2008

Jon Stewart Owns

As always, Jon Stewart gives us something to laugh about. By juxtaposing statements from Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly, and Dick Morris, he challenges recent news coverage of Gov. Sarah Palin.

(Thanks for the head's up, Jackie!)

Making Sense of the McCain Narrative Coming from St. Paul

Staying true, never wavering. Rising above politics as usual. Taking on his own Party. He is his own man. Willing to do the hard stuff, like tackling climate change and immigration reform. A courageous maverick. The drumbeat from St. Paul is relentless.

But is it true?

While it may have been at one time, it can no longer be considered true. McCain fought the Bush economic strategy. He now embraces it. McCain opposed the Bush approach to use of torture. Today he supports it. He was a leader on the effort to fix our broken immigration system. Today he no longer supports his own bill. While he has been a leader on tackling elements of the climate change fight, as Jake writes below, it is no longer clear that he supports the positions he had a few months ago. He runs ads with wind turbines and solar panels but has helped kill the main government program supporting their growth. He fought the lobbyists and now his campaign is run by, and littered with, them. He says he is the experienced one, but is now on his 3rd campaign manager and his team wildly bungled the vetting of his VP, the most important decision he has made to date. He argues each day he will balance the budget but independent analysis all show that he will do the very opposite.

In order to win the nomination this year, John McCain embraced the very politics he fought so hard against for so many years. His story is not one of courage, of fortitude, of virtue but one of an old politician, seeing his last chance for the Presidency slip away, give in to a Party's and a President he had fought so long, sacrificing his integrity and his beliefs along the way. The McCain story is much more craven than courageous, more aging pol than heroic leader, more a man who has bragged repeatedly that he supported President Bush more than 90% of the time than an independent maverick.

It is not an inspiring story no matter how much they attempt to dress it up this week in Minnesota. Like so many, I admired the old McCain, but that man is not the man running for President of the United States this year. He disappeared forever sometime in 2007.

Txt Check

Here on the blog, we've frequently written about how text messages are playing a more important role in politics. From informing people how to get involved to announcing Vice Presidential picks, these quick and easy messages have evolved from a neat idea into a critical means of communicating to key groups. So it's not really a surprise that their use is being further explored, the latest example coming from the DCCC. Check out their text message below:

During McCain's speech, we'll text u facts to counter Republican lies. It's time 4 change, not more of the same old spin. Tell others to text 'rnc' to 30644. 

To learn more about text messaging in politics, check out Go Mobile Now and Mobile Media in 21st Century Politics, two great papers from our New Politics Institute.

Read My Lips: McCain Bad on Energy

Since this presidential campaign cycle began, an array of falsities about John McCain’s record and what he stands for, ranging from misconceptions to flat out lies, have hallmarked the national debate. One of the most prevalent of these is the idea that McCain and Obama are similar on energy and climate change. This has not been the fault of just the media, or just the McCain campaign, but also many Democrats and environmentalists, who have been overeager to be "encouraged" by McCain’s stance on climate change.

The essence of this myth, articulated by Joe Lieberman last night:

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have led the fight to fix our broken immigration system or to do something about global warming.

The fact is though, that the John McCain of this cycle is a "go-along" partisan, and is not good on energy. And Lieberman should know – not only did John McCain not lead on Lieberman’s climate change legislation, he didn't even show up to vote on it.

John McCain has no commitment to renewable energy, has not voted to encourage it, and does not believe that these sources can play a large role in the nation’s energy mix. He has backed away from cap and trade legislation, and the only energy plan he actually discusses is "drill." This is not "good on energy" and is nowhere close to Barack Obama’s energy plan.

In today’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman takes on this great myth. In his disappointment with McCain (a disappointment NDN shares on a number of issues, from climate change to immigration), Friedman argues:

With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.

Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.

Or, as Bill Maher put it on HBO's "Real Time" this week:

New Rule: You can't put a windmill in your campaign ad if you voted against every single bill that might lead someone to build one.

Very Different Party Platforms on Immigration

I am disheartened to read the Republican platform, presented yesterday at their Convention. In the area of immigration, once again, the party has shown their temperment, short-sightedness, and intolerance. I am even sorrier to see that the man who was once a champion of Immigration Reform, John McCain, is either not strong enough to stand up to the radical party base, or doesn't want to. It is telling that the section on immigration in the RNC platform is under "Defending Our Nation, Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace" - again implying that 1) all immigrants are undocumented, and 2) all immigrants inherently pose some sort of danger, grasping at the irrational fear that's intended to move everday Americans to hate immigrants of all colors and creeds and to support the conservative base. But I shouldn't be surprised by the offensive nature of the RNC platform, after all, just today, in trying to "appeal" to Hispanic voters, Sen. McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis said that Republicans had to offer this demographic something "other than a deportation center" - but if he's appealing to Hispanic voters, his comment is pretty offensive - equating all the undocumented with Hispanics, and all Hispanic voters with the undocumented.

By contrast, the DNC platform includes immigration under the section entitled "Renewing the American Community," and is more concerned with modernizing and correcting the underlying flawed immigration system than with demonizing immigrants; more concerned with working with the countries of origin of immigrants and dealing with the causes of immigration than with building porous walls. The RNC platform tries to argue that Americans favor a mass deportation - that is not at all the case. Polling data consistently shows that American's favor a solution to the immigration issue at a federal level in the form of smarter laws, legalization for the undocumented, and smarter enforcement, not in the form of intolerance.

THE REPUBLICAN PLATFORM ON IMMIGRATION

"Defending Our Nation,

Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace


Immigration, National Security, and the Rule of Law

Immigration policy is a national security issue, for which we have one test: Does it serve the national interest? By that standard, Republicans know America can have a strong immigration system without sacrificing the rule of law. Border security is essential to national security. In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs, allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people. We simply must be able to track who is entering and leaving our country. Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents the tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry. Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration. Our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who practice identity theft and traffic in fraudulent documents. As long as jobs are available in the United States, economic incentives to enter illegally will persist. But we must empower employers so they can know with confidence that those they hire are permitted to work. That means that the EVerify system-which is an internet-based system that verifies the employment authorization and identity of employees-must be reauthorized. A phased-in requirement that employers use the E-Verify system must be enacted.

The rule of law means guaranteeing to law enforcement the tools and coordination to deport criminal aliens without delay - and correcting court decisions that have made deportation so difficult. It means enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas, rather than letting millions flout the generosity that gave them temporary entry. It means imposing maximum penalties on those who smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S., both for their lawbreaking and for their cruel exploitation. It means requiring cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and real consequences, including the denial of federal funds, for self-described sanctuary cities, which stand in open defiance of the federal and state statutes that expressly prohibit such sanctuary policies, and which endanger the lives of U.S. citizens. It does not mean driver's licenses for illegal aliens, nor does it mean that states should be allowed to flout the federal law barring them from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, nor does it mean that illegal aliens should receive social security benefits, or other public benefits, except as povided by federal aw. We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people's rejection of enmasse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government's past failures to enforce the law.

Embracing Immigrant Communities

Today's immigrants are walking in the steps of most other Americans' ancestors, seeking the American dream and contributing culturally and economically to our nation. We celebrate the industry and love of liberty of hese fellow Americans. Both government and the private sector must do more to foster legally present immigrants' integration into American life to advance respect for the rule of law and a common American identity. It is a national disgrace that the first experience most new Americans have is with a dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy defined by delay and confusion; we will no longer tolerate those failures. In our multiethnic nation, everyone - immigrants and native-born alike - must embrace our core values of liberty, equality, meritocracy, and respect for human dignity and the rights of women. One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation, while welcoming the ethnic diversity in the United States and the territories,including language. Immigrants should be encouraged to learn English. English is the accepted language of business, commerce, and legal proceedings, and it is essential as a unifying cultural force. It is also important, as part of cultural integration, that our schools provide better education in U.S. history and civics for all children, thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum. We are grateful to the thousands of new immigrants, many of them not yet citizens, who are serving in the Armed Forces. Their patriotism is inspiring; it should remind the institutions of civil society of the need to embrace newcomers, assist their journey to full citizenship, and help their communities void patterns of isolation.

Welcoming Refugees
Our country continues to accept refugees from troubled lands all over the world. In some cases, these are people who stood with America in dangerous times, and they have first call on our hospitality. We oppose, however, the ranting of refugee status on the basis of lifestyle or other non-political factors."

THE DEMOCRATIC PLATFORM ON IMMIGRATION

Renewing the American Community

Immigration

America has always been a nation of immigrants. Over the years, millions of people have come here in the hope that in America, you can make it if you try. Each successive wave of immigrants has contributed to our country's rich culture, economy and spirit. Like the immigrants that came before them, today's immigrants will shape their own destinies and enrich our country.

Nonetheless,our current immigration system has been broken for far too long. We need comprehensive immigration reform, not just piecemeal efforts. We just work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites this country not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears. We are committed to pursuing tough, practical, and humane immigration reform immigration reform in the first year of the next administration. For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law. We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens. They are our neighbors, and we can help them become full tax paying, law-abiding, productive members of society.

Atthe same time, we cannot continue to allow people to enter the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. The American people are welcoming and generous people, but those who enter our country's borders illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of the law. We need to secure our borders, and support additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry. We need additional Customs and Border Protection agents equipped with better technology and real-time intelligence. We need to dismantle human smuggling organizations, combating the crime associated with this trade. We also need to do more to promote economic development in migrant-sending nations, to reduce incentives to come to the United States illegally. And we need to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, especially those who pay their workers less than the minimum wage. It's a problem when we only enforce our laws against the immigrants themselves, with raids that are ineffective, tear apart families and leave people detained without adequate access to counsel. We realize that employers need a method to verify whether their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S., and will ensure that our system is accurate, fair to legal workers, safeguards people's privacy, and cannot be used to discriminate against workers.

We must also improve the legal immigration system, and make our nation's naturalization process fair and accessible to the thousands of legal permanent residents who are eager to become full Americans. We should fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy that hampers family reunification, the cornerstone of our immigration policy for years. Given the importance of both keeping families together and supporting American businesses, we will increase the number of immigration visas for family members of people living here and for immigrants who meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill, as long as appropriate labor market protections and standards are in place. We will fight discrimination against Americans who have always played by our immigration rules but are sometimes treated as if they had not.

Reflecting on McCain's Pick of Palin

My guess is that the McCain campaign never really vetted Governor Sarah Palin. For so long she was so unlikely a pick that whatever vett they did was not as serious as some of the other vetts. So when McCain did not get his first pick, Joe Lieberman - because it just became clear that the Right would go crazy - he had to quickly pick someone else. Angry that he had not gotten his way, and much to the dismay of his own team, he picks Sarah Palin. In a way that is very McCain, the maverick Arizona Senator called an audible and went with the telegenic, conservative, youthful "reformer" who could, in his mind, appeal to those Clinton voters. Sometimes when you go with your gut and not your head, you make the right call. Sometimes you don't.

All day I've been thinking about the McCain communications team responsible for the Palin announcement event. The lead staffer looks at the Palin daughter, with her bump, and says "what the hell is this?" The daughter goes up on stage with a baby and a blanket, in retrospect hiding the bump from the national media and the public. The key word here being "hiding." Was this also hidden from the staff? And who really knew? I can only imagine what happened when the staff started to realize that Palin had not really been vetted, that her daugher's pregnancy had been hidden from the public, and that there could be much more to come. McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt sounded like a bumbling high schooler when he was asked about all this on TV today. They seemed totally unprepared for all this all day long, allowing this wild story to dominate the first day of their Convention. I can't really believe the McCain senior staff knew about the pregnant daughter - and how is that possible? What a incredible contrast with the sure-footed Obama Convention and rollout of Joe Biden.

I end the day believing that this whole episode captures the essence of McCain - a maverick, a rebel, a political risk taker, but also a man capable of being mercurial, whimsical, careless, petulant, irresponsible. Traits that might make an interesting Senator but ones that could make for a truly risky or even dangerous Presidency.

New Obama Ad: No Change

Reflecting Simon's post below, the Obama campaign is out with a new ad called "No Change". It keeps the focus on U.S. Sen. John McCain, saying that his choice for VP does not change the fact that his policies reflect a continuation of President Bush's failed policies. Check it out:

Day 3 at the DNCC: A Better Tomorrow

This Wednesday, NDN held a very interesting forum, A Better Tomorrow, featuring some of America's most interesting thought-leaders on how to best tackle some of our challenges. Joining us were:  U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), author of the Global Poverty Act, who offered thoughts on how to help conquer global poverty; Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs, who discussed strengthening America's much-neglected infrastructure; Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, who discussed the pivotal role women will play in the election this year; Rey Ramsey, CEO of One Economy, who looked at how to close the digital divide; and journalists/commentators Arianna Huffington and Jonathan Alter, who reflected on this extraordinary political year, and took a spirited look at where American politics is headed.

Below you'll find a YouTube playlist of the forum. Be sure to check it out:

AK Gov. Sarah Palin It Is

U.S. Sen. John McCain has picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his Vice Presidential Nominee. Read more about the pic on MSNBC. Chris Cillizza also has a good review of Governor Palin's strengths and weaknesses.

Invesco Loved Barney

We'll have some other, more in-depth reactions to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's speech, but first check out this video of Barney Smith of Indiana who spoke prior to Obama:

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