Thursday, October 30, 2008

"This is not a liberal America. This is not a conservative America. This is the United States of America."

If you didn't see Sen. Barack Obama's 30-minute message last night, you missed out. I think it cut through the negative attacks of the past few weeks and allowed Obama to talk to American voters about his plans for the future of the U.S. But the message wasn't just about Obama. Real families with real problems were highlighted in the video. I already voted for Obama, but even so, watching that resonated with me because I identified with those families' issues. Both my grandfathers had to work after retirement because their Social Security checks weren't enough. They both worked right up until they died, never getting a moment for themselves. My grandmother, after my grandfather died, had to go back to work, first at a convenience store and then at a JCPenney. Then she developed Alzheimer's and started forgetting to pay her bills. Pretty soon she was in debt. The last years of her life were spent living with my aunt in Colorado and then in a nursing home. My parents are both "working people." My dad is in a union and has two bad knees and a bad back. But he gets up every day at the crack of dawn to go to work as a pipefitter, which isn't a cushy job. My mom works at a gas station as a cashier. My dad just turned 59, and my mom will be 59 in a couple months. It's not easy for either of them, and at times, when my dad didn't have work, they've struggled.

So I watched that video and understood where those families were coming from. And I think a lot of middle class, working people around the country could too. Just a few months ago, my dad was saying Obama is a Muslim and sounding like he couldn't stand the thought of Obama for president. Last night, he watched that 30-minute message and said, "That's right" a few times. He agreed with Obama. I think that, out of everything, touched me. My dad is stubborn in his thinking, and he rarely ever admits he's wrong, but here he was now agreeing with the very person he was against a few short months ago.

I said in another post that I believe that Obama will be the president who can bring us together. Of course, I know that doesn't mean everyone. There will be stubborn Republicans who refuse to accept an Obama presidency, or people who, regardless of party, are too racist to look past skin color. That can't be helped. There will always be doubters and cynics and hypocrites. But I have more faith in Obama than I have had in any other candidate. Because he's already brought people together. People from all walks of life are behind Obama. People who I never would have thought would put aside race to vote for a black man are behind Obama. That shows me what Obama has the power to accomplish. I'm an American, and I'm glad to be one. But I'm not glad to see our standing in the world diminished because of poor leadership. I'm not glad to see a polarized country -- lines drawn between liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, Christian and well, everyone else. No one, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or even political party, has the right to look down on anyone else. And we don't need a president who thinks that way either. The most powerful statement in the 30-minute message for me was when, during Obama's 2004 convention speech, he said, "This is not a liberal America. This is not a conservative America. This is the United States of America." Unfortunately, Republicans see America as their way or the highway. You're for tax cuts for the rich, or you're a socialist. You're for war and against diplomacy, or you're naive on foreign policy. You're against abortion, or you're a baby killer. You're with us, or you're against us. That's not the leadership we need. Republicans love America. I know they do. I just don't think they have the right vision for America. Maybe after this election, if the poll predictions are true and Obama wins, they'll see where they went wrong.

If you haven't seen Obama's 30-minute message, here it is (in four parts):

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another "Oh, that's gotta hurt"

The Anchorage Daily News endorsed Sen. Barack Obama. As a result, Alaska's top newspaper forgoes endorsing one of their own, Sen. John McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. In addition to explaining why the paper is supporting Obama, the editorial said this about Palin: "Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth." I'd say the Anchorage Daily News would know better than any other whether that is true, having covered Palin during her time as governor.

In other positive news, for Obama anyway, the Chicago Tribune endorsed him for president. It is the first time in 161 years that the Tribune has endorsed a Democrat. One might argue that of course the Tribune would endorse Obama. He is from Illinois. But given the Obama endorsement by the Anchorage Daily News, it's clear that being the "hometown" politician does not guarantee an endorsement.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why I voted for Obama

I first registered to vote four years ago, 11 years after I was eligible. Until that point, I hadn't cared much about politics. I thought politics was booooring. But then I had this wild idea to go to law school and went back to college to get my bachelor's degree in political science. I wasn't sure how I'd like majoring in political science, but I needed a bachelor's degree for law school and was told political science was the way to go. A funny thing happened, though. I started to like politics. I realized it was interesting. And more than that, it was important. I couldn't believe I had gone all this time just not caring. That was when I registered to vote.

I never went to law school, because I realized that wasn't my passion. Instead, after I graduated with my bachelor's in political science, I went back to get my master's in journalism. And that is how I got here, to this blog. I gathered my political science background wouldn't be wasted in journalism, and I was right. It has served me well over the years, at least in understanding certain things.

So why all this background? Because this is the first year that I was actually excited to vote. That I saw other people excited to vote. Willing to wait in line hours to do so. Before, it was a duty, a duty that I was proud to have once I realized how important it was, but it was never exciting. While I always supported the candidates I voted for, I was never terribly attached to them. However, Sen. Barack Obama is someone I am thrilled to support.

I'm not going to tell you how I like his tax or healthcare plans. Or how I think he has the right idea with regard to our foreign policy. Because if you support Obama, you probably feel the same way. And if you don't (Howie!), you won't care. What I like about Obama -- no, what gives me great hope -- is what I've seen over the past few months. Not the negative ads. Not the cries of terrorist or false stories that Obama was born in Kenya. Certainly not the direct or indirect racism. What has given me hope is that, despite those things, people support Obama. I see people with Obama buttons and bumper stickers, signs on the lawns. I see college-age kids with Obama shirts, volunteering for the campaign. We've come to accept that racism is a part of the U.S. I know that it may always be, sadly. But here are examples of people who are supporting a candidate, regardless of race, religion, etc. The equality we have always hoped for is happening right here. I grew up with racist relatives, and it has always disgusted me that people could talk that way, as if they are better than someone else because of race. I know of relatives that will not be voting for Obama because of his color. They don't care what he stands for, probably don't even know anything about his plans. They just won't vote for a black guy. What gives me hope is that people like THAT haven't stopped people like Obama, or his supporters.

Republicans will say it's media bias that has led to this phenomenon. That the media has made Obama into some celebrity or God, or that his supporters have done so. But you can't MAKE someone into something he isn't. People can be naive, can even be tricked sometimes, but most of us know when a turd is a turd (see Bush, George W.). Some people missed the boat on President Bush the second time around, but I think after these past eight years, we can spot the turd. If Obama was just some second-rate political hack who had tricked the country into supporting him, Americans would have realized it by now. We've had 18 months to watch him, waiting for some indication that he wasn't fit for the presidency. Instead, we've seen Sen. John McCain flounder and look like the candidate who isn't ready for the presidency. Seen him look like the turd.

What gives me hope is not only what I believe Obama can do for our country in areas where we usually expect a president to lead, like the economy, foreign policy, etc., but also what Obama can do for us as Americans. Prove to us that race really doesn't matter. Prove to us that it doesn't matter if you have a funny name, or that your father was Kenyan. Prove to us that we were all created equal, and if we all try hard enough, there is no telling where we can end up. Prove to us that we can come together and say, "We're not a white America. We're not a black America. We're the United States of America."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who cares about your sick grandmother

Republican strategist Bruce Blakeman's defense against the $150,000 spent by the GOP on Gov. Sarah Palin's and her family's clothes is that Sen. Barack Obama had the nerve to take his campaign plane to visit his sick grandmother. Watch it:

Seriously? This is the defense? Obama's a spendthrift because he went to visit his ailing grandmother?? Listen, I don't think Palin's clothes are all that big of a deal. If GOP supporters don't mind that their money went to clothe Palin and her kids, then I don't either. I think the only reason for bringing this up at all is how it relates to the McCain/Palin argument that Obama is elitist. I mean, spending $70,000 at Neiman Marcus doesn't exactly make you Jane Everyday. But I don't think we should still be talking about this days later. They spent a ton of money on her clothes. Great. It's been talked about, move on. However, to use as a defense that Obama somehow wasted money by using his campaign plane to visit his grandmother, who is gravely ill by all accounts, is beyond low. Blakeman argues that Obama should have taken a regular airline flight to visit her instead of his campaign plane. Sure, when a loved one might pass away at any moment, that's what a person should do -- wait hours in the airport for a flight that will then take hours to get to Hawaii. You know, my grandmother was living in Colorado when she died. She had been sick for weeks, but I couldn't make it out to Colorado to be with her because I couldn't afford a flight on last minute's notice. So I wasn't there when she passed away, although thankfully, my mother, aunt and cousins were. If I had a plane at my disposal and could have flown to see her before she passed away, I would have jumped on board in a heartbeat. I wonder what Blakeman would do in the same position? I suppose when you're heartless, you'd probably ignore your grandmother's illness altogether and go on with life.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oh that's gotta hurt

This is a follow up to my post from Sunday about Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota. Looks like her comments on Hardball with Chris Matthews did more than just energize Democrats from all over the country to donate to her challenger, Elwyn Tinklenberg's, campaign. Now the National Republican Congressional Committee is taking away Bachmann's ad money and giving it to a Republican candidate in a different district. Whoops!

Meanwhile, Tinklenberg has raised $1.3 million since Bachmann's comments and received another $1 million from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Do you think Bachmann is regretting her comments? Apparently, since she's attempted to take them back (i.e., lie about what she said). She claimed Matthews laid a trap for her, that she had never seen his show and didn't know what to expect. In other words, it was all someone else's fault.

But here's the lesson to be learned here: People don't appreciate being called anti-American just because they don't fit a particular Republican congresswoman's idea of what makes someone "American." We are all pro-America. If we weren't, we wouldn't care so much about the state of our country. We wouldn't fight for our beliefs. We wouldn't vote. We wouldn't donate to the campaigns of politicians and causes we believe in. We wouldn't show up at rallies and marches. Being pro-America has nothing to do with where we live or what political party we belong to. Being pro-America has nothing to do with a flag pin or supporting a war. I don't appreciate being called anti-American because of my political views. And it looks like neither did the thousands of other people who donated to Tinklenberg's campaign over the past week.

Iraq to the U.S.: Quit pushing

Iraq has taken a backseat to the economy lately. According to the polls, the economy and jobs are the top issues concerning voters, with Iraq trailing far behind. However, we are still in the midst of two wars, and it's important that we don't forget that, because the next president won't be able to. Today, I read an AFP article about the Status of Forces Agreement that has not yet been signed by the Iraqi government. What was interesting about this situation is that the Iraqi government feels bullied by the U.S. The Iraqis want to make up their own minds in their own time about what provisions should be contained in the agreement.

Senior Shiite lawmaker Abbas al-Bayati said: "[U.S. military chief Michael] Mullen's remark is an attempt to pressure the Iraqi side, but we will not be subjected to such tactics because our reservations are linked to the sovereignty and national interest of Iraq. The American side should be more flexible because if they really want to pass this agreement, they should first stop launching such warnings which provoke Iraqis."

The U.S. is worried because if the agreement isn't signed by December 31, 2008, U.S. military forces will no longer have the authority to stay in Iraq. Yet, Iraqi government officials don't seem too worried.

"Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier General Qassim Atta also insisted that domestic forces were ready to handle security nationwide, saying their numbers have increased and their ability has improved."

The Iraqi government is worried, however, that this agreement will somehow lead to a long-term U.S. military presence. Funny how McCain and Palin talk about victory in Iraq, how they will WIN the war, and yet, it seems as if Iraqis could care less if we're there. If they don't want us and feel they are ready to take over their own security, more power to them. Wouldn't having the Iraqis take over their own country and allowing U.S. troops to come home be a "win"? Oh right, I forgot that as soon as we leave, Iraq will become a haven for terrorists. Hmm, well that Status of Forces Agreement, if signed, only gives the U.S. military permission to stay in Iraq until 2011. Golly gee, what if we haven't eradicated all terrorists by then? I suppose we could stay there indefinitely, spending billions and losing even more American lives. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Except al Qaeda seems quite pleased with the way things are going. In fact, they are so pleased, they hope Sen. John McCain gets elected because he will continue President Bush's policies in Iraq, further crippling the U.S. economy. So in essence, we may be playing right into their hands. As long as we want to stay in Iraq, they will be happy to "accommodate" us.

Mullen said we need to stay in Iraq because they will not be ready to provide for their own security when the agreement expires at the end of this year. Who decides that? Iraq's military spokesman said Iraqi forces are ready to take over. When do we trust the Iraqis to take over their own country? Again, it leads to a scenario where we will be there indefinitely.

At some point, the U.S. will have to trust the Iraqi government and military to take care of itself. And no doubt there will still be terrorists in existence either in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East, just like there have been for decades before this. If the Iraqis aren't ready after five years, they never will be. And that is not good news for the U.S. -- not for our troops and their families, not for our economy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Note to Republicans

When you venture out in public, perhaps to appear on Hardball with Chris Matthews, it might be wise to tone down the craziness just a smidge. Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota learned that the hard way. Bachmann appeared on Hardball this past Friday, where she said Sen. Barack Obama may have anti-American views and called on the media to do a "penetrating expose" on what members of Congress are pro-America or anti-America. Whoa. Anyone think she sounds like a female Joe McCarthy? I knew nothing about Bachmann until her appearance on Hardball, but after hearing her comments and reading about her other views, I went online and donated to her challenger, Elwyn Tinklenberg's, campaign. Looks like I wasn't the only one. Within 24 hours of Bachmann's Hardball appearance, Tinklenberg received $450,000 in donations. So the lesson to be learned here? If you want to talk crazy, that's just fine in your own home, maybe even in your own district, where voters like you and don't care if you're crazy. But if you're going to go on national television and start talking like you're ready to bring back the House Committee on Un-American Activities, it won't go unnoticed. Hey, Michele, even Gov. Sarah Palin said she "doesn't question Obama's love for this great country."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Alfred E. Smith Dinner in New York City

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, among others attended the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner in New York City tonight. Both gave humorous speeches. I actually thought Sen. John McCain was quite funny. I liked this McCain. I realize a presidential campaign can't be about humor, but I think McCain was very personable. Definitely check these out.

No longer "my friends"

Last night, Sen. John McCain replaced "my friends" with "Joe the plumber," talking about Joe some 21 times. Joe is now so famous, he's appeared on his local news, a segment which was played on MSNBC's Morning Joe today. I gather talking about Joe the plumber was supposed to endear McCain to the middle class, like when Gov. Sarah Palin talked about Joe Sixpack. But sorry to say, John, you lost again. A CBS poll had Sen. Barack Obama winning the debate 55% to 22%. Aww, say it ain't so, Joe!

Now, to hear some of the political commentators (i.e. David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Chris Matthews, et al.) talk, McCain won the debate. They usually qualify it by saying "on points." I don't know what debate they were watching, but it wasn't this one. They said McCain was passionate, aggressive (in a positive way), that he brought it to Obama. But about Obama, they said he was too calm, seemed to be resting on his lead. Huh? So if a candidate is controlled and talks about the issues calmly and intelligently, he's resting on his lead? They must have expected Obama to jump around in his chair and get all fired up. Frankly, I don't think that would serve any candidate well. The American voting public doesn't want or need a hothead for president. On Morning Joe today, someone mentioned that Obama was smiling often as if he were laughing at McCain. Again, what debate were they watching? Yes, Obama smiled, but it's called being friendly. What a concept. Much better than scowling at McCain, or doing as McCain did during some of Obama's responses, which was to just write on his notepad or stare at moderator Bob Schieffer instead of focusing on Obama as he spoke. Or maybe they would have preferred the eye roll, which McCain employed several times last night. Much more mature.

Maybe Obama should have been condescending like McCain. "I admire so much Sen. Obama's eloquence," McCain said. He pointed to Obama's eloquence more than once during the debate, which seemed to be his way of saying Obama is uninformed and has to cover up for it with words (too bad McCain's own running mate doesn't have eloquence). But Obama was much more than just eloquent. He had a good grasp on the issues and detailed what his solutions would be, just as he had in the other debates. In the first debate, I thought McCain conveyed his stance on issues well, but in the last two debates, he's fallen apart. He no longer looks like someone who knows what needs to be done and will do it. The eye rolls, the sighing, the condescension. It was almost as if McCain didn't realize he's down in the polls.

A few issues that came up during the debate stuck with me, and those are the ones I want to address in this post. I think by far, this debate was the best one of the three in that both candidates engaged more with each other and were more detailed in their responses, mainly because Schieffer asked follow-up questions or let the candidates do so.

Corporate taxes. McCain said that American businesses pay the second highest tax rate in the world at 35%. Ireland pays only 11%. Why Ireland? Your guess is as good as mine. But McCain failed to mention that those same American businesses get quite a few tax breaks due to loopholes, to the point that some corporations pay no tax at all. McCain also failed to mention that there are many other differences between the U.S. and Ireland when it comes to corporate taxes. Still, taking all that into account, U.S. corporations aren't creating jobs at home. Obama has said he will give corporations tax breaks if they keep jobs in the U.S., but penalize them if they ship jobs overseas. Obama will close the tax loopholes. So McCain's notion that paying the second highest corporate tax rate in the world is the problem is not on point. Maybe he should move to Ireland.

Oil. When McCain repeated his oft-used statement, "We have to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much," I was able to repeat the line right along with him. Why? Because he's said it in each of the three debates. I am starting to think he repeats it in his sleep. Unfortunately, it's not true. Do we need to work on energy independence? Yes. But the notion that we need to do it because we're buying all our oil from overseas is misleading. This from an Associated Press article: "The United States spent $246 billion in 2007 for all imported crude oil, a majority of it coming from friendly nations including neighboring Canada and Mexico. An additional $82 billion was spent on imported refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. A majority of the refined products come from refineries in such friendly countries as the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, Trinidad-Tobago and the Virgin Islands." McCain scolded Obama for saying he will go after Osama bin Laden in Pakistan if the Pakistani government won't, or wanting to renegotiate free trade agreements, because McCain said that you just don't say those things out loud. Yet, McCain has no problem referring to allies like the U.K. as "countries who don't like us very much." Now, I know that's not the country he's talking about, but the fact remains that a third of our oil comes from Canada, Mexico and the U.K. They like us. We like them. Why is McCain dissing that by repeating a false claim?

The Spending Freeze. We've heard McCain talk about an across-the-board spending freeze more than once. Of course, the plan changes depending on the day. Sometimes there are exceptions to the freeze. Sometimes the exceptions get expanded to include more programs. Sometimes, like last night, it's just a freeze with no exceptions (although I'll give McCain the benefit of the doubt that he just forgot to mention the exceptions last night). But then during last night's debate, McCain kept talking about things we need to spend money on, and a few times Obama even called him out on those statements. How can we have a freeze but spend money? McCain talked about helping parents who have special needs children. He talked about taking care of the children of mothers who might look to abortion. Family service departments across the U.S. are strapped. Where will the money come from to take care of the children McCain wants born? He talked about education programs, like Head Start and vouchers. Money, money, money. Yet, McCain also told Schieffer, in all seriousness, that he will balance the federal budget in four years. Not will try. Will. McCain said he knows how to "save billions of dollars in defense spending. I know how to eliminate programs." Really? Then why haven't you shared this knowledge with others so our debt didn't continue to rise? It reminded me of his claim that he KNOWS how to get Osama bin Laden. Well, by all means, John, share.

Negative Attacks. I wasn't sure if Schieffer would bring up Bill Ayers. Some commentators said he would. I didn't think it was important to the debate. The issues were much more important. But to Schieffer's credit, he didn't ask specifically about Bill Ayers or ACORN, which I felt would be unfair. Why ask about that, but then not ask a pointed question about McCain's connection to ACORN, or the Keating Five scandal? Schieffer instead questioned the candidates on the negative tone of the campaign. McCain didn't talk about Ayers or ACORN -- at first. He blamed Obama for the negative tone of the campaign, saying this wouldn't have happened if Obama had agreed to those town hall meetings. This argument is weak. So the only reason McCain went negative is because Obama wouldn't do town halls? Town halls or not, Obama had already explained his relationship with Ayers and ACORN. It just wasn't good enough for McCain and his supporters. They wanted the smoking gun. They wanted Obama to come out and say, "Oh you're right, Ayers is my best friend. We hang out frequently. I think he's a great guy." Short of that, nothing would ever be good enough. When McCain finally did bring up Ayers and ACORN, he looked like someone who had been pushed into it. I think McCain came out with the accusations when he did because Obama's original response to Schieffer's question had been so even-tempered. I think McCain was angry that Obama still looked presidential and above the fray. "Mr. Ayers, I don't care about a washed-up old terrorist. But as Sen. Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of the relationship," McCain said. So he doesn't care about Ayers, but he cares? And again, the full extent of the relationship HAD been explained. It just wasn't good enough for McCain. I think Obama did a great job of once again going over his connections to Ayers and ACORN (and I noticed that still no one talked about McCain's connection to ACORN, hmm). And what was McCain's response? He STILL wanted to know all the details about Obama's relationship with Ayers and ACORN. Hey, numbskull, weren't you listening? Do we need to write it out for you? McCain also went on about Rep. John Lewis's comments and wanted Obama to repudiate them. In fact, he brought it up twice. But Lewis had already said he didn't mean to make a direct comparison between McCain and George Wallace, just to say that the tone of McCain's campaign could provoke violence. Lewis had amended his own remarks, so why did Obama have to kneel down before McCain and beg forgiveness? McCain also spoke about how he's proud of the people who come to his rallies, and he's "not going to stand for people saying that the people that come to my rallies are anything but the most dedicated, patriotic men and women." He mentioned a group of young women who were Military Wives for McCain, and the veterans who wear the World War II hats, that it is wrong to say that these people are saying something derogatory about Obama. Um, when did anyone say they were? I could care less about those people. It's the people shouting "kill him" or "off with his head" who are the problem. As long as it's not one of the Military Wives, then what's the issue here? That whole statement just made no sense. I think McCain was trying to say Obama was putting down ALL his supporters, not just the fringe, which he was not.

Education. A few things were said about education, but the one issue that made me laugh was McCain's insistence that vouchers are a good idea. He brought up vouchers in Washington, D.C., was condescending toward Obama on the subject ("And I'm frankly surprised you didn't pay more attention to that example."). Right, the D.C. example. Sure, it was good for the families who were able to get vouchers, but even McCain himself said there were 1,000 vouchers (actually closer to 2,000) for 9,000 parents who wanted them. So 8,000 kids got screwed. Perfect. The voucher program is good in theory, but not in practice. What about those 8,000 kids who don't get a voucher? Where do they go? Right back to the public schools, which weren't doing them any good in the first place. So yes, this is great for the children who get to partake in it, but unless you expand voucher program funding so that more kids have access (and where will you get the money with a spending freeze), it's not a solution. Still, even with expansion of the program, kids will be left out, and unless their schools are improved, we are still in the same boat as we are today.

Abortion. "But what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision," Obama said. These are the only people who should have any say in a decision that involves what happens in a woman's life and with her body. Now, McCain touted adoption, citing his and Cindy's decision to adopt as proof of the joy it brings. I commend McCain and his wife for adopting their daughter, but they didn't adopt from within the U.S. What about the children who are already stuck in the system, who might never be adopted? The children placed in foster homes and beaten. The children in orphanages who have very little. Since 1970, adoptions have declined. But McCain said "We'll help take care of it." Meaning he'll, or the government (spending freeze, anyone?), will take care of those children born to mothers who would have had abortions? With what money? Where? Will McCain and Cindy adopt them all? No. Because anti-choice activists only seem to care about what happens to the baby up until birth. After that, the mother and baby are on their own. No money to take care of the baby, Ms. New Mom? Sorry, too bad so sad. Obama made a good point on this issue, saying that pro- and anti-choice activists can find common ground -- pregnancy prevention. He mentioned appropriate sex education, teaching kids that "sexuality is sacred." McCain, however, wants abstinence-only sex education. Great. Again, I ask, where are you going to put all these kids? Where will the money come from? McCain also made a snide remark about the health of the mother with respect to partial-birth abortion stating "that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything." I think the mothers who have been in situations where they had to choose between their health and their baby probably won't take kindly to that. They may not have wanted to go through an abortion, but had to in order to save themselves. A tough choice no doubt, and now John McCain thinks it's all just been "stretched by the pro-abortion movement."

The commentators have their opinions, but on every issue last night, Obama was on point. McCain made points, but he certainly didn't win on them. He often sounded angry and stilted. I didn't see passion. I saw a man who knows he's down in the polls and has no idea what to do about it. Maybe the commentators felt sorry for him. I know I did, for about a minute, until I realized he brought this on himself. And the statement of the night, according to some commentators, was when McCain said "Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." Oh, it was a zinger, for sure. Wasn't about issues, but hey, why should the most important statement of the debate be about issues? However, Obama had a witty response: "So the fact of the matter is that if I occasionally have mistaken your policies for George Bush's policies, it's because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people, on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities, you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush." Take that, John McCain. You've been pwned.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sorry, Dad, I'm voting for Obama

That was the title of a blog post written by Christopher Buckley that appeared on The Daily Beast. It also was Buckley's undoing. As a result of that post, Buckley had to resign from the National Review, a magazine founded by Buckley's father, William F. Buckley, Jr. I hesitate to say Buckley was forced to resign, because he offered up his resignation freely. However, Buckley told Chris Matthews tonight on Hardball that he didn't expect National Review to accept it. Why did Buckley have to tender that resignation in the first place? Because, after his Daily Beast post, readers of National Review were threatening to cancel subscriptions and sending angry e-mails. Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, downplays the anger from readers saying, "We have gotten about 100 e-mails, if that (a tiny amount compared to our usual volume), and threats of cancellations in the single digits." But if the response from subscribers was no big deal, why accept Buckley's resignation so quickly?

I bring this up because I find it funny that someone like Sen. Joe Lieberman shows up at the Republican National Convention to support Sen. John McCain, and Republicans talk about it like Lieberman just realized which candidate is right for America. It's not that he's a traitor. Not that he should be hung for his lack of allegiance to his political party. He just had a mind of his own. It's all about bipartisanship. It's not about being a Democrat or a Republican, but about being an American. I'm not a Lieberman fan, but to each his own. If Lieberman thinks McCain is his kind of guy, bully for him. My problem with Lieberman is that he seemed to be part of the Obama bandwagon when it benefited his Senatorial campaign, then suddenly, Obama was the wrong choice for America.

I don't understand how conservatives could think that Lieberman endorsing McCain is a smart move, but Buckley switching sides is something akin to being a traitor. Buckley said of his father, "He would let you say anything you wanted as long as it was argued." Buckley made his argument in the post, and while it might not have been what many National Review readers wanted to hear from one of their own, it is what it is. Is Buckley, or anyone for that matter, not allowed to make a decision to vote for the other side without being considered a traitor of some kind? Where is this freedom of democracy we tout as a cornerstone of the United States, the right to make a choice regardless of our party affiliation?

I guess this is similar to those people at McCain rallies who yell "off with his head" and "kill him" with regard to Obama. If you're not with us, you're against us.

Buckley's own statement said it best: "We seem to be living in a time of arteriosclerotic orthodoxy."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who's the real Messiah candidate?

At a McCain rally on Oct. 11 in Davenport, Iowa, Rev. Arnold Conrad stood up before McCain supporters and said the following:

"I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god -- whether it is Hindu, Buddha, Allah -- that [McCain's] opponent wins, for a variety of reasons," said the Rev. Arnold Conrad, former pastor of the Grace Evangelical Free Church. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their god is bigger than you if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day."

So let's see here. God should get involved to make sure that Sen. John McCain wins and Sen. Barack Obama loses, because other people around the world are praying to their Gods that Obama wins. Hmm, sounds a little like Rev. Conrad sees McCain as God's candidate. God should get involved in ensuring a McCain win? Doesn't God have other things to do with his time?

Ooh, that's gotta hurt

Gov. Sarah Palin scolds her own supporters at a rally today in Virginia. That's not going to help in the polls. I can't find a video of the incident, although I saw it on MSNBC tonight. After Palin makes her remarks about the "protesters," Todd steps up to her and says that they were just saying they can't hear you.

Associating with terrorists

The argument that Sen. Barack Obama associates with terrorists, or somehow is one himself, because of his past professional relationship with Bill Ayers is a weak one. But I started thinking that if Republicans want to go down that road, where might it lead? If Obama is a terrorist or somehow has bad judgment because he served on a board with Ayers at one time, what does that say for others who have had contact with Ayers over the years?

Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Who hired him, I wonder? Let's get that person on the horn because he or she is obviously supporting terrorism. For that matter, UIC as a whole is supporting terrorism, and while we're at it, has anyone contacted the FBI to see if they'll add UIC to the list of terrorist organizations? If you go to the UIC College of Education site, you can find other professors who teach in the same department as Ayers. Are they terrorist sympathizers? Could they be considered terrorists? If we use the same logic that has been used in Obama's case, how can we not? Let's put their pictures on the news. Why is America letting professors who associate with terrorists continue to teach our children? Wait, can we get Ayers' present and past class lists? Because really, if you think about it, any student who took one of Ayers' classes must also be a terrorist. We should see what those students are up to now. Are any of them teaching children presently? If so, we better get them fired as soon as possible, because how can we let someone who would associate with a former domestic terrorist teach in a school anywhere in the country!?

Also, if you look on UIC's Web site, Ayers was recently elected to the College of Education Faculty Senate. Are these people crazy??? Don't they know Ayers is a former terrorist? All of them must be terrorists themselves! Or at the very least have no qualms about associating with terrorists. Someone better do some background checks.

If we use the logic the Republicans have used, imagine how many terrorist sympathizers we have out there. If Obama is guilty of a questionable association, then everyone who attends or teaches at UIC is guilty as well. Pretty absurd.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Today, I ran the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the seventh time. It never feels easier, no matter how many times I've done it. But one thing that has always struck me is the number of people out there trying to make it easier for us. Thousands of volunteers are out on the course handing us water, Gatorade and bananas, even cold sponges at some points, and then cleaning up our mess afterward. These volunteers don't know most of us, but they cheer us on anyway. It made me think back to the service forum that both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain appeared at on September 11 at Columbia University in New York. I know the type of volunteer service both candidates were talking about was different from the volunteers at the marathon. But I am humbled to see high school kids and younger out on the course, spending their Sunday helping out. If those kids were given the chance to help out on a national scale, I can only imagine what help they could and would be. I'm also humbled to see those paid volunteers, like medical personnel and police officers, helping out on the course. Toward the end of the race, a few people weren't doing too well. The temperatures made it into the 80s, and runners were cautioned to stay hydrated and slow down. But even those warnings didn't prevent incidents. Whenever a runner slowed down and stopped, either a medic, police officer or even fellow runner would stop to make sure that person was okay. I saw several police officers keeping watch over stopped runners until medical personnel arrived. I saw other runners carrying a man off the course, because he could no longer walk. Those runners didn't care about their times. They cared about helping where help was needed. That too humbled me.

Last year, the race was a disaster. The temperatures were much higher and the organizers hadn't prepared properly. Gatorade and water were running out by mile 2. Further along in the course, runners were struggling to get both at aid stations. I managed to finish before the race was canceled, but it was a horrible scene. People laid out in medical tents or just on the grass or street. Wailing sirens everywhere you turned. It was scary. But even then, people helped people. If it wasn't police officer, medics or volunteers helping injured or ailing runners off the course, it was other runners. Residents living along the course were handing out bottled water to runners, or dousing them with hoses. Everyone pitched in.

This year, the heat wasn't as bad. The Gatorade and water didn't run out. But spectators along the course still helped out by handing out oranges or water of their own. Residents again were out with their hoses. I am beyond grateful for the way Chicago pitches in for this race. It isn't just the organizers who make this race great, but the people of Chicago, and those who come from other states and countries to run and watch. Without them, I just don't think this race would be the same.

At a time when a contentious election is going on and people are spewing hate, I am humbled to see a city come together like this for a race. We're not Republicans or Democrats. We're not liberal or conservatives. We're not Illinois residents or residents from other states. We're not U.S. citizens or foreigners. We're all one group of people trying to help each other, to get everyone to the end of that 26.2-mile journey safely.

It would be nice if the country could be like this every day. Put down the hate and pick up a cup of water or Gatorade. Put down the hate and cheer on a runner. Put down the hate and help someone you don't even know make it 26.2 miles to the finish.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More SNL humor

SNL is at it again. Not as funny as the vice presidential debate skit, but still funny.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Primer on John McCain's Role in "The Keating Five" Scandal

Howie (and those of his ilk) want to move the discussion off our current economic meltdown and shift the focus to the past. I say, "Good. Let's do it!" Yes, let's talk about the past for a while. But rather than talking about what Bill Ayers did when Barack Obama was in grammar school, let's talk about what John McCain did when he was (presumably) an adult "serving" in the US Senate.

Funny stuff

Well, I certainly had McCain/Palin supporters pegged all wrong. Those people are certainly the most intelligent in the bunch. Seriously. I think they all had to have graduated top of their class from some Ivy League university. Otherwise, how could they provide so many compelling arguments? (Videos from Bloggerinterrupted)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

McCain's other dubious association

Looks like Sen. John McCain doesn't have a problem "palling" around with domestic terrorists either. Or at least speaking in 1993 at a conference of the Oregon Citizens Alliance where the vice-chairwoman, Marilyn Shannon, praised a woman, Rachelle Shannon (no relation), who shot and killed an abortion doctor in 1984. Rachelle Shannon "considered herself a soldier in the underground terror organization, Army of God," and Army of God's Web site describes how Shannon transformed into a domestic terrorist. McCain didn't denounce Marilyn Shannon's support. He didn't denounce Rachelle Shannon's violent actions. Instead, Marilyn Shannon served as a McCain delegate at the Republican National Convention.

So, let me get this straight. A former domestic terrorist holds a coffee for you when you're running for the state Senate, and you are labeled a friend of terrorists and said to have bad judgment. You're said to "pal around with terrorists." But attend a conference where a domestic terrorist is praised for killing a doctor who was not breaking the law in any way with his practice, and it's no big deal? In fact, the woman who did the praising becomes one of your delegates. Talk about double standards.

Listen, I know some people think it's just a-okay to murder abortion doctors because somehow they are killing innocent life. Never mind that abortion is legal. Never mind that killing anyone, even an abortion doctor, pretty much negates your argument about killing innocent life. Just because you, the anti-abortion activist, think the abortion doctor is doing something wrong does not make it so. Again, abortion is legal. Therefore, you, the anti-abortion activist, are also killing innocent life. The hypocrisy is astounding.

One other thing to add: McCain voted against making anti-abortion violence a federal crime, among other things. McCain doesn't think protecting innocent lives is a big deal either.

McCain/Ayers Link Established

John McCain, on his own campaign's website, lists Leonore Annenberg among a group of former US Ambassadors who endorse his candidacy. Annenberg is, of course, the widow of former Ambassador Walter Annenberg, and the chair of the Annenberg Foundation -- which, of course, sponsors the "Annenberg Challenge," the Chicago school reform project that hired notorious former domestic terrorist William Ayers.

Of course, the liberal media will ignore McCain's link to this dangerous radical...

The Way Things Look to Me...

I've been checking the state-by-state polls over at and (both sites aggregate scores of multiple polls taken in each state) on a daily basis and keeping tabs on the interactive electoral map at From where I'm standing, it looks like nothing short of a catastrophe (a terrorist attack? a US or Israeli attack on Iran? some catastrophic event culminating in a Presidential declaration of martial law under the Patriot Act?) can keep Barack Obama from being elected the next President of the United States of America.
As I write this, Obama has a solid lead in 22 states -- and the District of Columbia -- accounting for 269 electoral votes (17 points in California, 7 points in Colorado, 17 points in Connecticut, 70 points in the District of Columbia, 21 points in Delaware, 33 points in Hawaii, 13 points in Iowa, 20 points in Illinois, 20 points in Massachusetts, 23 points in Maryland, 11 points in Maine, 8 points in Michigan, 10 points in Minnesota, 12 points in New Jersey, 9 points in New Mexico, 21 points in New York, 14 points in Oregon, 9 points in Pennsylvania, 20 points in Rhode Island, 25 points in Vermont, 13 points in Washington, 10 points in Wisconsin). Essentially, any other win in any other state would guarantee him the Presidency -- in other words, in order for John McCain to win, he has to win every other state beyond these solidly blue states. (click on the map for a larger image)

However, in addition to those solid states, there are another 5 states (Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia) where Obama is leading by 3-6 percentage points for an additional 69 electoral votes. A win in any of these states gives Obama the Presidency. A win in all of them would give him 338 electoral votes.

Even some toss-up states originally expected to go to McCain are moving in Obama's direction, and in a few of which Obama has taken the narrowest of leads (Missouri by about 1 point, Indiana by about a half point, North Carolina by about a point-and-a-half).

Here's how it looks to me right now, according to the state polls I've seen, and giving McCain the benefit of the doubt by leaving Nevada, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida as "undecided":
It's Obama 306/McCain 163.

My friends

If you were playing a drinking game during the debate last night, that should have been your phrase -- "my friends." Sen. John McCain said it 19 times last night. It was almost comical. Similar to Gov. Sarah Palin's "you betcha" and "Joe Sixpack," McCain was trying to identify with everday people. He failed. Polls show that Sen. Barack Obama won the second debate. Probably no surprise I agree, being an Obama supporter, but watching McCain during this debate was painful. I felt sorry for him. In the first debate, he did well, even if he didn't win. I still think he hurt himself by not looking at Obama or seeming to acknowledge his presence at all, but at least he managed to get his points across.

In the second debate, McCain looked nervous, stumbling over his words at times. He made jokes that fell flat. He tried to connect with the audience by talking to those members who asked questions, but it came off as creepy. He didn't seem sincere at all. And when it was all over, he shook hands with audience members briefly, then he and Cindy dashed out of the Curb Center. For a man who considered the audience "his friends," he sure didn't stick around to talk to them. That was telling. Obama and his wife were individually talking to people in the audience and stayed for some time after the debate ended. Michelle Obama also sat in the audience during the debate. Cindy McCain, on the other hand, seemed to come from backstage after the debate ended, and then just followed her husband around on stage while he shook hands. She didn't talk to any audience members and didn't seem interested in them. Then the pair left. Their actions didn't make me, and probably didn't make other hockey moms and Joe Sixpacks, think he was their friend. Just that McCain was a sore loser who knew he had lost and was ready to get out of Dodge.

The other thing that struck me was that McCain supposedly does well in town halls, so it would stand to reason that he should do well in a town hall debate. Just like one would assume that with all McCain's supposed foreign policy experience, he would have won the first debate by a wide margin. Yet, he didn't win the first debate and looked stiff in this one. He didn't seem comfortable at all. McCain repeated some of the same lines from the first debate (which didn't work for him then) and his stump speeches, lines which Obama again debunked and countered. McCain had to do well in this debate. He's falling behind in the polls. He's resorting to desperate personal attacks to try to stop the hemorrhaging. He needed to win handily, because anything less would do nothing for him. McCain didn't win handily. He didn't even win.

So where does that leave McCain? I'm sure he'll be back to personal attacks today, as will Palin. I'm sure the personal attacks will increase as the weeks go on. But I think voters are smart enough to see it's a desperate attempt by a desperate campaign that is willing to do anything to win. Experts say that going negative can alienate the candidate going on the attack. Sometimes it can help, but it's a risk. It looks like McCain is willing to take that risk. But after a day of personal attacks on the campaign trail from McCain and Palin, Obama still won the debate. If anyone believed these stories about Obama and William Ayers, it wouldn't have mattered what Obama said during the debate or how well he performed. Voters would have turned against him. It didn't happen. Twenty-six days until Election Day. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The VP Debate

Well, it was a win for Gov. Sarah Palin. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Did I hit my head? No, but I'm not being entirely serious with that statement either. Conservatives have said Palin hit it out of the park, but I think that's a bit of an overstatement. Actually, more than a bit. What amounts to a win for Palin is that she didn't sound like an incoherent idiot, quite like she did with Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson. She managed to string sentences together and make some sense, but it was clear she was either reading from her notes or reciting what had probably been drilled into her head the past few days by her debate coaches. Many of her responses sounded exactly the same as statements we've heard from her and McCain, whether on the campaign trail or during their convention speeches. Nothing new. I don't think you can count a debate a win just because your candidate didn't sound stupid. What matters is whether that person comes off as knowledgeable and qualified for the job. Polls show that 98% of undecided voters thought Sen. Joe Biden was more knowledgeable, and 87% of voters polled nationally think Biden is more qualified for the job. Palin had a high percentage of voters who thought she exceeded expectations, but after the constant airing of her recent disastrous interview with Couric, Palin had nowhere to go but up.

The polls also show that Biden won the debate. Depending on which one you look at, 46% of undecided voters thought so, and nationally, 51% of voters agreed. I think in the coming days, as more in-depth polls are conducted, we'll see those numbers grow.

Looking at's analysis of the debate, it's clear that while both candidates made statements that weren't 100% accurate, Palin made more statements that were just outright false. What's more, she either didn't know Gen. McKiernan's name, or just got it wrong, but it was a bit embarrassing since she was so adamant that she was right about what the general said regarding the surge in Afghanistan. More embarrassing is that Palin was wrong about what McKiernan said. From

To start, Palin got newly appointed Gen. David D. McKiernan's name wrong when she called him McClellan. And, more important, Gen. McKiernan clearly did say that surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. As the Washington Post reported:

Washington Post: "The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' " McKiernan stressed, saying that what is required is a "sustained commitment" to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

Like McCain, Palin also needs to go back and have a chat with her friend, Henry Kissinger, who said he would meet with Iran without preconditions. She mentioned the "Talibani" when I think she meant Taliban, but it was strange. I also thought Palin's comment that "'Enough is enough with your ticket,' on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game" was hilarious. She kept saying that Obama and Biden are stuck in the past, looking backwards. Does she not realize that her running mate IS the past, siding with President Bush 90% of the time? And while I know Palin is not the smartest tool in the shed, you can't talk about change without talking about what you're changing FROM. I also find it funny that Palin thinks Obama and Biden are stuck in the past when during the RNC, many Republican politicians were talking about change as well. Suddenly, they were the party of change! "Change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington," according to Gov. Mitt Romney. Of course, no one told him that Republicans had been in charge the past eight years, and in charge of Congress for six of the past eight years. Please, not talking about the past? How many times have we heard McCain and Palin bring up Ronald Reagan's name? How many times have we heard McCain's P.O.W. story? Pot meet kettle.

Other things annoyed me about Palin. The winking. The constant use of the word "also." Saying she might not answer the questions the way the moderator liked, but she was going to talk to the American people. Then why have a debate at all? Palin admitted that she had only been at this five weeks, which I'm not sure was something to mention. It's not really funny or cute. She was folksy with her "you betcha" and "darn right," but again, I didn't really find those things funny or cute or even endearing. Maybe she thinks speaking like that brings her down to Joe Six-pack's level, but it just makes her look silly. I won't even go into all this talk about how she and Todd are middle class.

I don't think Palin did horribly in the debate, but as far as who "won," it was Biden all the way.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Now I've heard it all

I received an e-mail today from a friend at work. It reads as follows:

For Immediate Release: - 09/24/08

Obama & DNC Hide Behind Legal Issues While Betraying Public in not Producing a Certified Copy of Obama’s “Vault” Birth Certificate and Oath of Allegiance

Country is Headed to a Constitutional Crisis

( Lafayette Hill , Pennsylvania – 09/24/08) - Philip J. Berg, Esquire, the Attorney who filed suit against Barack H. Obama challenging Senator Obama’s lack of “qualifications” to serve as President of the United States, announced today that Obama and Democratic National Committee [DNC] filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss on the last day to file a response, for the obvious purpose of delaying Court action in the case of Berg v. Obama, No. 08-cv-04083.

Their joint motion indicates a concerted effort to avoid the truth by delaying the judicial process, although legal, by not resolving the issue presented: that is, whether Barack Obama was “natural born” within U.S. territory.

It is obvious that Obama was born in Kenya and does not meet the “qualifications” to be President of the United States pursuant to our United States Constitution. Obama cannot produce a certified copy of his “Vault” [original long version] Birth Certificate from Hawaii because it does not exist.

I'd post the link where this press release came from, but the Web site is running a smear campaign against Sen. Barack Obama, and I'd rather not give them more business. I really have heard it all now, though. I can't believe someone is even wasting the court's time with such a frivolous lawsuit. Obama has produced his birth certificate. The controversy is ridiculous. I won't blame the McCain campaign, because these claims haven't come from them, from what I can tell. But some conservatives who dislike Obama are jumping all over this.

Let's just look at this a little closer. The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Philip Berg, has had troubles of his own lately. $10,000 in sanctions for unethical actions? Now, there's a guy with credibility problems. Oh, and here's another interesting factoid about Phil Berg. He filed a lawsuit against individuals in the Bush administration because he believes the administration covered up the truth about 9/11, i.e. that the U.S. government had something to do with the attack. He considers the Bush administration's version the "Official Story." Read the complaint posted on his 911 For The Truth Web site. It's good stuff. And now Berg claims Obama isn't a natural born citizen.

The part in the press release that struck me was how filing a joint motion to dismiss can be seen as "obviously delaying Court action." I took a look at the Obama/DNC motion to dismiss (PDF). They asked for dismissal based on lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and because the complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted. But the motion also states the allegations are false. I don't see how that's delaying Court action. The lawsuit is frivilous, filed by someone who also wasted the Court's time with a 200-plus page complaint stating that the government's version of 9/11 is not the "Official Story."

Here's another little item to think about. The Obama/DNC motion to dismiss cites a case filed by a voter against Sen. John McCain (Hollinger v. McCain) for the very same reason -- that McCain wasn't a natural born citizen of the U.S. and therefore not eligible to run for President. McCain filed a motion to dismiss in that case for the same reasons as Obama and the DNC filed theirs. So what's the problem?

These issues aren't even real issues. McCain is a natural born citizen, and Democrats even passed a resolution in the Senate saying as much. Obama is a natural born citizen. End of story. Get over it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

McCain in Iowa

Watch as Sen. John McCain's nose grows . . .

If I were on the Des Moines Register editorial board, I would have said, "Please, Sen. McCain, show me that documentation." Because he's lying. Now, there's some straight talk!

Watch McCain get testy when the editorial board questions Gov. Sarah Palin's experience . . .

Disagree all you like, Sen. McCain. You're wrong. I like how he considers being a member of the PTA a serious answer. And how many times did he mention her being a governor and a mayor? McCain was also wrong on a couple points. Sadly, Palin is not the most popular governor in America. Nor are the American people siding with you, Sen. McCain. The polls show that Republicans aren't confident about Palin. McCain hasn't detected that? Maybe he needs to pay more attention. Maybe if he wasn't suspending his campaign, then restarting it, then not phoning it in on the bailout bill, but really phoning it in, he'd have more time to see how support for his VP is tanking, right along with his campaign.