This is a person who actually believes that Obama was in a "terrorist group," and she's still backing Obama. Relatedly, a remarkable finding in the new New York Times poll: While 64% said they'd heard a lot or some about William Ayers, only nine percent cited it as an association that bothers them.
What these results would seem to suggest, however, is that there are fairly massive advantages for the Democrats in enthusiasm and/or turnout operations. They imply that Obama is quite likely to turn out his base in large numbers; the question is whether the Republicans will be able to do the same.
The state of North Carolina maintains particularly good voter registration statistics. With their registration deadline having closed last week, let's take a quick look at the numbers. ---- Since the first of the year, Democrats have added about 250,000 voters to the Republicans' roughly 50,000, while unaffiliated voters also increased their numbers by about 170,000.
In point of fact I'm talking about the 262-page amendment Gramm tacked on to that bill that deregulated the trade of credit default swaps. Tick tick tick. Hilarious sitting here while you frantically search the Internet to learn about the cause of the financial crisis -- in the middle of a live chat interview.
About the taxes, there has been repeated coverage and discussion of taxes, to the point where even Fox News has admitted (kinda) that Obama's plan would reduce middle class taxes. It's not that Joe the Plumber doesn't "know where he [Obama] stands", it's that he doesn't like that his guy (McCain) is worse on taxes, and he can't accept that. This is willful ignorance.
I live in Charlotte NC, where today is the first day of early voting. I drove by two polling places before 8 this morning and they were both completely mobbed. My husband has driven to two others in his attempt to vote today, and the scene has been so ridiculous that he has given up and will try again next week. At two of the spots where he tried to vote, he witnessed and was approached by two exceedingly aggressive McCain/Palin volunteers who were pulling people out of line, handing out brochures, and telling them "You really need to think carefully about your vote. If you plan to vote Obama, we would ask that you read this material and reconsider your vote."
But it was to be an afternoon of surprises. "Cardboard Obama was a more formidable opponent than expected," stated a surprised David Gregory, also on MSNBC. "Like Barack Obama, Cardboard Obama was unflappable: while neither real Obama nor Cardboard Obama returned any of John McCain's withering criticism, by the half hour mark, both had seemed to get under McCain's skin." Agreeing with Gregory, conservative blogger John Hinderaker of PowerLine wrote, "McCain's success at channeling the anger of Joe Sixpack played well in the early going, but even this staunch McCainiac saw him unnerved by Cardboard Obama's passivity. McCain had no one to interrupt or chortle at, and was flustered and sputtering."
The basic argument of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State is that the assumption by many mainstream pundits that the socioeconomic elites tilt Left while the masses tilt Right is wrong. To a first approximation the rich tend to vote Republican, the poor tend to vote Democratic, the old stereotype holds. But there is also the reality that the wealthier states tend to vote Democratic and the poorer ones tend to vote Republican.
You can see their logic and numbers in the full post. The assumptions of the model may be wrong, but it exhibits enough clarity, right or wrong, that you can elucidate your objection in a concrete manner. As for someone like Howard Fineman, you have no idea what doesn't count as "too close," he can always move the ball in his own mind because "close" is just a term which is a label for that mysterious value that he refuses to share with you. The mainstream media is essential and critical for many things; when it comes to political punditry though it produces an inferior product to most weblogs. Most political weblogs are filled with partisan trash from what I can tell, laugh out loud inanity which makes you wonder at how low we humans can go in the uses we make of our God-given minds, but at least their uninformed blather has some verve, punch an perspective. In contrast, mainstream pundits like Howard Fineman have to pitch to the lowest common denominator, so their vague contentions are comparatively insipid. It's like comparing a loud unabashed fart to a semi-audible one; if you're going to embarrass yourself go 100-proof and let it rip! Fundamentally pundits like Howard Fineman are relics from the age of 3 networks and a few print glossies. I doubt they'll ever be fired, but they won't be replaced when they retire.
Joe Killian is a reporter for Greensboro News&Record. Friday, he went to a Sarah Palin rally at Elon University and filed a report from there for his newspaper. But he also got assaulted - the first reporter so far - and then blogged about the incident.
It's been odd, through the course of this campaign, to watch John McCain detach from his own mythology. By this point, there's a vague sense that the guy was once a maverick, was once an uncommonly honorable politician, but folks have basically forgotten what all that's about. It's like if you knew Peter Parker was strong, but had forgotten all that stuff about spiders. It's instructive, though, to go back and reread the McCain myth in its purer forms, and you could do worse than this 2005 New Yorker profile from Connie Bruck.
Not only did Palin conduct her office in just such a fashion -- trying to appoint Patriot-movement followers to vacant city-council seats -- it's clear that Clark, Chryson, and many others within the AIP continue to view Palin as "one of theirs." This is no doubt why they urged their members to support her in 2006. However, their belief that she is "infiltrating" the Republican Party is more likely than not simply part of their long-running delusional belief system. What's not delusional, however, is the cold reality that Palin has a real history of empowering these extremists, and pandering to their conspiratorial beliefs, from her position of public office. And the question is whether that would continue from a position of real power in the White House.
The picture of Palin's style of governance is eerily similar to what we've seen from the Bush White House the past eight years: When laws, rules, and policies stand in the way of getting what you want, simply ignore them away. Moreover, what we also see is Palin's early willingness to use demagoguery and overt appeals to the paranoid, angry fringe of the right to get what she wants. Pretty much what we're seeing on the campaign trail these days, don't you think?
So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!" Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er." In this economy, racism is officially a luxury. How is John McCain going to win if he can't win those voters?
If Team McCain wants to convince anyone this is merely a "smear", they're going to have to demonstrate some falsity or distortion first. What we've already heard from some Palin defenders is that this report is merely another attempt at "guilt by association." But "guilt by association," by definition, involves an entirely irrelevant association (which describes the William Ayers "connection" to a T). Palin's associations with the "Patriot" right, however, are entirely relevant, because they reflect directly on her conduct as a public official and her judgment. They also, I should add, reflect on a deeper level the kind of right-wing populism she's been indulging in recent weeks.
This has not been lost on many. In fact, in a recent local candidate forum, a member of the GOP -- yes, there are a few here in Orange County -- acknowledged that it appears there are programs or missions where government actually does a better job than the private sector. Such acknowledgements are rare, but increasing. It will take years, though, for the poison injected into our political discourse to be metabolized. People will still rail about big government and taxes. But there's a difference between pushing back in order to insist on efficiency, transparency and fairness and simply attacking the system for ideological or political gain. In a recent New York Times column, Thomas Friedman recalled Oliver Wendell Holmes remark that "I like paying taxes. With them I am buying civilization." We're a far cry from that sentiment but perhaps a little closer to understanding the role of government and how dangerous it is to entrust the whole of civilization solely to those out to profit from it.
So now Palin has not only made he state of Alaska a national laughing stock, she's brought shame on the good name of Spenard, my sleazy, old neighborhood. That's it; the woman has to go. Fortunately, there are intrepid Alaskans working on that. A group called Alaskans for Truth is looking into the technical requirements to start a recall (that is, if the legislature doesn't impeach her first). I hate to get my hopes up, but it's beginning to look like there is just enough justice in the universe to make sure Palin's career is toast.
Governor Sarah Palin Participates in Road to Victory Rally at Roswell Industrial Air Center. Is she pallin' with aliens now? Is that their hope - to get alien voters as Earthlings seem to have left them?
At first glance, this seems like a fairly ordinary point, but while the general pattern is far from new, it is still quite remarkable. One of the two major presidential candidates is repeatedly lying to the American public about one of the most significant geopolitical events of the year. The other candidate has adopted the lie because doing so is more politically expedient than refuting it.
Jim Martin is the Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia, challenging GOP incumbent Saxby Chambliss. Though universally considered all year to have little chance of winning in this deep Southern red state, virtually all polls now show the race as extremely close if not tied, and Martin clearly has a very good chance to win. Yesterday, Matt Stoller published an interview he conducted this week with Martin which contained this exchange
It's not a coincidence that the hardest-hitting interviews of McCain have been conducted by everyone except the national press corps that follows him. Last night, David Letterman -- the comic -- grilled McCain about his relationship with convicted felon and post-Watergate extremist G. Gordon Liddy after McCain claimed that Obama associates with terrorists, the first time (to my knowledge) McCain has been asked about his friendship with Liddy despite its being written about for months. And the toughest and most adversarial interviews of McCain came from the hosts of The View and from a reporter on a local news station in Maine (here).
But it seems rather obvious that there are now basically no journalistic standards left for determining when a political figure's private life (or even that of their spouse) is "relevant" -- apparently, it's all relevant now, down to the last tawdry detail. In partiuclar, adultery (without regard to whether the spouse consents) is, without any further consideration, a legitimate topic to report. That inevitably has to lead to an even further erosion (if that's possible) of our political class, a further narrowing of the people willing to enter politics. And the vast disparity between the media resources and attention devoted to sleazy gossip like this versus actual investigation of true government corruption and crime seems to be growing by the day, such that behavior like this will further decay our already quite decadent journalistic class as well.
Our analysis of exit-poll results from five presidential elections reveals which demographic subgroups tend to swing and which ones rarely move. ------ The exit polls show few real openings for Democrats among white men. The past five Democratic nominees have averaged just 36.6 percent of the vote among white men with less than a college education (who tend to be blue-collar workers) and 36 percent among white men with a college education. Over that period, no Democrat won as much as 40 percent of either of those groups
So a little while back, John McCain made an ill-advised crack about planetaria (that's the plural of planetarium), calling them "foolishness". It was ill advised because it raised the hackles of lots of science-loving folks, including those who want to -- gasp, horror! -- educate kids about astronomy and science.
Now, to the parallel with the U.S. We here have had a long time of excitement as well - a stupid, bloody war we cannot win, stolen elections, media acting as PR for the Administration, an economic crisis, shredding of the Constitution, obvious cold shoulder from the rest of the world, torture, wire-tapping, firing of District Attorneys, outing of a CIA operative, Terry Schiavo circus, appointment of extremist judges at all levels (starting with Roberts and Alito), Katrina and FEMA, ridiculous airport "security", and now scandalously dishonest campaigning by McCain and incitement of the most extremist, racist, violent fringes of the society at the Palin rallies.
I think people had had enough of that excitement. They are not looking for fiery rhetoric. They want someone who will get down to work. They are looking for someone boring.
And Obama, with his poker face and unflinching cool, is exactly that. The angry faces of McCain at the three debates and the hate-mongering by Palin are exactly NOT what people are looking for. Slander, attack ads, sneering, fiery rhetoric, hate and fear - not this season, thank you. The slogans are not working any more. Obama's boring explanations of policy details, things that used to guarantee an electoral loss for a Democrat in the past, are exactly what people are yearning for right now. He exudes competence - even if the audience does not understands the nuances of the policy, Obama obviously does and thus can be trusted to do his job well.
Thus, even though many people in the country are uneasy with Obama because of his race, or because they truly believe the lies about him being a terrorist, or because they have something irrational against Arabs, they will STILL vote for him. Their need for stability and calm is stronger then even their racism and fear.
So ever since this election switched from practical bread-and-butter issues like how much Democrats are going to tax Jesus to fund their gay-married abortion babies to fluff like "the economy" and "the recession" and "the apocalyptic collapse of global capitalism" it looks like everybody's gonna vote for Barack Obama. Well good for you, see if Giblets cares, Giblets doesn't care about the stupid ol' presidency anyway. But before you go and throw your vote away just ask yourself: who is Barack Obama? "Oh well Giblets Barack Obama is the junior senator from Illinois who is running for president on some moderate health care and tax reform plans and a foreign policy which is actually very similar to John McCain's," you say because you are irritating and stupid and I hate you. Yes yes but who is Barack Obama, really? "Well he was born in Hawaii to Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Sr. and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia and was a community organizer and a law professor before running for the Illinois state senate." Okay okay but who is Barack Obama, really, while I am playing scary music and flashing this terrifyingly desaturated image of Barack Obama in a turban across your television screen? "Oh my god I have no idea, who is this mysteriously radical mystery radical!" Giblets is glad you asked!
FACT! Barack Obama was a community organizer. Acorn is made of community organisers. Acorns come from oak trees. Oak trees belong to the genus Quercus, which includes Quercus faginea, the Portuguese oak. The prime minister of Portugal is JosÃ© SÃ³crates, whose last name looks like Socrates, who lived in Athens, which is also a city in Georgia, whose state fruit is the peach, which is native to China, which is exactly what Osama bin Laden was eating while he was plotting to destroy the Twin Towers. It's all connected, people - they just don't want you to know! And they could be black.
Yesterday I called up Mark Webb, theaters manager of the Adler Planetarium, the would-be recipient of Obama's largesse. Webb said that the planetarium, which receives half a million visitors every year, is still using the same projector it purchased in 1970. It's not a bad machine, but the technology has evolved. Top-end projectors, said Webb, now mix traditional mechanical projection with high-resolution digital capabilities.
But three utterances of this nature for me lead to an entirely more edifying possibility: that Palin, Bachmann and Pfotenhauer were making a radical new claim about the fundamental forces and constants that compose the background of our universe.
The bat signal is a modified spotlight to project the iconic bat symbol into the sky or onto a building to contact and request the presence of Batman in the case of an emergency. The Obama signal above appears to indicate we are in an emergency and his assistance is needed to get us out of it.
In an exclusive interview with 12 News, 58 year-old Nancy Takehara of Chicago says she was going door-to-door when she came across a disgruntled homeowner. "The next thing I know he's telling us we're not his people, we're probably with ACORN, and he started screaming and raving," Takehara said. "He grabbed me by the back of the neck. I thought he was going to rip my hair out of my head. He was pounding on my head and screaming. The man terrified me."
I think people who say Obama is liberal haven't bothered to find out anything about him. It's my conservative side that's voting for him.
John McCain defended his robo-slime campaign against Barack Obama today -- and as a special bonus, completely misrepresented what his robocalls actually say about Obama. McCain's comments on robo-slime-gate came this morning on Fox News, after Chris Wallace pointed out that McCain had denounced robo-sliming back when he was the target of it in 2000.
Powell elaborated on his decision in a Q-and-A with reporters moments ago. He said he'd concluded that we need a "fresh set of ideas" and a "fresh set of eyes." While he praised McCain's "maverick" ways, he added: "I think we need more than that," asserting that we need a "generational change" in leadership. Powell said he'd arrived at his decision within the past couple of months. Notably, he specified that "decisions that came out of the conventions" played a role in his decision, strongly suggesting that McCain's choice of Sarah Palin cost McCain the chance of Powell's support. Also interesting was Powell's claim that the two men's response to the economic response played a role. He said that gave him an opportunity to evaluate the two men's "judgment" and way of "approaching a problem." He praised Obama's "calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach to problem solving."
This post is a resource for those interested in learning more about Michelle Bachmann, who represents Minnesota's 6th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.
Ayers is nothing more than a tool that permits McCain, Palin and all their surrogates to use the noun "terrorist" in polite company in the same sentence as "Obama," over and over and over again. It allows them to cobble together a 'respectable' version of those Obama smear emails they can push in commercials and robocalls and surrogate talking points every hour of every day. Stripped down to its components McCain's message to voters is this: "Don't forget. He's definitely black. And he may be a terrorist." That's the message. The nuts and bolts is a concerted effort to keep Democrats from voting -- through intimidation, by striking new voters from the rolls, which is going to happen to lots of them, clogging polling stations to create delays that keep late day (predominantly) Obama voters from voting altogether. Smears in the air and voter suppression on the ground.
Don't worry about Mickey Mouse or ACORN stealing the election. According to an investigative report out today in Rolling Stone magazine, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast, after a year-long investigation, reveal a systematic program of "GOP vote tampering" on a massive scale.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe emails supporters this morning with the news that Obama has raised an extraordinary sum in September: Over $150 million. The Obama camp added 632,000 new donors, bringing the campaign's total number of donors to over three million people. Also extraordinary: The average donation for the month was less than $100. The key here is that September was when the contours of the current context first became truly visible: The GOP convention took place at the start of the month, and hockey mom/pitbull with lipstick Sarah Palin was first introduced to America as John McCain's choice for backup commander in chief. What's more, as the month unfolded, it became clearer and clearer that McCain had made a strategic decision to wage a campaign dominated by slimy attacks, vile adver-sleazements, and cosmic levels of mendacity. And Obama's donor base responded in kind, as did more than half a million newcomers.
The survey finds that more than a third of likely voters (36%) said their opinion of Obama had gotten better because of the debates, while only 12% said it had gotten worse. By contrast, only a fifth (20%) said their opinion of McCain had improved, while more than that (26%) said it had gotten worse.
The numbers among independents are pretty interesting, too. A third (33%) said their opinion of Obama had improved, while only 19% said their opinion of McCain had improved -- significantly less than the 28% of indys who said their opinion of the Arizona Senator had worsened.
And get this: While McCain won handily among Republicans, opinions of both candidates improved by approximately the same number among conservatives. Twenty seven percent of conservatives said their opinion of Obama had gotten better, while 28% said the same of McCain.
The campaign of El Tinklenberg, the Democratic challenger against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), announced today that they've raised about half a million dollars in the time since she let loose on Hardball with her claims that Barack Obama may be anti-American and that the media should undertake a full investigation into which members of Congress are anti-American.
Tinklenberg still faces an up-hill battle, though, as this district voted 57%-42% for George W. Bush in 2004. So the question for him is whether there has been enough of a turn against Bush Republicanism -- and especially against Bachmann's extreme version of it -- for him to pull off an upset.
Michele Bachmann is a great fundraiser...for Democrats. Since that creepy video of her calling everyone who isn't a rightwingnut "anti-American" has spread all over, money has been pouring into the Elwyn Tinklenberg campaign. Check out Tinklenberg's ActBlue page: he has received over $100,000 since yesterday. I opened the page a few hours ago and just checked again, and it had shot up about $20,000. Add a few pennies to the total, if you can!
The DNC announced this morning that they raised $49.9 million in September, and had $27.4 million cash on hand at the end of the month. Together with the Obama campaign's haul of more than $150 million, the combined Democratic fundraising total for September was an astonishing $200 million, far ahead of the RNC's $66 million and the McCain campaign's $85 million in one-time federal grant money.
The McCain camp is playing every divisive card they can find, or make up. Some Americans are pro-America, others are not. Anyone who wants to register everyone to vote could well be investigated by the incumbent government,even if the law doesn't permit the Justice Department to try to influence the outcome. And the mainstream media, at the very least eager to have a close race, especially with a come-from-behind narrative, will do all it can do to intensify the wild, cruel and crazy allegations made against the Obama campaign and its allies and supporters.
Here's our daily composite of the five major national tracking polls. Barack Obama is holding a sizable lead over John McCain, and has slightly expanded it after a momentary dip yesterday
The Democratic National Committee is waging a last minute injection of as much as $20 million into state legislative races in key states, hoping to take advantage of Democratic momentum this cycle. A senior Democrat familiar with the conversations said: "We are looking at options, races, where we can be helpful, as we did in 2006. This is the time when some races pop." DNC chairman Howard Dean has made it a priority to help Democrats win down the ballot, so that if Obama wins the presidency, Democrats will have a larger majority in Congress. But with states planning to redistrict their congressional boundaries in 2012, control of state legislative chambers is all the more important, people close to Dean said.
According to Pollster.com, there have only been two polls of Rep. Bachmann's district. However, the last one, from a week ago, shows her only four points ahead of her Democratic challenger, Elwyn TinklenbergThe DCCC has added Tinklenberg to its 'Red to Blue' campaign, and the NRCC is putting up ads for Bachmann. That means that both sides think this race is competitive.
I'm putting this out here, because it needs to be said: ACORN is simply a cover for Republicans doing far worse things. Always has been, always will be. Even looking at the worst things ACORN is accused of, you simply aren't looking at a substantial threat of anything worse than causing a registrar to sigh in resignation and stick a little Post-It flag to a sheet of paper. Republicans tend to point to things like ACORN to justify the far sketchier actions that are the bread and butter (and delicious melted cheese) of their voter suppression activities.
When John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nominee, it truly brought the country together. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Anarchists, Communists, and every one else all stood up as one to say "What the Fuck??" Why was Mr. "Country First" picking an unknown political newbie from the Republican political cesspool that is Alaska? With the election approaching, however, McCain has finally fessed up his reasoning for picking Palin, someone he didn't know whatsoever: It was a cold political calculation designed to counter the "liberal Feminist agenda.
One of the ways I got to know John McCain a decade or so ago was through a mutual friend--a fellow by the name of David Ifshin. I knew David through Democratic Party politics. He was a stalwart moderate, a member of the Democratic Leadership Council and an occasional adviser to Bill Clinton. Our wives were, and are, close friends. But McCain's relationship with David was far more interesting.
Ifshin, you see, had been a vehement anti-Vietnam radical. He had even gone to Hanoi at the height at the war and given a speech denouncing the American pilots dropping bombs on North Vietnamese civilians as "war criminals." The speech was broadcast repeatedly in the Hanoi Hilton, where McCain was being held captive. More than a few people thought Ifshin was guilty of treason.
After McCain was tortured and broken by the North Vietnamese and signed a confession of "criminality," he was so ashamed that he attempted suicide--and later made a vow that he wouldn't question the decisions or statements made by anybody else about the war.
There is now a pattern emerging from the McCain campaign and its surrogates. Instead of trying to persuade Americans who aren't in their camp (the sign of a campaign that thinks it can win), they are trying to de-legitimize them (the sign of a campaign that thinks it can't).
That's what you hear in Sarah Palin's disquisition in Greensboro, N.C., on "these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation." (So what does that say about the rest of the country?) That is what you hear in Nancy Pfotenauer's suggestion that there's a difference between Northern Virginia and "real Virginia." It is what you hear in Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann's crazypants rant about--well, I really don't know what. And it is what you hear in a robocall strategy that is as ridiculous as it is cowardly. (On that score, Republican Sen. Susan Collins deserves credit for calling for a stop to it in her state.)
Today, the New York Times reports on the "heavily male" crowds at rallies for Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), where her "stoutest defenders are often the Joe Sixpacks in her crowds." A few of the men interviewed noted Palin's physical appeal:
- "Mr. McLain wore a 'Proud to be voting for a hot chick' button[.]"
- "Yes, some men come to ogle the candidate, too. 'She's beautiful,' said a man wearing a John Deere T-shirt in Weirs Beach. 'I came here to look at her,' he said, and his admiration for Ms. Palin's appearance became more and more animated. Sheepish over his ogling, he declined to give his real name ('Just call me "John Deere" ')."
In September, a McCain campaign ad argued that complimenting Palin on her appearance was "sexist." Does the McCain campaign believe that these supporters -- who are echoing other prominent conservatives -- are sexist too?
Keep one thing in mind when you read what is sure to be a deluge of stories about the tens of thousands of legal voters purged from the voter rolls because of minor discrepancies, arbitrary rules, and shoddy databases: High turnout favors Democrats.
Ridiculously, federal law gives states the power to set their own criteria for voting in national elections. Not that states go out of their way to tell the public what the rules are. Have you ever seen a PSA about how not to disenfranchise yourself with the inconsistent use of a middle initial?
People whose Social Security records say "Robert" and whose driver's licenses say "Bob" may or may not be disqualified, depending on the whims of the states they live in.
Joe the Plumber is one of up to 200,000 Ohioans whose votes may not be counted. His surname is misspelled "Worzelbacher" instead of "Wurzelbacher." Whatever else he's confused about, it's unlikely that Joe misspelled his own name. So if he's not allowed to vote, he's been disenfranchised by some clerk's typo.
People like Joe will be allowed to cast provisional ballots, but there's no guarantee those votes will be counted. Again, it depends on state rules and the relative pushiness of party lawyers.
It's not that the networks are planning their strategy in the event of an Obama blowout. These are pros. It's their job to be prepared for all contingencies. There are some plausible scenarios in which Obama more or less clinches the election before the polls close in the West.
That's just how the electoral college works. It should have been abolished a long time ago. But meanwhile, back in the real world, there's a commercially unappetizing possiblity that the election will have been cinched up by 8pm Eastern, 5pm Pacific. That's an eternity by advertising standards.
What's disconcerting is how upfront the networks are about their strategy to keep Americans glued to the TV, whether the proceedings are newsworthy or not:
There's quite a lot that Colin Powell said today during his endorsement of Barack Obama that spoke to me, but in particular his mention of the current attempt on the Republican side of things to equate being Muslim with not being American got my attention. On the attempt to suggest Obama is a Muslim -- or the tacit acceptance on the GOP side when such a suggestion occurs -- Powell said that the right answer was that the suggestion is wrong, and that Obama is a Christian.
But then he said: "The really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being Muslim in America? No, that's not America."
Anytime they poll the American people about racism, blacks say there is more of it than whites. The raw racism on display this election season is probably more educational for whites than for blacks, who have had a more accurate picture of reality all along. But, either way, it's deeply painful to see these suspicions confirmed in such a brazen way. It's not so much that racist attitudes are being confirmed. It's that so many people live in microcultures where racism is so accepted that they openly profess their racism to Obama canvassers, reporters, and other perfect strangers. It's the lack of shame that I find most disturbing.
It seems pretty clear to me that McCain is saying this because he wants to plant the idea that there's something scandalous or unsavory about Obama's fundraising in people's minds. However, it's worth noticing what point he might have been trying to make, had he actually meant what he said.
Allowing "unlimited amounts of money" into political campaigns could mean one of two things. First, it might mean allowing individual donors to give as much money as they want. This is what has caused scandals in the past: when Nixon turned out to have gotten $2 million in campaign pledges from milk producers and milk support prices went up shortly thereafter, for instance. But that's illegal now: as a result of those scandals, there are strict limits on what an individual can give to a political campaign. So presumably that's not what McCain is taking about.
On the other hand, allowing "unlimited amounts of money" into political campaigns could mean something different: that even if individuals' contributions are limited, the total amount that candidates raise by getting donations below the limit from large numbers of people leads to scandal.
The Raleigh News and Observer joined the Asheville Citizen-Times, the Greenville Daily Reflector and the Wilmington Star News in endorsing Barack Obama for president.
Political analysts said Powell's endorsement, coupled with a blistering critique of the campaign of Republican Sen. John McCain, especially of the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, was a serious blow to McCain's candidacy, particularly in swing states with large numbers of undecided voters.
"It was a devastating critique. He gave a convincing national endorsement. That's what made it so damaging," said Larry J. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "This is a more important endorsement than Oprah's."
Andrew Revkin of the New York Times has a good article today comparing the climate change policies of the two US Presidential candidates. Here's a capsule summarization of the main differences:
My predisposition is to be skeptical of the value of endorsements in presidential general elections. Endorsements generally serve as an informational shortcut for voters, and therefore their importance tends to be inversely proportional to the stature of the contest involved. When you're voting for Dog Commissioner, and you have no information about the candidates, you might well go with whomever your local paper decides to endorse. In a race like Obama-McCain, on the other hand, you already have all the information you could ever want, and probably have established a fairly strong preference for yourself.
With that said, Powell has approval ratings as high as just about any public figure in America. His endorsement was eloquent, unequivocal, and because of his role in the Bush Administration, genuinely newsworthy. Powell's endorsement might play especially well among the defense and military communities in Northern Virginia, which just so happens to be perhaps the most important swing region in the election.
Words aren't enumerated as a class having rights under the Bill of Rights, The Civil Rights amendments or the Civil Rights Act, they are not all created equal. They are not all "perfectly good words". Some of them should be suppressed. Some should be hunted to extinction, remaining only as mounted, academic specimens.
Achieving the suppression of the language of bigotry is straight forward, you suppress it. You make the use of the words uncomfortable and an invitation to be hassled. For example, the blog boys use the word "cunt". The way to make them uncomfortable is to constantly call them on it when they use it. It's simple as that. They refer to women in that way, you make that uncomfortable for them, you harass them whenever they say it. You make it not worth their wile to use the word. When they whine about your calling them on it, you just do it anyway. They pout about you ruining their fun and boy bonding, you ignore it and keep calling them on it while taking pleasure at their discomfort. Their discomfort is a sign your plan is working, I see nothing wrong with enjoying it, privately. Of course, you've got to give up using language like that yourself, you've got to have credibility.
Whenever you propose something like this you can count on two things happening. The first is the invocation of "freedom of speech" or "The First Amendment". I'm happy to report to you that we are not bound in our personal lives to uphold the "speech rights" of bigots. As I never tire of pointing out, we are not the government. You'd think the left has been out of power long enough to not suffer from that mistaken idea. If a commercial establishment can suppress the use of profane language on its property, individual people certainly have that right in the common ground of life. Those we target for this kind of coercion have no recourse to constitutional relief from us. When it comes to bigots, it's a mistake to worry about their right to promote the violation of other peoples' rights. Let them do the worrying. And it gets better, there is no reason for us to treat bigotry as equal to other modes of human interaction. It intentionally hurts people, it has no rightful place in the world. And, let it not be forgotten, strident objection to hateful words is just as much an expression as bigotry, only it doesn't try to harm entire groups of people on the basis of who they are.
Hostility to the press is not something new to North Carolina. Political rallies are about whipping up the supporters and demonizing the press is an easy route to that. Jesse Helms, you may recall, made it a staple of his stump speech.
Politicians who are playing the guilt-by-association card, especially a campaign that's pushing as hard as the McCain-Palin team is, has to be held accountable for such poisoning of political discourse.
Joe is certainly not a member of northeastern media elite, nor is he a cable television blowhard -- the types of media figures that those assaulting are projecting on local print reporters like Joe. But in the Pro-America/Anti-American paradigm Joe the Reporter represents bad news, just as the Democratic nominee represents terrorism.
After a week of steady reports of press bashing, I'm wondering what the response should be. It is not OK to assault someone for something they wrote and certainly not for attempting to get both sides at a political rally. It's not only not right to throw beer cans or packs of gum or death threats, the chilling effect such acts create and the anger that results defeats the purpose of a free press and open debate.
It takes an effort to walk between two sides engaged in a heated disagreement with a notebook, a camera or a microphone. Making that harder to do and more dangerous drags us all down.