Tag Archives: John McCain

Surprise! Surprise! Chuck Hagel Gets Confirmed By The Senate

The Republicans would like you to believe that Obama’s nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary was so spectacularly bad that it required them to do something unprecedented to stop it. Never before has the Senate filibustered against a Secretary of Defense nominee.

The odd thing was that if you listened to people like my Senator Lindsey Graham, it seemed that this filibuster was necessary to try to force the President to come clean about the attack on Benghazi. If you thought Susan Rice had nothing to do with Benghazi, then Hagel had even less.

Another fierce opponent, John McCain explained the opposition this way:

There’s a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly and said he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover and said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which was nonsense. He was anti-his own party and people — people don’t forget that. You can disagree but if you’re disagreeable, then people don’t forget that.

Hagel was being nominated as Secretary of Defense of the United States not some post within the Republican Party, so putting his loyalty to the United States above his party loyalty should be considered a good thing.

McCain and others are on the record as admitting that they knew that Hagel would eventually be confirmed despite their filibuster. [In fact most of them are on the record a week or so ago saying that they wouldn’t filibuster him, but that’s another story!] So their filibuster was never about influencing who would be the next Secretary of Defense. They knew he would be confirmed. Their filibuster did nothing more than block the Senate from confirming him.

This delay was political theater, pure and simple. It served no constructive purpose from the perspective of what’s good for America. The Republicans used it to try to keep alive their narrative that somehow Benghazi represents a huge failure of this administration, and they did it to try to punish a fellow Republican because they thought he had betrayed them.

If the Republicans spent half as much energy towards building up America as they do towards tearing down our President, I wonder where we might be today.

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Unpopularity Vote

A symbol to indicate voting process

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Speaking recently with a Tea-Party leaning Republican, I was struck by the fact this person didn’t like John McCain or George W. Bush.  In fact I’m not sure they’ve liked anybody running for President since Reagan. I often hear people talk about how they don’t like the candidates that our two parties offer up. It seems to be more and more common for people to vote “no” against a candidate than to vote “yes” for a candidate.

For several election cycles we’ve heard how hard it was going to be for incumbents because so many people were furious with Washington, their state capitol, of city hall. Politics has perfected the art of making opponents look bad, and this has bled over into new media. To paraphrase an old proverb: Scandals and rumors ricochet around the world before real news can get its boots on.

As I reflect back on my own attitude towards people who I have voted for, I can say I have really liked all but one person who I voted for president (Walter Mondale, who later I have learned to respect more than I did at the time I voted for him). I truly do believe that it is important for us as a society to figure out a way to vote for people that we would like to serve in office. That seems sort of obvious, but the problem is of course the dominant parties. We are afraid of wasting our vote because then the worse of two evils might win.

There are proposals to change the voting method in order to encourage people to vote for who they really like best, and maybe that’s what it would take. But I also believe that if voters would take their responsibility seriously and do their homework, they might find that there is a candidate among the two major parties that on balance they do like. It’s not about finding the person who agrees with you on every single issue. It is about finding a person who is smart, capable, dedicated to what’s best for America, and has a similar world view as you do.

Now is the time for voters to begin doing their homework. Before a party nominates a candidate, then anything is possible. Now is the time to seek out a good candidate and to get behind that person. This is how our system is supposed to work, and if it’s not working, then we need to look to ourselves to begin the process of fixing it.

Getting Ready for the Republican Headliners

Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House. November ...

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For the past several months it seems that only the fringe Republican candidates have been able to get any attention. Yet now, Donald Trump seems to be fading and Newt Gingrich seems to be rising in the eyes of the Republican media outlets. Perhaps the seriousness of the success in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice has helped to focus them on more serious candidates.

I welcome this change. Although the past decade has seen me move from the category of Independent to Democrat, I recognize that for democracy to function like it is supposed to, we need two healthy parties putting forth serious and qualified candidates. No one knows which party will win in 2012, so we need qualified candidates on both tickets.

John McCain was a serious candidate, but out of political desperation he elevated Sarah Palin to a position on his ticket that she did not deserve. This act opened the door for people like Michele Bachmann and Donald Trump to entertain dreams of becoming the Republican candidate for President.

From a political point of view, I would be delighted for Sarah, Michelle, or the Donald to run as an Independent. Even better I would love to see the Tea Party form a real party and offer up a candidate. This would siphon off that fringe and better ensure that the winner is selected by more reasonable and informed voters. In such a contest, I believe that Obama would have a better chance for re-election, but more importantly, I believe we would likely get a better Republican president should she or he win.

The Fall of John McCain: The Rabid Right Wrecks a War Hero

John McCain

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John McCain was a bona-fide war hero. Forty years ago he was a prisoner of war in Viet Nam. John McCain was a courageous politician. Eight years ago he put his name on major campaign finance reform legislation. There was much to admire about this man. However, things seemed to have gone south for him once he began his run as the Republican candidate for President. He felt the need to appease the Rabid Right. Suddenly the maverick began to seem more like a petty, pandering politician.

Recently he has been taking up the fight to preserve “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). It is hard for me to imagine the basis on which a person would work feverishly to keep it in place. In the past months McCain has professed that he is neither for nor against DADT, but that he wanted to wait until the military can complete it’s study and survey on the issue. He got his wish. Congress waited. But now that the report is about to come out suddenly, McCain is moving the goal post to delay the issue again.

I cannot see any reasonable legal reason that gay and lesbian citizens should not be able to serve our country by joining the military. All of the reasons I hear amount to little more than trying to accommodate other people’s prejudice. I am sorry that people are prejudiced against gays and lesbians, but if anyone should be barred from service, it would seem to make more sense to bar those who have such prejudices rather than those who are the victims of their prejudice.

Some believe that homosexuality is a sin. That is fine, and that is certainly their right. Even if we consider it as such, are we really suggesting that people who sin can’t serve? I would expect only those who want to eliminate our military to support such a policy, since anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin also believes that we are all sinners.  Who could serve if that were the criteria?

All of the excuses why we should support DADT seem lame and they have a familiar ring to them.  How often have we heard similar hand-wringing when it comes to extending rights to all people?  This hand-wringing seems particularly silly considering the context is the military.  Here’s a guy who suffered for five years as a prisoner of war, and he’s worried that soldiers are so fragile they may not be able to handle uninvited flirting from a soldier of their same sex?  Please!  Do we really think in the culture of the military that straight soldiers might feel intimidated or harassed by their gay peers?  The military has already incorporated women into their ranks. Does anybody think that a straight soldier is likely to receive more trouble from a gay soldier than female soldiers get from their straight male peers?

The arguments against gays serving in the military seem ridiculously antiquated and un-American to me.  The arguments against gays being open about their relationships seem silly and mean-spirited.  The only reason I can imagine that he is fighting this fight is because he has bought into the Republican political strategy to sacrifice America for the sake of the Republican party by opposing everything that Obama supports regardless of its merits.  I am sorely disappointed that a man with the history of courage that John McCain has shown would join the ranks of those trying to block the abolition of DADT.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civ...

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What many seem to refuse to acknowledge is that equal rights for homosexuals is this generation’s civil rights fight. People of my generation and certainly those from McCain’s seem to believe that it isn’t that big of a deal. We romanticize the fight for civil rights that we experienced fifty years ago. We have a list of reasons why the cause for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-SexualTransgender) community does not rise to the same level of nobility as the cause for African-Americans. But in fifty years, it will be the fight for equal rights among the LGBT community that is romanticized.  And McCain’s actions to block it will make him appear to be a small and bigoted man.