AYERS / KEATING

The McCain/Palin team have decided to take the campaign negative, suggesting Senator Obama’s love for his country is suspect when he consort with terrorists. The ‘terrorists’ referred to are a guy named Bill Ayers who, in his efforts to stop the Vietnam War, did a really terrible thing – 40 years ago, when Obama was 8 years old – which Senator Obama has publicly deplored, and which, just for the record, I deplore, too.

Ayers is now a professor of education at the University of Illinois. Does that make all the professors and students who know him terrorist sympathizers, too?

According to the Washington Post, the two men served on the board of an anti-poverty group from 1999 to 2002. Ayers contributed $200 to Obama’s Illinois State Senate race in 2001.

But since the McCain campaign has decided this is important . . . and since we are evidently supposed to be upset with Obama for associating with a Professor of Education who did deplorable things when Obama was 8 . . . how should we feel about Senator McCain’s association with Charles Keating?

Instead of $200, McCain received $112,000 in campaign contributions. And a lavish family vacation. And his wife had ties to Keating as well. Billions of taxpayer dollars were ultimately affected – our money – and, at the very least, Senator McCain was found guilty of having used ‘poor judgment.’

Watch this video and see what you think. Which association – Obama associating with a Professor engaged in anti-poverty work or McCain associating with a savings and loan executive known at the time to have grossly violated the banking laws – is the more disturbing?

GREED AND EXCESS

In last night’s debate, Senator McCain repeatedly referred to ‘greed and excess.’ We all deplore greed. And it’s comforting to know that Senator McCain – whose family owns seven homes (see one here), 13 cars, and a private jet – deplores excess. But haven’t the tax cuts for the very wealthy, when we have giant deficits and are fighting two wars, been excessive? He wants to preserve and widen them.

PLANETERIA

The Senator mocked $3 million earmarked to replace a failing 40-year-old projector for Chicago’s planetarium. You can certainly argue that things like this should not be approved without Congressional debate. Or, more realistically – since it would be completely unworkable to discuss every $3 million item in a $3 trillion budget ($3 million is literally one millionth of the budget) – you could argue that the federal government should fund no small local projects. But is this really where Senator McCain wants to put his emphasis in a Presidential debate when the economy is in crisis? That we should not upgrade a failing planetarium at a time we hope to educate and excite school kids about science and their universe?

Meanwhile, Governor Palin led the way for construction of a $15 million sports complex for what she likes to call ‘the City of Wasilla.’ I don’t mock the complex – the townsfolk voted for raising their sales tax to pay the interest on the debt incurred to build it. But given that Chicago is even larger than Wasilla, and that science education may be as important as sports, why is $3 million for the planetarium worth mocking? (It was presumably the Senator’s best example of Obama’s profligacy, or he would have used a different one.)

This earmark was less than one-hundredth the size of the Bridge to Nowhere earmark that McCain’s own running mate had been pushing for (before it became an embarrassment, was killed, and she said, ‘no thanks’).

But see? He’s managed to get me off track. We should be talking about the economy, not a planetarium. And if you can find a few minutes, you should watch the Keating video.

 

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