Thursday, October 30, 2008

The politics of Fear

4 years ago a woman I dearly love said she was "Afraid" of the possibility that John Kerry might get elected President.


She is a conservate Christian. There was never any chance she was going to vote for John Kerry for President. His approach to government and hers are vastly different. I don't know if she voted for President Bush because she believed that he was doing a great job or if she was voting against Senator Kerry because she disagreed with the large majority of his policies. Or some of both. But I am certain she voted for President Bush.

Thats why we hold elections.

But why should she fear a Kerry Presidency?

I disagree with President Bush on almost every major issue. I think he has been a complete and utter disaster as a President. No suprise, I didn't vote for him.

But I don't fear him or his Presidency.

I won't vote for John McCain. The Senator McCain who ran for office in 2000 was inspiring and attractive. McCain 2008 is a cranky old man who has changed his mind on virtually every major issue.

But I am not afraid of a McCain Presidency.

I am a partisan, no doubt. But it appears to me that Republicans seem far more interested in selling fear in their campaigns. The overwhelming thrust of Senator McCain's campaign for the last month has been to attack Senator Obama.

He lacks experience

He lacks judgement

He's a Socialist

He's a Liberal

He's a Communist.

Senator McCain keeps telling us that if we elect Senator Obama bad things will happen. We will not be safe. He will take away your money and ruin the economy.

Fear Him.

He hasn't gone as far as President Bush did in 2004 when his campaign claimed that electing John Kerry would some how make us more vulnerable to terrorist attack. But he still wants us fear Senator Obama at one level or another. But he did question Senator Obama's patriotism when he stated that Senator Obama would rather lose a war than lose a political campaign. Governor Palin has repeatedly talked about good patriotic parts of a state or the country with an obvious implication that people or areas of the country that don't support John McCain or some how anti-American or not patriotic.

I contend that I am a patriot. I know that I love America. I do not support McCain/Biden.

It appears to me that often Republican's understand they are on the other side of most issues from the voters so campaign isn't a positive one about why we should vote for a Republican, but a negative one about why we should vote against the Democrat.

Senator Obama was on the TV last night for 30 minutes. Never once did he attack John McCain. Barely mentioned him. Can you picture what a 30 McCain infomercial would look like? Based on the way his campaign is running now he would spend a large fraction of his time telling us reasons to vote against Senator Obama.

I understand the politics of fear, of personal destruction. Its a style of politics that Republican's seem far more comfortable with. And unfortunately it works. Thats a shame.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A woman's right to Chose and Abortions

As a liberal, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I support a woman's right to chose. I reject the argument that life begins at conception. I believe that life begins at birth. Bill Clinton expressed it as clearly as anyone. Abortion should be Safe, Rare, and Legal.

This one one of the few positions that I hold where I am an absolutist. The decision to carry the child to term or have an abortion is the mother's and hers alone.

I understand and respect the Alan Keyes of the world who have an equally uncompromising position on the other side. If, as many believe, life begins at conception, the abortion is the deliberate taking of a human life. That is the definition of murder. Alan Keyes was clear and unequivocal on this in his 2000 quest for the Republican Presidential nomination.

I have no respect for those who try to finesse this issue. This occurs more in Republican ranks than in Democratic ranks, but both sides are trying to keep their head down on this.

The current debate about Partial Birth abortion is an example of the insanity of this debate. Abortion opponents want to ban a specific procedure without regard to any concept of medical necessity, without regard for any threat to the life of the mother and without any regard for any threat to the health of the mother. All of this over a procedure that is used in less than .2% of abortions ( and is usually performed on a non-viable fetus. The majority of states already ban abortions after presumed viability (usually defined as 24 weeks) in most cases, the use of the Partial Birth Abortion procedure is already prohibited in cases where the fetus might be viable.

I am not going to argue whether or not women chose to have abortions for capricious reasons or for intensely difficult reasons. That isn't the point. We as a society don't get to tell a woman that her reasons are good enough or they are not. That's above our pay grade.

I don't see enough people trying to get Abortion opponents to explain how they can believe that life begins at conception, and not believe that the mother who solicits for the murder of her unborn child is not as guilty as the doctor. Even more so. But they don't want to be seen as extremists. So they take a position that is logically indefensible and pretend it makes sense.

I also find it fascinating the the same people who find abortion to be abhorrent are also opposed to many of the ways that might make unplanned pregnancies less common and reduce any perceived need for abortion.

Though there are few absolutists on this issue, I have no respect for any position in the middle ground.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why I support Senator Obama

As much as I want this campaign to be about the issues, I have spent most of my time complaining about how Senator McCain is running his campaign. For me though, I am not voting against Senator McCain, what ever I think about how he is running his campaign. I am voting for Senator Obama. And here's why!

Senator Obama and I basically share the same belief that government can be a force for good in the world.

I believe that unfettered free markets are inherently unstable and they will almost always lead to an excessive concentration of wealth. Senator Obama and I believe that markets need an appropriate level of regulation to prevent the kinds of excesses that lead to the worst of the bust and boom cycle.

Senator Obama agree that the Iraq war was a Strategic Mistake. I believe that it is the most disastorous foriegn policy mistake in our history. I support his plan for a responsible withdrawl of our forces from Iraq and the addition of some forces to Afghanistan.

I agree with Senator Obama that we must talk to our enemies as well as our friends. However inartfully he expressed it in the debate with Hillary Clinton, attempts to isolate those we disagreement have almost always failed. Under President Bush the policy of not talking to our enemies has been part and parcel of the most incompetent and damaging foriegn policy in our history.

We share a belief in the value and even necessity of improving the quality of public education.

We both believe that much of the speed of global warming is caused by human activity, mostly the production of CO2 in industrial and power applications.

We both believe that the government must be fiscally responsible. That long term huge deficits are unsustainable. He might not phrase it this way, but I believe it is immoral for us to pass on to our children and their children the bill for what we are spending today.

We both believe that it is almost insane that there are 50 million uninsured people in the richest country in the world. Universal Health Care should be a right.

I also see in Senator Obama a man who can inspire and lead. A man who has tried to keep this campaign civil, even friendly, and a discussion of the issues, not a set of personal attacks.

I am excited about the prospect of an Obama Presidency. Combine that with strong majorities in both houses and we can accomplish great things.

I also believe that Senator Obama will appoint judges to the bench that will protect my civil liberties from the excesses any government will go to if not properly constrained by a strong judiciary.

Senator Obama largely agree on the right of a woman to control her body. I am probably more of an absolutist than he is. I would oppose laws that restrict that right in any way. It is to me a given that children lack the emotional or intellectual ability to make their own decisions. I do believe that parents should be involved when a pregnant minor is facing the incredible decision whether or not to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term. There needs to be some mechanism, some sort of judicial override, to mediate or even decide the issue if the pregnant minor and her parents cannot agree. Its not a simple issue and the solutions to issues like this tend to be complex and full of nuance.

As a nation, we face huge challenges. The current financial crisis is only the most recent. I see in his ability to inspire and lead the hope that he can truly bring sides together on the issues we must confront.

For these reasons, I support Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guilt by Association

I have watched with some dismay the current effort to dimish Senator Obama because of the words or actions of people he knows and even some that he doesn't.

The Senator is being criticized because the magazine published by the church he used to attend gave an award to Minister Louis Farrakhan. Senator Obama has condemned Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semetic words and actions and as near as I can tell the two have never met. Yet somehow Senator McCain's campaign wants to try to link Senator Obama to Farrakhan.

Then there is Senator Obama's relationship with Rashid Khalidi. They have a relationship going back 12 years. Professor Khalidi is a supporter of Palestine and a harsh critic of Isreal. Senator Obama has made it clear that he does not agree with Rashid Khalidi on the issues in the Isreali-Palestinian conflict. But again, McCain and his supporters want to try to paint them together.

And then there is the Reverend Wright. Senator Obama's pastor for 20 years. The Reverend has said things in some of his sermons that most people find offensive. At the same time his church has been a real force for good in its neighborhood. But in a campaign that seems to make no allowance for nuance, some choose to believe that if Senator Obama attends that church, that he therefore endorses everything that his pastor has said. The Reverend Wright said some things that were strongly critical of the United States. So in a view that has no nuance, that means somehow that Obama agrees with those views.


I am a liberal. I have expressed my beliefs in my sister's house and she didn't throw me out. That doesn't make her a liberal. She is still my sister and I love her. That doesn't make me a religious conservative. I have family that have been known to use the N word. I don't approve of it, sometimes I tell them so. But that doesn't make me a racist. I have friends who believe that the Bush Administration was behind the 9/11 attacks. I disagree with them. But my relationship with them doesn't make me a nut.

If you can look into Senator Obama's past and find racist actions, or find where he said or acted like he hates America, or where he did anything other support Isreal, then talk about that.

If you want to know who his advisors will be, look at who they are. They are not Rashid Khalidi, or Reverend Farrakhan or even the Reverend Wright or Bill Ayers. He is getting economic advice from former Secretaries of the Treasury and private citizens like Warren Buffet. He is getting foriegn policy advice form former Secretaries of State.

Senator McCain actively pursued the support of nut job pastors like Haggi who have said their own idiotic, racist, sexist, hateful things. But I don't think that Senator McCain is a Racist or a Sexist or an Idiot. If one of those people was an advisor to teh McCain campaign, then I would care. But they are not. And the people that McCain's supporters are trying to link Senator Obama to are not his advisors either.

I disagree with Senator McCain on most major issues, not because of who he has as friends or acquaintances, but because of what he would do as President.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A draw is a win

I liked the Debate last night. They stuck almost exclusively to the issues. There was a little attacking, but not much and neither candidate made it the reason for their campaign. John McCain answered some questions that Obama ducked, Obama answered some questions that McCain ducked.

McCain used the debate to announce a major new policy that I think was undercovered in the post debate blather that I caught. His proposal for the Federal Government to buy distressed mortgages and write down the mortgage principal to match the current value of the house is HUGE and could end up costing us all massive amounts of money. It should have received more play than it did.

But in the end, Obama won by simply looking calm and knowledgeable. The first two debates have done much to undercut McCain's attack that Obama is not ready to lead. He is trying to spin their policy disagreements into a ready to lead narrative and the debates destroy that. They have very real and distinct policy differences. But Obama looks more Presidential than McCain in these things.

On points, probably a draw

On Style, a win for Obama

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Where this campaign can go (Clicking on the title of this post will launch the video)

I got this video off of I suspect its also on the MSNBC website.

No one accuses Keith Olberman of balance. He is unabasedly a liberal. When I watch his show I keep his filter in mind.

This video is his latest Special Comment and it addresses the direction the campaign can go.

He is clearly outraged at McCain-Palin for their decision to go negative in this campaign and lays out the tit for tat that could come from all this.

Campaigns use negative ads because they work. One of the biggest reasons John Kerry lost in 2004 is the lies told about him in the Swiftboat campaign. No truth to them, but they worked.

But is that really the way we want to elect a President.

The Obama campaign has already posted a 13 minute video about McCain's involvement in the Keating 5 scandal. If McCain wants to continue to question Senator Obama's patriotism, if it wants to continue to distort his record and call him dishonorable, then Senator Obama will respond and talk about Keating and Hagee, and McCain talking about G*(ks, and calling Cindy McCain a C#$t and the way he treated his first wife.

Senator McCain has a choice. Engage on the issue or throw mud, hoping something will stick.

This is not the campaign Senator McCain promised us and its not the campaign we deserve.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Arizonan's Sold on McCain??

I don't really know what this means but in the latest polls that I have seen, Senator McCain is barely poling over 50% in his home state (50.3%). His 11.3% lead over Senator Obama is only marginally larger than the 10.5% win that President Bush got in 2004.

Maybe it mean nothing, but the fact that 11% of Arizonans are not sure if they want to vote for Senator McCain says to me that the people who know him best are not sold on him. The undecides in Illinois are only 7% of that electorate.

As a comparison, Senator Obama is polling 55% in Illinois, which gives him a 17% advantage over Senator McCain in that state, much larger then the 10.4% margin that John Kerry had over George Bush in 2004.

Maybe this really doesn't mean anything. But I do find it interesting

Sunday, October 5, 2008

McCain's New (old) Stragegy

One of the weakest parts of the McCain campaign has been its lack of a consistent message or strategy.

From reports in the press and the tenor of Governor Palin's remarks yesterday, the new strategy seems to be ignore the issues, don't talk about why we should vote for Senator McCain, just try to convince America that there is something wrong with Senator Obama. Perhaps he is even not really patriotic.

Governor Palin attacked Senator Obama because he recieved support from William Aires back in 2000 and 2001. Apparetnly working with a man who did some really wrong things when Barack was 8 years old proves that Obama is anti-American or something. Its almost inevitiable that they will start talking about the Reverend Wright pretty soon as well.

I actually kinda like this new approach. I think it appeals to the base but will alienate exactly those undecided moderates and independents that Senator McCain needs to win. They are thinking about the economy and what they see from Senator McCain is taking another shot at attacks on McCain that were old news 6 months ago.

This is a return to McCain's original strategy that worked so well he dropped it months ago, but its all they have to its back

What ever happened to McCain's promise to run an honorable positive campaign?

As an aside, its funny to watch Governor Palin drag up William Aires from Senator Obama's past after repeatedly criticizing Senator Biden for looking back when the Senator would talk about the failures of the Bush Administration and McCain's simliarities to Bush.

Welcome to Padraig

For the 8th time I am a Great Uncle. My Neice Joy, with Bobby's assistance no doubt, delivered Padraig Gibson yesterday.

A completely awesome young man I can't wait to meet next month.

Congratulations to Joy and Bobby welcome Padraig!!!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Vice President Palin

Based on the debate and her previous interviews can the thought of a Vice President Palin be anything other than frightening?

She is cheery and likeable, but her answers seldom make sense.

McCain the Maverick

The latest iteration of the McCain campaign is Sarah Palin's Maverick theme from last night.

And the funny thing is, she used to be right.

In 2000 John McCain was a Maverick when he campaigned against the influence of some religious conservative as agents of intolerance. In 2007 and 2008 he actively sought the support of those he once criticized.

In 2001 he opposed President Bush's tax cuts because they would favor the wealthy over the middle class and he was right. In 2008 he wants to make those same tax cuts permanent and even add more tax cuts despite the enormous deficits resulting from the first set of cuts.

He joined with President Bush and supported comprehensive Immigration reform. One of the few policies pursued by the President that I agreed with. Senator went against the mainstream of his party and supported the reforms and co sponsored the bill. Now he has stated he would vote against the very bill he co-sponsored.

He used to be a Maverick.

Interestingly, Governor Palin may actually be more of a maverick than the Senator.

On the issues that are really important this election, Senator McCain is no maverick, he is more of Bush and that we don't need.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

She Didn't Screw Up

Which probably qualifies as a victory for the McCain campaign.

Governor Palin frequently didn't answer the questions and constantly repeated the same talking points, but she didn't fail to zero the way she had in her earlier interviews

Senator Biden won on debating points, but then so did Richard Nixon in 1960. American's aren't debate judges.

She continues to be bright and cheery and likeable. Time will tell if she answered the question in peoples minds about her readiness to be the President.

It was striking how completely she was willing to throw President Bush under the bus. There was virtually no statement of support for his policies while she pushed her theme that she and Senator McCain are reformers.

Senator Biden directly attacked that claim and did so effectively, but only did it once. Senator Biden also clearly and effectively talked about the lack of significant policy differences between President Bush and Senator McCain, continuing the theme of McCain being simply a 3rd Bush term. He did it well, but he only did it once. Governor Palin repeated her mantra that she and Senator McCain were reformers over and over and over again apparently believing that if you say something over and over again, even if its not true, people will believe you.

Senator McCain and his campaign staff have to be breathing a massive sigh of relief tonight


This may be the best site on the web

They challenge both candidates to tell the truth.

You can sign up for emails that analyze the misrepresentations and outright lies that campaigns make.

If you are at all interested in this campaign, I encourage you to sign up.

The email that I just got points out the inaccuracies in Senator Obama's ad about McCain's position on Social Security. This is the least partisan site that I know of.

Sign up


Tonight's Debate

I am really looking forward to tonight's Vice Presidential debate.

In an election that Senator McCain has tried to make all about experience and readiness, I suspect that Governor Palin is going to expose herself yet again as completely unprepared to even be Vice President.

Her performance in the few interviews she has been allowed to do has been somewhere between dreadful and funny. Its interesting to me that the McCain campaign is trying to spin the questions she has been asked so far as gotcha questions. The question she was asked about the Bush Doctrine was something of a gotcha question, but the question about what she reads and supreme court decisions she disagrees with, and the whether her Campaign Manager's relationship with Fanny Mae is a conflict of interest, those weren't gotcha questions and she literally had no answer.

When asked about Global Warming/Climate Change, she acknowledged that temperatures are increasing and that governments needed to respond. She talked proudly about the things that Alaska is going to address the results of Climate Change. But she also said it wasn't important to understand the cause of this crisis. She has stated in the past that she doesn't believe that human activity is making Global Warming worse. But she lacked the courage to say that in this setting. Why? In addition to being a coward's response, its also stupid. Climate Change is real. She even seems to acknowledge that. Understanding the cause can be critical to dealing with the issue, saying the cause doesn't matter just doesn't make sense.

I am sure her lesbian friend will be glad to know that she somehow chose to be a Lesbian.

The answer that she gave that I found most interesting was in response to Katie Couric's question about abortion. Governor Palin is very clearly on record as believing that life begins at conception and that abortion is murder. She has publicly stated that she opposes allowing abortion even in the case of rape or incest. But when asked if she would ban abortion in the case of rape or incest, she dodged the question. She told Katie she would counsel the woman to keep the child. On the issue that seems to be most important to her religious conservative base, she basically said its a choice. A choice she would counsel against, but a choice.

This coming from this woman who claims she will take on the establishment in Washington and lead towards change lacks the courage to clearly affirm her previously stated position on this issue.

Sarah Palin isn't what she claims to be. She isn't a reformer in any broad sense. She ran a throw the bums out campaign against the most corrupt governor in Alaska history. And she did institute some ethics reforms as a result. But she loves her some earmarks. Under her leadership, the State of Alaska took some of the money that was originally intended for the fabled Bridge to Nowhere and built a $25Million road that literally goes no where. As mayor she actively pursued earmarks for her town in ways no previous mayor had. As governor she was more than willing to take Hundreds of Millions of dollars of earmarks. Far more earmarked dollars per capita than any state in the Union.

Joe Biden, for all is mis-speaks on things, knows who he is and isn't trying to be someone else.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Let's see if I can find coherence

Every family has to have one so I guess it am it.

The token liberal.

And Heathen.

Its a burden I have chosen to bear.

I believe that government has a good and legitimate role to play in the world.

That government CAN be an agent for positive change

That government MUST be watched closely. The power of the law and the power of the purse are so immense that no people are safe from their government if they fail to keep a close eye on it.

That there are few topics that justify being an absolutist.

There is a balance to be struck between an intrusive government that burdens, even strangles, what it touches, and a laisse faire government which allows anything and everything without thought to the public good.

No suprise, I am a supporter of Senator Barack Obama for President