Posts tagged ‘John McCain’
Who, you might ask is Sylvester McMonkey McBean? Anyone who has read Dr. Seuss stories to his or her child probably knows who he is. So why when we have two wars raging and an economy in collapse, why when I aspire to be a serious blogger would I invoke the name of a Dr. Seuss character in this post? Mr. McBean is not just any character. He is a character at the heart of our current national drama.
Tonight on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”, the host gave one of his “special comments”. His focus was on this new Republican trend of labeling people pro-American or anti-American, or as Sarah Palin put it, part of “the real America” vs not part of it. So where might you ask is the intersection of a Keith Olbermann special comment and a story by Dr. Seuss?
In Dr. Seuss’ “The Sneetches” we encounter a population of creatures who are more or less identical but for one thing. Some of the sneetches have stars on their bellies and some do not. The “star-bellied sneetches” claim superiority over the bare bellied ones. This simple tale has always encapsulated for me a philosophy about the human condition. Take any set of humans, no matter how seemingly similar, and they will find a means to discriminate among each other and sow the seeds of discord. It happens between whites and blacks … it happens between dark skinned blacks and light skinned blacks, and so on. Each time you think you’ve got a group of people who are more similar than different, they discover a way to find a meaningless difference about which to segregate.
This is where our friend Mr. McBean comes in. He offers, for a fee, to provide all the bare-bellied sneetches with stars so they can no longer be discriminated against by the star-bellied ones. Once the deed is done, the “original” star-bellied sneetches, still convinced of their superiority, need a method to stand out and the clever McBean offers, for a fee, to remove their stars, declaring that stars are no longer a status symbol. This attempt to maintain the ability to discriminate goes back and forth with the only one benefitting being Mr. McBean who collects a fee for each star imprint/removal. When the sneetches have exhausted their bank accounts, McBean rides off into the sunset having profited nicely by exploiting the insecurity of the sneetch population.
Which brings us back to Keith Olbermann’s special comment. Over the past few days, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Nancy Pfotenhauer, and Rush Limbaugh have each taken turns at being Sylvester McMonkey McBean. Each of them has attempted to exploit the tensions that exist between various factions of this country to suit their own ends. If you don’t support John McCain, you’re a socialist, an anti-American, a racist (Limgaugh’s charge against Colin Powell). It’s us against them. This kind of rhetoric sows the seeds of an idealogical war, at best and a real civil war at worst. It is a dangerous road that these McBeans are leading us down.
In “The Sneetches”, the creatures learn (after losing all their money) that they are all sneetches, star-bellied or not and that what unites them is much more important than what separates them. In response to the divisive campaign tactics of the McCain team, Obama had this to say today in Tampa, Florida:
There are no real or fake parts of this country. We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this nation – we all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women from Florida and all across America who serve on our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the United States of America.
We have always been at our best when we’ve had leadership that called us to look past our differences and come together as one nation, as one people; leadership that rallied this entire country to a common purpose – to a higher purpose. And I am running for President of the United States of America because that is the country we need to be right now.
Obama is no McBean. We need to reject those who would tell us that we are a nation divided. We will get the chance to do that on November 4.
(For those who have forgotten the magical story telling of Dr. Seuss, here’s a nice reminder.)
Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a prominent Republican political and military leader endorsed Barack Obama for President. What made the endorsement so powerful was not simply that it was from a long standing Republican, but that it was so well thought out and articulated. Powell hit just about every salient reason for supporting Obama:
The Economy: Powell pointed to John McCain’s unsteady handling of the current economic crisis as compared to Obama’s cautious, reasoned and reassuring approach.
The Vice Presidential Choice: Powell highlighted the terrible example of judgment exercised by John McCain in his choice of Sarah Palin for his Vice Presidential nominee.
A Campaign in the Gutter: In perhaps his most powerful point, Powell discussed his disappointment with the tone of the Republican campaign and the extremes they are willing to go to win. In a statement made after his appearance on “Meet the Press”, he mentioned Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann and her recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball”:
Ms. Bachmann is the closest we have come to the fictional Senator John Iselin from the 1962 film “The Manchurian Candidate”, in which Iselin states:
I am United States Senator John Yerkes Iselin, and I have here a list of two hundred seven persons who are known by the Secretary of Defense as being members of the Communist Party!
Ms. Bachmann came off sounding as much a fool as the buffoon Iselin, or his real life inspiration, Joe McCarthy.
Perhaps, Powell made his most convincing observation when he discussed the misconception that Barack Obama is a Muslim and expressed his dismay not so much about the misidentification but about the tacit value judgment being placed on Muslims.
Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn’t have a Christian cross. It didn’t have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.
And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life.
In contrast to the Republican’s divisive xenophobic approach, Obama has run what Powell calls an inclusive campaign.
In less than 30 minutes, Colin Powell did more to clearly explain the appeal of Barack Obama and the shame of the Republican party than any other public figure to this date.
If you are undecided and still need a reason to vote for Barack Obama, you need only watch Powell’s appearance on “Meet the Press” to arrive at the inevitable conclusion.
The Two Joe’s
The McCain campaign has introduced us to two Joe’s recently. There is Sarah Palin’s Joe Sixpack and now we have John McCain’s Joe the Plumber. An MSNBC pundit last night wondered aloud why the two didn’t seem to resonate the same way.
The answer is simple. When we hear “Joe Sixpack” we imagine a middle aged paunchy, possibly unemployed (or at least underemployed), probably alcoholic average schlub. He is the poor working stiff who needs advocacy from the likes of Sarah Palin. Powerful image. On the other hand, when is the last time you had to pay a plumber? Their hourly rate rivals that of doctors! Sorry …. Joe the Plumber has nothing to complain about, other than paying his fair share of taxes, which he told Barack Obama he doesn’t want to do.
Is Trig Palin Autistic?
Apparently, John McCain thinks so! After citing his running mate Sarah Palin’s affinity for children with special needs, he launched into some gobbledygook about research into autism. I guess someone needs to tell John that Palin’s youngest child, Trig, has Down’s Syndrome. In fact, it is impossible to diagnose autism in infants as the signs of autism don’t manifest until later. Guess he didn’t get a chance to learn much about Trig during that one vetting interview he had with Sarah.
My Liver Ain’t Pretty Enough
While discussing platinum insurance policies, McCain mentioned coverage for “cosmetic surgery and transplants”. Now unless John was talking about hair transplants, I’m not sure how the two items go together. When was the last time you heard a patient complain that their liver just wasn’t pretty enough so they wanted a transplant for a nicer looking one?
So, Who Won?
Determining the winner of these debates has become more of an expectations game than an objective assessment. Many conservatives thought Sarah Palin won the VP debate because she was able to get through 90 minutes sounding more or less coherent. Of course, there was no substance to any of her answers (to her own questions … the moderator was irrelevant) but all the doggone it’s and winks got her through the night.
On that scale, McCain had a good night. Conservatives wanted him to come with a fight and fight he did. Granted, his gun had blanks in it but he got off lots of shots. By that standard, conservative ideologues like Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchannan wet their pants with glee. For fans of Obama, the satisfaction came in watching the bullets bounce off Barack like so many Whammo super-balls. More than in any other debate this season, Obama looked Presidential and McCain looked like a cranky old guy being kept up past his bedtime by an insolent youth.
Unless something goes horribly awry, last night we all just watched the next President of the United States, Barack Obama.
It is amazing how two disciples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could end up on such opposite ends of the political spectrum. Two recent statements made by followers of King have, in my view, helped Obama and caused Obama unnecessary grief.
Recently, Representative John Lewis stated:
As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.
During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate.
George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.
There are those like the terribly thick MSNBC host Joe Scarborough who say Lewis called McCain a murderer. Nonsense! Lewis correctly pointed out that words matter. Politicians need to be careful what they say. When Palin says Obama is “palling around with terrorists”, she makes Obama look like a threat. When slightly unhinged McCain supporters then scream for Obama’s demise, Palin does nothing. How is this any different from George Wallace’s rhetoric giving tacit approval to the racial violence of the 1960’s? Lewis did not say that McCain or Palin were identical in political thought to George Wallace (as has been charged). He said that their rhetoric has the same potential for inciting anti-social behavior as George Wallace’s did.
Unfortunately, for every right-headed supporter of Barack Obama, we can count on a wrong-headed one saying something stupid. Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson has once again revealed his ambiguous attitude towards Jews with the following statement, which he unfortunately pulled Obama into:
The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end.
Jackson believes that, although “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.
Right when there is a good chance of Obama winning Florida, the last thing he needed was this statement by Jackson. It has long been asserted (especially since the Obama castration remark) that Jesse is resentful that his star has faded and that a new black leader has emerged who has made human issues, not simply black issues, the center of his message.
Bottom line … we need to listen to John Lewis. Jesse Jackson needs to keep his mouth shut until after the election.
Let’s start with a video of what, in a decent America, had to happen eventually:
Look at how crestfallen McCain looks. After more than a week of stirring up fear and hatred among his supporters it appears that either McCain independently, or with his campaign, realized he had created a monster with whom he could no longer live.
McCain has a new problem now, one that our American hero of sleaze, Jerry Springer could have warned him about.
Imagine if in the midst of an onstage brawl, amid the cries of “JERRY, JERRY, JERRY”, Mr. Springer said, “folks, we can be better than this. I’m putting a stop to this foolishness.” Jerry’s audience would turn on him so fast he’d need his bouncers to protect him for a change.
This is what happened to John McCain as he advised a male supporter that Barack Obama would not be a President to be feared. The crowd turned on McCain with boo’s. You see, they were there for the freak show and the ringmaster was calling the show off. They wanted their money back.
It appears that after receiving a collective “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” from the American people, McCain had to finally step up and do the right thing. I never dreamed that I could feel sorry for this man, this week of all weeks, but the look on McCain’s face as he defended Obama betrayed the shame that he was feeling. Unlike Joseph McCarthy, McCain looked like a beaten man. If one is to believe McCain’s life story, this defeat was not a political one but a moral one. A defeat of dishonor. McCain allowed Steve Schmidt, a veteran of the Lee Atwater-Karl Rove school of smear politics, to drag his campaign down into the dirt. He allowed things to go so far that many pundits were beginning to worry not if but when some right wing nutjob would take his code-worded marching orders and do his American duty to remove the terrorist sympathizer from the American scene.
McCain is boxed in now. By putting a stop to the freak show, he is alienating the extremists in his base. He has already alienated those who wondered how he could let it get this bad. McCain now has no choice but to move back to the issues, foreign affairs — not on anyone’s hot list right now, and economics — a topic he is woefully unprepared to handle. McCain will coast to defeat, and hopefully for the sake of all he claims to hold dear, finish his Senate term and retire with honor.
I am so concerned about the spectacle we are seeing daily as McCain and Palin take their traveling road show of fear-mongering around the country, that every chance I get, I’m going to highlight what is at stake here.
I was reviewing Sensico’s blog when I found a link to Bob Cesca’s blog posted by a commenter there. I’ve excerpted most of the original Cesca blog post (written by Elvis Dingeldein) here.
… here’s my Friendly Reminder for the true Independents and moderate Republicans and racist Democrats that haven’t yet made up their minds because, Doggone It™, Sarah Palin looks so darned-tootin cute in her knee-high boots and higher skirts, with her starburst-ricocheting winkage aimed directly at Joe Six-Pack’s desperately underused genitals, and my reminder is this: “Al-Qaeda” is Arabic for “The Base.” Remember that the next time you see Sarah Palin working The Base. Remember that the next time you hear an American citizen shout “Kill him” or “Traitor” at a political rally-cum-seething mob. Al-Qaeda is Arabic for “The Base.” Anger and resentment, tinged with overt racism and powered by a long-simmering tribal conflict – Us versus Them, Black versus White, Christian versus Muslim – needs only a plain-talking but charismatic leader to become something dangerous, something radical, something Terrible. And it is from a Base of sympathetic ideologues that such a terror often leaps, whether in a handful of aircraft-turned-missiles, or the assassin’s simple bullet.
That John McCain and his panicked cabal of Bush-league attack dogs can only send Sarah Palin into these nests of ideological safety is no accident, and should surprise no one that has witnessed the train-wreck-in-a-Hindenburg-explosion that is her ability to parse complex data while suffering the Slings and Arrows of so outrageous a fortune as Katie Couric. That she is able (and not a little willing) to incite such fearful passion and explosive anger in The Base – you know, “The Base”; it’s English for “Al-Qaeda” – may be accidental indeed, and have historic consequences far beyond her control, or any other.
Just a friendly reminder.
Earlier tonight I was telling my Dad that watching the crowd reaction at Palin rallies felt almost like watching a modern-day Hitler rally disguised in the form of a “hockey mom”. The whole phenomenon is absolutely chilling. Then I saw the above article and it really brought it home for me.
This November, we get a chance to make our disgust known. We can express it loud and clear in the voting booth so that the whole world will know that Americans will not tolerate politician’s appealing to our worst instincts. We must make sure that on November 4, John McCain and Sarah Palin pay a price for their current hateful conduct.
Yesterday, I wrote about the sickening turn that the John McCain campaign has taken as it tries to link Barack Obama to former terrorist William Ayers. There are two ways to fight this shameful tactic. The first is to expose it for what it is and warn everyone you know of the dangerous places to which this rhetoric can lead. The other way to disinfect the venom spewing from Sarah Palin’s mouth is to drown out her hateful message with a positive one. That is what I hope to do in this entry.
I have two videos for you. The first is from a New Yorker sponsored panel discussion called “If I Were Running this Campaign”. The video features Democratic strategist Donna Brazile talking about the absurdity of racism, how far we’ve come from when she was a child and how we have reached a brand new day. Her message of recognition of progress, of hope, and of strong determination to never go back again cuts through the choking, noxious fumes emanating from the McCain campaign.
The second video is from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, where she interviewed the Democratic Governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley. Barack is enjoying a lead in NC; some polls putting him ahead of McCain beyond statistical error. The kick that I got out of this video comes at approximately the five minute mark.
Until I heard Mike Beasley say it, it never occurred to me that there could be a Reverse Bradley Effect. Once he said it, it made perfect sense. When all the good ole boys get together and talk about how they could never vote for a “negro”, there is an element of macho swagger to it. An element of giving in to peer pressure. (You’d think a lot of us never graduated from high school!). When they get in the voting booth, shielded from the glare of their ignorant friends, there is the distinct possibility that they may say “McCain just ain’t gonna cut it for me the next four years. I’m just gonna have to vote for the negro. I just won’t tell nobody.” Yes folks, there is a distinct possibility that economics may trump bigotry this time around but we won’t know it from the polls because the bigots can’t bear to have their friends know their intentions.
Listening to Governor Easley made my day! It reminded me that bigotry needs the mob to survive. When we deal with each other one on one, with no one watching, and no pressure to conform to expectations, we take each other as individuals. It’s when the forces of society impinge upon us that we give in to irrational prejudices. In previous posts I’ve mentioned the song “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” from the musical South Pacific.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
Maybe this year a good number of us, when we go into that voting booth, will focus on the issues and forget what we’ve been taught by the likes of Sarah Palin. Perhaps being behind that curtain away from the glare of a prejudiced society, we’ll be able to vote for our best interest. If we pull the lever for Obama it will be because we think he’s the right man for the job. If we pull the lever for McCain it won’t be because we can’t bring ourselves to vote for a black man.
Maybe this year when we’re behind the curtain, we can do the right thing. And if we emerge from the booth and lie about doing the right thing, to save face with our bigoted friends, well maybe that’s not so bad. Maybe a little bit of progress has been made.
Over the past several days, Senator John McCain’s Vice Presidential candidate, Governor Sarah Palin has been attacking Senator Barack Obama for his association with a former American terrorist named Bill Ayers. This line of attack is in and of itself unremarkable. It was used by Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries to no avail.
There is, however, a disturbing difference between Clinton’s “Ayers attack” and that of Sarah Palin and the difference is the audience reaction. When Clinton invoked the Ayers connection, the audience response was one of “mmm, perhaps we should consider this?” Contrast this with Palin:
At one Palin rally, an audience member cried out “Treason!” with respect to Obama.
At a subsequent McCain rally, an audience member declared “Terrorist!” again referring to Obama.
Most disturbingly, at another Palin rally, a member of the crowd shouted “Kill him!” “Him” was Barack Obama. This latest incident was of sufficient concern that the Secret Service is investigating the matter.
In none of these cases did the candidates stop their stump speech and decry the crowd reaction. On MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”, Olbermann covered the phenomenon using the subtitle “Inciting the Mob”. How accurate that was!
Tonight, another chapter of this dark trend unfolded when during the Presidential Town Hall Debate, Senator McCain referred to his opponent as “that one.”
That one? Not “the Senator”, not “my opponent”, not “Mr. Obama”, not even “that guy over there”. “One”, a noun devoid of gender or even any trace of humanity. Perhaps a fill in the blank for that [terrorist, enemy, foreigner, negro]. It was an example of disrespect or worse, contempt.
Most importantly it plays into the menacing, ominous tone that the McCain campaign has taken in recent days. Not since Hillary Clinton’s careless reference to Bobby Kennedy’s assassination has a candidate played with fire in this way. McCain seems oblivious to the effect his words and those of his surrogates can have. Palin’s inflammatory remarks concerning Ayers come with the tacit approval of the top of the ticket. If McCain wanted to change the tone, he would. He doesn’t. Instead he wants to appeal to the darkest instincts of the underbelly of this country.
Let me be very clear. If any harm comes to “that one” between now and Election Day, the blood will be on the hands of John Sidney McCain III.
Senator Barack Obama’s attempts to tie his opponent Senator John McCain to President George Bush could not have been better realized than by the great McCain himself. Today, McCain all but morphed into George Bush before our eyes. Watch as he gloats over his mission accomplished and disparages Obama in the process.
Of course, as in the case of his doppelganger Bush, the mission was not accomplished. The House today failed to pass the Wall Street bailout bill upon which the near term health of our economy depends. In addition to accusing Obama of “watching from the sidelines”, he later chastised Obama for “phoning it in”. Interestingly, throughout the weekend, McCain “monitored the situation” by phone. Who does he think he is fooling? Clearly, McCain outdid himself today when it came to impersonating George Bush.
While we’re on the subject of the President, I am reminded today of an old fable. Why should we be surprised at the outcome of today’s vote?
“Iraq has WMD’s.”
“We will be greeted as liberators.”
“Iraq is the center of the war on terror (i.e. those guys who attacked us on 9/11)”
“If we don’t pass this bill, there will be dire consequences for our economy.”
The first three paraphrases of Bush assertions turned out to be lies. So is it any wonder that when the boy cries wolf again concerning our economy, even his own party fails to heed the call? Unfortunately, as in the fable, this time the assertion is not a lie and ordinary citizens will have to pay the price if something is not done soon.
All in all, it’s been a banner day for the Republicans. One of their leaders wakes up from his delusions too late to have any credibility and the other leader is so immersed in his own delusions (of grandeur) that he does not even realize that he is not a leader at all.
Think back, my loyal readers, to the days of the Democratic primaries. Once upon a time there was a candidate named Hillary Clinton who was so presumptuous as to suggest that Barack Obama would be a fine running mate for her. Needless to say, she put the cart way before the horse and not only did Barack not wind up her running mate, she did not end up being his running mate. I thought that her blatant display of ambition would not soon be eclipsed.
Then came Sarah Palin. Palin has done Hillary one better. She has (against every physical law of the universe) become John McCain’s running mate. Apparently, though, that is not good enough for her. She has decided that the ticket should be flipped. Can you blame her? When Sarah’s not there, McCain has no audience.
I’m sure you’ve seen this video before but it’s worth repeating here. We truly cannot make this stuff up!