Tell John McCain The Politics of Hate Won’t Work

Dear Senator McCain and Governor Palin,

Time and again in America, people of all races and backgrounds have overcome division and fear, and come together to uplift the country and create a more equal and just society. It’s part of what makes this country great.

With an African-American nominee running on a major party ticket and a woman on the Republican ticket for the first time in history, this campaign has seen Americans–men and women of all races–inspired to continue that great tradition, coming together to bridge the gaps that history has set between us in service of our national progress.

But let us be clear: while we have made great strides in this country when it comes to racial equality, we are not finished. Now, more than ever, we need leadership that understands that we live in complex times where too many are quick to judge another by the complexion of their skin or the sound of their name.

In the last few weeks, Senator McCain and Governor Palin, rhetoric at your campaign events has taken an increasingly dangerous tone that seems to ignore the precarious state of our progress when it comes to race and ethnicity.

Supporters at your rallies and other events have used hateful language and called for violence against Sen. Obama yelling “kill him!” “off with his head!” and “bomb Obama.”

For the most part, you have stood by in silence. In addition, you have also repeatedly made statements that somehow connect Senator Obama with terrorism. Your surrogates have emphasized his middle name. This is problematic and dangerous, and we believe helps create the conditions that have given rise to these incidents of violent rhetoric from some of your supporters.

Today, we’re standing together as Americans of all political persuasions to express our deep concern that the decisions of your campaign are contributing to a dangerous atmosphere of paranoia, division, and hate that, as we have already seen, has the potential to seriously harm our country and its progress.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

In these trying times, candidates seeking the highest offices in the land must call on the best in each of us, and call off the worst.

We urge you to join people of conscience from all races and backgrounds to reject the politics of division and fear, and come together to uplift the country and create a more equal and just society.

— The undersigned —

Sign the letter here

Open Letter to Sen. Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

Since January of this year, I’ve been absolutely committed to getting you elected. I’ve donated to your campaign, I’ve canvassed for you, I’ve volunteered to work in the office around the corner, and I’ve even put my marriage into severe stress by refusing to sit idly by and once again allow my Republican spouse to cancel out my vote.

But I need your help. And I need it now.

I knew it was going to be a rough campaign. I even suspected that Sarah Palin would be the choice for their ticket after seeing her profiled earlier this year. Why didn’t you?

I also suspected that the Republicans would use every single weapon at their disposal, including the financial markets, race, war, and terrorism (their little deck of fear) to intimidate voters into electing them.

But I believed you when you called upon us to be the New American Majority. This is what I wrote in February:

We are the new American majority. We have a voice. We walk streets, we make phone calls, we give what we can, even if it’s just $3.01 at a time. We are speaking for ourselves rather than waiting for someone to speak for us. We want our country back, and we want our standing back in the world. We’re tired of the naysayers who leave our fates in the hands of Wall Street and the Halliburtons, Diebolds and Blackwaters of the world. We are no longer going to stand idly by and have our lives and quality of our lives dictated to us by lobbyists and corporations.

This is not hate. It is democracy.

But Senator Obama, we can’t do this by ourselves. When Bill Clinton gives an interview praising Sarah Palin’s political acumen and you fall silent, what am I to think? When Hillary Clinton won’t come out with both guns blazing against her, I can only assume that your choice of Joe Biden so offended them that they plan now to toss the election over to McCain — their Plan B.

The fierce urgency of NOW isn’t just a phrase to inspire voters, Senator Obama. You have to get it, too.

This week has just about snuffed out the hope. That’s what McCain and the Republicans want. They want us to be afraid, to believe in nothing, to be emotionally and financially bankrupt, bent and spent, looking up and reaching up for them to rescue us.

We don’t need rescuing; we need your voice. We need you to get down on their level, to tell the voters the truth just like you said you would. Tell them that Sarah Palin is no more qualified to succeed McCain as President as she is to be dogcatcher. Ask them if they want Vice President Palin to be in contempt of Congress the same way Vice President Cheney is now. Point it out, shout it out! Ask the voters if they really think it’s a good idea to surrender to snark.

Did you learn nothing from the primaries? Hillary Clinton won by snarking her way right past you. And now she and Bill are handing a victory to McCain by signalling permission to their supporters. What Bill Clinton said in that interview was that Sarah Palin was competent because she could play politics.

I’ve seen Sarah Palins in my lifetime. They’re the cheerleaders that steal boyfriends because they can, the antagonists that walk into healthy groups and leave them shattered and broken with their backbiting and gossip, the women who stand up and preen their righteousness while their kids flip them off behind their backs. They’re the ‘beautiful ones’, the ones with enough bite to keep honesty at bay, just enough brains to convince everyone they’re right, and two-faced enough to tell everyone else you’re wrong. (For even more examples, read this)

Sarah Palin is dangerous. Until you neutralize her, you risk losing this election. And it must be YOU. Not Biden. Not Clinton. Not Michelle. YOU.

You are the one who has to call her what she is. Ambitious and incompetent. You are the one who has to point it out, and once you do, then you can call McCain out for taking such a dangerous risk with our country. Did you hear her yesterday, calling it the Palin-McCain administration? Where were YOU? Why weren’t you on it?

You have said you are running on change. As Steve said on NewsGang yesterday, the only thing that has changed since the convention is the selection of Sarah Palin. As the change candidate, it’s up to you to address the change, take it out, neutralize it.

Because as much as I want to be all hopey and stuff, after this week I’m as pessimistic as I’ve ever been. People will surrender hope to fear. They do it all the time. It’s a crisis of courage. And I guarantee you that if you don’t stand up and lead the way on this, they will falter. If they falter, you will fail. And if you fail, we will not have a country left to stand for. We will be a burned-out husk of our former glory, owned by China, loathed by all, and quite possibly vulnerable to far, far worse than we’ve seen so far.

Do you want to win? Do you want the opportunity to actually do what you’ve said you’ll do? Do you want my support?

Stop with the wonkitude and stand up to Palin. She’s your threat. Not McCain. She’s who they want in office, not McCain.

Just. do it. Now. Because there is an urgency to now. Because we need you to show us that you can lead, and that you can push our enemies out of the way to do it.

Merrill, Lehman, Bank of America: Financial Chaos?

With the news of Lehman’s frenzied courting of Barclay’s for a shotgun marriage, and the elopement of Merrill and Bank of America, everyone is nervous. On the Twitter stream, the buzz is that the end of America is nigh, that maybe even the end of the world is upon us.

This was not entirely unexpected. The ball was put in motion at the end of March when the subprime crisis finally burst into the public consciousness in a big way, Bear Stearns failed, and Lehman teetered on the edge.

Last week’s bailout of FreddieMac and FannieMae simply brought the next round of illiquid financial institutions to the fore.

Hear this: We have a situation, brought on by a national addiction to credit on an individual, corporate and governmental level. It’s not going to go away anytime soon. It’s not going to get easier.

As long as our government continues to finance the Iraq War with abandon, credit will be tighter, financial institutions will be as squeezed as the individual, and our nation will leverage the future of our children in the name of “national security”. Just as a reminder, the architect of the blueprint for the failure of these financial institutions can be laid directly at the feet of Phil Gramm, John McCain’s chief economic adviser. McCain continues to try to tell Americans he will not raise taxes and will extend the Bush tax cuts, but he does not admit that what he proposes is impossible.

This is important, because it goes straight to the heart of our faltering economy. There is no question that the debt we’re racking up in Iraq (last tally it was 3 TRILLION). Despite the Bush Administration promise that Iraqis would help foot the bill, the facts say otherwise. They have not contributed one penny to the debt the US has accumulated during our occupation of their country. Why should they? It’s not as if we were invited in, and asked to stay.

The continued shakiness of our financial institutions and Federal bailout responses are cause for concern, but not cause for panic. It is not time to make a run on the bank. It IS time to be smart about how your money is banked. Make sure you’ve got cash in FDIC-backed institutions, be prudent and get rid of as much personal debt as possible. (I have more suggestions here).

As a third-party pension administrator, I admit to having concern about how 401(k) investors are going to react to today’s news. As the single largest cash investor in US markets, it’s really important that participants in 401(k) plans react with caution, rather than on impulse. Retirement plans are long-term investments, and investors have an opportunity to buy at bargain-basement prices while the markets react to the Lehman/Merrill news. This is not a time to pull funds out of the market; it’s an opportunity to leverage the state of the market for future growth.

But on a higher level, all of us need to ask how much bleaker this economy will get before we’re staring down a full-fledged depression. While McCain and Bush try to tell us it’s in our heads, facts remain facts.

Paul Krugman:

To understand the problem, you need to know that the old world of banking, in which institutions housed in big marble buildings accepted deposits and lent the money out to long-term clients, has largely vanished, replaced by what is widely called the “shadow banking system.” Depository banks, the guys in the marble buildings, now play only a minor role in channeling funds from savers to borrowers; most of the business of finance is carried out through complex deals arranged by “nondepository” institutions, institutions like the late lamented Bear Stearns — and Lehman.

The new system was supposed to do a better job of spreading and reducing risk. But in the aftermath of the housing bust and the resulting mortgage crisis, it seems apparent that risk wasn’t so much reduced as hidden: all too many investors had no idea how exposed they were.

This is the problem in a nutshell. The twisty passages of current banking and securities law have done a wildly effective job of hiding vulnerabilities until it’s far too late to correct without drastic measures. The best solution is going to be a steady diet of transparency, mandatory disclosures, belt-tightening, and putting an end to the bleeding of our resources into Iraq.

Areas to watch: Insurance companies, who typically invest heavily in the mortgage markets but usually have lower liquidity needs than brokerage houses and banks, and the larger institutions like Bank of America and Citibank. As they consolidate and bring the troubled securities children under their corporate umbrella, there should be concern that they are not putting us at greater risk by concentrating exposure in one place.

Oh, and listen carefully to what John McCain has to say about this latest shakeout. My guess is that he will try to brush it off as less than it is or write it off to market adjustment. Don’t believe him. I cannot say this loudly enough. Attention should and must be paid to this. That doesn’t mean panic, it means heads-up, stay alert, and watch your back.

Someone should ask Sarah Palin how she’d handle this too. I’d love to hear her very detailed and experienced answer.

Why Evangelical Christians Should Vote for Obama

I am a Christian. I cannot imagine being a Republican. I cannot in one million years imagine myself choosing to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin. Not only that, but I cannot imagine any Christian being in agreement with them morally, ethically or any other way. Here are my reasons:

  1. The false claim that they are pro-life Make no mistake here. Someone who is pro-life respects ALL life, not simply the lives of the unborn. John McCain’s philosophy is that life is respected as long as that life agrees with him. Note, for example, that he has no compunction about starting wars pre-emptively, with or without a sound and verified reason to do so. In Iraq, the losses have been monumental, and not simply US troops and support personnel, but hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, too. Yet, the drumbeat from the McCain campaign is simply “I know how to win wars.”

    My response to that claim? If you know, why haven’t you marched up to the White House and passed that knowledge on to the guy running the country right now? And further, if you know, why can’t you define “victory” in Iraq? And even further, why won’t General Petraeus proclaim that Iraq is “winnable”?

  2. John McCain lies. He has lied repeatedly, or allowed lies to be spread about his opponent for the sake of winning and winning only. This is not the hallmark of a Christian, who is instructed to “love one another”, to “turn the other cheek”, to not submit to the earthly authorities, but heavenly authorities. Christians should be very, very aware that John McCain is exactly the type of person Jesus preached against: no compassion for the poor, the sick, those in need.

    Truth-telling is a fundamental pillar of Christianity. Entire books of the Bible are dedicated to unpeeling the layers of humanity and exposing truth and wisdom. From a purely moral standpoint, lying to the country in order to achieve personal objectives is unchristian, immoral, and shouldn’t be rewarded, particularly by evangelical Christians. What message do you send when you embrace a proven liar about your own message?

    Not only that, but his transition team is loaded with representatives from the interests that are funding him. Beware, Christians, of a man who has been bought and paid for with the money of corporations.

  3. John McCain, a POW who suffered unspeakable torture, endorsed torture and didn’t simply endorse it, he voted for it! Christians, Jesus was tortured. This is as fundamental as the question of respecting life. Christians do NOT endorse torture. It’s wrong. It’s inhuman. It is absolutely and completely against the principles Jesus taught. I will say it again: torture is NOT a Christian principle.
  4. The Supreme Court appointments Here’s why: Roe v. Wade is not the primary concern I have with the balance of the Supreme Court, nor should it concern evangelicals. What SHOULD concern evangelicals is that the conservative court wishes to expand the powers of the executive into an unbalanced and overly-powerful state, which places each and every Christian, Jew, and Muslim at risk of persecution in a country which professes freedom of religion! Christians are to be of in the world but not in of the world; it is not our mission to create an earthly authority that we then place ourselves under, because according to Christian principles, our only authority is in heaven.

Issues that shouldn’t concern Christians, no matter what Sarah Palin and John McCain say

  • Resistance to teaching creationism in the schools 1. Why? Because these are principles to teach at home, and in a Christian home, the parents are and should be the first authority for these teachings, as well as the moral authority for their children. This is what the Bible teaches. This is what Christians should embrace. Why on earth would any Christian hand the responsbility for these subjects to the government?
  • Abortion Again, the reasons are clear for this. Christians can participate in the political process but not rely upon it to teach their children about children, family, morality, or choices. Leaving abortion as a choice in the political realm does not mean Christians must submit to it. In fact, they have a duty not to.
  • Homosexuality Christians are called not to judge others, lest they be judged. The mission of evangelical Christians is to bring the love of Christ to ALL people. Not just straight people and not just people they like. All people. Consequently, Christians should not consider these sorts of wedge issues or give them more weight than the true moral questions of how we treat our fellow man (torture); and whether respect for life includes all lives, at home and abroad, infant or adult.

By now, you should see where I’m going with my bottom line. Evangelical Christians stand a far better chance of furthering their purpose and mission if they do NOT vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin. These are morally bankrupt people, willing to sell themselves and every principle they may once have held dear in order to gain earthly power. This is antithetical to what we are taught as Christians, which is to respect the authority which comes from heaven and submit to it, to live in the world but not of the world, to show compassion, tend to the needy and sick…to meet people where they are and love them.

Why are Christians abrogating their heavenly authority to earthly authorities? Morality isn’t something to be legislated; it’s something to be lived. While I am not arguing that Barack Obama is perfect by any stretch, I do believe he has respect, understanding, and regard for the rights of evangelicals to live their principles, teach their children, and help them to make choices that are good, moral, and help, not harm others.

One final thought, as it relates to me. If you read back through this blog, you will discover language that is not Christian, thoughts that are unkind, inconsistent with the principles of Christianity. I own that. I’m human, just like everyone else, and I’m absolutely not qualified to run for President, just based on the hypocrisy of the language here. What I’m asking is that if you are an evangelical Christian and truly, thoughtfully concerned about what has happened to our country, that you weight the purpose we are called for against what McCain and Palin stand for. I believe you will come to the same conclusion as I.

1This post is written specifically for Christian readers. It is not intended to disrespect people who don’t agree, but it presumes some basic Christian beliefs. I do not want to argue about intelligent design, or creationism as part of this post. I presume that the intended audience has a position on these issues and what I am arguing is whether or not it is something that Christians should look to government to teach.