Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama Is Irish???

Ok, this is this is too silly. With apologies to my many Irish friends - although it was an Irish friend who sent this to me.

So, Obama is Irish? Who knew :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Photos From Labor GOTV Efforts for Gerry Connolly

Compliments of George Burke, 11th District Chairman, here are some pictures of Gerry Connolly along with Governor Tim Kaine and other notables from last Saturday. The first two pictures were taken at Magill's in Anandale after a GOTV rally for Gerry and other Democratic candidates at the Northern Virginia Central Labor Council Headquarters, also in Anandale.

First is NoVA Central Labor Council President, Dan Duncan (left), Gerry Connolly (middle) and Governor Tim Kaine (right).

Next, Jim Leaman, state AFL-CIO president to the back and left of Gerry and Gov. Kaine to his right.

Finally, Gerry, with Chap Petersen at his left. Gerry was addressing a crowd of volunteers before they went out to canvass last Saturday.

Is Elizabeth Dole Godless?

Campbell Brown certainly pulled no punches in ripping into Elizabeth Dole for her attack on opponent Kay Hagan. Dole accused Hagan of not believing in God. Huffington Post has the CNN video (which for some reason I couldn't get to embed - darned Blogger!)

Huffington Post also points out that CNN's Brown wasn't the only journalist to take Dole to task for this. The Asheville Citizen Times called it "misleading." Here's the quote:
The ad is not only a gross misrepresentation of the circumstances surrounding the fundraiser, the implication that Kay Hagan believes “there is no God” flies in the face of her long and close involvement with First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, where she is an elder and has taught Sunday School.
All this refers to an attack ad Dole's campaign aired on North Carolina television accusing Hagan of being an atheist because a sponsor of one of her fundraisers is one. The whole basis for the attack is because apparently one of 40 sponsors who held a fundraiser for Hagan actually does belong to Godless Americans PAC. But this was a large fundraiser sponsored and attended by many supporters who are not atheists. In fact, John Kerry, a life long Roman Catholic, also attended the event in question, which had nothing to do with religion.

The bigger issue though is that atheists actually have rights guaranteed by the Constitution. They are citizens. They have served in our Armed Forces and sacrificed their lives for our country just as believers of many different faiths have. And many of them have been more honest and upstanding citizens than so-called people of faith, including Elizabeth Dole.

In fact, she perhaps ought to have posted the Ten Commandments in her home and looked at it more often. If she did she would see that she violated the 9th Commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."

What good is believing in God if you lie and break his commandments, Elizabeth?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Your Choice Too - Vote November 4th

I'll certainly have more to say before then. But this new ad illustrates just what the stakes are.

If you need a reason to consider the consequences of sitting this one out, regardless of how long the lines or cold the weather, just remember this is the choice.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

See You Around, Except This Weekend

Ok, I''ll admit that I haven't been posting as regularly as I'd like to. But I've been busy. In case you might have noticed, there's an election going on. And I'm convinced that right now nothing is as important as the ground game. The winner will be the one who actually gets his supporters to the polls. So, I've been spending most of my spare time working in campaign headquarters. And for the first time since I've been in Virginia, I've been able to do the things I'm actually good at.

I've put in some time as a greeter at the front desk at the Obama Fairfax office. And I've done some data entry. I'm really good at the data entry so I plan to do a lot more of that. And much as I'm uncomfortable talking to strangers, I will do phone banking. And I encourage everybody to get out to volunteer. If you can, the Obama camp still needs canvassers, phone bankers, and office help. Anything you are comfortable with will help.

This weekend, however, I won't be blogging, and I won't be at the Fairfax office. I'll be in Orlando for the wedding of a my cousin's daughter (I'm not sure if that makes the bride my second cousin or a cousin once removed). I know, I know, what a terrible time to hold a wedding.

Dan won't be attending because as president of the NoVa Central Labor Council, he really can't take time off for anything personal. But this is my cousin's daughter. There is no way I'd miss her daughter's wedding. So, I'll be there with my 95 year old dad to represent our side of the family.

But then I will be back for the final GOTV push. See you around the Internet. And better still, see you at an Obama office and at the victory party on November 4th.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

General Powell's Patriotic Grace

Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama today was so measured, so diplomatic, so graceful that I hope it gets played on many blogs and gets seen by Americans - and the rest of the world - over and over again. It is a beautiful example of what Peggy Noonan has labeled "patriotic grace."

Without ever insulting John McCain, a man for whom General Powell obviously has a great deal of respect and admiration, he managed to make a strong and stirring endorsement of Senator Obama. I am sure that General Powell has seen a great deal in the Republican Party during this election cycle that has disappointed him deeply. Yet with great dignity he stayed on the high road and spoke about what he admired in John McCain and gave well thought out reasons why at this juncture in history he is endorsing Barack Obama instead.

I'll let the video speak for itself.

This is what political involvment at its best looks like. This is what patriotism looks like. And I'm sure this is why most of us got involved to start with. But somewhere along the way our idealism got replaced with ideology and the desire to win at all costs. I think that is true of both sides. General Colin Powell's endorsement is a call to get back to what is the best in us regardless of party affiliation or ideological belief. It's a call to concentrate on what unites us rather than what divides us.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't have spirited debates on policy or that we should shrink from airing honest differences. But where did the basic respect go? There once was the concept of "the loyal opposition" which is very different from the hated enemy. We need to get back to that basic if we want to keep a democracy.

Will The Real Virginians Please Stand Up

A top McCain aide, Nancy Pfotenhauer, insulted millions of Virginians in the northern part of the state by implying that if you're not rural and from South of Richmond, you're really not a Virginian. Heck, as she went on bloviating, it became apparent that she doesn't even think we are real Americans. Nor are people in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, and Miami. In other words, anybody who doesn't agree with her political philosophy isn't a real Virginian, a real American or a real patriot. Here's what she said.

Where have we heard rhetoric like this before? Scroll down to refresh your memory.

The sad thing is that even if I disagree with others' ideas, I would never label them un American, not real Virginians or or accuse them of lacking patriotism. Republicans are out of good ideas. All they've got are tired accusations that seek to divide us. They are running on empty and are losing the best of their own members because of it.

Whether you agree on the bailout, card check protection, or Obama's health plan, you are not a bad American or a fake Virginian. You are not an elitist or a Joe Sixpack. You are a fellow American with whom I might differ respectfully. It's time people rejected efforts like this to inflame and divide Americans.

So, if anybody asks will the real Virginians please stand up, everybody in Virginia ought to - has the right to. And if anybody asks will the real patriotic Americans stand up, that means all of us who love our country and don't want a permanent divide in it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keith Fimian Blocks His Employees' Freedom to Choose

I think Bryan Scafford is officially my new hero. He's done an amazing job of research and citizen journalism and uncovered Keith Fimian's true beliefs when it comes to a woman's freedom of choice.

As readers may recall, Fimian admitted he was personally opposed to abortion, a position I actually have no quarrel with. But he danced around specifics and claimed that voters in the 11th CD didn't care about issues like reproductive freedom. Indeed, he and his supporters roundly criticized many women, who would be affected by Fimian's votes should he be elected to the House of Representatives, for bringing up the topic on blogs and in letters to the editor of various newspapers. The Fimian party line was that supporters of birth control and abortion rights were being intolerant of his personal beliefs.

Bryan, however, went out and researched not Mr. Fimian's personal beliefs, but his actions as an impersonal businessman attempting to impose those beliefs and values on his employees. According to Scafford's report on Left of the Hill:
Since Keith has repeatedly emphasized his experience as a business executive when trying to explain why people should vote for him, it’s rather safe to say he believes the way he ran his business and treated his employees should give the public a good glimpse into his character. It turns out that looking into the policies Keith promoted also provide us with an idea of where he really stands on the issue of contraceptives and abortion.

In the health care plan offered to employees from the mid 1990's to about 2003 of US Inspect and InVision Technologies (the companies that Keith Fimian was CEO and Chairman of), it explicitly says that “oral contraceptive[s] used for birth control” were not covered. This is despite the fact that over twenty states have laws that basically say oral contraceptives have to be covered if the plan covers other prescriptions or outpatient procedures.
As Scafford points out, Keith Fimian has consistently touted his experience and performance as a successful businessman as his major credential for seeking elective office. So, it's fair to examine his business practices and the way he treats his employees to get a sense of what his real beliefs are. Here's more about how truly restrictive his employee health policy is.
Looking through the policy I also found an addendum that informed employees abortions would not be covered, “including those performed when the covered person’s health is in permanent jeopardy.” This was sent out in an addendum in order to overturn the original policy which means that this wasn’t just an oversight but that the leadership took direct action to make sure a potentially life-saving operation wasn’t covered. Under Fimian’s leadership, in other words, the health insurance his employees received would not cover a certain operation even if their life was at risk. Not including abortions as a means of birth control would be understandable, but this type of leadership goes well beyond simply being anti-choice.
Please don't write me in high dudgeon because you want to defend Fimian's right to run his business any way he sees fit. Of course he does in Virginia. It's not one of the states that requires a business to provide birth control coverage in health insurance as long as the health care policy covers other prescription drugs, so what he's doing is perfectly legal. And I don't want to get into a discussion about his personal and business rights.

This is about his beliefs and his willingness to impose them on employees who may not share his particular faith tradition and might even believe that limiting the amount of children they have is a responsible decision. Good people can disagree on some values. But the real issue is whether Fimian is willing to impose his beliefs on the citizens of the 11th CD and the entire nation. And apparently he is. And equally apparent is that until recently, he has tried to hide that.

I just received a mailer from his campaign where he finally proclaimed himself to be pro-life. It's about time he told the truth and allowed the voters in the 11th CD to decide whether that fact matters to them. It's all we asked from the beginning.

And thank you Bryan for your tireless work to bring this to light.

Joe The Plumber Unmasked

The media has gone gaga over Joe the Plumber. Katie Couric interviewed him. He’s appeared on CNN, ABC-TV, Fox News and every major news outlet. The Washington Post has written about him. So has the New York Times. Everybody is discussing the mysterious and iconic Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher aka Joe the Plumber. The problem is that not everybody has done the basic research. Folks, this isn’t difficult – it’s Google 101.

According to Martin Eisenstadt, a conservative strategist, consultant and analyst with ties to the McCain campaign, Joe the Plumber is not just some disinterested Joe Sixpack undecided about who he will vote for. Nor is he some ordinary guy just saving his money to buy a business.

Wurzelbacher, in fact, is a close relative of the son-in-law of Charles Keating. Here from Eisenstadt’s blog.
John McCain did great tonight in the debate. But every time John mentioned “Joe the Plumber,” some of us in the campaign banged our heads against the wall. If Steve Schmidt had any hair left, I hear he would have been pulling it out tonight. He reportedly screamed at John’s debate prep team tonight (out of earshot of reporters, of course). “You idiots - he’s related to Charles Keating… of the Keating Five scandal!” They thought they had a real live Joe Six-Pack who’s spurned Barack Obama’s tax plan. But what they forgot to do was check on Joe Wurzelbacher’s background.

Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher?Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.
It looks like reporters aren't the only ones who lack basic research skills. Here's a helpful suggestion: Clicking on Google. It's all the in wrist action.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Drake Bows Out of Debate With Nye

Honestly, this must be the new Republican strategy: When your ideas no longer work, just skip the debate and hope the voters don't notice. RK has word that Thelma Drake, in Virginia's 2nd CD, is not planning to show up for her debate with Democratic challenger Glen Nye. The debate is sponsored by The League of Women Voters.

This may not be an actual GOP strategy, but it's a trend that short changes the voters. However, citizens deserve to hear from their representatives in Congress, and Thelma Drake is a sitting congresswoman.

Fimian Skips Debate With Connolly

Bryan Scafford, at Left of the Hill, has the story that Keith Fimian skipped a debate with Gerry Connolly last night for a last minute fundraiser. According to Bryan, The South County Federation scheduled this meet up between the two candidates from the 11th CD some time ago and Fimian canceled suddenly. Here's Bryan's report:
The South County Federation was scheduled to host a candidate forum last night. Both Keith Fimian and Gerry Connolly had agreed to come to the event and over the course of the last few months they had repeatedly confirmed that they would be attending the event. This was going to be a worthwhile event because it was going to provide the candidates a great opportunity to talk directly with the public and there were students from at least two government classes in attendance in order to see our great democracy in action. Unfortunately, the audience at the forum was informed that Keith Fimian's campaign decided to cancel at the last minute because Keith was going to be having a fundraiser.
The yet to be confirmed rumor is that Fimian's last minute fundraiser featured Karl Rove as the guest of honor. I agree with Bryan here.
Now no matter who the guest of honor was at this event, the decision to cancel at the last minute says a lot about Keith Fimian's character. Not only did this move show the campaign was willing to deprive a group of students an opportunity to learn about our government through direct experience, but it also illustrates how Keith would rather hang around a group of donors than speak directly to the general public....
There could be more than one reason why Fimian decided Rove and high rolling donors are more important than the students from a government class, there to see democracy in action, or the general public. One could be that he hasn't fared well in previous debates with Gerry Connolly. Unlike Connolly, who is experienced and knowledgeable about government issues, Fimian has proved that he's not quite ready for prime time. His policies and solutions are inadequate to deal with complex financial problems facing the country and he still refuses to answer where he stands on birth control and other social issues. So, it figures that he wouldn't want to face the public.

It's hard to imagine this millionaire, who already loaned his campaign $300,000 and has raised the bulk of his money from out of state sources associated with Ave Maria founder Tom Monaghan, is that cash strapped that he had to hold an emergency fundraiser. And since the debate was set several months ago and Fimian confirmed it several times, it makes it look all the more likey that he is simply trying to avoid any more public forums.

In fact, Bryan Scafford attempted to contact the Fimian campaign four times and he left a message which was never returned. You have to wonder if that is an example of the type of consitutent service Fimian's office would provide if elected.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Christopher Buckley Endorses Obama

A number of moderate Republicans have been unhappy with the conduct of the McCain campaign and have been jumping ship. Now even conservatives are bailing but the rudest shock of all is Christopher Buckley endorsing Barack Obama. Yes, that Christopher Buckley, the one whose father founded the National Review and Young Americans for Freedom. William F. Buckley was called the father of the modern conservative movement.

But his off spring just resigned from the National Review. Here's how he describes it, in this Wall Street Journal report.
In a column today entitled “Sorry, Dad, I was Sacked”on, Christopher Buckley, a well-known author who also who wrote the back page column for National Review magazine, writes that the uproar over his endorsement last week of Obama over Republican John McCain prompted so much backlash that he offered his resignation—and the magazine accepted.

“This offer was accepted—rather briskly! —by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal,” Buckley writes, although the title of the column suggesting he was “sacked” is a little misleading since he did offer his resignation.

Buckley endorsed Obama last Friday on–not in the National Review’s editorial pages–in a column called, “Sorry, Dad, I’m Voting for Obama” he praised the Illinois senator for “having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect” while opining that McCain has taken “a once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget ‘by the end of my first term.’ Who, really, believes that?”
Buckley remains a conservative and is criticizing McCain from the right. But it's not an ideological criticism. He's not saying that McCain isn't ideologically pure enough. Just the opposite. In his criticism, Buckley points out that his father endorsed liberals such as the late Allard Lowenstein, a liberal congressman from New York, and Joe Lieberman, when Buckley senior felt they were the better candidates.

Looks like the son is following in some pretty principled foot steps. He basically enumerates his unhappiness with John McCain and explains why he believes Barack Obama is the better man for the job.

GOP Top Worst Hits - Hatred on Parade

Today, Brave New Films and The Color of Change unveiled this new video, a compilation of the GOP's worst hits. It's a collage of the collected anger currently appearing at Republican rallies, especially when Sarah Palin speaks. It's sad to see the depths of hatred and anger to which the Republican Party is sinking these days. H/t to Huffington Post for the video and for more commentary on it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Sharp Difference Between Connolly and Fimian

If, as Tip O'Neill once famously said, "all politics is local," then I've been terribly remiss politically for not staying more local, especially with an important congressional race right in my district. The stakes couldn't be higher. With the country in economic turmoil and our foreign policy an abject failure, we desperately need leaders in Congress who will make wise decisions, write good legislation, and take courageous stands for the people of their district and for the entire nation. All politics may be local but when you're in Congress, your actions and your decisions affect the well being of the whole country. And as we're seeing with the way the financial-credit crisis is now cascading across the globe, those actions and decisions can affect the entire world.

This is not the time for a neophyte in Congress. If Keith Fimian were really interested in politics and serving the people, he would do what most other successful politicians, regardless of party, do. He'd do what Gerry Connolly himself did. He'd run for elective office at a lower, local level and get some experience in how the legislative process works. It's also what Tom Davis did before he launched his successful career in Congress.

The difference between Gerry Connolly and Keith Fimian couldn't be starker. Or more substantive. As the October 9th issue of The Chronicle states it:
Voters in the 11th Congressional District have a sharp choice between two very different candidates—Democrat Gerry Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and wealthy Republican businessman Keith Fimian.

Connolly has a long record of successful public service, including 10 years working on the staff of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His long record of elective office started in March of 1995 when he was elected as the Providence District supervisor. In 2003 he was elected chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors and he was re-elected in November of 2007.

Connolly is a graduate of Maryknoll College in Illinois and has a master of arts degree in public administration from Harvard University. In addition to his elected office, Connolly has served and continues to serve on a long list of organizations including but not limited to: the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Virginia Association of Counties, Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and the Fairfax Partnership for Youth.

By contrast, Keith Fimian has never held elective office and has no government experience at any level. Fimian is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, which he attended on a football scholarship. An injury prevented him from trying to move to the NFL. A CPA, Fimian first worked for the national accounting firm KPMG. In 1986, he was a co-founder of Radonics and he is the chairman and founder of U.S. Inspects, Inc., the nation’s largest home and commercial inspection business.

Fimian’s business career has been very successful and he has become wealthy. Fimian is using his resources to help fund his election. To date, he has loaned his campaign more than $300,000. Fimian’s biggest problem is finding an issue to run on. Since he cannot talk about his non-existent record of accomplishment other than he has made a lot of money, his focus has been to characterize Connolly’s years of successful government experience as a failure. That is proving difficult for him.
This article points out that Fairfax County has won awards for its good governance and excellent schools. Most residents are very satisfied with the services they enjoy and the education their children receive in our county. However, Fimian has sought to pin the projected $430 million deficit on Connolly's management of the Board of Supervisors. But here's The Chronicle's rejoinder to that:
Blaming Connolly for the budget challenge that the county faces best illustrates Fimian’s total lack of understanding of the critical issues facing the county, state and federal governments. It would appear that he doesn’t realize that virtually every local government in metropolitan Washington is struggling with the same issue. For example, last year Fairfax County was able to close a significant budget shortfall and maintain essential programs with only a three-cent increase in the property tax rate, which, for the average taxpayer, represented no actual increase in taxes as a result of the decrease of the average assessment. By contrast, Republican-controlled Prince William County raised their tax rate by 27 percent.

This coming year presents the county with an even greater challenge, but trying to place the blame for the problem on Connolly is just plain silly. Apparently Fimian also doesn’t understand what is happening to the national economy or what caused it. If he wants to place blame he needs to start with President Bush and his tax cuts for the wealthy, the Iraq war and lax oversight of a financial services industry that has been allowed to bring our economy to the verge of ruin. Yes, all Washington area counties have a big problem, but it isn’t caused by local mismanagement. It is caused by the collapse of the real estate market and the national economic crisis. For a candidate for Congress not to understand those facts is pathetic.

When Fimian isn’t trying to place blame on Connolly, he repeats, mantra-like, a call to control spending. Either he is ignorant of the facts or he wants to forget the particulars, but under President Clinton there was a budget surplus; it was his favorite Republican buddies who blew through billions of dollars and put the economy on the rocks, not the Democrats.
And even on the controvery over Fimian's membership in a radical, theocratic business organization with ties to the founder of cult-like Ave Maria township in Naples, Florida, here's what The Chronicle says:
A little mini-controversy has been bubbling for a few weeks. As a result of Keith Fimian’s position on the board of Legatus, the very conservative Catholic business leaders association founded by Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, Democrats have questioned Fimian’s position on social issues. They have linked Legatus to opposition to contraception, whether a woman should be “submissive” to her husband, the right of pharmacies to refuse to sell contraceptives and other issues.

It is not clear to us exactly what Legatus’s position on these various social issues actually is, but that is far less important than what Fimian’s position is.

While Fimian has acknowledged opposition to fetal stem cell research and to abortion unless the life of the woman is at risk, he has absolutely refused to reveal his position on any of the many important social issues facing the country. It would appear to us that while he is trying to fill Tom Davis’s seat in Congress, he doesn’t want voters to realize that he isn’t a clone of Tom Davis and that he very definitely doesn’t share Tom Davis’s more liberal social positions.

Not only has Fimian refused to divulge his opinions on these important social issues, but as a diversion he has attacked Connolly—a Catholic—for being anti-Catholic. Fimian does not appear to understand that Congress votes on social issues and that voters are entitled to understand where he stands on them. If his beliefs are actually very conservative on social issues, he shouldn’t be trying to hide them; he should be proud of his judgments and proclaim where he stands and ask voters to support his positions. Unfortunately, it would appear to us that he is trying to fool voters into believing he is something that he isn’t.
They are exactly right. The issue isn't what Legatus believes. It's what Keith Fimian does. But instead of answering citizens directly, he has sought to portray Gerry Connolly and others who raise these questions as anti-Catholic. That is ridiculous. Gerry Connolly is not only also Catholic, he is a former seminarian. The real issue here, as I've said all along, is whether Fimian would seek to impose his religious views on others. And his views on the legal availability of contraceptives and a person's right to purchase them are important because Congress does indeed vote on issues like this.

But right now I think the voters are mainly, and quite rightly, mostly worried about the economy and foreign policy. Their main concern is whether they will have a job, whether their pensions and investments ever recover, whether they will have credit available to buy a new home, whether they will be safe from terrorist attack, and whether the United States will maintain its standing as a first rate nation in the world? Those are the questions voters in the 11th CD - as well as all across America - are worried about.

And frankly, between the two candidates, I agree with The Chronicle that Gerry Connolly is the candidate who best can answer those questions and provide a level of comfort that he will know how to achieve those goals in Congress.

When The Old Reliables Fail The GOP

According to Tim Egan, who writes a New York Times blog, the evangelical vote is still somewhat up for grabs - and in Colorado Springs, which he dubs the "Vatican of evangelical political power," no less. According to Egan, some evangelical voters are thinking of doing the unthinkable and what once would have been considered heretical. Some are planning to break party ranks and vote for Barack Obama.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — I didn’t hook up people to electronic monitoring devices, nothing to measure leg trickles and blood-sugar spikes in response to off-key talking points.

I had no magic maps, no demographic weighting formulas. I simply went to the heart of one of the fastest-growing, most Republican counties in the land — as red as rib-eye steak on the e-coli side of raw — and wandered aimlessly, like John McCain in Tuesday’s debate.

Here in Colorado Springs — the Vatican of evangelical political power, home to the Air Force Academy and a community where optimism usually matches the sunrise glow at the base of Pikes Peak – you can see what will happen in less than a month.

My friends: it’s not good for Senator McCain.
Among those Egan has spoken to who are thinking of crossing party lines in this election are Jan Martin, a small business owner, city council member, and lifelong Republican. She just can't sit by and watch the business she devoted her lifetime to build and her personal savings melt away in the economic downturn.

But even more telling is that a few pastors of conservative churches are toning down the partisanship this year and simply encouraging their parishoners to vote - without recommending which party they should vote for.
“The financial crisis is point number one,” said Pastor Brady Boyd, head of New Life Church, 250,000 square feet of concentrated Christianity. “These attacks against the candidates are just irrelevant right now. Why are you all attacking one another when we’re dying out here?”
And here
“The only advice I give is pray, fast and vote, and that can be for any political party,” he said.

This year, the church hasn’t even heard from the McCain campaign. “What’s happening to us is less allegiance to the Republican party, and more to our core principles,” he said.

Which gets us to the second message to come from Colorado Springs: on election day, there will be no repeat of 2004, when people woke up to the surprise that “moral values” was the leading issue of the campaign, according to exit polls.

Down the road, Focus on the Family is still in a bit a of dither over what to do about John McCain. James Dobson, the founder of what is essentially a political action committee for evangelicals, had said earlier this year he would never vote for McCain. Never. Not under any circumstances.

Now he’s changed his mind. Sort of.

“While I said I will not endorse either candidate this year, I can say I’m now supporting John McCain,” he said in his October newsletter. However, “the senator continues to embrace issues that concern me.”
Dobson, to be sure, won't vote for or recommend Obama or remain even vaguely neutral. But he's boxed himself in by his earlier statement so now he has to sound lukewarm. And that may depress his flock from voting in the numbers he has delivered in the past.

Still, I remain skeptical about the evangelical vote. I doubt Democrats will ever truly win it because there just are too many hurdles, in terms of social wedge issues to overcome. No party can be all things to all people. But there seems to be a small movement of young evangelicals away from those divisive social issues. And among that group, concern for the environment and social justice are at least as important as abortion and homosexuality.

Here's Egan's summary.
Abortion? Homosexuals? Bill Ayers?

“To be focused on those things at a time when people are hurting would really be to the detriment of families,” said Boyd.

Obama will not win Colorado Springs. John Kerry got just 32 percent of the vote in this county in 2004. But if Obama gets 40 percent – which is what Democrats expect based on the surge of newly registered voters and independents who are following Jan Martin’s path – he will win this state, and the election.

That leaves the circus of Sarah Palin and the sad specter of a snarling John McCain fading as they embrace the slippery bonds of the last century.
How frustrating it must be that the right's old reliables of guns, gays and God might be neutralized and failing them now.

Presidential Temperment

UPDATE: More on John McCain's temper from Huffington Post. And the original article on this incident from Michael Kinsley. Yes, that's the same Michael Kinsley who was literally taken to the woodshed by bloggers earlier this year for an article he wrote for Time Magazine on why liberals love McCain. Kinsley seemed to practically have a crush on the former straight talker because he was allowed to be one of the kewl kids on the bus. My how Michael Kinsley has changed his tune - more MSM buyer's remorse about McCain?

Just as there is something called a "judicial temperment," which is one of the major characteristics mentioned when the Senate confirms a Supreme Court nominee, or even when a member of one of the lower courts is picked, it's important to consider the presidential temperment. After all, the person we choose will be leader of the free world and the only true world power left. This person will be called upon to meet with foreign leaders and conduct diplomacy. And he will also be the person with his finger "on the button."

John McCain's famous temper and his erratic behavior have been on public display throughout the campaign. But here's an explicit video that demonstrates what others who know him have to say about his lack of presidential temperment.

For more videos on John McCain's temper go to RK.

Fimian at Less Than Finest in Springfield

Bryan Scafford, over at Left of the Hill, has done an incredible job of covering the 11 CD race between Gerry Connolly and Keith Fimian. For various reasons, I was not able to attend candidate debates. But Bryan provided great coverage of them. And at yesterday's Springfield forum between candidates from both the 11th and 8th CDs, Bryan continued to inform readers about the differences between the candidate.

He also reported on the attempts of one of Fimian's supporters to ignore the moderator's request that candidates focus on the actual issues relevant to voters rather than raise questions about negative campaigning. According to Bryan, the Republican Fimian supporter grew rude and started screaming an obscenity when he was blocked from raising what he thought was a more important issue than where the candidates stood on policy questions and what they would do in Congress to implement their policies.
There was a candidate forum this afternoon in Springfield that featured the Congressional candidates from both the 8th and 11th District. During the debate the moderator decided that the discussion would focus on issues that the candidates could address in Congress instead of a question about negative campaigning. This was accepted by most of the bipartisan crowd even with some applause, but one of the Republicans in the audiences started screaming bull**** until he was called out of order by the moderator. After the debate I asked Keith Fimian what he thought of the situation and this is the response I got from him followed by the rants of the Republican who caused all the commotion.
Below is Bryan's video of his attempt to question Fimian about the incident.

There's also an interesting discussion among commenters, including one disillusioned Republican, who said the following:
The sad thing is that this video represents Fimian's entire campaign. If he doesn't know the answer to something, he'll avoid details and launch an attack.

As a conservative Republican who has donated a lot of money to local candidates I am ashamed to say he is the candidate my wonderful party put forward. We used to pride ourselves on having smart candidates who know how to govern. Now we're stuck with Fimian who has no idea what he's doing.

October 8, 2008 7:09 PM
Bryan's response to the comments, with a fuller explanation of what happened at the event is also important reading.

It's interesting that Keith Fimian, at the beginning of the campaign, insisted that he wanted to discuss the issues pertinent to the voters of the 11th CD. I guess he thought he'd get to decide what was important to us and it would be only what he told us it is. Unfortunately, democracy doesn't work that way. We get to decide and candidates have to answer to us. Fortunately, Gerry Connolly is pretty good at that. Do you think 23 years of public service (13 years in elective office in Fairfax plus 10 years on the staff of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee) helped him to understand that basic fact?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Emmy Award Nominee John Slattery Campaigns for Obama in Virginia

Emmy nominated actor, John Slattery, who stars in Mad Men, and has appeared in Sex and the City, Desparate Housewives, and Charlie Wilson's War among other major television showns and films, will help to launch the League of Conservation Voters' independent campaign to elect Barack Obama. The LCV efforts will continue every weekend until election day.

For more information on where to sign up and how to meet Mr. Slattery, go here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Don't Know Much About the Economy

Well, the rest of Barack Obama's response to John McCain's politics of distraction, where his top strategists admit that if they actually talk about the economy, McCain would lose, is here. To learn more about McCain's role in the Keating scandal and how it impacts his understanding of the current mortage industry and banking meltdown, check it out.

Thirty Lies About Ayres and Obama

John K. Wilson, who writes in an "Off The Bus" column for Huffington Post, refutes rightwing smears about Barack Obama's alleged association with former 60s radical William Ayres. Using sources from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other mainstream media, Wilson demonstrates that most journalists dismissed allegations that Obama and Ayres had anything other than a passing acquaitance. Here's a sample of what he said:
Sarah Palin declared, "This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country."

The New York Times article, which prompted Palin's remarks, actually concluded that "the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers."

CNN Political Ticker evaluated Palin's "palling" charges and concluded, "False. There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now palling around, or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity or that other Obama associates are....CNN's review of project records found nothing to suggest anything inappropriate in the volunteer projects in which the two men were involved."

Back in February, the Washington Post reported in a fact check, But the Obama-Ayers link is a tenuous one.(Washington Post, 2/18/08)
Obama is known to work across all types of party lines with people, many of whom he disagrees with, to accomplish broader mainstream goals. And his assocation with Ayres simply fits into that category.

The rest of this post deconstructs the lies the rightwing is willing to tell in their desperate attempt to keep power. Perhaps one of the most important lies, though, is that Ayres was even a terrorist. The definition of a terrorist is one who would kill innocent people to create fear and panic. While Ayres actions were despicable, he was not a murderer as the wingnuts are claiming. Nobody died in any bombing committed by Ayres. Apparently, people were not the target, and it was by design that none perished. This absolutely does not excuse the action of Ayres or his fellow conspirators. For starters, they were lucky nobody got killed accidentally. Despite the best of intentions, an innocent bystander, a building guard, an employee staying after hours, anybody could have been caught up in the explosion. You just don't play with bombs, ever. Period!

But the fact remains that Bill Ayres never intended to harm people and nobody was harmed by his foolish and reprehensible actions. That said, Obama condemned those actions, which occurred when Obama was only eight years old.

The adult Obama served on a board that Ayres headed and attended an event for another politician in Ayres' home. William Ayres and his wife, Bernhadine Dorn, another former member of the Weather Underground, apparently were rehabilitated. They are not fugitives. They are currently law abiding citizens who have the same rights as anybody else. And Ayres is currently a respected Chicago educator. None of that makes his past actions acceptable. It just means people change. It also means that any one of us could brush up against somebody who ran afoul of the law and committed heinous deeds in the past but who has changed. It might even be a co-worker or neighbor. And if we befriended that person today, we would be no more guilty of condoning their past actions than Obama is in this instance.

That's what makes guilt by association and smears like this so unacceptable.

Oops, They Are Mentioning the Keating Five Scandal

Hmm, apparently I spoke too soon in my previous post - somebody is mentioning the Keating Five and not a moment too soon. It's actually more relevant than whether Obama had a passing political acquaintance with a former sixties radical, whose reprensible actions occurred when Obama was only eight years old. McCain actually was involved in the Keating Five scandal that led to a meltdown of the Savings and Loan industry. This wasn't guilt by association but an example of McCain's lack of judgment, recklessness and commitment to extreme deregulation. And although he was sorry that his actions crossed the border into corruption, the truth is that the poor judgment, lack of understanding of economic policy and same dedication to fighting sensible regulations hasn't changed a bit.

Barack Obama Fires Back

I'm not sure it's strong enough. But Barack Obama has always favored the steady, calm approach rather than full throated attack. So far, he's ahead, so who am I to argue? But me, I'd explore more about McCain's association to John Singlaub and the World Anti-Communist League. Oh and has anybody mentioned Keating Five lately? But like I said, that's just me. Maybe Obama is right about not doing overkill :)

Like I asked yesteday, does McCain actually want to go down this road of smears, guilt by association, and character assassination?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Adventures in Guilt by Association

Just yesterday the Washington Post reported that the McCain campaign planned to go sharply negative and attack Obama's character by reviving tales about his supposed associations with former Weatherman radical William Ayres and corrupt Chicago businessman Tony Rezko. Of course, Obama's associations with both those men were casual and passing at best. Quite frankly there is nobody at that level who hasn't made mistakes or doesn't have a skeleton or two in their closet, yes, including Mr. McCain.

In fact, both the the charges of connections between Obama and either Rezko or Ayres have been widely reported as being over blown. But desperate times call for desperate moves and since John McCain can't come up with a coherent and credible economic plan that would reassure voters, all his campaign can do is hope to change the conversation by silly and diversionary attacks. At a time when the public is looking for answers to real problems that are affecting their pocket books, their homes, their dreams, all McCain can do is sling mud and hope it diverts people's attention from their real difficulties. But given his own shaky associations is this really the route he wants to take?

For more information and a great discussion on the World Anti-Communist League, the neo-Nazi organization that Paul Begala mentioned, go here.

And here is more from Paul Begala:
And I think Governor Palin here is making a strategic mistake. This guilt by association path is going to be trouble ultimately for the McCain campaign. You know, you can go back, I have written a book about McCain, I had a dozen researchers go through him, I didn't even put this in the book. But John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization, it was the U.S. Council for World Freedom, it was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran contra scandal. It was an ultra conservative, right-wing group. The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981 when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League - the parent organization - which ADL said "has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites."
In addition, even Douglas K. Daniel, a writer and editor with the Washington bureau of Associated Press, dressed down Sarah Palin, on Huffington Post, for her remarks acusing Barack Obama of "palling around with a terrorist." Daniel even called Palin out for the subtly racist subtext of her remarks.

Like I said, does the McCain campaign actually want to go this route when that is merely the tip of the iceberg for their own candidates?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I Swear You Can't Make This Up

But guess what tonight's movie is on PBS? It's Wall Street. If you don't live in the Washington- Northern Virginia area, you'll have to look up your local schedules but I would guess it's on all PBS stations.

Get a glass of wine and enjoy the irony!

Warner, Gilmore Debate

Mark Warner and Jim Gilmore squared off in a debate on Friday night in Roanoke and, of course, the hot topic was the Wall Street bailout. It’s on everybody’s mind as the economy flat lines and goes on life support. Gilmore came out swinging and declared his opposition to the just passed bailout bill. As the Washington Post reported:
Gilmore attacked Warner for his support of the emergency economic plan signed by President Bush, and he told a statewide television audience that he would have saved taxpayers' money by not handing it to "Wall Street high rollers."

"The next bailout is on the way," Gilmore said. "Who is going to stand up for the taxpayers?"
The Post also reported this exchange between Gilmore to Warner:
“Don't talk down to me," Gilmore snapped at Warner at one point. "Don't tell me I don't understand. You don't understand."

Warner accused Gilmore of being too partisan to be an effective voice in Washington.

"The last thing Washington needs is one more over-the-top, my-way-or-the-highway, partisan ideologue in the Senate," Warner said.
Actually, Warner is right about Gilmore being too over the top in partisanship and Gilmore is wrong when he claims that he understands the economy. Dead wrong.

Let’s start with the fact that this is the man whose intransigence in the face of a $6 billion budget shortfall during his administration left our commonwealth in shambles and almost tattered our AAA bond rating. It reminded me of all the reasons why the Republicans were turned out of the governor’s mansion in the subsequent election. When it came to Governor Gilmore’s policies, nobody wanted more of the same.

But once again, Jim Gilmore demonstrated two things. The first is that he doesn’t actually understand economics. And second is that he will continue to put ideology over common sense. When confronted with a fiscal crisis of epic proportion, Gilmore would opt for the tired anti-government shibboleths and faux populism of the most conservative wing of the GOP.

Of course, nobody who is a real populist, left or right, is in favor of saving the hides of the greedy Wall Street boys and girls, who indeed created the financial mess we’re in. But refusing to provide the money to buy up the mortgage backed debt that is causing the credit markets to contract is counter productive. An analogy that Miami Herald columnist, Fred Grimm, came up with likened it to passengers on a cruise ship who refuse to launch the lifeboats because it means saving the incompetent crew who caused the ship to sink. Yeah, but refusing to save them means everybody goes down.

Here, briefly, is why we actually need the bailout to keep us all afloat.

Banks are failing in record numbers, creating a panic in the stock market, which means companies with good solid performance and profit statements are losing value, not because their businesses are worthless but because investors have lost faith in the market. Businesses are not able to get basic credit to conduct their day to day operations, like buying the raw products they need to produce their goods. Consumers are losing their purchasing power as their credit shrinks. That means banks won’t give them loans for mortgages, which reduces a shrinking housing market further and puts it in deeper crisis. It also means borrowers can’t get other kinds of loans, including school loans; new credit cards; or capital to start a business. Here, I’m talking about people with good credit ratings who could repay their debts. Everybody is affected. And the domino effect is that all markets – housing, stock, consumer goods – they all contract. That means loss of jobs. The economy already shed 159,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate is already at 6.1 percent. (Some economists estimate it could go as high as 7 percent this year – an unprecedented figure not seen since the 1980s and early 90s, which was also the last time there was a Republican administration in office for a sustained period.)

All of that is what a no vote on the bailout produces, just to make a point about irresponsible bankers, predatory lenders, and Wall Street CEOs. Sorry folks but the barn door is wide open and the horses have already fled. It’s past time to rein them in, but letting the largest banks and corporations fail isn’t the way to do it because even if the businesses fail, the top dogs will still float safely to the ground on their golden parachutes because it’s in their contracts. A company will file for Chapter 11 and the CEOs will make out fine. But the poor schmuck who loses his job won’t. In the reorganization after a declaration of bankruptcy, he will lose his pension. He’ll lose his insurance. And unemployment insurance will be barely adequate to replace his salary.

So Mr. Gilmore can spare us the phony populism. In fact, it’s almost amusing how the GOP version of populism can always tap into the real and justified anger of the common man but somehow end up actually benefitting the upper class. They know how to wage class warfare effectively. It’s a guerilla war where they wear camouflage and disguise themselves as ordinary people who hate the elites while the top one percent always ends up richer and the rest of us lose ground. Yeah, it’s almost amusing. Except not now.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Debate: Palin's Folksy Charm Doesn't Trump Biden's Knowledge

Overall, the debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden changed nothing about the dynamics of the presidential race. She stopped the bleeding from her own campaign, which had started after a series of bumbling, gaffe prone interviews she gave to Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric. Her performance during those televised sessions had panicked Republicans, and a few prominent conservative pundits were even calling for her to step down or for McCain to replace her. Her performance at the debate, though, stopped that movement in its tracks and reassured the base, which was rooting for her anyway. But the fact that she actually convinced nobody beyond the base was problematic. In fact, that's why I'd say she lost the debate; because that, in fact, was what she needed to do. She needed to get back to the popularity that gave the McCain-Palin ticket a bounce coming out of their convention. She failed to do that.

But she also slowed the death spiral she was in. So, let’s start with what Sarah Palin did right because she did some things very well. That’s why lots of Republicans were buoyant in their first reactions the other night. They’re not stupid. They saw a good performance.

She came bounding on stage with energy, confidence, and poise. Her, “Pleasure to meet you; hey can I call you Joe,” was perfect. It was gracious and folksy. It was adorable and made it difficult not to like her. In fact, she is very likeable. Charming. That's her strong suit.

Unfortunately, it’s also her weakness. She’s slick all right. But under questioning, she didn’t answer the questions posed to her. Instead, she practiced bait and switch tactics, substituting an answer that she knew rather than addressing the actual question. For example, when asked about foreign policy or financial policy, she glibly pivoted to discuss energy. At one point, when Biden finally called her on avoiding questions, she admitted that she did not intend to answer the questions that moderator, Gwen Ifill, actually put to her. That, however, is the purpose of a debate. Unfortunately, the debate's previously agreed to ground rules prevented Ifill from following up, to probe or insist on answers. Of course, Ifill could have simply ignored the rule and exerted some more pressure. But she was already smarting from GOP attacks on her because she has recently penned a book, The Breakthough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, was absolutely right to resist the urge to go after Palin and play the heavy by insisting that she actually answer the questions posed to them both. That is the role of the moderator, and he wasn't going to play bad cop because the moderator was forced by an outrageous rule to abdicate doing her job. For his part, Biden was brilliant. He gave short, crisp answers that displayed the depth of his knowledge without becoming pedantic or overbearing. He avoided putting people off by boring them or coming off as a know it all. Indeed, he was charming and managed a few nice folksy touches himself, like when he invited viewers to walk with him down Union Street in Wilmington, Delaware, and go into Katie's coffee shop to talk to the regulars about their struggles to make ends meet and get by.

And the moment when he choked up while discussing his experience as a single father caring for a seriously injured son, after his wife's fatal car accident, was incredibly moving to viewers regardless of their political preferences. I think he displayed a central part of his character to viewers at that moment, which was that he was a human being who had survived the starkest of tragedies, devoted himself to his family and understood suffering and perserverance in the midst of unspeakable heartbreak. He came off as rock solid, reliable Joe.

Palin, on the other hand, while charming, was too slick. She could only stick to her talking points, stay on message, and appear perky. Sometimes she came across, frankly, as silly, especially when she smiled brightly and said to Biden “There you go again.” Somehow channeling her inner Ronald Reagan while looking adorable might play to the GOP base, but just seemed cloying to ordinary people. In fact, invoking Reagan’s trademark insistence that the government was always the problem was probably not the smartest move at a time when the nation’s economy teeters on the brink of disaster and even conservatives in Congress were poised to vote for the bailout plan.

Also, her constant “you betchas” and “darned rights” got cloying after a while. It made her seem like Skippy the Wonder Candidate. In fact, I’d have no trouble voting for her for class president of Wassilla High School or homecoming queen. But she lacked gravitas and didn’t inspire confidence that she was ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency during a time of crisis.

Sarah Palin probably gained some ground with her performance at the debate. But not enough to change the game once again for a faltering Republican ticket. She inspired no real confidence while her opponent did. And he managed to appear likeable too. And that wasn't good for Palin because her only hope was for him to turn the crowd off by appearing verbose or overbearing to her. He was neither. In fact, he probably helped his side gain a few votes. And that was Palin's biggest loss.

The Sarah Palin Plan for Acing the Debates

UPDATE: The McCain campaign just admitted that Sarah Palin misstated Sen. John McCain's position on homeowner protections during the debate last night.
Sarah Palin got her facts wrong in Thursday's debate with Joe Biden when discussing where John McCain stands on new protections for homeowners facing foreclosures.

The Alaska governor incorrectly made it sound like McCain supports giving bankruptcy judges the power to rewrite mortgage payment terms on first homes.

He doesn't.

The McCain campaign confirms to ABC News that Palin misstated McCain's position.

"No, that is what is called the cramdowns, which is so objectionable that Obama didn't even want it jammed into the stabilization bill," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers when asked if McCain supports giving bankruptcy judges the power to re-adjust the interest rate and principal to help people stay in their homes.

Palin's mistake came when the debate's moderator asked her if Biden was right in thinking that she and McCain oppose giving bankruptcy judges this new power.

I will have more in depth analysis of the debate over the weekend. For now, here's a great chart, courtesy of Daily Kos, that pretty well describes Sarah Palin's tactics for acing last night's debate.

Somehow, judging by a quick round up of last night's instant poll results, I don't think it worked. At best, Palin got a boost in favorables because she's a cute, spunky hockey mom. What's not to like? But she didn't convince anybody she's ready to be a heartbeat away from a 72 year old president, whose had serious health problems.