Tag Archives: mccain

Barack Obama: “Enough!”

To echo Barack Obama: “Enough!” Enough of the politics of playground!

We’ve all been through it. Mostly when we were kids or teenagers, serious and resolute about something important (to us, anyway). And every time we endeavored to open our mouths to start talking about whatever that “it” was, someone else, usually the brat on the playground would start making annoying noises to pull the focus away “neener, neener, neener” “nya, nya, nya, nya, nya.” And we’d never get to articulate what that really important thing was. The annoying kid was such a huge distraction that even when we finally got to say what we meant to say, it was too late, because everyone was focused on the annoying brat.

Pigs with lipstick. Sex education for kindergartners. Pregnant teenagers. The list goes on. Geez, people. Get real, here.

When some wise person coined the term “politics of distraction,” this is what they meant. This country has so many problems right now caused by seven years of an inept, power-hungry, arrogant, destructive administration that it will take years of hard work to undo the damage (which we’ll only begin to understand in January after it’s mercifully put out of office). And this is what we’re talking about? Liptick on pigs? Give me a f-ing break.

I have an idea why the McCain campaign has kept Sarah Palin practically vacuum sealed from the press, and it isn’t exclusively because once she has to start answering real questions about her term as Governor and her time as Mayor of Wasilla she’ll melt down (like the northern reaches of her home state). No. It’s because as long as we’re all trying to figure her out: the rumors and the facts, the mythology versus the reality, we’re not talking about the issues: the “are you better now than you were eight years ago” issues. And by the time we get to the debates, the rancor will be so great that if anyone’s still paying attention at all, this side show will still dominate. It’s all of a plan.

No. Because once we start talking about the actual issues. McCain loses. No matter how hard he wishes or wants to believe it ain’t so, he chose a path several years ago that put him into bed with the Bushies and the Cheneys and the Rovies. McCain’s campaign has a bit of the Wizard of Oz in it: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” But like in Oz, the curtain eventually gets lifted to reveal a sham and a charlatan. Agent of change? Really? To listen to him (and everyone else speaking at the Republican convention) you’d have thought McCain was running as the head of the party out of power. Maverick? And that image, although once true (I actually once thought a McCain presidency would be a good thing) can no longer be claimed. To me he is the “Candidate Formerly Known as Maverick.”

So whose fault is it? I suppose you can’t really blame McCain. Is it the media, with its often “short attention-span news” take on world? Its often “he said, she said” approach, where giving both sides precludes any real sense of right vs. wrong? Fact vs. myth? Is it Obama’s fault for not hitting back harder? For trying to stick with issues and not get sidetracked by the bullsh*t?

I echo what Obama said yesterday in a speech. “Enough.” I want Obama to make John McCain talk about the issues. I want someone to insist that McCain and Palin actually talk to the press about issues. Not slogans. Not sniper fire. Issues: the economy, energy independence, Iraq (and not just the surge), Iran, Russia, climate change. I want to know what they’re going to do. I also want to know where their beliefs are: where do they stand on separation of church and state? Where do they stand on stem cell research now (and not eight years ago). I want to know where they stand on climate change. On health care. On social security (hey, I’m in my early 50s!). I want to know McCain’s and Obama’s vision for America; for reinvigorating the economy. And it’s not more tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent. Because it’s seven years post Bush’s election, and if I’m not mistaken, Bush’s trickle-down economic theory just hasn’t worked.

I demand that real reporters leave the politics of personality to US Weekly, TheNational Enquirer and People. Let them have fun. Your job as reporters is to report on the important. Not to host a debate on what “lipstick on a pig” meant in a speech. Your job is to remember that there aren’t always two sides to a story that are equally correct. Politics isn’t always Rashamon; it isn’t always Kipling and his five blind men with the elephant. Sometimes right is right and wrong is wrong. A lie is sometimes a lie, and not just a differing opinion. And a big lie isn’t less so just because it’s a big lie. And an often told lie. Maybe it’s just a lie. And your job (or so I thought) was to figure that out; expose it when necessary and call foul when it happens.

And maybe that’s finally happening. There are certainly signs of it. And what is Obama’s responsibility? Well, sometimes when that annoying playground brat won’t shut up on his own, you just gotta do it yourself. As much as Obama wants to keep it on the issues, he has to hit, and hit hard. McCain spoiling for a playground fight? I think Obama is about to grant his wish. And as unfortunate as that may be, taking more yet days away from discussing the issues, I don’t think Obama has a choice. Because, I, like Obama, have had enough!


Shocking, Sarah, Shocking

Sarah Palin, Hockey mom.  Lots of experience.  But is this what we stand for as a nation?  The Bible (which Palin believes is inerrant) tells us over and over again that kindness to animals is a commandment.  “do not yoke together an ox and an ass,” it says for the hardship to the ass would be too great.  “If you see your enemy’s animal stuck in the mud, it is your responsibility to stop what you are doing, free the animal and return it to your enemy.  Even when one needs to take eggs from a nest, we are commanded to do it when the mother bird is there.  So Sarah’s professed religious beliefs are, what, selective?  Only with regard to her own hard right Christian agenda? I am outraged.  You?

The Candidate Formerly Known as “Maverick”

Four years ago, the Republican hatchet squad took a nuanced remark by John Kerry about his voting record on the Iraq war and labeled him “flip-flopper.” Thus was born a nasty, schoolyard name-calling attack against Kerry that was used in advertisements, Republican talking points, and by right-wing (and even mainstream) hacks throughout the fall of 2004. It was used by John McCain himself, in attacking Kerry.

Last night, Kerry delivered a speech last night at the Democratic National Convention — one that had to have felt a little like payback for those 2004 attacks. The subject was: the flip flops of the candidate formerly known as “Maverick.”

Here we are four years later, and as much as the wishful thinking of the Republican machine hopes that the Democrats (and the American public) might not have noticed, Senator McCain has become quite the adept flip-flopper. And I’m not referring to nuanced and reasoned policy shifts or voting. I mean ham-handed, in your face, wholesale change of political personality. And John Kerry was the perfect person to make that perfectly and explicitly clear.

Kerry gave us the whole laundry list of the flip-flops, big-time flip flops of the candidate John McCain. Maverick? McCain? No way! No more! No how!

“To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let’s compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain,” began Senator Kerry, just warming up.

  • “Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral.
  • “Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill.
  • “Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Sen. McCain wrote.

“Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you’re against it.” Zing! You’ve gotta love it, Kerry using the Republican’s own words against him. That had to feel like the sweetest moment of the evening for Kerry. And a line he’s probably been aching to use for months, if not years.

“Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself,” continued Kerry, firing with particular precision. Just where does candidate McCain stand on the policies of Senator “Maverick” McCain, hmmm?

“And what’s more, Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same Rove tactics and the same Rove staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear.”

And don’t tell me that both McCain and Obama are using dirty tactics. That’s simply a moral relativism that doesn’t wash. McCain and his team strike fear by insinuation, using Obama’s unique background to suggest he may not be quite as American, not as patriotic, as McCain.

Obama’s commercial about McCain’s houses (called by some an attack) is relevant, because it shows him to be out of touch economically with middle class America. Anyone who can’t remember how many houses they own (even if they’re owned by a spouse) may not feel the pain of many Americans (no matter how many years he may have spent in the Hanoi Hilton).

But Kerry went on to remind us all that it’s not necessarily how many years experience you have (after all, Cheney-Rumsfeld is about as experienced as you get in a foreign policy team). It’s all about judgment; keeping cool in a crisis and surrounding yourself with people who will disagree and debate; argue, and keep you from the arrogance that the presidency can bring to bear. Ideologues make bad foreign policy, as we have seen.

And that’s not all. Kerry also made the point that all along the way, from September 11, 2001, to today’s foreign policy decisions, Obama has been right. McCain has been wrong. “Time and again,” Kerry said, “Barack Obama has seen farther, thought harder, and listened better. And time and again, Barack Obama has been proven right.”

The Rove-Bush-McCain machine will try to tap in to fear; the Obama campaign will give us a vision for the future. Voters will have to decide for themselves to whose voice they will listen.

Barack in Berlin–Values and a Vision for the Future

Posted originally on Blogcritics.org

There is much tongue clucking amongst the mainstream media gurus in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin. Was it hubris?  Arrogance?  Too much from a United States senator, who is a presidential candidate, but not yet (or perhaps never) President of the United States?  I say no.

John McCain said when asked about Obama’s speech that he would rather give that sort of speech after he became president.  (Notwithstanding the fact that McCain recently spoke both  in South America and Canada). On the other hand, what a great demonstration to the American voting public, that may have forgotten in the last seven years, of what is possible when an American leader goes abroad and gives a speech.

One of John McCain’s main campaign themes argues that Barack Obama is a foreign policy lightweight.  He practically goaded Obama into this Middle East/European tour; and Obama has used this trip to demonstrate to the US electorate (and the world) that McCain is wrong.  How Obama plays on the world stage is very much a relevant question, and one that has now clearly been put to rest.

Today’s speech in Berlin did that and more.  You say that all he did was make a speech?  Where was the meat of his policy?  Where were the specifics?  Speeches that stir; that promote a vision; that evoke ideas and ideals are sometimes as important as the specifics that come from them much, much later. And in a reality where the US presidency has been shamed and embarrassed by an anti-intellectual, arrogant cowboy, it is refreshing to hear Obama speak to the world simply and passionately about the real ideals that fuel our country.

When was the last time we saw American flags waving amidst cheering throngs in Europe; in the “Old Europe,” the Europe that the Bush administration has derided as practically irrelevant?  Obama generated an excitement at the presence of an American leader (albeit not the President) because of the promise he holds and vision he has been articulating. And the promise that through his election the confidence in our country may be regained, within our own borders and across the seas.

What is it that America is selling?  What is it about our country that makes it the best place to live?  Often the last hope of the hopeless.  “Give me your tired your poor,” says the Statue of Liberty.  “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  America is unique on our planet.  And it’s not because of our health care; not because of our economy; but because of our values and ideals.  Freedom.  Opportunity.

My grandparents called it “the goldene medina” (the golden land). “Regardless of race, creed or color.”  The blindness of our justice system.  These are our values; the things to which we aspire as Americans, and what gives citizens of other nations pause and the room to hope for something better.  The “better” that brought Obama’s father here from Kenya; that brought my grandparents here from Eastern Europe; that brought my next door neighbor here from Pakistan.

After September 11, the world stood with us.  A world united.  All the world “was a New Yorker.”  George Bush squandered that in the morass and mess of Iraq.  And today, for the first time in many years, the world sees a glimmer of where we might be, come January 2009. “The world is hungry for American leadership,” Obama told NBC newsman Brian Williams.  Leadership to face the challenges common to all “citizens of the world,” those that America, at its best, can provide: terrorism, global warming, nuclear threats, AIDS.    The list goes on.

Throngs of people cheering “USA! USA!”  Waving American Flags.  No protests, no effigies.  They see a United States where someone like Barack Obama is even possible—someone who is the embodiment of what is good and right about the United States.  And they see the hope that the walls between the US and Europe; between people of differing creeds, religions and cultures can come down, and that we can work together to make our imperfect world just a little bit better.

White House Endorses Obama’s Iraq Plan!!!

First published at Blogcritics.org

Barack Obama advocates engaging the Iranians diplomatically as a more useful strategy than saber-rattling and refusing to talk to them.  Obama is called an appeaser and (much) worse with great disdain by both the administration and the McCain camp for daring to even suggest it. This week, the US sent a diplomatic envoy to the Iran-Europe talks as “an observer” for the very first time.  Hmmm.  You say coincidence?

Barack Obama insists that our troops in Iraq may be better utilized in Afghanistan, where the gains we made in 2002 have very nearly been erased while thousands of our troops have died in a war we never should have started.  Americans are now beginning to die in greater numbers as Afghanistan falls apart, beating a hasty retreat to its pre-2002 political landscape.  The Taliban are growing ever more powerful; al Qaeda is steadily regrouping there.  Obama is labeled as inexperienced and naïve.  But this week, the Bush administration said much the same thing (except not the part about the wasted American deaths for an unnecessary war.)

Barack Obama has suggested a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.  Bush and McCain labeled timetables as irresponsible, and labeled Obama as inexperienced and naïve (and much worse).  This week, the Bush Administration announced agreement with the Iraqi government for setting a “withdrawal horizon.”  So, tell me.  Who’s leading this dance?

So enamored is the Bush administration of Obama’s great leadership, vision and calm wisdom about the Middle East that, this morning, the White House Press office emailed  a story in which Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki calls Obama’s 16-month strategy “the right time frame for a withdrawal” to its entire distribution list.  The Reuters news report details an interview in the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Full disclosure:  OK, so actually only part of this is true.  Yes, believe it or not, the White House did send an email to its press distribution list, but it wasn’t intentional!  Just when you thought the White House could not get more incompetent, it shoots itself in the foot.  “Iraq PM backs Obama troop exit plan,” read the title on an email sent out to thousands of subscribers to the clipping service, including major media outlets and anyone else who would listen. The White House often sends out emails to this distribution list, with titles like: “News You Can Use,” “In Case You Missed It,” and “Setting the Record Straight.”  Clearly, the intention is usually to bolster administration talking points, not promote endorsements (well, al-Maliki backed away from calling it an endorsement) given to the opposition.

The White House SNAFU has been attributed to someone pushing the wrong button.  (Given the predilection of the White House rewarding stupidity and incompetence, he or she might be up for a big promotion.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next White House press secretary!)

Of course the story has become rampantly virulent on the internet, spreading like a California wildfire.  And how could such a mistake happen?  Some have speculated that the email was intended for an internal group, sent to assemble talking points that might counter it.

Instead, an article that might have received scant attention has gotten wide distribution in the mainstream media,  having been reported in the New York Times, on ABC News and other outlets, as well as in the Blogosphere.  Doubtless that, on the Sunday morning talk shows tomorrow, McCain and Bush spokespeople might be asked not only about al-Maliki’s statements, but about the SNAFU  and its potential impact on the two presidential candidates’ campaigns, as well.  Stay tuned!

Digg it here!

John McCain, Rod Parsley and the Politics of Hate

A conspiracy of “international bankers” was responsible for the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, and a host of other ills. Who said that? And who are those “international bankers,” anyway?

I just spent the last ten minutes watching a YouTube video of a well-known Christian preacher and “moral compass” of a particular presidential candidate spew forth with incendiary words — words of a “Christian patriot” that sent chills down my back. As his fiery rhetoric spewed forth about the “international banking conspiracy” and its manipulation of financial markets, I physically recoiled at the all-too-familiar code words that hearken back to the darker side of history and into hateful anti-Semitic diatribes like Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Words that can be found on neo-fascist and “Christian patriot” websites cultivating hate and suspicion of Jews, Muslims, and other minorities. And who said these words? Shouted them in a packed-to-the-gills church? His name is Rod Parsley, and he is head of the World Harvest Church.

This is what one presidential candidate said of this man, introducing him at a campaign event event just a couple of months ago: “I am very honored today to have one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide… thank you for your leadership and your guidance. I am very grateful you are here.”

Who would say such nice things about a hate-spouting preacher? None other than John McCain, presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Backtracking later, McCain insisted that he didn’t mean that Parsley was his (McCain’s) spiritual guide; just a spiritual guide — drawing a distinction between his relationship with Parsley and Barack Obama’s with the Reverend Wright. But, if not his own, then just whose spiritual guide might Parsley be? Much was made at the time on the Internet, on the mainstream news, and in other corners of the political world of the difference.

But never mind the “a/his” controversy. I’m much more concerned that McCain has called this guy anyone’s moral compass at all. And a “great man.” Like John Hagee, another of McCain’s spiritual soul mates, Parsley uses the international money-lenders diatribe to great effect as thousands of rapt congregants hang on his every word, every week.

And even though Parsley may prefer euphemisms and code words about Jews, he uses outright incendiary language speaking about Muslims. In his book Silent No More Parsley says: “The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion (Islam) destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.”

As I consider Parsley’s rhetoric, I wonder then, for whom McCain believes the Reverend Parsley is a “great man” and “moral compass.” Did he mean for this country? Because if so, we’re in a whole lotta trouble. Is this the direction McCain wants the country to travel? Really? Or was McCain simply pandering to the right? I only imagine what the reaction would have been if Obama introduced his old pastor as a “great man” and “moral compass” in the heat of this presidential campaign.

Interestingly, much has been made of Obama’s “choosing” Wright as his pastor. Obama has explained himself well, and has called Wright’s heinous remarks for what they are. McCain can choose to associate himself with a lot of different campaign and spiritual advisers along his presidential trail. And he has chosen to embrace hate-mongers like Parsley. Where’s the moral outrage for that? Where’s the 24/7 coverage of that? Those are my questions for the day.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending Reverend Wright. There should be no place for him within Obama’s political framework. He is an old and bitter man who, now retired, has found new (and more public) pulpits from which which he can spread his bitter and cynical hatred. And he is no less to be disparaged and denounced than Rod Parsley and others like him, with his talk of America’s destiny to squash Islam and rid the world of Muslims. To quote Shakespeare: “a plague o’ both your houses.”