All posts by Political FUD

A blow to the culture of FUD

The culture of fear, uncertainty and doubt in American politics was dealt a staggering—though not fatal—blow yesterday when the country overwhelmingly chose to ignore the negative campaigning of Senator McCain, Governor Palin and the GOP and instead focus on hope and the future.

In electing Barack Obama to President, Americans showed they are smarter and more thoughtful than they’re often portrayed in the media and blogs (including my own). This time, they chose to vote in their own best self-interest, for someone who they believe will make their lives better, regardless of cultural, racial or even political differences.

I’m not naive enough to believe fear, uncertainty and doubt have gone the way of 300 baud modems: Too many people still chose to believe the lies or their own prejudices, and FUD remains effective for depressing the turnout. But today, Americas rejected the old-style political tactics in favor of hope and ideas.

I hope it lasts.

Questions I wished town hall voters asked but didn’t

I wish the members of tonight’s town hall debate audience had asked Senator McCain some of the following questions. They didn’t:

  • Is Governor Palin ready to be president if something happens to you?
  • Is Governor Palin more qualified to be Vice President than Senator Biden?
  • Is Senator Obama less of an American than you?
  • Does your tax plan reduce taxes for 95% of Americans?
  • How does your POW status qualify you to be president?
  • Are your ties to Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac greater or lesser than those of Senator Obama?
  • What would you say to people who think Senator Obama is a muslim?
  • If you could only choose one, would you cut taxes for people making under $250K a year or over?
  • Do you belief Senator Obama is a traitor to America?
  • Does your friendship with G. Gordon Liddy reflect poorly on your judgement?
  • How can you be both a “maverick” and a “voice of reason”?
  • Does your part in the Keating Five make you a good candidate to manage a financial “rescue plan”?
  • Should people vote for you because Senator Obama is black?

Instead we got a bunch of boring questions that I doubt anyone actually wanted answers to. Maybe next debate.

Judge the candidates’ character, judgement and background

Bill Kristol, on Fox News, suggests that McCain should ask voters concerned about the economy to “judge the character, the judgement, the background of the person you’re putting in charge”.


Does Kristol not recall The Keating Five, where McCain intervened in an investigation of his political patron, which, eventually, resulted in over 20,000 Americans losing their savings? John McCain’s involvement in protecting Charles Keating calls into direct question McCain’s character, judgement and background. McCain thought it was more important to protect his political pals over the public.

Kristol also says McCain should tie Obama to “some pretty unsavory characters”. Think Kristol remembers that John McCain is great friends with G. Gordon Liddy, who helped plan the Watergate break-in (and went to jail for four years because of it) and advocated killing Federal officials?

Is that the character, judgement and background you want in your president?

Watch Krisol blather (thanks Talking Point Memo):

A new presidential cycle

Although I’ve been following the 2008 presidential cycle closely, I haven’t written anything here since May of 2007. The Democratic National Convention and the Republican selection of a Vice President candidate, though, threw me back into the mix with a vengeance. I’ve added a couple of entries from the last few days, and I suspect I’l have a bit more to say in the coming days and weeks.

Fascinated by McCain VP choice

I find myself unable to completely fathom Senator McCain’s choice of Sara Palin for Vice President. Earlier I suggested that McCain was supremely confident in his chances to win in November. After thinking this through, having the initial shock subside, and reading more about Governor Palin, I’m changing my mind.

I can’t imagine that McCain honestly believes selecting a running mate with less than two years’ experience as Governor of a state with the third lowest population in the country is the way to get elected. Palin would be a heartbeat away from the highest office in the land—and a 72-year-old heartbeat at that; is Palin really ready to be President should the unfortunate happen?

Maybe McCain is scared witless, or throwing the election.

Perhaps he feels he can’t possibly win. The Electoral College map is breaking in Obama’s favor, and the Democratic party finally seems to have united behind their candidate. If he can’t win, he wants to at least go down in history as the presidential candidate who put the first woman on a Republican ticket.

Or perhaps McCain realizes that, at 72, he doesn’t really want to be President. He can’t just quit, so he choses someone so woefully under-qualified that no one could legitimately vote for them. After all, the very charges McCain has been leveling at Obama are can now be brought against Palin. If you shouldn’t vote for Obama because he’s “dangerously unprepared”, how do you vote for Palin?

There’s one more possibility. Palin is completely untested on the national stage. We don’t know how she’ll handle the pressure, or what skeletons might be in her closet. Could this be a total red herring? A political flea-flicker? Could they be planning to enjoy the media bounce from choosing Palin, only to have her step down just before the elections “for personal reasons”, and then bring in their “real” choice?

Of course, perhaps I give too much credit to McCain; perhaps he truly believes this selection is the way to victory. Nothing surprises me anymore.

McCain’s VP pick: Confident?

Just a day after Barack Obama accepted his historic nomination for President of the United States, John McCain shocked the world by selecting Sara Palin as his running mate.

By now, if you care you’ve already read all about her, and if you’re like me, you’re left with dueling impressions: one the one hand, wow, what a bold, out-of-the-box, dare I say maverick choice. And yet, on the other, seriously? After leveling charges of inexperience against your opponent, you select someone who has less experience on the world stage?

What this tells me is McCain is supremely confident in his chances to win the presidency. He’s basically saying that even with a complete unknown as his running mate, he can defeat Obama and Biden in November.

Either McCain believes the American people really can’t bring themselves to vote in large enough numbers for Obama, or there’s some kind of October Surprise planned that will completely derail Obama’s candidacy. Palin is certainly not the most prudent pick.

Whatever the reason (including the possibility that Palin is one of the best political minds in the country), McCain has successfully retaken the news cycle. People have already forgotten about yesterday’s historical event.

Well played Senator McCain.

What will be fascinating is to see how the Democrats choose to answer this challenge. Accusations of sexism were already leveled by the Clinton camp as one reason for her loss. Will the public, media and Democrats go easy on Palin because she’s a women, fearing such continued charges? Will Biden attack her as viciously as you would expect him to do against an established male Washington insider? Heck, does she have the experience and knowledge to effectively debate Biden on the issues?

The elections just became a bit more interesting.

An historic night in America

Tonight, for the first time in the history of this country, a Black man accepted the nomination of a major political party for the presidency of the United States of America.

I don’t have anything insightful to say, I just marvel at the achievement, one hundred and forty-five years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and forty-three years after the Voting Rights Act.

I regret that eighteen months ago, when Barack Obama first decided to run for President, I didn’t become a citizen, because I didn’t think he would even get this far. I once said

I would love to see Obama run, and be elected, President of the United States. I’m just not sure the country’s ready to agree with me.

Regardless of what happens on Election Day, it’s clear that today, a large number of Americans are willing to put aside issues of race and vote for a man who inspires hope and appeals to our best nature.

Congratulations to Barack Obama.

Culture of Life and Death Take Two

It looks like Mr. Bush has said he will veto any measures from Congress which

allow taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life.

This is supposedly meant to prevent federal funding of abortions, but it’s OK to use that money for killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan.


This isn’t the first time Mr. Bush has made similar statements. He seems to enjoy unintentional irony.

I wish this man would just shut up and go away.


Illegal Options

Over the last several months, and leading up to the recent elections, there was a lot of talk about immigrants, usually those here illegally. Much of the talk has revolved around how to grant these folks some sort of legal status. Many of the illegal immigrants perform work that legal workers don’t want to do (for many reasons, ranging from low pay to undesirability). (These illegal immigrants are often called “guest workers”, because “illegal immigrants” sounds like they should be thrown in jail.)

There seem to be two polar opposites on this topic: kicking these immigrants out of the country, post haste, and granting them “auto-citizenship”, usually in the form of some type of amnesty. When you hear the pundits talk about this, they don’t generally offer any middle-ground. But, of course there’s middle ground:

  1. You could make them legal workers without making them citizens. If the employer is willing to sponsor an employee, charge a fee, fill out some paperwork, do some kind of background check, and give the worker a visa. This would be similar in concept to the H-1B visas we already have in place today.
  2. Put them on a path to citizenship. If they’re here, and they’re working, and they’ve established roots, and they haven’t been in (too much) trouble, let them get in line to become a citizen. Ensure they go through some process to document them, and them make them provisionally able to hold a job. They shouldn’t get special treatment ahead of those who came here legally, but they should get credit for the time they were in the country.

These aren’t meant to be solutions to the problem of illegal immigrants; they’re only meant to demonstrate that there are options worth investigating. The reality is these illegal immigrants are, in most cases, productive members of society, raising their children (many of whom were born in the United States, and are thus legal citizens), and trying to live a good life.

Many of them don’t know any other country as “home”, so deporting them—often breaking up families—is merely punitive. Every illegal immigrant is someone’s mother, son or cousin. And I don’t want my cousin to be kicked out of the country simply for trying to make a better life for herself.

This country is founded by immigrants. You’d think we’d be a bit more understanding.