Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why Obama appeals to Republicans and Independents

I could explain my own feelings about how Obama works to understand both sides and reach consensus whenever possible, but it's better in their own words. Read what prominent Republicans like Jim Leach (former Congressman), Lincoln Chafee (former Senator), Jim Whitaker (mayor of Fairbanks, Alaska), and Susan Eisenhower (international security consultant) say about Obama. Current Republican Congressman Wayne Gilcrest has also endorsed Obama, and current Republican Senator Chuck Hagel recently said that he would have considered being Obama's running mate.

They are not the only prominent Republicans who have publicly backed Obama in this campaign. Here's an example of some of the endorsements.

In an unusual case, some Republicans have even praised Obama while participating in McCain's campaign.

But what's Obama's record on bipartisan issues? Has he really done as much as these Obamicans claim? You can look at the Obama campaign's list of his records and praise from the Republican Senators he's worked with. Here are the condensed facts:


Barack Obama and Republican Richard Lugar together wrote the Lugar-Obama Proliferation and Threat Reduction Initiative, a law which expanded non-proliferation work with both WMD's and conventional weapons in order to keep them out of the hands of terrorists. The senators traveled together to Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan while researching the effects of previous legislation.

Obama worked with Republican Tom Coburn to pass the Coburn-Obama Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which made all federal grants, loans, contracts, and earmarks accessible on the Internet for full disclosure of where our money is going. Obama and Coburn also coauthored a successful bipartisan bill to end the abuse of no-bid contracting in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

Barack Obama was the primary sponsor of the Fuel Economy Reform Act of 2006. He worked together with three Republican senators and four Democrats to put forth the bill, and Republican Gordon Smith later hyped his work with Obama in ads to show his own bipartisan credentials.

Barack Obama also partnered with Republican Kit Bond on multiple bills to improve care for injured soliders returning from Iraq and with Republican Chuck Hagel to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism. He worked with Republican Orrin Hatch on bills to provide incentives for alternative-energy vehicles and protect charitable donations during bankruptcy. Finally, he recently worked with Republican Lisa Murkowski to limit the spread of mercury.


Barack Obama worked together with Republicans on successful efforts to produce welfare reform, ethics reform, and an end to racial profiling. On welfare reform, he entered into an in-progress Republican cause and made it more palatable for his side of the aisle. On campaign finance reform, he pushed to be the Democrats' go-to guy on a bipartisan effort, and had to fight detractors from both parties to pass the most comprehensive ethics reform in any state in 25 years. And on racial profiling, he took his own issue to Republicans and helped them to understand why fighting against the practice would benefit everyone.

Obama's effort to reform death penalty interrogations was initially opposed by law enforcement, Republican legislators, and the Democratic governor. Obama worked with law enforcement on the bill, using their suggestions for improvement and endorsement to convince Republicans to join the effort, eventually getting unanimous support for the bill in the Illinois senate.

Finally, one of Obama's former coworkers has written especially well on Obama's ability to understand issues from both sides and move outside of partisan politics. Professor Cass Sunstein of the Law School at the University of Chicago wrote The Obama I Know and The Empiricist Strikes Back.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Obama's Resume

Sort of a silly little exercise, but it gets to the root of experience. I made a fake "resume" for Obama. Let me know if there's anything major missing (I had to leave out a few smaller things) or if there's any inaccurate information at all.

Also, another blogger decided to compare the experience of Obama and Palin, to quell the ridiculous suggestions that Palin was more experienced than Obama. You can find the comparison here. The blog leaves out a few things on both sides (like Obama's experience working as a financial advisor with Business International Corporation), but for the most part it's pretty comprehensive.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Obama rumors from internet and print

Everyone knows that there rumors about Barack Obama out there, and they know that many of them are false. Unfortunately, many false things about the candidate are still being used to hurt him. Those lies need to be debunked. Thankfully, there are some resources out there that do just that.

* Know the Facts is an extremely detailed site from the Obama campaign that gives you everything you could possible need to know about misleading issues in the campaign. The Campaign Politics part of the site is especially useful. Fight the Smears is the version for popular use.

* Put Away Falsehood is a website by the Matthew25 foundation (a religious political group that back Obama) that seeks to educate Christians about the truth concerning Barack Obama, and appeal to their integrity.

* is a leading website for investigating urban legends. They have worked on 30 urban legends relating to Barack Obama so far, almost none of which have turned out to be true.

* John Kerry has started his own site to fight Barack Obama rumors, called Truth Fights Back.

On a topic related to such rumors, you may have heard something to the effect of "Barack Obama is the most liberal member of the Senate" or "Joe Biden is the third most liberal member of the Senate". These statements (silly to anyone who follows the Senate) are based on a single flawed National Journal report about 2007 voting patterns (they said the same thing about John Kerry in 2004). The only reason these senators ranked so high was because they missed many votes while campaigning. In previous years, Barack Obama had ranked 10th and 16th, and Biden was even more moderate. The National Journal themselves has said that their vote rankings should not be used in such a way, and just stated:
Joe Biden's voting record has generally placed him among the center of Senate Democrats ideologically in National Journal's annual congressional vote ratings
A separate, more comprehensive study of the 109th Congress found Obama to be the 21st most liberal Senator. The study of the 110th Congress put Joe Biden and Barack Obama tied as the 10th and 11th most liberal senators, which was exaggerated due to missed votes. Obama has also coauthored several successful bills with Republicans Richard Lugar, Tom Coburn, Kit Bond, and Chuck Hagel, who are nowhere near the liberal end of the spectrum.
The McCain campaign has tried to push these false impressions about both Obama and Biden themselves, even as they claim that "Obama has voted in lockstep with President George W. Bush nearly half the time." That's pretty hard to do if he's the most liberal member of the Senate, isn't it? John McCain has been in the Senate with both men and should know better.

On another (and hopefully dying) topic, Jerome Corsi recently released a vile book full of falsehoods in an attempt to keep Obama from winning the presidency. The Obama campaigning released a 40 page rebuttal to Corsi's book, and Media Matters have kept a running update of what Corsi is trying to do.

Monday, September 1, 2008

McCain's flips and flops

In a healthy political atmosphere, a politician has to be allowed to change his mind. But there's a difference between coming to a new perspective on issues over time and flipping everything in an instant to try to win an election. The degree to which McCain has gone from being a "maverick" to toeing the Bush party line is shameful. He is running as the experienced candidate that is a "known" quantity, yet has only come to hold most of his major positions over the last two years.

During most of the Bush presidency, John McCain opposed the Bush Tax Cuts and supported the basic principle of the Estate Tax. Now he considers those same Bush Tax Cuts and a heavy rollback of the "most unfair" Estate Tax to be major parts of his economic plan. And those aren't the only tax policies he's tried to have both ways.

In 2006, McCain was a strong proponent of a landmark immigration bill that was derided by many conservatives. This year his focus is on border security instead, and he's made conflicting statements on whether he would vote against his own bill and the DREAM Act.

McCain has frequently criticized Obama for his willingness to use diplomacy when dealing with dictators. However, during the Bush presidency he was willing to consider negotiating with Hamas and Syria and normalizing relations with Cuba, positions he now opposes and mocks Obama for.

McCain accuses Obama of naivety when discussing war, but often comes around to agreeing with his positions. He now claims to have been "the greatest critic" of the Iraq War despite cheerleading for it throughout the first four years, keeps changing his mind on the need for a long-term presence in Iraq, now sees a 16-month timetable for Iraq as "pretty good", and is increasingly aligning with Obama's call for forces to be transitioned from Iraq to Afghanistan.

John McCain used to criticize the Bush administration for how it was rolling back civil rights in its "War on Terror". However, he has now withdrawn nearly all of his criticisms, supporting Bush's warrentless wiretaps, ending his confrontations with the Bush administration over torture, and pulling his support for trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

In 1999, McCain stated that he would not support a repeal of Roe v. Wade, even in the long term. In 2007, he decided that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. And just this year he put a hold on his attempts to insert language into the Republican platform that would protect abortion rights in cases of rape and incest.

McCain often has trouble catering to the religious right without alienating independents, which means that his campaign must be as unclear as possible when discussing gay adoption, gay rights, which theories to teach in science class, and pandering to extremists within the Religious Right.

McCain made a name for himself by bucking the wishes of his own party in campaign finance reform. But once he started competing for the nomination, many parts of that reform fell by the wayside, including his dedication to not hiring lobbyists and the finance reform bill he had championed.

McCain says that he does not want to privatize Social Security, though his plans to privatize Social Security have remained unchanged. He has just decided to pretend that "privatize" means something else.

For even more position switches from John McCain, including his reversals on equal pay for women, the Law of the Sea convention, divestment from South Africa, the NRA, nuclear fuel storage, ethanol, affirmative-action, coastal drilling, associating with corrupt politicians, and many other policies, see the CarpetBagger Report's:

McCain Ads - Where is the Straight Talk?

If you watch television, then you know that McCain thinks a negative campaign is the ticket to victory. As of the end of July, McCain was running negative ads over three times as often as the Obama campaign. That was to be expected. But what is most bothersome about the negative ads that McCain is running is the degree to which they slander Barack Obama. On the issues that Americans care about most, John McCain is consistently putting false and misleading statements on the airwaves. Thankfully,, a non-partisan website that even John McCain himself has directed people towards, has been presenting the facts on misleading and deceptive ads.

McCain seems to believe that he can lie about Obama's tax policies because the public thinks that Democrats support higher taxes. So he has pushed ad after ad claiming that Obama will raise taxes on America's families. But as this chart shows, the vast majority of taxpayers will pay less under Obama's plan than they will under McCain's. So McCain has to resort to lies to get his point across:

* McCain's campaign lied about Obama raising taxes on those earning only $32,000

* McCain's campaign misrepresented the number of times Obama had voted for higher taxes

* McCain's campaign exaggerated how Obama's plan would affect small businesses by a factor of 50

* McCain's campaign made up the idea that Obama will tax electricity

* McCain falsely claimed that Obama will institute "the single largest tax increase since the Second World War"

* After receiving corrections from, McCain campaign adjusted one old tax deception but put out FIVE new ones

* McCain lies about how Obama will tax working families

* Speakers at the Republican convention continue to lie about Obama's tax plan

If you want the truth, you can get a real analysis of Obama and McCain's tax plans from the Tax Policy Center. More information can be found in Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.

A second issue on which Republicans often attack Democrats is on support of the troops. Obama has been exemplary on this issue, but that doesn't keep McCain from making things up.

McCain consistently repeated the false rumour that Obama cancelled a troop visit because he couldn't bring cameras. As pointed out, not only was this attack false, but Obama had recently visited wounded troops in Iraq and at Walter Reed in D.C. with very little publicity.

McCain claimed that Obama had voted against funding the troops, hadn't been to Iraq in years, and didn't hold any hearings on Afghanistan. In fact, Obama had voted to fund the troops at least 10 out of 11 times, visited Iraq in 2006 and was on his way again when the ad was released, and the full foreign relations committee had held hearings on Afghanistan three times in the two years in question. Lieberman repeated some of this deception at the RNC.

McCain broadcasts ads that take Obama's statements about Iran completely out of context.

Finally, McCain defended his record on veteran's benefits by claiming, "I received the highest award from literally every veteran’s organization in America." The real facts:

* McCain publicly opposed the new GI bill that veterans had asked him to support

* McCain received a rating of only 20 from Disabled American Veterans (Obama was given an 80)

* McCain received a "D" from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (Obama got a "B+")

* According to the Vietnam Veterans of America, McCain voted against legislation for veterans 15 times while only supporting it 9 times. (Obama had 12 supporting votes compared to only 1 negative vote).

* The Non-Commissioned Officers Association gives McCain a rating of 40. (Obama has not yet been rated by them, but Biden has a rating of 100.)

Now who do you think supports the troops?

(A small side note - Barack Obama serves on the Veterans' Affairs committee. Since he entered the committe he has been responsible for successful legislative work that provides food and telephone services for wounded veterans in VA hospitals, provides more comprehensive housing options for veterans, increases funding for homeless veterans' programs by $40 million, ensures that veterans in Illinois and other low-benefit states are notified of their rights to appeal benefit decisions, ensures that all Iraq veterans are tested for Tramatic Brain Injury, keeps the VA from altering full-benefit cases regarding Post-tramatic Stress Disorder, and forces the Department of Defense to report on its slowness in aligning its systems with the VA.)

This year's hot button issue is energy policy. Barack Obama, like many other Democrats, has been fighting for alternative energy sources and ending our dependence on oil since he entered the Senate. So when oil prices jumped and Americans started realizing how addicted to oil we were, McCain was forced to distort Obama's record in order to try to score political points.

McCain repeated claims that Obama was responsible for high gas prices.

McCain likes to say that Obama has proposed no solutions for energy, has no energy plan, or that Obama's plan is nothing more than "inflating your tires". In fact, Obama has a detailed $150 billion energy plan and has had detailed plans for longer than McCain. And while inflating tires won't save quite as much oil as offshore drilling will produce, it could save 1 billion gallons a year and will start helping much sooner than drilling will.

McCain falsely claims that Obama has rejected energy innovation, and also makes the false statement that Obama has rejected nuclear energy.

McCain claims that Obama voted for an energy bill full of giveaways to the oil industry, when overall it actually raised taxes on the oil industry while subsidizing alternative energy much more. McCain then repeated the false claim in his RNC acceptance speech.


In her acceptance speech before the Republican National Convention, Palin showed that she was just as eager as McCain to lie about Obama's record. Some of her statements are stated here on yahoo, and there are even more from, including:

* "But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state senate."

In fact, Barack Obama authored over 800 bills in the Illinois State Senate and has authored nearly 300 bills in the U.S. Senate, a number of which have become law. His successful efforts in the Illinois Senate include major laws that reformed the death penalty, ended racial profiling, and a joint effort with Republicans to write the first major ethics reform in 25 years. In the U.S. Senate, he coauthored with Republican Richard Lugar a significant weapons non-proliferation law aimed at terrorists, wrote two ethics reform laws with Republican Tom Coburn, and had a number of smaller bills and many amendments successfully passed.

* "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

Actually, Obama will only raise income taxes on those earning over $250,000 a year, will only raise payroll taxes on those earning over $250,000 a year, will not raise the "death tax", and will decrease the overall tax burden on the American people by nearly $100 billion dollars.

The inaccuracy didn't stop with her convention speech. A list of Sarah Palin's factual errors in her first week on the campaign trail can be seen here.


As the campaign accelerates, the McCain/Palin tendency to state lies as facts has drawn greater attention. You can see some opinions about their inaccuracy here. The Democrats have even put out a website now called "Count the Lies"

For quick reference, here are a few of them:

McCain is distorting themselves!

No, Barack Obama did not call Sarah Palin a pig. He called John McCain's policies the pig. McCain's ad claiming that Obama has been belittling Palin is full of mistruths.

The McCain campaign is purposely misleading voters when they imply that Obama supported teaching kindergarteners about sex. Also here.

John McCain was absolutely wrong when he said that Sarah Palin did not request any earmarks as governor of Alaska. In her 20 months as governor, Palin has already requested over $450 million in earmarks.

Sarah Palin was not responsible for stopping the Bridge to Nowhere project. She supported the project during her campaign for governor, and only changed her mind when Congress was ready to kill it. Rather than saying "no thanks" to the money, she used it on other projects.

Barack Obama was not responsible for John McCain not getting his immigration reform through. Senate Republicans blocked passage of the bill, and John McCain himself abandoned his efforts for comprehensive immigration reform when he started running for office.

Alaska does not produce 20% of the United State's energy supply. It's closer to 3.5%.
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