Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"An Open Letter to Senator Obama"

Senator Obama,

You've spoken eloquently of the "fierce urgency of now" and lifted our hopes that we can meet our serious challenges with a new, bi-partisan approach. Now--right now is one of those urgent moments in our country's history. Rebuke the partisan posturing of Nancy Pelosi and John McCain and the left and right wing pundits, talk show hosts and ideologues. There will be plenty of time to assign blame and examine who played what role in bringing our economy to the brink of disaster. Return to Washington immediately and work urgently with your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to resolve this crisis. We desperately need your leadership now--we need a solution now for the sake of the economic security of our country.


Bobby Watts

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sideline Observations--The First Presidential Debate

I guess a good starting point is a comment on Senator McCain's vaudevillian pre-debate political theatrics. As Senator Obama reached out to explore a joint, bi-partisan statement encouraging their colleagues to work together with a sense of urgency to address the Wall Street crisis, McCain and his campaign staff calculated how best to use the crisis to their political advantage. The "campaign suspension" never actually occurred and McCain proceeded to interject Presidential politics into an already volatile situation resulting in discord and division.
And what did we learn from the debate itself? One could view it as a micrososm of the candidates' differing political styles. McCain communicated a disdain for his opponent as he took every opportunity to attack and belittle Obama. Senator Obama, on the other hand, presented a calm, confident demeanor demonstrating his firm grasp of the relevant facts and voicing cogent arguments for how best to move the country forward in addressing serious financial and foreign policy issues. Much has been made of the fact that Obama "agreed with" McCain on numerous points. From my vantage point, he was merely exhibiting the bi-partisan, collaborative approach which is his forte and which is so desperately needed if we are going to be able to break the Washington gridlock which has stymied our political representatives and frustrated the citizens whose values and issues they purport to champion.
And a final point or two...Why did the moderator and Senator Obama give McCain a pass on the issues of torture? He had maintained a principled stand throughout most of the Republican primary debates and then reversed himself last February by voting against a bill to curtail the CIA's use of harsh interrogation tactics. And does anyone honestly believe that a provocative, saber-rattling President McCain who has "looked into the eyes of Putin and seen 3 letters--KGB" would be able to deal effectively with a resurgent Russia or that after joking about "bomb-bombing Iran" he is the leader to deal with that nation and the overall complexities of a Mideast foreign policy.
My overall takeaway from the debate--Senator Obama held his own, counter-punched effectively and exuded a Presidential calmness and breadth of knowledge of national and international issues and an understanding of the importance of of reviving and enhancing collaborative relationships with key allies. Senator McCain, on the other hand, appeared petulant, demeaning, provocative and dangerously out-of-touch and ill-equipped to deal with with the complex foreign policy and financial issues we face.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sean Inanity and The Politics of Division

Really don't mean to leave out Limbaugh, Hewitt, Levin and the rest of that noisy right wing crowd, but I've had more exposure to Hannity via his talk radio and tv shows. I tune into his radio show for an hour or so so 3-4 times a week on my commute home from work. Not because I agree with hardly any of his views, but rather just to check out the daily buzz and the corresponding Republican talking points which Hannity faithfully recites. His callers routinely greet him as a "great American". And while I do not question his patriotism (as he does in response to anyone who disagrees with him or dares to engage in democratic debate) and I am sure that he is a good father, spouse, son and friend, from my vantage point, he's a pretty lousy American. You have to ask yourself if Hannity truly loves this country then why has he devoted his life to dividing it's citizens along political and cultural lines. And I guess one answer is that it's made him filthy rich. He and Limbaugh and their ilk have built multi-million dollar empires based on the politics of division. Little wonder that Senator Obama and his campaign for change and a return to civil and bipartisan politics have engendered such a ferocious and vile response from Hannity and the hate-mongers. If Obama and his supporters were to achieve their vision of a united America where politicians and citizens worked across party and cultural lines to address the serious challenges this country faces they'd be out of a job. And wouldn't that be a loss [sic].....[Update 9/20/08....kudos to Hannity on the recent Palin infomercial he put together....thinking there might be a career opportunity in that genre if his day job ever tanks]

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reflections on the Past Week...The New Palin-McCain Double-Talk Express, etc.

Once again I honor Senator's McCain's military service and the courage he displayed as a POW in Vietnam. Certainly worthy of an inspirational movie or naming streets, bridges or buildings for him or we could even construct a McCain memorial in the appropriate setting. But it does not uniquely qualify him to hold the office of President of the United States. And his biography from that life experience forward is certainly not an untarnished testimony to honor and courage. There is the failed marriage and his involvement in the Keating 5 scandal. He developed a reputation as a maverick over the years, but his words and actions since his failed bid for the Republican nomination for President in 2000 reflect either a change in his core values and principles or an unmasking of an underlying cynicism and political ambition that the country was not aware of. Little wonder that we recently witnessed his angry refusal of a reporter's request to define "honor". McCain "the maverick" might have shown the courage he did as a freshman congressman when he opposed Reagan's disastrous deployment of our marines to Lebanon and spoken out against the infinitely more foolhardy decision of Bush and the neo-cons to manipulate the country into the ruinous Iraq conflict. He would not have voted with Bush and his peers 90% of the time over the past 8 yrs and so easily reversed his positions on tax cuts for the rich, torture, immigration and a host of other critical issues. McCain "the maverick" would have chosen Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge as his running mate. And even though I do not share many of their views, I could have felt reasonably assured that they had the seasoning and judgment to safely be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. He would not have courted Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson or more recently sought out the support of John Hagee and Rod Parsley and he surely would not have allowed himself to be forced into the choice of a ultra-conservative neophyte as his running mate by a social conservative cabal. The nomination of Gov Palin as VP for the Republican Party--a "pit bull with lip stick" as she so aptly described herself. She delivered the offensively sarcastic and condescending lines they wrote for her with such relish. Nothing out of character there if you've had the opportunity to review her record as a politician and the calculating, ruthless approach she has taken to furthering her career. And the smoothness with which she misrepresented her record and belittled Senator Obama's life story and accomplishments--she effectively energized the Republican base as we all sat and watched the final transformation of the McCain Straight Talk Express into the Palin-McCain Double Talk Express. And now the right wing pundits and hate-mongers scathingly attack the media for their hurried attempts to vet this little-known, political neophyte with the potential of being elected in less than eight weeks to an office which would place her a heartbeat away from the Presidency . I'll close for now by recommending to you the excellent commentary of Jon Stewart of the Daily Show on the hypocrisy so evident in their protestations--http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=184086&title=sarah-palin-gender-card


  • The $500 shoes McCain sports as he campaigns in his wife's private jet
  • His response to the question of how many homes he owns--"I'm going to have to let my staff get back to you on that one"
  • Cindy McCain proudly showing off at last week's convention a $313,000 outfit whose value exceeded the average voter's current mortgage
  • The rich symbolism of how out-of-touch they are with the values and needs of the average citizen who McCain cynically purports to champion

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

John McHurricane and the New and Improved Republican Maverick Brand

Thinkin' there is fertile ground (manure-rich) for a hot, new action figure or maybe a new weed and feed product or would a weed stimulant be more apropos. Gotta love the political theater. McCain and his new VP pick jet down to the Gulf Coast in advance of the storm. The Republicans call for a political cease-fire (which didn't last long) and the nation's prayers and compassion. There was talk of McCain delivering his acceptance speech via satellite from the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast. But wait a second ...what does McCain's post-Katrina words and actions tell us about where he really stands and who he and President Bush and his Republican peers really care about. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina John McCain pledged to "do all that is necessary to fund essential relief and recovery efforts and help those in need". And did he "walk the talk"? Well, no, actually he sided with President Bush and the Republicans to quash the following legislative initiatives: S Amdt 1679 aimed at providing financial relief for victims: S Amdt 2356 aimed at the provision of emergency health care for survivors and S Amdt 2602 which would have provided tax benefits for affected areas. Alas, I don't think there's going to be much of a market for this action figure after all. We can tolerate flawed superheroes, but who needs one as out-of-touch and cynical as this one.

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