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Monday, September 15, 2008

Update: Cartwrightdale's TV AD Final version on air in OH & MI

I want to share the final version of the now famous 'The Public v John McCain' ad, we're now calling 'Judgment.' The original has over 270,000 YouTube views & hopefully you'll think this one is even tighter. The changes are to the first line, focusing the ad on McCain's judgment in supporting Bush, instead of Bush's rating which is well known already. The clips of Chris Matthews, etc. have been swapped for more of McCain/Bush, and the polling numbers are highlighted to a greater degree.

Here's the final version (let's get it up to 270k views as well!):

This spot is going up in Ohio tomorrow for a run through Sunday in Dayton. Tomorrow I will buy for the following week in Michigan. We're going to cover as much as possible of the state, based on the final budget. Rotating in that buy also is our 'Community Organizer' ad, created by ourhispanicvoices:

DIGG it!

I've added an additional support method by signing up for an ActBlue account. By clicking our ActBlue link, you can support us directly, as well as easily share our effort with friends & other Obama supporters, or even create your own fundraising page & track your direct results. This is in addition to our direct contribution page at TruthandHope.Org where our mailing information is also available for those who wish to send checks.

We've been working to make it a more user friendly experience & create more options. ActBlue was a suggestion I was sent, and any other suggestions are alway more than welcome. I try to respond to as many emails as possible, but can guarantee that they are all read by myself at eugene (at) truthandhope dot org

Another idea that was submitted was for a facebook group which we have so you can share what we're going with Obama supporters on their network as well.

We are working on three additional spots, all focused on putting McCain/Palin on the defense of their indefensible record & positions. I believe there is no reason to do other than go on the offensive, when we have the facts on our side & McCain/Palin are clearly out of step with the majority of Americans.

Original here

McCain's mailer creates controversy

By MARK PITSCH 608-252-6145

The state elections agency is investigating complaints about a massive campaign mailing Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign has directed toward Wisconsin Democrats and other voters.

Each mailing includes at least one copy of the state application for an absentee ballot that has the address of a local clerk and a box for postage printed on the other side.

But in some cases, the incorrect clerk's address is printed on the application, leading some Democrats to wonder if the Arizona senator's campaign is deliberately trying to get them to apply for absentee ballots in places where they aren't eligible to vote.

"They're trying to knock me off the rolls," said Democrat Beverly Jambois, of Middleton. "I can't tell you how upsetting it is to me. This is how you win elections? By disenfranchising other voters?"

Her household received the flier this week addressed to her husband, Robert, a lawyer for the state Department of Transportation. The couple are registered to vote in Middleton, but the absentee ballot application was addressed to the city clerk's office in Madison.

A McCain campaign spokeswoman said in a statement the mailing mistakes are "certainly not intentional" but she wouldn't answer questions. The statement also said the mailing went to "potential supporters across the spectrum."

Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state GOP, said the mailing is not intended to keep people from the polls and that the wrong absentee ballot applications resulted from incorrect information in databases used for the mailing.

"You do the best with the lists you have, and no list is perfect," Jefferson said. "There is certainly no type of suppression effort going on."

Jefferson said the mailing was directed to hundreds of thousands of voters.

Clerks around the state are currently processing absentee voting applications, and absentee ballots won't be sent out until about four weeks before the Nov. 4 election.

Kyle Richmond, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, said voters can only use absentee ballots in the locality for which they are registered.

The board has received 10 complaints in the last two days from people who received the McCain flier, and the board's staff is investigating them, he said.

Doug Chapin, director of electionline.org, which provides nonpartisan analysis of election reforms, said he suspected the misdirected mailings were likely a mistake.

"Given the choice between evil and a mistake, always bet on a mistake," Chapin said. "If I had to guess, sitting a thousand miles away, I'd bet it was a mistake."

Nancy Zastrow, the Milton clerk and the president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association, said she has not heard whether clerks around the state have already received absentee ballot requests from voters outside their municipalities because of the mailing.

Advice to voters: Bring IDs, be patient

Associated Press

A top federal election official said Wisconsin voters should be prepared to register at the polls on Election Day in light of a lawsuit asking state election workers to verify thousands of voters' identities.

That's from Rosemary Rodriguez, chairwoman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The agency is charged with helping states comply with the federal Help America Vote Act.

Rodriguez said voters should bring identification to the polls so they can register on the spot if they've been flagged as ineligible. She said they also will have to be patient and ready to endure long lines.

But, she said, she doesn't want to see people get frustrated and leave without voting.

� 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy at http://apdigitalnews.com/privacy.html.

Original here



Author Of Book Palin Targeted Lashes Back: She's My Mortal Enemy

The author of the book Sarah Palin reportedly tried to have removed from her hometown library blasted back Saturday evening, saying the Alaska Governor had a "small-town mind," was an enemy of intellectual freedom and a "disastrous choice" for vice president.

"I rather suspected one of my books might be the one she targeted," said Michael Willhoite, author of "Daddy's Roomate" and several other children's books. "I can tell you right now, Ms. Palin is a very good mother and everything. But she is my mortal enemy. She is one of the enemies of the First Amendment and I can hardly [organize] my thoughts here, I am so offended by this."

Reached by phone, Willhoite was ultimately not surprised he had once been Palin's target. In fact, he admitted to being "strangely flattered" that he was "on her list."

"I wasn't on Nixon's enemies list," he said, "I was too young for that."

After all, Willhiote has been at the center of religious conservative complaint ever since his work - which is about a young boy discussing his divorced father's new, gay roommate - was first published in 1989. The book was the no. 2 "most frequently challenged book" between 1990 and 2000, according to the American Library Association. But that didn't make him any less critical of Palin, who he saw as a dangerous politician, both on issues of press and literary freedoms as well as gay rights.

"I don't think Ms. Palin will care for me, but that is fine," said Willhoite, who is openly gay. "I don't really care for her, not at all. I think John McCain made a disastrous choice. Unfortunately she seems to be doing well in the polls but I would think the honeymoon period will be ending soon."

On Sunday, the New York Times fleshed out rumors that as mayor of Wasilla, Palin had asked the town's librarian to remove certain books from the library's shelves. Citing contemporary news accounts and witnesses - including Palin's predecessor, John Stein, and her former campaign manager, Laura Chase - the paper reported that:

[I]n 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book "Daddy's Roommate" on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

"Sarah said she didn't need to read that stuff," Ms. Chase said. "It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn't even read it."


Palin, in an interview before the Times' article, dismissed the charge that she had fired the town's librarian for banning books as an "old wives' tale." The McCain campaign, too, has called the entire matter a smear attack on the vice presidential candidate.

"This is categorically false. The fact is that as Mayor, Palin never asked anyone to ban a book and not one book was ever banned, period," McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said.

Asked how he feels about his book being thrust back into the political fire 19 years after it first caused waves of outrage, Willhoite fancied himself quite fortunate.

"The fact is my book did very well in the first years of publication," he said, "and the lot of the reason it did as well as it did is because of the challenges from the right."

But Willhoite expressed a sense of shock that a vice presidential candidate could harbor such positions, even if he predicted that issues of books and censorship would no longer be on Palin's radar.

"To tell the truth I don't think it is something she will attend to," he said. "There will likely other more damaging things she will attend to. As a mayor of a small town she was attending a small town issue for small town minds. She has a small town mind, you see."

Original here

Obama Raises $66 Million In August

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., arrives for a rally at the Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama raised $66 million in August, a record for a presidential candidate that illustrated his continuing appeal to donors and his robust outreach to new contributors.

The campaign said it raised the money with the help of more than a half million, first-time donors. By comparison, Republican presidential nominee John McCain raised $47 million in August, a personal best for his campaign as well. The monthly figures for both candidates were especially noteworthy because August is typically a slow month for fundraising.

Obama's totals, however, also underscore the challenge he faces in the remaining two months of the campaign. McCain, for now, has a significant advantage because he has accepted $84 million in taxpayer funds under a public financing system that Obama chose to bypass in favor of raising more money.

The combined efforts of the two campaigns and the two national parties left both candidates on nearly equal financial footing with about $94 million at the end of August, according to campaign and party officials who discussed the finances on Sunday.

Obama had $77 million in the bank at month's end, and the Democratic National Committee had $17.5 million.

McCain ended the month with about $18 million in cash, which he had to transfer to the Republican National Committee because of his decision to participate in the public finance system. The party committee had $76 million in the bank before the transfer. A party official said the party also had about $20 million in a joint fundraising committee and in special state party accounts that can be used to help McCain.

But McCain has a head start over Obama with the $84 million in federal funds. By accepting that money, however, he can no longer raise money for his campaign from donors and is limited to spending only that amount. As a result, any additional fundraising can only be done for the GOP.

Democratic fundraisers say Obama and the Democratic Party must do even better than their August totals to stay ahead of McCain and the well-heeled RNC. Obama and the DNC raised a combined total of more than $83 million, but fundraisers say their joint totals ahead should exceed $100 million a month.

McCain and the GOP have been able to stay essentially even with Obama and the Democrats through August because the RNC has had strong fundraising and low spending. The Democratic National Committee has had lower fundraising and higher spending.

In August, the RNC raised about $22 million, shy of its $26 million sum in July. The Democratic National committee reported raising $17.3 million in August, short of the $20 million raised in July.

Even though he can raise no more money for his campaign, McCain has placed his popular running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on an aggressive fundraising schedule for the Republican Party. She has about one fundraiser every two days for the remainder of the campaign.

Obama has scheduled a series of fundraisers and has continued to make Internet and e-mail appeals his donors and supporters. The campaign reported that it raised $10 million in less than 24 hours this month, following Palin's address to the Republican National Convention.

Overall, Obama has raised more than $440 million for his presidential campaign, an unprecedented amount. The campaign said it has more than 2.5 million donors. McCain has raised $194 million.

"The 500,000 new donors to the Obama campaign demonstrate just how strongly the American people are looking to kick the special interests out and change Washington," campaign manager David Plouffe said in a statement.

McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said the announcement provides "66 million reminders that Barack Obama is willing to stray from reform, break his word to the American people and forgo public financing in favor of his own ambitions. Americans need change, not self-promotion."

McCain's campaign reported raising $10 million in the final days in August, a surge the campaign has attributed to Palin's selection as running mate.

Original here


Greenspan: This Is The Worst Economy I've Ever Seen

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan offered a woeful outlook of America's economic situation on Sunday, saying the crisis with the country's financial institutions was as dire as he had ever seen in his long career, and predicting that one or more of those institutions would likely collapse in the near future.

"Oh, by far," Greenspan said, when asked if the situation was the worst he had seen in his career. "There's no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I've seen and it still is not resolved and still has a way to go and, indeed, it will continue to be a corrosive force until the price of homes in the United States stabilizes. That will induce a series of events around the globe which will stabilize the system."

Appearing on ABC's This Week, Greenspan would not definitively say whether the government should come to the rescue of Lehman Brothers, which has been forced to consider a possible sale after its stock shares plunged drastically this past week. Instead he called the situation surrounding the investment bank -- and the bailout that occurred this past spring of Bear Stearns -- as a "once in a half century, probably once in a century type of event."

The circumstances for Lehman may, as Greenspan noted, be different. Bloomberg News reported on Friday: "Rising speculation that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. may fail is generating less concern among investors than when Bear Stearns Cos. imploded in March."

Much of the issue, Greenspan added, was the trouble in the housing market, which he predicted would become stabilized by next year. Pressed by host George Stephanopoulos as to whether another major financial institution -- such as the struggling Washington Mutual, American International Group, or Merrill Lynch -- would fail in the interim, the former Fed chair responded in the affirmative.

"I suspect we will [see one fail]," he said, "but in and of itself that does not need to be a problem. It depends on how it's handled and how the liquidations take place. And, indeed, we shouldn't try to protect every single institution. the ordinary cost of financial change has winners and losers."

In light of these dynamics, Greenspan noted that the government was left with tough decisions: which institutions are "so fundamental to the functioning" of society that they demanded a federal safety net? Earlier in the week, the former fed chairman noted that such choses extended to tax policy as well. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Greenspan argued that the country couldn't afford the tax cuts being proposed by John McCain without an equally massive reduction in spending.

"I'm not in favor of financing tax cuts with borrowed money," he said. "I always have tied tax cuts to spending."

Original here

Obama aide: McCain campaign 'sleaziest' in modern history

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama's spokesman on Saturday accused Sen. John McCain of "cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history."

Sen. Barack Obama blasts his rival, Sen. John McCain, at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, Saturday.

Sen. Barack Obama blasts his rival, Sen. John McCain, at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, Saturday.

Obama, speaking to a crowd Saturday in Manchester, New Hampshire, said, "John McCain wants to have a debate about national security; let's have that debate. I warned that going into Iraq would distract us from Afghanistan. John McCain cheerleaded for it. John McCain was wrong, and I was right."

"The McCain-[Sarah] Palin ticket, they don't want to debate the Obama-Biden ticket on issues because they are running on eight more years of what we've just seen. And they know it," the Democratic presidential nominee said. "As a consequence, what they're going to spend the next seven, eight weeks doing is trying to distract you.

"They're going to talk about pigs, and they're going to talk about lipstick; they're going to talk about Paris Hilton, they're going to talk about Britney Spears. They will try to distort my record, and they will try to undermine your trust in what the Democrats intend to do."

Asked why the campaign's tone was different from its tone during Hurricane Gustav, Obama senior strategist David Axelrod said, "We have enormous concern for people down there ... that's why we canceled 'Saturday Night Live' ... but these people also came out because they're really concerned about the future of the country, and he [Obama] wanted to talk about those issues."

McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds criticized Obama for showing "zero restraint" given the storm and said the "attacks mark a new low from Barack Obama."

The Obama campaign's response was even tougher.

"We will take no lectures from John McCain, who is cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. "His discredited ads with disgusting lies are running all over the country today. He runs a campaign not worthy of the office he is seeking."

At the start of his rally, Obama did put politics aside, encouraging the thousands in attendance to think about those in Texas dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Ike. Video

"I've been on the phone with the head of FEMA and mayor of Houston and others who are trying to grapple with this tremendous storm," he said.

"I know that one of the things that we've seen after Gustav, one of the things that we saw after Katrina and Rita is that during difficult times during moments of tragedy, the American people come together. We may argue, we may differ, but we are all Americans."

The storm prompted the Obama campaign late Friday night to cancel the candidate's appearance on the season premiere of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," saying it was no longer appropriate given what Gulf residents were facing.

Obama's running mate Sen. Joe Biden was supposed to attend the Manchester rally but did not.

Obama is going back to Chicago for the weekend before heading out Monday for Colorado.

Meanwhile, McCain's campaign said a new Spanish language ad set to air in battleground states blames Obama and Senate Democrats for the failure of attempts to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.

"Obama and his congressional allies say they are on the side of immigrants. But are they?" asks the announcer in the 30-second spot, "Which Side Are They On?"

"The press reports that their efforts were 'poison pills' that made immigration reform fail," he continues. "The result: No guest worker program. No path to citizenship. No secure borders. No reform. Is that being on our side? Obama and his congressional allies ready to block immigration reform, but not ready to lead." Watch the ad

But Obama and McCain cast identical votes in the major congressional showdowns on the issue last year.

Both men cast votes in favor of an unsuccessful early June effort to end a filibuster. Later that month, they voted again to end debate on the issue -- but again failed to shut down the filibuster effort, led for the most part by Republican senators.

The ad is set to air in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, all crucial states in November with significant Hispanic voting populations.

Original here

Tina Fey As Sarah Palin On SNL (VIDEO)

Former cast member Tina Fey, now the star of "30 Rock," returned to Saturday Night Live to play Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for the premiere of the show's new season. Fey bears a striking resemblance to Palin and nailed the candidate's distinctive accent. Fey and Amy Poehler opened the show with a joint appearance as Palin and Hillary Clinton. The two politicians addressed the ugly issue of sexism in the campaign. More SNL highlights here

[WATCH]



Original here

Palin camp clarifies extent of Iraq trip

Private Christopher T. Grammer/Department of Defense via Associated Press/fileLieutenant Colonel David Cogdell helped Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska test out training equipment at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, on July 24, 2007. (Private Christopher T. Grammer/Department of Defense via Associated Press/file)

By Bryan Bender

WASHINGTON - Sarah Palin's visit to Iraq in 2007 consisted of a brief stop at a border crossing between Iraq and Kuwait, the vice presidential candidate's campaign said yesterday, in the second official revision of her only trip outside North America.

Following her selection last month as John McCain's running mate, aides said Palin had traveled to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq to meet with members of the Alaska National Guard. During that trip she was said to have visited a "military outpost" inside Iraq. The campaign has since repeated that Palin's foreign travel included an excursion into the Iraq battle zone.

But in response to queries about the details of her trip, campaign aides and National Guard officials in Alaska said by telephone yesterday that she did not venture beyond the Kuwait-Iraq border when she visited Khabari Alawazem Crossing, also known as "K-Crossing," on July 25, 2007.

Asked to clarify where she traveled in Iraq, Palin's spokeswoman, Maria Comella, confirmed that "She visited a military outpost on the other side of the Kuwait-Iraq border."

It was the second such clarification in as many weeks of the itinerary of what Palin has called "the trip of a lifetime." Earlier, the campaign acknowledged that Palin made only a refueling stop in Ireland.

In her interview with ABC News Thursday night, Palin did not mention Iraq in describing the visit, saying only that she went to Kuwait and Germany to meet with US forces.

According to an itinerary obtained from the Alaska National Guard, the Republican governor visited troops and airmen at a series of bases in Kuwait, including Camp Buehring, Camp Virginia, and Ali Al Salem Air Base.

Her visit to Iraq itself was during a short stop at Khabari Alawazem Crossing on the second day of her two-day trip to the region.

Palin arrived at Camp Buehring in Kuwait, where she held a town meeting with soldiers and reviewed various training programs designed to prepare troops to deploy into Iraq, said Lieutenant Colonel Dave Osborn, commander of the 3d Battalion, 207th Infantry of the Alaska National Guard, who was in charge of the 570 local troops serving in Kuwait and Iraq.

"The whole intent was to check on the Alaskans," Osborn said in a telephone interview yesterday.

On the second day of the trip, he said, Palin was flown to the border crossing, about 100 miles north of Camp Buehring, where she spent the morning meeting with troops and presiding over a ceremony in which an Alaska National Guard soldier extended his enlistment.

But she did not venture into Iraq, Osborn said. "You have to have permission to go into a lot of areas, and [the crossing] is where her permissions were," he said.

Palin did not stay the night in Iraq, and spent the rest of the second day at Camp Virginia and Ali Al Salem Air Base, Osborn said.

Palin also told ABC that she had traveled to Mexico and Canada. Her campaign had previously mentioned a Canada visit, but not a trip to Mexico. Comella said yesterday that Palin had visited Mexico on vacation, and Canada once last year.

"We did not have 100 percent confirmation about the Mexico trip in the initial days we were being asked. It was a personal trip," Comella said.

Palin's campaign did not respond to requests for details about when she traveled to Mexico and where she went, nor did it provide details of her 2007 Canada trip or indicate whether it was for business or pleasure.

Original here

To McCain, the truth is expendable

Steve Chapman

Last year, at a campaign event in South Carolina, John McCain called on a woman who had a question about the expected Democratic nominee. "How do we beat the bitch?" she asked. McCain laughed, said, "That's an excellent question," and noted he was leading Hillary Clinton in a poll, before assuring his audience that "I respect Sen. Clinton."

Back then, sexism directed at a candidate for high office did not cause a wave of revulsion in McCain. But sometime in the last year, he had his consciousness raised. So when Barack Obama scoffed at the idea that the GOP ticket offered real change from President Bush, saying, "You can put lipstick on a pig—it's still a pig," McCain's camp rose up in outrage at Obama for "comparing our vice presidential nominee, Gov. [Sarah] Palin, to a pig."

In this interpretation of Obama's remarks, the McCain people are—what's the word I'm looking for?—lying. They pretend to be unaware of the clear meaning of this old cliche, and the pretense is completely phony.

How can I be so sure? Last year, McCain said that Hillary Clinton's 2008 health care plan was disturbingly similar to her 1993 version: "I think they put some lipstick on the pig, but it's still a pig." If that's a sly sexist insult, McCain owes Clinton a big apology.

Does anyone truly believe that Obama got up that morning trying to think of a sneaky way to call Sarah Palin a pig? Or that he is stupid enough to think he could get away with it? Is there anything in his past to suggest he talks or thinks about women in such terms? Of course not.

Now politicians are not saints, and campaigns are not conducted under oath. We all expect a certain amount of deceit from people running for office, in the form of fudging, distortion, exaggeration and omission. But the McCain campaign's approach, as this episode illustrates, is of an entirely different scale and character. It is to normal political attacks what Hurricane Ike is to a drive-through carwash.

Take Palin's claim to have opposed the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere." Long after it was exposed as false, she kept making it. The assumption behind the McCain strategy is that truth is irrelevant.

Last week, he released a TV spot on education studded with falsehoods. It quoted the Chicago Tribune calling Obama a "staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly." But the Tribune didn't say it. I did, in a signed column in the Tribune, which praised McCain's support for school vouchers for low-income families.

The ad couldn't be bothered explaining why Obama is wrong about vouchers. Instead, it said his "one accomplishment" was a bill mandating sex education for kindergartners. "Learning about sex before learning to read?" asked the narrator, implying that 5-year-olds would be taught the proper use of condoms before being taught their ABCs. Which, as it happens, is not true.

McCain may be the only candidate who has ever gotten in trouble with FactCheck.org for quoting FactCheck.org. Another commercial showed a photo of Obama while saying the group called the attacks on Palin "false" and "misleading." But the group quickly repudiated the charge.

The FactCheck article, it pointed out, "debunked a number of false or misleading claims that have circulated in chain e-mails and Internet postings regarding Palin." The ad, however, "strives to convey the message that FactCheck.org said 'completely false' attacks on Sarah Palin had come from Sen. Barack Obama. But we said no such thing. We have yet to dispute any claim from the Obama campaign about Palin."

Why does McCain insist on running such a mendacious campaign? There is plenty an honest conservative might say in opposition to Obama: He's wrong about Iraq. He's wrong about Iran. He's wrong about offshore oil drilling. He wants to raise taxes. He favors abortion on demand. He would appoint liberal judges. He would impede school reform.

But McCain has concluded that a fact-based case about Obama isn't enough to prevail in November. So he has chosen to smear his opponent with ridiculous claims that he thinks the American people are gullible enough to believe.

He has charged repeatedly that his opponent is willing to lose a war to win an election. What's McCain willing to lose to become president? Nothing so consequential as a war. Just his soul.

Original here

Making America Stupid

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Imagine for a minute that attending the Republican convention in St. Paul, sitting in a skybox overlooking the convention floor, were observers from Russia, Iran and Venezuela. And imagine for a minute what these observers would have been doing when Rudy Giuliani led the delegates in a chant of “drill, baby, drill!”


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman


I’ll tell you what they would have been doing: the Russian, Iranian and Venezuelan observers would have been up out of their seats, exchanging high-fives and joining in the chant louder than anyone in the hall — “Yes! Yes! Drill, America, drill!” — because an America that is focused first and foremost on drilling for oil is an America more focused on feeding its oil habit than kicking it.

Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology — fossil fuels — rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology — renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. “Typewriters, baby, typewriters.”

Of course, we’re going to need oil for many years, but instead of exalting that — with “drill, baby, drill” — why not throw all our energy into innovating a whole new industry of clean power with the mantra “invent, baby, invent?” That is what a party committed to “change” would really be doing. As they say in Texas: “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”

I dwell on this issue because it is symbolic of the campaign that John McCain has decided to run. It’s a campaign now built on turning everything possible into a cultural wedge issue — including even energy policy, no matter how stupid it makes the voters and no matter how much it might weaken America.

I respected McCain’s willingness to support the troop surge in Iraq, even if it was going to cost him the Republican nomination. Now the same guy, who would not sell his soul to win his party’s nomination, is ready to sell every piece of his soul to win the presidency.

In order to disguise the fact that the core of his campaign is to continue the same Bush policies that have led 80 percent of the country to conclude we’re on the wrong track, McCain has decided to play the culture-war card. Obama may be a bit professorial, but at least he is trying to unite the country to face the real issues rather than divide us over cultural differences.

A Washington Post editorial on Thursday put it well: “On a day when the Congressional Budget Office warned of looming deficits and a grim economic outlook, when the stock market faltered even in the wake of the government’s rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when President Bush discussed the road ahead in Iraq and Afghanistan, on what did the campaign of Senator John McCain spend its energy? A conference call to denounce Senator Barack Obama for using the phrase ‘lipstick on a pig’ and a new television ad accusing the Democrat of wanting to teach kindergartners about sex before they learn to read.”

Some McCain supporters criticize Obama for not having the steel in his belly to use force in the dangerous world we live in today. Well I know this: In order to use force, you have to have force. In order to exercise leverage, you have to have leverage.

I don’t know how much steel is in Obama’s belly, but I do know that the issues he is focusing on in this campaign — improving education and health care, dealing with the deficit and forging a real energy policy based on building a whole new energy infrastructure — are the only way we can put steel back into America’s spine. McCain, alas, has abandoned those issues for the culture-war strategy.

Who cares how much steel John McCain has in his gut when the steel that today holds up our bridges, railroads, nuclear reactors and other infrastructure is rusting? McCain talks about how he would build dozens of nuclear power plants. Oh, really? They go for $10 billion a pop. Where is the money going to come from? From lowering taxes? From banning abortions? From borrowing more from China? From having Sarah Palin “reform” Washington — as if she has any more clue how to do that than the first 100 names in the D.C. phonebook?

Sorry, but there is no sustainable political/military power without economic power, and talking about one without the other is nonsense. Unless we make America the country most able to innovate, compete and win in the age of globalization, our leverage in the world will continue to slowly erode. Those are the issues this election needs to be about, because that is what the next four years need to be about.

There is no strong leader without a strong country. And posing as one, to use the current vernacular, is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig.

Nicholas D. Kristof is off today.

Original here

Forum sells 'Obama Waffles' with racial stereotype

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Activists at a conservative political forum snapped up boxes of waffle mix depicting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a racial stereotype on its front and wearing Arab-like headdress on its top flap.

Values Voter Summit organizers cut off sales of Obama Waffles boxes on Saturday, saying they had not realized the boxes displayed ''offensive material.'' The summit and the exhibit hall where the boxes were sold had been open since Thursday afternoon.

The box was meant as political satire, said Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, two writers from Franklin, Tenn., who created the mix. They sold it for $10 a box from a rented booth at the summit sponsored by the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council.

David Nammo, executive director of the lobbying group FRC Action, said summit organizers were told the boxes were a parody of Obama's policy positions but had not examined them closely.

Republican Party stalwarts Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were among speakers at the forum, which officials said drew 2,100 activists from 44 states.

While Obama Waffles takes aim at Obama's politics by poking fun at his public remarks and positions on issues, it also plays off the old image of the pancake-mix icon Aunt Jemima, which has been widely criticized as a demeaning stereotype. Obama is portrayed with popping eyes and big, thick lips as he stares at a plate of waffles and smiles broadly.

Placing Obama in Arab-like headdress recalls the false rumor that he is a follower of Islam, though he is actually a Christian.

On the back of the box, Obama is depicted in stereotypical Mexican dress, including a sombrero, above a recipe for ''Open Border Fiesta Waffles'' that says it can serve ''4 or more illegal aliens.'' The recipe includes a tip: ''While waiting for these zesty treats to invade your home, why not learn a foreign language?''

The novelty item also takes shots at 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, Obama's wife, Michelle, and Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The Obama campaign declined to comment.

Wearing white chef's aprons, Whitlock and DeMoss were doing a brisk business at noon Saturday selling the waffle mix to people crowded around their booth. Two pyramids of waffle mix boxes stood several feet high on the booth's table.

''It's the ultimate political souvenir,'' DeMoss told a customer.

Asked if he considered the pictures of Obama on the box to be racial stereotypes, Whitlock said: ''We had some people mention that to us, but you think of Newman's Own or Emeril's -- there are tons and tons of personality-branded food products on the market. So we've taken that model and, using political satire, have highlighted his policies, his position changes.''

The socially conservative public policy groups American Values and Focus on the Family Action co-sponsored the summit.

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