The following is a recent exchange between myself and my good friend (and Obama supporter) Martin, regarding last Thursday’s debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. The comments in italics are Martin’s, the responses are mine. To be fair, Martin made his remarks within the constraints of Facebook wall posts while I spent an entire Sunday constructing my retort:

1. Re: Bush-McCain. Facts matter. Voting records matter. Given how unfortunate it is to be a Republican now, the basic political situation is such that if you’re from the same party that’s been in power for the past eight years, and YOU are attempting to claim ownership of the change mantle, America has every right to ask: Change from what? And how exactly? One of Biden’s strongest moments last night was the whole, “you haven’t shown me how you’re going to be different” litany. Palin would’ve done herself, and McCain, a much greater service by answering that question. Are they really so different in their policy proposals, or in their records? You suggest as much, Scott. Then why not show how? And I think the simple answer is that she wasn’t prepared to do so. Or capable yet.


The twin arguments upon which Obama and Biden have based their campaign are as follows: 1) John McCain is a dogmatic Republican who will continue the failed policies of George W. Bush that have ruined our nation and 2) Barack Obama is an agent of change who will bring hope back to the American people through a bipartisan effort of reform. To drive home the former, Obama and Biden frequently cite a statistic that notes that John McCain votes with George Bush 95% of the time. This is a half-truth: while McCain did vote with the President 95% of the time in ’07, it neglects the fact that his role as a Senator had already become subordinate to his campaign efforts by that time. It also disregards the fact that McCain’s support of Bush has been as low as 77% in ’05 and that his support for his party’s position has been as low as 67% in ’01. The argument that McCain and Palin have made in response is that John McCain has earned his reputation as a “maverick”, splitting from the President and the Republican party on a number of very important issues during the course of his House and Senate careers. Whereas Barack Obama has voted in line with his party 97%, 96% and 97% of the time in the years 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively, John McCain has never been afraid to fight for reform, even when his own political allies disagree with him.


You ask, “How will McCain represent change from the failed policies of the Bush administration?” I ask you: what policies, specifically, have failed? How is the Bush administration responsible for the current economic crisis? Was it his tax cuts? No, those stimulated the economy following the recession that began at the end of Clinton’s term and which was exacerbated by 9/11. What, then? Was it Bush’s fault that the Community Reinvestment Act was updated in 1999, ordering banks to provide loans to subprime lenders or face penalties? Or that it ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy those mortgages on the secondary market, thus allowing banks to grant additional loans to those who could not afford them? No, but Bush and later McCain did try to establish oversight over the Government Sponsored Enterprises, namely Fannie and Freddie, and their efforts were soundly rebuffed by the likes of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. ( You can’t argue that McCain and Palin need to establish specific differences with the Bush administration when neither Obama nor Biden have enumerated which policies have aversely affected the nation.


The argument in this election should not be “Who is going to be the most unlike Bush?” Are we simply a country of ideologues who can only vacillate between one extreme and the other? The question should be “Who has displayed a willingness to put the best interests of the country first?” You’re right, Martin. Facts matter. Voting records do matter. And while it’s very easy to cite the misleading “95%” statistic, it obfuscates the 25-year history of a man who has been tireless in his efforts to do what he felt was best for the American people (an instinct that Obama has never shown during his short and undistinguished Senate career). Who truly deserves to lay claim to the change mantle in this election? Who has the track record of bipartisan reform? Is it Barack Obama, clinging to a Lugar Bill that received unanimous support, or is it John McCain, whose Wikipedia page cites the following:


1983 – Opposed keeping the Marines deployed in Lebanon under Reagan; embassy later bombed, killing hundreds

1989 – Partnered with Democrat Al Gore on the 1989 Missile and Proliferation Control Act, which established sanctions on companies and nations that engaged in the trade or development of long-range missile systems, and the 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act (commonly known as the Gore-McCain Act)

1994 – Began working with Democrat Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform, attempting to limit “soft money” contributions

1995 – One of only four Republicans in Congress to vote against the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act

1996 – The only Republican Senator to vote against the Freedom to Farm Act

1996 – One of only five Senators to vote against the Telecommunications Act of 1996

1996 – Supported the Line Item Veto Act, giving the President power to veto individual spending items, in a effort to eliminate pork barrel spending by Congress

1998 – Took on the tobacco industry, proposing legislation that would increase cigarette taxes. Opposed by Republicans, the bill failed to gain cloture

2001 – Voted against the Bush tax cuts

2001- Worked with Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman to create the 9/11 Commission; co-sponsored the Aviation and Transportation Security Act with Democrat Fritz Hollings, federalizing airport security

2002 – McCain-Feingold passed, prohibiting national political party committees from accepting or spending any funds not subject to federal limits and limiting the proliferation of issue ads

2003 -2006 – Began publishing lists on his Senate website exposing pork barrel spending by his fellow members of Congress. Has refused to request a single earmark

2003 – Began publicly questioning Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq war, saying that “All of the trends are in the wrong direction” and that more U.S. troops were needed to handle the deteriorating situation in the Sunni Triangle. By December 2004, was bluntly announcing that he had lost confidence in Rumsfeld

2003 – Co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act with Joe Lieberman, which would have introduced a cap and trade system. Strongly opposed by Bush and the Republicans

2005 – Led the “Gang of 14” in the Senate, establishing a compromise that prevented Republicans from deploying the “nuclear option”: constitutional changes that would have prevented Democrats from filibustering

2005 –Helped expose the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal while chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee

2005 – Introduced the McCain Detainee Amendment to the Defense Appopriations bill for 2005, prohibiting inhumane treatment of prisoners, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Bush initially threatened to veto the bill if it included McCain’s amendment

2006 – Worked with Democrat Ted Kennedy on comprehensive immigration reform, which would involve legalization, guest worker programs, and border enforcement. Strongly opposed by Republicans

2006 – Began strongly advocating a “troop surge” in Iraq, a plan described as “McCain’s idea” in a January 2007 ad. Opposed by many Republicans

2007 – As a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of moderate members of the party that tends away from the dominant social conservatism of many Republicans, voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. Vetoed by President Bush


Martin, the level of ignorance and hypocrisy displayed by liberals on this issue amazes me. Here you are excoriating Palin for not citing specific examples of change, when the only reason why your candidate won the nomination is because he ran a primary campaign based on vapid idealism. He and Axelrod created a cult of personality because they knew that Barack Obama had NO RECORD of which to speak. Where was this clarion call for specifics back in January, February and March? When Obama was making people faint talking about “hope”? I just showed you a long list of examples, culled in just a few brief minutes, that display a consistent, bipartisan record of fighting for change and reform on the part of John McCain. What have you got for me? Show me anything that Obama has accomplished that should make us believe he will achieve what he promises.


2. Biden thoroughly discredited the “voting against the troops” point even before the post-debate spin could get underway. That Sarah Palin was able to regurgitate it in the first place represents a major improvement over last week, but then, my ability to type at all also represents a major improvement over my ability to do so when I was 5.

This is one of the benefits of having Sarah Palin on the ticket: unlike Biden with Obama, the Democrats can’t go back and find clips of her criticizing McCain. The simple fact is, no matter what he says now, Biden attacked Obama for that vote:

You can delve into all of the political nuances of, “Well, it was attached to this bill that had these conditions that I didn’t agree with…”, but using Biden’s own words against Obama is an effective attack.

3. The questions she dodged (is her favorite sports team the Mavericks or the Dodgers?) can’t get swept under the rug. What’s astonishing is that, for as much as you care about spending tendencies, neither she nor McCain was able to answer the question of what spending initiatives, if any, would have to go by the wayside in order to offset the bailout package.

Obama had no answer to this question in his debate either. Moreover, is this really an issue on which you want more attention focused? Honestly, Martin, whose overall policy will be more affected by recent events: a man with a long track record as a fiscal conservative, or a man who is promising to provide everyone in the nation with federally-funded health care? Since you seem to love details so much, how is Obama going to cut taxes on 95% of the population (despite the fact that roughly 30% of the population doesn’t actually pay taxes), yet pay for the nearly $1 trillion bailout bill, as well as $293 billion in annual spending on such proposals as nationalized health care and an extension of welfare benefits? ( Specifics, please.

4. Correcting the proper phrasing of “drill baby drill” isn’t tantamount to providing an energy solution. Every expert has noted, and McCain has conceded, that the effects of offshore drilling wouldn’t be felt for a decade. What in the interim? And frankly, what then? Was Sarah Palin unable to account for McCain’s repeated votes against alternative energy because she had no answer, or because there was none?


The “10 years” argument promulgated by liberals is the most asinine rebuttal I’ve ever heard. First of all, it’s demonstrably false, as many economists are quick to point out. In fact, when Newt Gingrich’s group recently tried publishing an article in the Energy Journal contending that drilling now will lower prices immediately, they were told it was being rejected. Because their thesis was already known to economists. And has been since the ‘60s.

Follow the bouncing ball: imagine you’ve invented a product (say, some sort of kitchen appliance) that’s unlike anything else on the market. You have a monopoly on it, and can sell it at whatever price sustains the demand. So you start selling it at $40. After a while, somebody takes out a patent on another product that does basically the same thing. You know that in a few years, you will no longer be the only game in town. What do you? You start flooding the market with your product. Clearly, you want to sell as much as you can now while there is no competition and the price is high. However, once you saturate the market, suddenly, there is too much product and not enough demand. So you lower the price. Perhaps you start selling it at $38 for a while. Once the demand slows down again, you lower the price a second time, maybe to $35. And so on, and so on. Future supply changes reduce prices, as they would in the case of oil. To suggest otherwise is to accept the liberal propaganda of Pelosi and Reid.


More than that: how long are we supposed to sit on our own massive supplies? Should we be having this same discussion 10 years from now as well? Republicans, including McCain, support an “all of the above” strategy that includes solar and wind. However, it recognizes that those sources have never worked without massive government subsidies, despite liberals calling for them since the Carter administration. Unlike many on the left, or, to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi, the “handmaidens of the environmentalist movement”, Republicans also support expanding nuclear technology and investing in our own supplies of coal, oil, natural gas and oil shale. What is the downside of drilling here, Martin? Why should we put all of our stock in alternative energy that has not worked? Because of global warming hysteria? Should we continue, like Barack Obama, to support ethanol, which has starved people the world over by depriving them of needed food supplies and which actually wastes more energy than it produces? How long should we continue to pay Saudi Arabia for its oil so that they can then funnel that money into fundamentalist mosques and terrorist organizations?


5. The vague generality-o-meter was off the charts. “John McCain knows how to win wars, he’s been there, you betcha.” What has he won? Where’s the record of this?

Are you still refusing to recognize the success in Iraq? The surge, the idea that he advocated, has us on the edge of victory there. I think she was also alluding to his heroism and bravery as a soldier in our military.

6. Does anyone other than the democrats care about where the actual power within Iran lies? Hint: It ain’t Ahmedinejad.

I’m not sure what your point is here. I’m assuming that you don’t believe that Khamenei and the other ayatollahs are more moderate, but that meeting with Ahmadinejad would, in and of itself, be classified as a “lower level” meeting. From Wikipedia: “Iran’s president fulfills many of the classical functions of a head of state, such as accepting the credentials of ambassadors. Since a change in the constitution removed the post of Prime Minister and merged most of the prime ministerial duties with the President’s in 1989, the once figurehead Presidential post has become a position of significant government influence. In addition, as the highest directly elected official in Iran, the President is responsive and responsible to public opinion in a way that the Supreme Leader is not. Although he is responsible to both people and the Supreme Leader, he is independent in his decisions and developing the policies of the government.” It is not the Supreme Leader attending the United Nations meetings of world leaders, or openly promising that Israel will be “wiped off the map”. It’s Ahmadinejad. And to meet with him would give him recognition that he does not deserve and will only inspire a belief that he can continue his dangerous course without impunity.

7. I’m sorry, I gotta go back to the “looking at the past” thing. How do you run on a change platform, as McCain now claims to be having run out of other options, and simply ignore the past? That doesn’t mean owning all of Bush’s failures. It does mean recognizing them, calling them what they are, and distinguishing yourself. The problem is that Sarah Palin couldn’t do that, in part because in certain areas there has been insufficient difference and in part because even where there might have been, she just wasn’t familiar enough with the details.


See answer to question 1.


8. Similarly, saying you’re a “maverick” over and over again in response to legitimate, substantive questions isn’t a sufficient response to some of us. Sorry. If facts count, and records count, you’ve gotta do more than that. At around this time when I was four, I put on a mask and said, repeatedly, that I was a Go-bot. Who gave a shit? Who should’ve?


Again, who is more likely to offer “reform”: the man who has voted with his own party on nearly every occasion, or a woman who challenged corrupt members of her own party, like Ted Stevens, and broke up oil monopolies in her state? Of course, in the liberal media, politics in Alaska don’t seem to count, unless they involve firing insubordinate employees or shooting wolves out of helicopters.


9. Did the degree to which Palin repeatedly called for “strict oversight” with respect to the economy and two seconds later said that “government should get out of the way” of American business stir anything at all within you?

In a word, yes. This is my biggest disagreement with the McCain campaign: instead of attacking the Democrats on issues like the Community Reinvestment Act (where government regulation contributed to the subprime mess), he has chosen to go populist, which sickens me and many other Republicans. I don’t think that Palin believes in more regulations, but these are the McCain talking points right now. It may very well be his undoing, because, while he’s afraid to go partisan on this issue, and instead, talks about protecting the folks on Main Street from the “corruption” on Wall Street, the Democrats, like Pelosi, have been unrelenting in laying the blame at the hands of the Bush administration.

10. “Hockey moms” is not a substantive rebuttal to anything. it wasn’t a month ago, and it’s still not.

Yes, but Joe and Jane Six-pack love it. Again, don’t forget that there’s that vast, red swath of America, full of hard-working parents who can empathize with someone like Sarah Palin. There’s a reason why she’s drawing massive crowds wherever she goes.

11. Take it from someone who’s taken a constitutional law course: Palin’s interpretation of Article I with respect to the powers of the vice president is one of the dumber things I’ve heard in a long, long time.


From Stephen Dinan in the Washington Times: “In attacking Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Biden said the vice president’s only role is to support the president and to preside over the Senate “only in a time when in fact there’s a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.”

The Constitution, though, actually says the vice president is always president of the Senate and legal scholars say he has the right to preside at any time. Early vice presidents, such as Thomas Jefferson, actively exercised that role, the vice president still keeps offices at the Capitol, and scholars say it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that the vice president had an office at the executive office building… Mr. Biden, who’s been in the Senate for three decades, also mistakenly stated that the executive branch is defined in Article I of the Constitution. In fact, Article I describes the legislature, while Article II lays out the executive.” ( you sick from class that day? What’s Biden’s excuse?

Also, a good opportunity to look at the other lies told and idiotic statements made by Biden during the debate, which you seemed to have no problem with:

– Biden in the debate: We’re for clean coal. Biden the week before: We’re not supporting clean coal. No coal plants here in America.

– At what point did NATO remove Hezbollah from Lebanon? I would like the so-called “foreign policy expert” to enlighten us all.


– And as someone who took a constitutional law class, do you really think it’s appropriate for a Senator to say we should be nominating Supreme Court judges based on ideology, rather than a sound ability to interpret the Constitution?


On the off chance you were to consider that records actually matter, here’s something you can respond to that Palin cannot: “He voted four out of five times for George Bush’s budget, which put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3 trillion in debt since he’s got there.

He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people. He has voted against — he voted including another 3.6 million children in coverage of the existing health care plan, when he voted in the United States Senate.

He’s not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college.

He’s not been a maverick on the war. He’s not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around their kitchen table.”

Scott, without simply saying the word “maverick” a lot, what have McCain’s maverick credentials been over the past 4 years? Surge, ok. And?


See number 1 for some pretty big examples of how McCain has been a “maverick” the last four years. How can you take Biden seriously when he says that McCain has not been a “maverick” on the war? The surge nearly cost him a shot at the nomination. The rest of that soundbite is nothing more than a litany of liberal, candy-coated populism. McCain didn’t support SCHIP because it was a Trojan horse for socialized medicine and would have increased the burden on taxpayers, so it’s a cheap shot to say that he didn’t want to provide health care for kids. How about mentioning the countless dollars that line every Democratic politician’s pocket, flooding in from teachers unions and other school administrators, insuring higher salaries, protected bureaucracies, and HIGHER TUITION COSTS at universities?


And while we’re at it, how about talking about how Obama’s policies will increase the cost of living and cost Americans jobs? Sure, you can lower taxes on the middle class, but what happens when you raise taxes on corporations? Are we to believe that these companies will just accept such taxes as the new cost of doing business? Or, will they increase the cost of their products, thus passing it on to the very middle and working classes that Obama claims he wants to protect? What will he do when companies decide to move their plants to China and India, where their overhead costs are cheaper? Or when they cut jobs in America because the Democrats have raised the minimum wage?


And then there’s Ayers and Wright and Rezko, all of which were reported on extensively and pressed hard by none other than Hillary Clinton. And to what end?

Perhaps the question is this simple.

Scott, do you think Barack Obama is a terrorist? Do you think he hates his country? Do you think he’s out to become president of this country solely to destroy it? Do you think he hates white people? If the answer to any of the above questions (and I don’t doubt you’ll find a way not to answer them) is “no,” is it for any reason other than you’ve simply ignored the issues? Or is it possible to have been suffused in coverage of them, to have examined them and the man himself, and to have reached some other conclusion than Obama’s first goal as president would be to FUCKING KILL US ALL? (And by us, of course, I mean you, my white friend…)

[Separate Post] Sometimes, while sifting through a mound of distortions this high, you miss the obvious ones.

With this in mind:


You responded to this question in the same way that most liberals have responded to it: by taking it to an extreme so far out of bounds that the question itself is then deemed off base. No one but the most radical right-wingers have suggested that Barack Obama is a terrorist, that he hates his country or that he is some sort of “Manchurian Candidate” seeking its destruction. Nor do we think he hates white people or that he is secretly a Muslim. What his associations with people like Wright and Ayers display is a tendency on Obama’s part to blame America first, to look at our nation as the cause of, rather than the solution to, many of the world’s problems. That is why he stands before crowds in Berlin and apologizes for the US’s failure to live up to their expectations. Why he tells a little girl at a town hall that his country is not what it once was. Why his closing remarks in last week’s debate spoke about elevating our standing in the world. In his view, our actions have let the world down and we must atone for them.


That is what Wright expressed when he attacked America as “the US of KKK A”: it is an imperialist regime, suffused with racism and hatred. If Barack Obama is completely opposed to such sentiments, why did he sit and listen to them, regurgitated on a weekly basis, for 20 years? Why would he develop a close friendship with such a man, to the point where Wright performed his marriage ceremony as well as the baptism of his children?


William Ayers spent over a decade bombing various government agencies, from police headquarters to the Capitol to the Pentagon. Three of his associates in Weatherman were working on a bomb that was meant to go off at an officers’ dance in Fort Dix. Many soldiers would have been killed if the bomb had not detonated in their apartment while they were building it. Ayers and his group advocated the overthrow of the government, hoping to replace it with a Communist regime. They consorted openly with the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War and conspired to bring about the victory of the Vietcong by weakening our resolve from within through a campaign of violence. Several members, including Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, received rings from the Vietnamese made from metal taken from the aircraft of downed US pilots, which they wore proudly. Why would Barack Obama begin his political career with a fundraiser held at Ayers’ home? Why would he agree to sit on several boards and work closely with him in the 1990s? Ayers has not repudiated his actions, and he is a free man only because of illegal evidence gathering conducted by the FBI. Does it not speak to Obama’s character and judgment that he would associate with someone who has such disdain for our country? Would you associate with someone like that? Would you have any respect for me if I were friends with such a man? Why does Obama get a pass?


What scares Republicans so much about Obama isn’t that we believe he would be unwilling to respond to the overt acts of aggression taken against our country, but that he would fail to resist the more subtle instances. No, I do not believe that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim. But he was certainly raised by a Muslim stepfather. He attended Qur’an study, by his own admission, and was probably friends with a number of young Muslim boys and girls in Indonesia. Would someone like Barack Obama, with that background in mind, have the resolve to, say, increase profiling of Muslims traveling on airplanes? Would he pass measures to restrict Muslims from accepting high profile government positions? Or would he be more apt to move in the opposite direction in the name of diversity? Would he crack down on the mosques that are springing up within this country preaching hate against the US and Israel, or would he sympathize with their anger, believing it is a result of poverty and Western imperialism? Would he stand up for freedom of speech, or would he kowtow to Muslim civil rights groups crying “Islamophobia” at every turn?


If Barack Obama sees the United States in such flawed terms, would he have the nerve to pressure our so-called allies in NATO to increase their support for the War on Terror? Or would he simply ask them what we need to do to absolve ourselves in their eyes? If Barack Obama receives intelligence that, say, a nation like Syria is supporting terrorists and is allowing them a base from which to plan attacks, would he launch a pre-emptive strike? If Iran attacked Israel, or seemed likely to, would he have the nerve to defend the Jewish State? Or would he wait for UN approval?


The biggest threat to our society right now is the doctrine of multiculturalism, openly embraced by liberalism. Multiculturalism goes beyond preaching tolerance for others; it states that our way of life is no better than anyone else’s. It removes any reason to be proud of Western Civilization, because it says that there is nothing uniquely special about the values upon which our country was built. When you combine that with the views of men like Wright and Ayers, such a worldview becomes toxic: in their eyes, not only is the United States not better than anyone else, but because of past sins such as slavery, it is far worse. Clearly, some of this has shaped Obama, based on the way he constantly diminishes our nation’s role as a leader and a champion for justice. Since 9/11, we have liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, crippled al Qaeda, thus decreasing their ability to launch attacks on targets worldwide, toppled a cruel dictator in Saddam Hussein, and given millions of Iraqis the gift of liberty. We’ve also provided billions of dollars in aid to Africa to fight AIDS and millions more to help the tsunami victims in Indonesia. Yet in Barack Obama’s mind, we should be ashamed of our actions over the last 8 years.


Re-examine that Obama quote, raised by Palin in the debate, where he states that our soldiers are “just air-raiding villages and killing civilians”. Set aside the fact that the article you link to admits that “tracking civilian deaths is a difficult task”, particularly, I would add, when dealing with a country whose populace still resents our presence and whose President has clearly played both sides. Someone wishing to become Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces should not publicly assert such an attitude with regards to our military. There are other ways to say what Obama was trying to say; for instance, “Our mission should be to have enough troops so that we minimize the number of civilian casualties.” Saying it in such a manner respects that the fact that civilians do die during war, but shows sympathy for our soldiers. Saying what Obama said blames our soldiers and presents them as callous murderers. To be honest, I’m shocked to see you try to defend it.


The Left seems to think that the phrase, “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” is just something stodgy old Republicans thought up to repudiate those who stand in the way of their warmongering. But I assure you it is not. There’s a reason why Osama bin Laden parrots the talking points of the Far Left (, decrying corporations, the threat of global warming and quoting Noam Chomsky. Comments like the ones Obama made, along with the actions of groups and people like Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, and Keith Olbermann, undermine our efforts every bit as much as Hanoi Jane Fonda and Bill Ayers did during the Vietnam War. Again, what Obama said about our troops is an example of blaming America first rather than attacking the true villains.


Martin, this issue goes well beyond political debate. We are facing the most dangerous enemy in the history of our nation, one that is single-minded in its purpose and supremely confident in its ideology. If we do not wage this war with the same sense of self-assurance, our entire civilization is at risk. Men like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers serve only to weaken our resolve, and for Barack Obama to embrace their ideologies in any way is both disgusting and extremely perilous.