Saturday, September 27, 2008

The First Debate

Pre-Debate: What? McCain actually showed up, even though the bailout bill hasn't been passed yet? So he just broke his promise, which he stated was such a big deal. I've gotta say, he loses this first point here. Either he didn't show up and people would be disappointed, or he does show up, which makes us wonder whether he lied about the importance of being in Washington, or he's leaving us high and dry to be at this debate. If it gets brought up, I don't think he can get around this. He took a big gamble by "suspending" his campaign, and I think he may have lost.

Financial recovery plan
Obama: Obligatory thanks to people. Kind of a waste of his speaking time, important though it may be. Two wars, worst financial crisis since Great Depression. Calls for oversight, potential gains distributed among taxpayers, don't "pad CEO bank accounts," and help for homeowners. Takes his first shot at Bush/McCain's failed economic strategy of "trickle-down" politics. Also his first "that's why I'm running for president

McCain: Did he seriously just use his time to announce Ted Kennedy's health? Wow. I don't even know what to think about that. McCain definitely looks better on this first question, praising the bipartisan efforts of Congress while Obama's first answer was already an attack against McCain. Not the best move though, making a joke about your age. Funny, yes, but should you remind us of that? This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. I'm sorry, say that again? What does that even mean?


Lehrer reminds the candidates that they didn't answer his question about the plan and whether they support it. Nice.

Obama: Haven't seen details yet, so dunno. Remember how we got here - abuse of sub-prime mortgages, taking advantage of people. Intervention is important, but so is re-examining our recent deregulation. Gotta have more regulation than the GOP allowed.

McCain: [are you gonna vote for the plan?, asks Lehrer] "I hope so." You hope so? Is somebody else holding your vote hostage? What a strange way to answer. His statement about responsibility brags about calling for SEC chair to resign, despite the criticism that said he was irresponsible for saying that.

Obama Senator McCain is right about more responsibility, but not just when there's a crisis. Good point here, that McCain is just doing this now that we're in trouble, while Obama was the one to call for change in anticipation of the problem. Ten days ago McCain said the economy was strong. Wonder how many times that'll come up.

McCain: Fundamental problems, gotta fix this system. Praises American workers, says "fundamental belief;" I don't think the word fundamental should be used from him too often.


Fundamental differences between your approaches?
McCain: Gotta get spending under control, rein in the huge expansion of government size. Republicans came to change government, but it changed them. Whoah, earmarks are a gateway drug? Better talk to your running mate, who champions them. Says he'll veto every bill with earmarks, but I think that would keep him from passing any bill. Poor promise to make. Attacks Obama for huge earmark requests.

Obama: Yep, earmarks are out of control. But they were $18 billion last year, McCain wants $300 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy. Nice comparison of numbers. Didn't answer the attack, but he did use a good distraction.

McCain: Yes, but earmarks have tripled. Obama, apart from tax cuts, will expand spending significantly. McCain wants to lower taxes AND cut spending.

Obama: Cuts off McCain to clarify, promotes his priorities to cut corporate loopholes, expand health care coverage. Obama says he will reduce wasteful spending, but can't focus on that when we've got people really struggling.


Lehrer is REALLY trying hard to get these two to talk to each other, and they simply won't do it.

McCain: Good point here about the high corporate tax rates in America leading to businesses going overseas. Wants to keep jobs here through low taxes. "My friends" count: 1. Ask Obama about his definition of "rich."

Obama: 95% Americans will get tax cut. "Rich" are people making over $250,000. Says our business tax rate is effectively one of the LOWEST in the world because of loopholes that allow businesses to go overseas. Again, good response. I gotta check these numbers to see who's more accurate. Says McCain wants to tax health care benefits. Really? I've heard that multiple times also, and I'd like to see if it's true. Wonder where I'd find good numbers on that.

McCain: Interrupts Lehrer, who tries to go to a new topic. "Festooned?" Honestly, who knows that word? McCain's in danger of making himself the elitist in this campaign. Promotes his own attacks on wasteful spending, says Obama hasn't, but no examples that I heard (maybe he gave one while I was typing). Accuses Obama of voting to raise taxes on those making $42,000 per year. Wow, that's quite a problem if he actually did.

Obama: Accuses McCain of lying (without using the word), talks about McCain's tax breaks for oil companies.


Lehrer shifts now to the financial rescue plan again (will they ever really talk about it?), asks them what they'll have to give up in spending, if we have to pay for that bill.

Obama: Tough to say, because the economy's slowing and we don't know what the budget will look like. Some things have to be done. That includes energy independence through home production and especially newer, renewable energy sources. Gotta fix the health care system, that can't be cut from his plan. Third thing can't be cut is education spending and research spending. And rebuild infrastructure because it's falling apart. Yes, but you didn't answer the question. What WILL you cut first? I'd like to know that as well. Ah, eliminate programs that don't work. What are examples?

McCain: Gotta cut spending. Obama has most liberal voting record in senate. Okay, that's not accurate. It's the same attack used against Kerry in '04, and it's based only on 2008, when he missed a lot because of the campaign. By 2008, McCain's one of the most conservative, not a moderate, because in 2008 he's voted with Bush 100% of the time. McCain says he knows how to get spending under control, cites negotiation of a Boeing bill as example. Ooh, his brokering put people in federal prison. So we want a President who will put more in prison?


Lehrer calls them out on not answering. So what will you CHANGE??

Obama: Not willing to give up energy plan, but we might not be able to do individual components. Give $15 billion in subsidies to private insurers under Medicare. That's no good and it should not happen. Nice response to McCain's "liberal" accusation, says it's just that he's voted against Bush. Touts his own work with Tom Coburn (strong conservative) to get the federal checkbook online.


I like that Lehrer is really trying to get these guys to stay on target, but

McCain: How about a spending freeze except for defense, veteran's benefits and something else? Wow, that's harsh.

Obama: That's a huge knife (forgot his word) when you need a scalpel. Let's stop spending so much in Iraq.

McCain: Well how about not sending money to "countries who don't like us very much." Strong effort to not use the word "hate?" Doesn't like that Obama is opposed to nuclear energy.


Lehrer asks if this financial crisis will affect the way they operate as President, or if they'll just move on happily, as planned.

Obama: The important thing is to know who we're fighting for. It shouldn't be the rich who are getting lots of tax breaks.

McCain: Says Obama would hand health care over to the federal government, which he doesn't want. Need to cut spending, Obama wants new spending. Second remark about helping veterans - he's really trying hard to get them tonight, knowing they'll tune in to the foreign policy debate.

Obama: Tom? Jim? Steve? Carl? Missed McCain's name again. McCain voted with Busy 90% of the time, including this "orgy of spending." That makes me giggle.

McCain: Calls himself a maverick again, but doesn't deny voting with Bush on the economy.


Lehrer asks if we have any lessons from Iraq.

McCain: Weird first answer that I didn't understand. Initially we did well, but he came back in '05 saying we needed new strategy. Our new strategy (the surge, I assume) is succeeding and we will come home with victory and honor. Benefits of success, vs consequences of defeat. Can Obama respond to yet another charge of advocating defeat in Iraq?

Obama: Another claim of a "fundamental difference." Cites judgment in calling for us to not go into Iraq in the first place. Ooh, first allusion to Afghanistan and chasing the real Al Qaeda enemy. Spending too much in Iraq, hurting us here at home. The lesson we can learn is, never hesitate to use military force, but have to use it wisely, which we didn't do in Iraq.

McCain: Doesn't answer that, just accuses Obama of still opposing surge, never meeting with General Petraeus.

Obama: Proud of Biden who's got great credentials. These decisions don't go through my subcommittee. McCain's right that violent was reduced, our troops are great. Petraeus is also great. But the surge was containing damage of four years of mismanagement. McCain pretends war started in 2007. "You were wrong" when McCain claimed it'd be easy, that we'd be greeted as liberators, etc. Obama says he has better judgment.

McCain: Obama doesn't know the difference between tactic and strategy. Hmm. McCain is now saying that Obama refuses to admit we're winning. For the second time (at least), Obama has to interject "that's not true" to Lehrer. He seems really worried about what McCain's saying. Obama cut off funding for troops.

Obama: McCain opposed funding in bills that included timetables. Obama opposed funding in bills that didn't include a timetable. They both supported funding, but differed on the timetable. The question isn't about the approach once we're there. The question is, should we have gone in the first place, which McCain is avoiding because he was gung ho about us entering Iraq in 2003. We can fix Afghanistan if we don't give Iraq their country back, and we need to reduce Iraq troops in 16 months, also going to Afghanistan to "crush" Al Qaeda and capture/kill Osama bin Laden. This is his first real address of foreign policy, and it was pretty decent. Not great, but decent.

McCain: Uses Petraeus and another general against Obama. Now says Obama's plan means defeat in Iraq.


Lehrer: Alright, let's move on to Afghanistan. More troops, how many, and when?

Obama: Yes, as soon as possible. This was our worst fatality year in Afghanistan since 2002, and Al Qaeda is becoming emboldened and attacking us more. 2-3 brigades to Afghanistan, where even Secretary Gates said we need to deal with Al Qaeda. Press Afghan government to work for their people, deal with Al Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan. Bush/McCain gave Pakistan money, even though they haven't done anything for us.

McCain: The mistake I regret was leaving the region when the Taliban first formed. Um....but he repeated that when we left Tora Bora and allowed bin Laden to escape. Won't threaten Pakistan like he says Obama's doing. I do wonder what will become of Obama's threats, but what about McCain's threats against Russia? We have increased troops to Afghanistan, we'll do more, and we'll change strategy as well.

Obama: Ooh, McCain looks constipated. Obama didn't say he'd attack Pakistan. If we know Osama's in Pakistan, we'll take him out. C'mon McCain, you said we should wipe out North Korea, and you sang songs about bombing Iran. You seriously chastise me for threatening comments? We lost legitimacy in Pakistan by supporting a dictator simply because he was "our dictator."

McCain: Obama doesn't understand that Pakistan was a failed state when Musharraf came to power. Sorry, but Phil wonders what that really means with respect to Obama's comments. When McCain was young 200 years ago and Reagan was President, "tragically, I was right." Supported going to Bosnia and intervening in Kosovo and Somalia when many GOP opposed it under Clinton. Good call bringing those up. Strong military creds, going against own party to do the right thing. Talks about Vietnam and how hard it is for an army to recover from being defeated, and we need to not be defeated in Iraq. Uses the word "dishonor" again.

Obama: No US soldier EVER dies in vain, because they're carrying out the Commander in Chief's orders. The question is, are we using good judgment? It's a big deal to send troops into battle. Nobody's talking about defeat in Iraq, but McCain said we could "muddle through" Afghanistan. We need to take Afghanistan seriously.

McCain: Talks about defeat again, says Obama's not taking up things that fit under his subcommittee. Condescending to the last. Gotta be honest, I don't care if he's right, McCain's acting like a real prick.


Lehrer asks what the threat is from Iran.

McCain: If Iran acquires nukes, it's a threat to Isreal, and it's a threat because it allows other Muslim nations to get nukes. "We cannot afford another Holocaust." Says he proposed a league of democracies, which could impose sanctions on Iran that would have a beneficial effect. Iran is hurting us by sending weapons into Iraq. Need to act with allies to keep Iran from getting nukes. Obama didn't want to label Iran a state sponsor of terror. Iran has a lousy economy because they have a lousy government. So why is our economy lousy, Senator?

Obama: To clarify, he considers Iran's Republican Guard a terrorist organization, but says the single greatest thing that strengthened Iran was our war in Iraq. Obviously the last eight years didn't work because Iran's getting closer to nukes. Yes, Iran's a great threat, especially to Israel, but it could also start an arms race in the Middle East. We need tougher sanctions, but we need some cooperation from Russia and China, which are not democracies, but trade extensively with Iran. Need tough, direct diplomacy. Not talking to countries has not harmed them, so McCain's wrong in not wanting diplomacy.


Best line of the night from Lehrer to McCain: "Senator, what about talking?"

McCain: Ooh, completely bumbled Ahmadinejad's name. Reminiscent of Bush. Says that Obama wants to sit down with no preconditions, with a guy who espouses the extermination of Israel. Sitting down to talk legitimizes their illegal behavior. He needs to stop using long names, because he can't get 'em right. McCain would sit down, but needs preconditions.

Obama: As President, reserves the right to sit down with anybody, anywhere, any time, if it keeps America safe. McCain mentioned Kissinger, one of his advisors, who recently said we should sit down with Iran without preconditions. Obama has a great zinger - it "doesn't mean you invite them over for tea." In North Korea ("axis of evil," can't deal with them), they tested missiles, expanded their nukes, pulled out of non-proliferation. When we re-engaged, we've at least finally made some progress, though it's on shaky ground due to recent happenings. McCain even said he wouldn't potentially meet with PM Zapatero of Spain, because he didn't know if they were aligned with us. I wondered if Obama would bring up that disastrous interview.

McCain: I encourage meetings with lower level people, but not the President. Obama doesn't seem to understand that "without precondition" you sit down with, and legitimize comments of Ahmadinejad, who verbally attacks Israel and threatens them.

Obama: McCain knows he's being deceptive about Obama's position. How could we say nothing while Ahmadinejad spews this stuff?

McCain: So wait, we're going to sit down, Ahmadinejad says "we're blowing up Israel," and we say, "no you're not?" McCain's really starting to get worked up. It's just a matter of time before Obama says something that makes McCain yell or swear.


Lehrer asks about Russia. Enemy? Threat? Ally?

Obama: They can be dangerous, and they're strong, and what they did in Georgia was unacceptable. They need to leave the separatist regions in Georgia. Explain to Russians you can't be a 21st century power and act like a 20th century dictatorship. Need to affirm and support smaller democracies in Europe. Too many loose nukes, Obama has led in the Senate to deal with proliferation, even worked with GOP to do it. You don't deal with Russia by "staring into his eyes and seeing his soul," an interesting reference to Bush's comments about meeting with Putin.

McCain: Obama's first comments about Russia and Georgia - both sides did something wrong. This shows a misunderstanding of a KGB-run government. "I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes, and I saw three letters: a K, a G and a B." We need to help our allies, and it's about energy, not just Georgia. Ah, of course, it's all about oil. Russia controls these pipelines. Russia wants to regain status of the old Russian empire. We want Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, make it clear that Russia is violating their ceasefire agreement. Russia's gotta behave. Just like Palin, apparently McCain thinks that by using big names of foreign leaders, he'll sound really smart.

Obama: Agrees with McCain a lot on this issue, but he immediately condemned what Russia did in invading Georgia. Was the first to call for rebuilding Georgian economy, and we sent $1 billion into the country. Months ago, asked Bush to replace Russian peacekeepers in Georgia with international peacekeeping troops. It didn't happen, maybe could have prevented what happened. But with Russia controlling oil, we can't drill our way out of the problem. Obama says he's got a plan to make us independent. Over 26 years, McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy like solar and biodiesel.

McCain: No one in Arizona is against solar. Obama's against reprocessing and storing nuclear. We KNOW if we drill offshore and "exploit" these reserves, it'll help us a lot. Supported Nunn-Lugar in the early '90s, which put us on road to eliminating issue of nuclear waste and fuel.

Obama: Never said object to nuclear waste, just said we've gotta store it safely. McCain won't let him talk again.


Lehrer asks about the chances that we'll get another 9/11 type attack on American soil.

McCain: Less of a chance now than we had right after 9/11. Lieberman and McCain worked on exploring how to prevent another 9/11, had difficulty until families came in and pressured government to get the commission passed. Really wants to push the idea that he's been bipartisan and reached across the aisle. Need to know we have trained interrogators so we don't torture prisoners, we need better technology, we need to work with allies. We're safer today than we were on 9/11, but we're not out of the woods yet.

Obama: We're safer in some ways. Lots of airport security, secured some potential targets, still have a long way to go. Haven't done enough in terms of transit or ports. Gotta keep nukes out of terrorists' hands. Terrorism is a big threat, but the biggest part of Afghanistan, not Iraq, so we need to shift our military focus. Also, we need better foreign image, and Obama will restore our standing in the world, which is key to getting help in combating terrorism. High five to McCain for helping us on the torture issue.

McCain: Obama doesn't understand that failure in Iraq encourages Al Qaeda, as evidenced by his "date certain" withdrawal plan, regardless of ground conditions. Can't do what Senator Obama wants to do.

Obama: No doubt that in last eight years, Bush and McCain have been solely focused on Iraq, while bin Laden is still out there evading capture and Al Qaeda resurges. In the meantime we're borrowing billions of dollars from China, and they're active in many regions where we're absent because of our focus on Iraq. We can no longer project power in the world because we're so narrowly focused on a single nation. Never been a country "ON EARTH" that saw economy decline and yet maintained a solid military. This is a national security issue.

McCain: There are advantages to experience and knowledge and judgment. Obama has made wrong judgments, doesn't have the experience. Tries to claim that Obama is similarly stubborn to Bush, talking about the surge. What? That's a pretty specious connection there, and doesn't strengthen McCain's case at all. "Reform, prosperity and peace." Don't need any on-the-job training.

Obama: Name is from Kenya, where father came from. Father admired America as a child, and Obama says that children around the world don't admire us in the same way. We need to "send a message to the world" that we're committed to helping ordinary people in the world.

McCain: "When I came home from prison." WHAT?!?!? This is such a non-sequitor, and had nothing to do with the point he was trying to make. Congratulations, Senator McCain, on completely trivializing a heretofore serious discussion. That was awful.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I like Ike

A list of some incredibly insightful comments from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, regarding war and national security. We would all do well to ponder these words of President Eisenhower:


"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

"Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

"Only Americans can hurt America."

"Controlled, universal disarmament is the imperative of our time. The demand for it by the hundreds of millions whose chief concern is the long future of themselves and their children will, I hope, become so universal and so insistent that no man, no government anywhere, can withstand it."

"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."

"How far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?"

"I deplore the need or the use of troops anywhere to get American citizens to obey the orders of constituted courts."

"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

"If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... Is freedom."

"In most communities it is illegal to cry "fire" in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?"

"Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. "

"This world of ours... Must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect."

"Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace."

"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war."

(thanks to Get In Their Face for the quotes)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

McCain vs. Science - do we really want to go down this road again?

John McCain and Barack Obama recently appeared with Rick Warren (author of "The Purpose Driven Life" as part of a Presidential forum on the candidates' faith and morals. One of the most telling moments of the forum for me, was when Warren asked McCain how he would define "rich," (a taxes-related question). McCain's response was elusive at best, and he shifted to a discussion of pork barrel spending. He criticized the spending of $3 million on a study of grizzly bear DNA in Montana, stating sarcastically that he wasn't sure if it was a parental test or criminal. This garnered a healthy laugh from the audience, and McCain was quite proud of his line, a statement he has used on many occasions beginning during the GOP primaries. Yes, his mockery of legitimate scientific research was well-rehearsed.

In reality, $4.8 million was spent between 2003 and 2007, in an effort to study grizzly populations in the west, much of which is based on DNA testing of trapped bears. Here in America, we have this little thing called the Endangered Species Act, which requires the government to study populations of endangered species, and to take action to preserve the remaining individuals. This study covers one of two grizzly populations in the entire country that number more than 50 individuals, and without an idea of these populations and their trends, it will be much more difficult to preserve the species.

This patronizing attitude towards crucial scientific research is, quite frankly, one of the most troubling things I have heard from either candidate during this campaign. For the last eight years, George W. Bush has taken money away from scientific research, he has ordered scientific findings to be hushed up or modified to suit his own political agenda, and he has drawn the ire of the American scientific community. He is the President who opposed science, much like the governments of Galileo's time, and John McCain threatens to continue this record of ignorance and suppression.

Throughout the entire forum, Senator Obama would consider the questions and offer thoughtful, heartfelt responses. In stark contrast, Senator McCain responded quickly and without much thought, many of his answers recycled from earlier in his campaign. He also seemed eager to please the right-leaning crowd. This "maverick" senator bragged in May of 2003 to FOX News that he and the president "agree on most issues," and voted together 90% of the time (it jumped up to 95% in the past year).

Senator McCain missed all eight energy votes in the past year (even one when he was in his Senate office but just didn't take the time to get up and vote), yet he has the audacity to run campaign ads boasting of his comprehensive energy plan. We may not like the thought of electing a president who is actually smarter than us (seriously, who wants competence in the White House?), but I'd hate to give four more years to somebody who appears to take pride in their ignorance.

contributions in a different light

Or, if we look at all those numbers in a slightly more condensed fashion.....






It's even more evident here that a large majority of financial donors prefer Obama. Who doesn't prefer Obama? Apparently the mainstream media, who continues to analyze every potential harmful connection of his, while ignoring similar dangerous connections of McCain's (for instance, lambasting Edwards while ignoring McCain's extramarital affairs, McCain's advisor who is a lobbyist for the nation of Georgia, and Chuck Hagee, a pastor more inflammatory than Jeremiah Wright, whose endorsement McCain actually actively sought, unlike Obama who has rejected his former pastor).

Also, the family-friendly major industries of tobacco, oil, gambling and lobbyists all prefer McCain. That scares the heck out of me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

More on campaign contributions

It's very interesting to look at the different major industries and how they are supporting the 2008 presidential candidates with their money. As my previous post showed, oil employees are donating more to Obama, while McCain reaps the reward when it comes to oil executives and corporations. Surprise, the Republican platform once again appeals to corporate America.

But what about some other major industries and groups?
(all information taken from the Center for Responsive Politics, at http://www.opensecrets.org)

Contributions from all military personnel:
Barack Obama: $335,536
John McCain: $280,513

Troops Abroad:
Barack Obama: $60,462
Ron Paul: $45,512
John McCain: $10,665

-What's interesting here is not just that Obama—and even Ron Paul—are leading McCain in funds raised from active, overseas military. The fun part is that the military still donates more to Republicans than to Democrats, and yet they are pulling for the Democratic candidate in this election.

Casinos/Gambling:
John McCain: $193,825
Barack Obama: $117,189

-McCain certainly is a gamble

Lobbyists:
John McCain: $809,656
Barack Obama: $202,329

-I don't think this is one you want people to know you're winning.....

Education:
Barack Obama: $8,784,068
John McCain: $967,678

-You're right, it's not fair. After all, education is the bastion of liberals, isn't it? Hmm.

Health Professionals:
Barack Obama: $5,224,639
John McCain: $2,815,727

Health Services/HMOs:
Barack Obama: $538,497
John McCain: $242,975

Hospitals/Nursing Homes:
Barack Obama: $1,419,892
John McCain: $434,486

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products
Barack Obama: $845,251
John McCain: $342,375

-I'm really not sure what this means, but I'm amused that even nursing homes donate more to Obama.

Insurance:
John McCain: $1,301,305
Barack Obama: $1,144,386

-Probably too close to matter, but---congratulations, Sen. McCain, you're winning one!

Lawyers, Law Firms:
Barack Obama: $20,722,629
John McCain: $6,874,124

-Wow. Just....wow.

Oil & Gas:
John McCain: $1,332,033
Barack Obama: $394,465

-Add to this the fact that McCain missed all eight energy votes in the past year (two years?), and I think it's safe to say that he is NOT allowed to place wind turbines and solar cells in his commercials.

Real Estate:
Barack Obama: $5,816,677
John McCain: $5,795,797

-Another dead heat.

Retired:
Barack Obama: $19,202,876
John McCain: $18,884,993

-Shouldn't McCain be cleaning up in this one?

Commercial Banks:
Barack Obama: $1,883,058
John McCain: $1,698,978

Hedge Funds & Private Equity
Barack Obama: $1,795,813
John McCain: $1,295,165

Securities & Investment
Barack Obama: $8,905,777
John McCain: $6,277,757

-Even Wall Street donates more to Obama, despite the rumor that he'd be horrible for the economy. What aren't we being told by the right wing smear campaign?

Tobacco
John McCain: $95,466
Barack Obama: $28,495

-Umm....McCain wins another.....Good for him?

TV/Movies/Music
Barack Obama: $4,701,382
John McCain: $815,451

-Saw that one coming.



So what's the moral of the story?

McCain has raised more money from big oil, from tobacco, from lobbyists, from casinos, and from insurance (but just barely).

Obama gets more money from the military, from education, from the arts, from the financial sector, from real estate (barely), from the retired (barely, again), from the health industry, and from lawyers (by a heck of a lot).

Between those two groups of industries, which would we rather see winning come 2009? If you honestly have to think about it, then we have a real problem.

McCain vs. Obama on Big Oil

Much has been made of the fact that our presidential candidates - God forbid - are taking money from individuals and corporations. Of course, every election season we hear about which candidate is in whose pockets, and how that might be influencing their policies.

This year, however, with the focus on the oil industry and rising energy prices, everybody is talking about where these oil companies are putting their money. Barack Obama has released an ad accusing John McCain of receiving $2 million from "big oil," while McCain responds that Obama is actually garnering larger contributions from the oil industry than is McCain. Both are pretty notable distortions of the truth, but only one claim drives at the important issue: are the oil companies determing candidates' policies?

Let's take a look at this wonderful graph provided by opensecrets.org:



As you can see, the oil companies have donated about $1.3 million to Senator McCain's campaign, or roughly 65% of Obama's claim. Meanwhile, Obama has received more donations from oil employees than has McCain. However, Obama's donations are coming from individual workers, who are donating not as part of the oil industry, but as hard-working Americans. The contributions given to McCain, in contrast, are coming from the companies themselves, meaning his overall earnings are more than three times what Obama has been given.

There is a huge difference between a lower-level employee contributing a few hundred dollars to Obama's campaign, and oil executives funneling money into McCain's. It's not just in the amount of money given, but the influence carried by the money. The executives certainly wield more influence than do the employees.

Also notable, is that Senator McCain is the one who is promoting the policies of the oil companies, while Senator Obama is attempting to hold these companies accountable to the American people. Obama is suggesting money be placed into alternative energy programs, while McCain has switched his former position, now demanding that we "drill here, drill now."

So who's really in the pockets of big oil?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

lies do not become us

Voting in November may be one of the most important things you do this year. I am not attempting to sway any votes, merely to present you with some facts so that you can make a more informed decision.

Unfortunately, many commercials and e-mails are obscuring the facts. I've seen e-mails accusing Barack Obama of being unpatriotic; of being a secret Muslim; of being in favor of obscene tax hikes; and of being more into himself than the presidency. For his part, Senator McCain has accused Senator Obama of being willing to lose the war on terror, of being an empty celebrity with nothing to offer, and of ignoring the troops on his visit to the Middle East and Europe. Senator McCain's latest commercial features language that suggests either liberals are looking for a "replacement savior," or – much more dangerously – that Senator Obama is himself the anti-Christ.

Obama has also caused a stir with comments that seem to have injected the issue of race into the campaign, though it can be argued that he was responding to an earlier ad from the McCain camp. I mention more of the attacks against Obama, simply because the media seems to be focused on publicizing all the outrageous claims made against him, while rightly ignoring most of the unfounded rumors involving John McCain (such as questions about his health, whether he is a natural-born citizen, and slanderous questions about his time as a POW in Vietnam). This has caused Obama to be on the defensive for six months now, since as early as the Democratic primaries.

The easiest way to determine the veracity of these claims is to visit http://www.snopes.com, a website dedicated to debunking and verifying urban legends, e-mail chain letters, and attributed quotes (each of the above claims against Obama is proved to be anywhere from grossly misleading to outright false).

[Senator Obama] "took time out of his schedule to come over and visit with us, not just at this camp but at other surrounding camps in Afghanistan." (Anthony Lewis, a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan - http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/afghanistan.asp)

Senator Obama's tax plan would actually favor lower-income voters, while the tax changes of the past eight years have favored upper-income taxpayers (http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/taxes.asp)

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/muslim.asp explores the myth that Obama is secretly a radical Muslim who will betray us upon election. Obama is actually a dedicated Christian, and FOX News' repeated claims that he attended a madrassa in Indonesia are verifiably (I hope not intentionally) false.

An independent study found that 10% of Obama's ads, and 33% of McCain's ads, are negative comments about the other candidate (http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/campaign-2008/2008/07/30/mccains-political-ads-go-negative-against-obama.html). With over $50 million already spent on advertisements with three months to go, these negative ads could become overwhelming. If we are only running this campaign to demonize the candidates by preying on people's fears again, then we haven't learned a single thing from the past eight years.

I believe that America deserves better than that. We deserve a leader who displays honesty and integrity, and who can help us to work through the problems we are facing right now.

If you really want to know who these candidates are, look past the partisan mud-slinging that is dominating our mainstream media, and look to the real issues that these candidates support. Most major news sites offer information on the candidates' positions (I particularly like http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/629/629/7436221.stm at BBC), and USA Today even lets you input your feelings on the issues to determine your closest match (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/candidate-match-game.htm).

Be wary about any attack made against another candidate. So many claims are unfounded, and those sent out in chain e-mails are often the most dangerous and radical of all. I appreciate the candidates pointing out differences in policy, but once it turns into character defamation and mockery, there's a good chance it is wildly off the mark and misleading.

This November, I urge you to make your decision based not on smears, nor on mockery, fear or baseless claims, but on the real facts about these candidates. This is a crucial time for us as Americans and as global citizens, and it's too important to be decided by anything but the truth. Let's make informed decisions and vote for the candidate we want, instead of the candidate we haven't been scared away from.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

That's right, "wasteful" and "frivolous"

Kathy Hilton responds to John McCain's shameful use of her daughter in a political slam against Barack Obama. You know, the one where he tries to make us believe that it's bad to have a President who is well-liked around the world. Guess he'd rather have another Bush, who makes every other country (and half of his own citizens) feel like s***.


I’ve been asked again and again for my response to the now infamous McCain celebrity ad. I actually have three responses. It is a complete waste of the money John McCain’s contributors have donated to his campaign. It is a complete waste of the country’s time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs. And it is a completely frivolous way to choose the next President of the United States.
-Kathy Hilton



Pretty sad, when even a presidential hopeful can't figure this out. After all, McCain claimed to be "proud" of that ad. Absolutely disgraceful.


Have I mentioned that McCain should be totally embarrassed by the campaign he's been running? Because it's true. This is the kind of stuff he complained about in 2000 when Rove used it to sink his then-honorable Presidential bid.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The "Straight Talk Express" derails itself yet again

“What you’re going to see is a great debate. Which is what the American public deserves. None of this negative stuff, though. You won’t see it come out of our side at all.”– Cindy McCain, Today Show, May 8, 2008

Really? What about some of his recent commercials?....

"He's the biggest celebrity in the world" [cut to shots of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton] "but is he ready to lead? ....Higher taxes, more foreign oil: that's the real Obama."
--Awesome, let's portray Obama as nothing but a face. You know, because that's not negative.

"Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hadn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. And now, he made time to go to the gym but cancelled a visit with our troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't let him bring cameras."
--Umm.....I dunno about the first two claims, but the last three statements are misleading to the point of being outright lies. So...yeah. Thanks for your honesty, McCain. Way to take the high road. Oh, and a response to that from Republican Chuck Hagel: "I think John is treading on some very thin ground here when he impugns motives and when we start to get into, `You’re less patriotic than me. I’m more patriotic.’....John's better than that."
--p.s. In complaining about Obama not visiting troops, McCain showed video of Obama playing basketball....with the troops.

In fact, according to The Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin, one out of three ads run by the McCain campaign has been a negative ad about Obama, while only one out of ten Obama-run ads are negative, as he chooses to focus more on promoting himself.



Obama's response?

"You know, I don't pay attention to John McCain's ads, although I do notice that he doesn't seem to have anything to say very positive about himself. He seems to only be talking about me. You need to ask John McCain what he's for, not just what he's against."