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President Obama will announce a drawdown of 10,000 U.S.forces fromAfghanistanin a speech tomorrow evening. According to White House officials, the withdrawal will consist of 5,000 troops this summer and another 5,000 troops after the summer fighting season ends. They plan to withdrawal 30,000 troops within 12 months.
Yesterday, in an interview on CNN, Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated that the U.S.will continue to have a strong presence in Afghanistan, but conceded that political realities necessitated a beginning of “credible” troop withdrawals. These political realities are a major reason for Gates’ decision to leave his post. “[Frankly] I can’t imagine being part of a nation, part of a government … that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world.” This startling statement, told to Newsweek writers John Barry and Tara McKelvey, reflected his concern that economic and political strife have diminished the ability of the United States to continue being the indispensable nation of the world.
The political pressure on President Obama is coming from both the left and the right. With the economy slowly recovering and an unemployment rate over 9%, both political parties have been arguing that the war is simply too costly. The war cost the U.S. $128 billion dollars last year. It is estimated that the war has a monthly price tag of $8 billion. However, the cost of the war is only one line of attack.
Isolationism is becoming the hot new trend among Republicans who seem to be pushing their views rightward, closer to Ron Paul’s brand of Libertarianism. This trend has concerned Reagan Republicans like John McCain: “This is isolationism. There’s always been an isolation strain in the Republican Party… but now it seems to have moved more center stage, so to speak.” The GOP presidential hopefuls find themselves opposing everything President Obama stands for, even if it is continuing a war that was started by the last Republican President– George W. Bush. Strangely enough, these GOP presidential hopefuls find themselves in bed with liberals who also oppose the war.
Liberals oppose the war, too, but this opposition is a vestige of their opposition to Bush’s wars. But now, with a Democratic President in the White House, they have replaced Bush bashing with Obama bashing. Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com, for example, has spent the last two years equating President Obama with President Bush. Recently, he wrote that President Obama’s legal lawyers were worse than President Bush’s. Much of their complaints are rooted in claims that the President is trying to win a losing battle– a battle with objectives that he has not clearly defined. Today, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sent President Obama a letter in which he wrote : “After 10 years and $443 billion, I believe it is time [to] focus our resources on rebuildingAmerica, not on rebuildingAfghanistan… It is time for the Afghan people to decide their destiny and take responsibility for governing themselves. … It is my hope that by redefining the mission inAfghanistan away from nation-building, you will pursue significant troop reductions immediately and end the scope of our current mission well before the 2014 deadline.”
Both parties feel completely free to attack the President on this issue because the American public has also turned against the war. In a recent Pew Poll, 56% of Americans said that they wanted to bring the troops home, a record number. Only 39% believed that troops should stay and continue their mission. These sentiments have been reflected in many other polls conducted in the last few months.
But here is the problem: Americans do not understand the mission inAfghanistan, which is why the American public wants us to leave. This is the fault of Presidents Bush and Obama. But President Obama is doing the right thing by pursuing a responsible withdrawal, rather than a rush to exit. If people would actually study what is happening inAfghanistan, learn the country’s history, and look carefully at what our political and military leaders have said about our mission there, then they would be less eager to see the troop abandonAfghanistanso quickly. As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, the consequences of leavingAfghanistantoo quickly would be more dangerous than the consequences of theU.S.continuing its mission and pursing a responsible withdrawal. All one has to do is look at the two times that theU.S.abandonedAfghanistan. The first time was just after the Soviets fled Afghanistan, and we left the Afghans to a bloody civil war that resulted in nearly half a million people being killed and created a power vacuum that allowed the Taliban to come to power. The second time was in our rush to invade another country:Iraq. We ignoredAfghanistanand allowed the Taliban to regroup, train, and retake many parts of the country. Unfortunately, Americans are war weary and they do not care about any of this.
Perhaps they will keep this in mind the next time they decide to rush into war all jacked up on patriotic zeal… but I seriously doubt it.
This was a landslide, bottom line.
According to CNN, Barack Obama won 349 Electoral Votes to John McCain’s 163. Barack Obama also came away with 52% of the popular vote to McCain’s 48% (roughly 58 million to 52 million, respectively). Last night’s victory was not only a victory for Barack Obama, or the Democratic party, but it was a victory for America. It was also a victory for the world. Finally, the American people have repudiated the Bush administration and have embraced Obama’s message of change. We will see in the next few months how that change will look.
As President-Elect Obama begins his transition into the White House, he faces tremendous challenges. In his acceptance speech last night, he acknowledged that it will take time to overcome all the challenges– it will take more than one year, and more than one term, to overcome all the challenges that he will face as President. The premier challenge, no doubt, will be the failing economy. He will also have to move quickly to meet his promise of resolving the Iraq war within the first 18 months of his term. In addition to that, he will need to tackle the Afghanistan war, which will require more troops, more money, and more co-operation from Pakistan. The biggest challenge, and most important challenge in that region, will be the Middle-East peace process, which has suffered greatly due to a non-existent U.S. role during the last eight years. Of course, there are a whole host of other domestic issues he has to face: health care, education reform, energy independence, and more. Those might have to be placed on the back-burner, unfortunately, until the economy levels off.
But Obama is off to a great start.
He’s already offered the job of Chief of staff to former Clinton aide and Illinois Rep. Rahm Emmanuel. Robert Kennedy Jr., a leading environmental activist, has offered his help to the President-Elect, as has John McCain and a whole host of former and current government officials, including former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, Colin Powell (who has already said he would not serve in an Obama administration), John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and many more. Obama has a whole range of people to choose from when he starts to appoint cabinet members. One thing is for sure: if he is serious about reaching across party lines, then he needs to include Republicans in his cabinet. Otherwise, those promises will be just as hollow as when President-Elect George W. Bush made them.
As Obama gears up for January 20, 2009, the GOP and John McCain are gearing up for civil war.
This election was a repudiation of President Bush, but it was also a repudiation of the GOP brand. Now that the election is over, the party needs to turn inwards and reflect upon its mistakes. It has to change and adapt to the new political environment if it wants to survive. If it does not, then the GOP will find itself in exile for years and years to come. The new task is to find a new leader and to find the courage to work with Democrats in congress. Otherwise, they will find themselves in the role of obstructionists without a direction.
One such leader might very well be Sarah Palin. Many GOP insiders reject the notion out of hand, but there are party members who love the idea of Palin being the new voice of the party.
Of those who reject Palin are George Will and Kathleen Parker. They view her as unready, unknowledgeable, and unpopular. The basis for these claims stems from her less than stellar interviews and her performance on the campaign trail. Others, such as Laura Ingram and Sean Hannity, think that she is a person who can run in 2012, effectively putting her at the head of the party as John McCain’s defeat (and the defeat of several GOP Senators and Representatives) has created a power vacuum.
In the last day or so the quiet grumblings between Palin and McCain aides has exploded onto the national stage. McCain aides have already begun the process of scapegoating Palin. Before the election, anonymous McCain aides described Palin as a “rogue” and “diva”, who was not absorbing the complex policy issues. Palin, for her part, has been complaining that the McCain camp was keeping her from being herself and keeping her from participating in interviews. The McCain camp simply responded, essentially, the few interviews she had were horrific enough– imagine dozens of those kinds of interviews. Their argument basically came down to damage control. Which begs the question– Well, then why the hell did you pick her?
John McCain now has the chance to spend more time with his family, as Sarah Palin begins to prepare for a possible 2012 run, America, and the world, prepares for an Obama administration.
The world over has been celebrating the Obama win. It signals to the world that the U.S. is back. We’re ready to be that beacon of hope, that shining city on a hill, once again. Iran has expressed it’s congratulations and hope that Obama will engage them in direct diplomacy, adding “The president-elect has promised changes in policies. There is a capacity for the improvement of ties between America and Iran if Obama pursues his campaign promises, including not confronting other countries as Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also concentrating on America’s state matters and removing the American people’s concerns”; French PM Sarkozy spoke glowingly of President-Elect Obama: “With the world in turmoil and doubt, the American people, faithful to the values that have always defined America’s identity, have expressed with force their faith in progress and the future. At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond”; Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai applauded Obama’s vitory, yet added that he would like to see the killing of Afghanistan’s civilians halted; Britain’s PM said, “Barack Obama ran an inspirational campaign, energising politics with his progressive values and his vision for the future. I know Barack Obama and we share many values. We both have determination to show that government can act to help people fairly through these difficult times facing the global economy”; Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on your historic victory in the presidential election. The world faces significant challenges at the start of your term. I am convinced that Europe and the United States will work closely and in a spirit of mutual trust together to confront new dangers and risks and will seize the opportunities presented by our global world”; Kevin Rudd, Australia’s PM, added that “Senator Obama’s message of hope is not just for America’s future, it is also a message of hope for the world as well. A world which is now in many respects fearful for its future”; Israel’s FM Tzip Livni said, cautiously, “Israel expects the close strategic cooperation with the new administration, president and Congress will continue along with the continued strengthening of the special and unshakeable special relationship between the two countries”; and an aide to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s President, said, “We hope the president-elect in the United States will stay the course and would continue the U.S. engagement in the peace process without delay. We hope the two-state vision would be transferred from a vision to a realistic track immediately.”
Obama’s got a huge mess before him and he’s going to act fast, in a manner reminiscent of FDR’s first 100 days. For those people who claim Obama is a radical, or is dangerous for our country, think about this: He has inherited Bush’s mess and does not want to be stuck with the blame by making it worse, so he will do everything in his power to solve these problems. Another factor to keep in mind is the fact that he is this nation’s first African-American President. If he fails to provide effective leadership, or is too radical, then he will have effectively ruined any possible hope for another African-American president, or any other minority, for that minority. He has the eyes of the world upon him, but he also has the burden of history on his back. He cannot fail and he cannot do anything to compromise his legacy as the first African-American President.
Expect him to find his way towards unity and compromise. Also, expect him to use restraint and caution in his decisions– he is not impetuous or spontaneous. He will be deliberate and thoughtful with every decision. As Colin Powell said today in an interview, we have no reason to be worried about an Obama administration.
The Election is tomorrow!
In other news…
On highway 101, in Santa Barbara, California (just an hour south from where I live in Santa Maria), there is an Iraq war vet waving a gun and flag, wearing his camouflage uniform, and screaming anti-Obama slurs. He has caused the whole highway to be shut down, as SWAT teams are in place, and apparently are trying to negotiate with a clearly delusional and suicidal individual.
I’m very disturbed by this. I’m worried about the state of our country.
Just the other day, a friend was telling me about a pick-up truck with a horrible anti-Obama sign on it. It read:
<center><i>What’s the difference between Kennedy and Obama?
This racist bullshit is very upsetting to me. I am so ashamed of my country every time I see this. How can we be the beacon of hope for the rest of the world when we still have subversive and fringe elements that cannot even tolerate an African American as President. We’ll have to be constantly on guard against an assassination attempt. It’s very disappointing.
Why can’t these people disagree with him on substance and issues (as I have, as many of you might recall from the Primary season), instead of race? This is the sort of feelings that have been encouraged, implicitly, by McCain and Palin over the last few months.
I really feel bad for the vet. I am guessing that the war had a serious impact on his mental health. He needs to see a professional and get some help… then he needs to be locked up for the duration of Obama’s presidency. That’s one less psycho on the streets.
The whole election is really getting to me.
I’m constantly thinking about, talking about it, writing about it, and reading about it. I dream about it! I’ll be awake for the next three days I’m sure!
I am of two minds on the election: my rational and irrational mind.
The rational side of my brain thinks he will win in a landslide. The polls, I believe, do not take into account the huge number of people that have registered (overwhelmingly as democrats) during this election, especially among African Americans and the youth. I also think there might be a reverse Bradley-effect.
The irrational side of my brain thinks John McCain still has hope. The polls show a tight race, with Obama about 5% ahead. Polls also show that about 5-7% of voters are undecided. If McCain can win the bulk of those voters, he can win this thing. Also, if the youth voters continue their tradition of not voting, then Obama is screwed. He needs them to vote, not to stay home and smoke weed while playing Guitar Hero.
I’m very worried, but not as worried as Larry David, the co-creator of <i>Seinfeld</i> and the creator of <i>Curb Your Enthusiasm</i>. Here’s what he wrote on the Huffington Post:
<i>I can’t take much more of this. Two weeks to go, and I’m at the end of my rope. I can’t work. I can eat, but mostly standing up. I’m anxious all the time and taking it out on my ex-wife, which, ironically, I’m finding enjoyable. This is like waiting for the results of a biopsy. Actually, it’s worse. Biopsies only take a few days, maybe a week at the most, and if the biopsy comes back positive, there’s still a potential cure. With this, there’s no cure. The result is final. Like death.
Five times a day I’ll still say to someone, “I don’t know what I’m going to do if McCain wins.” Of course, the reality is I’m probably not going to do anything. What can I do? I’m not going to kill myself. If I didn’t kill myself when I became impotent for two months in 1979, I’m certainly not going to do it if McCain and Palin are elected, even if it’s by nefarious means. If Obama loses, it would be easier to live with it if it’s due to racism rather than if it’s stolen. If it’s racism, I can say, “Okay, we lost, but at least it’s a democracy. Sure, it’s a democracy inhabited by a majority of disgusting, reprehensible turds, but at least it’s a democracy.” If he loses because it’s stolen, that will be much worse. Call me crazy, but I’d rather live in a democratic racist country than a non-democratic non-racist one. (It’s not exactly a Hobson’s choice, but it’s close, and I think Hobson would compliment me on how close I’ve actually come to giving him no choice. He’d love that!)
The one concession I’ve made to maintain some form of sanity is that I’ve taken to censoring my news, just like the old Soviet Union. The citizenry (me) only gets to read and listen to what I deem appropriate for its health and well-being. Sure, there are times when the system breaks down. Michele Bachmann got through my radar this week, right before bedtime. That’s not supposed to happen. That was a lapse in security, and I’ve had to make some adjustments. The debates were particularly challenging for me to monitor. First I tried running in and out of the room so I would only hear my guy. This worked until I knocked over a tray of hors d’oeuvres. “Sit down or get out!” my host demanded. “Okay,” I said, and took a seat, but I was more fidgety than a ten-year-old at temple. I just couldn’t watch without saying anything, and my running commentary, which mostly consisted of “Shut up, you prick!” or “You’re a fucking liar!!!” or “Go to hell, you cocksucker!” was way too distracting for the attendees, and finally I was asked to leave.
Assuming November 4th ever comes, my big decision won’t be where I’ll be watching the returns, but if I’ll be watching. I believe I have big jinx potential and may have actually cost the Dems the last two elections. I know I’ve jinxed sporting events. When my teams are losing and I want them to make a comeback, all I have to do is leave the room. Works every time. So if I do watch, I’ll do it alone. I can’t subject other people to me in my current condition. I just don’t like what I’ve turned into — and frankly I wasn’t that crazy about me even before the turn. This election is having the same effect on me as marijuana. All of my worst qualities have been exacerbated. I’m paranoid, obsessive, nervous, and totally mental. It’s one long, intense, bad trip. I need to come down. Soon. </i>
I feel his pain.
I have to say that I am totally disappointed in Senator Obama’s performance tonight. This was a perfect opportunity to put away Senator McCain, and Obama blew it. Instead, he spent a great deal of time defending himself and explaining himself. Throughout the debate, Obama was cool and collected, and he was able to connect to voters on important issues like health care and education, but he allowed McCain to assume the dominant and aggressive position throughout the night. Now, Obama did not have to hit a home-run tonight because he is in a commanding lead in the polls, but he really should have performed better. He was flat and boring. In short, Obama sucked tonight.
On the other hand, while McCain was aggressive and in attack mode (his comfort zone), he failed to hit a home-run, as well. He failed to provide any details or background on his proposals. More importantly, he failed to follow through on his attacks on Obama, vis a vis Ayers and ACORN. Like his campaign thus far, he was erratic and all over the place, instead of being focused and on message. To his credit, he beat Obama over the head with two issues: Obama’s tax policy and the economy. The latter has been Obama’s strength, but McCain bested him tonight on that topic. However, overall, McCain came across as mean spirited, hateful, and angry. This may have been the cause of his erratic responses throughout the night. While McCain may have pleased his base on issues like abortion and taxes, he did not connect with Independent voters, who will be deciding this election. And, as I wrote in my previous blog, they hate attacks, which is all McCain did tonight. It will be interesting how they respond to tonight’s debate.
Tonight was a draw. Simply put. Obama failed to wow the viewers, and McCain failed to prove his case that he is any different from Bush or that Obama is a dangerous individual. Though tonight was a draw, that is essentially a default victory for Obama and a default loss for McCain. Obama needed only maintain the staus quo of the race, while McCain needed a decisive victory, which he failed to get.
The real winner in tonight’s debate, however, was moderator Bob Schieffer, who succeeded in drawing the two candidates away from their talking points and succeeded in getting them to confront one another. He asked thoughtful and interesting questions tonight that made this the best debate of the election. Good for you, Bob!
Now, we’re off to November 4th!
Oh, and I do have to make one other point. I went to Canada over the summer for my honeymoon. My wife and I stayed in Victoria. We fell in love with the place, but we also fell in love with the people. They were so kind, tolerant, intelligent, thoughtful, and giving. I thought, “Wow, the Canadians are very different from Americans.” I come across so many people in America who are ignorant, hateful, loud, and selfish. By no means do I think all, or even the majority, of Americans are that way, but there are elements of our country that fail, I think to live up to the standards of our forefathers. I thought Canadians had.
Well, that bubble sure burst when I started getting such hateful posts from an individual called clancop, who is a Canadian. He’s a little ball of hate, that guy. I guess I was wrong about Canada. Well, that’s what happens when you make generalizations, I suppose.
What about another?
I’m very curious about how this last debate will go. Clearly, Barack Obama and Biden have shut-out McCain & Palin in the first three debates, so McCain really has to step up his game in this last debate. He needs a game changer. McCain has said that this debate will not be a game changer… which leads me to believe that he might want it to be a game changer. Does that make sense?
But Senator McCain has already said that he intends to “whip” Obama’s “you know what.” Hmmm…. He also said in a radio interview that he intends to bring up the Ayers connection, a reaction to Senator Obama’s assertion that McCain didn’t have the guts to make those accusations to his face. So, will McCain gloss over his economic plans so he can beat Obama silly with Ayers? I hope so! Independents do not like it when a candidate goes negative, and according to a recent New York Times/CBS poll Independents think that McCain has been far more negative than Barack Obama. In fact, the poll found that McCain’s attacks have had the reverse effect than they intended: McCain’s negative ratings have gone up and Barack Obama’s positive ratings have gone up. According to a recent national survey by Democracy Corps , Independent voters favored Obama over McCain by 17%. So I say let McCain attack, attack, attack.
Barack Obama, who has been coasting his way to a 14% lead over McCain (according to the same New York Times/CBS poll ), can really seal the deal tomorrow night. The reason the second Obama-McCain debate was so boring to me was that it was simply a rehashing of all the same lines that were used in the first debate. Tomorrow night, Obama needs to go on the offensive; he needs to hit a homerun. Obama should already know what is coming tomorrow night (because McCain has made it clear what he intends to do) and he ought to be ready to deflect those attacks and put McCain on the ropes. He needs to be more specific about what he intends to do to improve our economy, to keep us safe in an increasingly dangerous world, and to solve our health care crisis. If only offers talking points and platitudes, then John McCain could very well win tomorrow’s debate.
Both candidates will not, fortunately, have much opportunity to relapse into talking points or generalizations, or to pull a Palin and disregard the questions altogether… at least according to tomorrow’s moderator Bob Schieffer. Bob Schieffer has said recently, “By now we’ve all heard their talking points. We’ve heard the general outlines of what they are talking about. The time has come to be a little more specific.” He also added, “It will not embarrass me, if they go off in a different direction, to say `excuse me, could you focus on the question that I just asked?” Hopefully, he has more sense than the other moderators to make the debate interesting and insightful. This last debate, as Schieffer himself noted, could very well be the deciding factor for those undecideds.
Okay, and one to go on…
The whole ACORN fiasco is nothing but a sign of the right’s desperation. They see conspiracy theories everywhere: Obama is a closet Muslim, they scream; He registered people to vote, they cry; He knew a man who was a domestic terrorist forty years ago, they squeal. Frankly, I want to hear about policy issues, not frantic accusations.
The ACORN debacle has been pushed primarily by a right-wing columnist named Stanley Kurtz, of the ultra-conservative National Review. The basic gist of his “logic” is that Obama became BFF’s with William Ayers while they sat on the board of the Annenberg Challenge, and, surprise surprise, they both attended board meetings. Most of Kurtz’s arguments are based on very weak, however passionately put forth, information. Not even Kurtz himself entirely believes his own assertions. “Does that mean Obama himself schooled Acorn volunteers in disruptive ‘direct action?’ Not necessarily,” He wrote. At another point, he only goes so far as to write, “Part of Obama’s work, it would appear, was to organize demonstrations, much in the mold of radical groups like Acorn.” Mostly, Kurtz is engaging in the lowest form of character assassination.
It should be mentioned that anytime people want to organize or help other people, it is immediately denounced as “radical” or “leftist” by pieces of shit like Kurtz. Oh, dear god, especially when people are trying to get poor people to register to vote. Boy do the right-wingers go bat shit!
The Annenberg Challenge was established to reform the schools of Chicago, which were in desperate need of help. They even were awarded a 50 million dollar grant in order to meet this goal. The Annenberg Challenge engaged in such radical and leftist activities as trying to reduce class size, trying to bring schools and the community closer together, and encouraging teachers to work together and to further their education. Wow. That’s radical. So radical, in fact, that the program was created by staunchly conservative Walter Annenberg, a friend of Ronald Reagan, a big-time GOP donor, and US ambassador to Britain under President Nixon.
Stanley Kurtz was so curious about this topic that he demanded to see the Annenberg records. Confused librarians at the University of Illinois at Chicago (where, incidently, Ayers is a Professor of Education) were unsure about whether or not Kurtz was allowed access, so they denied his request. This immediately was seized upon as evidence that Obama and Ayers were trying to cover up their relationship. He wrote, “Circumstances strongly suggest the likelihood that Bill Ayers himself may have played a pivotal role in this denial.” Again, he’s pulling this right out of his ass. He promised his readers that the files would be a treasure trove of information regarding Obama and Ayers’ relationship. Unfortunately for Kurtz and his ilk, Kurtz was allowed to view the records, but he still found nothing substantial. Oops!
The Chicago Tribune wrote this about Kurtz’s “journalism” on the subject: “This is Alice in Wonderland journalism—Conclusion first! Research afterward!” How appropriate.
Obama is slightly responisble for Kurtz’s rise in popularity… so popular, apparently, that he has gained readership around the globe (even Canada)… Instead of confronting Kurtz directly, Obama urged his supporters to call or write WGN, a radio network that allowed Kurtz air-time to spread his hate-mongering, and complain. Kurtz and his supporters again jumped on this as proof that Obama was trying to kill the story. *sigh*
Again, the reason the right is so upset by ACORN is that they have recently announced that they have registered 1.3 million new voters. The thought of people voting is frightening to the right. Especially poor people! Sure, there have been instances of fraudulent registrations across the country, but it is not voter fraud until they attempt to vote. It is also interesting to note, that these fraudulent registrations have been caught (in fact, they were even brought to the attention of election officials by… get this… ACORN itself) , thus preventing anyone from actually voting. The right screaming about voter fraud is actually very hilarious considering how they cheated Gore out of the Presidency through voter fraud in Florida.
All this talk now of potential voter fraud is designed to set Barack Obama up for charges that he stole the election. People on the right can point and scream, “See! They stole it!” Instead of accepting responsibility for the loss (bad policies, Bush fatigue, Obama is a better candidate), they’re already planning to undermine the Obama presidency.
I can’t stress enough how full of shit Kurtz is. And I can’t stress enough how much I hope McCain brings this up during the next debate, because he will lose. The American people want to hear solutions, not groundless personal attacks.
PALIN IS IN DEEP SHIT UP IN ALASKA!!
So, here we go again…
The latest attacks from right-wing bloggers, McCain sympathizers, and CNN’s Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs, have to do with Senator Obama’s “ties” to ACORN. The right really has nothing to talk about. The McCain campaign– through McCain advisor Greg Strimple– has already said that it intends to “turn the page” on the economy, and focus on personal attacks in the final 26 days. Speakers at McCain rallies use Obama’s middle name (Hussein) in an attempt to somehow cast him as a radical Muslim in some terrorist cell. A McCain campaign co-chairman and former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating went as far as to belittle Obama as simply a “guy of the street… who used cocaine.” He also went on to discuss Rev. Jeremiah Wright , even though Senator John McCain himself said that topic was off-limits. The rhetoric from the McCain camp is so intense that it is affecting the attitudes of people going to his rallies. People could be heard shouting “Kill him!” and “terrorist!” as VP wannabe Sarah Palin attempted to link Obama to Bill Ayers .
The bottomline is this– the McCain people are desperate and they’re willing to throw anything and everything at Senator Obama… including an ACORN.
As many may or may not know, ACORN has gotten into some trouble over the past few weeks for voter registration fraud. Apparently, dead people and the Dallas Cowboy’s want to vote in this election, which would be admirable if it were truely them registering. As with the Ayers scandal, the slightest connection to this controversial group translates into HUGE and CLOSE ties in the minds of the right-wing, who scream at the media for failing to ask Obama serious questions about his ties to ACORN, Ayers, Wright, or space invaders. The fact is, his relationship to all of them has been thoroughly investigated by the media and internet bloggers over the last 19 months.
Let’s start at the begining…
According to Fox News, there are “three stages of connection” between ACORN and Senator Obama: he represented ACORN in court; he trained ACORN orgainzers; and that he was appointed head of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge board by Bill Ayers, and then the two used government money to fund ACORN.
Let’s take the first charge…
In 1995, Barack Obama, in conjunction with the US Department of Justice, represented a group of organizations that were trying to force the State of Illinois to comply with a federal voting access law, called the Motor Voter law. One of those organizations just happened to be ACORN. In fact, much of Obama’s early work in Chicago was related to civil and voting rights, and for his efforts he was rewarded with the IVI-IPO Legal Eagle Award in 1995.
… and then the second charge…
Barack Obama never trained or organized for ACORN. In 1992, Obama did orgainze with the non-partisan group Project Vote in their registration drive, which many of the right-wing blowhards cite as proof positive of his links to ACORN. Unfortunately for them, the facts are in the way. ACORN and Project Vote did not begin to co-ordinate their efforts until 1994– for those conservatives out ther who can’t do math, that’s two years. The National Director for Project Vote‘s 1992 voter registration was Sanford Newman, who wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal to debunk the myth that Obama was organizing for ACORN. Newman also wrote
that Obama turned down lucrative and far more prestigious job offers to accept the “meager salary” of Project Vote. As Newman noted, this was Obama’s “deep commitment to strengthening the democratic process [which] is something that all Americans should applaud regardless of their party or politics.”
…and the last charge…
On Saturday October 3, 2008, the New York Times reported that:
Some bloggers have recently speculated that Mr. Ayers had engineered that post for him. In fact, according to several people involved, Mr. Ayers played no role in Mr. Obama’s appointment. Instead, it was suggested by Deborah Leff, then president of the Joyce Foundation, a Chicago-based group whose board Mr. Obama, a young lawyer, had joined the previous year… Ms. Leff suggested that Mr. Obama would make a good board chairman, she said in an interview. Mr. Ayers was not present and had not suggested Mr. Obama, she said. Ms. Graham said she invited Mr. Obama to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Chicago and was impressed. “At the end of the dinner I said, ‘I really want you to be chairman.’ He said, ‘I’ll do it if you’ll be vice chairman,’ ” Ms. Graham recalled, and she agreed.
The McCain camp needs to throw a Hail Mary. The polls look bad for McCain, but the Electoral map looks even worse. If recent poll findings hold, or move more into Senator Obama’s favor, then Senator McCain has no chance of victory come this November 4th. That is what is enraging his supporters. Those hardline Republican’s have been angrily demanding that McCain go after Obama more aggressively.
I agree. He should.
But here’s why–
John McCain cannot win by simply appealing to his base. He is going to need the support of Independents, but he is not going to get their support by making personal attacks against Obama’s character. They want to hear about issues that matter to them.
Bill Ayers doesn’t matter to them.
ACORN doesn’t matter to them.
What matters to them is health care, the war, the economy, and changing Washington. If John McCain wants to play in the mud, then let him. He’s only spelling out his own doom..
Well, tonight was the second Presidential debate. This debate comes amid an increasing nasty campaign. Interestingly, Cindy McCain went as far as to say that Barack Obama has run the nastiest campaign ever. Strong words.
I personally found the debate to be pretty boring. They both failed to provide anything new or interesting; the debate rules also stifled what could have been a rousing debate. Even Tom Brokaw added to the inanity of the spectacle. Instead, I thought that the debate was essentially a repeat of the first, only the candidates were able to stretch their legs and walk around. I guess that allowed us to see the difference in their age, but it really did not add to the substance of the debate.
Barack Obama won the debate. Narrowly. Clearly, this format was well suited for John McCain, yet he did not win the debate, which he desperately needed to do. His answers were erratic and lacked coherence; McCain could barely contain his contempt for Obama; and he was quite nasty in some of his condescending side comments (particularly when he referred to Obama as “that one”). At the end of the debate, he would not shake Obama’s hand (nor did Cindy McCain shake the hand of Michelle Obama) and he quickly exited the stage because he could not stand to be in the presence of Barack Obama. McCain needed to win this debate to change the dynamics of the race and to give his campaign a shot in the arm. Instead, the race has not changed at all by this debate, which is bad news for McCain.
But this is also good news for Barack Obama. Though Obama seemed a bit uncomfortable in this format and tended to come across as defensive (or whiny), his comments were very focused. He seemed to be empathetic to the suffering of the American public, which he has struggled with throughout the campaign. His most successful tactic, however, was his repeated attempts to connect McCain to Bush. This goes to the heart of the question of McCain’s judgement and his ability to produce any change.
In the end, John McCain came across as someone who spent a lot of time before the debate preparing his remarks regarding the economy. He did a surprising good job in that discussion, but Obama was still better at connecting with the middle-class. Unfortunately, for McCain, he seemed unable to appear strong on foreign policy, which is his strength. Obama bested him in that, as well. McCain was simply repeating the attacks that he had been leveling at Obama over the past few months, but Obama was brilliant in his ability to deflect those attacks and turn them on McCain.
The most memorable moments for me came from Obama. Firstly, Obama fought back against McCain’s assertion that Obama was naive or didn’t understand foreign policy by saying: “Well, you know, Sen. McCain, in the last debate and today, again, suggested that I don’t understand. It’s true. There are some things I don’t understand. I don’t understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us. That was Sen. McCain’s judgment and it was the wrong judgment. When Sen. McCain was cheerleading the president to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we’d be greeted as liberators. That was the wrong judgment, and it’s been costly to us.”
The second moment came when Obama cited his mother’s experience, in the final months of her struggle against cancer, fighting the insurance companies that wanted to deny her service. That, to me, not only demonstrated that he personally understands the frustration we all feel about the state of our health care system, but it also showed that he was making a sharp contrast between his plan and McCain’s plan.
John McCain left no impression upon my mind about his performance tonight. Instead, I come away feeling like he was mean and condescending. Sure, he was great at connecting with people in the room who were already leaning towards him, and he did well at coming across as being at ease, but he failed to express his views. Instead, he spent the entire time attacking Obama, instead of building up his own policies.
In the final analysis, Obama won the debate, narrowly, but it does not change the dynamics of the race, which spells trouble for McCain, but is great news for Obama.
What the fuck is with people and trying to connect Obama to shady people?
Recently, I had an argument with a co-worker who was trying to say that Obama’s close financial advisor was Franklin Raines, a former CEO of Fannie Mae. It took me about two minutes to go online and show him that he was full of shit. Raines and Obama are not close. Obama has never sought advice from Raines and Raines never provided him advice. According to Raines’ own statements, someone from the Obama camp called him about some general economic questions, but nothing regarding the housing industry. This hardly qualifies him an advisor, let alone a close advisor.
At a recent campaign rally, Sarah Palin took “the gloves off” and accused Obama of being a close friend of Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground. Ayers was arrested for his participation in bombings throughout the early years of the 1970. He was later released and all charges against him were dropped, due to improper surveillance by the FBI.
Remember that at the time of the bombings, Barack Obama (then Barry) was about eight years old.
Despite his criminal past, Ayers went on to become a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also began a life of community organizing in Chicago, where he met Barack Obama. They even lived in the same nieghborhood.
Ayers has also worked with Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, to reform Chicago’s public schools. He went on to sit on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, an anti-poverty, philanthropic foundation. Between 1999 and 2002, Ayers sat on that Booard with Barack Obama, however, the group met only four times a year, not including the occasional dinners hosted by the group. The two men also appeared together at academic conferences.
The source of all the controversy stems from a 1995 dinner at Ayer’s home, which Obama attended. At the dinner, Illinois Senator Alice Palmer was announcing her intention to run for Congress– and to introduce Barack Obama as her successor. In 2001, Ayers contributed a mere $200 to Obama’s re-election campaign
The bottomline is that these were two men from the same nieghborhood who had overlapping circles of interest and friends. The two men might be considered friends, but it does not neccesarily mean that the two of them are close friends. Obama has repeatedly said that he does not condone the actions of Ayers during his time as a Weatherman, and that those actions in no way should reflect negatively upon Obama’s values.
The McCain camp and right-wing bloggers want to link them as friendly like-minded radicals. They point to a New York Times interview in which Ayers said, “I don’t regret setting bombs.” This comment came during an interview for his memoir Fugitive Days. However, this was a comment made before 9/11. Since then, he has since written in his blog, “I’m often quoted saying that I have ‘no regrets’. This is not true. For anyone paying attention–and I try to stay wide-awake to the world around me all/ways–life brings misgivings, doubts, uncertainty, loss, regret. I’m sometimes asked if I regret anything I did to oppose the war in Viet Nam, and I say ‘no, I don’t regret anything I did to try to stop the slaughter of millions of human beings by my own government.’ Sometimes I add, ‘I don’t think I did enough.’ This is then elided: he has no regrets for setting bombs and thinks there should be more bombings… I’ve never advocated terrorism, never participated in it, never defended it. The U.S. government, by contrast, does it routinely and defends the use of it in its own cause consistently… ” Though there might be some contradictions in statements, he does appear to have regret for his actions.
It is not surprising, as recent Gallup Poll data suggests Obama is increasing his lead over McCain, that McCain would stoop so low as to engage in Swift-Boat style politics. For a man who, from the outset, said that he would run an honest and clean campaign, it is deplorable how much mud he slings in hopes that some of it will stick.
I checked out Barack Obama and John McCain’s Politifact profiles. Guess which candidate is the most honest? That’s right: Barack Obama. That is not to say that he has not stretched the truth, but he doesn’t have as many distortions or downright lies as McCain.
Check out the following: