Tuesday, December 23, 2008

As One Blog Ends...A New One Begins

I've been a very inconsistent blogger for the last several months. Its sort of odd because there are lots of things that I want to write about, and in many ways, my current job is more conducive to such writing than youth ministry was. I think, to me, this blog is representative of a period in my life that has passed. It may seem silly, but I plan to launch a new blog in early January which I will announce and link here. I do plan on writing one final post on this site, which I will call "Reflections on Leaving Youth Ministry", which should be up in early January. I will leave this blog up as an archive, but I do not plan on posting much here after the new one is live. If you have journeyed with me here these past several years, I thank you for your attention and comments. Please come to the new blog once it is live. I plan on posting on a much more consistent basis.


P.S. After a very long hiatus, Phil Wilson and I are also bringing back the Post-Restorationist Podcast in January. I'll provide links once that is live as well. Please come join the conversation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Book Recommendation: Churched by Matthew Paul Turner

What happens to a kid who grows up in a fundamentalist church when he or she rejects fundamentalism? Many times, because they "got" the message that fundamentalism is the only "true" Christianity, they wind up rejecting Christianity/religion as a whole. However, sometimes, some people find a path through this forest of legalism, conspiracy theories, and isolated subculture to Jesus...or maybe Jesus finds them.

Such is the case for my friend Matthew Paul Turner. In his book Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess, Matthew recounts his journey of faith through fundamentalism. The narrative that Turner offers is equal parts memoir and satire. Though it could have easily devolved into a bitter rant decrying his upbringing, Matthew succeeds in virtually channeling himself as a child. As such, his story reads with a nostalgic sweetness that brings both laughter and tears. Churched is genuinely funny, and at times quite poiniant. Many readers will find the experience similar to a kind of group therapy...as they learn to laugh at their own stories too. Far from demonizing the "characters" in his story, Matthew excels at revealing their humanity and sincerity. As hilarious as the stories of his Sunday School Teacher's lesson on manna or his childhood pastor's "boxing match with Satan" are, you get the sense that Matthew also finds a way to honor and respect them. Though it is never explicit, you can clearly see the bruises and scars that Matthew carries and how he has wrestled to find a way to believe. In the end, the implicit main character of this memoir is not Matthew himself, but rather the Savior that he loves who shines through all of the craziness and has led Matthew to a genuine faith that is characterized by hope and love.

I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough. Even if you didn't grow up in a fundamentalist church or subculture, I think you may find surprising resonance and inspiration.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quoting Theology, Christmas Edition: N.T. Wright

"...And remember the story of the shepherds and the manger. We are so used to hearing about it – indeed, most of us never use the word ‘manger’ in any other context – that we often forget the point. The shepherds were told something – or thought they were told something – quite ridiculous: that God’s Messiah, God’s only Son, had been born just up the road. Now how on earth are you supposed to believe that? And what on earth could you do about it? Ah, but they were given a sign: you don’t normally find babies in feeding-troughs, but that’s where this one is. And so they went, and they saw, and they believed, and they worshipped. What’s the equivalent for us today? Well, when you worship the Christ-child for yourself, and learn to open your eyes to the empires and your ears to the angels, you may well wonder whether there’s any point in even trying to do anything about it all. It all seems quite ridiculous. And then you may begin to notice places where there are, so to speak, babies in mangers: places where God seems to have been startlingly at work, in a hospice or a prison or a day-care centre or a play-group, in Bible Study groups, in gospel work going forwards among drug addicts and prostitutes, in campaigns about debt and unjust laws and fair trade, whatever it may be. And then: watch for the empires, listen for the angels, worship the Christ-child – and go for it. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his kingdom shall be established with justice and righteousness from this time forth and for evermore."
--N.T. Wright, from his sermon entitled, "Emperors and Angels"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Review: The Faith of Barack Obama

In this short, accessible book, Stephen Mansfield explores the religious beliefs, commitments and convictions of Barack Obama. Additionally, Mansfield supplies a short Spiritual biography for Obama and explores the theology that underlies his faith. Some might assume that Mansfield’s book is an attempt to “Christianize” Obama in order to make him more palatable to Evangelicals. Others might assume that it is a thinly disguised hatchet-job expose’, written with the intention of showing Obama’s supposed Christianity to be a politically expedient prop. Both of these assumptions are incorrect. For starters, Mansfield is also the author of “The Faith of George W. Bush”, and “The Faith of the American Soldier”. He approaches the subject as an investigative journalist, with neither rose-colored glasses or an ax to grind.

Mansfield offers us profiles of both Barack Obama and his controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright. In this context, he also offers a brief, but accurate explanation of “Black Theology”. Mansfield has also really done his homework here, as he correctly points to the influential work of James Cone. Crucial to this theological perspective is the recognition that the Bible is primarily written by oppressed people to/for oppressed people. The assumption is that the experience of African Americans, with their history of slavery and oppression, are in a unique position to hear and understand the message of Scripture. Thus, a major focus of this theology is justice (with all of its social implications) for the poor and the oppressed. Even a casual reading of the Prophets, and the words of Jesus will prevent you from simply dismissing such a reading as completely ridiculous. This is the theological framework that underlies both Wright’s comments and Obama’s application and understanding of Christianity. While Wright is apparently a bit of an attention junkie, and I still find his comments to be inappropriate, the proper theological context certainly casts all of this in a somewhat different light. Mansfield also gives an insightful account of actually attending a service at Trinity United Church of Christ, which in some ways defied his expectations. As an interesting exercise in contrast and comparison, Mansfield offers one chapter comprised of short spiritual biographies/profiles of John McCain, Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush. Some may see this chapter as extraneous, but others may find the thought exercise helpful.

Mansfield does not shy away from posing difficult questions for Obama, particularly when it comes to difficult issues such as his position on the question of abortion. He examines several areas of Obama’s faith and its application that may be at least uncomfortable for may Evangelical Christians. However, he does not succumb to “Secret Muslim” conspiracy theories or wild sensationalism. His investigation is fair, and leaves it to the reader to make his or her own decisions and evaluations based on a reasonably non-biased and accurate account of Obama’s apparently sincere faith. Some Christians may find their fears or misconceptions dispelled. Others may be deeply troubled by what they read. However you react, you will at least be making an evaluation from a place of understanding rather than speculation or unsubstantiated rumor.

CLICK HERE to go to Thomas Nelson's Page for this book.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Children, Mustard Seeds, & The Kingdom of God

A couple of years ago, I was at the library with Dana and our oldest daughter, Emma. As we were walking back to the car, Emma suddenly bolted down a cement staircase right outside the library doors, which seemed to go down into an unused area of dirt and rather pathetic looking bushes. I started to say something to stop her, but then I noticed that she was picking up trash. I turned to Dana (who had also bent down to pick up some trash while I wasn't looking), and asked what she was doing. Dana said, "We always do that. People always throw trash down there and Emma likes to clean it up." Emma came back up the steps and started putting the trash in the trash can (which, incidentally, was approximately 5 feet from the stairwell, .) Fearing that I had a developing Adrian Monk on my hands I asked her why she picked up the trash. My (then) four-year-old daughter looked back at me with a mischievous grin (like she was inviting me into some kind of conspiracy), and said, "I'm making the world a better place, Daddy." I just stood there stunned until I was able to swallow the lump in my throat. Then, I walked down the steps, grabbed some trash and threw it in the garbage on my way to hug my smiling little girl.

Don't get me wrong. There was still a lot of trash at the bottom of those stairs. She couldn't possibly clean it all up herself. Even if she could have...even if the 3 of us had talked a group of people into helping us clean up that spot of ground...the world would still be a mess. I realize that there are bigger problems in the world than people who throw garbage on God's creation because it was too difficult to walk the extra 4 steps to the garbage can. But that's the trick, isn't it? We skip the little problems because, in our view they pale in comparison to the big problems. At the same time, we don't engage the big problems because we know they are far to large for individuals like us to have any kind of significant impact. The problem is, that every time I start to play that little justification game with myself about the issues in front of me, whether they are "too big" or "two small", I remember Emma's mischievous little grin and her conspiracy to "make the world a better place".

I remember Jesus saying:

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven"

Then, his words wash over me again:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

I am reminded that this is how the Kingdom of God breaks through...a conspiracy of childlike mischievous grins, defiantly planting mustard seeds of hope in a world that often appears to be littered with despair, injustice and hopelessness.

As we walked back to our car that afternoon, I silently prayed, "Dear God, please help me be like Emma. Thank you for Dana, who is teaching her to be like you."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

2 Great Speeches and the end of the Election

I watched 2 great speeches last night. I am well aware that opinions are very divided on this election, particularly among Christians, but I must say that both speeches were inspiring to me.

McCain was gracious, noble and honorable. His plea for unity and his pledge to help (an offer I sincerely hope Obama considers, as a means toward unity) displayed character. His heartfelt comments about Obama's grandmother were touching. Thank you for the way you handled this John McCain. May your supporters display the same grace and character.

Barack Obama's speech was inspiring. As someone who speaks for a living, I was impressed by the delivery. I was further impressed by the absence of gloating. Obama displayed character in his comments about John McCain and Sarah Palin. I was further impressed by his plea for unity and his insistence that, though a segment of the population didn't vote for him, he intended to be their president too and he was listening.

I was also impressed by the way that President Bush congratulated President Elect Obama and called our country to unite.

The call to unity is refreshing after such a bitterly divided political season. May we heed it in prayer, while at the same time we remember that our "first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man. Our first allegiance is not to democracy or blood. Its to a King and a Kingdom."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Live Election Results

This gadget I'm embedding from Google Maps should track the presidential election results live. I'm really interested to see how it turns out, but I"m also ready for this to be behind us.
I should get back to blogging next week. I have a few theological thoughts I'd like to flesh out here and a few book reviews/recomendations I'd like to post. Until then...enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Final Presidential Debate Video and Factcheck Info

As promised, here is the factcheck info from www.factcheck.org:

Spin and hype were apparent, once again, at the third and final debate between McCain and Obama:
  • McCain claimed the liberal group ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history ... maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” In fact, a Republican prosecutor said of the first and biggest ACORN fraud case: “[T]his scheme was not intended to permit illegal voting.” He said $8-an-hour workers turned in made-up voter registration forms rather than doing what ACORN paid them to do.
  • McCain said “Joe the plumber” faced “much higher taxes” under Obama’s tax plan and would pay a fine under Obama’s health care plan if he failed to provide coverage for his workers. But Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher would pay higher taxes only if the business he says he wants to buy puts his income over $200,000 a year, and his small business would be exempt from Obama’s requirement to provide coverage for workers.
  • Obama repeated a dubious claim that his health care plan will cut the average family’s premiums by $2,500 a year. Experts have found that figure to be overly optimistic.
  • McCain claimed that Obama’s real “object” is a government-run, single-payer health insurance system like those in Canada or England. The McCain campaign points to a quote from five years ago, when Obama told a labor gathering that he was “a proponent of a single-payer health care program.” But Obama has since qualified his enthusiasm for Canadian-style health care, and his current proposal is nothing like that.
  • Obama incorrectly claimed all of McCain’s ads had been “negative.” That was true for one recent week, but not over the entire campaign. And at times Obama has run a higher percentage of attack ads than McCain.

  • McCain described Colombia as the "largest agricultural importer of our products." Actually, Canada imports the most U.S. farm products, and Colombia is far down the list.
  • Obama strained to portray himself as willing to break ranks with fellow Democrats. His prime example was his vote for a bill that was supported by 18 Democrats and opposed by 26. Congressional Quarterly rates him as voting with his party 97 percent of the time since becoming a U.S. senator.
For details on these and other misleading claims, please read on to the Analysis section.
Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama met for their final debate Oct. 15. The face-to-face was held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., and was moderated by CBS News' Bob Schieffer.

ACORN and Vote Fraud

McCain made some dire claims about a liberal group he said was out to steal the election:
McCain: We need to know the full extent of Sen. Obama's relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.
It's true that the voter registration wing of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now has run into trouble in several states. ACORN employees have been investigated and in some cases indicted for voter registration fraud. Most recently, more than 2,000 registrations in Lake County, Ind., have turned out to be falsified.

But does this constitute "destroying the fabric of democracy"? More like destroying the fabric of work ethic. There's been no evidence that the ACORN employees who submitted fraudulent forms have been paving the way for illegal voting. Rather, they're trying to get paid for doing no work.

Dan Satterberg, the Republican prosecuting attorney in King County, Wash., where the first ACORN case was prosecuted, said:
Satterberg: [A] joint federal and state investigation has determined that this
scheme was not intended to permit illegal voting.

Instead, the defendants cheated their employer. ... It was hardly a sophisticated plan: The defendants simply realized that making up names was easier than actually canvassing the streets looking for unregistered voters. ...

[It] appears that the employees of ACORN were not performing the work that they were being paid for, and to some extent, ACORN is a victim of employee theft.
The $8-an-hour employees were charged with providing false information on a voter registration, and in one case with making a false statement to a public official. ACORN was fined for showing insufficient oversight, but it was not charged with masterminding any kind of fraud.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, Obama wasn't entirely forthcoming about his relationship with ACORN:
Obama: The only involvement I've had with ACORN is, I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs.
He did, but that wasn't his only involvement. He also worked closely with ACORN's Chicago office when he ran a Project Vote registration drive after law school, and Obama did some leadership training for Chicago ACORN. The Woods Fund, where Obama served as a board member, gave grants to ACORN's Chicago branch; both organizations are concerned with disadvantaged populations in that city. And during the primaries of this election, Obama's campaign paid upwards of $800,000 to the ACORN-affiliated Campaign Services Inc. for get-out-the-vote efforts (not voter registration). Those services were initially misrepresented on the campaign's Federal Election Commission reports, an error that some find suspicious and others say is par for the course. ACORN's Chicago office and CSI have not been under investigation.

For more on investigations of ACORN and registration fraud, and Obama's involvement with the group, keep an eye on our home page. A longer article on ACORN is in the works.

Joe the Plumber

Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher got a lot of airtime.

McCain first mentioned Joe by saying:
McCain: Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years, worked 10, 12 hours a day. And he wanted to buy the business but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes.
Joe’s newfound fame stems from an impromptu encounter Oct. 12, during which Wurzelbacher questioned Obama’s tax plans. Joe has since become a conservative folk hero after telling both Fox News and the conservative Web site Family Security Matters that he thought Obama’s plans sounded “socialist.”

At their encounter, Wurzelbacher told Obama that “I’m getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 to 280 thousand dollars a year,” before asking whether or not Obama would raise his taxes.

If the company is actually that profitable, and depending on how the business is organized legally, Obama’s plan would indeed raise his federal income taxes, and Obama conceded as much during the exchange. As we’ve written before, small businesses commonly are organized in such a way that their owners file business taxes as individuals. So if Joe’s plumbing business earns more than $200,000 per year (or $250,000 if Joe is married and files tax returns jointly) then his taxes would indeed be higher under Obama's plan than under McCain's.

It’s worth noting that while Wurzelbacher told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that he lives “in a simple, middle class home” and portrayed himself as an ordinary working guy, Wurzelbacher’s $250,000 to $280,000 is a bit higher than "ordinary." In 2007, the last year for which the Census Bureau has figures, the median income for a family in Toledo, Ohio, was $43,553.

But Joe the Plumber wasn’t through yet. He made an encore appearance when McCain recycled a bogus claim that Obama would "fine" small business owners who fail to provide health care coverage for their workers:
McCain: Now, my old buddy, Joe, Joe the plumber, is out there. Now, Joe, Sen. Obama's plan, if you're a small business and . . . you've got employees, and you've got kids, if you don't get – adopt the health care plan that Sen. Obama mandates, he's going to fine you . . . I don't think that Joe right now wants to pay a fine when he is seeing such difficult times in America's economy.
McCain raised a similar charge at the last debate. It's still false. Obama’s plan, which is posted on his Web site, specifically says, “Small businesses will be exempt from this requirement.”

Obama hasn't defined exactly what he means by "small" but he seems to think Joe would qualify; he repeatedly referred to Joe’s “small business” during their exchange.

Obama's health plan does mandate that children have health coverage. If Joe doesn't provide insurance for his kids, he would face some unspecified penalty.

Health Care Hype

Obama and McCain traded boasts and accusations on each other’s health carebob plan. They ran afoul of the facts a few times.
Obama: And we estimate we can cut the average family's premium by about $2,500 per year.
The Obama camp does estimate that. But experts we talked to found that optimistic figure hard to believe.

Then, McCain said:
McCain: Sen. Obama wants to set up health care bureaucracies, take over the health care of America through — as he said, his object is a single payer system. If you like that, you'll love Canada and England.
Obama’s plan is not a single-payer system, which would be one in which everyone has health care provided and paid for by the government. Under Obama’s health care plan, Americans can keep the insurance they have, choose from federally-approved private plans or buy into a new public plan similar to the health care federal employees and members of Congress have.

McCain was referring to comments Obama made at a town hall meeting in Albuquerque in August. But Obama did not say that "his object is a single payer system." He said it would "probably" be his first choice "if" he were starting with a clean slate, which he isn't. He said his object is to "build up the system we got." According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama said:
Obama (as quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19): If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system. ... [M]y attitude is let’s build up the system we got, let’s make it more efficient, we may be over time — as we make the system more efficient and everybody’s covered — decide that there are other ways for us to provide care more effectively.
Back in 2003, Obama was much more explicit. At an AFL-CIO forum, he said he was “a proponent of a single-payer health care program,” adding, “that’s what I’d like to see. And as all of you know, we may not get there immediately.”

That was five years ago, however, and recently, Obama has said he’d favor single-payer only if “starting from scratch.” He told The New Yorker in May 2007: “If you're starting from scratch, then a single-payer system ... would probably make sense. But we've got all these legacy systems in place, and managing the transition ... would be difficult to pull off. So we may need a system that's not so disruptive.”

Obama exaggerated a weakness in McCain's health care plan:
Obama: Now, under Sen. McCain's plan there is a strong risk that people would lose their employer-based health care.
Experts see a risk that some would lose their employer-based care, but Obama’s reference to "people" makes it sound as though nearly everyone would. Two independent studies both found that McCain’s plan would lead to a net decline in the number of people with health care through their jobs. (They said Obama’s would result in a net increase.) Both reports show, however, that there’s not a “strong risk” for all, or even a majority, of workers to lose their health care.

Currently, 159 million Americans have health care through their jobs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A study by the Lewin Group shows a net decline in the number with job-provided benefits of 9.4 million people in 2010 for McCain's plan. The Tax Policy Center projected that the net decrease would be 7.7 million in 2010 and 20.3 million people by 2018.

McCain and Obama both said much more that may have confused viewers. For a spin-free look at both of the candidates’ health care plans, see our recent article on this issue.

100% Negative?

Obama falsely claimed all of McCain's ads had been "negative."
Obama: And 100 percent, John, of your ads – 100 percent of them have been negative.
McCain: It's not true.
Obama: It absolutely is true.
It was almost true, for one recent week. Obama was referring to a report by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin that concluded that “nearly 100 percent of the McCain campaign’s advertisements were negative” during the week of Sept. 28 through Oct. 4. During the same week, 34 percent of the Obama campaign’s ads were negative. The Obama campaign was found to have outspent the McCain campaign in nearly all of the competitive states, in some cases by a margin of more than 3-to-1.

McCain’s ads, however, have not been deemed 100 percent negative in other weeks. In fact, in the week after the Republican National Convention, 77 percent of Obama’s ads were negative, according to the advertising project, while 56 percent of McCain’s were negative.

Wrong on Exports to Colombia

McCain was way off when he said that Colombia is "our largest agricultural importer of our products." To be sure, Colombia is an important trade partner. According to statistics from the Department of Agriculture, Colombia imported slightly more than $1.4 million worth of U.S. agricultural products in 2007. But that's not even close to the nearly $1.9 billion worth of agricultural products exported to Canada. And there are dozens of other countries that import more U.S. farm products than Colombia does.

Obama No Maverick

Obama exaggerated his willingness to defy his own party. When McCain asked for an example, Obama offered this:

Obama: First of all, in terms of standing up to the leaders of my party, the first major bill that I voted on in the Senate was in support of tort reform, which wasn't very popular with trial lawyers, a major constituency in the Democratic Party.
obamaThat 2005 bill was S.5, which dealt with class-action lawsuits. Obama was one of 18 Democrats voting for it, while 26 opposed. It's a stretch for Obama to claim that he bolted his party when nearly 41 percent of Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

And as we pointed out before, Obama has a pretty consistent record of voting in stride with his party. According to Congressional Quarterly, in Obama's three years in the Senate, he has voted with his party almost 97 percent of the time.

Budget Ballyhoo

Both candidates got ahead of themselves when it came to balancing the budget and eliminating the deficit. Obama said every one of his spending increases was paid for.
Obama: Now, what I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut. ... Every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an additional cut so that it matches.
McCain said he could balance the budget within one term.
Schieffer: Do either of you think you can balance the budget in four years? You have said previously you thought you could, Sen. McCain.
McCain: Sure I do. And let me tell you...
Schieffer: You can still do that?
McCain: Yes.
These are pie-in-the-sky predictions. We've looked at McCain's balanced-budget promise before – it's out of reach unless he cuts spending to an unrealistic degree. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that by 2013, at the end of his first term, McCain's tax plan would have him facing a $662 billion deficit. That could come to more than half of that year's discretionary spending, which the Office of Management and Budget projects to be $1.1 trillion. And we've previously disputed Obama's claim that "every dime" of his proposed spending is covered. The Tax Policy Center estimated that Obama’s plan – and McCain's, too – "would substantially increase the national debt over the next ten years" unless the candidates come up with "substantial cuts in government spending" that they haven't yet specified. More recently, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget also estimated that in 2013, Obama’s major budget proposals – including spending cuts – would increase the deficit for that year by $281 billion.

The $42,000, Again.

McCain was on the wrong side of this exchange:
McCain: Sen. Obama talks about voting for budgets. He voted twice for a budget resolution that increases the taxes on individuals making $42,000 a year. . . .

Obama: [T]he notion that I voted for a tax increase for people making $42,000 a year has been disputed by everybody who has looked at this claim.
McCain was wrong to say Obama's March 2008 vote for a budget resolution "increases" anything. Budget resolutions set targets for taxes and spending; actually raising or lowering them requires separate legislation.

mccain The $42,000 figure also would only apply to single taxpayers, not to couples or families. As we’ve reported, a single taxpayer making more than $41,500 would have seen a tax increase, but a couple filing jointly would have seen no increase unless they made at least $83,000, and for a couple with two children the cut-off would have been $90,000. Regardless, the increase that Obama once supported as part of a Democratic budget bill is not part of his own current tax plan. And Obama was right when he said "even FOX News disputes" McCain's $42,000 claim. Chris Wallace of Fox News agreed that it was misleading.

Wrong Justice

McCain said that Obama voted against the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and John Roberts:
McCain: Senator Obama voted against Justice Breyer and Justice Roberts on the grounds that they didn't meet his ideological standards.
McCain probably meant to say that Obama voted against the confirmations of Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, the most recent additions to the court. Obama did vote against the confirmation of Roberts, but he wasn’t in the Senate when Breyer was nominated to join the Court. Breyer was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1994. Obama didn’t become a senator until January 2005.

Charter School Slip-Up

Obama overstated his work on charter schools in Illinois:
Obama: Charter schools, I doubled the number of charter schools in Illinois despite some reservations from teachers unions.
Actually, the bill Obama cosponsored doubled the number of charter schools in Chicago, not in the entire state of Illinois. (And an extra slap on the wrist to Obama for using the personal pronoun in saying that "I doubled the number of charter schools" – as we've pointed out before, it takes a lot more than one politician to get a bill passed.)

Tried But Untrue

And we noted that both candidates continued to recycle bunk that we've heard before:
  • McCain said once again, "We have to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much." As we've noted several times in the past, $700 billion would have been the cost of all annual U.S. oil imports when the price was $140 per barrel. But it's down to about half that now.
  • Obama said oil companies have "68 million acres that they currently have leased that they're not drilling." We've previously criticized him for similar statements, and it's still not true. As we've pointed out, there is exploratory drilling being done on much of these lands, which are not yet producing oil. In 2007 there were more than 15,000 holes that were being proposed, started or finished that do not count as "productive" holes.

  • Listing some of his running mate's achievements, McCain credited Gov. Sarah Palin with “a $40 billion pipeline of natural gas that's going to relieve the energy needs" of the lower 48 states. We'll just note, again, that the pipeline is still in pre-development and is actually projected to cost $26.5 billion.
Sea Story

Finally, the
ears of nautical buffs may have perked up when McCain said, “we've sailed Navy ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on them.” His naval history is off by a few years. The first nuclear-powered vessel, the submarine USS Nautilus, was actually launched Jan. 21, 1954.

Jessica Henig, Joe Miller, Lori Robertson, Justin Bank, D'Angelo Gore, Emi Kolawole and Brooks Jackson
Congressional Research Service. Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies: Current Status and Analysis. Washington: GPO, 2007.

Burman, Leonard E., et.al. "An Updated Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans: Updated September 12, 2008." Tax Policy Center, 12 Sept. 2008.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "Promises, Promises: A Fiscal Voter Guide to the 2008 Election." U.S. Budget Watch. 15 Sep. 2008.

Satterberg, Dan. "Statement of Interim King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg." 26 Jul. 2007.

U.S. Census Bureau. "Toledo City, Ohio Factsheet." U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2006, accessed 16 Oct. 2008.

ACORN Responds to Senator McCain’s Desperate Attack. 15 Oct. 2008

Griffin, Drew and Kathleen Johnston . “Thousands of voter registration forms faked, officials say.” 10 Oct. 2008

Robinson, Mike. Obama got start in civil rights practice. Associated Press, 20 Feb. 2007

Tapper, Jake. Spread the Wealth. ABC New Political Punch Blog. 14 Oct. 2008

Brown, David M. “Obama to amend report on $800,000 in spending.” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 22 Aug. 2008

CQ member Profiles: Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill). Congressional Quarterly, 12 June 2008.

Rabinowitz, Steve. “Pres. TV advertising spending continues to grow;
Over $28 million spent from September 28-October 4.
” Wisconsin Ad Project. 8 Oct. 2008

Kurtz, Howard. “Recent Obama Ads More Negative Than Rival's, Study Says: Democrat Said to Be Facing Pressure to 'Show Some Spine.'” Washington Post, 18 Sept. 2008

OECD Tax Database. Centre for Tax Policy and Administration.

Hodge, Scott. U.S. States Lead the World in High Corporate Taxes. Tax Foundation, 18 March 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pre-Debate Faith and Politics Post

I haven't posted much lately. I'm still thinking about why and I'll probably post about it soon. Preacherman asked me if I was going to post about tonight's debate, and so I will.

I'm starting to realize that I follow politics like most people follow sports. I certainly have strong opinions regarding politics and the current presidential election, but I don't identify with any political party and I don't publicly endorse any candidate, as I feel that such an endorsement would be inappropriate and unethical for someone in my profession. However, I have and will continue to call for honesty and ethical behavior in politics, particularly when it comes to Christian involvement in the political arena. I have and will continue to resist efforts by either political party to co-opt Christians for political gain. I have and will continue to assert that neither political party has a purely Kingdom of God agenda, and I refuse to choose between behavioral morality and social justice.

I believe that it is a legitimate position for a Christian to say that their allegiance to the Kingdom of God prevents them from participating in national politics. I respect that. I also belive that it is a legitimate position for a Christian to participate in the political arena while pledging their "first allegiance" to the Kingdom of God, and thereby vote from the convictions of their faith and the Gospel. This is the position I find myself in during this election cycle. However, I must make one other point: If a Christian, who has committed themselves to the Way of Jesus takes this position they must a) conduct themselves in ways that do not violate that Way for some "righteous purpose" and they must not reward or propegate such behavior in the campaign of any candidate, and b) they must actively seek to be informed on the issues utilizing non-partisan sources rather than attaching themselves to the firehoses of propaganda eminating from obviously partisan sources.

I will post debate video and factcheck info when it becomes available later this week. Here are some of the sources I use to stay informed:
  • www.factcheck.org - this is a great, non-partisan site that examines the claims of both candidates and their running mates. Also features a weekly vidcast summing up each weeks information. This site will post a full report and analysis the morning after each debate, and their analysis for all previous debates (including the VP debate) is still available.
  • http://wire.factcheck.org - this is a companion site to factcheck.org, which is updated more often with "breaking news". I reccomend subscribing to the rss feed.
  • www.politifact.com - similar to factcheck, this site also examines the claims of both candidates. It includes a fun feature called the "truth meter" that rates the truthfulness of criticisms that are leveled against each candidate. I highly recommend subscribing to politifact on twitter, especially during the debate tonight. They do a great job of live factchecking during the debate.
We'll get back to talking theology soon.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Video: The debate...in case you missed it (Plus Factcheck info)

Below is the info and analysis from www.factcheck.org

FactChecking Debate No. 1
Facts muddled in Mississippi McCain-Obama meeting.
McCain and Obama contradicted each other repeatedly during their first debate, and each volunteered some factual misstatements as well. Here’s how we sort them out:
  • Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.
  • Obama denied voting for a bill that called for increased taxes on “people” making as little as $42,000 a year, as McCain accused him of doing. McCain was right, though only for single taxpayers. A married couple would have had to make $83,000 to be affected by the vote, and anyway no such increase is in Obama’s tax plan.
  • McCain and Obama contradicted each other on what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said about troop withdrawals. Mullen said a time line for withdrawal could be “very dangerous” but was not talking specifically about “Obama’s plan,” as McCain maintained.
  • McCain tripped up on one of his signature issues – special appropriation “earmarks.” He said they had “tripled in the last five years,” when in fact they have decreased sharply.
  • Obama claimed Iraq “has” a $79 billion surplus. It once was projected to be as high as that. It’s now down to less than $60 billion.
  • McCain repeated his overstated claim that the U.S. pays $700 billion a year for oil to hostile nations. Imports are running at about $536 billion this year, and a third of it comes from Canada, Mexico and the U.K.
  • Obama said 95 percent of “the American people” would see a tax cut under his proposal. The actual figure is 81 percent of households.
  • Obama mischaracterized an aspect of McCain’s health care plan, saying “employers” would be taxed on the value of health benefits provided to workers. Employers wouldn’t, but the workers would. McCain also would grant workers up to a $5,000 tax credit per family to cover health insurance.

  • McCain misrepresented Obama's plan by claiming he'd be "handing the health care system over to the federal government." Obama would expand some government programs but would allow people to keep their current plans or chose from private ones, as well.
  • McCain claimed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had drafted a letter of resignation from the Army to be sent in case the 1944 D-Day landing at Normandy turned out to be a failure. Ike prepared a letter taking responsibility, but he didn’t mention resigning.
For full details, as well as other dubious claims and statements, please read our full Analysis section.
The first of three scheduled debates between Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama took place Sept. 26 on the campus of the University of Mississippi at Oxford. It was sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. It was carried live on national television networks and was moderated by Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor of the PBS "NewsHour" program.

We noted these factual misstatements:

Did Kissinger Back Obama?

McCain attacked Obama for his declaration that he would meet with leaders of Iran and other hostile nations "without preconditions." To do so with Iran, McCain said, "isn't just naive; it's dangerous." Obama countered by saying former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – a McCain adviser – agreed with him:

Obama: Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who's one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran – guess what – without precondition. This is one of your own advisers.
McCain rejected Obama's claim:
McCain: By the way, my friend, Dr. Kissinger, who's been my friend for 35 years, would be interested to hear this conversation and Senator Obama's depiction of his -- of his positions on the issue. I've known him for 35 years.
Obama: We will take a look.
McCain: And I guarantee you he would not -- he would not say that presidential top level.
Obama: Nobody's talking about that.
So who's right? Kissinger did in fact say a few days earlier at a forum of former secretaries of state that he favors very high-level talks with Iran – without conditions:
Kissinger Sept. 20: Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it. And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level so that we -- we know we're dealing with authentic...

CNN's Frank Sesno: Put at a very high level right out of the box?

Kissinger: Initially, yes.But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.

Later, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, was asked about this by CBS News anchor Katie Couric, and Palin said, "I’ve never heard Henry Kissinger say, ‘Yeah, I’ll meet with these leaders without preconditions being met.'" Afterward Couric said, "We confirmed Henry Kissinger’s position following our interview."

After the McCain-Obama debate, however, Kissinger issued a statement saying he doesn't favor a presidential meeting:
Kissinger: Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain.
$42,000 per year?

McCain said – and Obama denied – that Obama had voted to increase taxes on "people who make as low as $42,000 a year." McCain was correct – with qualification.

McCain: But, again, Senator Obama has shifted on a number of occasions. He has voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year.
Obama: That's not true, John. That's not true.
McCain: And that's just a fact. Again, you can look it up.
Obama: Look, it's just not true.
debate.bothYes, as we’ve said before, Obama did in fact vote for a budget resolution that called for higher federal income tax rates on a single, non-homeowner who earned as little as $42,000 per year. A couple filing jointly, however, would have had to earn at least $83,000 per year to be affected. A family of four with income up to $90,000 would not have been affected.

The resolution actually would not have altered taxes without additional legislation. It called generally for allowing most of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts to expire. McCain is referring to the provision that would have allowed the 25 percent tax bracket to return to 28 percent. The tax plan Obama now proposes, however, would not raise the rate on that tax bracket.

Timetable Tiff

Obama contradicted McCain about what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen's said regarding "Obama's plan" for troop withdrawals.
McCain: Admiral Mullen suggests that Senator Obama's plan is dangerous for America.
Obama: That's not the case.
McCain: That's what ...
Obama: What he said was a precipitous...
McCain: That's what Admiral Mullen said.
Obama: ... withdrawal would be dangerous. He did not say that. That's not true.
Admiral Mullen did say in a Fox News interview that having a time line for withdrawal would be dangerous.
Mullen (July 20): I think the consequences could be very dangerous in that regard. I'm convinced at this point in time that coming – making reductions based on conditions on the ground are very important.
However, interviewer Chris Wallace had just told Mullen to take Obama out of the equation.
Wallace (July 20): But I'm asking you in the absence – forget about Obama. Forget about the politics. If I were to say to you, "Let's set a time line of getting all of our combat troops out within two years," what do you think would be the consequences of setting that kind of a time line?
So strictly speaking Mullen was not talking specifically about "Obama's plan." He did say a rigid timetable could have dangerous consequences.

Earmarks Down, Not Up

McCain was way off the mark when he said that earmarks in federal appropriations bills had tripled in the last five years.
McCain: But the point is that – you see, I hear this all the time. "It's only $18
billion." Do you know that it's tripled in the last five years?
In fact, earmarks have actually gone down. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, there was $22.5 billion worth of earmark spending in 2003. By 2008, that figure had come down to $17.2 billion. That's a decrease of 24 percent.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, another watchdog group, said in 2008 that "Congress has cut earmarks by 23 percent from the record 2005 levels," according to its analysis.

$3 million to study the DNA of bears?

And while we're on the subject of earmarks, McCain repeated a misleading line we've heard before.
McCain: You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers' money. And it has got to be brought under control.
McCain's been playing this for laughs since 2003. The study in question was done by the U.S. Geological Survey, and it relied in part on federal appropriations. Readers (and politicians) may disagree on whether a noninvasive study of grizzly bear population and habitat is a waste of money. McCain clearly thinks it is – but on the other hand, he never moved to get rid of the earmark. In fact, he voted for the bill that made appropriations for the study. He did propose some changes to the bill, but none that nixed the bear funding.

Iraqi Surplus Exaggerated

Obama was out of date in saying the Iraqi government has "79 billion dollars," when he argued that the U.S. should stop spending money on the war in Iraq.
Obama: We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus.obama
As we've said before, there was a time when the country could have had as much as $79 billion, but that time has passed. What the Iraqis actually “have” is $29.4 billion in the bank. The Government Accountability Office projected in August that Iraq’s 2008 budget surplus could range anywhere from $38.2 billion to $50.3 billion, depending on oil revenue, price and volume. Then, in early August, the Iraqi legislature passed a $21 billion supplemental spending bill, which was omitted from the GAO’s surplus tally since it was still under consideration. The supplemental will be completely funded by this year’s surplus. So the range of what the Iraqi’s could have at year’s end is actually $47 billion to $59 billion. The $79 billion figure is outdated and incorrect.

$700 billion for oil?

McCain repeated an exaggerated claim that the U.S. is sending $700 billion per year to hostile countries.
McCain: Look, we are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don't like us very much. Some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.
mccainThat's not accurate. McCain also made this claim in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. He's referring to the amount of money the U.S. spends in importing oil. But the number is inflated. In fact, we actually pay more like $536 billion for the oil we need. And one-third of those payments go to Canada, Mexico and the U.K.

(Note: A few of our readers messaged us, after we first noted McCain's mistake, with the thought that he was referring to foreign aid and not to oil. If so he's even farther off than we supposed: The entire budget for the State Department and International Programs works out to just $51.3 million.)

Tax Cut Recipients

Obama overstated how many people would save on taxes under his plan:
Obama: My definition – here's what I can tell the American people: 95 percent of you will get a tax cut. And if you make less than $250,000, less than a quarter-million dollars a year, then you will not see one dime's worth of tax increase.
That should be 95 percent of families, not 95 percent of "American people." An analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that Obama's plan would decrease taxes for 95.5 percent of families with children. Overall, 81.3 percent of households would get a tax cut under his proposal.

Health Care Hyperbole

Obama and McCain traded incorrect statements on each other's health care plan.
Obama: So you may end up getting a $5,000 tax credit. Here's the only problem: Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you're getting from your employer.
As we said before, McCain’s plan doesn’t call for taxing employers on health care benefits; it would instead tax employees. As the law stands now, employees don’t pay taxes on the dollar value of their health insurance benefits. Under McCain’s plan, they would.

McCain also misrepresented Obama's plan when he said that his opponent favored "handing the health care system over to the federal government."
McCain: Well, I want to make sure we're not handing the health care system over to the federal government which is basically what would ultimately happen with Senator Obama's health care plan. I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government.
McCain made a similar claim in his acceptance speech, when he said that
Obama's plans would "force families into a government run health care
system." We called it false then and we stand by that. Obama's plan mandates coverage for children, but not for adults, and it does not require anyone to be covered by a nationalized system. Obama's plan expands the insurance coverage offered by the government, but allows people to keep their own plans or choose from private plans as well.

Ike Was No Quitter

McCain mangled his military history:
McCain: President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.
One of them was a letter congratulating the great members of the military and allies that had conducted and succeeded in the greatest invasion in history, still to this day, and forever.

And he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.
The story is widely circulated in military circles but not entirely true. Eisenhower (then a general, not yet a president) did in fact write a letter taking responsibility should the D-Day invasion fail. But Eisenhower's letter does not mention resigning. Here's the full text:
Eisenhower (June 5, 1944): Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
No mention of quitting the Army, or his command.

A Longer Timetable

Obama stretched out his schedule for withdrawing troops from Iraq. During the debate, Obama said we could "reduce" the number of combat troops in 16 months:
Obama: Now, what I've said is we should end this war responsibly. We should do it in phases. But in 16 months we should be able to reduce our combat troops, put – provide some relief to military families and our troops and bolster our efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al Qaeda.
But in Oct. 2007, Obama supported removing all combat troops from Iraq
within 16 months:
Obama (Oct. 2007): I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. And I will launch the diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives that are so badly needed. Let there be no doubt: I will end this war.
The quote appears in "Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Defense Issues" – a
position paper that was still available on the campaign's Web site as Obama spoke.
Still Soft on Iran?

McCain repeated the false insinuation that Obama opposed naming Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
McCain: There is the Republican Guard in Iran, which Senator Kyl had an amendment in order to declare them a sponsor of terror. Senator Obama said that would be provocative. ...

Obama: Well, let me just correct something very quickly. I believe the Republican Guard of Iran is a terrorist organization. I've consistently said so. What Senator McCain refers to is a measure in the Senate that would try to broaden the mandate inside of Iraq. To deal with Iran.
Obama has in fact said that the IRGC should be named a terrorist group. He was a cosponsor of the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, which, among other things, named the IRGC a terrorist organization. What he voted against was the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which also called for the terrorist group distinction. But Obama said that he opposed the amendment on the grounds that it was "saber-rattling."
Obama press release (Sept. 26, 2007): Senator Obama clearly recognizes the serious threat posed by Iran. However, he does not agree with the president that the best way to counter that threat is to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq, and he does not think that now is the time for saber-rattling towards Iran. In fact, he thinks that our large troop presence in Iraq has served to strengthen Iran - not weaken it. He believes that diplomacy and economic pressure, such as the divestment bill that he has proposed, is the right way to pressure the Iranian regime. Accordingly, he would have opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment had he been able to vote today.
Who's Naive on Georgia?

McCain called Obama's initial statement on the conflict in Georgia "naive." It's worth noting Obama's words echoed those of the White House.
McCain: Well, I was interested in Senator Obama's reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia. His first statement was, "Both sides ought to show restraint."

Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn't understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia.
It's true, as McCain said, that during the conflict between Georgia and Russia, Obama said, "Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to
avoid an escalation to full scale war" in his first statement on the conflict. But so did the White House. Press secretary Dana Perino said on Aug. 8, “We urge restraint on all sides – that violence would be curtailed and that direct dialogue could ensue in order to help resolve their differences.” We pointed this out when New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani mischaracterized Obama's response to the crisis during the GOP convention.

Boeing Boasts

McCain was went too far when he said, "I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong. And we fixed it and we killed it."

McCain certainly did lead a fight to kill the contract, and the effort ended in prison sentences for defense contractors. But the contract isn't exactly "fixed" yet. In fact, questions have been raised about the role McCain has played in helping a Boeing rival secure the new contract.

After the original Boeing contract to supply refueling airliners was nixed in 2003, the bidding process was reopened. And in early 2007, Boeing rival EADS/Airbus won the bid the second time around. But Boeing filed a protest about the way the bids were processed, and the Government Accountability Office released a report that found in Boeing's favor. In the summary of GAO's investigation, the organization said there were "significant errors" with the bid process and that the directions given to Boeing were "misleading."

Further, the New York Times reported that "McCain’s top advisers, including a cochairman of his presidential campaign, were lobbyists for EADS. And Mr. McCain had written to the Defense Department, urging it to ignore a trade dispute between the United States and Europe over whether Airbus received improper subsidies." A liberal campaign finance group ran an ad hitting McCain on the connections back in July and our colleagues at PolitiFact found their attacks to be true, saying: "Center for Responsive Politics prepared a report for PolitiFact that backs [the charge] up. U.S. employees of EADS/Airbus have contributed $15,700 in this election cycle to McCain’s campaign."

Nuclear Charges

McCain said Obama was against storing nuclear waste. That's not exactly his position.
McCain: And Senator Obama says he's for nuclear, but he's against reprocessing and he's against storing.

Obama: I -- I just have to correct the record here. I have never said that I object to nuclear waste. What I've said is that we have to store it safely.
Obama's official position is that he does support safe storage of nuclear waste:
Obama fact sheet: Obama will also lead federal efforts to look for a safe, long-term disposal solution based on objective, scientific analysis. In the meantime, Obama will develop requirements to ensure that the waste stored at current reactor sites is contained using the most advanced dry-cask storage technology available. Barack Obama believes that Yucca Mountain is not an option. Our government has spent billions of dollars on Yucca Mountain, and yet there are still significant questions about whether nuclear waste can be safely stored there.
But the McCain campaign has attacked Obama before on this issue, going as
far as to claim Obama did not support nuclear energy at all, which was false. Obama has said he supports nuclear as long as it is "clean and safe."

Against Alternative Energy

Obama said that McCain had voted 23 times against alternative energy:
Obama: Over 26 years, Senator McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel.
Here's the Obama campaign's list of the 23 votes. We find they're overstating the case. In many instances, McCain voted not against alternative energy but against mandatory use of alternative energy, or he voted in favor of allowing exemptions from these mandates. Only 11 of the 23 votes cited by the Obama campaign involve reducing or eliminating incentives for renewable energy.

Meanwhile, McCain was indignant at the suggestion that he'd voted against alternative energy at all.
McCain: I have voted for alternate fuel all of my time. ... No one can be opposed to alternate energy.
But McCain's record says differently. As we say above, he has voted against funding for alternative energy on 11 occasions. He may be in favor of alternative energy in theory, but he has declined opportunities to support it.

In McCain's energy plan, he supports nuclear power and "clean" coal, which are alternative energies. But they don't qualify as renewable energy, such as hydro,
solar and wind power. McCain's plan makes a vague promise to "rationalize
the current patchwork of temporary tax credits that provide commercial
feasibility." The experts we talked to weren't sure what exactly that meant.

Committee Oversight

Both candidates were right in talking about Obama’s NATO subcommittee.
McCain: Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO, that's in Afghanistan. To this day he's never had a hearing. …

Obama: Look, the -- I'm very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And as he explains and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that don't go through my subcommittee because they're done as a committee as a whole.
As we've already reported Obama's subcommittee on Afghanistan does have jurisdiction over NATO, which is supplying about half of the troops in Afghanistan. His subcommittee does not have jurisdiction over Afghanistan proper.

Getting the Dates Wrong

We also caught McCain getting his congressional history a little wrong.
McCain: Back in 1983, when I was a brand-new United States congressman,
the one -- the person I admired the most and still admire the most, Ronald
Reagan, wanted to send Marines into Lebanon. And I saw that, and I saw the
situation, and I stood up, and I voted against that because I was afraid
that they couldn't make peace in a place where 300 or 400 or several
hundred Marines would make a difference. Tragically, I was right: Nearly
300 Marines lost their lives in the bombing of the barracks.
This isn’t quite right. Marines were initially deployed to Lebanon in August 1982. McCain, however, was not elected to the U.S. House until November 1982, more than three months after Marines had already landed.

McCain is referring to a 1983 vote to invoke the War Powers Act. That bill, which Ronald Reagan signed into law on October 12, 1983, authorized an 18-month deployment for the Marines. On October 13, a suicide bomber destroyed the Marine barracks in Beirut. McCain did in fact break with most Republicans to vote against the bill.

–by Brooks Jackson, Lori Robertson, Justin Bank, Jess Henig,
Emi Kolawole and Joe Miller.
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Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Defense Issues
. Obama for America.

Barack Obama's Plan to Make America A Global Energy Leader
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