When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.
It's like she's the damned "Church Lady" failing to ooze "sex" whenever she's on camera. Yuck! It's Tina Fey who is sexy smart - Pebbles is a bundle of fail acting like Tinky Winky!
I had to deal with people who bought into FUD attacks on Obama as real. They really think he isn't mainstream. They want to blink out that Senator Obama has voted pro-Israel the whole of his Senate career. Tricky Muslim there!
Whereas "Pebbles" Palin has no foreign policy experience. Zero Israel experience. Her AIPAC rating? Nada. Enter her name on the AIPAC home page, you get this:
Your search - palin - did not match any documents. No pages were found containing "palin".
As for me I had to respond with a further defense of Biden's record. If you call Biden's support for Israel into question, said the Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council Ira Forman, then you could call Golda Meir's loyalty to Israel in question. It's scary to see reasonably intelligent people fall for FUD. I mean I'm understandably upset Obama is Christian — so he's being a so-called secret radical Moslem honestly bothers me less than my frightened extended family voting for "Endless War" McCain when he is so unqualified. A close member of the family wants to vote for John because he'll bomb Iran with first trying diplomacy. Joe "Limpwrist" Lieberman being a retarded gull for the Bush puppeteers should scare them more.
And then there Sarah. She loves Israel because her beloved Jesus can't come again if it gets destroyed. She doesn't love us Jews. Palin once supported Pat Buchanan. And her handlers who'll deny she was in the Alaskan Independence Party (Hate Group Nutjobs posing as a Political Movement) are also handling this ... Buchanan is anathema to the Jews. He is someone who has blamed Israel and American Jews for directing American foreign policy against American interests. He has spoken kindly of Adolph Hitler -- who is not popular with Jews. People buying her BS and not looking deeper -- it remains frightening. Years ago I rescued a Hare Krisna in a Santa Suit from an incensed violent “‘Jew’ for ‘Jesus’.” Surprise Surprise! The so-called Jew wasn't MOT. Seems no Jewboys were falling for the BS that year so the founder recruited Baptist kids who "looked" Jewish ... it was a Zen moment we'll talk about later.
“Palin's church, along with the wave of evangelicals determined to 'save' the Jews-- are committing the ultimate act of disrespect when they persist in proselytizing. Whether claiming to do this 'lovingly' or not; any unsolicited proselytizing is inherently disrespectful and disdainful of the person or persons being proselytized.
Palin and her minions fail to understand is that the majority of Jews are not Orthodox, do not don talit or yamulkes, but are members of the Reformed Judiasm community.
Reformed Jews afford women full equality (unlike the Orthodox community), and though schooled in all customs — it is up to each individual's conscience whether and how to follow such customs.
Jewish people are continually misrepresented as one homogenious group, (namely Orthodox), when the opposite is true.”
“David Brickenr is not a Jew. His mother is not Jewish, and obviously, he has never lived a Jewish life. So he cannot be a JEW for Jesus. He is Gentile for Jesus. That being said, he is a multi millionare thanks to his message of hate and bigotry. I know of no greater threat to Jews today than this lying, hypocritical, and evil man.”
We think the conventional wisdom, now, is that Sarah Palin is a cynical appeal not to Hillary voters but to the Republican "base," which means religious white people. It's a last-ditch effort to win just one more with George W. Bush's coalition, not to bring in those moderates John McCain supposedly appeals to most. But here's the risk: the old, conservative Jewish vote McCain's had in the bag since day one? They might not like this lady so much. As you can see in this clip (attached below), even Ben Stein—the Nixon speechwriter so happy to pretend to be something other than an educated East Coast elitist that he'll hop in bed with creationists—is insulted and shocked by the Palin pick. This is just the beginning. The New York Sun, that probably doomed organ of intellectual Zionist conservatism, seemingly also can't quite believe this selection. Allow them to tell you about Sarah Palin's grand plans for The Jews!
The disclosure that last month Governor Palin's church hosted the executive director of Jews for Jesus, who told congregants that violence against Israeli Jews is God's punishment for their failure to accept Jesus, is going to be the next club that Mrs. Palin's leftist critics pick up against her. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency quotes Mrs. Palin's pastor at Wasilla Bible Church, Larry Kroon, as saying that he doesn't believe Jews for Jesus are deceptive. "Look at Paul and Peter and the others — they were Jews and believed in Jesus as the messiah," he told JTA. "There's gentile believers and there's Jewish believers that acknowledge Jesus as messiah. There's Swedish believers."
They go on to half-assedly defend Palin by mentioning Jeremiah Wright and how there's no "religious test" for the presidency, but the Jews For Jesus are far outside the mainstream even for practicing evangelicals. Jewish Defense League Anti-Defamation League [I do know the difference! Whoops!] head Abe Foxman is pretending it's not a big deal by invoking the Spanish Inquisition (done by Catholics, not Protestants!) but his own organization has a longer, richer history of warning people about the deceptive and offensive tactics of the Jews for Jesus.
Sarah Palin's Jews for Jesus setting up shop in Wasilla, Alaska almost reminds us of Michael Chabon's charming The Yiddish Policeman's Union, his detective novel set in an alternate universe in which Americans settled Jewish WWII refugees in Alaska and Israel died before it was born. The incongruous idea of a Jewish settlement in far-off Sitka gives the book much of its uneasy atmosphere, especially in the mentions of the current fictional President of the US, an evangelical Christian promising to finally kick those Jews out of the pristine frontier, "pledging to restore Alaska for Alaskans, wild and clean."
The Democrats more or less handed Florida over to the Republicans when they selected (sorry, we'll say it) a black man without a rich history of pro-Israel hawkishness (even though he saw the light and came around pretty damn quick). This, though, might actually put it back in play.
Hey, here's Ben "Sure, God made the world in 7 days, where's that paycheck" Stein:
If the unthinkable occurs and Barack Obama is injured or killed, the inflammatory comments made by Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that provoked her supporters to yell "terrorist" and "kill him" need to be addressed. She should legally be constrained as being an accessory before the fact, as should John McCain for not prohibiting the inciting venom that spews forth from her mouth.
The FBI seems to agree.
Palin attended Anti-Jewish sermon given by Jews for Jesus founder 2 weeks ago
McCain and Obama are battling over a portion of the Jewish community: older, conservative Democrats, largely in South Florida, some of whom backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. McCain’s secular, hawkish credentials appeal to many in that group, who are skeptical of Obama’s relatively short record and have been deluged with rumors about his pro-Palestinian leanings.
But Democrats hope Palin’s social conservatism, her paper-thin record on Israel, and — perhaps most importantly — her cultural roots in evangelical Christianity may be a major turnoff to Jewish voters, just as Republicans have tried to reach women disappointed that Obama didn’t choose Hillary Clinton,
Democrats have already begun to to capitalize on the choice of Palin — over Jewish Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman — in South Florida and elsewhere. A prominent Obama backer, Florida Rep. Robert Wexler, has attacked Palin for appearing at a 1999 event with Pat Buchanan — who has attacked the influence of the Israeli lobby in America. And the same factors that are rallying the evangelical base to Palin may push away the Jews.
“There is almost always an inverse proportion between a candidate's popularity among conservative Christians and secular Jews,” said Jeff Ballabon, a Republican lobbyist long active in Jewish politics who supports McCain.
An illustration of that gap came just two weeks ago, when Palin’s church, the Wasilla Bible Church, gave its pulpit over to a figure viewed with deep hostility by many Jewish organizations: David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus.
Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.
“He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.
Brickner then explained that Jesus and his disciples were themselves Jewish.
“The Jewish community, in particular, has a difficult time understanding this reality,” he said. Brickner’s mission has drawn wide criticism from the organized Jewish community, and the Anti-Defamation League accused them in a report of “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception.”
Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.
"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."
Palin was in church that day, Kroon said, though he cautioned against attributing Brickner’s views to her.
The executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Ira Forman, cited the “cultural distance” between Palin and almost all American Jews.
“She’s totally out of step with the American Jewish community,” he said. “She is against reproductive freedom – even against abortion in the case of rape and incest. She has said that climate change is not man-made. She has said that she would favor teaching creationism in the schools. These are all way, way, way outside the mainstream.”
Huffington Post on Tuesday posted portions of Palin speaking at her former church, a politically conservative Assemblies of God congregation, in which she suggested that an Alaska pipeline plan reflects God’s will.
A spokesman for McCain and Palin, Michael Goldfarb, dismissed the notion that Palin would bring a Jewish problem.
“If this is going to be about who was at church on the day of which sermon, that’s not going to be an argument that the Obama campaign is going to win,” he said, a reference to Obama’s controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.
“This woman has been on the national stage for all of four days – of course it’s going to take some time for people to get a sense of what her views are on some things,” Goldfarb said. “Once she’s had a chance to make her positions clear on these issues, the Jewish community is going to be very, very comfortable with her.”
In the meantime, however, there’s simply little information available about Palin’s views. Two of Palin’s prominent Alaska Jewish allies, Rabbi Joseph Greenberg and businessman Terry Gorlick, told Politico they consider her a friend of the Jews. But they said they’d never heard her discuss Middle East policy in detail and that she’d never visited Israel, though they cited a boilerplate Alaska-Israel friendship resolution she signed.
Her thin record was underscored when the staunchly loyal Republican Jewish Coalition e-mailed its members evidence of her support for Israel: a video in which a small Israeli flag can be seen poking out from behind a drape.
"I think it speaks volumes that she keeps an Israeli flag on the wall of her office," the group's executive director, Matt Brooks, told Politico in an e-mail. "It clearly shows what's in her heart.”
Obama’s Jewish allies, meanwhile, are doing their best to fill that gap with unsettling information, an effort that in some ways mirrors the overt and covert campaigns against Obama in that community.
“My constituents are bewildered by Senator McCain’s pick and they just don’t understand it,” said Wexler, the Florida Democrat, citing the report that Palin had gone to a Buchanan event, and Buchanan’s “frightening views.”
Also Tuesday, a new Jewish Democratic group, JewsVote.org, sent out an email under the heading “Who is Sarah Palin?” an echo of conspiratorial anti-Obama emails that have criss-crossed the Jewish community.
“Given her record as a hard-right Christian conservative, her embrace of Pat Buchanan, her praise of Ron Paul, and her lack of credentials on foreign affairs, it is likely that her selection would raise serious red flags about the McCain/Palin ticket among Jewish swing voters,” they wrote, asking their members to send out their own anti-Palin emails.
McCain aide Goldfarb called the email “unbelievably cynical—fighting smears with smears.” Gallup and other polls conducted over the summer showed Obama beating McCain by a roughly two-to-one margin among Jewish voters - a comfortable lead, but narrower than John Kerry's and Al Gore's wins among Jewish voters in the last two elections.
Tuesday, both sides scrambled to play on the changed turf of the Jewish vote. Palin, shepherded by Lieberman, introduced herself to leaders of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in St. Paul on. Tuesday.
"We had a good productive discussion on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and we were pleased that Gov. Palin expressed her deep, personal, and lifelong commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel," AIPAC spokesman Josh Block said. “AIPAC is pleased that both parties have selected four pro-Israel candidates.”
Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), meanwhile, campaigned through the Jewish heartland of South Florida, showing off his cultural familiarity, dropping Yiddish words into his talk to a crowd of hundreds at a retirement community.
"I want to remind those of you who don't know me — and those of you who do know me — what my record has been. It has been unstinting in the defense and support of Israel," he said.
It was a contrast Wexler said he relished.
“There’s just no relationship, there’s no comfort, there’s no natural affinity with Palin,” he said. “There is with Joe Biden.” Buy a Jew lunch tomorrow. We fasted all Thursday for the sins you all committed last year. Roast Beef would be nice. And yes — Sarah Palin scares me as she should you.
Let's seize the narrative. Go after their hearts and minds ... Last thing we need is a worse pilot than “W” at the "tiller" — especially one divorced from the reality of us poor normal folks ... McCain Causes Crises Never Solves Them
The current economic crisis demands that we understand John McCain's attitudes about economic oversight and corporate influence in federal regulation. Nothing illustrates the danger of his approach more clearly than his central role in the savings and loan scandal of the late '80s and early '90s.
John McCain was accused of improperly aiding his political patron, Charles Keating, chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee launched investigations and formally reprimanded Senator McCain for his role in the scandal. Today, John McCain is the only major party presidential nominee in US history to have been rebuked, censured or otherwise admonished after a Congressional ethics investigation.
At the heart of the scandal was Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors' money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry -- actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.
When the savings and loan industry collapsed, Keating's failed company put taxpayers on the hook for $3.4 billion and more than 20,000 Americans lost their savings. John McCain was reprimanded by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, but the ultimate cost of the crisis to American taxpayers reached more than $120 billion.
The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules. And in both cases, John McCain's judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history.
McCain is subpar in his own words.
He was 894 out of a class of 899. Bottom 1%. Essentially C minus average and squeaking by at that. They didn't flush him out because it would have been too embarrassing for his grandfather to have his grandson be a total washout. Same grandfather thought that McCain was a total tool. There's a reason he never made it to a real command position. His duty as a soldier in enemy hands was:
Die rather than give out information. He was an mid-ranked officer and not some fresh grunt.
He saved himself by giving the enemy real information - the sources said it led to several missions failing.
That meant men actually died as a result.
This is understandable; But, caving in due to torture doesn't make you as a war hero.
A soldier is supposed to take any opportunity to get out, you are required to do so. Inside information would assist our side.
Those who know him suggest it was 'bad blood' between his father and him over a girl that kept McCain there. Given his hothead attitude, ego, and self-serving personality, his reason for why he stayed was not in line with his responsibilities as an officer, staying baffled his superiors as well.This is one reason his post Vietnam 'command' failed.
That and his pre-"Tailhook Scandal" mindset established him as "creepy" to the new women officers. His flaws prevented him from being a Flag Officer. These screw-ups and his general attitude about life alone would be reason enough that you'd never want him to be an admiral or similar. Evidently he got into politics when it was clear even to him that he had no real career left in the military; and it wouldn't advance any further.
Two stories today look at Republican presidential candidate John McCain's history, particularly in the Navy. In the Los Angeles Times, the paper notes that, due to the three pre-Vietnam air accidents by the son and grandson of admirals, McCain was nicknamed "Ace McCain" by his superiors. In Rolling Stone, they go a bit further, showing McCain as a "undisciplined, spoiled brat" who spent a summer in Rio in the '70s because, despite his wife and three kids, he said he had a better chance of "getting laid." (Also he had better nicknames in school: "Punk" and "McNasty.") And then there's the whole P.O.W. thing— did it change him? Um, sort of! "The reckless, womanizing hotshot who leaned on family connections for advancement before his capture in Vietnam emerged a reckless, womanizing celebrity who continued to pull strings."
McCain has also allowed the media to believe that his torture lasted for the entire time he was in Hanoi. At the Republican convention, Fred Thompson said of McCain's torture, "For five and a half years this went on." In fact, McCain's torture ended after two years, when the death of Ho Chi Minh in September 1969 caused the Vietnamese to change the way they treated POWs. "They decided it would be better to treat us better and keep us alive so they could trade us in for real estate," Butler recalls.
By that point, McCain had become the most valuable prisoner of all: His father was now directing the war effort as commander in chief of all U.S. forces in the Pacific. McCain spent the next three and a half years in Hanoi biding his time, trying to put on weight and regain his strength, as the bombing ordered by his father escalated. By the time he and other POWs were freed in March 1973 as a result of the Paris Peace Accords, McCain was able to leave the prison camp in Hanoi on his own feet.
The whole thing is pretty wild—and most disturbing is the way in which McCain is emulating the campaign that destroyed him back in 2000, right down to hiring Karl Rove's staff.
But perhaps the most revealing of McCain's flip-flops was his promise, made at the beginning of the year, that he would "raise the level of political dialogue in America." McCain pledged he would "treat my opponents with respect and demand that they treat me with respect." Instead, with Rove protégé Steve Schmidt at the helm, McCain has turned the campaign into a torrent of debasing negativity, misrepresenting Barack Obama's positions on everything from sex education for kindergarteners to middle-class taxes. In September, in one of his most blatant embraces of Rove-like tactics, McCain hired Tucker Eskew—one of Rove's campaign operatives who smeared the senator and his family during the 2000 campaign in South Carolina.
After weeks of negative campaigning and mud-slinging, John McCain made a stunning admission this week. During a presidential forum Sept. 11th, McCain said, "It's easy for me to go to Washington and, frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have."
McCain's own words never more clearly highlighted the truth about his political record and his distance from middle-class families.
While pledging to recycle George W. Bush's economic policies of more tax breaks for corporations who move jobs out of the country and for corporate executives, John McCain refused to even mention in his convention speech that working families are faced with a five-year high in the unemployment rate, high inflation in food, energy and health care costs, and a home foreclosure epidemic of historic proportions.
John McCain rejected the 21st Century GI Bill, which provides expanded educational, job training, and medical benefits for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. His surrogates called the benefits a "handout," and he described the benefits under the bill "too generous."
He helped block the reauthorization of the State Children Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP,which would have provided health insurance for about 4 million uninsured children of working families who can't afford the high cost of insurance premiums.
He has called for a three-month "gas tax holiday" that would put literally several dollars into the pockets of gasoline consumers – but only if oil companies decided to pass the savings onto them.
He has repeatedly voted to block or kill investments in renewable alternative energy for the auto industry, for wind and solar power, and for clean coal. This, while working families want 5 million new jobs in the clean energy sector.
While working families have seen the public schools their children go to being forced to cut programs or to close their doors, John McCain has called for abolishing the Department of Education and gutting funding for public schools.
When asked by a reporter about the number of homes he owns, John McCain couldn't recall and said he'd have to get back to the reporter. Working families later learned that McCain owns at least seven homes valued at about $2 million each.
In explaining his refusal to support fair pay for women workers, John McCain said that women need more "education and experience" before they can expect equal pay, not understanding that women are the most educated segment of US society.
While he has claimed to favor tax relief for middle-class families, his top economics advisor, Doug Holtz-Eakin told a reporter that the next president will have to raise taxes. To prove it, John McCain is sneaking a new $3.6 trillion tax increase on middle-class families into his health care plan. So far most analysis of the tax plans of the two presidential candidates shows that Barack Obama's plan will provide the best relief for working families.
While nearly 7 in 10 Americans want the war in Iraq to end, John McCain has pledged a 100-year occupation and to "stay the course."
On trade policy, John McCain advocates for more "free trade" deals like NAFTA and fast-tracking them through Congress without much public scrutiny. He told a Midwestern audience during the Republican primary campaign that good-paying jobs will be lost and there wasn't much he planned to do about that.
His combined views on Iraq and NAFTA prompted one conservative TV commentator to say John McCain is running on a platform of "less jobs and more war."
After weeks of using distortions and open lies to attack Barack Obama, John McCain got one thing right: it is easy for him to be divorced from the challenges working families face.
In Debate II, John McCain twice laid out the criteria for how the American people should judge the candidates: In tough times, we need someone with a steady hand on the tiller.
By that measure, Obama was the clear winner. He was centered where McCain was scattered. Forceful where McCain was forced. Presidential where McCain was petulant.
In the first debate, McCain wouldn't look at Obama. In this one, he referred to him as "that one." The contempt was palpable, and unpalatable.
In the run-up to the debate, McCain lowered himself into the sewer in a desperate attempt to portray Obama as dangerous, untrustworthy, a risk too big to take.
But Obama's measured reasonableness totally countered that caricature. You could fault Obama for not being particularly inspiring, but you could not miss the rock steady competence he exuded -- authoritatively delivering substantive answers to questions on the economy, health care, taxes, and foreign policy.
He scored with his history lesson, reminding voters of the economy the Republicans inherited, and how they squandered that inheritance.
He scored with his reminder of how much the war in Iraq is costing America and the enormous strain that puts on our economy -- as well as our national security.
He scored when he declared that affordable health care is a "right" of every American and not, as McCain put it, a "responsibility" of... he actually didn't specify who.
And Obama scored big when he gave voice to the vast gulf between the two candidates' -- and the two parties' -- position on the role of government in our lives, invoking JFK's commitment to put a man on the moon in 10 years as an example of what can be done in fueling a new alternative energy-based economy, and pointing out how government investment played a key role in developing the tech advances that have driven our economy for the last two decades.
McCain, like Palin last week, couldn't decide if government is the enemy or the deep-pocketed benefactor that is going to buy up all the bad mortgages in America.
Is "a government-bought house on every lot" the 21st century equivalent of "a chicken in every pot"?
McCain also provided the debate's strangest moments, twice chiding Obama for backing an "overhead projector" in a planetarium, and raising the idea of "gold-plated Cadillac" insurance policies that pay for hair transplants. Huh?
McCain also told us he knows how to fix the economy, knows how to win wars, and knows how to capture bin Laden. Is there a reason he's keeping all these a secret?
The debate ended on a question Tom Brokaw described as having "a certain Zen-like quality": "What don't you know and how will you learn it?"
Both men used the opportunity to pivot from the Moment of Zen into impassioned but familiar stump speech stories about single moms (Obama) and absent fathers (McCain), about the American Dream (Obama) and the country put first (McCain), about the need for fundamental change (Obama) and the desire for another opportunity to serve (McCain). At the end of the debate, Brokaw asked McCain to get out of the way of his Teleprompter, so he could sign off.
Brokaw might as well have been speaking on behalf of the future: Senator McCain can you please get out of the way so we can get on with it?
In a much discussed story, the Associated Press reported today that John McCain served in the mid-1980s on the advisory board of a right-wing group called the Council for World Freedom, which has been controversial because of the group's aid to the Nicaraguan Contras and the presence of anti-Semites in its ranks.
Now we've gotten a hold of another fun little nugget that shows how whacked out this group really is: A newsletter from the group from July 1985 that lashed out at people who criticized Ronald Reagan for visiting the Bitburg cemetery in Germany, which includes the graves of members of the SS.
The Reagan visit was widely controversial among Jews, but the Council newsletter -- which you can view right here -- was less than charitable towards Reagan's Jewish critics.
"Those misguided souls who accused President Reagan of insensitivity for visiting the German cemetery at Bitburg are wallowing in tears of pity over the past crimes of the Nazi regime which collapsed over 40 years ago," the newsletter said. "They claim they want to keep the memory of the holocaust alive so that it can never happen again."
"Crocodile tears! It is happening again," the newsletter continues, "and again, and again, right now, in the modern world; only the crimes of today are not being perpetrated by the Nazis but by their philosophical and demoniacal soulmates, the communists."
McCain reportedly was still associating with the group a few months later: A States News Service article from October 15, 1985, found via Nexis, confirms that McCain was on hand at a Council awards dinner.
McCain told the AP that he resigned the group's advisory board in 1984, and eventually asked to have his name removed from the letterhead. But the State News Service article places him at a group dinner a year later.
The reason this is worth noting is that John McCain has been attacking Barack Obama over Obama's minor ties to former 60s radical Bill Ayers -- putting associations like these into play.
The group was founded by Ret. General John Singlaub, as a U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League -- which itself had a history as a home for anti-Semites and former Nazi collaborators. In his defense, Singlaub worked to clean up that element somewhat. On the other hand, the the group continued to aid right-wing death squads that freely attacked civilians in the bloody Nicaraguan civil war.
The Contra's activities were so brutal that Congress passed the Boland Amendments in the early 80s to specifically forbid the federal government from aiding them -- which led to the Iran-Contra affair and Oliver North's efforts to circumvent the law. McCain's Failed Debate Offensive: Attacks Fall Flat
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images | Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain appear in Nashville for the second presidential debate.
By Kate Linthicum and Don Frederick, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers 7:33 PM PDT, October 7, 2008
7:25 p.m. As the discussion turns to the Russia's recent assertiveness in central Europe, Obama gives an answer that might have attracted little interest a month ago but may have sounded a wrong note now.
McCain had said America has to "show moral support" for Georgia, Ukraine and other nations feeling threatened by Russia. Obama says more than that is needed – he calls for "financial assistance" from the U.S. to help such countries build their economies.
Given the state of America's finances, public support for increasing the foreign aid budget probably is not very high.
7:19 p.m. The two, with Brokaw's assent, throw the debate guidelines by the board and engage directly and aggressively on U.S. policy toward Pakistan.
It begins with McCain asserting Obama was foolish to, he charges, threaten to "invade" Pakistan to fight terrorists.
Obama, in turn, charges McCain with misrepresenting his position. "Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan," Obama says. He repeat the policy he first laid out in a speech more than a year ago, when he was one of many candidates in a crowded Democratic primary field – that if Pakistan is "unable or unwilling" to hunt down Osama bin Laden and his terrorist allies, he would do so.
McCain repeats his assertion that Obama displayed his inexperience by threatening to "invade" Pakistan.
Obama takes this as an opportunity to bring up one of McCain's worst gaffes to date: The time McCain joked that America should "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."
7:14 p.m. We now bring you an update from our mole who is watching the debate over at NBC studios in Burbank, where Jay Leno just finished taping the "Tonight Show."
Our spy reports that Leno will deliver this line about the debate on his show: "It's a Town-Hall format, which is John McCain's favorite way to speak to crowds. As opposed to Barack Obama's favorite way, a sermon on a mount."
7:08 p.m. As the debate hits its hour mark, the subject turns to what would have dominated the discussion a year ago – foreign affairs.
McCain repeats what was in mantra in the first debate – Obama "does not understand" the nation's national security responsibilities.
Obama, who some thought too often allowed that assertion to go unchallenged in the first debate, focuses on Iraq and seeks to turn the charge on its head. Recalling his opposition – as an
Illinois state senator – to the congressional resolution authorizing force in
Iraq , he says yes, he dies not "understand how we invaded a country that had nothing to do with" the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"And it's been costly to us," he adds, focusing on the "enormous strain" the war has out on the federal budget – a point that may carry more force against the backdrop of the economic turmoil.
6:59 p.m. The debate is approaching its hour mark and as yet, one notable name has yet to be uttered – Bill Ayers, the Vietnam-era radical terrorist who ultimately became a college professor and played a role in the start of Obama's political career. He has dominated much of the campaign dialogue since the weekend, and some McCain supporters were hoping he would broach Obama's link to him as a way to question the Democrat's judgment.
Nor, for that matter, has Iraq or Afghanistan figured in the debate.
Instead, the debate has centered around domestic issues.
On a deceptively simple question – is health care a privilege, a right or a responsibility – a key difference between the two men emerges, completely in line with their differing political philosophies.
McCain terms it a responsibility; Obama a right.
This divergence almost assuredly will get vigorous dissected in the day to come.
6:57 p.m. In answer after answer, the two men can't resist arguing over their prospective records and how they voted on this bill or that bill, despite the general perception that both the questioners in the hall and the audience in general would prefer forward-looking responses.
This may, in part, be one of the wages of having two senators squaring off against off another – they simply can't resist lapsing into the tried-and-true debating habits of legislators.
6:53 p.m. Asked how swiftly his administration would address environmental issues, especially global warming, McCain seizes he opportunity to distance himself from the man he is seeking to replace as leader of the Republican Party (as well as president). "I have disagreed strongly with the Bush admin on this issue," he says, touting his credentials as one who has called for a more aggressive government policy on global warming.
He then mentions nuclear power as something he would aggressively promote as president, and criticizes Obama as an opponent of such efforts.
Obama charges McCain with misrepresenting his record, saying, "I favor nuclear power as one component of out overall energy mix."
6:47 p.m. Asked about offering a long-term plan to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, Obama briefly pledges to try to do that during a first term. He declines Brokaw's invitation that he commit to doing so within his first two years in office.
But what he really wants to do is dispute McCain's characterization of him an unvarnished tax hiker. "The straight talk express lost a wheel on that one," Obama says. He then lays out his call for repealing tax cuts enacted under Bush for the affluent – those families with incomes exceeding $250,000 a year – and cutting taxes for others.
Obama has referred several times to the truthlessness of some of McCain's claims about him. McCain, meanwhile has been swinging at Obama hard, leaving Obama largely on the defensive. But that doesn't mean that McCain is winning. Several times McCain has turned to Obama to pose sarcastic questions -- that could appear mean to voters watching at home.
6:45 p.m. Two quick things about body language. First, McCain is moving around the stage quite a bit -- he is sitting and writing instead of looking at the audience, then standing up when Obama is talking. Obama seems more relaxed.
And, as the always observant Andy Malcolm notes: Both these candidates are left handed!
6:43 p.m. Brokaw is trying hard to get the candidates to limit their responses to two minutes. If the candidates don't mind the time limit, "We're going to have larger deficits that the federal government does," he threatens.
6:41 p.m. An Internet question comes from "a child of the depression," asking each candidate what sacrifices, as president, they would demand of citizens who – despite a raft of crises in recent decades -- has not been asked to make any meaningful one.
McCain says he would ask Americans there will be some government programs "that we may have to eliminate." He then reiterates his previous call for a spending freeze on all programs but defense, veteran benefits and a selected, unnamed few others.
Obama does not identity a specific government program that he would cut or abolish. Instead, he talks about the need for citizens to start making sacrifices in the way they live their daily lives. He also disagrees with the call for an across-the-board spending freeze, saying that would be unfair.
6:34 p.m. McCain takes a pass when Brokaw asks him to rank what he would deal with first -- healthcare, the cost of entitlement programs (such as Social Security) or energy. The Republican says all three can be dealt with at the same time.
Obama says energy is most important.
6:31 p.m. A questioner cuts to the chase – how can either party be trusted to grapple with the daunting problems facing the nation?
Obama says he understands "both your frustration and your cynicism." He then, again, lays much of the blame on President Bush. But then, perhaps realizing that the blame-game is exactly what voters don't want to hear, he talks about his plans. A priority, he says, will be dealing with health care costs. Another will be energy costs and its supply.
McCain also spends much of his answer on criticism – labeling Obama a liberal who has no track record of dealing with problems in a bipartisan way. Only at the tail end of his answer does he discuss his goals, mentioning his focus on increasing domestic energy production.
6:14 p.m. Brokaw begins the proceedings on an ominous note, saying that "We still don't know where the bottom is at this time" with the economy. And the first audience question concerns the candidate plans to deal with the economic crisis, especially as it is affecting the elderly.
Obama, answering first, gets off his chair and, approaches the questioner and reiterates his belief that the country is paying the price for the failed policies of a Republican regime. He also stresses that his belief that he is well-suited to grapple with the nation's economic woes. McCain, when it's his turn, outlines the high points of his economic plan, including providing mortgage relief to some homeowners. Neither directly address the particular problems of older citizens.
McCain does take a veiled shot at Obama, telling his rivals "it's good to be with you at a town hall meeting." That's reference to Obama avoiding McCain's standing invitation throughout the summer to join him at such forums.
He takes another shot at Obama while answering the second question, "How will the fiscal recovery package help people?" He slams Obama for his ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Obama, when it's his turn to speak, lashes back, reminding McCain that one of McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis lobbied for Fannie Mae in the past.
It's a nonsensical thing to argue over: Both Obama and McCain have advisers and who have connections with the companies.
6:06 p.m. It's showtime! The candidates are on stage, and the debate is about to begin.
There was a coin toss to determine who would answer each question first, and Obama won that privilege. He also won the coin toss that determined who answered first in the first debate. And his running mate Joe Biden won the coin toss to answer first during the vice presidential debate.
The New York Times recently wrote about McCain's propensity to gamble, but it looks like the Democrats may be luckier when it comes to tossing coins.
5:56 p.m. Moderator Tom Brokaw is on stage, prepping the audience. His main point: This encounter is about the candidates and their responses, not audience reaction. So he rather sternly warned the crowd to curb their enthusiasm.
As for the structure of the debate, the candidates will answer questions from the audience (made up of about 80 likely voters from the Nashville area) and from the Internet (more than 6 million questions were submitted online). Each candidate will have two minutes to answer each question, and then there will be a short period for rebuttal.
Although Brokaw had a hand in picking the questions, he will not be allowed to ask follow-ups or make comments. The person who asks the question also will not be allowed to ask follow-ups. Too bad.
5:42 p.m. Hello! And welcome to the second presidential debate. In just a few moments, Barack Obama and John McCain will take the stage at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., to answer questions from voters.
As our Peter Wallsten notes, the campaign has taken a dirty turn since the two candidates met last. Both campaigns have unleashed a barrage of attack ads, and the candidates have toughened up on the stump. McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, said it best at a recent campaign rally in California: "The gloves are off," she told the cheering crowd.
We will be live blogging the debate. If you'd like to watch along with us, we will be streaming it live here.
10:45 - Sam Stein: Barack Obama takes the (err...) all important Frank Luntz focus group on Fox News, though the undecideds were, well, undecided when it came to which candidate handled the economic part of the debate better.
"Obama did better overall and the key point among viewers was health care," said Luntz. Prompted by Brit Hume to go over, again, who scored better on economic matters, the crowd is split.
"Half of them though John McCain did better on the economy," said a somewhat flummoxed Luntz.
Jason Linkins: I couldn't agree more with the focus group's health care point. Obama, talking health care, that was a moment where the cat finally jumped.
10:41 - Nico Pitney: The pro-Obama group Progressive Accountability puts out this video - McCain vs. McCain:
10:35 - Seth Colter Walls: Wolf Blitzer goes there: "It's apparent to say that Sen. McCain has some disdain, I think it's fair to say, for Sen. Obama. That was very apparent throughout the course of this debate."
10:33 - Sam Stein: The debate ends with a relatively bizarre and too-easily-dismissible "zen-like" question (as Brokaw explains): "What don't you know and how will you know it"
Obama sidesteps actually answering what was asked by saying: "My wife Michelle is there and she can give you a much longer list..."
He goes on to talk about how the obstacles one faces as president are "never the challenges you expect, it is the challenges that you don't which consume most of your time."
McCain is far more serious and dire. "What I don't know is what we all don't know," he says. "What is going to happen both here at home and abroad, the challenges we face are unprecedented."
Then he offers this head-scratcher: "What I don't know is what the unexpected will be."
Not his fault. Weird question.
The two candidates, as the debate end, stand together and firmly in the way of Brokaw's teleprompter, prompting the NBC host to complain that he can't read his script.
Obama and McCain then split from each other. Brokaw, thankfully, is saved from humiliation.
10:29 - Sam Stein: The question turns to Israel and what should happen if Iran had a nuclear weapon pointed its way. And while McCain and Obama disagree sharply on whether to talk to Iran and what to do about the broader tensions between the two countries, they have one thing in common: they aren't going to let the United Nations get in the way.
"We obviously would not wait for the United Nations Security Council," says McCain. "I think the realities are that both Russia and china would probably propose significant obstacles."
Adds Obama: "We will never take the threat of force off the table... It is important that we don't provide veto power to the United Nations or anyone else in acting in our interests."
10:25 - Jason Linkins: Why McCain continually implies that Russia is poised to take down the Ukraine is beyond me. Also: apparently the rules of the debate allow the participants to touch any or all Chief Petty Officers. And once again, McCain clarifies: he is against second Holocausts.
Something else that no one, including Obama, ever points out. George W. Bush took his policy of non-engagement right to the well of the Israelie Knesset. He made his opinion very clear. And Israel heard it, and immediately rejected it, opening talks with hostile nations. Months later, Bush followed suit. So, why refuse to engage Iran for Israel's sake, when Israel doesn't support that policy itself?
10:21 - Seth Colter Walls: Is the GOP already spinning what they see as a loss for McCain? Twenty minutes before the debate closes -- a debate in which McCain has rarely taken the offensive -- a Republican spokesperson emails out short Ben Smith post noting that this isn't "really a town hall." Is the emerging meme that if McCain thought to have lost tonight's debate, it will have been due to its insufficient town-hall-iness?
10:20 - Seth Colter Walls: McCain repeatedly says, "I know how to get him," when talking about Osama bin Laden. No specifics follow.
"I know" may be the McCain mantra of the night, but it's unclear how claiming he knows how to achieve something the entire country wants but has yet to see happen makes any sense. If he knows, why hasn't he told President Bush?
10:16 - Seth Colter Walls: Darren Davis, a professor at Notre Dame who specializes in role of race in politics, writes about McCain's "that one" line. "It speaks volumes about how McCain feels personally about Obama. Whomever said the town hall format helps McCain is dead wrong."
10:13 - Sam Stein: If, before the debate, you were told one candidate would make the following proclamation -- "We will kill bin laden we will crush al Qaeda, that has to be our biggest national security priority" -- who do you think it would be?
It was Obama, talking about his desire to launch strikes in Pakistan even without that government's permission.
He sounds tough. And McCain, in his response, decides to recount the history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the dangers of military operations in Waziristan. It is a remarkable, ironic, and unexpected flip to have the Democrat seem more forceful on national security matters.
10:12 - Jason Linkins: McCain is now talking about how announcing that you are going to announce an attack against another country is a tactic that will make the population of that country less amenable to your position. Hey! That's a good point, maybe! So, what, exactly does John McCain want to BOMB BOMB BOMB, BOMB BOMB Iran with? His delicious dry rub recipes? (Update: Obama just used my line!)
10:10 - Jason Linkins: Obama hasn't gotten the memo from every right-wing blog in the universe that pronouncing the word "Pakistan" PAHK-ee-STAHN is the dialectical equivalent of spreading arugula on your body and marching in the Folsom Street Fair.
Seth Colter Walls: "They are plotting to kill Americans right now," Obama says about Al-Qaeda in a response to the Pakistan sovereignty question.
"We will crush Al-Qaeda" he adds for good measure.
Overall, Obama sounds more authoritative on the question of military strength than lots of other Democrats on the national stage.
Here's Obama on national security:
10:08 - Sam Stein: Brokaw asks Barack Obama to define his foreign policy doctrine - when do we use military forces to engage - he talks more about moral issues than national security interests.
"We may not always have national security at stake but we have moral issues at stake. If we could have intervened effectively in the holocaust who among us would not have said that we had the moral authority to step in?" he asks. "When genocide or ethnic cleansing is happening somewhere around the world and we stand idly by, that diminishes us."
McCain, somewhat ironically, talks about the dangers of getting muddled into a foreign policy quagmire that would result in a loss of resources and troops (seriously?!?!).
"You have to temper your decisions with the ability to beneficially affect the situation," he says.
10:02 - Seth Colter Walls: Obama spokesman Bill Burton puts his foot on the pedal ever so slightly, re: McCain's "that one" remark. In an email blast to reporters, he asks: "Did John McCain just refer to Obama as 'that one'?" Expect the post-debate analysis to get a little race-focused.
10:01 - Sam Stein: New Huffpost staffer Marcus Baram points out that McCain's plan to buy mortgages makes absolutely no sense when contrasted with his record.
"McCain failed to vote on bill to overhaul mortgage lending practices of FHA. In 2007, McCain failed to vote on passage of a bill that would overhaul the mortgage lending practices of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The bill would reduce the required minimum down payment for an FHA-insured loan and simplify its calculation, requiring a flat 1.5 percent of the appraised value of the home. [S. 2338, 12/14/07]"
10:00 - Seth Colter Walls: For almost the entire span of Obama's answer about health insurance companies "cheating their customers," the uncommitted women voters holding dials for CNN couldn't turn them up high enough.
Men, somewhat less enamored, but still positively impressed.
9:58 - Sam Stein: McCain hits Obama on proposing a "big-government" health care system that would burden individuals and employers.
"If you are a small business person and you don't insure your employees Sen. Obama will fine you, will fine you, that is remarkable," he says.
Then he starts promoting the idea of reducing state boundaries on health care coverage because, as he argues, the more choice the better. "Don't you go across state lines to purchase other things in America?"
Somehow, I don't think voters in the middle of Pennsylvania are thinking to themselves: "you know he's write, I shop in New York, and if I'm suffering from a near catastrophic illness I might go to the Empire State as well."
Obama responds by noting that "small businesses may not even have a mandate" to provide coverage under his plan. Moreover, he adds, many "will have a tax credit to provide the coverage they need."
The only health care mandate in his proposal is for the coverage of children.
9:56 - Jason Linkins: Obama makes his "McCain will tax your healthcare" charge. Expecting a firm response. Instead he talks up his $5K pittance -- when the average family health costs in 2007 was $12K. And then tells people that they can "go across state lines" to purchase health care. OH, CAN I? CAN I PLEASE? That's exactly what I want - to shop for allergists in Utah! How does an intractable inconvenience become a selling point?
Let's put health records online? Uhm...thanks, but no.
9:54 - Jason Linkins: Brokaw asks a weird question. Should energy be dealt with like the Manhattan Project or like Silicon Valley? What is this, the Stanford-Binet? Is the talent portion coming soon?
McCain doesn't answer that question, and honestly, I'm glad he didn't.
9:52 - Sam Stein: Aides to Obama are feeling good about the debate performance so far, saying that Obama is coming off as "warm and commanding." They like what the CNN dial of uncommitted Ohio voter portends and argue that McCain isn't exactly on his best game. Then McCain calls Obama "that one" in reference to his vote on the 2005 energy bill and the IM's from the Obama camp get a bit more heated.
9:52 - Jason Linkins: Would it kill the McCain campaign to assign somebody to keep McCain from breaking out in that creepy smile? I mean, when the Onion makes a joke about it, you have to figure that it's a worry.
9:50 - Seth Colter Walls: "That one" is how McCain refers to Obama during a discussion about energy, while once again not looking in his direction (merely jabbing a finger across his chest). That's not going to win McCain any Miss Congeniality points. Nor will it reassure any voters who believe McCain is improperly trying to capitalize on Obama's "otherness."
This goes beyond refusing to look at Obama in the first debate. With this slightly dehumanizing phrase, McCain may have just played into the emerging narrative of Obama-hate that has been sprouting at McCain-Palin rallies.
9:46 - Nico Pitney: "My friends..." McCain has used that phrase 11 times so far tonight, by my count. Yes, it's getting grating.
9:45 - Sam Stein: McCain goes where many politicians have before, suggesting a COMMISSION to handle the problems of Medicare.
"What we have to do with Medicare is have a commission," he says, "have the smartest people in America come together... Then have Congress vote up or down."
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that McCain's economic adviser, Douglas Holtz Eakin said that his candidate's Medicare policy would result in a $1.3 trillion cut over ten years. Hard to see how that passes through either a commission or an up-or-down vote.
9:43 - Jason Linkins: McCain: "It's not hard to fix Social Security." Uhm...o-kay, John! I mean, it's not hard to kick that can down the road, year after year! It's not hard to avoid the issue! It's not hard to demagogue on the issue! But fixing it? See, both parties have done a lot of can kicking, avoiding and demagoguing. And yet FIXING IT IS EASIER? Get on with it then!
9:37 - Sam Stein: Ben Smith makes a solid point. In this debate, McCain has called both for a "spending freeze" for the federal government and for that same government to buy up mortgages that homeowners can't afford and renegotiate them at new, likely more favorable, values.
He even acknowledged that it would be "expensive."
9:36 - Jason Linkins: The problem with McCain insisting that Obama's tax proposals are like "nailing jello to the wall," is that Obama's figured out how to put them in a succinct sentence: "95% of Americans will get no tax increase." As you might expect, the dial line bespeaks a lack of approval. McCain's assertion that Obama would raise taxes on 50% of small businesses...that's a new figure! Palin said it was 95%! So already, the McCain camp is polishing Obama's record!
9:35 - Seth Colter Walls: Obama talks about doubling the Peace Corps and strengthening community groups "so that military families are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing America." That's a smart way to frame his "community organizing" past that is sometimes viewed with skepticism.
9:30 - Jason Linkins: Yeah, so, where are all the questions about Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright? Could it be that these are the obsessions of the punditocracy? That maybe engaged voters just don't give a toss about that stuff? Time will tell, I guess.
Also: John McCain is playing against expectation, not lobbing the sorts of vicious attacks that we were trained to expect. That's good for McCain. Speaking of playing against expectation: first "noun-verb-9/11" of the night goes to Obama!
Sam Stein: Obama pulls a Rudy Giuliani and raises 9/11. Only this time not evoking the specter of terror or imploring voters to stick on the offense against "Islamo-fascism" (Giuliani's second favorite word). But to bemoan missed opportunity.
"All of the country was ready to come together and make enormous changes to make us not only safer but a better, more unified country," he says. "President Bush did some smart things on the onset, but he missed an opportunity when he told people to go out a shop. That wasn't the call to service that the American people were hungry for."
9:29 - Nico Pitney: Marc Ambinder writes, "Ooh. Just caught McCain looking at Obama. Caught you, JSM!"
9:28 - Sam Stein: Brokaw complains about the candidates talking beyond their time allotments.
"We are going to have a larger deficit than the federal government does," he says, the day after the famous deficit clock broke because it couldn't chart where the country's budget was heading.
Too soon, Brokaw. Too soon.
9:26 - Sam Stein: A reader writes in to say that McCain, early in the debate mixed up a questioners name. At around the 9:03 mark he fielded a question from Alan Schaeffer about bailing out retired citizens. At 9:11pm Oliver Clark asks a question about the bailout helping Americans. Two minutes later, McCain is saying he wants to keep people in their homes like "Alan." Obama, the reader write, addresses his answer to Oliver.
9:25 - Seth Colter Walls: "I know how to do that" is shaping up to be this debate's "what Senator Obama does not understand." So far, McCain has used it on the issue of bipartisanship, earmark reform, energy independence.
9:25 - Nico Pitney: McCain claims he warned about the coming economic crisis. But as ThinkProgress notes, in 2007, he admitted he was "surprised" by the crisis. "So, I'd like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not," he said.
Obama: Now I've got to correct a little bit of Senator McCain's history, not surprisingly, but let's first of all understand that the biggest problem in this whole process was the deregulation of the financial system. Senator McCain as recently as March bragged about the fact that he is a deregulator. On the other hand two years ago I said we've got a subprime lending crisis that has to be dealt with, I wrote to Secretary Paulson, I wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and told them this is something we have to deal with and nobody did anything about it. A year ago I went to Wall Street and told them we have to re-regulate, and nothing happened.
9:22 - Sam Stein: Uncommitted Ohio voters are very much in love with Obama's take on reforming helath care to reduce home costs and generating energy independence so we stop sending money over seas. It's an affirmation that the pocket book issues are preeminent in this campaign and on the minds of most, if not all voters.
When McCain speaks of bipartisanship and criticizes Obama for not "taking on his party on a single issue" the line hover around the middle. It gets even lower when he criticizes Obama spending priorities, his take on earmarks, and his overall budgetary prescription. Finally, when he talks about getting middle income families working again, voters start responding.
Here's Obama on energy:
9:18 - Sam Stein: McCain demonizes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as being the "catalysts who started this forest fire," known as the financial crisis. It is an incredibly simplistic way of explaining the situation but one that allows McCain to say he was yelling at the gates of reform while Obama was accepting campaign contributions from the two housing giants. Obama responds by saying, "I've got to correct a little bit of Sen. McCain's history, not surprisingly... With respect to Fannie Mae, what Sen. McCain didn't mention is that the bill he is talking about wasn't his own bill... and I never promoted Fannie Mae, in fact Sen. McCain's campaign chairman's firm was a lobbyists for Fannie Mae. Not mine."
9:18 - Jason Linkins: Now, suddenly, the Dial Line spikes in Obama's favor. Because he's not pointing fingers! Also: he seems to have realized that there aren't people seated in the back of the room, so there's no need to play there.
9:16 - Jason Linkins: Obama's not scoring that well with his current jag, painting McCain as a fan of deregulation. "You're not interested in politicians pointing fingers," Obama says. He's right! And yet, there he is, pointing fingers!
9:15 - Seth Colter Walls: McCain blames Obama and "his cronies" for enabling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be the catalyst of this forest fire. "There were some who stood against it, and others who took a hike," McCain adds, extending his metaphor. The Obama campaign anticipated this line of attacks, emailing out to reporters three different articles showing how McCain "exaggerated his own role" in efforts to prevent abuse at the housing giants.
9:13 - Jason Linkins: McCain came armed with his version of the Fannie/Freddie argument. But it's not playing well! He really needs to drop a Drill Baby in there! Or wink!
9:12 - Jason Linkins: McCain insists that he suspended his campaign. We remind you: this actually did not happen, but it's October, and words have lost all meaning!
9:11 - Sam Stein: McCain touts the economic prowess of, and suggests as a future Treasury Secretary, Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay and someone who he has turned to for economic advise in the past. Normally, this is a solid point for McCain to press; highlighting entrepreneurship and the growth of female business leaders. The problem is eBay just announced that it was firing 10 percent of its work force.
9:11 - Jason Linkins: Obama's first "Senator McCain is right" of the evening! Somewhere, in some dark Satanic mill, an RNC ad is being cut.
9:10 - Seth Colter Walls: McCain wraps up his opening remarks by pledging to "[take] care of working Americans." After getting hit for not mentioning the words "middle class" in the first debate, it appears McCain may have learned his lesson.
9:10 - Sam Stein: A Democrat points out that John McCain isn't wearing a flag pin tonight, implying that Obama is being held to a double standard for being criticized when his lapel isn't adorned. The truth is, Obama has worn a pin far more frequently in these formats than McCain. The Arizona Republican didn't wear a flag pin during his convention speech.
9:08 - Seth Colter Walls: Senator McCain starts with a dig: "Senator Obama, it's good to be with you at a town hall meeting." But since the crowd isn't packed exclusively with his supporters, there isn't even a muffled laugh -- the kind that can spontaneously happen even in a debate where the audience is supposed to stay mum.
9:06 - Jason Linkins: Obama takes his sweet time getting to specifics. No one wants to hear "failed Bush policies" and like platitudes. BUT! Once he gets to enumerating specifics, the dial line (yes, watching that again) goes up. Mainly on the strength of promising that CEOs would not get bonuses. America wants to punch Fuld in the mouth at the Lehman Brothers gym.
McCain leads with energy independence. During the Veep debate, this proved to be his best issue, and the dial line tops out for McCain. Slightly less responsive when McCain talks about housing. Hate to say it, but "Drill, baby, drill" resonates.
9:05 - Sam Stein: Accountability is a winner when talking about the current financial crisis, for all the jokes over McCain calling for SEC Chairman Chris Cox's firing. Obama picks up on that right away, taking umbrage with AIG hosting a $400,000 junket a week after they received a $80 billion bailout.
"The treasury should demand that money back and those executives should be fired," he says.
9:03 - Jason Linkins: The candidates will have demarcated areas of the stage that they may walk around in. Each candidate has had their territory marked by urinating wolves, who were later shot by Sarah Palin, with helicopters.
As the two were introduced, it was official: John McCain and Barack Obama's eyes met.
8:54 - Jason Linkins: The big question of tonight's debate is: who will go negative first, harder, faster. Obama needs to resist pointlessly escalating the tension or raising the temperature of the room. What's he prepped for? What if McCain plays the pussycat, goes high-minded and positive? Will that throw Obama for a (OODA) loop?
McCain's challenge: lay off the stunts. Everyone knows he LOVES to win some newscycles. But he's starting to resemble Gob Bluth from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. I WILL MAKE THE BOAT DISAPPEAR! I WILL BREAK OUT OF A VIETNAMESE PRISON! Where does it end, John? Don't eat the Skip's Scramble!
Meanwhile, CNN has all these useless high-def teevee bells and whistles. You can, once again, rate the members of CNN's panel, based on "who's scoring points...who's missing opportunities." Whatever that means. Anyway, America: This is your chance to really STICK IT to Gloria Borger, or something!
8:52 - Nico Pitney: Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells us: "FYI - as the debate starts, the Keating- McCain documentary just hit 1 million views."
WATCH: McCain Excels At Town Halls:
Ahead of tonight's town hall-style Presidential debate, the Democratic National Committee released a new web ad highlighting John McCain's strength in town halls. The video, called "Town Hall McCain," includes clips of analysts praising John McCain's performance in town halls and shows McCain himself bragging about how much he enjoys them. As one Republican who called town halls "one of the hardest thing to do in politics" said, John McCain does town halls "better than any other politician."
What are his options? Even his running mate, offering encouragement from her perch, says it's time to take off the gloves and go after Obama. Through advertising and in campaign trail rhetoric, that's the direction McCain has charted. But the other piece of wisdom that must be rolling around in McCain's head is the warning that town hall audiences don't like confrontation, attacks or anything particularly nasty.
So calibrating his performance Tuesday becomes especially difficult. In the first debate, McCain wouldn't even look at his younger rival. That's not really possible when the two will be less tethered to specific spots on the stage at Belmont. Can he be engaging and still engage?
Poll: McCain Needs A Game Changer: An NBC/WSJ poll shows just how much McCain has riding on tonight's debate:
[T]he latest NBC/WSJ poll has Obama up six points, 49%-43%, which equals his biggest lead over McCain in the survey; two weeks ago, Obama was up two in the poll, 48%-46%. As NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) put it: "John McCain finds himself in a hole no candidate wants to be in" -- behind with less than a month to go. Remember, while six points might seem like a small lead, it can translate into an Electoral College landslide if this is what the margin is on Election Day. What's more, while pundits (including us) couldn't agree who won the first two debates, the poll makes it crystal clear who won: Obama-Biden. By a 50%-29% margin, voters said that the Dems bested their GOP counterparts at the first two debates.
There Will Be Followups: Ben Smith reports that while McCain and Obama agreed not to include follow-up questions in tonight's debate, moderator Tom Brokaw wasn't party to the deal, and hasn't agreed to it.
At least six million questions have been submitted online, the New York Timesfinds. There will only be time for 15 to 20.
Obama Raises Expectations, Questions McCain's Temper: National Press Secretary Bill Burton releases a memo touting John McCain's experience with the town hall format, while also wondering if McCain will "continue his refusal to even look at Obama on stage -- like in their first debate." The memo also suggests that McCain will "launch his nastiest attacks" yet at tonight's debate.
Slate: The Risks Of Town-Hall Debates John Dickerson warns that town-hall debates can go very wrong for candidates:
"Ponytail Guy" is the term some in political circles use to refer to Denton Walthall, who asked a question in the second presidential debate in 1992. A domestic mediator who worked with children, Walthall scolded President George H.W. Bush for running a mudslinging, character-based campaign against Bill Clinton in 1992. Referring to voters as "symbolically the children of the future president," he asked how voters could expect the candidates "to meet our needs, the needs in housing and in crime and you name it, as opposed to the wants of your political spin doctors and your political parties. ... Could we cross our hearts? It sounds silly here but could we make a commitment? You know, we're not under oath at this point, but could you make a commitment to the citizens of the U.S. to meet our needs--and we have many--and not yours again?"
It did sound silly: a father-president dandling a nation of children voters on his knee. But instead of challenging the paterfamilias premise, the candidates took his pain seriously. Walthall didn't scold Bush by name, but as the camera shot over his shoulder (showing us his ponytail), Bush could be seen growing annoyed. The question was addressed to all the candidates, but Bush was the candidate running the character-based campaign. He had answered a previous questioner by making the case for why Bill Clinton's character should be an issue. So it was obvious Bush was the target of the Ponytail Guy's criticism.
On Tuesday night, we'll get to hear from some of this campaign's swing voters--the rules of the debate guarantee their participation--as undecided voters pose questions to the candidates in the town-hall debate.
AP: Stakes Higher For McCain As Insults Mount: Strategists tell the Associated Press that economic crisis and polls showing Obama up mean McCain seriously needs a win:
"Generally, the stakes in this are higher for McCain," said Phil Musser, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association. "It's probably one of the last and most important opportunities for him to lay out an economic vision that resonates with middle America in a format that lends itself to doing just that."
But Republicans and Democrats alike say even a strong McCain performance may not be enough.
"McCain can win the debate, but the trajectory of this election would not be fundamentally altered unless Obama also made a pretty dramatic and serious mistake," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist in Vice President Al Gore's 2000 campaign.
Debate Format Favors McCain -- Tuesday night's debate will be held in town hall format, with undecided voters in the audience asking questions. However, moderator Tom Brokaw will select the queries, submitted in writing, before the debate. Audience members will not be allowed to change their questions, and neither the questioner nor Brokaw can ask follow-up questions.
The Wall Street Journalexplains how this format puts pressure on McCain to perform:
The Republican's performance in the second of three presidential debates -- the only one held in the format he tends to favor -- could help determine his ability to stay competitive in a race that seems to have moved against the Arizona senator over the past week. ...
The spontaneous, unpredictable conversational style of the events and the informal interaction with voters seem to bring out the best in Sen. McCain, more than canned, oft-repeated stump speeches do. The group interaction brings out his quick wit and self-proclaimed bent for "straight talk" -- he often will engage in extended debate with a voter who disagrees with him, even saying directly that the person is wrong.
McCain, Obama Prepare For Second Debate -- The Republican candidate is getting ready for the debate at a his family's resort in Sedona, Arizona. The Washington Postreports that he is "doing more formal preparation than he did before last month's debate in Mississippi."
Obama is preparing in Asheville, N.C. A campaign aide tells the Post that Obama will, as in the last debate, seek to present himself as a "very pragmatic, non-ideological and very even-keeled" politician.
During a discussion about energy, McCain punctuates a contrast with Obama by referring to him as "that one," while once again not looking in his opponent's direction (merely jabbing a finger across his chest). That's not going to win McCain any Miss Congeniality points. Nor will it reassure any voters who believe McCain is improperly trying to capitalize on Obama's "otherness."
This goes beyond refusing to look at Obama in the first debate. With this slightly dehumanizing phrase, McCain may have just played into the emerging narrative of Obama-hate that has been sprouting at McCain-Palin rallies.
Darren Davis, a professor at Notre Dame who specializes in role of race in politics, writes about McCain's "that one" line. "It speaks volumes about how McCain feels personally about Obama. Whomever said the town hall format helps McCain is dead wrong."
A few minutes later, Obama spokesman Bill Burton placed his foot on the pedal ever so slightly. In an email blast to reporters, he asks: "Did John McCain just refer to Obama as 'that one'?" No other commentary followed, nor did any mention of race. But expect the post-debate analysis to get a little focused on whether McCain just made a regrettable faux pas.
McCain claims he warned about the coming economic crisis. But as ThinkProgress notes, in 2007, he admitted he was "surprised" by the crisis. "So, I'd like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not," he said.
Obama: Now I've got to correct a little bit of Senator McCain's history, not surprisingly, but let's first of all understand that the biggest problem in this whole process was the deregulation of the financial system. Senator McCain as recently as March bragged about the fact that he is a deregulator. On the other hand two years ago I said we've got a subprime lending crisis that has to be dealt with, I wrote to Secretary Paulson, I wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and told them this is something we have to deal with and nobody did anything about it. A year ago I went to Wall Street and told them we have to re-regulate, and nothing happened
McCain touts the economic prowess of, and suggests as a future Treasury Secretary Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay and someone who he has turned to for economic advice in the past. Normally, this is a solid point for McCain to press, highlighting entrepreneurship and the growth of female business leaders. The problem: eBay just announced that it was firing 10 percent of its work force.