Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Will the Real John McCain Please Stand Up?

  • John McCain once believed in comprehensive immigration reform–nearly identical to the Bush plan (one of the few good ideas of the Bush era) and that Democrats supported and the Republicans defeated. Now, to try to secure his base, McCain, the one GOP candidate for pres. who was trusted by a % of Latinos, has reversed himself and supported the border fence and no path to citizenship for undocumented aliens currently living in the U.S.
  • John McCain once called the Religious Right, “agents of intolerance.” Now, he has been burned by John Hagee and Rod Parsely because he actively sought the support of these same agents of intolerance.
  • John McCain once was firmly opposed to all forms of torture, including waterboarding.  Since securing the GOP nomination, he voted against the Senate bill to ban all forms of interrogation that do not conform to the Army manual (based on the Geneva Conventions) and, when it passed anyway, urged Bush to veto it (which he did).
  • John McCain once called Hamas “the duly elected government of Palestine” and said the U.S. government would have to talk with them. Since then, he has attacked Barack Obama because a member of Hamas endorsed his candidacy (yesterday, this was revoked), even though Obama never urged talking with Hamas before they gave up violence and recognized Israel’s right to exist. (In fact, in 2002, Obama urged the U.S. not to support Palestinian elections with Hamas on the ticket.)
  • John McCain has called Obama’s position about talking with enemies, including Iran, “naive,” and even “appeasement,” but McCain’s high ranking staff members have included lobbyists with ties to many dictatorships unfriendly to the U.S.–including Iran. (Why talk to them when you can just lobby for their interests in Congress?)  Cindy McCain, who owns most of the family wealth, only recently sold stock from dictatorships with clear conflicts of interest with the U.S.
  • John McCain used to believe in clean government, but now his campaign has more lobbyists than any in recent history.
  • John McCain once opposed spying on U.S. citizens, without a warrant.  Today, he completely reversed himself and supported Bush’s domestic spying program 100%.
  • John McCain once opposed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but now wants to make them permanent. He has recently claimed that he only opposed them because they weren’t accompanied by spending cuts (pay as you go fiscal conservatism), but that was NOT the reason he gave then. For the first round of tax cuts (2001), McCain complained that they unfairly benefitted the super-rich with little help for the poor or middle class.  He was right, so why does he want to make such injustice permanent? For the second round of tax cuts (2002-03), McCain complained that never in our history had we cut taxes in time of war. Wars are expensive and need to be paid for by the generation waging them, not their children and grandchildren. He was right, so why does he now want to make those cuts also permanent?
  • John McCain has claimed in Louisiana that he struggled to do right by the people of New Orleans. In fact, he opposed the creation of a Katrina commission twice.
  • John McCain has claimed in Washington State and Oregon that he is an environmentalist that wouldn’t wait 8 years (a reference to Bush) to act boldly on climate change and that he supported the Senate bill that would seek to tackle climate change.  A week ago, he changed his mind, opposed the bill and announced that he would skip the vote. Today, Obstruction-in-Chief Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Republicans blocked passage of the bill.
  • John McCain used to be considered a bi-partisan, “maverick,” independent, straight-talking, moderately conservative Republican who could work with Democrats to get things done. But in 2007, he voted the Bush line 95% of the time and in 2008, he has voted the Bush agenda 100% of the time.

Can America trust John McCain? Has the “Straight-Talk Express” taken a detour through “Baloney Town?” (This is a somewhat cleaner version of a question asked by comic Jon Stewart, who admired the old John McCain.)

These outright reversals do not count the many inconsistencies, errors in fact (such as confusing Sunnis and Shi’a, believing that we are back down to pre-surge levels of troops in Iraq), plagiarized slogans (“Leadership We Can Believe In” combines lines from both Clinton and Obama), confused claims or just outright incompetent statements.  It doesn’t include his plans to privatize Social Security (which the American people overwhelmingly rejected in ’05 when Bush tried it) or that his economic advisor is “Foreclosure Phil” Gramm whose work has been a major factor in the housing crisis or that another major advisor (Goldfarb) believes the Constitution gives the president “near dictatorial powers” in time of war (!), or that Karl Rove, who smeared McCain and his family in 2000 is now advising his campaign this year, etc., etc.

America and the world suffered grievously under George W. Bush.  Clearly, John McCain would be more of the same. We cannot take even 4 years of a McCain presidency.



June 6, 2008 - Posted by | U.S. politics


  1. CAN WE TRUST A WARMONGER LIKE BARAK OBAMA? PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE TO COMPROMISE YOUR BELIEFS. Obama went before the Jewish lobby this week and SOLD OUT. Please read this article. He sounded like a militarist. He said he would do ANYTHING necessary to defend Israel. One commentator said he sounded as militaristic as the Netanyahu the leader of the Israeli Likud Party. I don’t see how a follower of the Prince of Peace can support someone like this. Jesus is not a Republican but he is not a Democrat either. PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST.


    He invoked the Holocaust (“Never again!”), pledged to “never compromise” Israel’s security, and scolded those who propose “abandoning a stalwart ally.” He offered more military equipment and missile defense for Israel, vowed to “isolate Hamas,” and threatened to “do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power. . . . Everything.”

    It’s a Mitzvah


    By Dana Milbank
    Thursday, June 5, 2008; A03

    Now, here’s a change we can believe in.

    A mere 12 hours after claiming the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama appeared before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday — and changed himself into an Israel hard-liner.

    He promised $30 billion in military assistance for Israel. He declared that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force has “rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.” He used terms such as “false prophets of extremism” and “corrupt” while discussing Palestinians. And he promised that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

    Vowing to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon, the newly minted nominee apparent added: “I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally, Israel. Do not be confused.”

    How could they be confused? As a pandering performance, it was the full Monty by a candidate who, during the primary, had positioned himself to Hillary Clinton’s left on matters such as Iran. Yesterday, Obama, who has generally declined to wear an American-flag lapel pin, wore a joint U.S.-Israeli pin, and even tried a Hebrew phrase on the crowd.

    Obama even outdid President Bush in his pro-Israel sentiments. On the very day that Obama vowed to protect Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — drawing a furious denunciation from the Palestinian Authority — Bush announced that he was suspending a move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

    The transformation — mostly in tone, but occasionally in substance — might qualify as what Obama likes to call the same old Washington “okey-doke.” And the candidate is uncomfortable with such things, as evidenced by his struggle to pronounce the name of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It came out as “Mahmoud . . . Ahmin — Ahmeninejad.”

    The crowd of 7,000 loved him anyway. He received 13 standing ovations, more than twice the number granted the next act, Hillary Clinton. The AIPAC faithful gushed about his performance as they left the Washington Convention Center. “He doesn’t even read! He has an extemporaneous delivery,” one woman recounted, evidently unaware that Obama had read every word from a teleprompter.

    Obama has his work cut out for him with American Jews, a crucial Democratic constituency that had largely favored Clinton. On the campaign trail, he routinely scolded Clinton for supporting a hard-line anti-Iran resolution that labeled the Revolutionary Guard terrorists. He also vowed to meet with figures such as Ahmadinejad during his first year in office, without precondition, and he voiced sympathy on the campaign trail for the Palestinian cause.

    But the AIPAC crowd was ready to forgive now that Obama has the nomination. They stood to applaud for more than a minute when he entered the cavernous hall to music that could have been for a Superman movie soundtrack. He hugged and kissed his way across the dais.

    He got right to the “provocative e-mails” that have been spreading lies about him being a Muslim plant and other such things. “Let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary,” the candidate said, reassuring the crowd that he is “a true friend of Israel.”

    Indeed, he almost sounded as if he were Jewish. “I had grown up without a sense of roots,” he explained. “I understood the Zionist idea, that there is always a homeland at the center of our story.”

    Somewhere off stage, an AIPAC hand brightened the lights over the audience when it appeared a standing ovation was building — and Obama presented the audience with many such opportunities.

    He invoked the Holocaust (“Never again!”), pledged to “never compromise” Israel’s security, and scolded those who propose “abandoning a stalwart ally.” He offered more military equipment and missile defense for Israel, vowed to “isolate Hamas,” and threatened to “do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power. . . . Everything.”

    The AIPAC crowd grew still when Obama slipped in mentions of his disagreements with their policies. But he was careful to revise and extend his controversial thoughts.

    “Contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking,” he said of his talk-with-Ahmadinejad position. “I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing, if and only if it can advance the interests of the United States.”

    His criticism of the Iraq war also produced relative quiet in the room, as did his call for a “contiguous and cohesive” Palestinian state, and for Israel to “refrain from building new settlements, as it agreed to do.”

    But Obama’s hard line found support from an unexpected source — the woman who followed him to the microphone and who still hasn’t conceded the nomination. “I know that Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel,” Clinton vouched.

    This backing earned Clinton a lights-on standing ovation. But overall, the reception was relatively tepid for Clinton, and understandably so: She was no longer a viable candidate, and the winner of the nomination was sounding like Bibi Netanyahu as he spoke about preserving Israel’s “qualitative military advantage” to thwart “any threat from Gaza to Tehran.”

    Israel’s military action last year “was entirely justified,” Obama said, to knock out Syria’s “weapons of mass destruction” program. “The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat,” he added.

    The Superman music soon returned, and the man with the Star of David on his lapel left the dais in a shower of hugs and kisses from the AIPAC officers.

    Comment by randy P | June 7, 2008

  2. Just after I sent that last msg I found more confirmation that Obama has sold out the progressive religious community. Today’s Washington Post lead editorial tells us all we need to know, “After all, he doesn’t see the region much differently than President Bush does.”

    We progressives must raise our voices in protest. We must not let Obama sell us out so easily! This is outrageous!


    Mr. Obama’s Middle East
    After all, he doesn’t see the region much differently than President Bush does.

    Saturday, June 7, 2008; A14

    IN THE HEAT of the Democratic primary campaign, some on the left were inspired to believe that Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) offered a far-reaching transformation of U.S. foreign policy, “the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we’ve heard from a serious presidential contender in decades,” as one particularly breathless article in the American Prospect put it. Yet, when Mr. Obama opened his general election campaign this week with a major speech on Middle East policy, the substantive strategy he outlined was, in many respects, not very much different from that of the Bush administration — or that of Republican Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). That’s not a bad thing; rather, it’s a demonstration that there is a strong bipartisan consensus about America’s vital interests in the Middle East and that the sensible options for defending them are relatively limited.

    Liberal notions of a foreign policy shakeup sometimes begin — and end — with a cooling of U.S. support for Israel. But in his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobbying group, delivered hours after he clinched the Democratic nomination, Mr. Obama was so forceful in backing the military, economic and territorial interests of the Jewish state that he later had to offer a clarification, pointing out that his endorsement of an “undivided” Jerusalem did not mean he ruled out Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the final status of the city.

    Mr. Obama was equally hawkish about Iran. Hedging his much-discussed offer to meet personally with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — now the encounter would be with “the appropriate Iranian leader at a time and place of my choosing, if and only if, it can advance the interests of the United States” — Mr. Obama fully embraced the Bush administration’s view that “the danger from Iran is grave.” He said “we will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran,” and he pledged, “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — everything.”

    What would he do? In essence, Mr. Obama promises an improved version of the Bush administration’s three-year-old strategy of offering, in conjunction with European allies and Russia, economic and political favors to Iran in exchange for an end to its nuclear program and threatening it with sanctions if it refuses. Mr. Obama would have the United States join the Europeans in having direct discussions with Tehran, and perhaps he would agree to bigger incentives. In exchange, he would seek European and U.N. Security Council support for far tougher sanctions than the Bush administration has obtained — such as a ban on Iranian gasoline imports, which is probably the strongest measure available short of war.

    The gap in Mr. Obama’s Middle East policy remains Iraq. Mr. Obama has used his opposition to the war to distinguish himself politically from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and now from Mr. McCain. Yet, in doing so, he has become unreasonably wedded to a year-old proposal to rapidly withdraw all U.S. combat forces from the country — a plan offered when he wrongly believed that the situation would only worsen as long as American troops remained. Remarkably, only a sentence or two about Iraq appeared in Mr. Obama’s AIPAC speech, and advisers say he may visit the country in coming months. That would offer him the opportunity to outline a strategy based on sustaining the dramatic reduction in violence recorded this year. No, the left wouldn’t like it, but it would be in keeping with Mr. Obama’s pragmatic approach to the rest of the region.

    Comment by randy P | June 7, 2008

  3. Makes me wonder if Rev. Wright wasn’t on to something when he said at the Press Club a few weeks ago, “Obama has to say what he says to get elected”. Will the real Barak Obama please stand up?

    Comment by JimR | June 7, 2008

  4. Randy, without responding to specifics, I will say that I did not like the AIPAC speech and that I have long known that Obama lacks enough compassion and empathy for Palestinians.

    I will be writing a post outlining the strengths and weaknesses of a president Obama for the peace and justice community. No president is a cure all or a messiah. But I find Obama, with his admitted weaknesses, to be far superior to McCain. If McCain is pres., we will go to war with Iran–it’s just that simple and that unacceptable.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | June 7, 2008

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: