Sunday, June 22, 2008

Meet Meghan McCain

Fascinating biographical article about Cindy McCain in Newsweek. Her daughter Meghan blogs here. Here are some of the videos she and her Blogettes have produced. I like this one about her little sister Bridget, who was adopted from Mother Teresa's orphanage, and initially had a cleft palate.

UPDATE: Btw - Obama called and apologized personally to the Muslim women who were barred from sitting behind the podium at his rally.

BONUS: Great article about 3 Republican women being considered as possible running mates for McCain.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ethics and Hypocrisy

Obama volunteers offend Muslims in a hypocritical PR move to block them from appearing on camera at a rally.

The New York Times confirms that Michelle Obama made more than $300,000 a year in her job at a Chicago hospital. Buried on page 3:
"Mrs. Obama is on leave from her more-than-$300,000-a-year job."

... and Obama opts out of Public Financing in the general election saying the system, "as it exists today is broken," and that the other side would game it with money from outside organizations.

"...Obama's clear financial advantage over McCain is offset in part by the resources of the Republican National Committee, which has far more money in the bank than the Democratic National Committee. Both national parties can spend money on behalf of the presidential candidates.

Obama said McCain and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and political action committees.

'And we've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations,' Obama said.

Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer said he had met with McCain lawyers to discuss terms for both campaigns operating in the public financing system, but he said they could not agree on how to limit spending by the campaigns and outside groups heading into the late summer party conventions."

To be fair, it looks like he said he would try to participate, but never actually committed, previously. From the same article:

"In response to a questionnaire in November from the Midwest Democracy Network, which is made up of nonpartisan government oversight groups, Obama said: "Senator John McCain has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

On his website Obama says that he supports Campaign Finance Reform:

"Obama supports public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. Obama introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and is the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) tough bill to reform the presidential public financing system."

John McCain has sent mixed messages about Public Financing of Campaigns, and has used it when he needed it, and discarded it when he needed to raise more. So his support of it seems more pragmatic than principled at this point. Historically he has been a strong supporter, and co-authored the McCain-Feingold bill, the strongest national campaign finance reform legislation passed so far.

John McCain's website doesn't mention Campaign Finance Reform on it's Ethics Reform page. He focuses on limiting earmarks and special interest lobbying saying,

"John McCain would shine the disinfecting light of public scrutiny on those who abuse the public purse, use the power of the presidency to restore fiscal responsibility, and exercise the veto pen to enforce it."

That's pretty vague. The line item veto was declared unconstitutional at the federal level, so what he would do exactly is unclear. Is he really going to veto the budget bills?

His criticism of lobbyists seems to be fluid as well. When his campaign was broke he brought lobbyists on board to raise money, and then fired many of them when conflicts of interest started emerging. And of course there was the infamous New York Times cover story focusing on Vicki Iseman, a female lobbyist they claimed he had a "close bond" with.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

McCain's Planes & Gays' Brains

A good article on McCain's Naval record here. According to Jeffery Klein, he was a poor student and crashed 5 planes.

"Some of the unreleased pages in McCain's Navy file may not reflect well upon his qualifications for the presidency. From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain's sense of entitlement to privileged treatment bears an eerie resemblance to George W. Bush's.

Despite graduating in the bottom 1 percent of his Annapolis class, McCain was offered the most sought-after Navy assignment -- to become an aircraft carrier pilot...

After McCain had returned from Vietnam as a war hero and was physically rehabilitated, he was urged by his medical caretakers and military colleagues never to fly again. But McCain insisted on going up. As Carl Bernstein reported in Vanity Fair, he piloted an ultra-light, single propeller plane -- and crashed another time. His fifth loss of a plane has vanished from public records, but should be a subject of discussion in his Navy file. It wouldn't be surprising if his naval superiors worried that McCain was just too defiant, too reckless and too crash prone."

On a completely different note, research suggests that "The brains of gay men and women look like those found in heterosexual people of the opposite sex...

The Swedish study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, compared the size of the brain's halves in 90 adults.

Gay men and heterosexual women had halves of a similar size, while the right side was bigger in lesbian women and heterosexual men.

A UK scientist said this was evidence sexual orientation was set in the womb."


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not Nice to Call Your Wife a C***

Cliff Shecter exposes McCain's temper in his new book. And then exposes himself as extremely partisan on the Huffington Post.

What we know about the candidates' wives so far is that Michelle Obama is "unpatriotic", and according to her husband, Cindy wears too much makeup. I decided I'd like to know at least a little bit more about them.

According to, Cindy works for 3 volunteer organizations including one that she founded:

"As an advocate for children's health care needs, Cindy founded and ran the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT) from 1988 to 1995. AVMT provided emergency medical and surgical care to impoverished children throughout the world. Cindy led 55 medical missions to third world and war-torn countries during AVMT's seven years of existence. On one of those missions, Mother Teresa convinced Cindy to take two babies in need of medical attention to the United States. One of those babies is now their adopted daughter, 16-year-old Bridget McCain.

...In addition to her humanitarian work, Cindy is the chairman of her family's business, Hensley & Company, which is one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation."

Her family makes their money distributing Budweiser. What's more American than that?

Michelle Obama is on 6 Boards:
"Michelle's impressive resume includes: Former associate dean at the University of Chicago; a member of six boards of directors including the prestigious Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and Tree House Foods; and Vice President, Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. In this position she was responsible for all programs and initiatives that involve the relationships between the hospitals and the community as well as management of the hospitals' business diversity program."

The salary she received at the University of Chicago Hospital caused the conservative National Review to call her a hypocrite, saying that she was encouraging others to go into low paying service positions when she herself was making a hefty salary.

"What she doesn’t mention is that the helping industry has treated her pretty well. In 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mrs. Obama’s compensation at the University of Chicago Hospital, where she is a vice president for community affairs, jumped from $121,910 in 2004, just before her husband was elected to the Senate, to $316,962 in 2005, just after he took office."

Obama has said that his wife is off limits in the campaign, and as far as I can tell there is no information about her on the campaign website, except a brief sentence at the end of his bio - "But above all his accomplishments and experiences, he is most proud and grateful for his family. His wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia, 9, and Sasha, 7, live on Chicago's South Side." She is campaigning with him and for him though - so I think the idea that she's not a legitimate target is a stretch.

According to Squidoo (what the heck is Squidoo?)... Michelle was Barack's mentor at a Chicago Law Firm where he interned. Well she seems to take mentoring very seriously.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

STIFF, SOFT (money), and a Few Fun Puns

I'm in Seattle for our screening here on Tuesday at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF). Seattle is a fun town. Kind of obsessed with SEX. They have a make your own porn contest. And the girl at the University paper who was supposed to review my film, was reviewing a book about a porn star who gets gang banged by 500 guys... I was worried no one would be interested in the film, since there's no porn in it - but people have actually been pumped (pun intended) to talk about it. One dude here at the youth hostel kept tracking me down to add another thought to our conversation, until finally I was like - "Dude, are you stalking me?". So politics and porn are apparently compatible.

There's a new website by the Republicans featuring mostly nasty things that Hillary Clinton said about Obama, like - "Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign...Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002." Ouch.

I do find it strange in the experience department that people often don't count Obama's years as a community organizer. He talked about that experience in his commencement speech at Wesleyan, and it was very persuasive in demonstrating that he followed through on his convictions. He got a low paying job working in an tough neighborhood where he felt he could personally make a difference. That's the kind of experience I wish more of our lawmakers would put on their resume.

Both McCain and Obama are emphasizing service as a theme in their campaigns, and it is heartening to see that become more of an emphasis for national leaders. The RNC put out this press release where McCain says, "My friends, each and every one of us has a duty to serve a cause greater than our own self-interest."

Here are the better and worse angels of the conventions:

Better Angels:
The Republican convention staff has been doing volunteer work in the Minneapolis-St Paul area.

But the NY Times reports that both the Dems and Reps are using the conventions to raise millions of dollars in "soft money" and promising close consultation with elected officials in return.

"Brochures being sent to potential corporate donors by the Denver [Democratic] host committee say that “as a sponsor” of the convention, corporate executives will have access to as many as 232 members of Congress, 51 senators and 28 governors in what is being marketed as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. In addition, the more a company gives — with donations of as much as $1 million being sought — the more “V.I.P. access and other benefits” are offered, according to the brochures....

Whereas $1 million will buy the top sponsorship at the Democratic convention, the top sponsorship at the Republican convention, which provides the most access to politicians, has a $5 million price tag. Minnesota companies are getting squeezed the hardest — Fortune 500 companies based in the state are being asked to give at least $1 million, while smaller companies are being approached for donations in the $250,000-to-$500,000 range."