puzzling because this is at least the 2nd time she has said this. Gov Palin needs to re-read or perhaps read for the first time the Constitution. While the Vice President presides over the Senate, he or she is not in charge of it.

"Re-read" the Constitution? In the case of this vice-presidential candidate, I'd lay a year's salary on her needing to "read [it] for the first time."

Whether Palin reads it or not, let's make sure that she never finds out from direct experience what the VP does every day.

Just Your Everyday Hockey Mom On A $150,000 Shopping Spree

Do hockey moms usually dress themselves up in $150,000 wardrobes, all bought within a month? Especially those who hang out with Joe Sixpack?

If the hockey mom is Sarah Palin, the answer is yes. According to campaign finance reports, the Republican National Committee laid out $75,o62 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue, all for Palin and her family in September. That's only part of the amount, all classified as "campaign accessories."

So we have John McCain, the presidential candidate who can't remember if he has 7 or 8 homes, and Sarah Palin, the vice presidential candidate who enjoys this elaborate shopping spree. Both profess to understand the struggles of working Americans during economically troubled times. Palin in particular plays up an identification with working class culture. Or, as she'd put it, "workin'."

Meanwhile, their chief message to the country during the past week was their intention to continue George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest and for major corporations. 

And what about an increased minimum wage for the hockey mom or Joe Sixpack working at Wal-Mart? Forget it! Why, that's socialism!

The McCain-Palin campaign is based on a faux populist image. Yet even that very image is falling apart.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bachmann's McCarthyite Statements Result In Surge Of Contributions To Opponent

On October 17, Chris Matthews of MSNBC asked Republican Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota if Barack Obama had "anti-American views." She said, "Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views." 

Two days later, as shown in the video above, she said that she's wasn't saying that Obama's views are "anti-American"; she just has this "concern," you see.

Bachmann has played a deceitful game. At the very least, she clearly implied that Obama is "anti-American." So "anti-American," in fact, that he ought to be investigated. And it's not only Obama. Bachmann also called for the media to do an "expose" on whether members of Congress in general are "pro-America or anti-America."

These terms make no more sense than "terrorist" or "socialist" do when applied to Obama. Nor do they make more sense than Sarah Palin's reference to the "pro-America" parts of the country. But why make sense when one's goal is to promote false and simplistic images?

Following her comments, Bachmann was criticized by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Bachmann's interview also resulted in a surge of contributions to her opponent, Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg, who received $810,000 in less than 72 hours.

In questioning the patriotism of her colleagues, Bachmann is a reminder of the ugly, repressive McCarthy era. To support the worthy effort to throw her out of office and replace her with Tinklenberg, click here.

Staff Panics At Prospect Of Palin's Speaking To Reporters

Want to know what causes Sarah Palin's handlers to push the panic button? Today's New York Times describes the scenario:

On Sunday night, she twice took questions from reporters, the first time on an airport tarmac without her press staff’s knowledge.

After landing in Colorado Springs late Sunday, Ms. Palin marched over to a local television crew and began answering questions on camera, sending the traveling press corps sprinting in pursuit, and her press staff scrambling.

“Get Tracey,” one campaign aide barked into his headset, calling for Tracey Schmitt, Ms. Palin’s ever-watchful spokeswoman, who rushed over to supervise the impromptu news conference. (Ms. Schmitt, looking distressed, tried several times to cut it off with a terse “Thank you!” in between questions, to no avail.)

So Palin's staff is scrambling, barking into a headset, rushing, looking distressed and trying to cut off questions. All because the candidate took some unsupervised questions.

Is this not the clearest admission by her staff that this vice presidential candidate is simply too clueless to speak about national and international issues and the campaign and her role in it?

I wonder how these staff members feel about promoting a candidate whom they clearly know has no ability to respond to the issues of the day.

McCain Defends Indefensible Robocalls

John McCain angrily defended his campaign's use of vile robocalls attempting to link Barack Obama with terrorism due to the latter's fleeting relationship with Bill Ayres.

During the third presidential debate, Obama said that he served on a school reform board that contained prominent Republican funders and participants, such as former Reagan ambassador Walter Annenberg. Obama also called Ayers' past terrorist acts "despicable" and stated that Ayers has nothing to do with his campaign and will not advise Obama in the White House.

Regardless, the McCain campaign, due to a lack of ideas on how to help the country overcome its real problems, has made Ayers the center of its campaign, as Obama accurately pointed out.

I must admit that Chris Wallace of Fox News correctly exposed McCain's hypocrisy. During the 2000 primary, McCain was the victim of the Bush campaign's racist robocalls about his "interracial child." McCain currently uses the same company, FSL Direct, that conducted robocalls against him, which he called "hate calls" at the time.

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign has added new themes to Palin's charge that Obama has been "palling around with terrorists." Obama's call for a return to a more progressive tax structure, one that breaks away from George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, is now maligned as "socialism." McCain has even been associating Obama's more equitable tax plans with the racially charged word "welfare."

"Terrorism." "Socialism." "Welfare." In its desperation, the McCain campaign is throwing everything it can at Obama. Its charges are both despicable and ridiculous. In the past, I felt that McCain was a basically decent individual whose ideas I disagreed with. Now it's apparent that with his cynical pick of Sarah Palin and his angry, outrageous campaign, McCain has sold his soul in his quest for the presidency.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Swill From Limbaugh: Powell Endorsement "Totally About Race"

General Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama featured thoughtful analyses of the candidate as a "transformational figure" and incisive observations of the McCain campaign's use of smear tactics and distractions.

None of this meant a thing to Rush Limbaugh. From his perspective, it's all quite simple: Obama is black, Powell is black. Therefore, Powell's endorsement was "totally about race."

So how would Limbaugh explain Senator Ted Kennedy's endorsement? Well, perhaps that's more logic than Limbaugh can stand.

Is this really the guy to whom millions listen every day? Limbaugh's statement about the race factor and Powell is nonsensical; what it really reveals is Limbaugh's own racism.

Powell Criticizes McCain Campaign's "Trivial Issues" And Negative Campaigning

Following his endorsement of Barack Obama on Meet The Press on Sunday, General Colin Powell made a few more statements explaining his decision. Powell cited the many distractions seized upon the McCain campaign, including Bill Ayres, along with comments made by the campaign supporters as to who's a Muslim and who's pro-American. He specifically referred to Representative Michele Bachmann's call for media exposes on the patriotism of members of Congress. All of these "trivial issues," Powell said, have nothing to do with the military, economic, health, infrastructure and diplomatic challenges facing the nation.

Powell also dismissed the labels thrown at Obama, including "terrorist" and "socialist" and asserted that there's nothing wrong with taking a look at how taxes are structured and who should pay more or less. He said that taxes are redistributed back to us in the form of infrastructure, airports, hospitals and schools, all necessary for the common good–and they help us pay off our national debt. To examine such issues has nothing to do with "socialism," the McCain campaign notwithstanding.

Besides his endorsement, Powell's statements during Meet The Press and afterward presented the country with an accurate critique of the sorry strategies of the McCain campaign.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Representative Michele Bachmann Channels Senator Joseph McCarthy

Republican Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, speaking to Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball," expressed concern that Barack Obama "may have anti-American views."

Bachmann's rambling assertions suggested a connection between "liberal," "leftist" and "anti-American." Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had, according to Bachmann, "far leftist views."

I wondered exactly what type of "far leftist" Bachmann meant. Are Pelosi and Reid Maoists? Trotskyists?

Bachmann also made implicit reference to the McCain campaign's main focus, Obama's fleeting and insignificant contacts with Bill Ayers. She stated that "the people that Barack Obama has been associating with are anti-American."

The wording "has been associating with" puts Obama's contacts into a present-day context. Again I wondered, which "anti-Americans"? Obama referred to those he associates with during the third presidential debate: Warren Buffet; Fed Chairman Paul Volker; Joe Biden; Dick Lugar, Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and General Jim Jones, former supreme allied commander of NATO. How many of them are anti-Americans?

The question would seem to be an important one for Bachmann. She called for the news media to "do a penetrating expose" into the "views of the people in Congress and find out are they pro-America or anti-America."

Remember when we last had an investigation into who is pro- and anti-American? Perhaps this will refresh one's memory:

Following Palin On The "Real America," Pfotenhauer Refers To The "Real Virginia"

Following Sarah Palin's recent reference to "the real America" and the "pro-America areas of this great nation," McCain campaign spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer, speaking on MSNBC, spoke of the "real Virginia."

Of course, "real" Virginia happens to be the southern part of the state–the part Pfotenhauer believes will support McCain.

Is it possible for the McCain campaign to promote just one theme of national unification, or is it only capable of slicing and dicing the country?

Huge Campaign Endorsement: Powell For Obama

Former Secretary General Colin Powell, who served in three Republican administrations, endorsed Barack Obama on "Meet The Press" today, a move that will surely enhance the candidate's quest to be president and commander in chief.

After stating his doubts about John McCain's grasp of the country's problems and questions about his judgment in picking Sarah Palin, whom he said was not ready to be president, Powell said that Obama convinced him of his qualifications:

...I watched Mr. Obama and I watched him during this seven-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a vice president that, I think, is ready to be president on day one. And also, in not just jumping in and changing every day, but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a, a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.

Powell criticized the negative tenor of the McCain campaign, including the focus on Bill Ayers:

And I've also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he's a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate.

He also pointed to the disturbing direction of the Republican party, including anti-Muslim prejudice:

...the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court... I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America.

Powell concluded with a confident assessment of Obama's abilities to take the helm at this time in our nation's history:

...because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities--and we have to take that into account--as well as his substance--he has both style and substance--he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world--onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

Tribute To Levi Stubbs, Booming Baritone Of The Four Tops

Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of the outstanding Motown group The Four Tops, passed away at the age of 72. The group's 1960s pop classics included "Reach Out, I'll Be There," "Bernadette" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)."

Davis's passionate leads were a prime reason for The Four Tops' success. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum inducted them in 1990, stating, "Stubbs’ bold, dramatic readings of some of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s choicest material set a high standard for contemporary soul in the mid-Sixties."

The video above is from a concert recorded in 2004 in Miami. Stubbs' rendition of "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch" was as powerful as ever. Listening to it now, we're reminded why Stubbs and his group lifted the spirits of so many for so long.

Take Action To Save Troy Davis

I wrote two posts about the Troy Davis case on September 23, asking readers to sign a petition for a stay of execution. Davis was convicted in 1991 of murdering Savannah police officer Mark A. MacPhail, who was shot while trying to break up a fight in a Burger King parking lot. Davis (shown at left) claimed that he was in a nearby pool hall and had left before MacPhail arrived.

The New York Times (10/15/08) reported that, after granting Davis a stay of execution, the Supreme Court has declined to hear his appeal. Davis could be executed soon, despite the doubts his case raises:

The case has led to an outpouring of support for Mr. Davis, largely because seven of nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony, with two claiming that the police had pressured them to testify against him. Prosecutors presented no physical evidence and no murder weapon, and three witnesses have said another man admitted to the murder.

World leaders including former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Pope Benedict XVI have challenged the fairness of Mr. Davis’s conviction.

...Jared Feuer, the Southern regional director for Amnesty International, said he was “shocked and saddened” by the court’s action on Tuesday.

“This decision shows how flawed and immoral the death penalty is,” Mr. Feuer said. “The court had been asked to rule on the basic question of guilt and innocence and the constitutional right of an individual to not be executed when there is doubt of his guilt. The court ducked its obligation.”

There is clearly a case to be made for a retrial for Davis, especially with his life on the line: seven recantations, no physical evidence, no murder weapon and three witnesses pointing to another man.

Amnesty International USA has put out an appeal to stop Georgia authorities from carrying out the execution and allowing an appeal to go forward. I urge everyone to join Amnesty in taking action in behalf  of a man sentenced to death despite a tainted case and serious claims of innocence:

1. To write a letter a newspaper editor on the case, click here.

2. To call call on the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider its previous decision and grant clemency, click here.

3. Go to or text TROY to 90999 to add their voices to the over 200,000 that have already taken action on this case.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Biden Informs Palin That The Entire Country Is "Pro-American"

Sarah Palin continued to employ the politics of division with her reference in Greensboro, NC, to the "pro-America areas" of the country:

We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit. And in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.

This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans -- those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us, those who are protecting us in uniform, those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.

Speaking in New Mexico, Joe Biden forcefully criticized Palin's statement:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have never been to a state that hasn't sent its sons and daughters to serve its country. It doesn't matter where you live, we all love this country. And I hope it gets through that one of the reasons why Barack and I are running is that we know how damaging the policy of division...has been.

Which areas, by the way, would Palin consider to be "anti-American"? Should those of us who reside in "the worst of America" or "the unreal America" be issued passports to visit Palinland?

McCain-Palin: The Faux Populists

This image from a recent cover of The Village Voice perfectly captures the faux populism of the McCain-Palin campaign. 

If disaster strikes and they're elected, they'll stand against the minimum wage, expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program, veterans' benefits, women's reproductive rights, the Employee Free Choice Act–anything that will materially help the struggling lower and middle classes in this country. For the first time ever, they'll attempt to tax employee health benefits. Meanwhile, they'll continue to cut taxes for the wealthy and major corporations.

What accounts for their appeal to those among their supporters who aren't doing too well? How do they identify with a ticket that opposes their economic interests? McCain is a veteran and Palin is a soccer mom who loves "Joe Sixpack" and says "You betcha" and "doggone." They're the All-American mavericks. They have the populist images–but they're dead set against populist policies.

Palin has said to her supporters in New Hampshire and Florida, "You guys just get it!"

They're getting it, alright. Leave aside Palin's just-plain-folks charm. What they'll get if these two win is the shaft.

McCain's Slimy Robocalls Come From The Same Company That Slimed Him

So the point is -- the point is that I have repudiated every time someone's been out of line, whether they've been part of my campaign or not, and I will continue to do that. –John McCain

That was John McCain's pledge during the third debate. Has he lived up to it? Not according to the current Robocalls that he approved. The script:

Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202-863-8500.

So this message is acceptable according to McCain. Exactly what would he consider to be "out of bounds"?

And which firm did the McCain campaign hire to make these calls? FSL Connect. McCain has a history with them. They're the same company that conducted slimy robocalls in behalf of George Bush's primary campaign in 2000. The calls were about McCain's "interracial child" and Cindy McCain's drug addicition. 

When McCain was the target, he called the operation "hate calls." But that was then.

Thinking About Yitzhak And Leah Rabin–And Hoping For Barack Obama's Safety

All of us have heard the hate-filled references to Barack Obama as a "terrorist" and "traitor" and the call to "kill him." Such venom is egged on by Sarah Palin in particular, who has referred at rallies to Obama's "palling around with terrorists." Though McCain did recently repudiate such statements, he let several rallies pass before saying a word. Palin has said nothing to calm the fires that she has stoked.

I'm disturbingly reminded of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was the object of venom by the right wing in his country. They were enraged at the peace negotiations he was engaged in with Yasser Arafat. Following Rabin's assassination, his widow, Leah Rabin, never forgave those who incited crowds against him. From The Independent, London:

AFTER THE Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated...his widow Leah cast herself as the unforgiving scourge of the Israeli right, which she blamed for fostering the atmosphere in which a Jewish radical, Yigal Amir, pulled the trigger. She constantly chastised the West Bank settlers and other opponents of the Oslo peace agreement for hounding her husband as a "traitor."

When young peace campaigners went to her Tel Aviv flat to comfort her after the murder, she asked them accusingly why they hadn't come during the long months when Rabin's abusers picketed them there every weekend. She shunned the Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had spoken at a Jerusalem rally in which demonstrators brandished photo- montages of Rabin in Nazi uniform.

Hours after Rabin's state funeral, Leah told an Israeli television interviewer: "There definitely was incitement which was strongly absorbed and which found itself a murderer, who did this because he had the support of a broad public." Earlier, when Rabin's coffin was lying in state, she frostily told an opposition leader who came to pay his respects, "It's too late."

I hope that Obama's security detail is as tight as possible. I have no doubt that there are those who wish him harm and will be enraged if he wins. Should Obama prevail, I'll be overjoyed–and constantly hoping that he'll stay safe.

McCain-Palin Supporters' Continued Displays Of Hatred

During the third presidential debate, John McCain suggested that supporters at Obama rallies express themselves as viciously as his own supporters:

...And I'm not going to stand for somebody saying that because someone yelled something at a rally -- there's a lot of things that have been yelled at your rallies, Senator Obama, that I'm not happy about either.

In fact, some T-shirts that are very...

OBAMA: John, I...

MCCAIN: ... unacceptable. So the point is -- the point is that I have repudiated every time someone's been out of line, whether they've been part of my campaign or not, and I will continue to do that.

Actually, there have been no reports of Obama supporters yelling "kill him," "traitor" or "terrorist" about McCain. And it has nothing to do with "media bias." If there were a hate-fest at an Obama rally, Fox News would be all over it.

Where are the reports of Obama supporters displaying the hatred and racism shown above by those waiting to get into a Palin rally in Pennsylvania? Their statements are reinforced by Palin's references to Obama as "palling around with terrorists."

One of the most blatant examples of racism in the video comes from a man who holds up a Curious George doll that he refers to as "Little Hussein." This same individual brought the doll into the rally. After he noticed that cameras caught him, he took off the Obama bumper sticker, hid the doll and gave it to a child:

So it's the camera that shames him–not the individuals around him. How come no one near him objected? How is it that he felt comfortable bringing this doll into the rally?

And speaking of T-shirts, apparently Curious George T-shirts labeled "Obama in '08" are a hot item among McCain supporters:

Barack Obama's candidacy shows how far this country has come in overcoming its racist past. The individuals shown in these videos, however, remind us that we still have a long way to go.

McCain Says It Right Here: "I Voted With The President Over 90% Of The Time"

John McCain's line, "Senator Obama, I'm not George Bush," is perhaps his most famous statement in the third debate. It was clearly a line he prepared in advance.

The statement contradicts McCain's support for the war in Iraq, his desire to extend tax cuts for the wealthy and major corporations, his opposition to universal health care, his poor legislative record on alternative energy, his non-support for veterans issues, and his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act.

I could go on with more examples, but I think the pattern's clear. We can conclude that McCain represents a third Bush term. If you love everything that's befallen our nation over the past eight years, then McCain's your man. If you think that Bush has presided over a disastrous administration and that we need a real change, then you'll support Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign ad above points out McCain's support for Bush on tax policy and Iraq. It concludes with a statement that, unlike the debate line, truly reflects his record: "I voted with the president over 90% of the time, higher than a lot of my Republican colleagues." That's what I call straight talk.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Debate's Split Screen Reveals McCain The Hothead

The split screen during the third presidential debate didn't always work to John McCain's advantage. His constant grimacing, shown in the video above, made a strong contrast with Barack Obama's even-handedness. The soundtrack is the Gnarls Barkley song "Crazy."

It was most telling when McCain rolled his eyes as Obama brought up the killing of labor leaders in Columbia. It's as if McCain were thinking, "Human rights? You've got to be kidding!" Take a look:

Personally, I think that the best advice for the hot-tempered McCain is found in the "Cool" song-and-dance sequence in "West Side Story":

Candidates Roast Each Other At Al Smith Memorial Dinner

The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner raises money annually for Catholic Charities in honor of New York Governor Al Smith, the first Catholic presidential candidate. It has evolved into a forum for humorous speeches aimed at the political scene.

Every four years, presidential candidates take part in the dinner. I'm going to be even-handed this time by stating that both of this year's candidates delivered winning routines with fine comedic timing. They roasted each other, but left time for some gracious comments. I recommend viewing both presentations as welcome campaign comedy relief.

John McCain presented the first speech:

Barack Obama followed:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What The Presidential Debates Showed Us

Let's start with their respective temperaments.

America's financial industry is on life support. We're involved in two wars. What kind of individual do we want as president?

Judging by the debates, do we want a president who's cranky, sarcastic and condescending–one who can barely look at his opponent during the first two encounters? Or do we want a president who's calm and measured–a steady hand at the wheel during uncertain times?

John McCain is known to have a short fuse. Perhaps the demeanor that characterized his debate performances comes from the knowledge that his campaign strategy isn't working. 

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told us that he wanted this campaign to be about personalities and not issues–especially not the economy. That was a startling but honest admission: they don't have the issues, so they want the campaign to ultimately be a referendum on Barack Obama.

But economic reality punctured the plan. So no matter how many times Sarah Palin repeats her vile and inflammatory accusation that Obama is "palling around with terrorists," the populace can't help but focus on whether they'll be able to stay in their homes, keep their jobs and hold on to their savings.

McCain famously admitted that he doesn't know much about economics. During the debate, he proved it by falling back on the same Republican policies that have failed us over the past eight years.

In a speech in Pennsylvania, McCain offered his chief weapon in increasing employment: "I will help to create jobs for Americans in the most effective way a president can do this — with tax cuts that are directed specifically to create jobs..."

We know exactly what this means: more tax cuts for the wealthiest segment of the population and major corporations. After eight years, this policy has worked brilliantly, hasn't it? Bush has created a new gilded age in which the income gap has grown in a way not seen since the 1920s. Clearly we're not being flooded with new jobs for the picking. Apparently the wealthy are doing what they've always done to stay wealthy: not "creating jobs," but investing their profits.

But McCain still peddles the myth that the "trickle down" economics is about to work. Just give it a little more time. And during the debate, he continued offering more of the same. Yet while doing so, he objected to being compared to George Bush.

Obama, on the other hand, explained his goal of reversing the regressive tax structure favored by the Bush administration and McCain:

Now, Senator McCain -- the centerpiece of his economic proposal is to provide $200 billion in additional tax breaks to some of the wealthiest corporations in America. ExxonMobil and other oil companies, for example, would get an additional $4 billion in tax breaks. What I have said is I want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans ...independent studies have looked at our respective plans and have concluded that I provide three times the amount of tax relief to middle-class families than Senator McCain does.

McCain's response:

The whole premise behind Senator Obama's plans are class warfare-- let's spread the wealth around. I want small businesses -- and by the way, small businesses that we're talking that would receive an increase in their taxes, right now -- who -- why would you want to increase anybody's taxes right now? 

McCain does not answer Obama's statement that "98 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000" and would therefore be unaffected by a tax increase. He also has no response to the fact that the middle class will get a bigger tax break under Obama's plan. That point was acknowledged by Business Week, hardly a liberal publication. 

McCain's statement about "class warfare" is standard Republican rhetoric. Yet haven't they conducted class warfare with tax breaks for those who least need them and by instituting a regressive tax structure in behalf of those who benefit the most from our economic system?

We can also contrast the two candidates' positions on health care. Obama's goal is to extend it to more Americans than ever before:

 If you have health insurance, then you don't have to do anything. If you've got health insurance through your employer, you can keep your health insurance, keep your choice of doctor, keep your plan.

The only thing we're going to try to do is lower costs so that those cost savings are passed onto you. And we estimate we can cut the average family's premium by about $2,500 per year. If you don't have health insurance, then what we're going to do is to provide you the option of buying into the same kind of federal pool that both Senator McCain and I enjoy as federal employees, which will give you high-quality care, choice of doctors, at lower costs, because so many people are part of this insured group.

McCain's plan revolves around an inadequate $5,000 and avoiding governmental involvement:

But I want to give every American family a $5,000 refundable tax credit. Take it and get anywhere in America the health care that you wish.

Senator Obama wants to set up health care bureaucracies, take over the health care of America through -- as he said, his object is a single payer system.

If you like that, you'll love Canada and England.

I'm curious: How many citizens in Canada and England are clamoring for the health care system that we have here in the U.S., in which 47 million have no coverage, including millions of children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau? How many are lobbying for a system in which, according to a study by Harvard University, half of all bankruptcies are caused by illness or medical bills? Is there a yearning abroad to divert health care funds by the millions to the overhead of medical insurance companies? Do our allies really want these same insurance companies that weed out those with "pre-existing conditions"?

The fact is that McCain's plan is a scam, as Obama pointed out:

Now, what we haven't talked about is Senator McCain's plan. He says he's going to give you all a $5,000 tax credit. That sounds pretty good. And you can go out and buy your own insurance.

Here's the problem -- that for about 20 million people, you may find yourselves no longer having employer-based health insurance. This is because younger people might be able to get health insurance for $5,000, young and healthy folks.

Older folks, let's healthy folks, what's going to end up happening is that you're going to be the only ones left in your employer-based system, your employers won't be able to afford it.

And once you're out on your own with this $5,000 credit, Senator McCain, for the first time, is going to be taxing the health care benefits that you have from your employer.

And this is your plan, John. For the first time in history, you will be taxing people's health care benefits.

By the way, the average policy costs about $12,000. So if you've got $5,000 and it's going to cost you $12,000, that's a loss for you.

Last point about Senator McCain's plan is that insurers right now, the main restrictions on what they do is primarily state law and, under Senator McCain's plan, those rules would be stripped away and you would start seeing a lot more insurance companies cherry-picking and excluding people from coverage.

That, I think, is a mistake and I think that this is a fundamental difference in our campaign and how we would approach health care.

Think about it: McCain, the loyal Bush Republican, rails against tax increases. Then he proposes for the first time a tax on employee health care. How is this not a tax increase? And how does it help those who depend upon their jobs for medical care? Further, how does $5,000 compensate for an average $12,000 plan?

It doesn't. John McCain simply doesn't have the answers to the pressing needs of the American people, and he doesn't have the steady temperament that we require now. For the answers and the temperament, we must look to Barack Obama. That's what the presidential debates showed us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McCain Sang A Different Tune About ACORN in 2006

"What makes America special is what's in this room tonight," said John McCain on February 20, 2006.

Where did he say it? At an ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) Immigration Rally in Miami. (McCain speaks at 1:40 in the video above.)

Now the McCain campaign is trying to associate Barack Obama with voter fraud perpetrated by some ACORN employees. What's going on here?

Obama represented the group in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois for not implementing a law making it easy for the poor to register to vote. In this effort, ACORN was partnered with the Justice Department. The plaintiffs won the case. During the current presidential campaign, some ACORN employees, who are paid by the hour, have turned in phony names.

Naturally, the Republicans and their minions are trying to make it seem as if there is a grand conspiracy between the Obama campaign and ACORN. Obama said on Tuesday that he doesn't need ACORN's help in voter registration: “We’ve got the best voter registration and turnout and volunteer operation in politics right now, and we don’t need ACORN’s help.”

Obama's work as a community organizer gives him some insight into what has happened with ACORN:

“My understanding in terms of the voter fraud — because having run a voter registration drive, I know how problems arise — this is typically a situation where ACORN probably paid people to get registrations, and these folks, not wanting to actually register people because that’s actually hard work, just went into a phone book or made up names and submitted false registrations to get paid.

“So there’s been fraud perpetrated probably on ACORN, if they paid these individuals and they actually didn’t do registrations, but this isn’t a situation where there’s actually people who are going to try to vote, ‘cause these are phony this is another one of these distractions that gets stirred up in the course of a campaign."

“But, what I want to make sure of is that this is not used as an excuse for the kind of voter suppression strategies and tactics that we’ve seen in the past. Let’s just make sure everybody is voting, everybody’s registered. Let’s make sure that everybody’s doing it in a lawful way.”

Ken Whalen, Acorn spokesman, stated that the group had dealt decisively with wrongdoers:

“Out of 13,000 workers there were inevitably a few who decided they’d pad their hours by duplicating a card and filling out another one or making up a name.

“If we discovered this, we not only turned that information over but turned the information we had about that former employee – because they’d been fired by that point – to elections officials and asked for their help in prosecuting that person.”

Obama also knows what he's talking about when he speaks about voter suppression. Republicans have a history of using the relatively minor instances of voter fraud to suppress the votes of people that they feel won't vote the right way-literally. In an editorial, "Phony Fraud Charges" (3/16/07), The New York Times focused on the Justice Department's scandalous purging of U.S. attorneys who refused to play ball with the Bush administration on, among other issues, vote suppression:

John McKay, one of the fired attorneys, says he was pressured by Republicans to bring voter fraud charges after the 2004 Washington governor’s race, which a Democrat, Christine Gregoire, won after two recounts. Republicans were trying to overturn an election result they did not like, but Mr. McKay refused to go along. “There was no evidence,” he said, “and I am not going to drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.”

Later, when he interviewed with Harriet Miers, then the White House counsel, for a federal judgeship that he ultimately did not get, he says, he was asked to explain “criticism that I mishandled the 2004 governor’s election.”

Mr. McKay is not the only one of the federal attorneys who may have been brought down for refusing to pursue dubious voter fraud cases. Before David Iglesias of New Mexico was fired, prominent New Mexico Republicans reportedly complained repeatedly to Karl Rove about Mr. Iglesias’s failure to indict Democrats for voter fraud. The White House said that last October, just weeks before Mr. McKay and most of the others were fired, President Bush complained that United States attorneys were not pursuing voter fraud aggressively enough.

There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in this country. Rather, Republicans under Mr. Bush have used such allegations as an excuse to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups. They have intimidated Native American voter registration campaigners in South Dakota with baseless charges of fraud. They have pushed through harsh voter ID bills in states like Georgia and Missouri, both blocked by the courts, that were designed to make it hard for people who lack drivers’ licenses — who are disproportionately poor, elderly or members of minorities — to vote. Florida passed a law placing such onerous conditions on voter registration drives, which register many members of minorities and poor people, that the League of Women Voters of Florida suspended its registration work in the state.

It must be emphasized that phony names don't represent anyone who's actually going to affect the vote one way or another. In addition, despite the illegal actions of some workers, ACORN has managed to register 1.3 million low income, minority and young voters. They've been brought into the democratic process. That's the opposite of what has long been Republican strategy. John McCain might consider the different motivations of his party and his former allies at ACORN.