Archive for Democrats

Explaining Health Care Reform: Reality vs Fiction

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by halmasonberg

Steven Pearlstein’s article in The Washington Post does a great job of breaking down truth from lies. There are those who have nefarious reasons for not wanting Obama’s Health Care Plan to become a reality. And this is a fight that started long before anyone even knew the name Barack Obama. There’s a lot at stake here. Human lives and more money than you can possibly imagine. And it’s the outright lies that are being told that are indicative that the truth of what is being proposed is not, in fact, what the opponents of Obama’s Health Care Plan actually fear. Otherwise a valid, honest argument would be made. It would be a differing of opinion. And an alternative approach would be offered.

This is not what is happening.

Instead, those who oppose the plan are telling outright lies in the hope of feeding off people’s fear and ignorance of the issues. And if you tell those lies with enough conviction, people will believe them. “Political terrorists,” as Pearlstein calls them. “By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition.”

Here are some excerpts from Pearlstein’s recent article:

PH2007090901916Under any plan likely to emerge from Congress, the vast majority of Americans who are not old or poor will continue to buy health insurance from private companies, continue to get their health care from doctors in private practice and continue to be treated at privately owned hospitals.

The centerpiece of all the plans is a new health insurance exchange set up by the government where individuals, small businesses and eventually larger businesses will be able to purchase insurance from private insurers at lower rates than are now generally available under rules that require insurers to offer coverage to anyone regardless of health condition. Low-income workers buying insurance through the exchange — along with their employers — would be eligible for government subsidies. While the government will take a more active role in regulating the insurance market and increase its spending for health care, that hardly amounts to the kind of government-run system that critics conjure up when they trot out that oh-so-clever line about the Department of Motor Vehicles being in charge of your colonoscopy.

There is still a vigorous debate as to whether one of the insurance options offered through those exchanges would be a government-run insurance company of some sort. There are now less-than-even odds that such a public option will survive in the Senate, while even House leaders have agreed that the public plan won’t be able to piggy-back on Medicare. So the probability that a public-run insurance plan is about to drive every private insurer out of business — the Republican nightmare scenario — is approximately zero.

By now, you’ve probably also heard that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. Another lie.

First of all, that’s not a trillion every year, as most people assume — it’s a trillion over 10 years, which is the silly way that people in Washington talk about federal budgets. On an annual basis, that translates to about $140 billion, when things are up and running.

Even that, however, grossly overstates the net cost to the government of providing universal coverage. Other parts of the reform plan would result in offsetting savings for Medicare: reductions in unnecessary subsidies to private insurers, in annual increases in payments rates for doctors and in payments to hospitals for providing free care to the uninsured. The net increase in government spending for health care would likely be about $100 billion a year, a one-time increase equal to less than 1 percent of a national income that grows at an average rate of 2.5 percent every year.

…While holding themselves out as paragons of fiscal rectitude, Republicans grandstand against just about every idea to reduce the amount of health care people consume or the prices paid to health-care providers — the only two ways I can think of to credibly bring health spending under control.

When Democrats, for example, propose to fund research to give doctors, patients and health plans better information on what works and what doesn’t, Republicans sense a sinister plot to have the government decide what treatments you will get. By the same wacko-logic, a proposal that Medicare pay for counseling on end-of-life care is transformed into a secret plan for mass euthanasia of the elderly.

Government negotiation on drug prices? The end of medical innovation as we know it, according to the GOP’s Dr. No. Reduce Medicare payments to overpriced specialists and inefficient hospitals? The first step on the slippery slope toward rationing.

Oh, and by the way, when people allow their fears to get the better of them and start to buy into the lies being told, you start seeing shit like this appear at protests:

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The above man’s t-shirt reads “Hitler Gave Great Speeches Too”.

Both photos were taken at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) town hall meeting in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday

Obama Birth Certificate History Lesson 101

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2009 by halmasonberg

obama2
According to the right-leaning World Net Daily:

If Lolo Soetoro [Obama's step-father] adopted Obama at age five or younger, then Obama would automatically have become an Indonesian citizen according to the country’s laws in the 1960’s, which stipulated any child aged five or younger adopted by an Indonesian father is immediately granted Indonesian citizenship upon completion of the adoption process.

Lolo Soetoro could have adopted Obama in Hawaii, although such an adoption would not have necessarily been recognized by Indonesia.

Indonesian law at the time also did not recognize dual citizenship, meaning if Obama became Indonesian, then as far as that country was concerned, his U.S. citizenship was no longer recognized by Indonesia. But U.S. law would still recognize Obama as an American citizen.

If Obama indeed possessed Indonesian citizenship as a child, it is unlikely he retains such citizenship. The country’s bylaws require any Indonesian citizen living abroad for more than five years to formally declare his intention to return, otherwise risk losing his citizenship status.

Indonesian school registration for "Barry Soetoro" (AP photo)

Indonesian school registration for “Barry Soetoro” (AP photo)

According to CNN:

Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, from 1967 to 1971.

According to MSNBC:

Obama, who was born in Hawaii, moved to Indonesia at age 6 to live with his mother and stepfather, attending schools in the country until age 10, when he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents.

According to WikiAnswers:

Starting at age 6, Obama attended a Catholic school in Indonesia. At age 8, he attended a public school in Indonesia, nominally a Muslim school, which is where the “Muslim” tempest in a teapot comes form.

According to the Washington Post:

Birthers who commented on our Thursday posting generally continued to claim that Obama has not produced a true birth certificate, and that the document he produced last year is a fake.

They’re also fixated on the type of birth document issued by the Hawaiian government, which is called a “certification of live birth.” They refuse for some reason to believe that a certification is the same as a birth certificate.

By all rational accounts, the two documents are most certainly one and the same, only with different titles…

A certification of live birth is the “official birth certificate” of Hawaii, according to the state’s Department of Health spokeswoman, Janice Okubo. And the nonpartisan, nonprofit Factcheck.org, which examined Obama’s original birth certificate last year at the president’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, concluded, “It meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship.”

To those who continue to speculate Obama’s birth certificate was destroyed, Hawaiian health department officials answered that point of hysteria as well this week.

We don’t destroy vital records,” Okubo said. “That’s our whole job, to maintain and retain vital records.” State health officials said the original birth certificate, the same one reviewed by Factcheck.org, is back in storage in Hawaii.

But still, the birthers ask, why won’t President Obama release his original birth certificate and possibly bury the issue once and for all?

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent answer to this question: “Why should he? The demand has no basis in principle and would have no practical benefit.”

James Taranto writes in his “Best of the Web” column, “Obama has already provided a legal birth certificate demonstrating that he was born in Hawaii. No one has produced any serious evidence to the contrary. Absent such evidence, it is unreasonable to deny that Obama has met the burden of proof. We know that he was born in Honolulu as surely as we know that Bill Clinton was born in Hope, Ark., or George W. Bush in New Haven, Conn.

“The release of the obsolete birth certificate would not ‘resolve the issue’ to those for whom it is not already resolved. They claim without basis that today’s birth certificate is a fake; there is nothing to stop them from claiming without basis that yesterday’s is as well.”

According to the Los Angeles Times:

CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein told staffers of “Lou Dobbs Tonight”… that CNN researchers had determined that Hawaiian officials discarded paper documents in 2001. Because of that, Obama’s long-form birth certificate no longer exists and a shorter certificate of live birth that has been made public is the official record, they reported.

“It seems to definitively answer the question,” Klein wrote in the e-mail, first reported by the website TVNewser. “Since the show’s mission is for Lou to be the explainer and enlightener, he should be sure to cite this during your segment tonite. And then it seems this story is dead — because anyone who still is not convinced doesn’t really have a legitimate beef.”

According to World Net Daily:

Directly contradicting CNN chief Jon Klein – who ordered host Lou Dobbs to quit discussing President Obama’s birth certificate – the Hawaii Department of Health affirmed that no paper birth certificates were destroyed when the department moved to electronic record-keeping.

“I am not aware of any birth certificate records that have been destroyed by the department,” Janice Okubo, public information officer for the Hawaii DOH, told WND. “When the department went electronic in 2001, vital records, whether in paper form or any other form, [were] maintained. We don’t destroy records.”

Okubo affirmed that beginning in 2001, all vital records, including birth records, moved to electronic formats.

“Any records that we had in paper or any other form before 2001 are still in file within the department,” she insisted. “We have not destroyed any vital statistics records that we have.”

According to USA Today:

Hawaii‘s health director reiterated Monday afternoon that she has personally seen Obama’s birth certificate in the Health Department’s archives:

“I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago….”

According to Leonard Pitts Jr. in the Miami Herald:

My daughter was born in Los Angeles County on Sept. 4, 1990. I know this because I was there. Should that not be proof enough, I also have her birth certificate.

We requested it years ago and received a document that looks nothing like the ones I have for my folks, with names and parentage typed in tiny boxes. By contrast, this was a computer-generated abstract with my daughter’s data neatly printed on it. We asked why we couldn’t get a “real” birth certificate and were told this one “is” real; this is how they do it now. Indeed, the inscription on the certificate proclaims: “This certified document is a true abstract of the official record filed with the Registrar-Recorder.”

We used that document to get my daughter’s Social Security card, so I figure a “true abstract” is good enough for the federal government. But evidently, it’s not good enough for Stefan Cook, Orly Taitz, Rush Limbaugh, Philip Berg and Lou Dobbs.

Barack Obama, you see, has a birth certificate much like my daughter’s, documenting his birth in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961. He’s made it available online, just a Google search away.

According to the right-leaning National Review:

The mission of National Review has always included keeping the Right honest, which includes debunking crackpot conspiracy theories. The theory that Obama was born in Kenya, that he was smuggled into the U.S., and that his parents somehow hoodwinked Hawaiian authorities into falsely certifying his birth in Oahu, is crazy stuff. Even Obama’s dual Kenyan citizenship is of dubious materiality: It is a function of foreign law, involving no action on his part (to think otherwise, you’d have to conclude that if Yemen passed a law tomorrow saying, “All Americans except, of course, Jews are hereby awarded Yemeni citizenship,” only Jewish Americans could henceforth run for president).

In any event, even if you were of a mind to indulge the Kenyan-birth fantasy, stop, count to ten, and think: Hillary Clinton. Is there any chance on God’s green earth that, if Obama were not qualified to be president, the Clinton machine would have failed to get that information out?…

The fundamental fiction is that Obama has refused to release his “real” birth certificate. This is untrue. The document that Obama has made available is the document that Hawaiian authorities issue when they are asked for a birth certificate. There is no secondary document cloaked in darkness, only the state records that are used to generate birth certificates when they are requested…

What Obama has made available is a Hawaiian “certification of live birth” (emphasis added), not a birth certificate (or what the state calls a “certificate of live birth”). The certification form provides a short, very general attestation of a few facts about the person’s birth: name and sex of the newborn; date and time of birth; city or town of birth, along with the name of the Hawaiian island and the county; the mother’s maiden name and race; the father’s name and race; and the date the certification was filed. This certification is not the same thing as the certificate, which is what I believe we were referring to in the editorial as “the state records that are used to generate birth certificates [sic] when they are requested.”

To the contrary, “the state records” are the certificate. They are used to generate the more limited birth certifications on request. …these state records are far more detailed. They include, for example, the name of the hospital, institution, or street address where the birth occurred; the full name, age, birthplace, race, and occupation of each parent; the mother’s residential address (and whether that address is within the city or town of birth); the signature of at least one parent (or “informant”) attesting to the accuracy of the information provided; the identity and signature of an attending physician (or other “attendant”) who certifies the occurrence of a live birth at the time and place specified; and the identity and signature of the local registrar who filed the birth record…

There’s speculation out there from the former CIA officer Larry Johnson who is no right-winger and is convinced the president was born in Hawaii that the full state records would probably show Obama was adopted by the Indonesian Muslim Lolo Soetoro and became formally known as “Barry Soetoro.” Obama may have wanted that suppressed for a host of reasons: issues about his citizenship, questions about his name (it’s been claimed that Obama represented in his application to the Illinois bar that he had never been known by any name other than Barack Obama).

According to Politifact:

On Oct. 31, 2008, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii Department of Health, issued this statement: “There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate. State law prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.

“Therefore I, as director of health for the state of Hawaii, along with the registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.

“No state official, including Gov. Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the state of Hawaii.”

Even the governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, a Republican who at the time was stumping for John McCain, said it was on the up-and-up…
The new argument goes like this: Obama never published his “Birth Certificate” (a “Certificate of Live Birth”) on the Internet; what he posted was a “Certification of Live Birth,” what WorldNetDaily describes as “a ‘short-form’ document that is generated on-the-spot and based on what is contained in a computer database at the time it was printed out.”

Some on the Internet speculate that the original “long form” — which might include the hospital where he was born as well as the attending physician — might show Obama was foreign-born and ineligible to be president, but that that wouldn’t show up on the “short form.”

Moreover, WorldNetDaily claims even the state of Hawaii doesn’t accept “Certification of Live Birth” as proof that an individual was physically born in Hawaii.

They point to a policy from the Hawaii Department of Home Lands, which stated on its Web site:

“In order to process your application, DHHL utilizes information that is found only on the original Certificate of Live Birth, which is either black or green. This is a more complete record of your birth than the Certification of Live Birth (a computer-generated printout). Submitting the original Certificate of Live Birth will save you time and money since the computer-generated Certification requires additional verification by DHHL.”

That’s actually a misnomer, said Lloyd Yonenaka, a spokesman for DHLL. In order to be eligible for their program, you must prove that your ancestry is at least 50 percent native Hawaiian. And when he says native, he means indigenous. They don’t even care if you were born in Hawaii. They use birth certificates as a starting point to look into a person’s ancestry. Very different.

Here’s what the DHLL site says now: “The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands accepts both Certificates of Live Birth (original birth certificate) and Certifications of Live Birth because they are official government records documenting an individual’s birth. The Certificate of Live Birth generally has more information which is useful for genealogical purposes as compared to the Certification of Live Birth which is a computer-generated printout that provides specific details of a person’s birth. Although original birth certificates (Certificates of Live Birth) are preferred for their greater detail, the State Department of Health (DOH) no longer issues Certificates of Live Birth. When a request is made for a copy of a birth certificate, the DOH issues a Certification of Live Birth.”
When we spoke to a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health, she said too much was being made of the difference between the so-called “long” and “short” forms.

“They’re just words,” said spokeswoman Janice Okubo. “That (what was posted on the Internet) is considered a birth certificate from the state of Hawaii.”

“There’s only one form of birth certificate,” she said, and it’s been the same since the 1980s. Birth certificates evolve over the decades, she said, and there are no doubt differences between the way birth certificates looked when Obama was born and now.

“When you request a birth certificate, the one you get looks exactly like the one posted on his site,” she said. “That’s the birth certificate.”

As for the theory that Obama’s original birth certificate might show he was foreign-born, Okubo said the “Certification of Live Birth” would say so. Obama’s does not. Again, it says he was born in Honolulu.

We have one more thing. We talked to reporter Will Hoover, who wrote a well-researched story for theHonolulu Advertiser on Nov. 9, 2008, about Obama’s childhood years in the the Aloha State. It ran under the headline “Obama Slept Here.”

In researching the story, he went to the microfilm archives and found the birth announcement for Obama. Actually, he found two of them, one in his Honululu Advertiser on Aug. 13 , 1961, and in theHonolulu Star-Bulletin the next day . They both said the same thing: “Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, son, Aug. 4.”

But here’s the thing. Newspaper officials he checked with confirmed those notices came from the state Department of Health.

“That’s not the kind of stuff a family member calls in and says, ‘Hey, can you put this in?'” Hoover explained.

Take a second and think about that. In order to phony those notices up, it would have required the complicity of the state Health Department and two independent newspapers — on the off chance this unnamed child might want to one day be president of the United States.

According to U.S. News And World Report:

Dixie may once have been the so-called land of cotton, but it has become the cradle of creeping Birtherism. According to a new poll from Research 2000 (commissioned by Daily Kos), a majority of Southerners either believe that Barack Obama was not born in the United States (23 percent) or are not sure (30 percent). Only 47 percent of Southern respondents believe Obama was born in the USA. By contrast, 93 percent of Northeasterns said yes, he was born here, 90 percent of Midwesterners did and 87 percent of Westerners.

Wow.

And while 93 percent of Democrats say he was born in the country and 83 percent of Independents, the figure is only 42 percent for Republicans. A majority of Republicans either believe he was born abroad (28 percent) or don’t know (30 percent).

According to Politico:

In short, the problem faced by today’s conservatives is that there is no one of sufficient stature, and no group of serious political operatives, to tell the “birthers” to cut it out — to disown them as they deserve to be disowned. It’s a sad state of affairs. The entire political process suffers as a result.

According to Bill Maher:

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve all been laughing heartily at the wacky antics of the “birthers” — the far-right goofballs who claim Barack Obama wasn’t really born in Hawaii and therefore the job of president goes to the runner-up, former Miss California Carrie Prejean.

Also, when Obama was sworn in as president, he forgot to give his answer in the form of a question.

And yet, every week, the chorus of conservatives demanding to see his birth certificate grows. It’s like they’re the Cambridge police, Obama’s in his house — the White House — and they need to see some ID.

And there’s nothing anyone can do to convince these folks. You could hand them, in person, the original birth certificate and have a video of Obama emerging from the womb with Don Ho singing in the background … and they still wouldn’t believe it.

This isn’t a case of Democrats versus Republicans. It’s sentient beings versus the lizard people, and it is to them I offer this deal: I’ll show you Obama’s birth certificate when you show me Sarah Palin’s high school diploma.

Sorry, couldn’t resist that last one.

Draw your own conclusions.

Cheney “Sleazy”, an “Abomination” And Just What The Doctor Ordered

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2009 by halmasonberg

s-CHENEY-largePerhaps if Dick Cheney had done what George W. did and simply tried to disappear into the banality of  ex-presidential “suburban” life, history may have been kinder to them than they deserve. Lord knows we’ve seen some truly despicable people walk away with their reputations “softened” by the passage of time and an economic upswing. As Cheney himself has pointed out, Nixon was a prime example. 

But Cheney is doing both Democrats and history a favor: He’s not leaving well-enough alone. No, Cheney is still putting his foot in his mouth in glorious public fashion as if under some grand illusion that he is going to lead a movement and take back the country. And as he tries to rewrite history, he only manages to shine an even brighter light on the flaws, debacles and criminal acts that define his vice presidency and the Bush Administration itself. A fact which I’m certain must worry George W. and his family quite a bit. 

But who knows, maybe Cheney will be able to prove himself to be the man behind the curtain and assume full blame for the 8 years that nearly destroyed America while Bushy gains some sympathy as no more than a well-meaning, but none-too-bright tool. 

Only time will tell. 

In the meantime, former CIA special agent Jack Rice spoke on MSNBC stating about Cheney’s recent speech following President Barack Obama’s address at the American Enterprise Institute, Cheney “wrap[ped] himself in the flag with the Constitution in tatters at his feet.”  While MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell claimed Cheney’s speech was “as sleazy a presentation from a vice president as we’ve had since Spiro Agnew. It was a complete abomination.”

Go HERE to watch Cheney’s speech.

 

Obama, Rahm And The Stimulus Outreach

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by halmasonberg

Obama 2008Not everyone is thrilled with President Obama’s insistence that reaching across the isle to Republicans is of the utmost importance. I, however, believe it is crucial. It is one of the reasons (the many reasons) I voted for Mr. Obama. And I have no love for Republicans as a whole. Particularly those who still believe the Bush Administration was a good thing for America and the world. Those individuals and myself live in two different countries of mind. But… We do share the same country so far as physical geography goes and we share the same laws and neighbors. And I would love to see that country be one where we are adult enough to work together to help sustain what has the potential to be the greatest country in the world. Not a superior country, mind you, but an admirable, enviable one. An example for others, as it were. A role model. We have not been that for some time now. Not that all is bad in Shangrila, but we have some serious growing up to do. And I strongly admire that President Obama has been trying to take us there. No easy task. No short road. And I’m glad to see that, when push comes to shove, he will eventually do the right thing and stand up for his own beliefs when he must. It’s a shame the stimulus package turned out not to be the area where the two parties could come together. Though not for lack of trying. 

Following an interview with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, the Wall Street Journal reports:

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel conceded President Barack Obama and his team lost control of the message for selling their massive stimulus bill last week, fixating on bipartisanship while Republicans were savaging the legislation...

Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said.

But, he said, Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his opposition.

He has an open hand, Mr. Emanuel said. But he has a very firm handshake.

The Huffington Post adds:

According to Emanuel, the White House “lost” control of the message for four days. He suggested that the president decided to change his tone after the House vote, when not a single Republican voted for the bill…

When the president spoke to House Democrats at a February 5th retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, he’d moved from courting Republican support to attacking them as obstructionists who clung to “”false theories of the past.”

A top aide added:

“The President’s always going to reach out to people in both parties. I mean we have these upcoming summits, one on fiscal reform, and another one on health care. There’s gonna be Republican participation, and that will never change.”

 

6 Degrees Of Terror: Obama, McCain, Ayers & Liddy

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2008 by halmasonberg

David Letterman stirred things up a bit this week when he had Sen. McCain on his show (after McCain recently cancelled on Letterman to talk to Katie Couric instead). Letterman pressed McCain hard for answers and explanations. He challenged McCain and his and Sarah Palin’s ongoing insistence that there is hidden information and suggestions of a hidden agenda in Barack Obama’s fleeting association with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. We all know about these claims, they’ve been discussed and debunked ad nauseum. But McCain and Palin and many of their supporters are not yet satisfied, convinced that the media, Democrats and Liberals are “avoiding the truth” and “sweeping the facts under the rug.” 

I wrote about Obama and Ayers recently in my post, Obama, Ayers & The UnAmericanization Of Sarah Palin. There’s a lot of info there and links to even more. But I will reiterate some points in this post that I feel bear repeating. But first, let’s take a look at a clip from McCain’s visit on Letterman earlier this week:

As you can see, Mr. McCain is quite fond of telling Americans that Bill Ayers said in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks that Ayers wished he had bombed more. Let’s look at what Ayers actually said and also his follow-up to its misinterpretation:

In 2001, A New York Times article quoted Ayers as saying:

“I don’t regret setting bombs” and “I feel we didn’t do enough”, and, when asked if he would “do it all again” as saying “I don’t want to discount the possibility.”

In a Letter to the Editor published September 15, 2001, Ayers responded to the quotes with:

“This is not a question of being misunderstood or ‘taken out of context’, but of deliberate distortion.”

Ayers insisted then and still maintains that when he said he had “no regrets” and that “we didn’t do enough” he was referring to his efforts to stop the United States from waging the Vietnam War. The statements were not intended to imply the he wished they had set more bombs.

In a 2004 interview, Ayers was quoted as saying:

“The one thing I don’t regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being…. When I say, ‘We didn’t do enough,’ a lot of people rush to think, ‘That must mean, “We didn’t bomb enough shit.”‘ But that’s not the point at all. It’s not a tactical statement, it’s an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, ‘we’ means ‘everyone.’”

In the forward of Ayers’ memoir, he comments on his reflections about his time as part of the Weathermen:

[I am] embarrassed by the arrogance, the solipsism, the absolute certainty that we and we alone knew the way. The rigidity and the narcissism.

Today, Ayers is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education and was one of the co-authors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant proposal that won $49.2 million for public school reform. In 1997 Chicago awarded him its Citizen of the Year award for his work on the project.

So the question here, is John McCain telling people what he wants to believe Bill Ayers said, or what Bill Ayers actually said? Ironically for me, even if Mr. Ayers had claimed that he wished he’d bombed more, I still wouldn’t find Mr. Obama’s association with him any more disturbing than I do now. They served on a board together. Along with many other members. And Mr. Obama has always maintained that he openly condemns the actions Mr. Ayers partook in as a member of the Weathermen. If they were close friends and Mr. Obama thought of Bill Ayers as a hero? That would be a different story. But that’s not this story. There isn’t a respectable newspaper or publication that has not debunked McCain and Palin’s tired accusations trying to link Barack Obama to terrorists and their none-too-mild suggestion that Obama’s actually an enemy of this country and secretly wishes it, and all of us, harm. 

Now let’s take a look at Mr. McCain’s association with G. Gordon Liddy. I’m not writing about this to suggest we should be concerned about John McCain’s association with the man, but to highlight how easy it is to have associations with people that may be politically and morally questionable. And I think Mr. McCain’s association with Mr. Liddy appears to be far closer than Barack Obama’s ever was or is with Bill Ayers. 

According to Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune:

Now a conservative radio talk-show host, Liddy spent more than 4 years in prison for his role in the 1972 Watergate burglary. That was just one element of what Liddy did, and proposed to do, in a secret White House effort to subvert the Constitution. Far from repudiating him, McCain has embraced him…

Last November, McCain went on his radio show. Liddy greeted him as “an old friend,” and McCain sounded like one. “I’m proud of you, I’m proud of your family,” he gushed. “It’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.”

Now McCain claims on Letterman that Liddy has paid his debt to society. And while it’s true that Bill Ayers never went to jail due to a legal technicality, he has most certainly given back to society in his involvement and founding of many various education reforms and youth programs. And has been widely recognized for such. What has G. Gordon Liddy been doing and saying since his release from prison?

Shortly after the federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, Liddy commented to his radio listeners:

“Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests… They’ve got a big target on there, ATF. Don’t shoot at that, because they’ve got a vest on underneath that. Head shots, head shots… Kill the sons of bitches.”

Later, Liddy claimed that he was just suggesting that people should defend themselves if federal agents came in firing weapons:

“I was talking about a situation in which law enforced agents comes smashing into a house, doesn’t say who they are, and their guns are out, they’re shooting, and they’re in the wrong place. This has happened time and time again. The ATF has gone in and gotten the wrong guy in the wrong place. The law is that if somebody is shooting at you, using deadly force, the mere fact that they are a law enforcement officer, if they are in the wrong, does not mean you are obliged to allow yourself to be killed so your kinfolk can have a wrongful death action. You are legally entitled to defend yourself and I was speaking of exactly those kind of situations. If you’re going to do that, you should know that they’re wearing body armor so you should use a head shot. Now all I’m doing is stating the law, but all the nuances in there got left out when the story got repeated.”

But then Liddy proceeded to state that he should have suggested shots to the groin instead of the head. 

So, in addition to appearing on Liddy’s radio show and publicly praising the man, McCain also allowed Liddy’s home to be the site of a McCain fundraiser at which guests could have their pictures taken with McCain and Liddy. Over the years, Liddy has made at least four contributions totaling $5,000 to Sen. McCain’s campaigns — including $1,000 this year. Sound familiar? In 1995, Bill Ayers hosted a “coffee” for Mr. Obama’s first run for office. He then donated $200 to Sen. Obama’s campaign. Once. 

In discussing Obama’s tenuous link to Ayers, McCain has publicly proclaimed:

“I think not only a repudiation but an apology for ever having anything to do with an unrepentant terrorist is due the American people.”

By that same manner of thinking, I would certainly expect, at the very least, the same from Sen. McCain. But on Letterman, McCain instead stands behind G. Gordon Liddy and defends their friendship. 

Now understand fully Liddy’s history and his crucial actions against America and Americans; Liddy was the chief operative for the White House Plumbers during Richard Nixon’s Presidency. Liddy masterminded the first break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building to plant bugs and photograph documents. This was 1972. The same time Mr. Ayers was an active member of the Weathermen. Liddy’s act of burglary was covered up and became the now infamous Watergate scandal which eventually led to President Nixon’s resignation and Liddy himself was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping and received a 20-year sentence. He served four and a half years before his sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter.

But wait, there’s so much more. During his years as the chief of the White House Plumbers under Nixon’s rule, Liddy suggested firebombing the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. (where classified documents leaked by Daniel Ellsberg were being stored), kidnapping anti-war protest organizers and transporting them to Mexico during the Republican National Convention, and luring mid-level Democratic campaign officials to a house boat in Baltimore where they would be secretly photographed in compromising positions with call girls. Luckily, most of Liddy’s suggestions were rejected. However, his suggestion of breaking into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office was given the go-ahead by the Nixon Administration. Ellsberg had leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. The Pentagon Papers was a top secret, 14,000 page government report about the history of the Government’s internal planning and policy concerning the Vietnam War. The actual name of that report was United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. As a result of Ellsberg’s copying and giving portions of this report to the New York Times, the Times began publishing excerpts as an article series in 1971. 

Oh, and one last thing that may or may not be important. Liddy has stated that as a child he listened to Adolph Hitler’s speeches and they “made me feel a strength inside I had never known before. Hitler’s sheer animal confidence and power of will [entranced me]. He sent an electric current through my body.”

Liddy later stated that he condemned Nazism and believed Hitler was evil. 

Once again, my point here isn’t to smear McCain, but to shine a light on people and their relationships to others and how easy those relationships are to exploit (see also McCain Campaign Smears Snap Back Again With William Timmons). And like Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, and his associations with bigots and America-haters as a member of the AIF, McCain has some deep, dark skeletons in his closet that are at least as disturbing as anything he claims of Barack Obama. And to my mind, worse. At least Mr. Obama condemned the actions of the young Mr. Ayers, while John McCain publicly defended his friendship with and pride in G. Gordon Liddy just days ago. 

If there’s anything to be swept under the rug, now might be a good time.

McCain Comes Out Swinging, Never Connects: Final Debate

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2008 by halmasonberg

Everyone knew this was an important night for John McCain to make his stand. It’s certainly not his last chance (as the saying goes, “It’s not over till it’s over”), but this was a biggie. And McCain came out swinging. It was apparent from the get-go that McCain’s tactic here was to try and steamroll right over Barack Obama and bring home those talking points: “Barack Obama wants to spend more! Barack Obama wants to raise taxes!” His approach was filled with very little substance, but he tried to come across confident and full of righteous indignation. But two things happened. First, McCain lost steam nearly halfway through and never recovered again. Second, he didn’t come across confident or righteous, but desperate and condescending. This appears to be something McCain can’t shed. However hard he tries to appeal to the American public as one of them, as that down-to-earth “straight-talker” he believes himself to be, the more insincere and angry he appears. John McCain gave it his best shot. But Barack Obama kept his poise, spoke about the issues, took the high-road yet again and, as would appear from the early polls, won the third and final debate for 2008. 

John McCain’s introduction of “Joe the Plumber” into the American vernacular was an interesting one and one that won’t be quickly forgotten. And one can be reasonably assured that this Joe is gonna support McCain. I’m sure McCain’s people spoke with Joe beforehand. I mean, what would it look like if Joe came out in favor of Obama the next morning? Not likely to happen. But we may be referring to Joe in many future elections, but maybe not in the way McCain would like us to. 

I also can’t deny absolutely loving the moment when John McCain once again tried to claim that Obama was a disaster for small businesses and that “Joe The Plumber” would have to pay a fine. McCain has raised this issue at the other debates and, even though Obama has already answered numerous times, it seems tonight was the first time it actually sank in for Mr. McCain, as is suggested by his deer-in-the-headlights reaction to Obama’s answer, “Zero.” 

I was also mildly offended tonight by McCain’s insistence that Obama has been running a dirty campaign and McCain’s supposed “horror” that Obama did not repudiate comments made by Rep. John Lewis who “made allegations that Sen Palin and I were somehow associated with one of the worst chapters in American history.” 

Oddly, Sen. Obama HAD replied publicly. As had Lewis. But worse than that, it’s genuinely incredible to watch a man like John McCain, who has come under enormous public attack for running one of the most hate-filled campaigns in American history, actually try to turn the tables and make it look like Mr. Obama’s actions have been reprehensible and thoroughly unacceptable. McCain actually tried to suggest that he had repudiated every inappropriate remark made by a “fringe” McCain supporter at his rallies. However, it is clear to everyone–Democrats and Republicans alike–that McCain repudiated no one until he and Palin were publically slammed by the press for encouraging dangerous and violent comments at their rallies. It was a true absurdest moment. 

No one bought it. 

Obama quickly reminded McCain that he and Palin allowed supporters to call out “Terrorist” and “Kill him!” when referring to Obama. He also mentioned that Palin herself had said numerous times that Obama “palled around with terrorists.” McCain responded by suggesting that if Obama had accepted his invitation to do more Town Hall meetings, the campaign never would have gone down such an ugly path. Obama, as usual, responded by taking the high-road:

“I think the American people are less interested in our hurt feelings than they are in the issues. The notion that because we are not doing the meetings justifies some of the ads going on… I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks, what the American people can’t afford is four more years of failed economic policies.”

And after all this, instead of deciding to talk about these policies, McCain decided to launch into Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers. Obama quickly shot this down and McCain himself admitted that he really didn’t “care about an old, washed-up terrorist.”

Here’s a clip from the debate of McCain not only bringing up the Ayers connection, but accusing both Obama and ACORN of voter fraud:

Here is the immediate reponse of Maude Hurd, of ACORN:

“We appreciate that Senator McCain’s effort to stir up the Republican base by attacking a community group that is trying to increase public participation in our democratic processes. However, these attacks reflect an increasingly panicky candidate; unfortunately the Senator McCain we saw tonight is very different than the Senator McCain who stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN at a February 20, 2006 immigration reform event.

“It is clear for us to see that John McCain was for ACORN before he was against ACORN; he was for reform before he was against reform; and he was a maverick before he became erratic. What is really going here is that Senator McCain and his allies are part of a coordinated effort to engage in what appears to be an unprecedented effort to suppress voter turnout.”

I would also like to add that I thought Moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS did an excellent job, far better than his predecessors. The questions were stronger, the format better for allowing the two candidates to interact. 

Now let’s take a look at what others are saying. 

CBS News: Fifty-three percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed identified Democratic nominee Barack Obama as the winner of tonight’s debate. Twenty-two percent said Republican rival John McCain won. Twenty-five percent saw the debate as a draw. 

CNN: 58 percent for Obama to McCain’s 31 percent.

Perhaps more importantly, McCain’s favorable rating dropped 51 to 49 while his unfavorable rating increased from 45 percent to 49 percent. Obama ended up with 66 percent favorable rating. 

Asked who “expressed his views more clearly” 66 percent said Obama, 25 percent said McCain. “Who spent their time attacking his opponent:” 80 percent said McCain, seven percent said Obama. “Who seemed to be the stronger leader:” 56 percent for Obama, 39 percent for McCain. And who was “more likeable:” 70 percent for Obama to McCain’s 22 percent.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg’s poll:

Before the debate:

McCain: 54 favorable / 34 unfavorable

Obama: 42 favorable / 42 unfavorable

After the debate:

McCain: 50 favorable / 48 unfavorable

Obama: 72 favorable / 22 unfavorable

And as always, we take a look at republican Frank Luntz focus group on Fox News: Barack Obama won the debate. Luntz termed it a “clear majority,” but not one person raised their hand when asked if they thought McCain won.

What are individuals saying?

New York Times Editorial:

Wednesday night’s debate was another chance for Mr. McCain to prove that he is ready to lead this country out of its deep economic crisis. But he had one answer to almost every economic question: cut taxes and government spending. Unfortunately, what Mr. McCain means is to cut taxes for the richest Americans and, inevitably, to reduce the kinds of government services that working Americans need more than ever…

…It’s a shame that Mr. McCain hasn’t come up with policies that would actually help workers. Instead, he’s served up the same-old trickle-down theories and a government-is-wrong, markets-are-right fervor that helped create this economic disaster…

Mr. Obama has better ideas to respond to the financial crisis and to put the economy back on the right track. He supports a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and more money for states and localities, both of which would quickly bring relief beyond Wall Street.

Mr. Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation. Mr. McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent — a big break for the top 1 percent of society. Mr. Obama would cut taxes for low- and moderate-income families and raise them for richer Americans.

Newsweek’s Andrew Romano:

Over the course of 90 minutes–and I apologize if my count is not complete; my fingers can only type so fast–McCain accused Obama of being a) a craven wealth-spreader (at least eight times), b) an abject tax-raiser, especially on folks unfortunate enough to make $42,000 a year, c) a lily-livered coward who’s never once stood up to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, d) a town-hall avoider, e) a public-financing flip-flopper, f) the most avid negative advertiser in American history, g) a befriender of “washed-up terrorist(s),” h) an enabler of “one of the greatest frauds in voter history” (which just so happens to be “destroying the fabric of American democracy”),  i) an “eloquent” dissembler, j) a support of infanticide and, finally, k) a guy who wants to do all kinds of unspeakable things to someone named Joe the Plumber, up to and including raising his taxes, redistributing his money and fining him for choosing the wrong kind of health care. (No word yet on whether Obama plans to spit in Joe’s beer when he’s looking in the other direction.) After all that, McCain’s claim that his “campaign is about getting this economy back on track, about creating jobs, about a brighter future for America” seemed like a punchline.

Alan Schroeder, Professor of Journalism, Northeastern University:

The format worked, the moderator asked his questions then got out of the way, and both debaters delivered solid performances. Although McCain came loaded for bear, as the debate progressed, he ran short of ammo and his tone went from aggressive to tetchy. Obama had the luxury of taking the high road, which afforded him a natural advantage, and he deflected many of his opponent’s sharpest barbs with a look of unconcerned amusement. However much McCain gnawed at his heels, Obama blithely shook him off, reinforcing an already established aura of unflappability.

Yves Smith, Writer of Naked Capitalism blog and management consultant:

McCain did better than in the earlier debates, less reliance on now- tired soundbites, more specific on his record, his programs, and a particularly good moment with his “I am not President Bush” retort. 

But he needed to hit this out of the park, and fell considerably short. There were plenty of negatives:. McCain came off as overeager, at points cranky and petty, and his attempt to rhapsodize on Palin was revealingly shallow. Obama still is less than credible on spending (but McCain did not do well here either), but Obama nevertheless sounded thoughtful, mature, and in command, and that is more than enough to keep him on track.

Roger Simon, Politico:

John McCain needed a miracle in his final debate with Barack Obama on Wednesday night, a miracle that would wipe away McCain’s deficit in the polls and re-energize his flagging campaign. 

He did not get one. The clouds did not part. Heavenly choirs were not heard. Instead, the American public heard angry attacks from McCain.

Sometimes McCain attacked directly, and sometimes he attacked sarcastically, but he never stopped attacking. And he never rattled Obama. Obama answered every attack and kept his cool.

Marty Kaplan, The Huffington Post:

Ninety minutes of John McCain making faces was more than enough for a lifetime. It’s hard to imagine anyone willingly inviting that antic lemon-sucking grinfest into their homes for the next four years.

And as is typical of people who want their candidate to do better, but have nothing to hold on to so they repeat the same tired, old phrases with nothing to back them up, Roy Blunt, Rep. (R-Mo.) pathetically commented:

Senator McCain proved again tonight that he’ll never shy away from a fight – and that he’s the candidate ready to fight for the American people. The stakes are too high for our country to have untested leadership in the White House. The country needs a leader who will change Washington; the country needs John McCain.

So what are some other Conservative voices saying?

National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru:

“A minute they spend on who’s being meaner or more dishonest in this campaign is a minute that helps Obama–not because he wins the issue, still less because he deserves to win it, but because it is not what is driving people’s votes–and they’ve spent way more than a minute on this stuff.”

Conservative Christian columnist, Rod Dreher

OK, that’s over. And so is the McCain campaign. He was more aggressive than he’s been so far, and he came close to landing some blows on Obama. But he never really connected, and for the most part this debate was as platitudinous as they all have been. McCain came off as sour, agitated and petulant. Obama — man, nothing rattles that guy. McCain was two tics away from a vein-popping “You can’t handle the truth!” Jack Nicholson moment, I felt. At one point, I thought: Which one of these men would I want in the White House when the 3 a.m. phone call comes in?

Jennifer Rubin at Pajamas Media:

At times McCain seemed to connect with a jab or a punch here or there, but his argument at times wavered and his delivery was far from crisp. As for Obama, he was at his calmest and smoothest. If McCain needed to knock Obama off his perch of serenity it didn’t happen.

Conservative Powerline Blog’s Paul Mirengoff:

Ultimately, it seems unlikely that McCain cut into Obama’s lead through this performance. And Obama may have taken another small step towards making Americans comfortable with the prospect of his presidency.

Last but not least, and simply because he is consistently both intelligent and funny, here’s John Stewart commenting on John McCain’s Brand New Stump Speech Tuesday night. Just another example of McCain’s “Change.”

McCain Is A Weaker Bush To Palin’s Cheney

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2008 by halmasonberg

Frank Rich

The above is a slight paraphrase of a quote by New York Times Op-Ed Columnist, Frank Rich, whose right-on-target article, The Palin-Whatshisname Ticket, helps paint an even darker picture than most Americans can as yet see. And, as is the plan, most won’t until it’s too late. I laid out the basis for what I’m referring to in my earlier post, Palin: The Most Priceless Political Asset The Neocon Movement Has?, but Mr. Rich goes on to add some more perspective as he breaks down portions of Ms. Palin’s acceptance speech:

There were several creepy subtexts at work here. The first was the choice of Truman. Most 20th-century vice presidents and presidents in both parties hailed from small towns, but she just happened to alight on a Democrat who ascended to the presidency when an ailing president died in office. Just as striking was the unnamed writer she quoted. He was identified by Thomas Frank in The Wall Street Journal as the now largely forgotten but once powerful right-wing Hearst columnist Westbrook Pegler.

Westbrook Pegler

Westbrook Pegler

Palin, who lies with ease about her own record, misrepresented Pegler’s too. He decreed America was “done for” after Truman won a full term in 1948. For his part, Truman regarded the columnist as a “guttersnipe,” and with good reason. Pegler was a rabid Joe McCarthyite who loathed F.D.R. and Ike and tirelessly advanced the theory that American Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe (“geese,” he called them) were all likely Communists.

Surely Palin knows no more about Pegler than she does about the Bush doctrine. But the people around her do, and they will be shaping a Palin presidency. That they would inject not just Pegler’s words but spirit into their candidate’s speech shows where they’re coming from. Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager, said that the Palin-sparked convention created “a whole new Republican Party,” but what it actually did was exhume an old one from its crypt.

To show exactly how well the neo-conservatives have managed to damage the Obama campaign and bring the spotlight over to where they want and need it, Rich comments:

A week ago the question was: Is Sarah Palin qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? The question today: What kind of president would Sarah Palin be?

And he’s right. The only chance Obama has of winning this election is to take the focus off Palin and put it squarely onto the shoulders of John McCain, who cannot handle the weight. If voters can see the issues and see that McCain has no real solutions to lessen their burden, and to see that he is not, in fact, offering any real change at all, then we might stand a chance. But if the focus stays on Palin, then the neocon’s plan will work and John McCain will become the patsy president while these right-wing ideologues continue to groom Ms. Palin for her “rightful” place on the throne. 

Don’t fool yourself into doubting that what Palin and the people pulling her strings are creating here is a return to the past. Not only are they resurrecting the ghosts of McCarthyism, they’re preaching it all over again, only this time the finger’s not pointed at communists, but at “liberals who threaten good, small town, patriotic, real Americans”. If you stop and think for just a moment, you’ll see that this game’s been in play for quite some time. Remember the Bush/Cheney mantra? If you’re not with us, then you’re against us? 

Sarah Palin is an attractive pawn. She leans even more to the right than George W. Bush and she will be the voice of America if we don’t brush up quickly on our own history. And it’s not that we’ll have an unqualified president in office, but that we’ll have a president created with perfection by people who have a vision of America that may not be what most Republican voters actually believe they are voting for. 

Republicans already know that they can win anything by tempting our fears. The Democrats need to quickly learn this, too. Take the focus off Palin and return it to the issues at hand. McCain is nothing without his running mate. He’s standing on an empty box. Reveal what’s inside and more people will come around. Not all, mind you; some folks are already too invested in the path they’re on to admit to themselves that the emperor has no clothes. But many will start to see the truth. And they will act.

However, if we fail, then I would get used to the idea of Sarah Palin being a household name for many years to come. 

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