Category Archives: Obama 08

McCain’s Shaky Performance

For the past few days, I have suffered from presidential election writer’s block. Actually, it’s not that I couldn’t think of anything to write, but there was nothing that interesting or novel to say that warranted a post. Nevertheless, today I finally decided to get my act together and write a few lines about some of the more interesting things we learned this week about the candidates and the election:

  • Sarah Palin, though I do not believe she is directly to blame for the $150,000 wardrobe, the expensive stylist, and professional acting/speech coach, has not given a credible explanation. Rather, she has proven herself to be, as Maureen Dowd has repeated, nothing more than a My Fair Lady remake.
  • The feeling of inevitable defeat has already begun to plague the Republican Party, and there is tension around the handling of Sarah Palin. While everyone panics and tries to save their own skin, Palin has gone from maverick to renegade, concentrating on her own political future.
  • A valid worry is that the McCain Palin campaign’s mismanagement will infect many of the other state and federal races, giving the Democrats majorities nationwide and ousting Republican incumbents. McCain’s best argument, now much too late in the game to be successfully articulated, should have been about divided government and the perils of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and a Democrat in the White House.
  • As I wrote previously, the Obamas have become more representative of “America” than Mcain Palin’s small town “only served here” sign. Forget about whether or not a black man can become president, McCain’s own campaign has already conceded that Obama is the  “mainstream” candidate with the mainstream media favoring him. As Frank Rich writes, white Americans already support Obama in higher numbers than they did Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or John Kerry. Would a fringe, angry, radical African American break all campaign finance records by rasing $150 million in a single month? I don’t know how Palin thinks Obama sees America, but a lot of Americans sure see Obama as worthy of their campaign donations.

While I was preparing to elaborate on the above, I took a short break to watch McCain on Meet the Press. I was stunned. While I have criticized McCain for his overly military-centeric and extreme shift to the right (including his choice of Sarah Palin), I have consistently avoided disqualifying him due to age. But on Meet the Press, McCain looked exhausted. His voice was shaky, his hands trembled, his tone was offbeat, and at one point he seemed to lose his bearing — giving him that forgetful senior moment that everyone has been hoping would not happen. Continue reading

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Wassup 2008

Thanks, Sanjeev, for the heads up on this one.

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With God’s Blessing, inshallah


In Arabic, all statements about the future are tempered by adding the phrase inshallah, meaning “God willing”.  This comes from the Muslim precept that only God knows and determines the future; and therefore, it is a sign of arrogance and blasphemy to speak of the future without conditioning it on God’s will. Examples would include: I will see you later, inshallah; tomorrow I have an exam, inshallah; or I am going to Florida for Christmas, inshallah. Furthermore, its use is widely accepted by all Arabic speakers regardless of their religion (Islam, Christianity or Judaism). Even Spanish, heavily influenced by Arabic, adopted its own version of the expression — ojalá— to denote when one hopes for something to occur, i.e., ojalá que llueva café.

I wasn’t sure whether we had something similar in English until this morning when I heard Sarah Palin’s recent CNN interview. When asked what her role would be as vice president, Sarah Palin responded,

Well, we’ve talked a lot about that, John McCain and I have, about the missions that I’ll get to embark on if we are so blessed to be hired by the American people to work for them.

The “if we are so blessed” expression in American English is most commonly used by fundamentalist Christians to show that same degree of humbleness before God as does the Arabic inshallah. While I won’t doubt Sarah Palin’s sincerity, I can only imagine that by saying “if we are so blessed” she was also giving a wink out to her Christian voters.

Here’s what I would have liked to ask Sarah Palin in response. If ultimately you are not “so blessed”, but rather the will of God and that of a majority of American voters determine Barack Obama to be the next president, does that mean that Obama and Biden “are so blessed”? Could an Obama presidency be God’s will? And if so, wouldn’t you then have to accept God’s will and give Obama your full support?


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20th Century Rhetoric for the 21st Century


As an American living in Europe where the root word “social” is considered a democratic value, I often tell people about how growing up in the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s we were taught to fear all things “social” as dangerous manifestations of Soviet communism. Being called a “commie” or a “socialist” was an insult, for everyone knew that “commies eat your mommies”.

So it’s is kind of funny to hear, almost twenty years after the so called “Fall of Communism”, the Republicans accusing Barack Obama of being a socialist. Sarah Palin recently said on the campaign trail that Joe the Plumber thought Obama’s tax plan sounded like socialism, as if either Sarah or Joe actually knew the definition of socialism. The bailout is wealth redistribution, and taxes, by definition, are wealth redistribution.

But when I thought about it more closely, I wondered, why are the Republicans so obsessed with reliving the Cold War? Between the time they have dedicated to Bill Ayers, the anti-Vietnam War terrorist from when Obama was eight, and now this absurd fear of socialism, you’d think that McCain Palin wanted to go back to 20th Century and fight the spread of communism all over again. Maybe with a new surge we could finally claim victory in Vietnam.

McCain would obviously rather cast himself as a Reagan than a Bush. But does that really justify revisiting 20th Century rhetoric for addressing 21 Century reality.

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Colin Powell

This morning I watched Colin Powell’s very moving endorsement of Barack Obama for president. It was moving for many different reasons – Powell, a life long Republican and long time friend of John McCain, is one of the most uniformly respected figures in America. He plainly and eloquently stated what most centrist people have been thinking about John McCain: McCain is a respectable candidate and hero, but his campaign has simply gone too far to the right with its choice of Palin and its negative tone. He then goes on to praise Obama as a transformative figure in U.S. politics.

Most importantly, I believe, Powell is uniquely situated (as he is respected across party lines) to honestly state the obvious. The obvious being, first that Palin is (categorically) not qualified to be vice president, second — and it is shockingly amazing that this needs to be said — that

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian.  He’s always been a Christian.  But the really right answer is, what if he is?  Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.  Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?  Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Ironically, after listening to Powell’s straight forward reasoning and overwhelmingly statesman-like presence, I wonder how many voters out there are thinking that this election has nothing to do with military experience or race because they would much rather elect Colin Powell as president than John McCain or Barack Obama.


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The Real Voter Fraud


If you’ve been concerned by the Republican cry of fraud over Acorn, maybe it’s time to think again (or think twice — he who casts the first stone). Acorn is a non-issue. It’s a ruse, a disguise, one in a series of tactics to distract voters and to rally Republicans to cry “foul play” in the event of an Obama victory. Not only was John McCain Acorn’s key note speaker in 2006, Acorn was the one who brought into question some of the goofy registrations in the first place.

As Mark Crispin Miller indicated on this week’s Bill Moyers Journal, we should be concerned, not by Acorn, but by two other types of activities. The first are the well-orchestrated and systematic attempts by Republican groups to suppress voter turn out.  What is voter suppression?

Well, it means various dirty tricks and tactics and legal devices used to shrink the size of the electorate before Election Day. So here we’re talking about, for example, interfering with registration drives or making them vulnerable to partisan challenges or passing laws requiring certain kinds of documentation at polling places. You know, stuff that harks back to Reconstruction and the Jim Crow laws. Caging voters, which is sending them registered letters with forms that if they don’t fill them out, their names will be stricken from the voter rolls. Voter purges. There’s a whole huge menu of extremely ingenious devices now being used I think with unprecedented brazenness to try to make the electorate as small as possible in advance of Election Day.

The second is through actual voter fraud.

This means using the computerized voting systems which we now have in place in at least 80% of the country. Using those systems through black box technology, precisely because it is so technical and it’s so opaque and it’s all run by private companies, private companies that have close ties to the Republican Party, the use of this kind of voting apparatus is extremely worrisome and something that we should be watching very carefully.

Why should we be concerned?

Well, I, in the aggregate, it does and could easily add up to millions of voters because we’re talking about a very, very broad range of devices, you know, both legal and illegal that will have a dramatic effect and that will add up. If hundreds of thousands of people are disenfranchised nationwide simply through voter purges alone, you see? That is significant. If the caging of voters results in the disenfranchisement of another 200,000, 300,000, we’re talking here about numbers that definitely do add up, you see, and that make a difference, are meant to make a difference come Election Day.

Soon will come the day when the U.S. will need U.N. election monitors to validate our elections. I suggest you watch the entire interview.

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Joe Plumber and Anti-Freeze


What’s all this about Joe the Plumber? Must he spread his wealth, will he be prejudiced if he buys the company, earning more than $250,000. The truth is that no one is being fully straight with us. Let’s think about it. Continue reading


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The Final Presidential Debate

Final Debate Reuters

Here is my “two cents” on last night’s final presidential debate. In general, I would say that John McCain came off as the better debater, more forceful, but ultimately failed to convince. While he did a formidable job of distancing himself from President Bush with a few good one-liners and his senate record, ironically, he was undone by the dissonance within his own campaign. Continue reading


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Is McCain being Mistreated?


I have heard a lot of commentary over the past few days about how the McCain campaign is furious, feeling that it has been mistreated by the press. The argument goes something like this: Obama is playing filthy politics while McCain is getting all of the blame. I even read that it is not the McCain people but the “Obamamedia” who are gripped by insane rage”. Obviously, I am not completely objective here and am not going to pretend to be. But let’s look at the facts. Continue reading

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A Dose of Objectivity


When it comes to the presidential election — and I am sure this is obvious — I am not always that most objective interlocutor.  I often get carried away by what I perceive as the unfairness and ugliness coming from the McCain side, and with my background as an attorney, I react by piling up all of the counter-arguments and writing them in this blog. Then last night I watched the latest edition of the Bill Moyers Journal, thank God for Bill Moyers, and got a nice dose of objectivity.

Bill Moyers was interviewing communications professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson about dirty campaign tactics. When asked about McCain attacking Obama’s associations, she said that what was most troubling was not the personality attacks, but the misleading policy ones.

What I respond to more so than the attacks and counterattacks about who knew whom where, and why, are those statements that are fundamentally deceptive about something that matters when you cast your vote.

She goes on to specifically criticize Continue reading

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