Friday, October 31, 2008

More On The Disgusting Khalidi Smear, From Glenn Greenwald

Excellent take by Glenn Greenwald on the McCain/Palin Sleaze Manufacturing Company. His article is called Defeating McCain: Ending Not Only Neocon Policies, But Also Tactics. Amen.

Bush + Cheney, With Lipstick

Sarah Palin is a true menace to this country, considering the likelihood that she would inherit the presidency if John McCain is elected. Her ignorance, disregard, and interpretation of the Constitution are even more frightening than George Bush and Dick Cheney's. And that is saying a lot.

It is quite fitting that she gave these remarks on Halloween (with big thanks to Glenn Greenwald for his deconstruction of Palinsanity.)

Head Of State

A while back the hilarious and intelligent Chris Rock starred in a movie called Head of State (also graced by the presence of the late, great, and missed Bernie Mac), in which he plays the part of an alderman, Mays Gilliam, who is picked to run for President of the United States, counting on the fact that he will lose. However, he runs an honest, BS-free campaign and the people take a liking to him. The final debate scene makes a mockery of presidential debates, which--in general--deserve all the mockery they get.

It's uncanny how Gilliam's opponent, vice-president Lewis, resorts to the same ineffective inexperience argument that the McCain campaign has levelled at Obama, and how Gilliam (Rock) turns the tables on him. Anyway, that's just fiction, right?

Towards the end of the movie, with only West Coast polls remaining open, the news spreads that Gilliam may become the first black president of the United States. Watch:

The question is: how many will be so stupid, ignorant, and racist on Tuesday to try and deny the country a much needed change of course simply because of the color of Sen. Obama's skin?

I wrote on this topic a few weeks ago, in an article called The KKK Factor.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Groothuis Watch Continues

Just in from The Constructive Curmudgeon: O's Anti-semitism Connection.

This is the latest clumsy, ill-conceived, and partisan attack that The Curmudgeon has resorted to in his increasingly ridiculous anti-Obama frenzy. How do I mean? Allow me, please.

The connection that Groothuis tries to smear Obama with is this, straight from Palin's ass(mouth), as reported by ABC News:
It seems that there is yet another radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama going back several years. This is important because his associate, Rashid Khalidi, he in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he's a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Groothuis then reprises the news through a completely one-sided article by F*cks News and characterizes Obama's relationship with Khalidi a "love-fest for a PLO, anti-Jewish sympathizer."

Enough crap. Now that I have taken you through the Palin BS, F*cks News, red-eyed and drooling Curmudgeon's side of the story, let's go to the facts.

Khalidi is actually a well-respected Palestinian scholar with an impressive pedigree:
an American scholar of Palestinian heritage, born in New York and educated at Yale and Oxford, who now teaches at Columbia University. He directed the Middle East Center at the University of Chicago for some time, and he and his family came to know the Obamas at that time.

Read Juan Cole's complete assessment of McCain's hypocrisy on Informed Comment, Cole's enlightening website on issues from the Middle-East.

Not only is Khalidi a respected scholar. It gets better (for us, worse for McCain and his Curmudgeonly shill):
The attacks from McCain and Palin came as a relationship between Khalidi and the Republican presidential nominee was revealed. The International Republican Institute, an organization McCain has chaired since 1993, provided funds to the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, an organziation co-founded by Khalidi, during the 1990s -- including $448,873 in 1998 for the organization to conduct surveys of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The above quote is from today's Jewish Telegraph, but ABC News reported the connection yesterday.

Perhaps, at this point, you would like to ask Groothuis how can he be so pedestrian in his attacks, as to accuse Obama of a relationship with an "anti-Jewish" sympathizer whom his own candidate's group has funded--24 hours after IRI's contributions were exposed. Sorry, you can't: The Curmudgeon disabled replies to his post. Why? Because a deceitful and partisan disinformation machine does not allow facts to be used for rebuttals. Not any more. He used to, a while ago, before he went off the deep end on his anti-Obama crusade.

In conclusion: Groothuis is the type of person that feeds himself and others on the worst memes and voices the conservative movement has to offer. My advice? He should stick to teaching philosophy, and leave the political smear to those who have the time and the ability to do background research, lest he should end up looking like this idiot on CNN:

But, alas, perhaps it's too late.

The Truth On McCain's Judgment, In McCain's Own Words

Much has been made of campaign negativity, as if both campaigns were guilty of the same type of negativity. The difference between Obama's and McCain's attacks on each other? One bases attacks on facts, the other on fear, lies and innuendos. See a couple examples for yourself.

And now, on Obama's "attack" ads:

See the difference?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hertzberg On Socialism

The New Yorker has an interesting analysis of the unreasonable, typically American furor over the socialism in this campaign.

I will quote some notable passages from Hertzberg's article.

First, he points out the absurd formulation of McCain's argument against his "socialist opponent":
"At least in Europe, the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives," McCain said the other day—thereby suggesting that the dystopia he abhors is not some North Korean-style totalitarian ant heap but, rather, the gentle social democracies across the Atlantic, where, in return for higher taxes and without any diminution of civil liberty, people buy themselves excellent public education, anxiety-free health care, and decent public transportation.

Indeed, as Hertzeberg points out, McCain's suicidal argument is that socialism leads to horror such as efficient public transportation and health care for all.

Then, with characteristic wit, Hertzberg sums up the hypocrisy of the Republican argument against Obama's alleges socialism in one sentence:
The Republican argument of the moment seems to be that the difference between capitalism and socialism corresponds to the difference between a top marginal income-tax rate of 35 per cent and a top marginal income-tax rate of 39.6 per cent.

That, in fact, is the moronic depth to which Republican arguments are reduced in the final days of the McCain/Palin campaign: a difference in the top marginal rate of 4.6%. The frightening thing is, it may sway some dullards who would otherwise be inclined to vote for Obama (no, I am not talking about "Joe Of All Trades", he's beyond dullard.)

The real absurdity of the whole non-controversy is that the self-inflicted wound machine, Gov. Palin, said this--in her characteristic "I don't know what I am talking about" folksy style--about her own state of Alaska:
we're set up, unlike other states in the union, where it's collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.

Hertzberg's pithy response suffices:
Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it ("collectively," no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.

Case closed.

Business Like Religion

Daniel Gross of Newsweek asks this interesting question: Why can't corporate America end its perverse love affair with Republican politicians?

One interesting conclusion he draws:
I suspect the real reason is theology. Just as religion frequently involves simplistic good/evil comparisons, members of the church of free enterprise frequently hew to the first (Thou shalt not unionize) and second (Thou shalt not bow down before Democrats) commandments.

They do so, Gross adds, without regard for facts and contrary evidence (which he documents in his article). (See full article.)

I propose a theory of my own. Corporations cannot be separated from the individuals that run them and these individuals, with some notable exceptions, are mainly driven by their own greed.

While business can prosper under Democratic administrations and Congresses, the individuals that run corporations fare much better under Republican administrations (because Republicans always slash taxes for the wealthiest individuals). And since compensation for CEOs is really not tied to the performance of the companies they lead (as proven by the obscene bonuses that CEOs reap no matter what their companies' results) there is no incentive for CEOs to contribute to the party that creates the best conditions for business, instead of the party that allows them personally to make away with most of the loot.

In the end, it's all about greed.

When Country Could Have Come First, And Didn’t

An Open Letter To Sen. John McCain

Dear Sen. McCain:

You like to say that negative commentary of your campaign his driven by liberal bias. On the contrary, it is moved by genuine, and justified disgust for the personal smear tactics your campaign has chosen to employ against Obama. Such tactics are particularly troubling because they are reminiscent of the tactics that Gov. Bush's campaign employed against you in your 2000 bid for the Republican nomination. More and more your campaign has resorted to dishonorable tactics: smears, guilt by association, and robo-calls, the very tactics that brought you defeat in 2000. I am not alone in thinking as I do.

In truth, I am not surprised. I have come to expect the worst from you for some time. The date was August 30, 2004, when you agreed to speak at the Republican convention to endorse the president in his re-election bid, in spite of how he had viciously smeared you in 2000.

I should have known even earlier, on May 9, 2000, when you endorsed Gov. Bush’s bid for the presidency after he and Karl Rove had just dragged you, your character, and your family into the gutter with false accusation. But you earned the benefit of the doubt when you said: "[t]he only way you approach politics and seek elective office is to move forward. For me to look back in anger or with any rancor would be a mistake." I mistook that pronouncement as a commendable piece of political realism and charity toward your opponent.

But by 2004 you had already seen the damage President Bush had done and was capable of. For a man like yourself, who prides on seeking bipartisan agreement, seeing George W. Bush act with total disregard for the minority must have been hard to take. Or was it?

Importantly, by the time you addressed the delegates at the Republican Convention you had already seen three of the four Swift Boat ads aimed at John Kerry. In fact, you condemned the very first one to come out: "I condemn the ad, it is dishonest and dishonorable, I think it is very, very wrong." You even issued the president a challenge, asking him to condemn the ad himself. And he did eventually condemn the ads, but only after 2 of the 4 had already run.

You must have recognized that the Bush campaign was employing against Kerry the very same smear tactics they had employed against you four years earlier. And yet, on Aug 30 you took the stage at the Republican Convention to throw your support behind George W. Bush. Some maverick.

The maverick thing to do at the time would have been to endorse John Kerry, You could have put country first then. You could have been 2004's Joe Lieberman. You chose not to.

Perhaps you were just playing politics. Or perhaps you were thinking of 2008 already. It does not matter now.

Sadly, your presidential campaign has only confirmed what I instinctively knew back in 2004. You have changed many of the positions and opinions you used to hold (leaving Roe v Wade in place, your opposition to the Bush tax cuts, Falwell and Robertson are no longer "agents of intolerance" now that you need their supporters' votes, just to give a few examples), leaving observers with the impression that you'd say just about anything to get elected. And you did.

And when you were called to explain some of your about-faces, as when you were asked why you had decided to go negative with your campaign against Obama in spite of earlier stating that you wanted to run a clean campaign, you gave childish reasons, like "if Sen. Obama had met me in town halls as he said he would do, I wouldn't have gone negative." That's the justification you gave others, and no doubt your former self, for attacking Obama for his "close relationship" with William Ayers, for calling him a socialist, for spreading lies about his tax plans, and so on.

For all your posturing as a maverick, you have behaved just like so many of our elected representatives in Washington: a man who stands up for his deeply held convictions, IF it is politically convenient to do so.

The correct label, then, is "opportunist."

Divisiveness First

Forgive me for drawing attention once again to the thoughts of Dr. Groothuis, of The Constructive Curmudgeon. I am giving him and his blog a lot of undeserved publicity on these pages, but--all things considered--his hypocrisy is a good reminder of what all progressive-minded Americans are facing. Besides, he regularly censors my replies (and others') on his blog, perhaps because of the well-deserved condemnation he suffers here.

One of Dr. Groothuis's false idols is Thomas Sowell, the economist and conservative ideologue who shills for Republican plutocrats from Sowell's latest column, "Taxing Times" is a perfect example of his hypocrisy, and of the hypocrisy that Dr. Groothuis echoes and endorses from his own blog.

I will let you read the rest of Sowell's article if you have time to waste and anger to vent, but I would like to draw your attention to a couple of passages that exemplify the dishonest hypocrisy of the Country First moniker and of the unpatriotic crowd that exploits that patriotic motto.

Sowell begins:
It is not the money that is taxed away that is destroyed. What is destroyed is the wealth that does not get produced in the first place, because high taxes make its production not worthwhile.

This is fear-mongering at its vilest. First, it assumes that income that is taxed is destroyed. He does not allow the evidence that, while some of it may be wasted (and God knows it sometimes is), taxes go to fund the services we all enjoy (defense, Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, ect). Also, he neglects to mention that Bill Clinton, the man that Republicans spent eight years trying to destroy (with his own clumsy complicity) increased marginal tax rates and yet oversaw one of the largest expansion (or the largest, based on different calculations) in the history of the U.S. economy. The much touted stifling effect of higher taxes on economic growth is a myth perpetuated by Republican shills, whose only goal is to reduce taxes for its richest contributors.

The next passage is truly chilling and dishonest, and drips with hypocrisy:
Those who are receptive to Senator Barack Obama's plan to increase taxes on "the rich" seem not to understand that the issue is the nation's loss of wealth. Today, wealth can leave the country when heavy taxes threaten it-- instantly, in an age of electronic financial transfers-- and create jobs and economic growth overseas, instead of at home.

The two months between the time of a presidential election and the time when the new president takes office is an eternity in terms of how much money can be transferred out of the country electronically before any new high-tax laws can be enacted.

In other words, says Sowell, vote for Obama and the Country First crowd will move cash out of the United States, to tax havens. Guess what: they already do it. U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals have always transferred their wealth to countries with low or non-existent taxes on capital. How patriotic is that?

Sen. Biden was ridiculed for saying that paying taxes is patriotic, but he is right. Paying taxes is the cost we pay for what makes the greatness of this nation possible. So is expressing one's opinion, and one's dissent, things that the Republican crowd would gladly punish as often as possible, as we have learned in this election cycle and in the past eight years in particular.

Dr. Groothuis does no better than Sowell, adding some of his own insulting reasoning to that which Sowell peddles : "[H]igher taxes on corporations hurts those with pensions dependent on corporate profits."

Beside the obvious point I made earlier that there is no proven nexus between higher taxes and economic decline (in fact, some believe that just the opposite is true), what Dr. Groothuis's seemingly fails to realize is that--if what he says is true--that is precisely why we need Social Security, the very fund that his Republican allies sought to gut and destroy under George W. Bush's presidency.

The incorrigibly misleading Groothuis leaves his readers with this parting, gratuitous, despicable shot:
[M]any Americans are emotionally manipulated ignoramuses when it comes to taxation and the philosophy of the state. They are sentimentally moved by inflated rhetoric about "taxing the rich to help the poor." Then those who do not support this confiscation are attacked as insensitive or even unChristian [sic].

This is classic Groothuis, at his very worst. Those who disagree with his indoctrination are "emotionally manipulated ignoramuses." Groothuis does not allow the possibility that they might be better informed than he is, or capable of independent and better reasoning than his own.

For Groothuis, anyone who supports a different scale of taxation than the one advocated by Republicans is "sentimentally moved by inflated rhetoric about taxing the rich to help the poor." He does not allow the possibility that they might be rationally motivated by the repulsion for a government that sanctions the use of public money to be used by religious charities that can discriminate on the basis of belief, or by the idea that public money could and should be used to benefit those who are struggling, to facilitate the transition of the many poor who float on rafts in an ocean of greed to the steady boat of a dignified middle-class.

Groothuis's dishonesty and prejudice is evident in his use of the word confiscation to describe a fiscal system in which the wealthiest are called to carry a greater share of the burden than those who have no bootstraps, or holes in their boots.

Describing taxes as confiscation of wealth shows a self-centered view of society that is anything but patriotic. It says "I, the supreme individual, know better than my elected representatives what is good for the nation. I should be in control of every dollar I make, and how it is distributed (through charity). I, not our elected representatives in concert, should decide what or whom deserves a share of my money."

Ironically, people like Groothuis are not against paying taxes for national security, and the policing of our community, as defined exclusively by them. But, even allowing that only expenditures for national security are justified (a hardly defensible view, I might add), from a logical perspective is health care not a component of national security? Should we allow disease to spread freely because people decide their money should not help others to be cured from sickness, and that it is legitimate to spend money on protecting the borders of our nation, but not the borders of our bodies? What about education? What about help for the unemployed? What about roads, airports, ports? What about federal agencies (USDA, EPA, FCC, SEC, etc.)?

So why should taxes be allowed for national security and policing, and for nothing else? Because, I venture this theory, the true goal of people like Groothuis is to deny the use of their tax dollars for anything they disagree with. Never mind that your or I pay taxes for the illegal invasion of Iraq, though we disagree with it.

The society people like Groothuis envision and are seeking to build is not a community of diverse people. Its a moral dictatorship, in which everyone must adhere to the accepted principles of the Christian ruling hegemony, or else. Those who stray from their shared beliefs are excluded from the community, unless they reform their beliefs.

Groothuis's crowd wants the freedom to make its own, discriminatory social policies while denying or limiting help for those who lead lives they disapprove of. Is that the best Christianity has to offer for the rest of us?

You might think that my reading and interpretation of Groothuis's belief and of his positions are uncharitable, extreme, or unjustified. I don't think so. Take his attacks on Sen. Obama, for example, or on the people who support him. Never have I seen a word of compassion on Groothuis' blog. Never a Christian call to unity. Never a prayer that they might be led to see the light that Groothuis himself sees so clearly. Never the sense that Sen. Obama and his supporters might be motivated by genuinely-held different opinions. Never a reminder that, though perhaps misguided, Obama and his supporters deserve the benefit of Christian charity. Only slander, division, all the way up to transparent hatred.

I cannot presume to know what drives Douglas Groothuis. What I can do is reason about his motives and call him on the fallacies and lies he spreads, which I will continue to do as long as I breathe.

Eventually, why a self-proclaimed Christian should be so callously and defiantly opposed to a fairer distribution of taxation is a question that Groothuis might be called to answer by his God, when he shuffles his mortal coil and is waiting to learn whether his efforts on earth have gained him admission to God's company or perpetual exile from it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stuck Between Alaska And The White House

Poor Gov. Palin! True, she did not have to accept Sen. McCain job offer. But put yourself in her Manolo Blahniks: the presumptive maverick-in-chief gives you the opportunity to leave Wasilla behind, and let the RNC redo your wardrobe, how could you say no? Basically Sen. McCain made this poor folksy lass an offer she could not refuse.

After the maverick-y pick, McCain had a surge of his own (nothing to do with Viagra). Post-RNC polls seemed to validate the ingenuity of his (or somebody else's) pick. The surge was working (in a few male voters' pants, apparently, all over patriotic America. Rich Lowry of the National Review Online is among the lucky ones.)

Unfortunately for her, Gov. Palin barely knows what she knows (though "she knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America"--as Sen. McCain stated among general laughter,) and she doesn't know what she doesn't know. That became sorely apparent when--after weeks of being shielded even from the meekest interviewers--she managed to make the rather innocuous questions posed to her by "Charlie" Gibson and Katie Couric look like "gotcha journalism."

By now it is clear to anyone with ears that she knows "nothing about national and international issues", which leaves very little in the category of what she might know (her overstated knowledge of energy, how to make babies--which she must have successfully taught her 17 year-old daughter, and how to field dress a moose.)

For weeks now, McCain's strategists have been trying to contain the damage Palin wreaks every time she opens her mouth from destroying their client's presidential bid. But, with one week to go in a campaign that Palin single-handedly managed to reduce to shreds, the verdict is in: "It's a grim binary choice, but apparently it came down to whether to make Palin look like a scripted robot or an unscripted ignoramus."

I'll take Runner-up Beauty Queens for $200, Alex.

The Curmudgeonly Smear Machine Strikes Again

In its continuous effort to sway his less than politically savvy readers, The Constructive Curmudgeon anti-Obama smear machine published a post entitled More Evidence On Obama's Extreme Leftism.

True to form, the Curmudgeon disabled comments for the post, because no rebuttals are allowed that might diminish the value of the sundry and baseless accusations that the Curmudgeon clumsily slaps together in an effort to paint Obama as the devil only he knows.

I do not want to waste your time, or mine, rebutting every baseless idological accusation the Curmudgeon makes, but one deserves to be exposed for its ham-handedness.
Obama [...] still laments that the (Warren) Supreme Court was not more radical concerning the redistribution of wealth during that era. That is the essential point. He says people "on the ground" can bring redistributive change better than the courts--unless, of course, you are President. Then you can appoint revisionist, redistributionist judges to the highest court in the land. [Emphasis added.]

Joe Klein of Time magazine rebutts the baseless and misleading accusation saying that it gives
a wildly inaccurate reading of remarks that Barack Obama made in a 2001 radio interview. It turns out that he wasn't criticizing the Supreme Court for its failure to "redistribute" wealth. He was saying the exact opposite: that the Supreme Court wasn't the way to go. He was saying that political power was the only real way to make decisions about the distribution of taxation.

Once again: Obama was saying that the Supreme Court is not the place to look if you want to achieve income redistribution, which is the opposite of what the Curmudgeon explicitly says Obama wants to do.

Back to Klein, who makes this obvious but important observation on the Republican campaign bogeyman, income redistribution (boooooo!):
To state the obvious, once again: We have had a redistribution of wealth, upward, during the Reagan era. Taxes on work, a.k.a. payroll taxes, have increased. Taxes on wealth, the upper margins of the income tax plus capital gains plus estate taxes, have decreased. To call Obama a socialist because he wants to redress this imbalance is as accurate as calling McCain an oligarch because he doesn't.

Notably, Klein limits his example to the "Reagan era", without mention of the Bush tax cuts which disproportionately redistributed tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent. Moreover, Obama is being labeled a socialist, and even a communist, by his opponents because he wants to bring the marginal tax rates to the level of the Clinton years (39.6%), a time of unprecedented prosperity for all, and one where the marginal tax rate was still lower than under most of Ronald Reagan's presidency (50%). (See these Tax Foundation data.)

Also, beware of the argument that the richest among us pay the bulk of taxes: true, indeed, but it does not take into account the fact that the richest use a much higher percentage of the commonwealth than the poor do, that the richest have more to lose from a government that--for example--is so underfunded that it cannot maintain infrastructure and security, and that the proportion of taxes that the rich pay is a far lower share of their discretionary income than the poor's.

Pray To Improve?

The Constructive Curmudgeon, the blog of a Christian philosopher who has joyfully doubled as an Obama smear-machine for the last few months, has just published the latest of the many posts for which he disables comments, wondering why on earth the lowlife that hung Sarah Palin's effigy from a tree in West Hollywood has not been arrested. He goes on to say that had the same thing been done to an effigy of Obama the perpetrator would have been "rightly arrested", and concludes his post with this gem of misplaced victimhood: "I guess it is open season if you are a Republican female. God help us."

As usual, The Constructive Curmudgeon is misinformed, which would not be so bad were it for the fact that its misinformation leads to the misinformation of its readers.

Anyway, since I know that fact-checking is not the Curmudgeon's forte, a disability he shares with other conservative shills like Michelle Malkin, we at The Daily Fuel do the fact-checking for him.

First of all, not only was the news reported by Reuters, and picked up by many outlets. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC made the perpetrator today's Worst Person In The World.

Also, if the Curmudgeon had uncharacteristically bothered to look, he'd know that last month--at a Christian college no less--some idiot hung a cardboard reproduction of Barack Obama from a tree.

And a few days ago in Fairfield, OH, another patriotic American "displayed a ghost with Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's name on it — hanging from a tree by a noose", as reported by many media outlets. I don't remember where I first saw the report, but it did not take me long to find one of the reports from a Cincinnati CBS affiliate.

I am not aware of any arrests being made in any of the above cases, but I would not be surprised if there weren't any after all, since even the most despicable forms of free speech are protected by the First Amendment.

Needless to say, anyone who stretches his freedom of expression to such lengths probably has plenty of room to rent upstairs, no matter end of the political spectrum.

Unfortunately, the news of Sarah Palin's effigy being hung from a tree, as disgusting as an example of the misuse of the gift of free speech is, pales in comparison to the news that the ATF discovered a (pedestrian) plot by neo-Nazis to assassinate 88 African-Americans, including Sen. Obama (a similar plot was unveiled in Denver, during the Democratic Convention.)

Predictably, not only did The Constructive Curmudgeon not know of, report on, or condemn any of the stories concerning Sen. Obama (not even the one involving the Christian college in Oregon,) but he jumped at the first available opportunity to portray Gov. Palin as a victim of the hatred for Republican females, and to decry the non-existent double-standard (at least in this case) that the media is supposedly guilty of.

For a blog that quotes as its goal "the willingness to sniff out the truth and expose lies and spin as best one can in humility", The Constructive Curmudgeon can and must do better. One should hope that the power of prayer will be summoned by that blog's mostly Christian readership, to rid The Constructive Curmudgeon of its harmful inaccuracies.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Un-civil War

Gov. Palin pick has already made clear where un-American people live. Now we are told, via the Sunday Telegraph, that the list includes some bona-fide conservatives such as Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, David Frum, and the list goes on, all of whom are now dead to the Republican party. Why? They have taken a stand against the Palin pick for the number two spot on the Republican ticket.

Cleaning Up Alaska

When Gov. Palin was cleaning up Alaska, she apparently forgot to clean up some parts of it.

In breaking news, Sen. Ted Stevens has been found guilty on all seven counts he was indicted on back in July. Bid one of the most corrupt and insufferable senators in this nation "Good riddance!" Whether Alaskans vote him out of office, or the Senate kicks him out if he miraculously earns re-election, the conviction marks the end of this petty, corrupt, and mean-spirited partisan hack.

I wonder if the Republican shills that keep accusing Obama of being a Chicago-style politician will now start referring to Palin as an Alaska-style politician. I am not holding my breath.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Greenspan Grilled

Just yesterday, in congressional testimony given in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Alan Greenspan admitted that there were flaws in his decision-making that may have contributed to the current financial crisis. No kidding!

The NY Times described Mr. Greenspan's experience as "one of the harshest grillings of his life."

In fact, Greenspan is not new to such grillings. He endured another memorable one in 2003, at the hands of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Watch.

Most notably in that clip, Sen. Sanders gave voice to the frustration that most of us feel when the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Greenspan or any other, tells us that economic indicators are on the uptick and yet we see no measurable positive impact in our daily lives. That is not, as we know now, because we are too unsophisticated to understand the nuances of the world of high finance. It's because the economic indicators people like Greenspan use to determine the health of the economy have little or nothing to do with the lives of ordinary people, in ordinary circumstances.

Where Are The "Strict Constructionists" At Election Time?

Larry Beinhart, on Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution. You know, the one that says: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." In your dreams.

Losing It

Ashley Todd, McCain supporter, faked being attacked by a robber in Pittsburgh. She said the robber used a knife to carve a B (for Barack) on her right cheek after he spotted a McCain sticker on her car.

It did not take long for Pittsburgh Police to get to the bottom of the story, and Todd confessed that she had made the story up. Even amateur sleuths would probably have suspected Todd of making here story, after seeing this photo:

Note to self: If you are going to make up a false story about being cut by an assailant, remember that images in mirrors are reversed.

Special award for partisan hackery to the Drudge Report, who broke the story as true yesterday. Anything to smear Barack Obama with is welcome at the Drudge Report. Needless to say, Sean Hannity made the story the centerpiece of his show last night.

The System Is The Fraud

Let's face it: The United States is a mess when it comes to elections.

Things started to visibly unravel in the 2000 election, which was decided by the Supreme Court and by the Florida Secretary of State, who had served as Florida's Bush campaign co-chair. If the same thing had happened in, say, the Ukraine or Liberia, international observers would have flocked to the site and monitored the inevitable remake. But the United States has a superiority complex, so no one will admit that the system itself is the fraud.
  • The use of malfunctioning (or rigged) machines
  • Vote suppression efforts
  • Unequal distribution of voting equipment to favor one party over another
  • Long lines at polling stations
  • Voting on a workday rather than on the weekend, and for a very limited number of hours (not all states allow early voting)
  • The remaking of electoral districts along partisan lines
  • The diversity and the varying efficacy of voting methods
  • The exclusion of small party candidates from the presidential debates
  • The tolerance for gigantic conflicts of interest (such as CEOs of voting equipment proclaiming their preference for a party or a candidate, secretaries of state that act as chairs of a candidate's campaign.)
  • Courts are routinely called to solve disputes that should not even exist in the first place
These things are not a distortion of the system--they are the system.

Additionally, for a country that prides itself on being a beacon of democracy, participation in elections is ridiculously low. Voter participation in excess of 60% is considered an example of healthy democracy. The system is besieged by potential and real fraud and is run along partisan lines.

I grew up in Italy, where elections have been afflicted by a variety of problems (mainly accusations of ballot box stuffing and fraud).

Yet, Italy has an enviable election system compared to the one in the United States. The number of voters consistently exceeds 80% and approaches 90% on most general elections.

In Italy, I never had to stand in line to vote for more than 15-20 minutes. Elections are held on Sunday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Monday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. This gives all people, including those who have religious hang-ups about voting on Sunday, a chance to cast their vote.

Paper ballots, easily countable and verifiable, are still used.

The Italian electoral system is not perfect, but "going Italian" would be a step forward for American elections.

There are many things to like about America, most people would agree. But the way elections are run is an example to be avoided.

I will never get tired of repeating this: Nov 5 is the day when we need to roll up our sleeves and fix this broken system, once and for all, so we never have to live through another election period dominated by suspicion and fear of disenfranchisement.

Another GOP Vote Suppression Tactic

Under the pretense of saving taxpayers money, Florida GOP lawmakers shortened early voting hours from 12 to 8 hours, leading to huge lines at early voting stations, reports McLatchy Newspapers.

UPDATE: Oct 28, 2008.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist has declared a poll emergency, and re-extended early voting hours from 8 to 12 a day, due to the larger than expected turnout. Thumbs up to Gov. Crist for doing the right thing, regardless of partisan considerations.

With Early Voting Under Way, Numerous Reports Of Votes Being Flipped

Brad Friedman is publishing reports of documented machine malfunctions (the kind moniker for voter fraud) on his site, Brad Blog.

During these election days, Brad Blog should be on your list of "must reads".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mark Crispin Miller On Election Fraud

Mark Crispin Miller talks about election fraud with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

[Video requires Real Player.)

Miller paints a picture of ongoing fraud that is a wake-up call for anybody who believes that democracy in the U.S. is tamper-proof.

A couple of statements Miller made that are not featured in the clip above sounds particularly chilling, because they echo what we have already seen in 2004 and 2000:
we have to take the necessary psychological step of being prepared just to say NO if this race too is stolen. This will mean shrugging off the various bullshit rationales--"Bradley effect," huge (and imaginary) Christian turnout, etc.--that will be trotted out to help "explain" a startling victory by McCain.

Also, we should tune out all the shit that they'll be talking to discredit the exit polls, if the latter should complicate the narrative of Big John's upset "win."

Whatever the results of the upcoming elections (and I really have a weird feeling about this), we must start working on reforming our electoral system on Nov 5.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We're All Gonna Die!

Well, 100% of us will die at some point or another. Some of us, perhaps not surprisingly, may be killed by cell phones.

Neither Dr. David Carpenter nor Dr. Ronald Herberman are likely to become household names any time soon, but the testimony they gave to the House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy on Cell Phone Use and Tumors on September 25, 2008, should be cause for enhanced concern about cell phone usage and will at some point become common knowledge among users of cell phones (85% of people in the United States, close to 100% in many other countries).

"Precaution is warranted," Carpenter said. "Even in the absence of absolutely final evidence concerning the magnitude of the risk." In the meantime, you should at a minimum keep your young ones away from cell phones.

And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go grovel before my wife, who has been warning me about the adverse health effects of cell phones for about ten years.

Advice For Republican Hatemongers

This should be obvious, but apparently it has escaped the notice of many hatemongering Republicans on the campaign trail (including Republican VP pick Sarah Palin): you cannot retract that which has been recorded for posterity.

Another Republican was struck with "foot in mouth" disease, then said "I did not say that", only to be proven a liar.

Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) accused Obama of "inciting class warfare" and said that "liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."

Ed Brayton of Dispatches From The Culture Wars is convulsing with righteous disgust.

Eternal Shame

"True, the fact that McCain and Palin have managed to inflame anger and hatred in small pockets of this country means that the embers were there to begin with.

But we're not looking at the second coming of the Third Reich. These McCain-Palin supporters don't represent the real America that most Americans believe in. We're much better than that. It's to their eternal shame that McCain and Palin aren't."

The rest of Joyce Marcel's article is on Common Dreams' website.

A Handy Table To Explain Pro- v. Anti-America

Jon Swift did all the hard work and put together this "handy chart" with examples of what is pro-America, and what is liberal.

A Robo-call You Might Like

The Obama campaign is hitting back at McCain's sleazy robo-calls. You might like this one.

Al-Qaeda Pulls For President McCain

Osama Bin Laden stated in 2004, with no small dose of braggadocio, that his goal was to contribute to the bankruptcy of the U.S. of A.

Now, it appears that Al-Qaeda is pulling for Sen. McCain to be elected.

Wait a second! Al Qaeda wants Sen. McCain in the White House? That does not make sense! Don't Republican scaremongers always tell us that a Democrat in the White House would make another attack more likely? (Curiously, they omit to mention that the deadliest attack on U.S. soil was carried out under the watch of President Bush, whom they praise for keeping us safe.)

I don't think this is reverse psychology, although I am sure that Conservatives will spin it that way. Actually, it makes perfect sense: enemies need committed enemies to stay in business.

I only bring attention to this article because there are innumerable wackaloons on the right who maintain that we need to elect Republicans to keep our land secure, and that Obama does not know how to, while McCain does. It is the same trite tactic they used against Kerry in 2004, down to the pack of wolves ad, and the reason why we have allowed Republicans (with the complicity of too many Democrats, it should be noted) to run roughshod over civil liberties and over the Constitution.

The pursuit of perfect security comes at a costly price, as Gen. Eisenhower's prophetically said: "The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without."

How To Make Your Wife Wince (Along With A Few Hundred Supporters)

Sen. McCain may not be George Bush, but he surely talks like him. Remember this?

Now, fast forward.

Rep. Murtha (D-PA) said something ill-advised about people in Western Pennsylvania (saying that the entire region was "redneck" as late as ten years ago). He issued a an apology and a clarification, but not so soon that John McCain himself was not able to make a meal of... his own foot. Watch.

It's little things like these that can be ominous for a campaign.

Coming soon, a video of Sen. McCain spitting out the chewy part of his right sock (or was it the left one?).

Dress To Impress

When you are on the stump giving speeches about how your terrorist-loving, un-American opponent wants to spread the wealth and to impose socialism on the country that you and other real Americans, like Joe the Plumber, Cindy the Beer Heiress, Michele the McCarthyist, and Todd the Secessionist love so much, it is essential that you convey the best impression of yourself to your God-fearing, country-loving, real American audience, and that you show up well-dressed at your rallies.

That explains your tab of $150,000 on clothing in just a little over a month, charged to the account of the Republican National Committee.

Retractions Are An Art

In the final days of the campaign, retractions abound. Some are more credible and effective than others.

To show you what I mean, here is what Sarah Palin said last week in North Carolina:
We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in 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.

And here is her retraction:
I don't want that misunderstood. If that's the way it came across, I apologize.

Jon Stewart, of The Daily Show, also had a retraction to make, after he had jocularly said "f@#! you" to those in the McCain campaign--like Gov. Palin--who were playing the "real America" card to divide the American people. He realized his comment was inappropriately worded, and so he issued this heartfelt retraction:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Real America, Peddlers Of Racism, And Shamelessness

Colbert puts Gen. Colin Powell's endorsement of Sen. Obama in perspective, and puts the racist commentators of the right in their place (beginning with Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh).

Then, Jon Stewart, and Jason Jones of the Best F@#!ing News Team on Television, team up in successive clips to put to shame the McCain's campaign argument real America can be found only where people vote Republican (you know, places like "real" Virginia, Wasilla, Alaska, etc.)

What To Do If Red America Wins

No, I am not talking about the risk of Comrade Obama being elected (really, have these people no sense of shame)? I am talking about what we poor people can do if Red America wins the election. You know Red America: Real America!

Read "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off - Why The Blue States Should Secede."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Olbermann Nukes McCain Campaign's Divisive Rhetoric

Olbermann, for the ages.

Jon Swift On Joe The Plumber

Jon Swift is back, and his with is pretty sharp still. He suggests all Americans should sacrifice a little for Joe the Plumber, as Joe is apparently not registered to vote.

Two Perfect Examples Of Media Spin

First, a little fun exercise, then I will give you a couple of examples of spin:

(Left to Right, Top to Bottom: David Brooks, NY Times; John Meacham, Newsweek; Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC; Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman, MSNBC; Chuck Todd, MSNBC)

That is the discussion panel on yesterday's Meet The Press. Can you spot the liberal in the picture above? No? Exactly. Let's move on.

MSNBC and CNN are often accused of being in the tank for Barack Obama by McCain supporters. Progressive writer David Sirota's theory is that "objectivity in the media today is defined as worshiping the status quo, denigrating popular uprisings, and serving as stenographers to power, celebrity and money." There is much to agree with that assessment.

My theory is simply this: the media bloviates, a lot (it is hard to fill a 24 hour news cycle with intelligent, thoughtful analysis, but not impossible). Media "contributors," as they have come to be known these days, are generally lazy when it comes to doing intelligent, fact-based analysis. Much easier to pull "facts" straight out of one's ass than to do actual research. Add to that sad truth the fact that the media has to find balance where there is none, lest it should be accused of bias, and all bets are off.

Here are a couple of examples of spin and fabricated balance (whether it's intentional or reflexive, it does not matter.)

On yesterday's Meet The Press, Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC contributor and wife of Alan Greenspan, had this to say about negative ads.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I said it at the last debate. I'm not George Bush. It's--if, if Senator Obama wants to run against George Bush, he should have run for president four years ago.

MR. BROKAW: Can [the Obama campaign] continue to tag John McCain with George Bush?

MS. MITCHELL: They can, and, in fact, they're doing it with a remarkably negative ad. I mean, we talk a lot about the negativity on the Republican side. But the fact is that Barack Obama has so much more money, and some of these targeted ads, one that they unveiled on Thursday and Friday of this week and it's on national television, has John McCain in his own words saying, in another interview, in another context, "I voted, I supported George Bush 90 percent of the time." So they've got him on videotape. And the fact is, that this ad is running and running and running.

OK. Let's cut straight through the crap. What Mitchell is essentially saying is that both campaigns are running negative campaigns. To some extent, that is true. But while McCain is running robo-calls in battleground states that falsely paint Obama as a friend of terrorists (Bill Ayers), the Obama campaign is running an ad that ties McCain with Bush. Mitchell defines it as "remarkably negative." What is remarkably negative about it? Simply the fact that the ad ties McCain with Bush. Does it do so using the same unsubstantiated allegations and innuendos that McCain is using in the "Ayers is a terrorist is Obama's friend" robo-calls? No, it simply shows McCain boasting that he voted with President Bush over 90% of time, more than many of his Republican colleagues. Mitchell's conclusion? A remarkably negative ad. Watch.

I don't know about you, but I see a world of difference between telling lies (negative tactic) and underscoring the fact that your opponent boasted that he supported the president more than 90% of the time (thus "stepping in it".) But a supposedly pro-Obama journalist is oblivious to the difference.

Then, just this morning, I heard Bill Schneider, CNN political analyst, explain the tightening in the polls that seems to be happening with this rationale (and I paraphrase using my best recollection of Schneider's statement): Sen. McCain has made a powerful argument in the debate that he is not President Bush.

How? By claiming that he is not President Bush in last week's debate. Really.

Bill, Bill, Bill. I looked up your profile on Wikipedia. You just turned 64 (happy belated birthday!). Don't you know the difference between an argument and a claim? (And an unsubstantiated claim, at that.) Or did you think that McCain was simply saying: "my birth certificate and the president's are totally different?"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

West Virginia Votes Switched From Dems To GOP

Early voting is under way, and the Charleston Gazette reports that voters complained of their vote being switched (in the report, from Democratic to Republican.)

Voting is a partisan exercise. Counting votes is not, or should not be.

When I cast a vote, I want it be counted as I cast it. Once again, we go back to the fact that votes must be verifiable and hand-countable, and in many cases this is not true.

Many electronic voting systems do not allow manual recounts. This is a travesty.

West Virginia is not the only state where problems have been reported already. The list is long.

In related news, the Washington Post reports, and Brad Blog reprises the article, that massive vote purges that have led to thousands of registered voters being incorrectly rejected at the polls.

All these reports show that we need non-partisan, federal voting standards. Same equipment (or ballots), same vote verification mechanisms, same registration forms, one voter database, one identification procedure, everywhere in the country.

To complete the sad picture of our election system just two weeks before the election, news just came that a the owner of YMP, a GOP voter registration outfit, has been arrested in California for actual voter registration fraud. I wrote about about YMP's suspicious activities, in this post, just yesterday.

We can no longer allow a system in which voting registration, election management, and board of elections are a partisan affair.

The next Congress, and the next President owe it to the American people to set up a non-partisan, fair voting system.

Please follow the links to Black Box Voting and Voters Unite for more information, and for ways you can help.

Sen. Bernie Sanders On Real Time

Below is a clip of Sen Bernie Sanders's (I-VT) appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night.

Sen. Sanders got the biggest ovation I remember a politician getting on Real Time, when he said the following:
There is a lot of hate out there, and it's often among white guys. And you know why they're angry? They're angry because they're working really hard, their standard of living is going down, they're working really hard and the world is passing them by and they're not... they don't understand why. And instead of getting angry at the big money interests who are sending their jobs abroad, or taking away their health insurance, or giving tax breaks to people who don't need it, what the Republicans have successfully done is [they've] taken that anger, and turned it on gay people, turned it on the abortion issue. And what our job is is to bring people, in my view, around a progressive agenda, which is "let's all work together, you're a working person, let's work together.

Notably, Sen. Sanders calls himself a Democratic socialist, which is just about the most extreme suicidal maneuver a politician could perform in the United States. And yet, his message is more powerful than any prejudice the American people may have, and he keeps getting re-elected. Kudos, people of Vermont!

Earlier in the clip, Bill Maher also made the following comment about people who use Joe The Plumber's rationale ("Republicans will make it easier for me to get rich!") to decide who to vote for:
He's voting on the basis of a fantasy! He actually benefits from Obama's tax plan, but in his mind... His great wealth [...] only exists in his head, because Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity talk to him in the car every day and they get him all [worked up] about the immigrants and the gays and all these people, and the liberals, and this "uppity" black man that's going to be the president, they're all going to take away this fantasy life that doesn't exist. This is what's so sad about it. [Emphasis added.]

Incidentally, does Bill Maher read this blog? :-)

Watch it soon, before it is removed from YouTube.

Ex-Voting Rights Chief Slams ACORN Investigation

"During the twenty-one years I was there, even though there were political appointees who I worked with, never did we inject partisan considerations into our law-enforcement responsibilities. That has clearly not been the case in recent years under this administration. And it's going to take a long time to cleanse the Department of Justice." (Read the rest of the article on TPM Muckraker.)

More From Gen. Colin Powell

Here is an interview that Gen. Colin Powell gave to reporters after announcing his endorsement of Barack Obama.

Salient parts of the interview start at about the half point mark, where Gen. Powell addresses campaign negativity, Rep. Michele Bachmann's inexcusable McCarhtyist comments (which he labels, quite mildly, as "nonsense") and the accusation that Obama is a socialist because he wants to review and revise the tax structure of our nation. Gen. Powell addresses the issue of income redistribution with the wisdom you would expect from an intelligent person, saying that all taxation leads to income redistribution and that most of the income is redistributed to everyone in the form of roads, education, services, etc.

My Nomination For Tomorrow's Worst Person In The World

I admit it's not very original, but I bet Keith Olbermann will award Worst Person In The World to involuntary comedian, Rush Limbaugh, for this statement:
Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race... OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with.

In rhetoric, this argument is known as "the douche bag fallacy."

George W Bush: Great President Or The Greatest President?

Of course, I am saying that in the Colbertian sense of the word.

But the San Francisco Chronicle correctly points out that the current crises force us to rethink the lie that Reaganomics has always been.

It is worth stressing that President Bush's criminal and corrupt mismanagement of government, aided by his Republican accomplices for the most part of the eight years of Bush's irresponsible reign, may have done more to destroy Reagan's toxic legacy than anything I have seen in my lifetime.

The Bush administration, its cronies, and the Republican party, have managed to prove the point that Reagan famously made in 1981, that "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Of course, the well-known twist on Reagan's words is that the centerpiece of Republicans campaigns is that government is the problem, which they set out to demonstrate once they have been elected.

The correct restatement of that famous and irresponsible pronouncement is "Bad government is not the solution to our problem; bad government is the problem." People are not tired of government, they are tired of incompetent government. And lately it has become painfully obvious that incompetent government, not government itself, is the cause of our problem.

Which would make Bush the greatest president I have seen in my lifetime: Not for his actions, but for their consequences.

GOP Terrified Of American Voters

That is the title of a column in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Colin Powell's Inspirational Endorsement Of Obama

As I said yesterday, some endorsements carry more weight than others. Colin Powell's carries a ton of weight, not just for who he is, but for what he said.
I [have] come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities--and we have to take that into account--as well as his substance--he has both style and substance--he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world--onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama. [Emphasis added.]

There is a lot to like about the reasons Powell gave to justify his endorsement of Sen. Obama, but the one that stands out is the one I emphasized above, because Obama's soaring rhetoric has been used by his detractors as a liability. Obama's opponents have portrayed him as an empty shell, a "rock star" politician, a person who thinks of himself as a messiah. The worst elements of the Evangelican and Conservative fringe have even drawn comparison between his rhetoric and Hitler's (thus earning a permanent place in rhetoric's Hall of Shame.)

Powell is saying, correctly, that style enhances Obama's substance. The ability to inspire is a useful complement, one might say an essential one, in a good politician. Good ideas, without the ability to inspire support for them, are doomed to fail. Crafting excellent solutions, without the capacity to convince others to implement them, makes their implementation unlikely. Oratory alone does not prove a candidate's ability to lead. But that is not the argument Powell makes for Obama, whom he credits with having "both style and substance."

Gen. Powell also gave a scathing indictment of the negative tactics of the McCain campaign, of McCain's judgment in his pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate, of the direction the Republican party has taken, tacking further to the right.

Other concerns expressed by Gen. Powell include McCain's incomplete grasp of the economic problems the country faces, McCain's duplicity about the Ayers-Obama connection (if McCain thinks Ayers is a washed up terrorist, why focus so much of his campaign on it, and why employ the disgusting robo-calls that McCain was a victim of in 2000?), the danger of two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court (this coming from a man who says that he is still a Republican), the distressing use of the "Obama is a Muslim" falsehood, embraced by senior members of the Republican party, to taint his character by association ("But the really right answer is, what if he is?", said Powell. "Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America.")

McCain's supporters who would be quick to dismiss Powell's endorsement, should consider a few examples of what their candidate said in the past of Colin Powell:
McCain's high opinion of Powell as one of the "most credible, most respected" men in America is not merely an election-year spasm, either. When asked in 2001 if he would have chosen Powell for a Cabinet position had he succeeded in his first presidential run, McCain said "oh, yes." During two December 2000 appearances on NBC Nightly News, McCain described himself as "exuberant" over Powell's selection as secretary of state, which he predicted would secure "a beneficial effect on the conduct of American foreign policy."

You should watch the clip of Gen. Powell's endorsement of Obama below, and share it with convinced and unconvinced friends and family alike.

Also, Zbigniew Brzezinski comments on Powell's endorsement, calling it a comprehensive indictment of the McCain/Palin ticket.

Avoid Straight Party Voting!

The fraud of 2008 is under way, and it has nothing to do with ACORN.

There have been numerous confirmed reports of machine "malfunctions" that cause the vote for president not to be counted by electronic machines when the "straight party vote" option is selected.

Please read the following alert to see if it applies to the state you live in.

My prediction? If polls tighten to within 3-4 percentage points in key battleground states, McCain will magically pull off an upset, and the media analysis will revolve around the "Bradley Effect", instead of focusing on the known machinations of corrupt election officials.

Oh, and Fix News will launch the following alternative explanation, which all other networks will swarm like pilot fish: thousands of voters registered fradulently by ACORN in key states did not show up to vote or were rejected at the polls. In other words, Fix News will say, ACORN's new voter numbers were inflated by their fraud, which we were the first ones to tell you about, when the true explanation has to do with vote suppression instead, at the hands of Republican vote challengers. Remember, Rove's goal is "a permanent Republican majority."

I hope I am wrong.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

There Are Endorsements And There Are Endorsements

While we wait to find out whether, as rumors have it, Gen. Colin Powell will endorse Barack Obama in tomorrow's appearance on Meet The Press, here is a pretty powerful endorsement:
Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.

That is from the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board. Easy, you will say: Chicago? Obama is from Chicago, who'd you think they'd endorse? Well, not a Democrat. It has not happened once since 1847, the year the newspaper was founded.

And on his radio show, conservative pundit Michael Smerconish said this:
John McCain is an honorable man who has served his country well. But he will not get my vote. For the first time since registering as a Republican 28 years ago, I'm voting for a Democrat for president.

Some endorsement are more noteworthy than others.

Sowell Strikes Again--Out.

The Constructive Curmudgeon, Denver Seminary professor and vociferous advocate of all things Conservative, does not love McCain, but he despises Obama so much that he will uncritically and enthusiastically publish just about anything intended to tear Obama's character apart. He did it again, drawing his readers' attention to an article by the unreliable Thomas Sowell.

Prof. Sowell's Record Versus Rhetoric is a perfect, albeit disheartening, example of disgraceful framing and dishonest spin. Of course, it drew hundreds of mostly positive comments from his indoctrinated readers.

One paragraph into his opinion, Sowell says this:
The issue that is raised most often is her relative lack of experience and the fact that she would be "a heartbeat away from the presidency" if Senator John McCain were elected.

Perhaps this was true when Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate, when most people knew little or nothing of her. But questions about her knowledge, her intellectual competence, her fitness for the job, and even her character has emerged soon after that trump anything that was initially said about her experience. Experience is no longer the prevalent issue, and many conservatives have censored McCain's decision to select Palin as his running mate.

It gets worse, much worse.
Sarah Palin's record is on the record, while whole years of Barack Obama's life are engulfed in fog, and he has had to explain away one after another of the astounding and vile people he has not merely "associated" with but has had political alliances with, and to whom he has directed the taxpayers' money and other money.

This paragraph can only be accepted as truthful if one chooses to ignore the ample and available evidence against Sowell's statements. For example, saying that "whole years of Barack Obama's life are engulfed in fog" ignores the fact that Barack Obama has been subjected to fierce scrutiny for the last two years, which have been filled by his politically-motivated adversaries with the repetition of already debunked accusations.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, has come to the stage of national politics less than two months ago. Only time will tell what, if anything, she is hiding from public scrutiny. Considering the many distressing details of her political career that have emerged in only the last six weeks, the outlook's not good. We can only assume there would be plenty more to frown on in the next 22 months.

Even more despicable is Sowell's talking point, straight from the RNC and the McCain campaign, that Obama has associated with, and had political alliances with, "vile people." Sowell leaves his further accusation that Obama has "directed taxpayer's money" to vile people unsubstantiated, of course. Why? Because most people of average intellect and an unbiased mind would be loath to agree that ACORN is a group of vile people. It is a group whose goal is to help the poor and the disenfranchised. But Sowell's strength does not consist in substantiating his accusations. Evidently, he'd rather rely on sophistry and innuendos, so all's well in his corner.

Next Sowell says:
Sarah Palin has had executive experience-- and the White House is the executive branch of government. We don't have to judge her by her rhetoric because she has a record.

Yes, indeed, we don't have to judge her by her rhetoric, because that would not reflect well on her.

As for judging her by her record, remember that President Bush also came from the executive branch of the Texas government (he was Governor, just like Palin). Who wants to argue with me that experience in the executive branch of state government is a good indicator of suitability for the White House, after the last eight years?

In any case, I've always been of the opinion that experience is an overrated indicator of a person's ability and suitability for a job. Experience is mainly a measure of time spent doing something, not of the judgment that one is endowed with. This goes for Sowell as well. I am sure he has more experience at writing than I do, but look at the arguments he made in his article.

On Obama's record, Sowell has this to say instead:
he voted "present" innumerable times instead of taking a stand one way or the other on tough issues.

Sowell is, not to mince words, dishonest: "innumerable times" tries to convey the idea of Obama's irresponsibility. The facts? According to the Associated Press:
Obama acknowledges that over nearly eight years in the Illinois Senate, he voted "present" 129 times. That was out of roughly 4,000 votes he cast, so those "presents" amounted to about one of every 31 votes in his legislative career.

So Sowell fails to mention that the "innumerable times" he refers to amounts to 3% of Obama's total votes in the Illinois legislature. Even if that were a valid measure of responsibility, consider for example that McCain has missed 50% more votes in the 110th Congress than Sen. Johnson of South Dakota, who recently returned to the Senate after suffering a brain hemorrage on Dec 13, 2006.

Sowell continues:
"Clean up the mess in Washington"? He was part of the mess in Chicago and lined up with the Daley machine against reformers.

His reference to Chicago style politics? It should be clear by now that all a dishonest man like Sowell can do is resort to unsubstantiated/unsubstantiable "guilt by association" and to ad-hominem attacks, as he does right in his next paragraph:
He is also part of the mess in Washington, not only with numerous earmarks, but also as the Senate's second largest recipient of money from Fannie Mae, and someone whose campaign has this year sought the advice of disgraced former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, who was at the heart of the sub-prime crisis.

The Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mess is so large that to say that one man (in Sowell's example Franklin Raines) was at the heart of the mess (implying he was responsible for it) is misleading at best.

Given what we know about Sowell from just this one article, we can assume the claim is not only misleading but dishonestly motivated. For example, he fails to mention that even deeper at the heart of the mess we're in was Phil Gramm. (If you are interested in understanding how, just click the previous link.)

Gramm's associations with McCain? Until recently, he was the most senior economic advisor to McCain's campaign, and its co-chair, but he was forced to step down last July in the wake of these super-intelligent comments that he made just days before resigning: "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," and "We have sort of become a nation of whiners." Yes, Gramm really nailed the problem that he, to quote Sowell, "was at the heart of". But since Sowell does not live in one of McCain's seven glass houses, he can throw stones on McCain' behalf.

Sowell then tries to explain the reason why Palin gets negative coverage (hate, as the Constructive Curmudgeon describes it in customary academic fashion) as opposed to Obama's positive coverage in the media. This is how he does it:
One reason of course is that Senator Obama is ideologically much closer to the views of the media than is Governor Palin.

Let's pretend he did not use the lame "appeal to victimhood", and move on. Sowell then says:
More than that, her whole life has been outside the realm familiar to the intelligentsia of the media. She didn't go to the big-name colleges and imbibe the heady atmosphere that leaves so many feeling that they are special folks. She doesn't talk the way they talk or think the way they think.

In other words, she is better than Obama because, unlike Obama, she does not have a degree from Columbia University, because she is not a magna cum laude Harvard graduate, because she has not taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Her folksiness (not that it is by any means contrived) and her humble academic record, in Sowell's warped mind, is why the media elite renders a negative opinion of Palin, when they in fact should be charmed by the fact that her stated foreign policy qualification include being able to see Russia from Alaska's shore, or the fact that she cannot name a single newspaper or article that contributed to her foreign policy views. But those, according to Sowell and to the authors of Republican talking points, are "gotcha" questions. Is Sowell's assessment disingenuous? Yessireebob, you betcha!

Sowell concludes his fantasy-land, ad-hominem laden opinion piece with the following, enlightening paragraph:
Whatever the shortcomings of John McCain and Sarah Palin, [...] they have not spent decades working with people who hate America.

Aside from McCain's own association with G. Gordon Liddy and Palin's support for the Alaska Independence Party, the trouble is that lately both Republican candidates and their campaign have spent a lot of time instilling hostility and even hatred for Americans whose ideas differ from theirs.

I will leave it to Sowell to explain how that is not graver than the trumped-up charges he offers against Obama.

Do Not Miss Tom Toles's Latest Cartoon!

When they say a picture's worth a thousand words, this is literally what they mean.

Wanna Talk About Voter Registration Fraud?

So let's talk about it.

As I said in several of my recent posts, the type of fraud that Republicans accuse ACORN of engaging in is not voter fraud at all.

But even if it were, consider that the number of successful voter prosecution cases pursued by the Feds between 2002 and 2005 is--get ready for this--twenty-four, as noted by Think Progress in a 2007 post. Staggering number, isn't it?

Is voter registration fraud "destroying the fabric of democracy" as two-faced John McCain said in Wednesday night's debate? Sure. Wait until that army of Disney and other assorted cartoon characters shows up at the polls with their valid Mickey Mouse, government-issued driver licenses to exercise the right they fraudulently obtained. Gimme a freaking break!

On the other hand, guess who is engaging in actual voter registrationn *fraud*? You would never know it, but it's the GOP.

YPM is a firm whose services were retained in California by the Republican Party. The LA Times reports:
Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed.

If you think this is an isolated case, think again:
Election officials and lawmakers have launched investigations into the activities of YPM workers in Florida and Massachusetts. In Arizona, the firm was recently a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit. Prosecutors in Los Angeles and Ventura counties say they are investigating complaints about the company.

And here's the kicker:
Some also report having their registration status changed to absentee without their permission; if they show up at the polls without a ballot they may be unable to vote.

The last quote is particularly distressing, because it is not just about voter registration fraud. It is about fraud with intent to suppress the vote.

So you see, once again the GOP stands out as the party of hypocrisy.

Republican Congressmen and pastors rant against homosexual behavior, then it turns out they engage in homosexual activities themselves (Sen. Craig, Ted Haggard, and don't forget to look up Mark Foley, Glenn Murphy Jr, and Bob Allen of Florida). They talk about the sanctity of marriage, but they divorce and remarry as if marriage were only a civil contract (guffaw, guffaw for Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh--who we might as well consider a Republican operative, etc.). And they accuse others of destroying the fabric of society with voter registration fraud while they are actually doing it themselves.

It wouldn't even be so despicable, were it not for the fact that they also portray themselves as the party of Jesus. You know, the guy who said "Why do you see the speck in your brother's eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?"

Perhaps all the prayerful ones out there can join and pray that we are delivered from hypocrisy. Please?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Voter Homework, Oct 17

With two weeks or so to go before the election, and in the wake of what the Republican echo chamber led by Fox News continues to misleadingly call voter fraud by ACORN, many shows have been talking about election fraud. Bill Moyers, as so often, did it best.

Watch the Moyers interview with NYU professor and election expert, Mark Crispin Miller.

PBS's Now also has an interesting report on the implications that the current economic crisis has in a battleground state, Virginia. It contains some really scary comments by a voter who says she is not going to vote for Obama because of his name, the fact that his mother was an atheist and that his father was a Muslim, but some heartening facts, too, like the fact that U.S. troops serving overseas have contributed five times as much money to Obama's campaign than to McCain, showing that the Republican stranglehold on military vote is perhaps starting to crumble.

Colbert Skewers The Old Hypocrite

In his analysis of the final debate, Stephen Colbert takes McCain to task for the hyperbolic statement that ACORN is "destroying the fabric of democracy" in America, and other inanities.


Sen. McCain, Stop The Lunacy!

Michele Bachman may not speak for Sen. McCain, but this is something he needs to repudiate!

If McCain says nothing, his silence will confirm what we have known all along: That he, his campaign and his party, represent the worst this country has to offer. Nothing but incendiary, divisive rhetoric, aimed at destroying opponents. In essence, the exact antithesis of what he represents as his best quality: the ability to reach across the aisle.

It will also say that he agrees with Bachmann's point of view that "people would love to see an exposé like that", referring to the House Un-American Activities Committee led by Joe McCarthy, another exemplary Republican whose idea of liberty was closer to Mussolini's than to the Founding Fathers'. Yes, Ms. Bachmann: people are dying for another witch hunt like McCarthyism, but this time let's do it more like the Spanish Inquisition, for ratings' sake, and have Fox News televise it 24 hours a day. Oh, and let's have you chair the committee and hope that your political career is as long and prosperous as McCarthy's.

And by the way, I just contributed to Tinkleberg 08, as I hope other readers will do.

America, you must give these dangerous charlatans the electoral drubbing they deserve on Nov 4.

Election Fraud Alert: This One Is Real!

Rolling Stone just published Block The Vote, an exposé on voter fraud being perpetrated by Republican operatives in key states.

Also, yesterday I wrote a post called Voter *Registration* Fraud, Republican Dirty Tricks, and David Iglesias. In it I spoke of the US Attorney firing scandal (the Bush Administration fired US Attorneys that *IT* had appointed because--among other things--they refused to prosecute bogus claims of voter fraud).

Today Robert Bauer, General Counsel for the Obama campaign, sent a letter to AG Mukasey asking the DOJ to extend the ongoing investigation of the US Attorneys firing scandal to include the recent and ongoing use of political pressure on law enforcement authorities to help with the smear campaign that Republican operatives have been conducting against ACORN.

Some say this is the Obama campaign fighting back against what is sure to be the third presidential election in a row manipulated by Republicans to their advantage, but is it too little, too late?

I really don't have a good feeling about the way things are going, and I am not the only one. Can someone post a comment to explain why I should not worry?

For All You Anti-American Bastards

According to Palin, unless you live at a Palin rally or in a small town that she visits, you are anti-America.

All I can say to you latte-drinking, Prius-driving, NY Times-reading city dwellers is: shame on you, America-hating bastards!

Looks Like A Joke

Looks like a joke. Isn't a joke.

Palin's Staffers Keep Her Away From The News To Avoid Being "Depressed". And yet, she is going on SNL tomorrow night? Oh, I get it! To cheer her up? Has she seen Tina Fey's maulings of her vacuity?

But... wait a second! Wasn't one of the right's memes during the Democractic nomination campaign that Obama was the ultimate celebrity candidate? (A charge, by the way, that deserves this articulate and intelligent response).
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