Sunday, August 31, 2008

Election '08: You Make Me Feel So Young!

Sarah Palin sports a funny T-shirt during her college days at University of Idaho. Credits: Heath Family/AP
Scripture says, "No one knows the Father but by the Son." Therefore, if you want to know God, you must not only be like the Son, you must be the Son.
---Meister Eckhart
Zen is like a spring coming out of a mountain. It doesn't flow in order to quench the thirst of a traveler, but if the travelers want to help themselves to it, that's fine. It's up to you what you do with the water; the spring's job is just to flow.
---Alan Watts
To be satisfied with a little, is the greatest wisdom; and he that increaseth his riches, increaseth his cares; but a contented mind is a hidden treasure, and trouble findeth it not.
Yep, I can hear Sinatra singing that tune, Nelson Riddle and his fiddles kickin' the arrangement along. "You make me feel 'sthough Spring has sprung!" We'll be voting with youth and age side by side. Young and tempestuous, old and experienced. Mixed races, mixed religions, the roles of women, Viet Nam, mooseburgers, what else could we want?
They say if you want to stay young, get yourself a younger mate. The younger the better. I know McCain still is the presumptive nominee at this writing, and therefore Palin is too---so the Convention still could change everything. Maybe they'll save money, surprise us again, and not even have a convention. Call it off and send contributions to New Orleans. It's all TV and they want us to stay tuned.
But anyway, if it is McCain/Palin, does McCain look younger to you now with runnerup Miss Alaska by his side? I think he does. How does Obama look next to Biden? If there's another Bush/Cheney situation it's these 2 guys. Joe can't help himself. He always looks as if he's showing Barack around. I even saw him, their arms around each other side by side, turn Obama in the direction of the most cameras. We live in such interesting times.
The press descended on Wasilla, Alaska Friday, and headed for the Heath's A-frame hunting lodge where they got handed the family album. As a result, we get all these candid shots of the small-town girl on the way to marrying her high school sweetheart. Even the Senior Prom picture. Sarah's husband, who works for BP (surprise, surprise!), has parents who know McCain's VP choice pretty darned well. "We don't agree on everything. But I respect her passion," said Faye Palin. "Being pro-life is who Sarah is." (and don't miss the pictures) The Governor also sued Bush when he declared the polar bear endangered. Oil drillers prefer to shoot bears if they come around. Palin's mother-in-law had been thinking of voting for Obama. Maybe not everybody in Alaska is a Republican.
There's so much stuff in the Sunday papers this morning, it's hard to know where to start---or maybe you've decided not to bother at all. There certainly is a great list of assembled reasons as to the advantages and risks of the Republican choice. I can direct your attention to a couple of articles if you like. One is in this morning's Long Island Newsday...and the other is Maureen Dowd's hilarious piece today.
Why Obama treads carefully on GOP's veep pick
August 31, 2008
PITTSBURGH - With one calculating ad and a surprising vice-presidential nomination, Republican John McCain is seeking to turn the tables on Democrat Barack Obama.
After treading lightly for months to avoid a slip or slight that could be seen as a racial attack, McCain's camp converted the glass ceiling into thin ice for the Obama campaign. They did it with a pick that almost dares Democrats to criticize Sarah Palin and risk charges of insensitivity or sexism.
The New York Times
August 31, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist Vice in Go-Go Boots?
The guilty pleasure I miss most when I’m out slogging on the campaign trail is the chance to sprawl on the chaise and watch a vacuously spunky and generically sassy chick flick.
So imagine my delight, my absolute astonishment, when the hokey chick flick came out on the trail, a Cinderella story so preposterous it’s hard to believe it’s not premiering on Lifetime. Instead of going home and watching “Miss Congeniality” with Sandra Bullock, I get to stay here and watch “Miss Congeniality” with Sarah Palin.
Sheer heaven.


Anonymous said...

Jay Rosen, here, sees John McCain's convention gambit as a culture war strategy.

The basic strategy is:

- Don't fight the "crisis" narrative. Rather, do things that bring it on; and in that crisis re-divide the electorate hoping to grab the bigger half.

- Confound and collapse all distinctions between closed editorial systems (like the newsroom of the New York Times), open systems (like the blogging community and political systems, like the Democratic party and its activist wing. Whenever possible mix these up. Conflate constantly. Attack them all. Jump from one to the other without warning or thread. Sow confusion among streams and let that confusion mix with the resentment in a culture war atmosphere.

Sounds familiar?

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin under intense pressure then gives a charismatic performance on Wednesday of convention week and wows much of America, outdrawing Obama in the ratings and sending a flood of cash to McCain and the GOP.

* Strategy: bingo, that's your big break. A wave effect is unleashed by a stunning televised performance. It is shock and awe in the theater of the post-modern presidency.

Journalists watching all this keep saying to themselves: wait until she gets out on the campaign trail. Wait until she sits for those interviews with experienced reporters and faces a real press conference.

* Strategy: double down on defiance by never letting her answer questions, except from friendly media figures who have joined your narrative; like Cheney with Fox. No meet the press at all. No interviews of Palin with the DC media elite-- at all. De-legitimate the ask. Break with all "access" expectations. Use surrogates and spokesman, let them get mauled, then whip up resentment at their mistreatment. Answer questions at town halls and call that adequate enough.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, the investigation of her performance in Alaska puts more and more pressure on the Palin appointment as things come out that would ordinarily disqualify a candidate from consideration or cast doubt on her truthfulness in a grave way.

* Strategy: Comes from Bush, the younger. When realities uncovered are directly in conflict with prior claims, consider the option of keeping the claims and breaking with reality. Done the right way, it's a demonstration of strength. It dismays and weakens the press. And it can be great theatre.

Anonymous said...

Bill Kristol's prediction is that Sarah Palin will cause gas prices to "plummet immediately":

In the meantime, stay tuned to Fox News for more: a "prediction" mayhap of how Sarah Palin praying to God and using only a few loaves of bread and several fish, will feed hundred of thousands of men, women and children all over America.

Strangest thing have been known to happen.

Why, haven't John McCain and Alexander Solzhenitsyn shared the same kind of "cross drawn in the dirt" sort of experience?

I mean, what are the odds of that? It gives me goosebumps:

Anonymous said...

In view of how John McCain (and his backers) has been playing the gender card to bash the media in a rather transparent effort to shield his untested and embattled running mate from scrutiny, Tom Brune and Nia-Malika Henderson's contention, which Jazzolog mentioned on his blog (i.e. that McCain's pick "almost dares Democrats to criticize Sarah Palin and risk charges of insensitivity or sexism") seems well founded, indeed!

GOP consultant Rich Galen couldn't agree more - I quote: "This is part of a very clever strategy to lead the Democrats into a trap that will end up with them dumping on Gov. Palin and paying a heavy price."

Amazing, isn't it, how all of a sudden "sensitivity" has become all the rage.

As recently reported by Clarence Page, "three days after McCain named Palin, a Google of the words 'Sarah Palin sexism' brought 54,000 hits. Leading the headlines: 'Sarah Palin sexism watch No 1,' 'Sara[sic] Palin sexism alert,' and '[First Lady] Laura Bush 'thrilled' by Palin pick, warns of sexism.'"

It is, in fact, amazing how the GOP has suddenly become extremely concerned about "propriety"---on morning shows and TV interviews, that is---when New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani (who recently told NBC that their "scrutiny" of McCain's running mate was "really indecent"), and Sarah Palin herself, are not engaged in contemptuously deriding Barack Obama's spouse or mocking Obama's work as a community organizer as a young man in Chicago.

Obama called the attack on community service "curious":

"I would argue that doing work in the community to try and create jobs, to bring people together, to rejuvenate communities that have fallen on hard times, to set up job-training programs in areas that have been hard hit when the steel plants closed, that that's relevant only in understanding where I'm coming from, who I believe in, who I'm fighting for and why I'm in this race."

"And the question I have for them is? Why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they fighting for? Who are they advocating for?"

"Maybe that's the problem. Maybe that part of why they are out of touch and don't get it because they haven't spent much time working for those kind of folks."

Barack Obama also addressed whether the Democrats and the media have been sexist in questioning Sarah Palin's credentials to be vice president:

"Listen, I mean, if they want to work the refs, they are free to do so. I think the public can make their judgments about this. The notion that any questions about her work in Alaska is somehow not relevant to her potential to be vice president of the United States doesn't make too much sense."

"I think she's got a compelling story, but I assume she wants to be treated the way guys want to be treated. That means our records are under scrutiny. I've been through this for 19 months. She's been through it, what, four days so far?"

Obama also said that he wasn't responding to Palin's attacks because "I'm running against John McCain. I don't get the sense that Gov. Palin has ideas different than John McCain."

The criticism "isn't that big of a deal," he said, "I've been called worse on the basketball court."

jazzolog said...

Thanks to Anonymous for holding forth in here while I've been limited in computering time. Anyone with a TV set 50 years ago knows what a Maverick is. Was your favorite Bret or Bart? James Garner showed up in the 1994 movie version too, in which Jody Foster's character steals the show...and the money of course. Hmmmm. Are the Republicans sure they want us to think of their candidates this way?

Anybody who grew up with westerns, as I'm sure John McCain did, knows about mavericks. They're steers, often young and ornery, that won't stay with the herd. If you're going to lay around today, and have access to American cable, you could spend the whole day reviewing at AMC where they're showing some of the greatest westerns ever made. Or switch over to TCM tonight for a few Robert Mitchum flicks. Now there was a maverick!

So is it really true that John McCain and Sarah Palin fit this portrait of mavericks...or are we being handed some kind of hype---again?

Jeffrey St. Clair is author of a book called Grand Theft Pentagon, published 3 years ago. Adapted from the book, this article at Counterpunch Thursday presented the following view of McCain~~~

"He is the senator of the hollow protest. McCain is nothing if not a political stunt man. His chief stunt is the evocation of political piety. From his pulpit in the well of the senate, McCain gestures and fumes about the evils of Pentagon porkbarrel. He rails about useless and expensive weapons systems, contractor malfeasance, and bloated R&B budgets.
"But he does nothing about them. McCain pontificates, but never obstructs. Few senators have his political capital. But he does nothing with it. Under the arcane rules of the senate, one senator can gum up the works, derail a bad (or good, though those are increasingly rare in this environment) bill, dislodge non-germane riders, usually loaded with pork, from big appropriations bills. McCain is never that senator. He is content to let ride that which he claims to detest in press releases and senate speeches."

That sounds like politics-as-usual to me. How about Palin then? Judging from Time magazine's profile of her last Tuesday, her own description of herself as a "pitbull with lipstick" seems more appropriate than maverick---especially because a pitbull operates best with a handler who tells when and who to attack.

"Governing was no less contentious than campaigning, at least to begin with. She ended up dismissing almost all the city department heads who had been loyal to (previous mayor John) Stein, including a few who had been instrumental in getting her into politics to begin with. Some saw it as a betrayal. (Irl) Stambaugh, the police chief and member of Palin's step aerobics class, filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination, alleging that Palin terminated him in part at the behest of the National Rifle Association, because he had opposed a concealed-gun law the NRA supported. He eventually lost the suit. The animosity spawned some talk of a recall attempt, but eventually Palin's opponents on the City Council opted for a more conciliatory route.
"At some point in those the fractious first days, Palin told the department heads they needed her permission to talk to reporters. 'She put a gag order on those people, something that you'd expect to find in the big city, not here,' says (Frontiersman editor Vicki) Naegle. 'She flew in there like a big city gal, which she's not. It was a strange time, and [the Frontiersman] came out very harshly against her.'
"Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. 'She asked the library how she could go about banning books,' he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. 'The librarian was aghast.' The librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire her for not giving 'full support' to the mayor.",8599,1837918,00.html

Then there's Wasilla Bible Church where Governor Palin remains an active member and, until now, a regular parishioner on Sunday. Maybe she'll fly up there tomorrow too, since there are reports she won't be a talking head on the regular Sunday morning TV news shows. The preacher there is Larry Kroon but he likes to bring in guests. The transcripts of all the sermons are at the church's site---and since Obama was given such a tough time about his church affiliation, maybe you'd like to read a few. If that's not your idea of happy Saturday morning fun, you might at least attend to Ben Smith's concern Tuesday at Politico about the sermon 3 weeks ago. Given by David Brickner, executive director of Jews For Jesus, it explains the real nature of what he calls "The Jerusalem Problem." Brickner reveals the terrorist attacks on Israelis are God's "judgment of unbelief" upon Jews who haven't embraced Christianity. Sounds like another pitbull for Christ...but probably without lipstick.

I'm still looking at photos of 3-month-old Trig Palin, and wondering if he isn't a bit big for that age. I thought the ponderings about whether Governor Palin could have given birth to the child were best summed up by Bryan Zepp on Labor Day. He says he only reluctantly put together this essay. The real issue must be whether the VP nominee is lying...even though that's what mavericks supposedly do. What if Bristol has a mysterious miscarriage for an October surprise?

Oh well, back to the real issues as presented last week at what the Washington Post characterized as "A Mostly White Convention." The Associated Press took a look at a number of charges leveled against Democrats and claims by Republicans and compared them to pesky facts.;_ylt=AhszAmPCUA4SxEMTrIQhoWSs0NUE Of particular concern to Barack Obama was Sarah Palin's ridicule of community organizers. A bit of a maverick himself he wrote, "With the nation watching, the Republicans mocked, dismissed, and actually laughed out loud at Americans who engage in community service and organizing... But what the McCain attack squad doesn't understand is that people like you -- who devote part of their busy lives to organizing and building their communities -- have the power to change this country." One community organizing site is .

Nor did the arrests of various reporters and journalists in Minneapolis last week fit very well into the welcoming maverick mode. Here's Time's account and analysis of how the McCain campaign views the press. Amy Goodman's arrest got her handled with particular rudeness.

What's interesting to me is the original Maverick was somebody McCain and Palin might admire. Yes, there was an actual Samuel Maverick in the real rootin' tootin' 19th Century, who was a Texas lawyer, politician, and land baron. Among other things he was a cattleman who refused to brand his steers---which meant that any cow he ran into without a brand must be his. Ah yes, the maverick style. So a maverick is somebody without a brand, who belongs to no one...maybe. Oh yes, Sam Maverick was a Texas Democrat.

jazzolog said...

There has been some kind of heavy silence in the air since the Republican Convention. People of my acquaintance don't seem to know what to say...although a few have confessed some jitters. The righties I know aren't talking...although the paranoid old man at work asked if I was plotting more activism as he listened to my phone conversation yesterday. Actually I was talking to my credit union about our accounts, but like McCain Bill still is fighting the Chinese in Viet Nam. One must be careful around such people: they're always on the alert for opportunity.

I've been bugged by obvious, annoying paradoxes in Republican strategy shifts. At first Inexperience was the charge leveled at Obama, but since Palin inexperience is OK. You can learn on the job. Then it was Celebrity. That's what was wrong with Barack and Michelle. But now Palin's the celebrity and of course it's to be expected. We were going to debate issues---after we're sure we understand McCain was a POW...and Alaska is right next to Russia---but now Image is what we all need to see. And the media toddles right along with it if they've been trained by experts these past 8 years.

I've been hoping someone somewhere would sum it up for me, help me grab something I can use to continue the climb and the work. Maybe we've been in the eye of the election hurricane. Finally this morning an article has popped up. It's not so much about what went on inside the "America First" convention hall, but what was going on just outside. I find myself thinking back to almost exactly 4 years ago, when I tried to catch a glimpse of President Bush at a campaign rally in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Apparently such aspects of citizenship are even more gravely threatened this time.

The author of this essay is Chris Hedges, a member of the team of reporters that won the 2002 Pulitzer for The New York Times' coverage of global terrorism. The following year he gave a commencement speech at a college in Illinois, in which he condemned the Iraq occupation. The incident got him a formal reprimand from the newspaper because his address showed bias. He resigned...and since then has been writing for numerous publications including Foreign Affairs, Harper’s magazine, The New York Review of Books, Granta and Mother Jones. Hedges, the son of a Presbyterian minister, has a B.A. in English Literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard University. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard during the academic year of 1998-1999. He has a strong grounding in the classics and knows Greek and Latin, as well as Arabic, French and Spanish. Chris Hedges currently is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, and spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, where he spent fifteen years.

Tyranny on Display at the Republican Convention
Posted on Sep 8, 2008
By Chris Hedges

St. Paul is a window into our future. It is a future where, as one protester told me by phone, “people have been pepper-gassed, thrown on the ground by police who had drawn their weapons, had their documents seized and their tattoos photographed before being taken away to jail.” It is a future where illegal house raids are carried out. It is a future where vans containing heavily armed paramilitary units circle and film protesters. It is a future where, as the protester said, “people have been pulled from cars because their license plates were on a database and handcuffed, thrown in the back of a squad car and then watched as their vehicles were ransacked and their personal possessions from computers to literature seized.” It is a future where constitutional rights mean nothing and where lawful dissent is branded a form of terrorism.

The rise of the corporate state means the rise of the surveillance state. The Janus-like face of America swings from packaged and canned spectacles, from nationalist slogans, from seas of flags and Christian crosses, from professions of faith and patriotism, to widespread surveillance, illegal mass detentions, informants, provocateurs and crude acts of repression and violence. We barrel toward a world filled with stupendous lies and blood.

What difference is there between the crowds of flag-waving Republicans and the apparatchiks I covered as a reporter in the old East German Communist Party? These Republican delegates, like the fat and compromised party functionaries in East Berlin, all fawned on cue over an inept and corrupt party hierarchy. They all purported to champion workers’ rights and freedom while they systematically fleeced, disempowered and impoverished the workers they lauded. They all celebrated the virtue of a state that was morally bankrupt. And while they played this con game, one that gave them special privileges, power and wealth, they unleashed their goons and thugs on all who dared to challenge them. We are not East Germany, but we are well on our way. An economic meltdown, another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a war with Iran, and we could easily swing into an authoritarian model that would look very familiar to anyone who lived in the former communist East Bloc.

A few of those arrested in St. Paul, including eight leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee— one of the groups organizing protests at the GOP convention in St. Paul —now face terrorism-related charges. Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald and Max Spector could get up to seven and a half years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge, which allows for a 50 percent increase in the maximum penalty. This is the first time criminal charges have been filed under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal Patriot Act.

The Patriot Act, which was put in place as much to silence domestic opposition as to ferret out real terrorists, has largely lain dormant. It has authorized the government to monitor our phone conversations, e-mails, meetings and political opinions. It has authorized the government to shut down anti-war groups and lock up innocents as terrorists. It has abolished habeas corpus. But until now we have not grasped its full implications for our open society. We catch glimpses, as in St. Paul or in our offshore penal colonies where we torture detainees, of its awful destructive power.

The commercial media told us that what was important in St. Paul was happening inside the convention hall. The vapid interviews, the ridiculous soap opera sagas about Sarah Palin’s daughter and the debate about whether John McCain or Barack Obama has proprietary rights to “Change” divert us from the truth of who we have become. You had to search out , , , , along with a few other independent outlets, to see, hear or read real journalism from St. Paul.

It does not matter that the RNC Welcoming Committee describes itself as an “anarchist/anti-authoritarian” organization. We don’t have to embrace a political agenda to protect the right to be heard. Shut down free speech and radicals only burrow deeper underground, splitting ossified political systems into fractured extremes. We may well end up with the Christian right on one side, with politicians like Sarah Palin providing an ideological veneer to a Christian fascism, and embittered leftist radicals who turn to violence on the other.

St. Paul was not ultimately about selecting a presidential candidate. It was about the power of the corporate state to carry out pre-emptive searches, seizures and arrests. It was about squads of police in high-tech riot gear, many with drawn semiautomatic weapons, bursting into houses. It was about seized computers, journals and political literature. It was about shutting down independent journalism, even at gunpoint. It was about charging protesters with “conspiracy to commit riot,” a rarely used statute that criminalizes legal dissent. It was about 500 people held in open-air detention centers. It was about the rising Orwellian state that has hollowed out the insides of America, cast away all that was good and vital, and donned its skin to shackle us all.

Toles today shows a VP candidate, in her designer glasses (frames $400, $600-800 with lenses---so hot now stores can't keep 'em in stock!), planning things out at an undisclosed location~~~

Anonymous said...

jazzolog said:
"I've been bugged by obvious, annoying paradoxes in Republican strategy shifts. At first Inexperience was the charge leveled at Obama, but since Palin, inexperience is OK. You can learn on the job. Then it was Celebrity. That's what was wrong with Barack and Michelle. But now Palin's the celebrity and of course it's to be expected. We were going to debate issues---after we're sure we understand McCain was a POW...and Alaska is right next to Russia---but now Image is what we all need to see. And the media toddles right along with it all..."

Indeed! The double-standard should be blatant for all to see.

Why isn't it?

Is it because people don't see it or is it because people don't want to see?

Maybe Homer Simpson got it right: "It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen."

In an earlier comment on another jazzolog entry, I had brought up Drew Westen's commentary, here:

This year should be a perfect storm for a Democratic presidential candidate, particularly one with the rhetorical gifts of Barack Obama. McCain has literally every indicator political scientists enter into their models to predict electoral success or defeat working against him: He has repeatedly allied himself with the most unpopular president since the history of modern polling, describing Bush in 2006 as one of our greatest presidents and musing about having Dick Cheney in a McCain cabinet (two facts the Obama campaign has failed to advertise). He has embraced the most unpopular war since Vietnam. And in the summer before the election, the economy is arguably in its worst shape since the Great Depression, with American families spending a greater percentage of their income on basic necessities, home foreclosures at their zenith, and the ratio of job loss to job creation at its highest since the 1930s.

And those are just the beginning of McCain's problems. Every time he panders to the right he turns off moderates, and every time he takes a moderate position he reinforces the view on the right that he is not a "true conservative" and depresses voter turnout from his base And finally, whether the stress of tacking right and left so many times over the last two years has taken the wind out of his sails or whether he's just gotten too old and tired to take on the rigors of a presidential campaign, he has lost the sparkle that once drew many moderates and even many liberals to him, while running against the most charismatic leader to emerge on the political scene since Bill Clinton.

Yet now John McCain is tied with Obama in the Gallup polls, in a dead heat in the mid 40s for the third consecutive day.

So, what gives?

Drew Westen hit the nail square on the head: the candidates are" tied in the Gallup polls," "in a dead heat for the third consecutive day." It is as if nothing new had changed since 2000 or since 2004. In view of all the circumstances the author enumerated, how is that even remotely possible, one wonders?

Interestingly, and most relevantly, the same question was asked in 2004: here. The brief entry there (titled "54%") - but especially some of the follow-up comments on that thread - is very telling. It raises an interesting question: Where was the outrage then at the Bush administration? Where is the outrage now?

The mistake here might be in the postulate that such an outrage even exists or in the assumption that president Bush wouldn't win another election, were he allowed to run for a third term. The percentage of Americans who resonate with unilateralism, global domination, "cow-boy diplomacy," the "Bush Doctrine" and the project for the New American Century is higher than most pundits are (publicly) willing to acknowledge.

Were George Bush running today against Barack Obama, chances are that we would have the same virtual tie that the polls are reporting today between McCain and Obama. It is a phenomenon, I suspect, that has very little to do with either Bush or Kerry, or McCain or Obama, or whatever the particular (tired) negative rhetoric (rationalization/ alibi?) happens to be this time around. Way too much credit is given to Karl Rove and his ilks. It helps assuage our collective conscience as a Nation. But, there is no hiding form it: for better or for worse, once again America is going to be given the opportunity to show its true color. This election is not about Obama or McCain but about us: about who we are as a People, and what the polls are pointing to is rather scary. But then again, the unexpected rise of a candidate such as Obama on the political scene and the socio-political climate which made it possible is a testimony to the presence of another zeitgeist. How big that new zeitgeist is (The Times Are They A-Changin'?) is what this election will show.

In a recent article for the Telegraph, Billy Simpson reflecting on how "a philosopher once claimed that there is a little bit of Jesus in all of us. And a little bit of Hitler," commented that "appealing to what Abraham Lincoln called 'the better angels' of our nature can be a bit of a vote loser. It is usually cheaper to appeal to the inner bigot."

Sad but true - or certainly too close to home. In the end, it is ultimately "We The People" who speak, everything else--Sarah Palin, the "culture war," the Karl Rovian ads, the "talking points," or the lies and innuendo people pretend to believe, or not---is just mere rationalization.

"It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen."

jazzolog said...

That's quite a wonderful post just above, anonymous, and I believe we're thinking along similar lines. Much of what I came to think of about the United States was taught to me in the post-World War II and pre-McCarthy eras. That's a pretty short period of time, but we were very idealistic then---and so I heard much about liberty, freedom and democracy in the Lincoln-Jefferson tradition. Today's kids think of freedom and democracy in the Bush tradition probably, which means CIA and capitalist empire.

One is not necessarily more "American" than the other. At the core of this country is something very central and that is ownership of property. Possibly both traditions would agree on the basics. You own property by mixing your labor with the land. What you do on your property is your own business and no one, nothing should interfere with you or tell you what to do. People came to these shores to be left alone, and there is a mighty streak of isolationism running through our whole history.

We also like ideas of God being on our side. We like God because He helps us out and protects us...and also can become very Old Testament in punishing the enemy. A God-fearing businessman is a civic hero. We prefer to reward business rather than government, and we shall see if most Americans would prefer to leave profits private and debts for public bailout. This election is about these things and I won't be surprised if the majority chooses the political party that represents capitalist empire and theocracy. It may be who we really are as a people---or at least who we have become.

We are not alone in wondering along these lines these days. Perhaps most startling to me was Juan Cole's article at Salon yesterday. Titled What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick; it's located here~~~

Then there's Empire and Imperialism and the USA by James Petras here~~~

At CNBC Jim Rogers claims US Is "More Communist than China"~~~

Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor indicates along the same lines Comrades Bush, Paulson and Bernanke Welcome You to the USSRA (United Socialist State Republic of America)~~~

And more on the Republican Convention violence from Ray McGovern Storm Troopers at the RNC~~~

This is strong stuff, all within the last day or 2, and there are some highly respected analysts here. Since the working class abandoned the Democrats of Carter and moved into Reagan domain, these changes have been taking place. That's a couple of generations.

Nausicaa said...

CNBC Jim Rogers claims US Is "More Communist than China."

Seems outrageous... Yet, Jim Rogers's contention could have some legitimacy to it (it does raise a red flag - no pun intended). It seems to have become a rising concern. And it has been voiced under various forms by cautionary writers and political analysts worth their salt (on either side of the political spectrum, I might add). One of the latest to date was expressed in a recent essay posted by David Brin on September 5 (Some things Palin comparison)

"...while he distances himself from Bush and the Republican brand, John McCain stays immersed in the same general swarm of ten thousand Republican appointees, lobbyists and political operatives, most of whom would simply slide from jobs in Bush’s administration to McCain’s. A whole political caste who - with some shifted chairs - would follow his old-boy top advisors into cabinet departments, agencies, and bureaus.

These aren’t the days of Eisenhower, or Clinton, or even Ronald Reagan, when political loyalty was only one of many criteria for these appointments. Today’s GOP operatives have been carefully vetted, culled, groomed and organized to turn all systems of government into Party tools. With a consistency and disciplined focus that resembles another party -- the Communist Party. In a latter-day version of the Spoils System, they have hewed closely to a core program -- to intimidate and repress the real public servants, the ones we depend upon. The fourth branch of government.

The men and women of the United States Civil Service.

There can be no greater polar contrast between two groups. Those with the expertise to administer our laws -- advancing through merit, hard work, training and performance -- versus a mob of venial hacks appointed by Bush-Cheney to quash the scientists and military officers, the accountants and FBI agents, the deputy U.S. Attorneys and deputy Marshals, the dam inspectors and CIA agents. The drug chemists and CDC disease monitors. The SEC examiners who might have protected us against fraudulent speculators and thieves. The researchers who might have settled the case on global warming, or found fresh energy solutions by now.

For better or worse, we citizens own and rely upon these agencies, to defend us, to maintain fair and open markets, to encourage startups and discourage monopoly, to catch criminality even in high places, to give truthful intelligence, to peer ahead for threats and opportunities in complex times. We pay their salaries and half a million or so civil servants used to work hard to give us value back. Most would do so, again, if they were allowed."

Nausicaa said...

Anyone who watched Sarah Palin's speech at the convention might wonder whether Jim Rogers and David Brin haven't got a point.

Wasn't her speech very much in the populist vein of the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" in China where the educated were scorned and suspected of being potential traitors to the cause of the proletariat?

Or was it closer maybe to the spirit of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China (one of the most prominent to show anti-intellectualism by distrusting scholars and forcing the educated into labor, and burning texts written by historians or by Confucian scholars)?

Or more appropriately perhaps and closer to our times, what about the revolutionary regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran which is known for a stong streak of anti-intellectualism in its policies?

Are people paying any attention?

Apparently, Thomas Frank is. The following is an excerpt from his article today in The Wall Street Journal (The GOP Loves the Heartland To Death):

"Small town people," Mrs. Palin said, are "the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars." They are authentic; they are noble, and they are her own: "I grew up with those people."

But what really defines them in Mrs. Palin's telling is their enemies, the people who supposedly "look down" on them. The opposite of the heartland is the loathsome array of snobs and fakers, "reporters and commentators," lobbyists and others who make up "the Washington elite."

Presumably the various elite Washington lobbyists who have guided John McCain's presidential campaign were exempt from Mrs. Palin's criticism.
Leave the fantasy land of convention rhetoric, and you will find that small-town America, this legendary place of honesty and sincerity and dignity, is not doing very well. If you drive west from Kansas City, Mo., you will find towns where Main Street is largely boarded up. You will see closed schools and hospitals. You will hear about depleted groundwater and massive depopulation.

And eventually you will ask yourself, how did this happen? Did Hollywood do this? Was it those "reporters and commentators" with their fancy college degrees who wrecked Main Street, U.S.A.?

No. For decades now we have been electing people like Sarah Palin who claimed to love and respect the folksy conservatism of small towns, and yet who have unfailingly enacted laws to aid the small town's mortal enemies.

Without raising an antitrust finger they have permitted fantastic concentration in the various industries that buy the farmer's crops. They have undone the New Deal system of agricultural price supports in favor of schemes called "Freedom to Farm" and loan deficiency payments -- each reform apparently designed to secure just one thing out of small town America: cheap commodities for the big food processors. Richard Nixon's Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz put the conservative attitude toward small farmers most bluntly back in the 1970s when he warned, "Get big or get out."

A few days ago I talked politics with Donn Teske, the president of the Kansas Farmers Union and a former Republican. Barack Obama may come from a big city, he admits, but the Farmers Union gives him a 100% rating for his votes in Congress. John McCain gets a 0%. "If any farmer in the Plains States looked at McCain's voting record on ag issues," Mr. Teske says, "no one would vote for him."

Now, Mr. McCain is known for his straight talk with industrial workers, telling them their jobs are never coming back, that the almighty market took them away for good, and that retraining is their only hope.

But he seems to think that small-town people can be easily played. Just choose a running mate who knows how to skin a moose and all will be forgiven. Drive them off the land, shutter their towns, toss their life chances into the grinders of big agriculture . . . and praise their values. The TV eminences will coo in appreciation of your in-touch authenticity, and the carnival will move on."

jazzolog said...

Thanks so much for these posts Nausicaa. They got me inspired. I'll tell you though, I think we're heading in the wrong direction with these comparisons to the Soviet Union and China. The socialism is there, but I believe it is of the National Socialistic type. That gets spelled and abbreviated Nazi in some languages. I know it's hard to define the difference between the communist and fascist systems, but certainly the disciplined organization of which you speak was legendary in Nazi Germany. We also saw there a similar slow "democratic" takeover there---right before the people's eyes. No big revolution necessary---although the strongarm always is available. Who cannot be whisked off to Guantanamo for re-education?

I just Googled "Palin Reagan" and was surprised to get an inside glimpse of how Republicans are powering up for the campaign. The woman is being compared to Ronald Reagan all over the place---when she isn't labeled the new Margaret Thatcher. Many articles refer to Reagan nostalgia, calling the faithful back to the excitement of those days when the neo-cons took over. It's Morning again in Smalltown America. Smell the coffee and the bacon...but now Mom has to go to work too. We know the Bible says she should keep the apron on and get to the washing and ironing, but these days Mom has to help with the plowing. Other than that, Plain Palin brings back those golden days of yesteryear just like Reagan. Ronnie's son Michael even has written a piece about all this called "Welcome Back Dad."

But here's the deal: few people ravaged small towns more than Reagan. Where did the rust belt come from? It came from the destruction of the unions, tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, and consequent export of jobs. With the decline of the unions has come the decline of the middle class. Coincidence? No way. Union benefits were how working people climbed into the middle class. Reagan's first act as president was to declare a threatened strike by air traffic controllers to be illegal. I had employment in industry when Reagan dismantled CETA, whereupon 600 workers, many of them VietNam veterans who just had started a family and bought a home, were laid off in a single day in my hometown. I was among them, with a wife 6 months pregnant. It took that small town 25 years to begin to get back on its feet---and downtown still is full of empty shops and crumbling old stores. That's the reality of smalltown America, just as the Thomas Frank article points out.

Joe Klein went even further yesterday in a piece for Time, in which he asserts that smalltown America was gone in Reagan's time...and that his magic was all fantasized nostalgia too. It seems the Republican fire is pure theatrical imagination. Is that mental health in the 21st Century?

TIME in partnership with CNN
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2008
Sarah Palin's Myth of America

Sarah Palin has arrived in our midst with the force of a rocket-propelled grenade. She has boosted John McCain's candidacy and overwhelmed the presidential process in a way that no vice-presidential pick has since Thomas Eagleton did the precise opposite — sinking his sponsor, George McGovern, in 1972. Obviously, something beyond politics is happening here. We don't really know Palin as a politician yet, whether she is wise or foolhardy, substantive or empty. Our fascination with her — and it is a nonpartisan phenomenon — is driven by something more primal. The Palin surge illuminates the mythic power of the Republican Party's message since the advent of Ronald Reagan.

To start with the obvious, she's attractive. Her husband ("And two decades and five children later, he's still my guy...") is a hunk. They have a gorgeous family, made more touching and credible by the challenges their children face. Her voice is more distinctive than her looks: that flat, northern twang that screams, I'm just like you! Actually, the real message is: I'm just like you want to be, a brilliantly spectacular...average American. The Palins win elections and snowmobile races in a state that represents the last, lingering hint of that most basic Huckleberry Finn fantasy — lighting out for the territories. She quoted Westbrook Pegler, the F.D.R.-era conservative columnist, in her acceptance speech: "We grow good people in our small towns..." And then added, "I grew up with those people. They're the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America."

Except that's not really true. We haven't been a nation of small towns for nearly a century. It is the suburbanites and city dwellers who do the fighting and hourly-wage work now, and the corporations who grow our food. But Palin's embrace of small-town values is where her hold on the national imagination begins. She embodies the most basic American myth — Jefferson's yeoman farmer, the fantasia of rural righteousness — updated in a crucial way: now Mom works too. Palin's story stands with one foot squarely in the nostalgia for small-town America and the other in the new middle-class reality. She brings home the bacon, raises the kids — with a significant assist from Mr. Mom — hunts moose and looks great in the process. I can't imagine a more powerful, or current, American Dream.

Nearly 50 years ago, in The Burden of Southern History, the historian C. Vann Woodward argued that the South was profoundly different from the rest of America because it was the only part of the country that had lost a war: "Southern history, unlike American...includes not only an overwhelming military defeat but long decades of defeat in the provinces of economic, social and political life." Woodward believed that this heritage led Southerners to be more obsessed with the past than other Americans were — at its worst, in popular works like Gone With the Wind, there was a gagging nostalgia for a courtly antebellum South that never really existed.

During the past 50 years, the rest of the country has caught up to the South in the nostalgia department. We lost a war in Vietnam; Iraq hasn't gone so well either. And there are two other developments that have cut into the sense of American perfection. The middle class has begun to lose altitude — there isn't the certainty anymore that our children will live better than we do. More important, the patina of cultural homogeneity that camouflaged 1950s suburbia has vanished. We have become more obviously multiracial. There are lifestyle choices that were nearly unimaginable in 1960 — the widespread use of the birth control pill, the legalization of abortion, the feminist and gay-rights revolutions, the breakdown of the two-parent family. With the advent of television, these changes became inescapable. They intruded upon the most traditional families in the smallest towns. The political impact was a conservative reaction of enormous vehemence.

Enter Reagan. His vision of the future was the past. He offered the temporal pleasures of tax cuts and an unambiguous anticommunism, but his real tug was on the heartstrings — it was "Morning in America." The Republican Party of Wall Street faded before the power of nostalgia for Main least a Main Street that existed before America began losing wars, became ostentatiously sexy and casually interracial. In his presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, Reagan talked about an America that existed "when I was young and when this country didn't even know it had a racial problem." The blinding whiteness and fervent religiosity of the party he created are an enduring testament to the power of the myth of an America that existed before we had all these problems. The power of Sarah Palin is that she is the latest, freshest iteration of that myth.

The Republican Party's subliminal message seems stronger than ever this year because of the nature of the Democratic nominee for President. Barack Obama could not exist in the small-town America that Reagan fantasized. He's the product of what used to be called miscegenation, a scenario that may still be more terrifying than a teen daughter's pregnancy in many American households. Furthermore, he has thrived in the culture and economy that displaced Main Street America — an economy where people no longer work in factories or make things with their hands, but where lawyers and traders prosper unduly. (Of course, this is the economy the Republican Party has promoted — but facts are powerless in the face of a potent mythology.) Obama is the precise opposite of Mountain Man Todd Palin: an entirely urban creature. He lives within the hilarious conundrum of being both too "cosmopolitan" and intellectual for Republican tastes — at least as Rudy Giuliani described it — while also being the sort of fellow suspected of getting ahead by affirmative action.

The Democrats have no myth to counter this powerful Republican fantasy. They had to spend their convention on the biographical defensive: Barack Obama really is "one of us," speaker after speaker insisted. Really. Democrats do have the facts in their favor. Polls show that Americans agree with them on the issues. The Bush Administration has been a disaster on many fronts. The McCain campaign has provided only the sketchiest policy proposals; it has spent most of its time trying to divert the national conversation away from matters of substance. But Americans like stories more than issues. Policy proposals are useful in the theater of presidential politics only inasmuch as they illuminate character: far more people are aware of the fact that Palin put the state jet on eBay than know that she imposed a windfall-profits tax on oil companies as governor and was a porkaholic as mayor of Wasilla.

So Obama faces an uphill struggle between now and Nov. 4. He has no personal anecdotes to match Palin's mooseburgers. His story of a boy whose father came from Kenya and mother from Kansas takes place in an America not yet mythologized, a country that is struggling to be born — a multiracial country whose greatest cultural and economic strength is its diversity. It is the country where our children already live and that our parents will never really know, a country with a much greater potential for justice and creativity — and perhaps even prosperity — than the sepia-tinted version of Main Street America. But that vision is not sellable right now to a critical mass of Americans. They live in a place, not unlike C. Vann Woodward's South, where myths are more potent than the hope of getting past the dour realities they face each day.

Copyright � 2008 Time,8599,1840388,00.html

Nausicaa said...

"She quoted Westbrook Pegler, the F.D.R.-era conservative columnist, in her acceptance speech."

Sarah Palin, however, did not acknowledge Pegler by name, merely citing "a writer."

I wonder why that is?

Any idea?

In any case, a new paragraph to the Wikipedia page about Westbrook Pegler has now been added as a result:

"Interest in Pegler was recently revived when Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin quoted him in her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity", she said, a Pegler quote that also appeared in the book "Right From the Beginning" by Pat Buchanan. She did not acknowledge Pegler by name, merely citing 'a writer'. The speech was written by Matthew Scully, a senior speech writer for George W. Bush."

Nausicaa said...

Matthew Scully, besides being a speechwriter for the GOP during the Bush administrations (father and son - he has also written for Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney) is also the author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. I am not familiar with the book so I tried to read a couple of reviews online and also went on to get a broader idea of how the book was received. The book made four stars on the Amazon meter, but, boy, did the author get some people upset as a result of the convention speech he authored for Sarah Palin (some are calling him an hypocrite).

One particularly flustered reader wrote:

"While I enjoyed reading this book shortly after it came out (I am a vegetarian and pro animal rights), I was dismayed to learn that Matthew has gone back to writing speeches for the Bush administration. He wrote the VP acceptance speech for Sarah Palin, who is a ruthless hunter, supports aerial hunting, and believes that there is no global warming and that polar bears should not be protected.

How can a man who seems so compassionate as an author provide the verbal fodder for someone who has no mercy towards the suffering of animals? Please join me in boycotting this book."

jazzolog said...

It is in the nature of imperialism that citizens of the imperial power are always among the last to know--or care--about circumstances in the colonies.

---Bertrand Russell

Thanks very much for the scuttlebutt on Scully. Maybe he'll respond to the questions about him. Could money be involved?

I lay in bed an extra hour this morning because I thought, with both campaigns praying for the victims of 9/11 yesterday, it would have been a slow news day. Good grief, a bunch of writers took advantage of the quiet to let loose!

Garrison Keillor posted his at the Chicago Trib on Wednesday, but it showed up in our local paper yesterday. Since the Repubs convened in his hometown, I was eager to learn what he had to say. The column concludes~~~

"When you check the actuarial tables on a 72-year-old guy who's had three bouts with cancer, you guess you may be looking at the first woman president, a hustling evangelical with ethics issues and a chip on her shoulder who, not counting Canada, has set foot outside the country once—a trip to Germany, Iraq and Kuwait in 2007 to visit Alaskans in the armed services. And who listed a refueling stop in Ireland as a fourth country visited. She's like the Current Occupant but with big hair. If you want inexperience, there were better choices.",0,7101227.column

Speaking of pigs at the trough, Katha Pollitt exceeds even her own typical brilliance with "Lipstick On A Wing Nut"~~~

"John McCain chose the supremely under-qualified Sarah Palin as his running mate partly because she is a woman. If you have a problem with that, you're a sexist. She talks incessantly about being a mother of five and uses her newborn, Trig, who has Down syndrome, as a campaign prop. If you wonder how she'll handle all those kids and the Veep job too, you're a super-sexist. 'When do they ever ask a man that question?' charges that fiery feminist Rudy Giuliani. Indeed, Palin, who went back to work when Trig was three days old, gets nothing but praise from Phyllis Schlafly, James Dobson and the folks at National Review, who usually blame all the ills of modern America on those neurotic, harried, selfish, frustrated, child-neglecting, husband-castrating working mothers. Even stranger, her five-months-pregnant 17-year-old, Bristol, gets nothing but compassion and respect from Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and others who have spent their careers slut-shaming teens for having sex--and blaming their parents for letting it happen.
"If there were an Olympics for hypocrisy, the Republican Party would have more gold medals than Michael Phelps. And Palin would be wearing quite a few of them. It takes chutzpah for a mother to thrust her pregnant teen into the world's harshest spotlight and then demand the world respect the girl's privacy. But then it takes chutzpah to support criminalizing abortion and then praise Bristol's 'decision' to have the baby. The right to decide, and privacy, after all, are two of the things Palin wants to deny every other woman, and every other family, in America."

Keith Olbermann unleashed his rage Wednesday night at how the Repubs continue to cash in on 9/11 solemnity~~~

"9/11 has become… 9/11 **with a trademark logo.**
"9/11 (**TM**) has sustained a president who long ago should have been dismissed, or impeached. It has kept him and his gang of financial and constitutional **crooks** in office without - literally - any visible means of support.
"9/11 (**TM**) has made possible the greatest sleight-of-hand in our nation’s history.
"The political party in office at the time of the attacks, at the local, state and national levels, the party which **uniformly** ignored the warnings — and the presidential administration already through twenty percent of its first term and no longer wet behind the ears — have not only thus far escaped any **blame** for the malfeasance and criminal neglect that allowed the attacks to occur, but that presidency and that party, have managed to make it seem as if the **other** political party would be solely and irredeemably responsible for any similar catastrophe in the future."

Paul Krugman also wonders at the hypocrisy in this morning's column~~~

"I can’t think of any precedent, at least in America, for the blizzard of lies since the Republican convention. The Bush campaign’s lies in 2000 were artful — you needed some grasp of arithmetic to realize that you were being conned. This year, however, the McCain campaign keeps making assertions that anyone with an Internet connection can disprove in a minute, and repeating these assertions over and over again."

George Lakoff stepped forward yesterday with the obvious explanation~~~

"In 1980, Richard Wirthlin - Ronald Reagan's chief strategist - made a fateful discovery. In his first poll he discovered that most people didn't like Reagan's positions on the issues, but nevertheless wanted to vote for Reagan. The reason, he figured out, is that voters vote for a president not primarily on the issues, but on five other 'character' factors; values; authenticity; communication and connection; trust; and identity. In the Reagan-Carter and Reagan-Mondale debates, Mondale and Carter were ahead on the issues and lost the debates because the debates were not about the issues, but about those other five character factors. George W. Bush used the same observation in his two races. Gore and Kerry ran on the issues. Bush ran on those five factors.
"In the 2008 nomination campaign, Hillary ran on the issues, while Obama ran on those five factors and won. McCain is now running a Reagan-Bush style character-based campaign on the Big Five factors. But Obama has switched to a campaign based 'on the issues,' like Hillary, Gore and Kerry. Obama has reality on his side. And the campaign is assuming that if you just tell people the truth, they will reason to the right conclusion. That's false and they should know better."\

Amy Goodman has written now about the violence she suffered in St. Paul, and intimates similar actions occured in Denver...but I haven't searched out confirmation.

Need a laugh? Well, we'll see. Obama and Michael Phelps will share the stage for the season premiere of Saturday Night Live~~~

Nausicaa said...

Saturday Night Life? Why not? John McCain appeared on "The View," today. What is there to say? I suppose it's all par of our modern Mediacracy. And so celebrities have also been getting into the fray, as well. Back in January, "Hollywood tough guy" Chuck Norris had reportedly "put the boot" into Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, saying he’s just too old for the top job. What a difference a few months make: now Chuck is defending the McCain-Palin "reform ticket" (?1) with both guns blazing: "If McCain is a maverick," he said, "then there’s no doubt that Sarah is the maverette... come to Washington in the spirit of our Founding Mothers." No less! Or, maybe he is just hoping that McCain will eventually get out of the way and leaves us with "President Palin." After all, he did call Sarah Palin "the real McCoy" and said that, unlike McCain, she "speaks from the heart."

In the meantime, actor Matt Damon expressed a somewhat more nuanced and certainly more reserved opinion on Wednesday: "I think there's a really good chance Sarah Palin could become president, and I think that's a really scary thing... I think the pick was made for political purposes... Do the actuary tables and there's a one out of three chance, if not more, that McCain doesn't survive his first term and it'll be President Palin... It's like a really bad Disney movie. The hockey mom, you know, 'oh, I'm just a hockey mom'... and she's facing down President Putin... It's totally absurd... it's a really terrifying possibility... I need to know if she really think that dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago. I want to know that, I really do. Because she's gonna have the nuclear codes."

I wonder what impact, if any, celebrities like Chuck Norris or Matt Damon have on the political discourse.

Is it good? Is it bad?

This commenter (from a thread on the Huffington Post [link]) seems to think it is a good thing:

"Celebrities are just like you and I, but more people notice what they say. If the press would listen to me, I would say far worse about dear Palin and what a pandering choice she was for second seat.

I have noticed a correlation among those with talents such as acting, singing, writing, visual arts, and journalism and a liberal sense of life. Could it be that the parts of the brain employed by those with creative minds are also those which allow empathy, compassion, and toleration? The only realistic political tent for these types (and me) is the Democratic Party, which despite its fractiousness, supports programs that seek and promote the best in man and society rather than treating the vast majority of Americans as layabouts, thieves, and replaceable commodities.

I stand with Matt and Jamie Lee Curtis among many who have spoken out for returning sanity, legality, and community to our country.

Gary Sinise and Chuck Norris are, sadly, on the wrong side of the law this time!"

jazzolog said...

I like this article in Friday's San Francisco Gate~~~

Are you an elitist?
18 revealing ways to know for sure
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, September 12, 2008

1. You don't talk like a normal person. Only normal people talk like normal people. Sarah "no questions please, I'm Alaskan" Palin, according to House Minority leader John Boehner, she talks like a normal person... if by "normal" you mean "chillingly antagonistic toward anything resembling progress or political insight or women's civil liberties."

2. According to the GOP, lower-middle-class voters with minimal educations really like it when people who think they can run the most powerful nation on the planet and steer massive military juggernauts and immense economies and affect the destinies of millions, don't actually speak like they have any idea how the hell to do it. Honey, if the Bush years proved anything, it's that the dumber you sound, the more effective you are at leading the country. Into the sewer. Did you know this already? Typical elitist.

3. You are on a first-name basis with the sushi chef at Whole Foods.

4. You have been to Whole Foods.

5. Look at you, Mr. Fancypants, with your snobbish notion that not every piece of furniture in your bedroom must look like it came from the same 1978 Levitz fire sale.

6. The impressive dimensions of the strap-on system in your dresser would make your average Alaskan redneck hockey player scream in horror even as it openly titillated a dozen Republican senators from Colorado Springs to Idaho, though it would probably still get you arrested in Alabama.

7. You know what a strap-on is. In a good way.

8. Barack Obama's oratory power, strength of character, and subtle understanding of complicated issues have actually served to dissolve a venerable portion of the acidic pessimism that's been eating into your very soul for eight solid years, causing you to actually begin to believe that maybe, just maybe, nuanced intellectual acumen and the nearly bankrupt American experiment do not necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. Only elitist snobs know what "venerable" means. Or "acumen." Or "you."

9. When selecting an effective inebriant with which to numb if not completely drown the searing oatmealy dread that rumbles deep in your core after eight years of Bush and which has now been harshly rekindled by the offensive McPalin nightmare, you skip right past the beer and even the wine and go straight for the absinthe.

10. You arrive at a dinner party at the home of a friend-of-a-friend whom you don't know very well. What's the first thing you notice? A) The quality of the stemware, B) the origins of art on the walls, C) the titles of the books lining the shelves, D) The hugeness of the head of the giant dead polar bear whose face you're nearly sitting on. Answering anything but D makes you an elitist snob. Obviously, that's a grizzly, not a polar bear.

11. A "real American" is A) an obese deer hunter/blue-collar millworker with a giant truck and a gentle smile and a thing for origami B) a tattooed yoga-loving urbanite intellectual hipster who loves A.S. Byatt and red meat C) The Muslim chef/mother of three who was born in Fort Wayne and went to Burning Man for the first time this year and dropped Ecstasy and was struck to giggling wonderment by the gorgeous silliness of all existence, D) the nice family of Sikhs living next door, E) What is this, f--ing alphabet day? Enough with the multiple choice already, elitist hippie.

12. You find it profoundly unfair that, while cretinous Fox News charlatans get to sling "elitist" at anyone of nuanced or open-minded intellect who happens to care about the world, the media refuses to pick up "Karl Rove's toe cheese" as a clever counter-epithet.

13. The hammer with which you often consider striking yourself in the face when listening to Bush speak or when observing McCain's creepy grin or hearing Palin's embarrassing answers to simple questions of policy has never actually been put to use for any "real" work, and has only ever really been used to tap down a few loose nails on the deck of your Martha's Vineyard summer cottage or tighten some planks in the fetish dungeon.

14. You prefer spirituality to religion, fluid self-determinism to Biblical dogma, premium sake to sacramental wine, devising new sins instead of merely indulging the old ones, swallowing instead of spitting, back door to front, Shakti to Mary, and floating instead of kneeling.

15. You speak a foreign language. This implies you might understand something of the world, have an interest in a culture other than your own, or have perhaps even traveled to some exotic foreign land that isn't Texas or New Jersey or Hawaii, a place where they like weird cheeses and don't fear gay people and ride bicycles to the opera.

16. You recognize and appreciate more than 50 percent of the references and enjoy at least a quarter of the featured profiles in the New York Times Arts section. Also, you read the New York Times. Also, you read.

17. You are, for some godforsaken reason, absolutely convinced all the way down to your most profound sense of what is divine and truthful in this strangled world that violence and bloodshed are rarely the answer, that the irrefutable spiritual laws of the universe confirm that like attracts like and even at a quantum level there is a profound pull toward a divine, benevolent dynamic equilibrium, and therefore constructing a malicious national policy of torture and surveillance and pre-emptive aggression merely shames the better nature of the human animal and invites a particularly violent energy into the national bloodstream and poisons the human heart as it creates nothing but more turmoil and unrest and hate in the world. Man, only an elitist jerk would tolerate a ridiculous run-on sentence like that.

18. Your most treasured pieces of writing don't feature Muggles, Hobbits, glossy centerfolds of Dale Earnhardt Jr., dogs named Marley, or an angry and omnipotent patriarch who demands unquestioning subservience and strict adherence to often cruel, arbitrary laws of behavior from on high, who forsakeths thou for months and years at a time and never writes or calls and then suddenly reappears without warning only to rain down hellfire and frogs and locusts and totally inconvenient plagues on everyone, and never even apologizes. And then you're supposed to feel all guilty? For like, 2,000 years? Whatever.

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

Nausicaa said...

When is the last time you’ve seen a president of the United States who just paid off his loan debt?
But, again, maybe I’m out of touch.

---Michelle Obama (April 15, 2008)

What Michelle Obama told the Democratic National Convention in Denver, "that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect," is one of the corner stones of what the American Dream is about. Or used to be about, that is, until Ruddy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, who know what true American values are, made clear to us during the Republican Convention that the very product of the American Dream, people who are the offshoot of working-class upbringing, people who grew in a working-class community, are to be regarded as "cosmopolitan" elitists who ought to be shamed and mocked for the "education," they have earned, and ridiculed for their active participation in Community Organizing.

Am I the only one who finds the notion offensive? Hopefully not!

Marc Cooper's "Letter to My Daughter" says it all:

You'll Never Be Vice President: A Letter to My Daughter, the Community Organizer

Daughter Dearest,

It is with great pain and a certain measure of shame that I write you this note. Having grown up in the '60s and watched, sometimes at glaringly close range, the emergence of the women's liberation movement, I had always harbored great dreams and aspirations for you.

But as I listened to Governor Sarah Palin address the nation the other night, I had to confess that — as your father — I have clearly failed. Honey, you will never be able to achieve the greatness of being nominated for vice president of the United States. Forget about it.

And for this sad reality, I accept all blame. 'Twas I who steered you wrong.

Here you are, almost 25, with what your mother and I believed was a solid education behind you, and yet you are nothing but a common community organizer. Yes, the labor union you work for represents nearly 2 million service workers — about three times the population of Alaska. But, alas, as Governor Palin pointed out, you have no real responsibilities. By helping janitors, security guards, nursing aides and orderlies gain a living wage, paid health care insurance and a retirement fund, you have only robbed them of the personal initiative to go out there and make something better of themselves. You have rendered them feebly dependent on Big Labor and tax-and-spend Big Government — and all in their own crass self-interest in survival.

I'm not sure when I helped nudge you on to such a mistaken road. Probably sometime while you were attending that government-run high school in which we enrolled you. You could have joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as Ms. Palin did. Instead, I pushed you to become a columnist on the school paper. You could have spent your afternoons becoming the local barracuda on the courts. But, nope, your mom and I indulged your trivial passions for staging and directing the plays of Shakespeare. You could have competed to be Miss Woodland Hills or even Miss Congenial California, but — no — there were your mom and dad encouraging you to finish writing your first play. Sorry.

From there, the mistakes only multiplied. Instead of letting you wait until the responsible age of 44 before letting you secure a passport, we strained our family budget and squandered who knows how many thousands by putting you on countless Flights to Nowhere: New York, Washington, New Orleans, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Santiago, Mexico City. And to what end? So you could return home — as the huggable Mayor Giuliani so neatly put it — some sort of "cosmopolitan"? Exposure to so many foreign ideas (like the notion of spending an idle afternoon reading a book in a café instead of learning to field-dress a moose) only contaminated you, rendering you insensitive and contemptuous to the day-to-day needs of bowling league members in Michigan's Macomb County. Worse, you returned from those European jaunts a brainwashed follower of the elite, angry, left media. By the 12th grade, all the warning signs were there. I'd walk into your room at 1 in the morning and catch you with a flashlight under the covers, reading the book pages of The Atlantic. Why didn't I nip this all in the bud and buy you a well-oiled Remington 12-gauge so you could plink the coyotes south of Ventura Boulevard?

The real disaster came, of course, in college. Four straight years wasted at UCLA, when you could have been following the course of the governor, sampling five different schools in six years. You were reading Orwell. By then she was practicing doublespeak. You were studying public policy, by then she was figuring out how to win the 909 votes she needed to become mayor of Wasilla. You were inclined to donate $100 to the ACLU. She was way ahead of you, sweetie, as she calculated how to avoid the ACLU when she made her inquiries into pruning the local library of un-American and anti-Christian propaganda. She was on her way up and you, dear child, were dead-ended in the silly task of trying to organize seven hospitals back to back.

It's not healthy to dwell on so many regrets, I know. And as I said, this is mostly the fault of your parents. While you are the victim of these reckless choices, your mom and I, nevertheless, pay a heavy price. If we had only been sage enough to bar you from sex-ed class and contraceptives and instead had let you rely on abstinence and prayer, there was an even chance you could have been pregnant by age 17. You'd have a joyous 7-year-old child right now to help you get through your 10-hour workday. The father might have married you. And we'd have a lovely grandchild who a mere decade from now could produce us a great-grandchild and we would all still be young enough to go snowmobiling together — the next time it snows in Woodland Hills.

Ah, but better not to dwell on the negative. Make the best of the little we have given you, and grant us your understanding and forgiveness. And don't despair too much. Remember, when McCain-Palin come to power, real change is gonna come, and we'll all be better off.

Love, Dad

jazzolog said...

The much-anticipated (by me) 3-hour town meeting on the Ed Schultz show yesterday, rebroadcast from Alaska, didn't add much to what we already know about the Republican ticket. It certainly was interesting to hear a variety of personalities from up there though, providing confirmation the Paul Bunyan stereotype doesn't capture all Alaskans. Of greatest new concern, I believe, was information about Troopergate provided by either an attorney, staff person or legislator directly involved in the investigation. What he wanted us to know is that Troopergate was initiated by Republican representatives and had at least pledged cooperation from Governor Palin. However, he charges, since the McCain campaign entered the picture, all that has changed. Republican lawyers are taking the investigation out of legislative hands, which promised results toward the end of next month, and given it to some kind of employment commission up there which will not conclude its work until well after the election. The man said also the campaign is spinning the whole thing to make it look like a "Democrat witchhunt" after Palin. Apparently that Fox' characterization of it, while CNN is reporting Troopergate has become "tainted" and that's why Palin no long will cooperate. At any rate, it's unclear what "punishment" Palin would face if guilty of misuse of power.

The typical story of the development is here~~~

and John Nichols from The Nation wrote something up the other day~~~

I might mention, particularly for readers in the Athens area, the transmission of the Schultz program on 770 AM WAIS was positively ghastly here. I don't think I've ever heard 3 hours of airtime, even from smalltown radio, where the volume was turned up so loud that much of the broadcast was distorted beyond any possiblity of intelligibility. I don't know if they have a robot take over there in the afternoon or if the rebroadcast came in that way. I'm eager to learn.

Nausicaa said...

A recent AP-GfK survey, conducted Sept. 5-10, found that 65 percent of working-class white women say Palin shares their values.

And even more amazingly, 71 PERCENT said McCain shares their values (compared to 52 percent for Obama and 46 percent for Biden.)

I'd be curious to know what "VALUES" exactly those might be.

It is a shame that the question was not part of a follow-up query. It would have made the survey more instructive.

I am eager to learn.

In the meantime, today in Washington a number of high profile unions and groups representing millions of women joined together to throw their support to Obama:

"Ellie Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women -- both of whose organizations supported Clinton in the primaries -- held a press conference announcing their support for Obama."

"For us it's a red alert," said Gandy. "Palin is so out of touch with women. I don't think people fully understand her positions."

Anonymous said...

The follow-up question would have been nice, LOL. But don't count on AP to go there. AP's take on politics has been all spin over substance lately, and there are concerns that their slanted perspective and obvious attempts at opinion-shaping have been "tainting" the media because they are disseminated as "facts" by websites and reprinted by newspapers all over on a daily basis.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann famously brought it up with his critic of AP's Charles Babington disparaging analysis of Barack Obama speech during the coverage of the Democratic Convention, wondering whether the article had not in fact been written BEFORE the speech had even been delivered.

And now this (dated Sept 4, 2008) from, here:

AP's bias toward McCain is tilting other media coverage.
---Joe Sudbay (DC) - 9/04/2008

Got this email from an astute reader -- and I have to agree:

I was talking to my wife about the coverage of the Palin speech and noticed that the coverage changed from extremely positive to balanced and skeptical throughout the day. She blamed the Associated Press, which has been so biased toward the Republican ticket. AP's articles, which are pumped out quickly, get picked up everywhere -- and drive the initial coverage. When the rest of the media finally had time to fully and fairly analyze the speech and response, the coverage became more based in reality. It is a shame that the AP is now like this. You expect this from Fox News, but the AP is supposed to be the AP.

Well, AP used to be AP. Now, AP's Washington bureau is run by Ron Fournier -- and he almost went to work for John McCain's campaign.

Last week, almost before Obama had finished his speech, AP's Charles Babington pumped out a hatchet job. Watch how quickly the article praising McCain gets published tonight. It's probably already written. You know Sidoti and Fournier fought over who got to write it.

jazzolog said...

Sarah's shared values, they innocently inquire? I'm sure they couldn't have been displayed more perfectly than in Maureen Dowd's column this morning...from Wasilla~~~

The New York Times
September 17, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
‘Barbies for War!’

Carly Fiorina, the woman John McCain sent out to defend Sarah Palin and rip anyone who calls her a tabula rasa on foreign policy and the economy, admitted Tuesday that Palin was not capable of running Hewlett-Packard.

That’s pretty damning coming from Fiorina, who also was not capable of running Hewlett-Packard.

Carly helpfully added that McCain (not to mention Obama and Biden) couldn’t run a major corporation. He couldn’t get his immigration bill passed either, but now he’s promising to eliminate centuries of greed on Wall Street.

The Wall Street Journal reported that McCain was thinking about taking Palin to the U.N. General Assembly next week so she can shake hands with some heads of state. You can’t contract foreign policy experience like a rhinovirus. To paraphrase the sniffly Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls,” a poy-son could develop a cold war.

The latest news from Alaska is that the governor keeps a tanning bed in the Juneau mansion. As The Los Angeles Times pointed out, when Palin declared May 2007 Skin Cancer Awareness Month in Alaska, the press release explained that skin cancer was caused by “the sun and from tanning beds.”

I sautéed myself in Sarahville last week.

I wandered through the Wal-Mart, which seemed almost as large as Wasilla, a town that is a soulless strip mall without sidewalks set beside a soulful mountain and lake.

Wal-Mart has all the doodads that Sarah must need in her career as a sportsman — Remingtons and “torture tested” riflescopes, game bags for caribou, machines that imitate rabbits and young deer and coyotes to draw your quarry in so you can shoot it, and machines to squish cows into beef jerky.

I talked to a Wal-Mart mom, Betty Necas, 39, wearing sweatpants and tattoos on her wrists.

She said she’s never voted, and was a teenage mom “like Bristol.” She likes Sarah because she’s “down home” but said Obama “gives me the creeps. Nothing to do with the fact that he’s black. He just seems snotty, and he looks weaselly.”

Ten Obama supporters in Wasilla braved taunts and drizzle to stand on a corner between McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. They complained that Sarah runs government like a vengeful fiefdom and held up signs. A guy with a bullhorn yelled out of a passing red car: “Go back to the city, you liberal Communists!”

At gatherings in The Last Frontier, pastors pray for reporters, drilling evokes cheers and Todd Palin is hailed as a guy who likes to burn fossil fuels.

I had many “Sarahs,” as her favorite skinny white mocha is now called, at the Mocha Moose. “I’ve seen her at 4 a.m. with no makeup,” said manager Karena Forster, “and she’s just as beautiful.”

I stopped by Sarah’s old Pentecostal church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, and perused some books: “The Bait of Satan,” “Deliverance from PMS,” and “Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry: Why Women Lose When They Give In.” (Author Lisa Bevere advises: “Run to the arms of your prince and enter your dream.”)

In Anchorage Saturday, I went by a conference conducted by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and supported by Sarah’s current church, the Wasilla Bible Church, about how to help gays and lesbians “journey out” of same-sex attraction.

(As The Times reported recently, in 1995, Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues she had seen “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelf of the library and did not approve. The Wasilla Assembly of God tried to ban “Pastor, I Am Gay” by Howard Bess, a liberal Christian preacher in nearby Palmer.)

Anne Heche’s mother, Nancy, talked about her distress when her daughter told her she was involved with Ellen. Jeff Johnston told me he had “a struggle” with homosexuality “for a season,” but is now “happily married with three boys.” (Books for sale there included “Mommy, Why Are They Holding Hands?” and “You Don’t Have to Be Gay.”)

I covered a boisterous women against Palin rally in Anchorage, where women toted placards such as “Fess up about troopergate,” “Keep your vows off my body,” “Barbies for war!” “Sarah, please don’t put me on your enemies list,” and “McCain and Palin = McPain.”

A local conservative radio personality, Eddie Burke, who had lambasted the organizers as “a bunch of socialist, baby-killing maggots,” was on hand with a sign reading “Alaska is not Frisco.”

“We are one Supreme Court justice away from overturning Roe v. Wade,” he excitedly told me.

R. D. Levno, a retired school principal, flew in from Fairbanks. “She’s a child, inexperienced and simplistic,” she said of Sarah. “It’s taking us back to junior high school. She’s one of the popular girls, but one of the mean girls. She is seductive, but she is invented.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Nausicaa said...

Maureen Dowd's article has aroused my curiosity.

Could the "SHARED VALUES," that were referred to in the AP-Gfk survey, be "family-friendly" Wal-Mart's values?

Inquiring mind wants to know.

Jerome Corsi's values, perhaps?

I mean Corsi's book, "The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality", is prominently displayed front and center in Wal-Mart stores throughout the country… but no "Audacity of Hope" or "Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" there---not on display, in any case.

Hard to know what Wal-Mart "shared values" might be, Wal-Mart has no formal "mission statement" to speak of, other than its motto, "Always low prices, always!" (Which was changed last year to “Save Money. Live Better.”) The CEO of the company, has said that people are not concerned with their mission statement as much as they are with their prices.

I tried goggling "Working Families" plus "Wal-Mart" and found Working Families for Wal-Mart.

Not the original site though---this one comes with a question mark at the end, and is a project of Wal-Mart-Watch.

As it turns out, the original site which presented itself as a grass-roots support for Wal-Mart was revealed to be in fact an astroturfing operation backed by Wal-Mart and the Edelman public relations firm, which eventually confessed that it was behind some of the blogs that previously appeared to be created by independent supporters of Wal-Mart.)

I don't know. It seems to me that Wal-Mart's "shared values" might no be "shared" by everyone.

I am not even sure that they are particularly "American values."

Or are they?

Is Wal-Mart's low-wage, low-benefit business model good for America?

Is it good for "white working-women?"

Maybe Liza Feartherstone's book: "Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers'Rights at Wal-Mart," might shed some light on the topic.

Don't look for it at Wal-Mart, though.

Anonymous said...

LOL. No big surprise, here. Wal-Mart's agenda is rather transparent. I personally don't shop at Wal-Mart but I did just check their online bookstore (, and sure enough, "Obama Nation" is featured at the top center of the page.

Bentley Little wrote an horror novel named "The Store" that takes the Wal-Mart Model to the next level. It is readily available at a bookstore near you, but probably not at your neighborhood Walmart.

Here is a synopsis (from

In a small Arizona town, a man counts his blessings: a loving wife, two teenage daughters, and a job that allows him to work at home. Then "The Store" announces plansto open a local outlet, which will surely finish off the small downtown shops. His concerns grow when "The Store's"builders ignore all the town's zoning laws during itsconstruction. Then dead animals are found on "The Store's" grounds. Inside, customers are hounded by obnoxious sales people, and strange products appear on the shelves. Before long the town's remaining small shop owners disappear, and "The Store" spreads its influence to the city council and the police force, taking over the town! It's up to one man to confront "The Store's" mysterious owner and to save his community, his family, and his life!

No twist about "shared values" in the book, but, as you know, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.

Nausicaa said...

Still, the question remains about just exactly what these "shared values" might be.

In the book "Cosmopolitan" (a title which, no doubt, would cause Giuliani's face to contort into a smirk), Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Halvor Tretvoll, among others---Norwegians all of them (Gasp! Isn't that in Europe?! Someone calls 911, Giuliani is frothing at the mouth)---proposed values like tolerance, global solidarity, environmental responsibility, and equal opportunities [link].

But I don't believe that's what some of the good folks who responded to the AP-GfK survey had in mind when they spoke of "shared values"---I am not sure they themselves knew very precisely what they meant by "shared values," other, maybe, than a vague feeling of "appartenance" (they belong in America, while clearly, in some people's opinion, there are people who don't!) and a vague nostalgic identification with the America evocated by Countrypolitan singer Lee Greenwood's lyrics.

This is the curent Sarah Palin has been taping into, and this is the current G. W. Bush, before her, also tapped into in 2000 and again in 2004. Rick Davis was right: Issues do not matter. It doesn't matter to them what those politicians stand for, or what they have done wrong or not. They "look" like them and that's enough. The rest is just noise. Those other guys, Al Gore, Kerry... who cares? They don't have the fuzziest idea what any of those guys are talking about, and it's probably all bull anyway.

jazzolog said...

To the Ohio Secretary of State:

I visited the Athens County Board of Elections yesterday. In my hand were postcards mailed recently by the Board to my wife and me. The cards are reminders about Election Day, polling location, and the photo ID requirement. The worker there seemed completely aware the cards were addressed incorrectly. She knew that mail showing both our residential address AND our post office box kicks out of the automatic sorters of the United States Postal Service. She also knew when that happens, postal workers regularly return the mail to sender rather than correct the address by hand to show only the post office box. In this particular case the post office person, perhaps knowing its importance, circled the PO box and sent it on to us.

The Board spokesperson explained that for some reason their printer had produced the notices that way. Since the Board had sent the work late to the printer, someone decided to mail them out anyway. She also was aware that if notices are returned by the Post Office to boards of election, voters can be taken off the registration rolls or their votes challenged at the polls. She said she "would hope" the Board will re-address correctly any returned cards and mail them out again. She declared she had no idea whether this situation for PO box holders prevails only in Athens County, or might be statewide...and beyond.

Richard Carlson
4744 Rhoric Road
Athens, OH 45701 (but don't try to send mail here)

Anonymous said...

Letters returned as undeliverable can be compiled into "challenge lists" of unverifiable addresses and can be used to challenge voters' eligibility during early voting or on Election Day. The vote suppression technique is known as "vote caging."

Steve Bousquet just reported that a new pitch for John McCain's presidential campaign aimed at older Democratic voters in Florida is causing complaints by Democrats and concern by elections officials.

The piece, paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain, tells voters it is seeking to double-check their "unconfirmed" party affiliations while asking for money. A letter signed by McCain tells the Democrats: "We have you registered as a Republican."

"I was a little bit shocked and a little bit surprised," said recipient Bill Smith, 81, of Tampa, who calls himself a lifelong Democrat and has been registered at his current address since 2000. The retired plant engineer is one of about a dozen senior citizens that Democratic Party leaders identified as recipients, all of them longtime Democrats.

The RNC declined to discuss the mailer, which Democrats said has landed in five counties: Duval, Hillsborough, Collier, Miami-Dade and Escambia.

"This is simply a fundraising piece," said spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson, adding in an e-mail it was not "worth writing about."

Two top Florida elections officials, both Republicans, faulted the GOP mailing, calling it "confusing" and "unfortunate" because of a potential to undermine voter confidence by making them question the accuracy of their registrations.

"It is unfortunate, because it does put a lot of doubt in people's minds," said Secretary of State Kurt Browning, the state's top elections official.

After his office received dozens of calls, Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland issued a media alert that his office had nothing to do with it. "They were upset folks and they were very concerned," said Holland, a Republican. "They mainly said their party (listing) was different than it was."

Some Democrats suspect a motive beyond raising money. The first-class GOP mailing has a "Do not forward" instruction on the envelope, meaning they will be returned to the GOP if a recipient has had mail forwarded, perhaps to a summer address, or has moved.

Letters returned as undeliverable can be compiled into "challenge lists" of unverifiable addresses and can be used to challenge voters' eligibility during early voting or on Election Day. The vote suppression technique is known as "vote caging."

"That postcard is a little disconcerting," said letter-recipient Steve Hemping of Naples, chairman of the Collier County Democratic Party and a state party official. "You don't know if they're going to use it to challenge somebody's right to vote."

The letter asks recipients to note changes on an "RNC File Card" and return it to the party by Sept. 26. The card shows a nine-digit "voter ID" number, but the supervisor of elections in Jacksonville's Duval County said the numbers are wrong and do not match the state's voter database.

Hillsborough Democratic Party Chairman Michael Steinberg said it makes no sense for Republicans to question the party affiliations of Democratic voters. "I don't understand their logic," he said.

Allegations of Republican vote caging in predominantly black Jacksonville precincts in the 2004 presidential election surfaced last year in testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

jazzolog said...

Steve Bousquet is the St. Petersburg Times' Tallahassee bureau chief. He joined the Times in 2001 after 17 years at the Miami Herald, where he held a variety of positions including Tallahassee bureau chief, and he previously was a reporter at TV stations in Miami and Providence, R.I. He has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Rhode Island and M.A. in history from Florida State University.

He was a contributor to two editions of The Almanac of Florida Politics and to The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, an account of the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.

The story Anonymous was kind enough to post is showing up at many sites now fortunately, and can be sourced in its original form on Tuesday here~~~

jazzolog said...

Only One Reference To Moose-olini

You may be delighted McCain's VP pick isn't in the headlines much this morning---as she travels to an earth-shaking foreign policy meeting with Henry Kissinger. The big question: will he be able to control himself? But the one opinion column about her is a dandy! In a brilliant essay in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer, an essay GoogleNews is featuring prominently, Mark Bowden goes after Palin's mocking of Obama about detainees~~~

"But it was in that much-heralded speech at the Republican convention that Palin tossed off a line I found more disturbing than anything unearthed about her since. It got a predictably enthusiastic response from the keyed-up partisan crowd.
'Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America,' said Palin, and then, referring to Barack Obama, quipped: 'He's worried that someone won't read them their rights.'

"Quite apart from the cheap distortion of Obama's position, typical of most campaign rhetoric, this is a classic lynch-mob line. It is the taunt of the drunken lout in the cowboy movie who confronts a sheriff barring the prison door - He wants to give 'im a trial? It is the precise sentiment that Atticus Finch so memorably sets himself against in Harper Lee's masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird, when he agrees to defend a supposedly indefensible black man charged with rape (falsely, as it turns out)."

Speaking of spreading democracy around the world, Harold Pinter's name is at the top of an open letter in yesterday's UK Guardian, about the latest US black ops in Central America~~~

"On September 10 President Evo Morales of Bolivia declared the US ambassador persona non grata. On September 11 (the 35th anniversary of the military overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile) the president of Venezuela asked the US ambassador there to leave the country. President Hugo Chávez believed he was facing the possibility of an imminent coup d'etat in which he said the US administration were involved. President Morales believed that his government was facing serious destabilisation which was also being fomented by the US. A third country, Paraguay, announced 10 days previously that it had detected a conspiracy involving military officers and opposition politicians.

"Latin America now faces its most serious crisis since the reintroduction of democracy at the end of the 20th century. The plot against democracy in Venezuela centred on a conspiracy, revealed in telephone conversations between senior military officers broadcast on national television, to assassinate the democratically elected head of state. In Bolivia, the separatist prefects of the five eastern and southern departments have begun a campaign of violence and economic sabotage designed to destabilise the democratic regime.

"These events show unequivocally who defends democracy and who threatens it today. We are appalled by the failure of much of the international media to provide accurate and proportionate coverage of these events. All democrats throughout should rally to defend democracy in Latin America."
Harold Pinter, John Pilger, Tony Benn, Ken Loach, Jean Lambert MEP, Ian Gibson MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Billy Hayes, General secretary, CWU, Bill Greenshields, President, NUT, and 23 others

And don't miss Frank Rich this morning, if you'd care to glance over the most blistering attack on John McCain I've seen anywhere~~~

jazzolog said...

I was pleased to see the Athens Messenger story on page 3 Tuesday about the 33,000 notification cards sent out by the Athens County Board of Elections. Thanks to staff writer Danaline Bryant and Athens Elections Director Debbie Quivey for attempting to clarify and calm concerns. My problem reflected those of us with post office boxes, whose notices had our residential addresses printed on them too. Lots of us end up paying the Post Office a hundred bucks a year for a container rental because we've lost too many residential mailboxes to the pranks of drunken merrymakers. Therefore even the wisest mail carrier cannot get a mis-addressed card or letter to our house unless he slips it under the door.

Ms. Quivey states the post office told her that if, for some reason, she needs to put the house address on the card along with the PO box, she must do so in a particular order. A computer visit to the formidable United State Postal Service website reveals what that order is and the consequences for doing it wrong. I went to and, after quite a bit of clicking around, found a Frequently Asked Questions search about post office boxes. The regulation is stated there that the PO box must appear on the line above the city, and the street address has to show up either following it or on the line above.

BUT there also is the matter of the zip code, which contains 5 numerals, a hyphen, and then 4 more numerals. If the card is going to the post office and its zip code is different than where the house is, there's a problem. If the zip code is where the house is, the last 4 numerals locate the building. If the zip sends it to the post office, the last 4 reflect the PO box number. After the FAQ explains all that, the example shown seems to me to be addressed incorrectly. You wonder why postal workers sometimes go "postal!"

The Director blames the error we experienced on an "out-sourced" printing company, which she says also bulk-mailed them all. The company is not named, nor are we told whether other or all the Ohio boards of election used the same one. If so, obviously the confusion is compounded for our state. I'm also hearing from friends and colleagues, who still are able to maintain home mailboxes, that they've received 2, 3 and even 4 copies of these notification cards. Some of them, they say, have postage due on them.

On the same page of the Messenger is a report by David G. Savage about current election problems in Ohio, from the LA Times on Saturday. The Wall Street Journal's Amy Merrick updated the story somewhat on Monday. Brad Friedman posted a lengthy interview with Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner also on Monday at Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was perhaps most alarming of all in an interview he gave Monday at about various election scams that are going on. All of these reports make clear the necessity of being certain absolutely that you are registered correctly before you attempt to vote in this crucial presidential election.,0,5036091.story

jazzolog said...

Matt Taibbi is a rare leftie writer in that he's every bit a match for any right wing attack dog---and that includes the candidate the nation will goggle tonight. This slashing profile of Palin was just posted at the Rolling Stone site, and hopefully will show up in the next issue. I'm trying to find an excerpt not too profane to share here~~~

"Right-wingers of the Bush-Rove ilk have had a tough time finding a human face to put on their failed, inhuman, mean-as-hell policies. But it was hard not to recognize the genius of wedding that faltering brand of institutionalized greed to the image of the suburban-American supermom. It's the perfect cover, for there is almost nothing in the world meaner than this species of provincial tyrant.

"Palin herself burned this political symbiosis into the pages of history with her seminal crack about the 'difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick,' blurring once and for all the lines between meanness on the grand political scale as understood by the Roves and Bushes of the world, and meanness of the small-town variety as understood by pretty much anyone who has ever sat around in his ranch-house den dreaming of a fourth plasma-screen TV or an extra set of KC HiLites for his truck, while some ghetto family a few miles away shares a husk of government cheese.

"In her speech, Palin presented herself as a raging baby-making furnace of middle-class ambition next to whom the yuppies of the Obama set — who never want anything all that badly except maybe a few afternoons with someone else's wife, or a few kind words in The New York Times Book Review — seem like weak, self-doubting celibates, the kind of people who certainly cannot be trusted to believe in the right God or to defend a nation. We're used to seeing such blatant cultural caricaturing in our politicians. But Sarah Palin is something new. She's all caricature. As the candidate of a party whose positions on individual issues are poll losers almost across the board, her shtick is not even designed to sell a line of policies. It's just designed to sell her. The thing was as much as admitted in the on-air gaffe by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who was inadvertently caught saying on MSNBC that Palin wasn't the most qualified candidate, that the party 'went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives.'

"The great insight of the Palin VP choice is that huge chunks of American voters no longer even demand that their candidates actually have policy positions; they simply consume them as media entertainment, rooting for or against them according to the reflexive prejudices of their demographic, as they would for reality-show contestants or sitcom characters. Hicks root for hicks, moms for moms, born-agains for born-agains. Sure, there was politics in the Palin speech, but it was all either silly lies or merely incidental fluffery buttressing the theatrical performance. A classic example of what was at work here came when Palin proudly introduced her Down-syndrome baby, Trig, then stared into the camera and somberly promised parents of special-needs kids that they would 'have a friend and advocate in the White House.' This was about a half-hour before she raised her hands in triumph with McCain, a man who voted against increasing funding for special-needs education."

jazzolog said...

White House Asks for Scrutiny
Saturday 25 October 2008
by: Mary Pat Flaherty, The Washington Post

200,000 voter registrations in Ohio conflict with other records.

The White House has asked the Department of Justice to look into whether 200,000 new Ohio voters must reconfirm their registration information before Nov. 4, taking up an issue that Republicans and Democrats in the battleground state have been fighting over in court for weeks.

The voter names are in dispute because their registration information conflicts with other official data.

The action comes a week after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a case brought by the Ohio Republican Party over the same issue. Republicans have argued that the mismatched information could signal fraudulent registrations, but Democrats have countered that eligible voters could be knocked off the rolls over discrepancies as minor as a transposed number in an address or birth date.

President Bush yesterday asked Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to review concerns over the voters raised by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

Boehner wrote to Bush yesterday, saying, "I strongly urge you to direct Attorney General Mukasey and the Department of Justice to act." Boehner said in his letter that if the voters remain on the rolls without added checks, "there is a significant risk if not a certainty, that unlawful votes will be cast and counted."

In a news release, Boehner said that a letter he had sent Monday to Mukasey on the matter did not receive a reply. Boehner has asked Mukasey to order Ohio's Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to make it easier for county elections officials to access the state list of mismatched voters. Brunner has argued that would require reprogramming election computers and would create chaos in the days before the election.

White House press secretary Dana Perino characterized Bush's referral of the matter to Justice as a routine step that would be taken for any such request from a congressional leader.


Governor Ted Strickland should reply strongly by asserting his total confidence in our Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner.

He should cite global emergency and national security as his reasons for using Executive Privilege to refuse US Department of Justice access to Ohio's state computers.

Will the White House fratboy jokers use the public or private armies to nationalize Ohio's State Capitol?