Archive for Democrats

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. 

Hypocrisy 101

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by halmasonberg

I’m all for Republicans backing Sarah Palin. She’s their nominee for VP and McCain’s pick. Sure, there are some questionable things going on in her life, both personally and professionally, that bring up certain unavoidable questions, but we all must stand behind the party we believe to be the best suited to run this country. 

However, what I find to be astoundingly hypocritical are the folks calling any criticisms of Palin “sexist” and unfair.

A coterie of Republican women sought to curtail what they said was inappropriate criticism of Sarah Palin’s record as governor, her past political affiliations, and her family life, lambasting the news media for what they said were sexist attacks on the vice-presidential nominee. –reported by

Now that’s different in my mind from Obama asking the press to “back off” on public probes into Palin’s family life. Assume for a moment that it was Joe Biden’s daughter who was 17, unmarried and pregnant. Now you tell me what the response would be from the GOP and the religious right. Do you think it would be live and let live? Or what if it was Obama’s daughter? Would the GOP refrain from making comments and judgments? Of course not. They would be ravenous. Bloodthirsty. They would be screaming at the top of their lungs that if either of these men couldn’t control their own families, how could they then be trusted to run a country. And the religious right would be denouncing both of these men and their families as representing all that is wrong with “liberal” thinking and an example of failed morals. Add to the equation that Sarah Palin is vehemently anti-sex-ed and an active supporter of abstinence-only programs, and we have more than enough legitimate reasons to ask some questions that may be of concern to some of us. It’s not a judgement of Palin’s daughter, or even of Palin’s family, but of Palin’s ability to make choices and support programs that work. It’s a question of Palin’s ability to comprehend the realities of the world around her. Especially if she’s going to be making decisions that effect each and every American life. 

And let’s not forget how quickly Republicans rushed to impeach Bill Clinton on his infidelity and then his perjury, while more recently denouncing Democrats for talking about doing the same to a President and Vice President who have ignored the constitution, broken dozens of laws–many resulting in the loss and endangerment of American lives–been accused of war crimes, have lied to Congress and are guilty of gross–and many would say criminal–neglect while New Orleans drowned. This is the height of hypocrisy. The only difference I see is that Democrats haven’t the balls (with the exception of Kucinich) to actually go through with impeachment proceedings.

The Guardian article continues by quoting Carly Fiorina, a former technology company executive and top advisor to the McCain campaign:

“I find all of this conversation about whether or not she is qualified, which I think initially emanated from the Obama campaign, quite stunning,” Fiorina said. “People are trying to portray her as a show horse, not a work horse.”

Am I really reading this correctly? Should we call the GOP’s questioning of Obama’s experience racist? And wasn’t it McCain who just weeks ago took out ads suggesting that Obama was nothing more than a big celebrity and compared him to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears? Talk about portraying someone as a show horse, not a work horse! Experience or inexperience is something that needs to be questioned. Of ANY candidate. And Palin’s limited experience is certainly a real-world concern, as is Obama’s. But trying to get people to refrain from asking the questions by yelling “Sexist!” is nothing more than ugly politics and the pinnacle of hypocrisy. 

It’s a shame to me that at the Olympic games, we expect the competitors to play fairly and honestly, while during the race for the Presidency of the United States Of America, all bets are off. Integrity, honesty, decency are all thrown aside. And I think both sides are guilty. However I will say that it seems to me that Republicans are a bit more bloodthirsty with a take-no-prisoners attitude and will cross lines many Democrats won’t (or simply don’t seem to be able to) cross. 

As for the comments being asked about Sarah Palin’s experience… Back in 2004, in an interview with the Washington Times (July 15), Mitt Romney said this about Sen. John Edwards, John Kerry’s pick as running mate: The North Carolina freshman senator is too inexperienced to be vice president – let alone only an incident away from the presidency.

The Washington Times (July 8, 2004) reported this on President Bush’s stand on Edwards: 

President Bush yesterday criticized Sen. John Edwards for blocking his judicial nominations and bluntly dismissed the one-term North Carolina Democrat as too inexperienced to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Asked by a reporter how the 51-year-old senator would “stack up” against Vice President Dick Cheney – a five-term congressman who served under three presidents and was secretary of defense during the 1991 Persian Gulf War – Mr. Bush replied: “Dick Cheney can be president. Next.”

That same year, the AP (July 7, 2004) wrote this about the RNC:

The Republican National Committee (RNC) dispensed with niceties and unveiled a lengthy report on Senator Edwards highlighting his lack of political and national security experience.

Contrast that with…

In today’s Boston Herald, Mitt Romney was quoted as saying about Sarah Palin:

“She’s a Washington outsider with a commitment to the conservative principles that will make our nation stronger. I look forward to campaigning for Senator McCain, Governor Palin and Republicans all across the country.”

President Bush had this to say about Palin:

“Gov. Palin is a proven reformer who is a wise steward of taxpayer dollars and champion for accountability in government. Gov. Palin’s success is due to her dedication to principle and her roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic and serves as a wonderful example of the spirit of America. By selecting a working mother with a track record of getting things done, Sen. McCain has once again demonstrated his commitment to reforming Washington.”

RNC Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan is quoted as saying

“I applaud John McCain’s selection of Governor Sarah Palin, whose commitment to reform and record of bipartisanship is exactly what our country needs. I am confident that this team will continue to keep America safe and make our nation more prosperous.”

Now, anyone doing their homework would discover that Mr. Edwards had far more experience back in 2004 (six years in the United States Senate) than Mrs. Palin does now. And John Kerry, the presidential nominee, was young and healthy, not the oldest man who would ever be elected President and a three time cancer survivor like McCain. So, when Democrats and the media question Palin’s experience and her preparedness to be Vice President and, quite possibly President, is that really sexism? Does anyone believe that the same questions would not be asked of a white man (yes, I’m looking at you GOP)?

Now understand, in the culture we live in, issues of sexism and race are realities. We’re not fully grown, as a people or as a nation. The good news is, we’re at a place where there are many people in America who recognize sexism and bigotry as dangerous and offensive and aren’t afraid to speak out. But using these weaknesses in the American psyche as fighting tools is almost equally as offensive. And certainly just as dangerous.

Pile on top of all this, McCain’s announcement yesterday that he’s hired South Carolina political consultant Tucker Eskew. According to Pensito Review:

Eskew, along with Warren Tompkins and Neal Rhodes, were key members of then-Gov. George W. Bush’s South Carolina team during the 2000 primaries. McCain and his team long held Bush, Tompkins, Rhodes and Eskew responsible for the various smears against McCain and his family in the Palmetto state during that contentious contest.

Eskew will help Palin prepare for her Wednesday night acceptance speech at the GOP convention and for her stump speech as she hits the road, brief her on policy matters, and help her handle the media scrutiny a lifetime in Alaska does not necessarily prepare one for.

The tactics used against McCain by Bush and his allies in South Carolina left a deep scar on both McCain and his wife Cindy.

When then-Gov. Bush called upon Eskew, Tompkins and Rhodes to help him during the Florida recount, a senior McCain adviser told me that “when the going gets tough for Governor Bush, he turns to the darker side of our party. We saw that in South Carolina, and we see that today.”

And of course, just for fun, I’ll point out that McCain has voted with George W. Bush 90% of the time. He is, quite literally, intending to continue the policies of the Bush Administration if elected President. Even if it means turning to the “darker side” of his party.

Like everything I’ve mentioned above suggests, the GOP vehemently condemn and call “foul” on others for doing exactly the same things they do. And not just on smaller scales as when House Speaker-Elect Bob Livingston, a man at the forefront of the attempted impeachment of Bill Clinton due to issues surrounding marital infidelity, resigned from the House due to the “outing” of his own marital infidelities. Or House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s later confession that he was having an extramarital affair while he was leading the charge against Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. No, the hypocrisy reaches even larger, more global scales. Take United States Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Mamozy Khalilzad‘s comments at a recent news conference:

“We want to make sure our Russian colleagues understand, that the days of overthrowing leaders by military means in Europe — those days are gone.” 

As political comedian John Stewart puts it:

“It’s amazing how adding the phrase ‘in Europe’ makes our actions [in Iraq] more palatable.”

Hypocrisy continues. And at the moment, it seems to be an American way of life. And along with sexism and bigotry, I hope we one day grow out of it and allow ourselves to become a nation that leads by example.

Maybe then we will truly be The Home of the Brave.


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