Obama, McCain, Palin and Radicalism

What are we to make of Sarah Palin’s attack on Barack Obama and his relationship with Bill Ayers, a former member of the radical ‘60s group, the Weather Underground? On Saturday she raised this issue on the campaign trail, citing a New York Times article published earlier in the day. Of course Palin did not elucidate that the Times concluded that Obama and Ayers do not appear to have been close, and that any relationship between them was peripheral in nature. Several other publications, including the Washington Post, Time magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, The New Yorker and The New Republic, have debunked the idea that Obama and Ayers had a close relationship.

Obama and Ayers, now a university professor in Chicago, have known each other since 1995, when both served on the board of a non-profit group trying to raise funds for a school improvement project. As a result of that connection, the two men did attend meetings at which they were both present. And, Ayers contributed $200 to Obama’s Illinois senate campaign in 2001. Plus, they lived in the same Hyde Park neighborhood within three blocks of one another.

As the Chicago Sun-Times of Aug. 30,2008 wrote: “He (Obama) had actually rubbed shoulders — can you believe it? — with a distinguished professor of education who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. He had probably even shared a cup of coffee, as only a co-conspirator would, with this professor, whose writings describe good schools as places that are “organized around and powered by a set of core values” and “effectively meet students where they are and find ways to nurture and challenge them to learn.”

The Sun-Times article goes on to identify some of the other people with whom Ayers and Obama served on that charitable board. They include Susan Crown of the General Dynamics Corp. family; Patricia Graham, former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Arnold Weber, past president of Northwestern University. No one has yet accused them of being radicals because of their association with Bill Ayers.

Palin herself has a connection, much less tenuous, to political radicalism. Back in Alaska she has cheered the work of the Alaska Independence Party that has long pushed for Alaska to secede from the United States. And her husband, Todd, was a member of the party for seven years.

“Keep up the good work,” she told party members at their convention earlier this year in Fairbanks. She wished the party luck on what she called its “inspiring convention.”

So if Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers is fair game in the political arena, then is Todd Palin’s association with anti-American secessionists not also fair game, especially in light of Palin’s charge that Obama “is not a man who sees America as you and I do?” Isn’t the Governor’s own apparent support of, if not membership in, this party also worthy of note? They seem to have been comfortable belonging to and/or being associated with a political party whose founder delighted in denouncing the principles that hold our union together.

On the one hand, there is very little evidence that Ayers’ worldview ever influenced anything Barack Obama did, said or thought. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. But on the other hand, one can easily assume that a husband and wife influence each other’s beliefs quite often, and her address to the group in question, as Governor, may make such an assumption even more credible.

Now let’s talk about McCain and G.Gordon Liddy a bit. Liddy broke Daniel Elsburg’s psychiatrist’s office and the DNC headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. He also volunteered to kill journalist Jack Anderson for political reasons. He had plans to firebomb the Brookings Institute. More recently, he advocated shooting ATF agents in the head. “Head shots. Head shots. Kill the sons of bitches.” (8/26/94).

In 1998, Liddy’s home was the site of a McCain fundraiser, and Liddy himself has contributed several thousand dollars to McCain’s senatorial campaigns. This year Liddy has given $1,000 to McCain’s presidential campaign.

On Liddy’s radio show in November of 2007, McCain said, “I’m proud of you. I’m proud of your family. It’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.”

So Obama served on a board with an unrepentent terrorist, but then repudiates the guy’s actions.

But McCain fundraises at the home of an unrepentent felon, thief, would-be terrorist, and advocate of murdering federal agents, and then goes on his radio show and verbally regales the guy.

Palin and her husband have activist ties to a group who wants to secede from the very union that she want to represent as vice president, one heart beat away from the presidency itself.

I say to Palin and McCain, “Bring it on. But don’t forget what they say about those who live in glass houses.”

QUALIFICATIONS, ALA McCAIN

Sycophantic Republicans who are salivating over having a Pentecostal, anti-choice, non-feminist woman on their national ticket are parroting the party’s talking points about Sarah Palin without regard to rationale or reason. Hell, they aren’t even thinking faster than their mouths are echoing the McCain campaign’s sputum on the issue of Palin’s level of experience as it applies to being one heart beat away from the presidency should McCain be elected.

The McCain campaign and their minions in the press are extolling Sarah Palin’s experience as though it were a positive. Being a small town mayor gave her more executive experience than either Obama or Biden have, their line of reasoning would have us believe. Her twenty months as governor of a state of barely more than 600,000 trumps any executive experience, again, that the Democratic ticket has between them, so the McCain parrots all chirp.

When then does being a governor or mayor fABSOLUTELY disqualify your credentials on national security? When you are John McCain and you are trying to defeat primary opponents Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.

In October 2007, when McCain’s candidacy seemed doomed, the Senator berated the two Republican front runners for lacking the necessary political experience to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief.

McCain said then, “I have had a strong and a long relationship on national security, I’ve been involved in every national crisis that this nation has faced since Beirut, I understand the issues, I understand and appreciate the enormity of the challenge we face from radical Islamic extremism.” The Senator then declared. “I am prepared. I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn’t a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn’t a governor for a short period of time.”

Had he even heard Sarah Palin’s name then? Does he ever remember what he says in one time and place as opposed to another time and place? If Giuliani’s eight years as mayor a city of 8 million doesn’t overshadow Palin’s six years as mayor of Wasilla and it’s 6,000 residents, then I think McCain needs to clarify the difference to the American people.

If Mitt Romney’s years as governor of a state of millions doesn’t qualify him for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency, then how is Sarah Palin exempt from the same criticism?

John McCain needs to square this with the American people so that we can see the logic behind his choice of someone eminently less qualified as a mayor than Rudy Giuliani who he disparaged as lacking in experience, and someone with a fraction of the experience of Mitt Romney as a state executive who McCain characterized as “a governor for a short period of time.”

Unless, of course, John McCain is merely a political opportunist whose only qualification for the presidency is his own ambition and his willingness to say one thing one time and the opposite thing another time and never stand up and define the truth of the matter.

Rambling Thoughts

I am so ready for the political season to be over with. I mean I’m a political junky of sorts, and all, but I’m just getting so tired of all of the rhetoric that means nothing. I want substance to prevail and I want a change in direction from what the country has endure these last eight years. I’m tired of the Republican fear mongering about 9/11, Islamofascism, WMDs and all the rest. I want American jobs for American young people, I want quality health care, I want a world class education system, I want fairness and equality for all Americans regardless of ethnicity, gender, religious persuasion, or any other demographic anomaly.

I am tired of hearing about John McCain’s heroism of forty plus years ago. I know guys who served in Vietnam who are heroes and none of them have, or think of, used that heroism to base a political career around. There were hundreds of POWs being held by the North Vietnamese at the same time as John McCain and these guys didn’t turn it into an opportunity to leave their wives and children for a beer distribution heiress, move to Arizona and buy a Congressional seat, and then turn that into a long career in the Senate as a prerequisite for running for President.

I’m also tired already of hearing about the “maverick” moose hunting, hockey mom, beauty queen from Alaska who hides her acceptance of ear mark funding programs behind the guise of an ethical reformer who refuses the very ear marks she has not only accepted, but actively sought out through the work of lobbyists who she hired. I’m tired of her pentecostalism being held up as some sort of a virtue when it’s really just a manifestation of errant thinking that leads her to be anti-choice regardless of the circumstances, to extoll teaching non-scientific based creationism in the schools, to champion abstinence only programs for young people at the same time that her 17 year old daughter is eschewing that same abstinence, and to embrace domininist theology along with its apocalyptic vision of the near future.

I want all of this to be over and for people like McCain and Palin to crawl back under the same rocks that shelter the likes of Dubya, Cheney, Rove, and the turn coat Lieberman. There they can commisserate with the Dobsons, the Ralph Reeds, and all of their ilk, while the rest of us join the twenty first century and begin to glory in all the potential that it provides. The potential for peace, economic growth and prosperity, the eradication of disease through the miracles of stem cell research and genetic manipulation. We can relax with the knowledge that we have a chief executive and his staff who have our best interests at heart, not those of the special interest oil lobbyists and the pharmaceutical industry. A chief executive who will listen to and deal through diplomacy with those in the world who have differing viewpoints from our own. A chief executive whose first and answer will not be military intervention or threats, but diplomacy and respect for those with whom we share this lonely and fragile planet.

Yes, I want this to all be over with and it can’t come too soon to suit me. I’m doing my part by talking up these and other points against the McCain/Palin ticket, and I only hope that enough Americans see through their smoke screen to do the right thing and elect Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States.