Month: October 2008

Enough of “Joe The Plumber” and Sarah Palin

"Joe the Plumber" has worn out his welcome.  This man is ignorant, dense, ill informed about everything he expresses an opinion on.  He is proof of the problem that people can have opinions without ever having investigated or done any research on what they are talking about.  When he had his fifteen minutes of fame, questioning Barack Obama in Ohio awhile back, one could see that he had no clue as to what Obama was referring to as he discussed his tax plans.  His eyes showed a sense of total confusion.

"Joe the Plumber" has been exploited by the McCain-Palin campaign.  It is actually embarrassing how the GOP ticket constantly refers to him and has invited him to be part of their campaign.  If McCain were to win, are we to suppose that Joe would be Secretary of State, Treasury or Defense?  :)  Is this the way to win the Presidential campaign, with John McCain counting on TWO ill qualified, uninformed people–Sarah Palin and Sam Wurzelbacher  (Joe’s real name LOL) to appeal to those voters who have no clue on the issues and vote on instinct and emotion, not reason?

Imagine this:  "Joe the Plumber" running for Congress in 2010, as has been rumored, and Sarah Palin running for President of the United States in 2012.  I cannot believe that the American people are going to pursue that course, and it is clear that both of them need to have a reality check.  Were this horrible scenario to occur, it would be proof of the so called "Peter Principle", which is that people rise to the level of their INCOMPETENCY!  LOL  :)

McCain Invokes Truman, Meaning the Election is Over

Senator John McCain, with ten days left in the Presidential campaign, has invoked the name of a Democratic President, Harry S Truman.

That means in translation that Senator McCain, in his heart and mind, has conceded the election to Senator Barack Obama.  Every losing candidate for President, since Truman’s upset victory over Governor Thomas E Dewey in 1948,  has brought up Truman as proof that a  miracle is possible.  Every candidate wants to believe that the polls will be totally wrong as they were in 1948.  The difference is that polling is much more sophisticated and fine tuned when compared to the still new polling industry sixty years ago.  One must realize that there are so many more polls now than back then, and the overwhelming indication is that the Election of 2008 will be decided much earlier than the elections of 2000 and 2004.

I have told my students that WHEN McCain brought up Truman, as he most assuredly would, that could be the signal to recognize that the election campaign was effectively over.  It can now be said that moment has been reached!  We are on the verge of electing our first African-American President, an amazing development when one considers the odds of that just four years ago when Barack Obama first came on the national scene with his rousing keynote address at the Democratic National Convention of 2004. 

American politics continues to amaze, as who would have realistically thought four years out that Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton or George W. Bush would have won the Presidency?  Trying to project that far ahead as to who would occupy the Oval Office has been an impossible task, and again, that reality is presenting itself as we finish the campaign of 2008!

The Al Smith Dinner

It was a delight to watch and laugh along with the barbs visited by John McCain and Barack Obama upon each other at the annual Al Smith Dinner in New York City last Thursday night.

In the midst of a long and very stressful campaign, particularly in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, we got to see the human side of both candidates and to enjoy the funnier side of the events that have been transpiring. 

It is particularly appropriate that this annual political event commemorates the life and contributions of Alfred E Smith, the four term Governor of New York, and 1928 Democratic nominee  for President, who was also the first Catholic nominee for President, setting a new milestone in American politics, although he went on to lose in a landslide to Herbert Hoover, who proceeded to preside disastrously over the Great Depression.  This led to the destruction of the Republican majority and the beginning of the Democratic Party advantage in party registration, which has lasted  from 1932 to the present day. 

The modern Democratic party dates from the election of Franklin D Roosevelt in 1932 and his promotion of the New Deal.  Now, three quarters of a century later, an African American President may face the same challenge that FDR faced back then and a lot will be expected from him, with progressivism and liberalism again on the rise after a generation and more of Reagan conservatism.

May we wish Barack Obama good fortune as he marches on to the election in sixteen days and a post modern future!

Endorsement of Barack Obama By Colin Powell

I am very proud of Retired General Colin Powell for his endorsement this morning on MEET THE PRESS of Senator Barack Obama for President, with just sixteen days to go in the presidential campaign.

His analysis of the presidential campaign, and his reasons for endorsing Senator Obama over his long time friend Senator John McCain, are inspiring and will strengthen Obama as he goes into the final stretch of his quest for the Presidency.  It was comforting that he realized that McCain had been erratic in his response and temperament in the past seven weeks since the conventions, and that he had made an unwise choice in Sarah Palin, who Powell declared was clearly NOT ready for the Presidency on Day One, unlike Senator Joseph Biden, Obama’s Vice Presidential choice. 

Powell also made clear his discontent over the tone of the McCain campaign in his campaign rallies and his and Palin’s constant references to William Ayers, rather than focusing on the economy and the major issues that are being totally ignored by the McCain campaign.  Meanwhile, Obama has come across as focused, steady, stable, calm cool, comfortable with himself and ready to take on the responsibilities of the Presidency. 

Also important, as Powell pointed out, is the intellectual nature of Obama’s mind, a man of deep thought and reflection.  Wouldn’t it be a pleasant change to have a President one can fully respect and admire as one of a keen mind and intellect who we could look up to as a model, rather than having a "Joe the Plumber" or "Six Pack Joe" as our leader?  The nation is deserving of such a leader and should soon have what it is clear they want!

Oh, and by the way, I hope sincerely that "Joe the Plumber" goes back into well deserved obscurity.  We have had more of him than one can take.  My response to him is: "Good night and good luck"!  :)

Socialism as a Campaign Issue

So now John McCain and Sarah Palin accuse Barack Obama of being a "Socialist"!  As if Socialism is the same as Communism, which unfortunately too many Americans, through lack of education and knowledge, tend to believe.

It is particularly ironic that this accusation is surfacing at a time when a Republican President (George W Bush) and Republican Secretary of the Treasury  (Hank Paulson) have decided that the government must buy into the banking system in order to save it.  It is also interesting that this conservative President created and promoted the biggest increase in government spending with the Medicare Part D prescription plan, passed in time for the election of 2004. 

The fact that every industrial democracy has a national health care plan except us, and that industrial nations created Social Security and Medicare many decades before we did,  should make one think could socialist type ideas be so evil?  Certainly, we are not in danger of abandoning our capitalist system,  but why not allow ideas that were originally socialist which have been shown to be beneficial if one looks at the evidence objectively?

For instance, it was the Democratic Socialist movement in this country that first promoted environmental protection, civil rights laws, and promotion of civil liberties, along with Social Security and Medicare.  An excellent example of a Democratic Socialist today is Senator Bernie Sanders  of Vermont, who is seen as a principled, decent man who wishes to promote the American dream beyond just a small group of rich citizens.  If this is the human face of Democratic Socialism, then we need to advance it.  The citizens of this country need to be educated in the virtues of a mixed Capitalist-Socialist system that prevents the kind of stratification so evident in America today, where one percent of the population has half the income.  This continued situation is a prescription for disaster socially and economically in the future if not rectified.

Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and “Pro Americans”: The New McCarthyism

It is sickening to hear Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota speak about so called "Pro American" parts of the nation, in effect to promote divisiveness and conflict when we so desperately need to come together in this time of economic crisis and are about to choose our next President. 

Apparently, the rural parts of America are "Pro American" while the urban and coastline areas are not.  Interesting that the first areas described are "red" states and the latter are "blue" states.  This is NOT a good strategy at a time when McCain is not ahead in ANY of the "blue’ states and running behind in many "red" states.  It is also unusual that Sarah Palin should bring this up when her husband has been a member of the Alaska Independence Party which professes to hate America and want Alaska to become an independent nation.  It is also surprising that Michele Bachmann is spewing her poison in a state which leans Democratic in the presidential race and has been consistently Democratic in presidential years longer than any other state. 

These are two good looking female politicians who show no class, no principle, and give evidence of being female versions of Joseph McCarthy, sowing division and hate and having no sense of responsibility in their accusations.  They seem not to care about the damage their labeling can do to Americans’ confidence in their government and in the future of America.  If this be evangelical conservatism in politics, let us be rid of it!

It is obvious to me that the greatest danger to this nation are people such as these who care not what damage they cause.  There is a word for Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann and their ilk: DEMAGOGUES!   As was said at the Army-McCarthy hearings but modified to reflect the gender of the accusers: "Ladies, do you not have common decency and care about the damage you are visiting upon those accused?"

Senator McCain needs to tell Governor Palin to cease and desist in this line of campaigning and to repudiate Congresswoman Bachmann’s despicable statements.  If he wishes any good memories in the future of his career in the Senate, it is essential to speak up NOW in a firm, clear, way !

The Final Obama-McCain Debate

The final Obama-McCain debate was the best of the three, in the sense it was the most interesting and the most direct interaction between the candidates.  It also was the best performance by far of Senator McCain, without any doubt.  The first twenty minutes of the debate were his best, but after that, Obama clearly performed better.  Also, Bob Schieffer of CBS News was the best moderator of all the debates, as I see it, a tribute to his long, distinguished career.

Despite the improved performance of Senator McCain, it is clear that  Senator Obama won the debate on points.  Senator McCain was on the offense, but Senator Obama was solid in his defense when challenged, and he was clear in his advocacy on health care and education and his economic plans.  He gave a spirited response also to the William Ayers controversy and to his position on abortion in the Illinois Legislature. 

McCain’s job was to win over independents, and in that regard, it is highly doubtful that he accomplished that goal.  His constant references to "Joe the Plumber" were tedious and overdone and was unlikely to appeal to many voters or observers.  Also, his body language demonstrated what seemed to be a sense of contained fury and anger which did not come across well.  Obama again presented himself as cool, calm and collected, traits one would wish a President would have, particularly with the overwhelming economic crisis now faced by the nation.  Obama appeared more statesmanlike and has, as a result of these three debates, given confidence to many who might have had doubts about him before these events.

In conclusion, this final debate did not change the basic dynamic, and now it is just 19 days to go until we are likely to elect Senator Obama as the next President, with Senator Joe Biden by his side.  Senator McCain has done good duty in his Senate years, and hopefully, he will be a strong participant next year in the Senate in assisting the new President in his goal to revive the American economy and get this nation out of the greatest crisis since the Great Depression.  The hope is that in these final 19 days, the campaigning by the McCain Palin ticket will elevate to a dignified level with real discussion of issues, rather than personal attacks.

The Dangerous Evolution of the McCain Campaign

We are in a very dangerous time in the presidential race as a result of the deterioration of the McCain campaign.  Instead of addressing the economic crisis that the nation faces, McCain and Sarah Palin are promoting guilt by association and wasting our time by focusing on William Ayers and the Reverend Wright, as if this is going to resolve the issues faced by this country.  McCain is running on empty, and meanwhile his audiences at his Town Hall meetings are becoming more scary and terrifying by the hour.

To have racist statements made, to have accusations that Obama is a terrorist and a Muslim, to have suggestions that he needs to be killed, and to have McCain and Palin NOT speak up immediately and condemn such statements,  is a reflection on the despicable nature of their campaign.  McCain and Palin should immediately step in and make clear that such statements are out of bounds.  Instead, they encourage the crowd with their despicable rhetoric and inflame the rallies,  which seem  more like a mob gathering.  It makes one wonder whether McCain and Palin should suspend their speeches, get together with their economic advisers and come up over the next week with a REAL economic alternative, since that is what the American people want to hear instead of divisive, poisonous propaganda that shows no interest in the future of America.

It is of great concern that when the election is over, will we be able to unite and deal with the economic crisis we are in or just have a new level of stalemate and gridlock that will paralyze our ability to improve our domestic and foreign policy in the next four years?  That one individual  at the rally in Wisconsin, who was so out of control in his personal behavior and concerned about the false threat of socialism if Obama wins the election,  is more a sign of what is much more scary–that we have a white supremacist, right wing fascist element in this country far greater a threat to our civil liberties and government stability than anything that a move to the left, after a generation of failed right wing leadership, could possibly represent.

This nation needs to unite and the burden of that is on Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin to STOP the personal attacks and condemn the vile statements made by their supporters and to come up with a viable alternative on the issue of the economy if they wish to have any chance to perform honorably in the election coming up in 26 days.  The legacy of Senator McCain as an historic figure will be decided by how he handles this last month.  He can go down as a statesman who had some major contributions to make in his long career or as a demagogue who divided his country and promoted racial hatred and practiced McCarthyism in his valiant quest for power. 

The Second Obama-McCain Debate

Senator John McCain entered last night’s debate needing to score a victory over Senator Barack Obama.  He failed to do that, as shown by various polls of people who watched the debate, as well as independent and undecided voters.

Senator Obama came across as confident, calm, cool, and in command.  Senator McCain came across as erratic, dismissive of Senator Obama, and quite frankly, as OLD and out of touch.  This is the wrong election for Senator McCain.  He SHOULD have been the nominee of the GOP in 2000, and almost certainly would have been a better President in the past eight years than President Bush. 

Referring to Senator Obama as "that one" does not help Senator McCain.  He comes across as feeling that Senator Obama has "nerve" taking away the Presidency from himself, who is "deserving" of the position.  But that is not how the Presidency works.  No one is "entitled" to the Presidency.  One has to EARN it, and Senator Obama, based on his whole campaign but particularly on last night’s performance, has EARNED that position!  The economy has become the biggest issue and his fresh approach to that, plus the group of economic advisers he has surrounded himself with, promote confidence that he will be decisive and use good judgment as he will face the greatest crisis any President has had since Franklin D Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. 

Once this election is over, the nation needs to unite around Barack Obama as his success will be our future.  Any bitterness or rancor MUST end as we do our part in supporting the new President in the tough circumstances he will inherit.

The Financial Crisis and Congress

I write within minutes after the House of Representatives has passed the Financial Rescue bill by a vote of 263-171,  following up on an earlier Senate passage on Wednesday by 74-25.  The passage of this most important piece of legislation in this Congressional session is a tremendous relief, but one is sobered by the reality that we are still likely to have the worst economic downturn in America in the lifetime of more than 90 percent of the people of this nation. 

There will be plenty of time and future research which will reveal who the real culprits are in this mess.  Certainly, those who promoted the false prophet of deregulation demonstrated once again the dangers of believing that government IS the problem, when it is lack of social responsibility and selfishness and greed that have led to this degrading situation where many state and local governments will be in crisis with the present lack of credit; where many small businesses will be unable to buy inventory and conduct normal business and will likely lay off many of their dedicated workers; where many senior citizens and those close to retirement will be unable to have a stable existence because of fear or the reality of lost assets; where many students will have to delay or give up higher education because of the dearth of loans that will be available; where the number of homeless and destitute will grow by leaps and bounds; where many people have already and many in the future will lose their homes and jobs!  What a disgrace that a small elite can be so self centered that there is no care about what happens to the many as long as some get golden parachutes and sail off into the sunset without a conscience!

The age of conservatism and deregulation and hatred of national government is very likely now to be succeeded by a new commitment to effective national government which will come to the rescue of the evils that unregulated capitalism has brought upon us.  It has long been necessary to return to the concept of a NEW DEAL and GREAT SOCIETY, and every indication is that this economic crisis is moving us toward that ultimate conclusion this November 4.  A new age of progressivism and liberalism in waiting in the wings!

Let me particularly congratulate the United States Senate, the legislative body that has often come to the rescue when reactionary  elements in the House of Representatives have created irresponsibility and chaos and undermined our country.  I have long been a fan of the Senate, am the author of a book on the Senate, and I therefore salute that body as the greatest legislative body in the world.  The future Senate fortunately should be even better and more productive with the likelihood of a major gain in seats by the Democrats this November.  In the midst of turmoil and trial and tribulation, there are some bright sun rays shining through that indicate we will see a turn of the tide this November 4 and have a new start on dealing with the future of America in a positive way!