October 13th, 2008
04:51 PM ET

GOP head compares Obama to Bin Laden

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/13/jeff.fredericks.jpg caption="Obama and bin Laden 'both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,' Virginia GOP chairman Jeffrey Frederick told volunteers." width=292 height=320]
Tim Craig
The Washington Post

The chairman of the Virginia Republican Party has compared Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden because of the Illinois senator's past association with Bill Ayers, who has confessed to domestic bombings as a member of the Vietnam War-era Weather Underground.

Virginia Democrats, and some Republicans, are outraged, saying these are the latest in a series of inflammatory statements that the GOP has made against Obama in Virginia, a state that has emerged as a crucial battleground in the election.

According to a report in this week's Time magazine, the Virginia party chairman, Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William), told Virginia volunteers working for GOP nominee John McCain that Obama and bin Laden "both have friends that bombed the Pentagon."

"That is scary," Frederick said while providing talking points to GOP volunteers in western Prince William County as they prepared for a door-to-door canvass.

Several McCain surrogates have blasted Obama for his association with Ayers, but few, if any, have invoked bin Laden.

Yesterday, Frederick said he stood by the comparison, even though bin Laden planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon that killed 184 people and Obama was a child and hadn't met Ayers when the Weather Underground planted a bomb at the Pentagon in 1972. No one was hurt in that blast, in which a bomb exploded in a restroom and caused flooding and damage to computer tapes containing classified information.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 13th, 2008
04:38 PM ET

What right wingers mean when they call Obama a "socialist"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/23/art.obama.mccain.split.jpg]Adam Serwer
Writing Fellow, The American Prospect

Right-wing attempts to paint Barack Obama as a socialist aren't just disingenuous. They're rooted in a history of conservative smears against black leaders.

On Saturday, Georgia Congressman John Lewis went nuclear on John McCain, releasing a statement that seemed to compare McCain to segregationist George Wallace. "George Wallace never threw a bomb," Lewis wrote. "He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights." The civil rights icon continued, "Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed one Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama."

Lewis accused McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division." He was referring to the angry tone of recent McCain rallies, where cries of "kill him" and "off with his head" have made many people anxious about the potential for violence against the Democratic nominee.

It's no wonder that the tone at McCain rallies remind Lewis of the bad old days. In recent months, conservatives have sounded increasingly retro with their attempts to paint Obama as a socialist or communist. In some ways, this accusation is typical far-right boilerplate. Obama certainly isn't the first Democrat running for president to be accused of communist sympathies. And as usual, the accusations are rarely linked to policy specifics. But the difference with Obama is that, in the eyes of the right, it's not just his political affiliation that implicates him as a socialist. It's his ethnic background.

Keep reading...

Editor's Note: Adam Serwer is a writing fellow at The American Prospect and recent graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also blogs at Jack and Jill Politics under the pseudonym dnA and has written for The Village Voice and the Daily News.

Filed under: Andy Serwer • Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 13th, 2008
03:15 PM ET

Why there's a crisis – and how to stop it

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David Smick
Chief Executive, Johnson Smick International

At this point in the credit crisis, at least one thing is certain: most policymakers lack a clue of what is really at stake. Those with some knowledge are driving policy looking through the rearview mirror.

Begin with the U.S. Treasury's $700 billion bailout package. This was presented as some magic pill which, if gulped down, would quickly restore financial stability.

The "shock and awe" of the sheer size of the taxpayer-funded bailout would somehow restore confidence. Instead, stock markets collapsed and credit markets remained frozen.

This is because the credit crisis reflects something more fundamental than a serious problem of mortgage defaults. Global investors, now on the sidelines, have declared a buyers' strike against the sophisticated paper assets of securitization that financial institutions use to measure and offload risk.

In recent years, our banks, borrowing to maximize the leverage of their assets at unheard-of levels, produced mountains of financial paper instruments (called asset-backed securities) with little means of measuring their value. Incredibly, these paper instruments were insured by more dubious paper instruments.

Therefore, the housing crisis was a mere trigger for a collapse of trust in paper, followed by a de-leveraging of the entire global financial system. As a result, we are experiencing the painful downward reappraisal of the value of virtually every asset in the world.

So what are these paper instruments, these asset-backed or mortgage-backed securities?


Editor's Note: David Smick, a global strategic adviser, is author of the new book, "The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy" (Penguin Portfolio). He is chief executive of Johnson Smick International, a financial market advisory firm based in Washington. It publishes "The International Economy" magazine.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bailout Turmoil • Economy
October 13th, 2008
03:07 PM ET

McCain campaign following in Hillary's footsteps

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/10/art.mccain.7.11..jpg]Ed Rollins
AC360° Contributor
GOP Strategist, Former Huckabee National Campaign Chairman

A campaign at war with itself cannot fight its opponent effectively.

We have seen two major campaigns this year that could be described as internally divided - Sen. Hillary Clinton's losing primary campaign and now Sen. John McCain's general election effort.

And while chaos and disarray reigned supreme in Sen. Barack Obama's opponents' campaigns, the steady, disciplined and strategically driven Obama campaign marches forward toward likely victory.

Clinton's campaign had several different groups setting and implementing strategy. They include the first campaign team led by pollster Mark Penn, her loyalists from the White House days led by eventual campaign manager Maggie Williams and campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe, and a rump group led by her husband. Prior to this year and his efforts on his wife's behalf, President Clinton was viewed as one of the best political strategists around.

All that brain power couldn't come together and agree on a consistent strategy to beat a young inexperienced outsider. There will be second guessing and finger pointing for years to come.

We now see something similar in the McCain campaign. There have been at least three major managerial changes or overthrows in the past 18 months.

The first was the Rick Davis/John Weaver battle.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Barack Obama • Ed Rollins • Hillary Clinton • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 13th, 2008
02:59 PM ET

Hollywood sees world in black and white

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Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Columnist San Diego Union-Tribune

Documentary filmmaker Philip Rodriguez is sick of black-and-white television.

The networks' prime-time lineup is cast in an alternate universe where there are virtually no Latinos, Asians, Muslims, or Native Americans. And, on the Sunday talk shows, moderators miss the irony of discussing the Latino vote when there are no Latino pundits at the table.

"The entertainment world, the film and television world, is still a pretty racially exclusive zone," Rodriguez told me. "I think we've made much fewer inroads in that space than many other industries."

One inroad is Rodriguez's new documentary, which uses rare footage and interviews with political observers - including CNN contributor Leslie Sanchez - to explore the past, present and future of Latino political activism.

(Disclosure: I was one of those interviewed.)

"Latinos '08" airs this month on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

The film is a treasure chest. Inside, you'll find the first television ad aimed at Latino voters in which Jacqueline Kennedy touted her husband in Spanish; the Chicano movement of the 1970s; and the Reagan Revolution, when President Reagan declared, "Hispanics are Republicans. They just don't know it" and then walked off with 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 1984 reelection - a high percentage for a Republican.

You'll also hear about the Clinton years, when the chief executive quaintly cast racial issues in black-and-white; the arrival of George W. Bush, who put Latino outreach out front with television ads in which the candidate declared, in Spanish, "El sueño Americano es para ti" (the American Dream is for you) and wound up with 44 percent of the Latino vote in his 2004 re-election; and a new civil rights movement in which U.S.-born Latinos take to the streets to defend illegal immigrants against nativists, demagogues and opportunists.

Keep reading...

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a nationally syndicated columnist and a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Read his column here.

October 13th, 2008
01:35 PM ET

McCain and Palin are playing with fire

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/13/obama.bin.lyin.jpg caption="Supporters hold up signs during a rally for John McCain and Sarah Palin at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Monday." ]

Khaled Hosseini
Author,"The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns"

I prefer to discuss politics through my novels, but I am truly dismayed these days. Twice last week alone, speakers at McCain-Palin rallies have referred to Sen. Barack Obama, with unveiled scorn, as Barack Hussein Obama.

Never mind that this evokes - and brazenly tries to resurrect - the unsavory, cruel days of our past that we thought we had left behind. Never mind that such jeers are deeply offensive to millions of peaceful, law-abiding Muslim Americans who must bear the unveiled charge, made by some supporters of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, that Obama's middle name makes him someone to distrust - and, judging by some of the crowd reactions at these rallies, someone to persecute or even kill. As a secular Muslim, I too was offended. Obama's middle name differs from my last name by only two vowels. Does the McCain-Palin campaign view me as a pariah too? Do McCain and Palin think there's something wrong with my name?

But never mind any of that.

The real affront is the lack of firm response from either McCain or Palin. Neither has had the moral courage, when taking the stage, to grasp the microphone, turn to the presenter and, right then and there, denounce the use of Obama's middle name as an insult.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
October 13th, 2008
01:03 PM ET

'War weary' – What are you complaining about?!

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Editor's Note: Rebekah Sanderlin is a mother, an Army wife and a freelance journalist. She lives near Fort Bragg, Norh Carolina and writes a blog about military family life called “Operation Marriage” for The Fayetteville Observer newspaper. Her husband is currently on his third deployment to Afghanistan.

Rebekah Sanderlin
"Operation Marriage

If the American military went to war and America went shopping, then seven years later the war wages on but America is home from the shopping spree with her credit cards maxed out and her head aching from buyer’s remorse.

The war didn’t change and the fighting force didn’t change, but the people back home are over it. War, it seems, went out of style in 2003.

In the military community we roll our eyes when we hear that Americans are war weary. Just what, we wonder, are you all weary of? Hearing about the war? Seeing stories in the news? Most Americans don’t even know anyone in the military and won’t have any direct contact with the war besides seeing uniformed soldiers in the airport. You all haven’t been asked to do anything more to support this war than sit back and watch as your tax dollars are spent.


Filed under: Raw Politics • TV • War on Terror
October 13th, 2008
12:28 PM ET

Lessons Republicans should have learned twenty years ago

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Editor's Note: Lenny McAllister shares his insight on the political issues at lennymcallister.com and is member of the North Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee .

Lenny McAllister | BIO

The coldness that Governor Sarah Palin and Senator John McCain have exhibited to Senator Barack Obama during the debates and rallies has cooled my enthusiasm for the McCain-Palin ticket.

Some of it is just indefensible.

I have been a Republican for five years after being a conservative Democrat my whole life. I still support Senator McCain for president. But now, I support his policies more than I support him as a candidate.

It is hard to strongly support a candidate who ignores the scars of race relations. Calling Senator Obama "...that one..." during a presidential debate; Governor Palin not directly addressing some of the hateful chants made by supporters at her recent campaign speeches: taken together, these actions come across as bigoted, even if that was not the intent.

Ignorance to racial sensitivity may not make one a racist, but it does make one vulnerable to the racial realities that we live with today. These are lessons the Republicans should not need to learn now -. they should have learned them twenty years ago. The late Senator Jesse Helms' 1990 senatorial ad about "quotas" showed that racial sensitivities were enough to turn a close election. Fast forward to 2008 and the rhetoric discussing "palling around with terrorists" to paint a particular image of Senator Obama. It's a fair question to ask: how much have things changed?


October 13th, 2008
11:18 AM ET

Stephen Hawking: "I see great dangers for the human race"

CNN's Becky Anderson holds an exclusive interview with scientist Stephen Hawking on his views of the world.
CNN's Becky Anderson holds an exclusive interview with scientist Stephen Hawking on his views of the world.

Becky Anderson | BIO
CNN International anchor

This was one of those moments in any journalist’s career when you realize just how lucky you are to do your job. What wouldn’t anyone give to get the chance to interview Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein? Professor Stephen Hawking is arguably our generation’s most important scientist and this was my Eureka moment.

Aside from the rather vacuous fact that I’d get a chance to get my photo taken with this great man, getting to spend time in the presence of such a brilliant thinker was one of those rare opportunities in life when u sit back and think… wow.

He first achieved international fame with the publication of the scientific bestseller “A Brief History of Time 2 decades ago.

I have to admit that it’s not easy to sit down with a man whose only means of communication is a sort of vague blinking of the eye. It’s with a slight muscle twitch that he activates his voice synthesizer rigged up to a computer that’s pre-loaded with the answers to my submitted questions. He is disabled by a condition that has left him almost completely paralyzed.

It was a humbling experience. And a real learning experience in life for me.


Filed under: Becky Anderson • Space • Stephen Hawking
October 13th, 2008
10:01 AM ET

Culprits of the Collapse – #8 Chris Cox


So who is to blame for this financial fiasco?
That’s the question we’ve begun investigating.
We’ve put together a list of the Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse.
#8 on our list: SEC Chairman Chris Cox. CNN's Joe Johns reports

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