City of Brass

City of Brass

McCain supporters defend Islam

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

At a McCain rally in northern Virginia, a man was handing out bumper stickers equating Obama with Communism and radical Islam, and preaching about the dangers of Islam. McCain supporters, including a conservative Christian and several muslims, confront the bigot:

Note that a McCain campaign official also makes an appearance and reiterates that McCain’s supporters hail from all religions and that this man’s message is in no way representative of John McCain.

The man and his sidekick eventually give up and leave, to cheers and applause by the McCain supporters present. I have to say, that the people in this video standing up for McCain and against bigotry are real Americans in every sense of the word.

Of course this was northern Virginia, which according to Governor Palin’s own spokesperson, is “not the real Virginia” where true pro-America Americans reside. As much as the McCain campaign disgusts me at times, it’s important to remember and emphasize that McCain’s supporters are as genuine Americans as anyone else, apart from the few bad apples who spoil the image. There’s a lot less that divides us than the domestic radicals, or the campaign spin doctors, would have us believe.

(video via Ben Smith at The Politico.)

$150 million: a Palin September, the Perfect Storm

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is simply beyond adjective and superlative and entering into utterly transcendent territory: Obama raised $150 million in September:

Barack Obama
raised more than $150 million in September, a stunning and
unprecedented eruption of political giving that has given him a wide
spending advantage over rival John McCain.

The
Democrat’s campaign released the figure Sunday, one day before it must
file a detailed report of its monthly finances with the Federal Election Commission.

Obama’s
money is fueling a vast campaign operation in an expanding field of
competitive states. It also has underwritten a wave of both national
and targeted video advertising unseen before in a presidential contest.

Campaign manager David Plouffe,
in an e-mail to supporters Sunday morning, said the campaign had added
632,000 new donors in September, for a total of 3.1 million
contributors to the campaign
. He said the average donation was $86.

Obama’s monthly figure pushed his total fundraising to $605 million. No presidential candidate has ever run such an expensive campaign. His campaign raised $65 million in August, his previous best.

“The
overall numbers obviously are impressive,” Plouffe said in a campaign
video. “But it’s what’s beneath the numbers in terms of average
Americans who have had enough, who want a change and who are really
fueling this campaign
.”

I think Obama’s campaign needs to send Sarah Palin some roses. It’s clear that Palin’s selection by McCain sent a shock wave of alarm throughout the political world, given how woefully unqualified Palin is for any national office whatsoever (as her interviews with Katie Couric have painfully demonstrated). Even Colin Powell was uncharacteristically blunt in assessing Palin’s qualifications:

…he said McCain’s choices in the last few weeks — especially his
selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his vice presidential
running mate — had raised questions in his mind about McCain’s
judgment.

“I don’t believe [Palin] is ready to be president of the United
States,” Powell said flatly. By contrast, Obama’s running mate, Sen.
Joe Biden of Delaware, “is ready to be president on day one.”

Millions of ordinary Americans reacted much the same way, wondeirng just how “Country First” McCain could possibly have made such an ill-advised, blatantly political pick for his Veep, and realizing just what it implied about McCain’s judgement and priorities. In hindsight, the signs were clear that Palin was triggering an avalanche of donations to Obama, but no one could have predicted such a titanic windfall of small-donor support.

It must be said that this represents an absolute and total vindication of the Howard Dean campaign, and manager Joe Trippi’s vision of “The Perfect Storm”. On May 17th, 2003, Joe Trippi posted a blog entry at the unofficial Dean Nation weblog entitled simply, The Perfect Storm. In that post, since reprinted many times elsewhere, he wrote like the prophet he is:

never
— until now — would there ever have been any hope of 1 million
Americans contributing $100 each to take back their country and promote
a common vision for the future of the nation. Maybe it will be 2
million who contribute $50. But the Internet makes that possible. Or
maybe it will be 5 million Americans contributing $20. The tools,
energy, leadership and the right candidate, are all in place to create
the Perfect Storm of Presidential politics — where millions of
Americans act together and organize their communities, their
neighborhoods and their precincts. It is ironic I think that the
Perfect Storm may indeed be made possible by the internet — but in the
end the real storm it may create is the largest grassroots/election day
get-out-the-vote — shoe leather/door knocking organization in the
history of American politics.

I have said before that it sounds audacious.

Audacious indeed. But witness the audacity of hope. Trippi’s vision has been realized, far more than he could ever have imagined. Where the Dean campaign broke the trail, the Obama campaign has laid shinkansen tracks. Obama surpassed the 1-million-donor mark back during the primary in February, and now the total is three times that number.

Forget the rhetoric about campaign finance reform – the Obama campaign, like the Dean campaign before it, IS campaign finance reform. As GOP technocrat Patrick Ruffini notes ruefully, “public finance in the general election is dead, dead, dead.”

Any nominee from now on can safely opt out because the
Internet makes it for the public to massively participate. If we had
not had a nominee with such misguided instincts on campaign finance
reform, Republicans probably would have figured this out this time.
McCain raised $47 million in August, or 71% of Obama’s total, and he
raised $10 million in 2 days because of Sarah Palin. Had this trend
continued into September, McCain would have raised over $100 million
for the month. By the time the McCain campaign figured out it was
possible to excite the base, it was too late.

Ruffini is correct. No candidate, Republican or Democrat, will ever accept federal matching funds again. But what’s more important is how Obama will use the money: to redraw the electoral map, not just to win reliably blue states and tip the battleground states, but to actively encroach on once-solidly Red Republican territory. Consider that Obama is within 4 points of McCain in Montana and dead even in North Dakota. There’s a real possibility of a new “sagebrush rebellion” in the Mountain West – and even in the old Confederacy, where West Virginia and even Georgia are in play. This is all possible because of Howard Dean, who as chairman of the DNC has pursued a “50-state strategy”, putting Democratic Party offices in every state, no matter how deep red – and laying the groundwork for Obama’s campaign to set up shop.

This is truly a new kind of politics, and a transformative election. We really are at the cusp of something new, and grand, and exciting. Will it be a $200 million October? And a 400 EV victory in November? We will find out, in less than three weeks.

Can you be a muslim and a christian?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is unusual, to say the least:

A Seattle Episcopal priest who claims to be both Christian and Muslim
has been restricted from public ministry and will be defrocked unless
she “reclaims” Christianity by next April, the Episcopal Church
announced.

Redding, who teaches at a Jesuit seminary in Seattle, according to
Episcopal News Service, told ENS that “I do not believe the canons were
written with this situation in mind. … My situation gives the church
an opportunity to re-examine what it means to be in communion.”

You know, I have to say I am much more sympathetic to the church here. I agree that Islam and Christianity are very similar in many ways, but the differences in basic doctrine are just too stark – the obvious issue being the status of Jesus AS as prophet or god, and the validity of the whole of the Qur’an as a divine text or not.

I am reminded of the main character in the novel Life of Pi, who embraced Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity all at once as a child growing up in India, triggering an angry confrontation between his three spiritual advisers. It is an incongruous, absurd situation.

Powell: So what if Obama were muslim?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I have been saying this as far back as February during the primaries – the correct response to the “Obama muslim” smear was not just to deny it, but also to ask, “so what?” Colin Powell rises to the occasion by saying what Obama still has not said:

“Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correctanswer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been aChristian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is theresomething wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no,that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-oldMuslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, Ihave heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s aMuslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way weshould be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture Isaw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving inIraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photoessay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head onthe headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, youcould see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards-PurpleHeart, Bronze Star-showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth,date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of theheadstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star ofDavid, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his namewas Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born inNew Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waiteduntil he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we havegot to stop polarizing ourself in this way.

The full story of Kareem Rashad Sultan is indeed moving. But the photo of his mother at his grave – to which Powell refers, is even more so:

080929_slideshowplaton16_p465.jpg

Given the – ahem – Obsession with muslims in our political sphere, it is tragic that Barack Obama has consistently failed to say such a simple thing. I don’t think Obama needs Powell
s endorsement to win the Presidency, but perhaps he will draw some inspiration, and courage, from Powell’s example instead.

UPDATE: here’s the video of Powell’s remarks above:

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