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The dangers of John McCain


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Like most people outside the United States I very much want Barack Obama to be elected president. Although I fear he will have great difficulty clearing up the mess created by George Bush. (He currently has the highest disapproval ratings of any president in 70 years of polling).

I am not very impressed by John McCain’s record. For a start, he does not appear to be very intelligent. This is a problem when you consider the mess that Bush has got the world into. Despite his privileged background he graduated 894th out of 899) at military college. McCain’s father and grandfather were both four-star admirals and this ensured that he had a good military career.

In 2000 McCain took on Bush for the Republican nomination. During the campaign he took on the Neo-Cons. He said the thing to remember about the Christian right was that it was neither. He also said that unlike Bush he would not pander to televangelists such as Falwell or Robertson.

He also adopted a more aggressive foreign policy than Bush. For example, he was one of the first politicians (1998) to talk about the need to start a “rouge-state rollback”.

After losing the nomination battle he turned against Bush. This included voting against the president’s tax cuts on the grounds that they benefited the rich and were “budget busters”. McCain was one of only two senators who voted against these tax cuts in 2001.

In 2001 Congress passed the McCain-Feingold Act, the legislation to clean up party finance by restricting the leverage of lobbies that he pioneered and which helped seal his reputation for bold reform and independence of mind.

McCain also said he was committed to dealing with climate change. However, this can be shown to be a myth. The non-party political League of Conservation Voters has kept a record of his voting on environmental issues and rates his record at just 26% (Obama’s is 96%).

McCain’s image as an independent is a myth. He has voted to restrict union rights across the US, has backed cuts in health provision for the elderly, supports the burden of health insurance being taken away from employers and wants social security privatised. He has opposed every attempt to raise the minimum wage since it was last increased in 1997 and refused to vote for giving women equal pay for equal work.

He has also been a strong supporter of Bush’s disastrous foreign policy. Like Bush he appears to know little about foreign affairs. He once made a speech where he accused Iran of secretly training al-Qaida.

He is a politician who cannot be trusted. Since April 2007 he has attempted to change his image from independent maverick to a reliable conservative. For example, he spoke at the Falwell’s Liberty University where he promised to appoint only conservative judges to the Supreme Court (in other words anti-abortionists and NRA gun fanatics). He has also said he favours a constitutional amendment to ban abortion in almost all cases, endorsed the teaching of anti-Darwinian intelligent design in state schools and has been “proud” to accept the endorsement of televangelist John Hagee.

McCain now argues that he will make Bush’s tax-cuts permanent when they expire in 2010, at a cost of $5 trillion (3 trillion) over 10 years – equivalent to slashing three-quarters of the social security budget. When talking to right-wing audiences he tells them he opposes the ban on assault weapons and vows to fight on in Iraq until the war is won.

McCain now has a campaign team stuffed with lobbyists whose clients include telecom companies, tobacco giants, drug companies and defence contractors. This includes Charles Black who ensured Ronald Regan gave his support to right-wing military dictators.

Is this the sort of man who would like to be president of the United States?

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Like most people outside the United States I very much want Barack Obama to be elected president. Although I fear he will have great difficulty clearing up the mess created by George Bush. (He currently has the highest disapproval ratings of any president in 70 years of polling).

I am not very impressed by John McCain’s record. For a start, he does not appear to be very intelligent. This is a problem when you consider the mess that Bush has got the world into. Despite his privileged background he graduated 894th out of 899) at military college. McCain’s father and grandfather were both four-star admirals and this ensured that he had a good military career.

In 2000 McCain took on Bush for the Republican nomination. During the campaign he took on the Neo-Cons. He said the thing to remember about the Christian right was that it was neither. He also said that unlike Bush he would not pander to televangelists such as Falwell or Robertson.

He also adopted a more aggressive foreign policy than Bush. For example, he was one of the first politicians (1998) to talk about the need to start a “rouge-state rollback”.

After losing the nomination battle he turned against Bush. This included voting against the president’s tax cuts on the grounds that they benefited the rich and were “budget busters”. McCain was one of only two senators who voted against these tax cuts in 2001.

In 2001 Congress passed the McCain-Feingold Act, the legislation to clean up party finance by restricting the leverage of lobbies that he pioneered and which helped seal his reputation for bold reform and independence of mind.

McCain also said he was committed to dealing with climate change. However, this can be shown to be a myth. The non-party political League of Conservation Voters has kept a record of his voting on environmental issues and rates his record at just 26% (Obama’s is 96%).

McCain’s image as an independent is a myth. He has voted to restrict union rights across the US, has backed cuts in health provision for the elderly, supports the burden of health insurance being taken away from employers and wants social security privatised. He has opposed every attempt to raise the minimum wage since it was last increased in 1997 and refused to vote for giving women equal pay for equal work.

He has also been a strong supporter of Bush’s disastrous foreign policy. Like Bush he appears to know little about foreign affairs. He once made a speech where he accused Iran of secretly training al-Qaida.

He is a politician who cannot be trusted. Since April 2007 he has attempted to change his image from independent maverick to a reliable conservative. For example, he spoke at the Falwell’s Liberty University where he promised to appoint only conservative judges to the Supreme Court (in other words anti-abortionists and NRA gun fanatics). He has also said he favours a constitutional amendment to ban abortion in almost all cases, endorsed the teaching of anti-Darwinian intelligent design in state schools and has been “proud” to accept the endorsement of televangelist John Hagee.

McCain now argues that he will make Bush’s tax-cuts permanent when they expire in 2010, at a cost of $5 trillion (3 trillion) over 10 years – equivalent to slashing three-quarters of the social security budget. When talking to right-wing audiences he tells them he opposes the ban on assault weapons and vows to fight on in Iraq until the war is won.

McCain now has a campaign team stuffed with lobbyists whose clients include telecom companies, tobacco giants, drug companies and defence contractors. This includes Charles Black who ensured Ronald Regan gave his support to right-wing military dictators.

Is this the sort of man who would like to be president of the United States?

John correctly identified many of the issues dealing with John McCain's substance (or lack thereof). Many American voters choose their President on matters of style, rather than substance. If Douglas Smyth is correct, that also portends well for Obama:

Elizabeth had never seen McCain on TV until last night.

"Oh my god, his smile!"

Yes. Painful. When McCain smiled during his speech in New Orleans (which he consistently mis-pronounced with four syllables) something strange happened. First of all it was clear that the script had a notation like: //SMILE HERE// so he manfully attempted to do so. That parting of the lips was supposed to be a smile? It actually looked like he was in pain.

I felt the pain--of seeing his smile--maybe the pain of his having to smile, maybe the pain of speaking before this small crowd. Maybe it was the pain of realization that the only "star" on the horizon for the Republicans was a brown man, Bobby Jindall, who had just introduced him, and he had to run against another one--a brown man--who was a good deal brighter than he was.

McCain, we should remember, was almost at the bottom of his class in the Navy.

What could you say about his speech? His arguments were the same arguments that Republicans have used for years to win elections: Democrats tax and spend, Democrats want government to decide for you--on health care, for example, for which McCain offers to remove employer tax incentives, so that everyone will have to buy their own health insurance: I'm sure the insurance companies love his plan. They won't have to bargain with big employers; they can just raise their rates, and cherry-pick all the way to the bank.

Government, McCain says, should leave people to do things on their own, creative Americans. Ironic, since he was speaking in New Orleans (it's pronounced N'Orlins, John), where the government had so completely fallen down on the job before, during and after Katrina.

But this article is also about style. McCain's style is short and choppy, like his hand movements and his stiff little waves. It's business-like, or boring. Short staccato sentences, little intonation, reading from--and mis-reading from--a script. I can imagine him as the CFO of a mid-sized corporation, reading out the accounts for the current quarter; that's about how exciting he is. He does not project, TV critics would say.

So, short of some Democratic calamity, he's going to be running against Obama. Barack Obama is a speaker with rolling sentences, with intensity, with occasional wit. It's no wonder that McCain was speaking to a small, rehearsed but not very spontaneous crowd, while Obama was speaking to 35,000 who went wild at almost every point in his peroration.

Obama's presence on stage is electrifying, clearly. And he builds up to multiple climaxes in which he has the crowd, and I suspect a good part of the TV audience, on the edges of their seats. He has presence, but he also projects thoughtfulness, and intellect. He does not draw the crowd down to some brainless common denominator, which was what the current President could sometimes do. He urges on his listeners to be the better part of themselves.

His argument against McCain is simple but effective: McCain is more of the same, Bush for a third term. Actually, I would argue that McCain is worse, at least in foreign policy: he's tried to confront Russia's Putin, whereas Bush has tried to placate him, and his talk of "more wars" is worrisome; it goes beyond Cheney's saber-rattling against Iran.

But again, this article is not so much about substance as about style. And especially about smiles. Obama's smile is quick, spontaneous, wide, generous and fun. It is a ray of sunshine, to use an overused cliché, but it fits.

Obama projects, big time. People call it charisma.

Elizabeth (who never liked either Bush) said of McCain, after the second of those painful smiles: "He'd even make me miss GW!"

The first three minutes of this YouTube clip seem to make Smyth's point:

Edited by Michael Hogan
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One of the problems with McCain is that he has a terrible temper. This story tells us something about the "Real McCain".

In 1992 McCain invited some journalist to his home. McCain’s wife Cindy was playfully twiddling with his hair during the meeting: “You’re getting a little thin up there”, she said. McCain grew red in the face and replied: “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c**t.”

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I'll take a man with dignity and moral courage and fiftgy IQ points less than a moral midget like Obama. I'm glad I do not have friends like him, that's for sure! What US ally would count on this man's steadfastness? Reminds me of George McGovern who proclaimed he was 1,000 percent behind Eagleton and then a day later threw him to the wolves!

Sen. Clinton is not right about many things but she was right about Obama.

I would have thought you are the last person to describe Obama as a "moral midget". Could you explain in more detail what you mean by this?

Maybe you should read Larry Bartel's new book, "Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age". Bartel's uses the widening gap between the rich and the poor to shed disturbing light on the workings of American democracy. Bartels demonstrates that elected officials respond to the views of affluent constituents but ignore the views of poor people. He shows that Republican presidents in particular have consistently produced much less income growth for middle-class and working-poor families than for affluent families, greatly increasing inequality. He provides revealing case studies of key policy shifts contributing to inequality, including the massive Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 and the erosion of the minimum wage. He also shows how Republican uses 'values issues' like abortion and gay marriage (issues that you seem to care so much about) to convince the poorly educated to vote against their own self-interest.

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Re Obama's moral courage:

Sen McCain risked his life to save a friend's leg.

Obama embraced Rev Wright when he needed his suppoort in Chicago; when the minister's controversial views became a liability to Obama's presidential bid he dropped his friend as one might drop a hot potato.

Contrast a person willing to risk his life for a friend with a person who will not let a long-standing friendship stand in the way of his politcal ambitions.

What is the difference between Obama condemning Wright and McCain condemning John Hagee? In both cases, Wright and Hagee made statements that the presidential candidates disagreed with. What would you have liked Obama and McCain to have said? You are my friend so you have the right to make outrageous statements. The only reason you consider this a moral issue is the Republicans have tried to use it as a smear to hurt Obama. In the UK politicians are responsible for statements that they make, not the ones made by friends.

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I don't know how anyone could seriously entertain the idea of McCain being president. At the very best he will be a McBush with others running the show behind the scenes and at worst a composite of the Four Horsemen of the Apolcalypse. The man is documented as being, well, charitably, not very bright. More importantly he has some serious anger management issues which rules him out of any leadership position. This is not someone who just shoots off at the mouth or slams doors but someone who lashes out and assaults others physically and cannot control his mind/body/emotional reactions to frustration to the point of passing out from some kind of neurological or vascular overload. This is a serious problem. One that pre-existed his imprisonment and torture and probably has not been helped by that experience.

I don't 'get' his being a war hero at all. Assuming you call bombing civilians from a great height in an illegal war heroic he has only had 20 hours of combat missions over 'enemy' territory. In his short flying career he managed to destroy 5 planes so he can't be too skilled in aviation matters. He managed to let the 'enemy' capture him and he spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. Mmmmm....

I understand that in prison he did suffer abuse and was denied medical treatment for his substantial injuries from ejecting from the falling plane until he talked to his guards which he did in order to receive treatment which he eventually got. He was treated appallingly and but this does not make him a hero but a survivor.

I also understand that he showed kindness and compassion to his fellow POWs. This is indeed a very admirable trait. Hitler apparently was kind to animals and was a vegetarian to boot. It is a pity that McCain couldn't have shown the same compassion to the Vietnamese civilians that he murdered by bombing and whose country he was part of invading even though it had never threatened the US in any way. Or even to have shown courage in refusing to participate in this slaughter. That would be heroic. Prison is a very de-humanising place and it is a wonder that anyone, prisoner or guard, retains their humanity intact. Nevertheless, criminals who in many ways are regarded by society as bad or dangerous people are still human and are capable of great and small acts of kindness and compassion to each other in an otherwise inhuman environment. It is good to see that he is not a totally lost cause as a human being even though he is unsuitable in every way for the Presidency.

His voting record in office has been nothing if not hawkish. It would seem that for McCain there is a military solution for every problem. He was one of the loudest supporters of the invasion of Iraq. He has no political vision and no idea how things work. Not a clue. When others were doubting the efficacy of going into Iraq for all sorts of reasons, McCain was saying "When the people of Iraq are liberated, we will again have written another chapter in the glorious history of the United States of America." Where has he been? He promises corporate tax breaks (like they even pay their share to start with) for corporations and promises to keep Bush's tax breaks for the wealthy (while originally voting against them - flip flop?) while voting against any increase in minimum wages. For all his talk about accountability and transparency he has gone out of his way to keep under lock and key all POW and MIA files and has eviscerated any legislation to make open these files. It can only make me think that there is something in those files he wants kept secret.

He is a bought and paid for corporate shill who will go wherever the political wind of the moment takes him. He is a man of no substance, is not well balanced psychologically, is of weak character and a low achiever and looks like he has father and masculinity issues unresolved. If he is the best the Republicans can do then the US is in deep trouble. Which isn't to say that he can't win, after all Reagan and Bush junior were sold to the voting public. Anything is possible with a Diebold machine. He should be put out to pasture and be allowed to enjoy retirement.

Edited by Maggie Hansen
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If I recall correctly his father was an admiral, and he was near the bottom

of his class at a service academy.

But Obama Osama is a far worse choice. He has never done ANYTHING.

He has NO qualifications.

I plan to boycott the election. It is already stolen. We had no say.

Jack

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But Obama Osama

Jack what do you mean by the above?

Inventions of the ruling "establishment".

Jack

I still don't understand what you mean by this? Are you saying all presidential candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties are representatives of the "establishment"? If so, does it mean you never vote in elections?

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Guest David Guyatt
I don't know how anyone could seriously entertain the idea of McCain being president. At the very best he will be a McBush with others running the show behind the scenes and at worst a composite of the Four Horsemen of the Apolcalypse. The man is documented as being, well, charitably, not very bright.

Hey Maggie, the contra argument is that being not very bright is an ideal requirement for a president in this day and age.

Heck, Ronald Reagan got to be president and regularly slept through cabinet meetings. Arnie got to be Governor of California and he can barely string two English words together. VP Dan Quayle was born with a dope on the end of his tongue, and a bowl of syrup in his cranium.

Bright presidents, were people like JFK. That's why they get killed really quickly.

Jack's right. Elections are for the elite. The rest of us don't count except as the duly duped.

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But Obama Osama

Jack what do you mean by the above?

Inventions of the ruling "establishment".

Jack

I still don't understand what you mean by this? Are you saying all presidential candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties are representatives of the "establishment"? If so, does it mean you never vote in elections?

I will vote for any qualified INDEPENDENT. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. There

is no qualified independent candidate.

In Texas one must register to vote as either a Democrat or Republican in order to vote

in any election...so just to vote in local elections, such as city, county and state, in order to

register, I state that I am a Democrat, just to have the right to vote. I vote for the candidates

and issues I endorse.

In national elections, I vote for the person, NOT a party. I vote against bad candidates

and for good ones...or for the best independent candidate.

The "two party system" is actually a one party system, with only a choice between

hand picked tweedledum and tweedledee puppets....this time McCain and Osama.

Jack

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Guest David Guyatt
The "two party system" is actually a one party system, with only a choice between

hand picked tweedledum and tweedledee puppets....this time McCain and Osama.

Jack

Same over here, except the candidates are named Humpty and Dumpty.

I am sure that people regard me as a complete anarchist because I always decline to vote in local and national elections. This is not the case at all, however. I am a strong advocate of the system of democracy. I just wish we had some to indulge ourselves in. We don't. As Jack implies, democratic representation is a fixed roulette wheel.

I feel it is a futile hope to expect that by some miracle some honest politician will come along, who will genuinely represent the majority wishes of the people and act as a steward of their interests, and be allowed to win an election. That has about as much chance of Mr. Humpty and Mr. Dumpty being put back together again -- unless there is an amazing change in the power structure.

The simple observable fact is that we get what we are given. Whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not, is immaterial. That is what we get.

Edited by David Guyatt
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I am sure that people regard me as a complete anarchist because I always decline to vote in local and national elections.....

In June, 2004 Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was released in theaters nationwide. It was a scathing indictment of the Bush regime and their use of false pretexts for invading Iraq.

A few months later 80 million eligible American citizens declined to vote in the Presidential election. The rest is history. Or soon to be.

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But Obama Osama

Jack what do you mean by the above?

Inventions of the ruling "establishment".

Jack

I still don't understand what you mean by this? Are you saying all presidential candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties are representatives of the "establishment"? If so, does it mean you never vote in elections?

I will vote for any qualified INDEPENDENT. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. There

is no qualified independent candidate.

In Texas one must register to vote as either a Democrat or Republican in order to vote

in any election...so just to vote in local elections, such as city, county and state, in order to

register, I state that I am a Democrat, just to have the right to vote. I vote for the candidates

and issues I endorse.

In national elections, I vote for the person, NOT a party. I vote against bad candidates

and for good ones...or for the best independent candidate.

The "two party system" is actually a one party system, with only a choice between

hand picked tweedledum and tweedledee puppets....this time McCain and Osama.

Jack

Your comments are interesting, Jack.

I also plan to vote for an independent or third party candidate this year.

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