The struggles of a catholic progressive

The Golden Rule originates in a well-known Torah verse (Hebrew: “ואהבת לרעך כמוך”):

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

—Leviticus 19:18

This Torah verse represents one of several versions of the Golden Rule, which itself appears in various forms, positive and negative. It is the earliest written version of that concept in a positive form.

At the turn of the eras, the Jewish rabbis were discussing the scope of the meaning of Leviticus 19:18 and 19:34 extensively:

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God.

—Leviticus 19:34

Commentators summed up foreigners (= Samaritans), proselytes (= ‘strangers who resides with you’) (Rabbi Akiba, bQuid 75b) or Jews (Rabbi Gamaliel, yKet 3,1; 27a) to the scope of the meaning.

The Sage Hillel formulated a negative form of the golden rule. When asked to sum up the entire Torah concisely, he answered:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.

—Talmud, Shabbat 31a, the “Great Principle”

On the verse, “Love your fellow as yourself,” the classic commentator Rashi quotes from Torat Kohanim, an early Midrashic text regarding the famous dictum of Rabbi Akiva: “Love your fellow as yourself — Rabbi Akiva says this is a great principle of the Torah.”

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GRACE

The notion that God has foreordained who will be saved is generally called predestination. The concept of predestination peculiar to Calvinism, “double-predestination,” (in conjunction with limited atonement) is the most controversial expression of the doctrine. According to Reformed theology, the “good news” of the gospel of Christ is that God has freely granted the gift of salvation to those the Holy Spirit causes to believe; what He freely grants to some (the “elect” individuals), however, He also withholds from others (the “reprobate” individuals).Calvin sought to provide assurance to the faithful that God would actually save them. His teaching implied what came to be known as the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, the notion that God would actually save those who were his Elect. The actual status and ultimate state of any man’s soul were unknown except to God. When assurance of election was rigorously pressed as an experience to be sought, especially by the Puritans, this led to a legalism as rigid as the one Protestantism sought to reject, as men were eager to demonstrate that they were among the chosen by the conspicuous works-righteousness of their lives.The relatively radical positions of Reformed theology provoked a strong reaction from both Roman Catholics and Lutherans. In 1547, the Council of Trent, which sought to address and condemn Protestant objections, aimed to purge the Roman Catholic Church of controversial movements and establish an orthodox Roman Catholic teaching on grace and justification, as distinguished from the Protestant teachings on those concepts. It taught that justification and sanctification were elements of the same process. Grace, usually dispensed through the sacraments, actually enables believers to become more righteous and worthy through the power of the Holy Spirit, apart from the imputed righteousness belonging to Christ, and to perform good works that contribute to one’s salvation. Various actual Protestant doctrines were framed as extreme and unprecedented; they were associated with older heresies and generally condemned by the Council, whose work formed the basis for the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation.In 1618 James Arminius departed from Calvin’s theology and put forth a contrary position that sought to reaffirm man’s free will and responsibility in salvation, as opposed to the immutable, hidden, eternal decrees of Calvinism. Arminius taught that God’s grace was preveniently offered to all, and that all people have the real option to resist the call of the gospel. It is possible for a believer to backslide and abandon the faith, losing the salvation that believer truly once possessed. These positions came to be known as Arminianism. With respect to the Calvinist Reformed churches, they were firmly rejected by the Synod of Dort (1618–1619), and Arminian pastors were expelled from the Netherlands.

Later, John Wesley also rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. His most comprehensive pronouncement on the subject was his sermon “Free Grace,” preached at Bristol in 1740. In Wesley’s position, the believer who repents and accepts Christ is not “making himself righteous” by an act of his own will, such as would alter his dependency on the grace of God for his salvation. Faith and repentance, rather, are the believer’s trust in God that He will make them righteous. Wesley appealed to prevenient grace as a solution to the problem, stating that God makes the initial move in salvation, but human beings are free to respond or reject God’s graceful initiative.John Wesley believed that God provides three kinds of divine grace:Prevenient grace is innate from birth. “Prevenient” means “comes before.” Wesley did not believe that humanity was totally “depraved.” He believed everyone is born with a modicum of divine grace—just enough to enable the individual to recognize and accept God’s justifying grace.Justifying grace today is what is referred to as “conversion” or being “born again.” God’s justifying grace brings “new life in Christ.” Wesley believed that people have freedom of choice—to accept or to reject God’s justifying grace. Wesley defined his term Justifying grace as “The grace or love of God, whence cometh our salvation, is FREE IN ALL, and FREE FOR ALL.”Sustaining grace. Wesley believed that, after accepting God’s grace, a person is to move on in God’s sustaining grace toward perfection. Wesley did not believe in the “eternal security of the believer.” He believed people can make wrong (sinful) choices that will cause them to “fall from grace” or “backslide.” He said it is insufficient to claim God’s salvation and then stagnate, return to sinning deliberately, or not produce any evidence (fruit) of following Christ. Wesley taught that Christian believers are to participate in what Wesley called “the means of grace” and to continue to grow in the Christian life, assisted by God’s sustaining grace. Wesley’s opposition to Calvinism was more successful than Arminius’, especially in the United States where Arminianism would become the dominant school of soteriology of Evangelical Protestantism, largely because it was spread through popular preaching in a series of Great Awakenings. The churches of New England, with roots in Puritan Calvinism, tended to begin to reject their Calvinist roots, accepting Wesley’s expression of Arminianism, or overthrowing their historical doctrine entirely to depart into Socinianism or liberal theology. John Wesley was never a student of the influential Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609). The latter’s work was not a direct influence on Wesley. Yet, he chose the term “Arminianism” to distinguish the kind of Evangelicalism his followers were to espouse from that of their Calvinist theological opponents. Many have considered the most accurate term for Wesleyan theology to be “Evangelical Arminianism.” It remains the standard teaching of Methodist churches, and the doctrine of prevenient grace remains one of Methodism’s most important doctrines.

Roman CatholicRather than God’s property to be offered at His sole discretion, in Medieval Western Christianity at least, grace became a sort of spiritual currency, and the Church was its banker. Believers acquired grace by participating in the Church’s sacraments. The sacraments were effective in conferring God’s grace by virtue of their being performed, provided that the liturgist was authorized by the Church to perform them. The grace offered through the sacraments enabled Christians to lead better lives and to deepen their faith. In addition to sanctifying grace, merit was earned by good works; by this merit, believers can earn the right to rewards from God. This included the declaration by Trent that the faithful could be “accounted to have, by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life, and to have truly merited eternal life.” Conversely, sins reduce one’s merit before God and incur a debt to Him in the divine economy. According to Medieval Roman Catholicism, sufficiently serious sins not only remove merit, but also extinguish sanctifying grace in the baptized believer’s soul, which can be restored by the sacrament of penance. These sins are mortal sins or deadly sins. Less serious sins, venial sins, incur loss of merit. Believers whose accounts were overdrawn at the final accounting went to Hell; believers without enough merit for Heaven went to Purgatory, where they could work off the debt they owed to God.Fortunately, some saints achieved so much merit in their lifetimes on Earth that they got into Heaven with some to spare. This surplus was called works of supererogation, the Church’s treasury of surplus merit. The Church can offer the excess merit in its treasury to be applied to the deficits in merit suffered by its penitent sinners. Pope Clement VI proclaimed this to be a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in 1343.

ImageIt’s a timely subject; does the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantee all citizens the right to bear arms? The knee-jerk reaction of most of us is to respond, “Of course.” We have heard most of our lives that that is the case. But how many of us have read the Second Amendment, and listened to the words as plain spoken words, not some edict from on high? Read it with me, as passed by the Congress:

 

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

 

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:

 

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

 

Several commas are missing in the second version, but it does not change the argument; Because the United States, a new country which does not have a standing army, and just fought a revolutionary war with squirrel rifles and a militia made up of farmers, these same farmers who fought the war, and who stand ready to protect the country if needed, shall not be prohibited from keeping their squirrel rifles where they can get to them in a hurry.

 

That’s what I see when I read the second amendment. I read it in the context of the time and circumstances it was written. Does it stand the test of time? Does it apply to modern day citizens? The court has recently ruled that the guarantee is to private citizens, and it applies both to federal and state governments, so that’s the law. But it seems obvious to me that the framers were not thinking of a time when a huge, well-equipped military would be on permanent standby for the defense of the country. They were thinking of citizen/soldiers who had just won the independence from Great Britain.

 

Additionally, those who today speak of certain “second amendment solutions” to be taken if they don’t get their way at the voting booth are no doubt thinking of the words of the Declaration of Independence, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Many take this to be a statement that means that if the government doesn’t do as we wish, we have a right and duty as citizens to overthrow that government.

 

Once again, that is not what it says, and it cannot be reinterpreted to mean anything like that. And so we have a segment of the population who believes that the constitution gives them carte blanche to keep any weapon they need to overthrow the government of the United States.

 

This is, of course, crazy talk. It is against the law to advocate the overthrow the government by force and violence. Your recourse is at the ballot box – and all citizens have the right, responsibility and duty to vote.

 

Isn’t it interesting that these same people who advocate being able to keep weapons and overthrow the government are also the ones who advocate voter suppression, thus leaving those voters who they would suppress no recourse other than force and violence?

 

A very large majority of citizens believe that no one except the military should have access to assault weapons, much less tanks and bombs. But a small minority, because of the influence of the National Rifle Association and others and the huge amounts of money they put into the political system, has been able to over-rule the majority of the citizens of this country, and intimidate politicians into refusing to implement responsible governance. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being bullied by the minority.

Jesus spoke of his disciples being salt and leaven to the world. There can be no question that he never intended his followers to separate themselves from “the world.” He meant his followers to impact the world by involving themselves with those in need; those who are treated with prejudice in our society, those who are excluded, those who are denied employment, education, health care, housing. Those who considered themselves “holier-than-thou” in his society he described as serpents, whited sepulchers, and sons of satan. Meanwhile, he made friends and disciples of the prostitute, the thief, the tax collector, the beggar, the lame, the halt and the blind. He drank with drunkards and ate with sinners. He would no doubt be ministering to the prisoners who have been imprisoned for victim-less crimes or for their political views, the outcasts, the street people, the poor, the uninsured, the gay, the single mothers, the orphans, the abortionists, the unwanted born. He would not be hanging out with the Bishops who are “too holy” to be seen with other than the rich and privileged in our society. In fact, he said they have already received their reward on earth, and would receive none in Heaven. Now turn in your hymnals to number 149 and join in singing, “Everybody talking ’bout Heaven ain’t going there.”

NY Times

If you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him.

Some voters told reporters that they didn’t want Obama to run, let alone win, should his very presence unleash the demons who have stalked America from Lincoln to King. After consultation with Congress, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, gave Obama a Secret Service detail earlier than any presidential candidate in our history — in May 2007, some eight months before the first Democratic primaries.

“I’ve got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying,” Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.

Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.

All’s fair in politics. John McCain and Sarah Palin have every right to bring up William Ayers, even if his connection to Obama is minor, even if Ayers’s Weather Underground history dates back to Obama’s childhood, even if establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform. But it’s not just the old Joe McCarthyesque guilt-by-association game, however spurious, that’s going on here. Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly “even-handed” journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.

What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.

By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.

That’s a far cry from simply accusing Obama of being a guilty-by-association radical leftist. Obama is being branded as a potential killer and an accessory to past attempts at murder. “Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family” was how a McCain press release last week packaged the remembrance of a Weather Underground incident from 1970 — when Obama was 8.

We all know what punishment fits the crime of murder, or even potential murder, if the security of post-9/11 America is at stake. We all know how self-appointed “patriotic” martyrs always justify taking the law into their own hands.

Obama can hardly be held accountable for Ayers’s behavior 40 years ago, but at least McCain and Palin can try to take some responsibility for the behavior of their own supporters in 2008. What’s troubling here is not only the candidates’ loose inflammatory talk but also their refusal to step in promptly and strongly when someone responds to it with bloodthirsty threats in a crowded arena. Joe Biden had it exactly right when he expressed concern last week that “a leading American politician who might be vice president of the United States would not just stop midsentence and turn and condemn that.” To stay silent is to pour gas on the fires.

It wasn’t always thus with McCain. In February he loudly disassociated himself from a speaker who brayed “Barack Hussein Obama” when introducing him at a rally in Ohio. Now McCain either backpedals with tardy, pro forma expressions of respect for his opponent or lets second-tier campaign underlings release boilerplate disavowals after ugly incidents like the chilling Jim Crow-era flashback last week when a Florida sheriff ranted about “Barack Hussein Obama” at a Palin rally while in full uniform.

From the start, there have always been two separate but equal questions about race in this election. Is there still enough racism in America to prevent a black man from being elected president no matter what? And, will Republicans play the race card? The jury is out on the first question until Nov. 4. But we now have the unambiguous answer to the second: Yes.

McCain, who is no racist, turned to this desperate strategy only as Obama started to pull ahead. The tone was set at the Republican convention, with Rudy Giuliani’s mocking dismissal of Obama as an “only in America” affirmative-action baby. We also learned then that the McCain campaign had recruited as a Palin handler none other than Tucker Eskew, the South Carolina consultant who had worked for George W. Bush in the notorious 2000 G.O.P. primary battle where the McCains and their adopted Bangladeshi daughter were slimed by vicious racist rumors.

No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”

This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver.

The operatives who would have Palin quote Pegler have been at it ever since. A key indicator came two weeks after the convention, when the McCain campaign ran its first ad tying Obama to the mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Rather than make its case by using a legitimate link between Fannie and Obama (or other Democratic leaders), the McCain forces chose a former Fannie executive who had no real tie to Obama or his campaign but did have a black face that could dominate the ad’s visuals.

There are no black faces high in the McCain hierarchy to object to these tactics. There hasn’t been a single black Republican governor, senator or House member in six years. This is a campaign where Palin can repeatedly declare that Alaska is “a microcosm of America” without anyone even wondering how that might be so for a state whose tiny black and Hispanic populations are each roughly one-third the national average. There are indeed so few people of color at McCain events that a black senior writer from The Tallahassee Democrat was mistakenly ejected by the Secret Service from a campaign rally in Panama City in August, even though he was standing with other reporters and showed his credentials. His only apparent infraction was to look glaringly out of place.

Could the old racial politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and liberal panic) that this election will be decided by racist white men in the Rust Belt. Now even the dimmest bloviators have figured out that Americans are riveted by the color green, not black — as in money, not energy. Voters are looking for a leader who might help rescue them, not a reckless gambler whose lurching responses to the economic meltdown (a campaign “suspension,” a mortgage-buyout stunt that changes daily) are as unhinged as his wanderings around the debate stage.

To see how fast the tide is moving, just look at North Carolina. On July 4 this year — the day that the godfather of modern G.O.P. racial politics, Jesse Helms, died — The Charlotte Observer reported that strategists of both parties agreed Obama’s chances to win the state fell “between slim and none.” Today, as Charlotte reels from the implosion of Wachovia, the McCain-Obama race is a dead heat in North Carolina and Helms’s Republican successor in the Senate, Elizabeth Dole, is looking like a goner.

But we’re not at Election Day yet, and if voters are to have their final say, both America and Obama have to get there safely. The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.

Daily Kos

It was only slightly over a month ago that America was swept up in the carefully orchestrated GOP storm known as Sarah Palin. On August 29, 2008, John McCain told Americans that Palin is tenacious, tough, and could handle the job of Vice President just fine.  He praised her “grit”, “integrity”, and “good sense”.  He said that:

“She is exactly who this country needs to help us fight the same old Washington politics of me first and country second,”

Indeed, “Country First” has become the official McCain campaign slogan.  “USA! USA! USA!” is shouted by the frenzied, hate-filled, nationalistic crowds that gather to hear McCain and Palin speak.

What they don’t know about Palin is that her political career in Alaska was shaped by the ideology and support of fringe, anti-government, militia-organizing secessionists.

Here at dailyKos, we have but scratched the surface of Palin’s connection to the Alaska Independence Party (AIP). The big story that we suspected was there has finally been uncovered by Dave Neiwert and Max Blumenthal, who recently traveled to Wasilla, Alaska.

Neiwert laid the background for their AIP story in a September 22, 2008 article.  Of note:

This morning I interviewed John Stein, the former Wasilla mayor who was defeated by Palin in 1996 by using “a quiet campaign by some Palin supporters raising emotional issues like abortion and gun control, which had no apparent tie to municipal politics” — and as Phil Munger notes, a whisper campaign that Stein was secretly Jewish (Stein is a Lutheran).

The connection revolves mostly around three men known to have far-right leanings in the community: a builder named Steven Stoll, a computer repairman named Mark Chryson, and a third man named Mike Christ. All three subscribed to a bellicose, “Patriot” movement brand of politics — far-right libertarianism with a John Birch streak.

According to Stein, Steven Stoll — whose local nickname, according to Phil Munger, is “Black Helicopter Steve” — was involved in militia organizing in Wasilla the 1990s, and subscribed to most of the movement’s paranoid conspiracy theories: “The rumor was that he had wrapped his guns in plastic and buried them in his yard so he could get them after the New World Order took over.”

The “black helicopter” concept “became popular in the United States militia movement, and in associated political circles, in the 1990s as an alleged symbol and warning sign of a conspiratorial totalitarian military takeover of part or all of the United States”.  Timothy McVeigh, among others, was a firm believer.

Neiwert and Blumenthal followed up with a fantastic article published yesterday in Salon. If you weren’t already convinced that John McCain’s team had no idea what they were doing when they chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, you will be after reading this story.

Meet Sarah Palin’s best Alaska pals:

Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin. An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin’s campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory.

Palin backed Chryson as he successfully advanced a host of anti-tax, pro-gun initiatives, including one that altered the state Constitution’s language to better facilitate the formation of anti-government militias. She joined in their vendetta against several local officials they disliked, and listened to their advice about hiring. She attempted to name Stoll, a John Birch Society activist known in the Mat-Su Valley as “Black Helicopter Steve,” to an empty Wasilla City Council seat. “Every time I showed up her door was open,” said Chryson. “And that policy continued when she became governor.”

So let’s get this straight. John McCain’s team chose someone whose political career was tightly interwoven with – and supported by – extremists. Not just average wingnuts. Extremists. Radicals. A secessionist and a paranoid militia organizer.

There is much, much more in the article, including a brief history of the AIP:

“The Alaskan Independence Party has got links to almost every independence-minded movement in the world,” Chryson exclaimed. “And Alaska is not the only place that’s about separation. There’s at least 30 different states that are talking about some type of separation from the United States.”

This has meant rubbing shoulders and forging alliances with outright white supremacists and far-right theocrats, particularly those who dominate the proceedings at such gatherings as the North American Secessionist conventions, which AIP delegates have attended in recent years.

The AIP has also had a long association with the Constitution Party, which has had a prominent role in a number of racist “patriot” (i.e. militia) movements.

Neiwert summarizes the article at his blog:

Essentially here’s what we found:

  • That Gov. Palin, when a Wasilla city council member, formed an alliance with some of the more radical far-right citizens in Wasilla and vicinity, particularly members of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party who were allied with local John Birch Society activists. These activists played an important role in her election as Wasilla mayor in 1996.
  • Once mayor, one of Mrs. Palin’s first acts was to attempt to appoint one of these extremists (a man named Steve Stoll) to her own seat on the city council. This was a man with a history of disrupting city council meetings with intimidating behavior. She was blocked by a single city council member.
  • Afterward, Mrs. Palin fired the city’s museum director at the behest of this faction.
  • She fomented an ultimately successful effort to derail a piece of local gun-control legislation which would simply have prohibited the open carry of firearms into schools, liquor stores, libraries, courthouses and the like. The people recruited to shout this ordinance down included these same figures, notably the local AIP representative (who became the AIP’s chairman that same year).
  • She remained associated politically with the local AIP/Birch faction throughout her tenure as mayor on other issues, particularly a successful effort to amend the Alaska Constitution to prohibit local governments from issuing any local gun-control ordinances.

In general, we found that not only did Mrs. Palin have numerous associations with these extremists, she actively sought to empower them locally and to enact their agendas both locally and on a state level.

We sent an e-mail to the McCain/Palin campaign asking for their reaction to these findings, and have so far received no response. If and when we do, we’ll update.

So, McCain’s cute lil’ sidekick, that all-American hockey mom, the “pitbull with lipstick” that the cable news networks just couldn’t get enough of for weeks, is actually so far removed from mainstream American politics and ideals that it’s impossible to imagine her ever handling the job for which she has been recruited.

She may inspire the fringe, and may be able to tell voters the best way to store their gold and guns when the black helicopters come, but she’s clearly the worst possible choice McCain could have made for his potential successor.

by wmtriallawyer

Geez, Senator McCain, when the wheels come off the Straight Talk Express, they really come off, don’t they?

Word comes today, after your campaign essentially said that you wouldn’t “go there” with respect to Obama-Ayers, that you decide to go there with a 90 second web ad. Not unexpected, given the lying and hypocrisy of your campaign.

But what really jumps the shark is this segment of the ad:

Ayers and Obama ran a radical “education” foundation, together.
They wrote the foundation’s by-laws, together.
Obama was the foundation’s first chairman.

Radical? Really? President Reagan on line one for you, Senator.

I have a feeling President Reagan would probably take you task pretty harshly.  The picture below, as they say, is worth 1,000 words, and explains why:

Photobucket

That photo is from 1981, and it shows President Reagan with Walter and Leonore Annenberg. Walter Annenberg was a billionaire, philanthropist, and a pretty well known Republican, friend of both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Why is this significant? Because the so-called “radical education foundation” that Obama and Ayers served on was actually the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an initative started by the Annenberg Foundation to promote public school reform that was the brainchild of Annenberg himself.

Here’s another delicious nugget, Sen. McCain, if you consider the program “radical.” The program was actually a pretty unique hybrid that in many ways espoused the conservative viewpoint of using private money, rather than public funds, to reform education.  Indeed, this was one of those “private-public” collaborations that Republicans were fond of promoting (or least used to be fond of promoting until you came along, Sen. McCain).  The Annenberg Foundation matched 2-to-1 every public dollar spent on the project.

Annenberg, that pesky radical, started the program with this goal in mind:

“Everybody around the world wants to send their kids to our universities. South America, Asia, Europe, all of them. But nobody wants to send their kids here to public school. Who would, especially in a big city? Nobody. So we’ve got to do something. If we don’t, our civilization will collapse.”

So Annenberg ponied up the dough, and the Annenberg Foundation solicited grant applications from around the country.  Guess who’s grant application won? That’s right, William Ayers

I mean, my God, Senator McCain…Walter Annenberg, friend of the Reagans, gave nearly $50 million dollars to a well known terrorist? To improve public schools?  Did the Reagans know about this? What could the implications possibly be???

And this is where you, Senator McCain, have become the radical in this debate.  You try to spin “public-private” partnership, established by one of the pillars of the Republican Party, as “radical.”  You attempt so much guilt by association that you ignore that by your logic, Annenberg and by extension Reagan, associated with terrorists.  You have become a disgrace to your party, and your country, with this incidiary rhetoric and lies.

You, Senator. Not Barack Obama.

So I have no doubt that given the personal friendship President Reagan had with the Annenbergs, he would tell you to stop using his name as a primary example of whose legacy you really want to follow.

And while were on the subject, Teddy Roosevelt is on line two.  He wants a cease-and-desist order as well…

because your radical rhetoric is the furthest thing from speaking softly Teddy has seen in years.

UPDATE: Oh, Sen. McCain? Leonore Annenberg on line three.  As has been pointed out by several commenters, she is a donor to your campaign.  Given that you’ve now called the Annenberg Foundation “radical,” does that mean you are associating yourself with radicals, too? Just checking…

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