Dragonflies, Chinatown, San Francisco.
Good morning! It's Friday. Do you know how many houses you have?
Sen. Barack Obama, speaking Thursday at a Town Hall meeting:
"But the fact of the matter is that John McCain is offering more of the same. He said a while back that he thought that we had made great progress economically during the years that George Bush has been in office. Now, that raised some eyebrows. Great progress economically. Who is he talking to? And it turns out that you get a sense of who he's talking to because some of you saw the Saddleback Forum with Rick Warren. He was asked, well, who do you consider rich? And he thought about it for a second, I don't know. Maybe if you make $5 million. $5 million, then you're rich. Which means, I guess, if you're only making $3 million a year then you're middle class. I guess that's what he meant.
"His top economic adviser said the other day that Americans should stop complaining; they’ve become a nation of whiners. That all these economic problems everybody is talking about is just a mental recession. And if you would just change your mind, everything would be okay. Somebody’s been laid off, their plant’s closed and gone to Mexico or China, change your mind. It’s all good. Then, yesterday, he was asked again, what do you think about the economy? He says, Well, I think the economy is fundamentally strong; said the economy is fundamentally strong. Now, this puzzled me. I was confused as to what he meant.
"But then there was another interview – this is yesterday, same day – where somebody asked John McCain, how many houses do you have? And he said, I’m not sure. I’ll have to check with my staff. True quote. I’m not sure. I’ll have to check with my staff. So they asked his staff, and he said, at least four. At least four. Now, think about that. I guess if you think that being rich means you’ve got to make $5 million and if you don’t know how many houses you have, then it’s not surprising that you might think the economy was fundamentally strong. But if you’re like me, and you’ve got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don’t lose their home, you might have a different perspective. And by the way, the answer is John McCain has seven homes.
"So there’s just a fundamental gap of understanding between John McCain’s world and what people are going through every single day here in America. And you don’t have to be – you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize Laureate economist. You just have to have a little bit of a sense of what ordinary people are going through to understand that we can’t afford eight more years or four more years or one more year of the same failed economic policies that George Bush has put in place."
As USAToday points out when discussing McCain's 12 properties: "McCain, who has portrayed Obama as an elitist, is the son and grandson of admirals. The Associated Press estimates his wife, a beer heiress, is worth $100 million. Obama was raised by a single mother who relied at times on food stamps and went to top schools on scholarships and loans. His income has increased from book sales since he spoke at the 2004 Democratic convention."
McCain's foreign policy judgment questioned
Ted Galen Carpenter and Malou Innocent write in the Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) that McCain's foreign policy experience might be lengthier than Obama's, but McCain's own judgment is "alarmingly bad." An excerpt:
"...McCain’s own prognostications on Iraq have repeatedly been off the mark. He was not prescient about the course of the war: As senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee prior to the invasion, McCain predicted Iraq would be a quick and easy victory, and even told MSNBC he had "no doubt" U.S. troops "will be welcomed as liberators."
"There have been recent episodes in which McCain has missed even the most basic facts about foreign policy. During a recent CNN interview, McCain said the surge of U.S. forces, which began in the spring of 2007, led to the Sunni Awakening — which started in early autumn of 2006, months before the surge was even announced.
"Despite McCain’s multiple trips to Iraq, he still manages to mangle facts on the ground. As a member of a senatorial delegation visiting Iraq this year, he erroneously accused Iran of aiding al Qaeda and suffered the embarrassment of an on-camera correction by his friend and fellow hawk, Sen. Joe Lieberman, that Tehran was aiding "Shiite extremists," not the Sunni zealots of al Qaeda. Yet, during a Senate hearing a few weeks later, McCain committed a similar gaffe. He asked Gen. David Petraeus to confirm that al Qaeda was far more than "an obscure sect of the Shiites," and then, apparently catching himself, added, "or Sunnis or anybody else."
"McCain apparently is not even certain about Iraq’s geographic location. He recently referred to a nonexistent "Iraq-Pakistan border." (The two countries are separated by more than 800 miles of Iranian territory.)
"Far worse than such embarrassing factual errors, though, have been his shockingly careless — and at times tasteless and insensitive — off-the-cuff comments on various topics. His flip statement about keeping U.S. troops in Iraq for a hundred years is probably the least serious verbal blunder in an ever-mounting total. Leaving aside the key point that fractious Iraq is nothing like stable South Korea (McCain’s model for an extended troop presence), his comment was still damaging because it ignored the probable reaction in the Muslim world. Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups repeatedly charge that the U.S. is determined to undermine their civilization and act as an imperial hegemon in their region. McCain’s "100 years in Iraq" banner gives those allegations credibility and puts moderate Muslims on the defensive.
"But that comment was well-thought-out compared to some others. McCain’s "joke" at an April 2007 campaign stop, in which he sang "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of a Beach Boys song, was beyond tasteless. This month, he again offended basic sensibilities when he joked that despite the imposition of economic sanctions, America’s unimpeded sale of cigarettes to Iran might be a good thing because "maybe that’s a way of killing ’em."
"At best, the senator has a warped sense of humor. But such gaffes also betray a disturbing lack of judgment.
Foreign policy is serious business, and America needs a president who carefully considers his comments rather than shoots from the hip. The world is always watching and listening, and such thoughtless remarks can do tremendous damage to America’s already tattered reputation.
"McCain’s record shows clearly that he is a verbal loose cannon, and would be a clear and present danger in the Oval Office."
Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. Malou Innocent is a Cato Institute foreign policy analyst.
McCain wrong about offshore drilling - and knows it
From The Concord Monitor, (New Hampshire):
"Politicians need a host of skills, but there was one that the old John McCain was proud not to possess: the ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth.
"On Tuesday, while perched on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, McCain proved that he's mastered that trick.
"It is time for America to get serious about energy independence, and that means we need to start drilling offshore at advanced oil rigs like this,'' McCain said, from the giant, 10,000-barrel-per-day structure owned by Chevron and Exxon Mobil. Barack Obama has said that offshore drilling "won't solve our problem. . . . He's wrong, and the American people know it," McCain said.
"Unfortunately, although many Americans believe that offshore drilling will provide real relief from high energy prices, it's the new McCain who's wrong. Before he switched positions, McCain opposed lifting the ban on offshore drilling and had this to say: "Those resources, which would take years to develop, would only postpone or temporarily relieve our dependency on fossil fuels." That's still true.
"McCain assumed his party's thin green mantle with his focus on global warming and his support for a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. But how green a president would McCain be? Judging by his Senate career, the answer is: not very."
McCain camp changes story about daughter's adoption
From the Christian Science Monitor:
"The McCain campaign had also put out the story that Mother Teresa “convinced” Cindy to bring home two orphans from Bangladesh in 1991. Mrs. McCain, it turns out, never met Mother Teresa on that trip. (Once contacted by the Monitor, the campaign revised the story on its website.)
60 telecoms lobbyists work for McCain
From the Sacramento Bee:
"...Watchdog groups charge that McCain has been too cozy with the phone giants. Executives of the consolidated Bells, the head of their trade group and their present and former lobbyists have raised as much as $4.25 million for McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, data from the nonprofit groups Public Citizen and Campaign Money Watch show.
"More than 60 present and former telecom lobbyists work for McCain's campaign as staffers and volunteers, some in high-echelon posts while on leave from their firms."
McCain and his campaign issuing false charges
Jonathan Alter at Newsweek:
"...For about a month, McCain's campaign has been resorting to charges that are patently false. When Obama traveled abroad in July, to positive reviews, McCain decided he had to make attack ads that went far beyond the norm. In the past, plainly deceptive ads were the province of the Republican National Committee or the Democratic National Committee or independent committees free to fling mud that didn't bear the fingerprints of candidates. But not this time. These smears come directly from the candidate.
"First, a McCain ad charged that Obama was responsible for higher gas prices, which was not just false but absurd. Next, an ad said Obama had cancelled his trip to visit wounded soldiers in Germany because he couldn't bring the press along. I was in Germany at the time, and as every reporter knew, the visit to the military hospital was never going to be open, not even to a press pool. It appeared on no press schedules. Obama had cancelled the visit when it was clear that the Pentagon viewed it as political. The charge was simply untrue.
"...One ad said that Obama would raise taxes on electricity. Nope, not in Obama's plan. Another said 23 million small-business owners would pay higher taxes under Obama. Factcheck.org found that the "vast majority" of small-business owners would pay the same in taxes as they do now, and "many" would pay less. An ad saying Obama had voted for a bill raising taxes, for families making more than $42,000 a year, was found to be "false." And McCain's consistent claim that Obama would "raise taxes on the middle class"--a major theme of his campaign--is "simply false," according to this neutral policy center. In truth, under Obama's plan, families earning less than $150,000 a year would get a tax cut, and only those making more than $250,000 would see their taxes rise.
"Maybe by the time the Democratic Congress got done with it, Obama's tax program would look different. It's reasonable to speculate that Democrats will raise taxes. But the McCain ads weren't talking about that, they were talking about Obama's plan, which is easily accessed on his Web site. McCain's description of his opponent's plan was and is untrue. This isn't opinion, it's fact.
"...But when he resorts to these kinds of falsehoods and casts such aspersions on his opponent's patriotism, John McCain is no longer putting his country first. If he were, he would recognize that the interests of the nation require a relatively truthful campaign. To fulfill his image of himself, McCain should stop lying about his opponent. For a man with his claims to honor and integrity, that's not too much to ask."