Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCain's Religious Intolerance: Invoking "Judeo-Christian Values"

I don't think John McCain really understands that the United States was founded primarily on the ideals and principles of the Enlightenment, rather than simply "Judeo-Christian values.” Sure, such religious values played an indirect role in the founding of the country, but the fact remains that our founders were convinced that an official state religion should be avoided at all costs. Indeed, several of our founding fathers - including Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin - were actually deists rather than traditional Christians. More importantly, the First Amendment guarantees “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

McCain, who graduated at the bottom of his class in the Naval Academy, probably doesn't even comprehend such important constitutional principles as the separation of church and state. His confusion was certainly evident at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California last week, when he declared: "Our Judeo-Christian principles dictate that we do what we can to help people who are oppressed throughout the world."

The main problem with such language is his use of the collective “our,” which implies strongly that American values are synonymous with Judeo-Christian values. Of course, this was not the first time that McCain has used such exclusionary language, effectively rejecting the contributions and values of Americans that do not practice either Judaism or Christianity. As The Boston Globe observed recently, McCain uses such language often and in a variety of contexts. For instance, he recently praised small-town Americans by noting, "The Judeo-Christian values that they hold are the strength of America."

He has even used such language in reference to job training programs. Referring to laid-off workers this past February, he proclaimed, "We've got to educate and train these people. It is a Judeo-Christian values nation and it's an obligation we have and we are not doing it."

Even more disturbing, McCain appeared to embrace a religious test for President in comments he made last year in an interview with Beliefnet, hinting very strongly that non-Judeo-Christians need not apply. As he stated: "The number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the president of the United States is, 'Will this person carry on in the Judeo-Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?"

On a practical level, McCain’s theocratic comments have potentially serious repercussions not only for the civil liberties of Americans, but also for U.S. foreign policy and international relations. For example, in justifying the U.S.-led “preemptive” invasion of Iraq, McCain said the following in 2006:

"This just wasn't the elimination of a threat to Iraq - this was elimination of a threat to the West, part of this titanic struggle we are in between western Judeo-Christian values and principles and Islamic extremists."

He made similar comments earlier this year about Iran at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. In reacting to a new intelligence report that had downplayed the threat of Iran's nuclear program, McCain quickly listed other reasons to be distrustful of the Iranians. As he stated: "And they sure don't share our Judeo-Christian values."

It’s really disturbing that McCain is identifying non-Judeo-Christian countries (with predominately Muslim populations) as problematic for the U.S, simply because of reputed differences in religious values. In effect, McCain is framing such countries as part of an ostensible “clash of religions,” as was noted in the Boston Globe article. Much to the chagrin of the Muslim world, McCain constantly conflates Islam in general with the war on terror. He has implicitly referred to Islam as an “alien” faith that is deemed to be threatening to the “Judeo-Christian” world.

Last week, as Christianity Today noted, McCain argued in favor of supporting Georgia in its conflict with Russia by noting twice approvingly that “Georgia is a Christian nation.” McCain seemed to be praising Georgia for adopting Christianity as its official religion, implying that predominately Muslim nations and breakaway provinces in the region - such as Chechnya and Azerbaijan – are not as deserving of U.S. support.

McCain's theocratic rhetoric is just one more reason why I am convinced that he is a very dangerous man who would likely start a war with Iran or other predominately Muslim countries for foolish, irrational reasons. Based on such imprudent and ignorant comments, McCain is not intellectually fit to be commander in chief.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

John McCain's Computer Illiteracy

With Barack Obama, we likely have the most technologically-savvy candidate for President in the history of the country. He's revolutionized campaigning and fundraising with his web-based system. Google CEO Eric Schmidt and numerous other leaders in the technology sector have endorsed him. He has own iPod playlist. More importantly, Obama has an innovative series of policy proposals on technology issues. In contrast, John McCain is technologically illiterate. Significantly, his campaign's web page barely even mentions technology policy.

By his own admission, John McCain is completely dependent on his wife for e-mail correspondence and other forms of computer-mediated communication. He doesn’t even own a computer, as he admits when questioned in the following video:

Why is it important that McCain lacks any basic knowledge when it comes to information technology? With countless thousands of business transactions taking place every second on the web, McCain’s technological illiteracy could have potentially serious repercussions for decisions concerning economic and technology policies if he somehow becomes President (heaven forbid). With the constant threat of technological terrorism, it’s also a matter of national security. McCain’s cyberspace ignorance and apparent technophobia is not only embarrassing, it’s inexcusable for anyone working in government not to know how to use the Internet. Do we really need a modern-day Luddite in the Oval Office?

In fact, as the following video observes, what happens at 3 a.m. in the White House if President McCain is awakened from his slumber and told that he needs to read a vital e-mail message?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Idiocy of John McCain

Over the past few weeks, I’ve grown increasingly weary of John McCain’s negative and often dishonest attacks on Barack Obama. Among other things, McCain has often accused Obama of lacking “the knowledge and judgment” to be President. This past week’s ad depicting Obama as a vacuous celebrity akin to Britney Spears or Paris Hilton is the most recent example of such sophomoric absurdity coming from the McCain campaign. In reality, Obama is one of the brightest and most knowledgeable candidates for President to come down the pike in decades.

But in this blog I want to focus on McCain, not Obama. It’s high time that McCain is revealed as the one who is truly ignorant and uninformed on a wide range of issues. Despite his vaunted “experience,” it is painfully obvious that McCain is not only unknowledgeable about many important domestic and international issues facing the country, but lacks even a rudimentary understanding of the economy and foreign affairs.

Certainly, all candidates make occasional gaffes in their speeches and press conferences. But in contrast to most politicians, McCain never seems to learn from his misstatements. Instead, he repeats the same erroneous comments over and over again.

It’s high time to list the Top Ten Reasons why John McCain is an idiot:

1. By his own admission, McCain “barely passed” his coursework in college. He also finished at the very bottom of his class in the U.S. naval academy. He was ranked 894th of 899 among academy graduates in the class of 1958. Can the guy even read and write? I wonder sometimes.

2. One thing we know for sure is that McCain has never really used the Internet and lacks any basic knowledge when it comes to information technology. He revealed as much at last year’s Republican YouTube debate. You know, even my elderly mother has surfed the web and used e-mail. McCain’s Internet ignorance and technophobia is not only embarrassing, it’s inexcusable for anyone working in government to not know how to use the Internet. Do we really need a modern-day Luddite in the Oval Office?

3. Maybe if McCain could surf the web he might have discovered that Czechoslovakia no longer exists. He has mentioned this “country” several times in recent weeks, even after the media reminded him that the “Velvet Divorce” of 1993 resulted in the end of Czechoslovakia. Of course, his inability to remember such “details” is readily apparent. Ironically, even George W. Bush caught McCain making the same mistake in a 2000 Republican presidential debate. You know it’s pretty bad when Bush’s knowledge of world affairs apparently exceeds that of McCain. I doubt that even Bush believes that Iraq and Pakistan share a border, or that Vladimir Putin is the President of Germany, as McCain has stated recently.

4. Speaking of Bush, McCain was a zealous supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq – the most idiotic foreign policy decision in recent American history. By his own admission at a Republican presidential debate in June 2007, McCain voted to authorize the U.S. military invasion of Iraq without even glancing at the formal National Intelligence Estimate. If he had read the report he might have discovered that the intelligence community was divided over whether or not Saddam was developing WMDs. Once again I ask: Can McCain even read?

5. Apparently, McCain never anticipated any kind of insurgency in Iraq. As he famously said at the time of the 2003 invasion, the U.S. military will be “greeted as liberators.” Of course, in recent months McCain has repeatedly confused the Shiites with the Sunnis. His favorite lap dog, Joe Lieberman, had to correct him on the ground in Iraq by whispering the facts into his ear. But then McCain continued to confuse the two sects in the days that followed, even noting erroneously on a couple of different occasions that Iran (which is Shiite-dominated) was supporting (Sunni) al-Qaida in Iraq.

6. McCain’s confusion about Iraq has also been apparent in his claim that the surge of U.S. troops happened before the Sunni (Anbar) Awakening. But as all military experts acknowledge, the Awakening preceded the surge by several months, thus contributing to the current decline in sectarian violence. Despite such facts, McCain’s has so far refused to acknowledge his mistake about the war’s chronology. Not only is he idiotic, but also apparently too stubborn to admit any factual errors.

7. McCain’s ignorance about the Middle East is compounded by his juvenile sense of humor – which could be quite dangerous as President. Echoing Beavis and Butthead, McCain responded gleefully about the prospect of “bombing” another country. Asked at town hall meeting in April 2007 if there was a plan to attack Iran, McCain began his answer by changing the words to a classic Beach Boys' song. As he stated to the crowd, "You know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran?” He then preceded to sing, "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran." Can someone please say “dumb ass diplomacy?” Is this sophomoric behavior really what we want to see in a possible commander-in-chief?

8. For months, McCain has been touting his support of a “gas tax holiday” for the summer months. This particular policy has been roundly criticized by virtually all economists and energy experts as fallacious and ill conceived. But McCain – out of stubborn ignorance or blissful dementia – has refused to abandon this foolhardy initiative.

9. Of course, by his own admission, McCain doesn’t know much about the economy. As he told the Wall Street Journal in November 2007: “I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.” Judging from McCain’s previous dismal attempts at being “educated” while in college, I don’t have high hopes that his knowledge on economic issues will improve in the Oval Office.

10. When it comes to the economy, McCain never seems to miss an opportunity to tout the Bush tax cuts that have disproportionately benefited the very wealthy. Despite such tax cuts having fueled the largest federal deficits in American history, McCain blithely ignores such facts. Out of ignorance, dementia, or both, McCain appears to be totally unaware of the economic damage such uncontrolled tax expenditures have caused.

Well, I’m sure there are many other reasons that could be cited as proof of McCain’s ignorance, idiocy, and ineptitude. Talk about vacuous – the guy reminds me of Grandpa Simpson, or maybe a geriatric version of Beavis from MTV. Let’s just hope that Americans are wise enough to realize that McCain is indeed the latest American Idiot to hit the national political scene. Hmmm…I wonder if McCain is considering Dan Quayle as a possible running mate?