Friday, October 31, 2008

 

Evolution



 

Sarah Palin speaks on the First Amendment

by Glenn Greenwald

Somehow, in Sarah Palin's brain, it's a threat to the First Amendment when newspapers criticize her negative attacks on Barack Obama. This is actually so dumb that it hurts:

In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by "attacks" from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

Maureen Dowd recently made an equally stupid comment when she complained that her First Amendment rights were being violated by the McCain campaign's refusal to allow her on their campaign plane.

The First Amendment is actually not that complicated. It can be read from start to finish in about 10 seconds. It bars the Government from abridging free speech rights. It doesn't have anything to do with whether you're free to say things without being criticized, or whether you can comment on blogs without being edited, or whether people can bar you from their private planes because they don't like what you've said.

If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.

This isn't only about profound ignorance regarding our basic liberties, though it is obviously that. Palin here is also giving voice to the standard right-wing grievance instinct: that it's inherently unfair when they're criticized. And now, apparently, it's even unconstitutional.

According to Palin, what the Founders intended with the First Amendment was that political candidates for the most powerful offices in the country and Governors of states would be free to say whatever they want without being criticized in the newspapers. In the Palin worldview, the First Amendment was meant to ensure that powerful political officials such as herself would not be "attacked" in the papers. Is it even possible to imagine more breathtaking ignorance from someone holding high office and running for even higher office?

UPDATE: The Constitution also guarantees freedom of association. Thus, by Palin's "reasoning," when newspapers -- or Palin herself -- criticize Obama for his associations, they're threatening his constitutional rights.

UPDATE II: Brian Beutler says that Palin has a "third grader's understanding of Constitutional rights" and asks:

If the conservative media convinces enough voters that Barack Obama is a Muslim, does that violate his right to freedom of religion?

And: isn't Palin violating the First Amendment right to a free press by criticizing the media and convincing her followers that newspapers are biased and corrupt? For the last eight years, we've had an administration that has had pure contempt for the Constitution. Would it be worse to replace them with people who seem never to have read it?

UPDATE III: Jonathan Schwarz has the audio of Palin, issuing her constitutional warning, here. It's actually more painful to hear it than read it, because you can hear her thinking about the analysis she's making as it leaves her mouth, and she clearly believes she's actually making an important and profound point about First Amendment rights.


 

Californians - Vote MotherFuckin No on MotherFuckin Proposition 8


 

Palin Goes On The Attack.... Against John McCain? What The Fuck? Is This What They Mean When They Say "Going Rogue?"


 

In Case You Missed It: Rachel Maddow (who Rocks) interviews Barack Obama.




Thursday, October 30, 2008

 

And the 2008 Katherine Harris Award goes to...

by Georgia10

...drumroll please...

Karen Handel, Georgia's Secretary of State, for her brilliant performance of psuedo-objectivity mixed with a Fox Newsian flair!

Yesterday, we discussed how, even though some Georgia voters were forced to wait four to eight hours to vote early, Handel refused to extend the hours for early voting, as requested by the Georgia Democratic Party.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution's Board, in turn, penned an editorial lambasting Handel's decision:

The long lines of Georgians going to the polls early —- many in metro Atlanta are waiting three or more hours in line —- suggest a huge turnout that ought to be cause for celebration. And state and local election officials should be making every effort to accommodate citizens who obviously want to exercise their country’s most sacred right. [...]

In recent years, the Georgia GOP has conducted a unholy campaign to make voting as difficult as possible by enacting a rigid voter ID law —- despite virtually no evidence of voter fraud at the polls. Already in this campaign season, Senate President Pro tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) has opined that early voting was a "mistake" and suggested the Legislature should enact tighter restrictions on it.

Today, Katherine Karen Harris Handel responds with, surprise!, charges of a liberal media conspiracy:

Taking the lead from the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution advocates that Gov. Sonny Perdue and I make up election law just four days before Election Day. As the newspaper is very aware, even if the authority existed — which it does not — Georgia is covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which means that any changes in election procedures must be "precleared" by the U.S. Department of Justice before they can be implemented.

Usually, this newspaper is a stickler for following the law and procedures. I wonder what their position would be if another political party made a similar request? I’ll leave that to the imagination of the readers. [...]

Georgians can be assured that my office is not going to attempt to change the rules to accommodate the political whims of groups or newspapers less than a week before Election Day.

Even if Georgia law could be interpreted as requiring DOJ approval to extend voting hours (and that in and of itself isn't entirely clear), there is nothing to suggest that the DOJ wouldn't grant such a request as a matter of course, especially with evidence of unprecedented and overwhelming early voting turnout. But Handel has made no such request to the DOJ. Rather, she chooses to act as if her hands were permanently bound. Georgia's Katherine Harris wannabe recites the standard GOP script that Democrats are engaged in some conspiracy to get voters to the polls.

Well, yes, they are.

It's called "democracy."

Republicans should try it some time.


 

Nope



 

"By the End of the Week, He'll Be Accusing Me of Being A Secret Communist Because I Shared My Toys in Kindergarten."

North Carolina, I've got two words for you: six days. And you don't even have to wait six days to vote - you can vote early right now. But this is important: when you do vote, you have to vote in two steps - one for President, and one for the rest of the ticket. If you vote for a straight ticket, you have not voted in the presidential election. You need to vote for president separately.

Six days.

After decades of broken politics in Washington, eight years of failed policies from George Bush, and twenty-one months of a campaign that has taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are six days away from change in America.

In six days, you can turn the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street.

In six days, you can choose policies that invest in our middle-class, create new jobs, and grow this economy from the bottom-up so that everyone has a chance to succeed; from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor.

In six days, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.

In six days, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need.

We began this journey in the depths of winter nearly two years ago, on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Back then, we didn't have much money or many endorsements. We weren't given much of a chance by the polls or the pundits, and we knew how steep our climb would be.

But I also knew this. I knew that the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics. I believed that Democrats and Republicans and Americans of every political stripe were hungry for new ideas, new leadership, and a new kind of politics - one that favors common sense over ideology; one that focuses on those values and ideals we hold in common as Americans.

Most of all, I believed in your ability to make change happen. I knew that the American people were a decent, generous people who are willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations. And I was convinced that when we come together, our voices are more powerful than the most entrenched lobbyists, or the most vicious political attacks, or the full force of a status quo in Washington that wants to keep things just the way they are.

Twenty-one months later, my faith in the American people has been vindicated. That's how we've come so far and so close - because of you. That's how we'll change this country - with your help. And that's why we can't afford to slow down, sit back, or let up for one day, one minute, or one second in this last week. Not now. Not when so much is at stake.

We are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 760,000 workers have lost their jobs this year. Businesses and families can't get credit. Home values are falling. Pensions are disappearing. Wages are lower than they've been in a decade, at a time when the cost of health care and college have never been higher. It's getting harder and harder to make the mortgage, or fill up your gas tank, or even keep the electricity on at the end of the month.

At a moment like this, the last thing we can afford is four more years of the tired, old theory that says we should give more to billionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. The last thing we can afford is four more years where no one in Washington is watching anyone on Wall Street because politicians and lobbyists killed common-sense regulations. Those are the theories that got us into this mess. They haven't worked, and it's time for change. That's why I'm running for President of the United States.

Now, Senator McCain has served this country honorably. And he can point to a few moments over the past eight years where he has broken from George Bush - on torture, for example. He deserves credit for that. But when it comes to the economy - when it comes to the central issue of this election - the plain truth is that John McCain has stood with this President every step of the way. Voting for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that he once opposed. Voting for the Bush budgets that spent us into debt. Calling for less regulation twenty-one times just this year. Those are the facts.

Senator McCain says that we can't spend the next four years waiting for our luck to change, but you understand that the biggest gamble we can take is embracing the same old policies that have failed us for the last eight years. We've tried it John McCain's way. We've tried it George Bush's way. It hasn't worked. Deep down, Senator McCain knows that, which is why his campaign said that "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

That's why he's spending these last few days calling me every name in the book. I'm sorry to see my opponent sink so low. Lately, he's called me a socialist for wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class. By the end of the week, he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in Kindergarten.

That's his choice. That's the kind of campaign he chose to run. But you have a choice too. The fundamental question in this election is not "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" We know the answer to that. The real question is, "Will this country be better off four years from now?"

For eight years, we've seen Washington take care of the extremely well-off and well-connected, and now my opponent is making the same old arguments to justify the same old policies that have been a complete failure for the middle class. He wants to give more to billionaires, more to corporations that ship jobs overseas, more to the same people whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this crisis. We're here because we know they shouldn't get away with it any more. We don't need another President who fights for Washington lobbyists and Wall Street, we need a President who stands up for hardworking Americans on Main Street, and that's what I'll be.

It's time to think very hard about what four years of John McCain's policies will mean for the middle class.

If Senator McCain is elected, 100 million Americans will not get a tax cut. You won't see a cent, but the average Fortune 500 CEO will get $700,000 and Big Oil will get $4 billion.

If Senator McCain is elected, your health care benefits will get taxed for the first time in history, and at least twenty million Americans risk losing their employer health insurance.

If Senator McCain is elected, we'll have another President who wants to privatize part of your Social Security.

If Senator McCain is elected, he won't make your college tuition affordable. His campaign says they have no college affordability plan because they consider the young people of America just another special interest.

Whether you are Nancy the Nurse, Tina the Teacher, or Carl the Construction Worker - if my opponent is elected, you will be worse off four years from now than you are today. So let's cut through the negative ads and the phony attacks - under John McCain, the middle class will watch wealth get favored over work, jobs get shipped overseas, and the cost of health care and college go through the roof. North Carolina, we know that just won't do. Not this time. It's time for change. It's time to do what's right for you, for our economy, and for our country

I know that my opponent is worried about losing an election, but I'm worried about Americans who are losing their homes, and their jobs, and their life savings. I'm worried about the middle class. And I won't just fight for your vote in the final days of election - I will fight for you every single day that I'm in the White House. That's why I'm running for President of the United States of America.

So I can take six more days of John McCain's attacks, but this country can't take four more years of the same old politics and the same failed policies. It's time for something new.

I know these are difficult times for America. But I also know that we have faced difficult times before. The American story has never been about things coming easy - it's been about rising to the moment when the moment was hard. It's about seeing the highest mountaintop from the deepest of valleys. It's about rejecting fear and division for unity of purpose. That's how we've overcome war and depression. That's how we've won great struggles for civil rights and women's rights and worker's rights. And that's how we'll emerge from this crisis stronger and more prosperous than we were before - as one nation; as one people.

Remember, we still have the most talented, most productive workers of any country on Earth. We're still home to innovation and technology, colleges and universities that are the envy of the world. Some of the biggest ideas in history have come from our small businesses and our research facilities. So there's no reason we can't make this century another American century. We just need a new direction. We need a new politics.

Now, I don't believe that government can or should try to solve all our problems. I know you don't either. But I do believe that government should do that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide a decent education for our children; invest in new roads and new science and technology. It should reward drive and innovation and growth in the free market, but it should also make sure businesses live up to their responsibility to create American jobs, and look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road. It should ensure a shot at success not only for those with money and power and influence, but for every single American who's willing to work. That's how we create not just more millionaires, but more middle-class families. That's how we've always grown the American economy - from the bottom-up. John McCain calls this socialism. I call it opportunity, and there is nothing more American than that.

Understand, if we want get through this crisis, we need to get beyond the old ideological debates and divides between left and right. We don't need bigger government or smaller government. We need a better government - a more competent government - a government that upholds the values we hold in common as Americans.

We don't have to choose between allowing our financial system to collapse and spending billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out Wall Street banks. As President, I will ensure that the financial rescue plan helps stop foreclosures and protects your money instead of enriching CEOs. And I will put in place the common-sense regulations I've been calling for throughout this campaign so that Wall Street can never cause a crisis like this again. That's the change we need.

The choice in this election isn't between tax cuts and no tax cuts. It's about whether you believe we should only reward wealth, or whether we should also reward the work and workers who create it. I will give a tax break to 95% of Americans who work every day and get taxes taken out of their paychecks every week. I'll eliminate income taxes for seniors making under $50,000 and give homeowners and working parents more of a break. And I'll help pay for this by asking the folks who are making more than $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rate they were paying in the 1990s. No matter what Senator McCain may claim, here are the facts - if you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxes increase by a single dime - not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes. Nothing. Because the last thing we should do in this economy is raise taxes on the middle-class.

When it comes to jobs, the choice in this election is not between putting up a wall around America or allowing every job to disappear overseas. The truth is, we won't be able to bring back every job that we've lost, but that doesn't mean we should follow John McCain's plan to keep giving tax breaks to corporations that send American jobs overseas. I will end those breaks as President, and I will give American businesses a $3,000 tax credit for every job they create right here in the United States of America. I'll eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-up companies that are the engine of job creation in this country. We'll create two million new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, and bridges, and schools, and by laying broadband lines to reach every corner of the country. And I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade - jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid; jobs building the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow, not in Japan or South Korea but here in the United States of America; jobs that will help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East in ten years and help save the planet in the bargain. That's how America can lead again.

When it comes to health care, we don't have to choose between a government-run health care system and the unaffordable one we have now. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change under my plan is that we will lower premiums. If you don't have health insurance, you'll be able to get the same kind of health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves. We'll invest in preventative care and new technology to finally lower the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the entire economy. And as someone who watched his own mother spend the final months of her life arguing with insurance companies because they claimed her cancer was a pre-existing condition and didn't want to pay for treatment, I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care most.

When it comes to giving every child a world-class education so they can compete in this global economy for the jobs of the 21st century, the choice is not between more money and more reform - because our schools need both. As President, I will invest in early childhood education, recruit an army of new teachers, pay them more, and give them more support. But I will also demand higher standards and more accountability from our teachers and our schools. And I will make a deal with every American who has the drive and the will but not the money to go to college: if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford your tuition. You invest in America, America will invest in you, and together, we will move this country forward.

And when it comes to keeping this country safe, we don't have to choose between retreating from the world and fighting a war without end in Iraq. It's time to stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a huge surplus. As President, I will end this war by asking the Iraqi government to step up, and finally finish the fight against bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century, and I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

I won't stand here and pretend that any of this will be easy - especially now. The cost of this economic crisis, and the cost of the war in Iraq, means that Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we can afford to do without. On this, there is no other choice. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don't need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.

But as I've said from the day we began this journey all those months ago, the change we need isn't just about new programs and policies. It's about a new politics - a politics that calls on our better angels instead of encouraging our worst instincts; one that reminds us of the obligations we have to ourselves and one another.

Part of the reason this economic crisis occurred is because we have been living through an era of profound irresponsibility. On Wall Street, easy money and an ethic of "what's good for me is good enough" blinded greedy executives to the danger in the decisions they were making. On Main Street, lenders tricked people into buying homes they couldn't afford. Some folks knew they couldn't afford those houses and bought them anyway. In Washington, politicians spent money they didn't have and allowed lobbyists to set the agenda. They scored political points instead of solving our problems, and even after the greatest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, all we were asked to do by our President was to go out and shop.

That is why what we have lost in these last eight years cannot be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits alone. What has also been lost is the idea that in this American story, each of us has a role to play. Each of us has a responsibility to work hard and look after ourselves and our families, and each of us has a responsibility to our fellow citizens. That's what's been lost these last eight years - our sense of common purpose; of higher purpose. And that's what we need to restore right now.

Yes, government must lead the way on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and our businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But all of us must do our part as parents to turn off the television and read to our children and take responsibility for providing the love and guidance they need. Yes, we can argue and debate our positions passionately, but at this defining moment, all of us must summon the strength and grace to bridge our differences and unite in common effort - black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; Democrat and Republican, young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight, disabled or not.

In this election, we cannot afford the same political games and tactics that are being used to pit us against one another and make us afraid of one another. The stakes are too high to divide us by class and region and background; by who we are or what we believe.

Because despite what our opponents may claim, there are no real or fake parts of this country. There is no city or town that is more pro-America than anywhere else - we are one nation, all of us proud, all of us patriots. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

It won't be easy, North Carolina. It won't be quick. But you and I know that it is time to come together and change this country. Some of you may be cynical and fed up with politics. A lot of you may be disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what has been asked of Americans throughout our history.

I ask you to believe - not just in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.

I know this change is possible. Because I have seen it over the last twenty-one months. Because in this campaign, I have had the privilege to witness what is best in America.

I've seen it in lines of voters that stretched around schools and churches; in the young people who cast their ballot for the first time, and those not so young folks who got involved again after a very long time. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see their friends lose their jobs; in the neighbors who take a stranger in when the floodwaters rise; in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb. I've seen it in the faces of the men and women I've met at countless rallies and town halls across the country, men and women who speak of their struggles but also of their hopes and dreams.

I still remember the email that a woman named Robyn sent me after I met her in Ft. Lauderdale. Sometime after our event, her son nearly went into cardiac arrest, and was diagnosed with a heart condition that could only be treated with a procedure that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Her insurance company refused to pay, and their family just didn't have that kind of money.

In her email, Robyn wrote, "I ask only this of you - on the days where you feel so tired you can't think of uttering another word to the people, think of us. When those who oppose you have you down, reach deep and fight back harder."

North Carolina, that's what hope is - that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting around the bend; that insists there are better days ahead. If we're willing to work for it. If we're willing to shed our fears and our doubts. If we're willing to reach deep down inside ourselves when we're tired and come back fighting harder.

Hope! That's what kept some of our parents and grandparents going when times were tough. What led them to say, "Maybe I can't go to college, but if I save a little bit each week my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but if I work really hard my child can open one of her own." It's what led immigrants from distant lands to come to these shores against great odds and carve a new life for their families in America; what led those who couldn't vote to march and organize and stand for freedom; that led them to cry out, "It may look dark tonight, but if I hold on to hope, tomorrow will be brighter."

That's what this election is about. That is the choice we face right now.

Don't believe for a second this election is over. Don't think for a minute that power concedes. We have to work like our future depends on it in this last week, because it does.

In six days, we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates new jobs and fuels prosperity from the bottom-up.

In six days, we can choose to invest in health care for our families, and education for our kids, and renewable energy for our future.

In six days, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo.

In six days, we can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history.

That's what's at stake. That's what we're fighting for. And if in this last week, you will knock on some doors for me, and make some calls for me, and talk to your neighbors, and convince your friends; if you will stand with me, and fight with me, and give me your vote, then I promise you this - we will not just win North Carolina, we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country and we will change the world. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

 

The Race Will Tighten

Hold on to your hats kids... this is going to get rough.

The Presidential Race appears to be comfortably in Obama's Pocket, if you look at the Electoral College, which is all that matters.

However, everyone involved has an incentive to make this race seem closer than it is.

The Democrats don't want anyone to get complacent, so they will be pushing "the race is tightening" angle hard.

The Republicans don't want their troops to get demoralized, so they will be pushing "the race is tightening" and "the polls are wrong" angles hard.

The Media wants everyone to tune in to all the campaign hype they will be spewing, so they will be pushing "the race is tightening" angle hard.

Expect a slew of stories in the next few days showing how McCain may still win and how the race has tightened or how the polls may be flawed. By the time election day rolls around, everyone Democrats, Republicans, and the Media will be on the same page. It's anybody's ballgame. You'll hear that over and over.

Hang on for the ride kids.

Hugs and Kisses,

The Punisher

 

McCain May Not Even Win His Home State

US election: McCain in danger of losing his home state of Arizona to Obama
John McCain campaigns in North Carolina. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

John McCain campaigns in North Carolina. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

John McCain is in danger of suffering an embarrassing loss in his home state of Arizona, according to a shock new poll released today.

Democrats are seizing upon the results of today's Arizona State University poll, which found McCain on 46% and Obama on 44%, to depict the Republican as struggling to hang on to even his faithful backers.

McCain held a 7% lead over Obama in Arizona just one month ago and a double-digit polling advantage earlier this year. Although the state McCain has represented in Congress for 26 years has slightly more registered Republican voters than Democrats, today's poll gave Obama a 20% lead with Arizona independent voters.

Only three presidential candidates in US history have won an election while losing their state of residence. The loss of a home state became an especially harsh political prospect after Al Gore lost Tennessee in 2000, prompting public hand wringing over what might have been.

Republican spokesman Jeff Sadosky defended the candidate's prospects in a statement to Politico.com. "John McCain has never lost an election in Arizona, and this one will be no different, regardless of Obama's attempt to buy the election with millions of dollars in advertising," Sadosky said.

Yet even McCain's fellow Arizona senator and close ally, Jon Kyl, offered a subtly dire prediction in a Sunday interview with one of the state's local newspapers.

Asked whether Arizona, long known for its conservative ethos, could become a swing state as new residents change its demographics, Kyl foreshadowed a McCain defeat.

"[U]nfortunately, I think John McCain might be added to that long list of Arizonans who ran for president but never were elected … Maybe we'll be able to say, Arizona's the only state where your child can't grow up to be president," Kyl told the Daily Star.

Kyl closed by adding: "So let's hope that doesn't happen." But the caveat did not stop Democrats from circulating the critical quote, which Kyl later claimed was taken out of context.

Today's poll is a departure from the recent average of Arizona surveys, which finds McCain with a lead of more than 6%. Obama's advantage in his home state of Illinois has reached as high as 25%, according to the most recent polls.


 

Ouch! Obama Ad Plays Rough. Uses McCain's Own Words and Decisions Against Him.


 

Olbermann on Sarah Palin's "Obama's a Socialist" Bullshit.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

 

Obama in Chester, PA















 

"Wealthy People Can Afford More, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes really don't pay nearly as much as you think they do."

New Yorker: Barack Obama is a socialist?
McCain, Palin on record supporting similar proposals as Democratic rival
THE TALK OF THE TOWN
By Hendrik Hertzberg
The New Yorker
updated 7:46 a.m. ET, Mon., Oct. 27, 2008

Sometimes, when a political campaign has run out of ideas and senses that the prize is slipping through its fingers, it rolls up a sleeve and plunges an arm, shoulder deep, right down to the bottom of the barrel. The problem for John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the Republican Party is that the bottom was scraped clean long before it dropped out. Back when the polls were nip and tuck and the leaves had not yet begun to turn, Barack Obama had already been accused of betraying the troops, wanting to teach kindergartners all about sex, favoring infanticide, and being a friend of terrorists and terrorism. What was left? The anticlimactic answer came as the long Presidential march of 2008 staggered toward its final week: Senator Obama is a socialist.

“This campaign in the next couple of weeks is about one thing,” Todd Akin, a Republican congressman from Missouri, told a McCain rally outside St. Louis. “It’s a referendum on socialism.” “With all due respect,” Senator George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, said, “the man is a socialist.” At an airport rally in Roswell, New Mexico, a well-known landing spot for space aliens, Governor Palin warned against Obama’s tax proposals. “Friends,” she said, “now is no time to experiment with socialism.” And McCain, discussing those proposals, agreed that they sounded “a lot like socialism.” There hasn’t been so much talk of socialism in an American election since 1920, when Eugene Victor Debs, candidate of the Socialist Party, made his fifth run for President from a cell in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, where he was serving a ten-year sentence for opposing the First World War. (Debs got a million votes and was freed the following year by the new Republican President, Warren G. Harding, who immediately invited him to the White House for a friendly visit.)

As a buzzword, “socialism” had mostly good connotations in most of the world for most of the twentieth century. That’s why the Nazis called themselves national socialists. That’s why the Bolsheviks called their regime the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, obliging the socialist and social democratic parties of Europe (and America, for what it was worth) to make rescuing the “good name” of socialism one of their central missions. Socialists—one thinks of men like George Orwell, Willy Brandt, and Aneurin Bevan—were among Communism’s most passionate and effective enemies.

The United States is a special case. There is a whole shelf of books on the question of why socialism never became a real mass movement here. For decades, the word served mainly as a cudgel with which conservative Republicans beat liberal Democrats about the head. When Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan accused John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson of socialism for advocating guaranteed health care for the aged and the poor, the implication was that Medicare and Medicaid would presage a Soviet America. Now that Communism has been defunct for nearly twenty years, though, the cry of socialism no longer packs its old punch. “At least in Europe, the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives,” McCain said the other day—thereby suggesting that the dystopia he abhors is not some North Korean-style totalitarian ant heap but, rather, the gentle social democracies across the Atlantic, where, in return for higher taxes and without any diminution of civil liberty, people buy themselves excellent public education, anxiety-free health care, and decent public transportation.

The Republican argument of the moment seems to be that the difference between capitalism and socialism corresponds to the difference between a top marginal income-tax rate of 35 per cent and a top marginal income-tax rate of 39.6 per cent. The latter is what it would be under Obama’s proposal, what it was under President Clinton, and, for that matter, what it will be after 2010 if President Bush’s tax cuts expire on schedule. Obama would use some of the added revenue to give a break to pretty much everybody who nets less than a quarter of a million dollars a year. The total tax burden on the private economy would be somewhat lighter than it is now—a bit of elementary Keynesianism that renders doubly untrue the Republican claim that Obama “will raise your taxes.”

On October 12th, in conversation with a voter forever to be known as Joe the Plumber, Obama gave one of his fullest summaries of his tax plan. After explaining how Joe could benefit from it, whether or not he achieves his dream of owning his own plumbing business, Obama added casually, “I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” McCain and Palin have been quoting this remark ever since, offering it as prima-facie evidence of Obama’s unsuitability for office. Of course, all taxes are redistributive, in that they redistribute private resources for public purposes. But the federal income tax is (downwardly) redistributive as a matter of principle: however slightly, it softens the inequalities that are inevitable in a market economy, and it reflects the belief that the wealthy have a proportionately greater stake in the material aspects of the social order and, therefore, should give that order proportionately more material support. McCain himself probably shares this belief, and there was a time when he was willing to say so. During the 2000 campaign, on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” a young woman asked him why her father, a doctor, should be “penalized” by being “in a huge tax bracket.” McCain replied that “wealthy people can afford more” and that “the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do.” The exchange continued:

Young woman: Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?. . .
McCain: Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.

For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.


 

Obama's Socialist Tax Agenda: Just Like Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Right Wing Really Has Gone Off The Reservation.

Other Republican Presidents who supported "redistribution of wealth":

"I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective: a graduated inheritance tax increasing rapidly with the size of the estate.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

“Every dollar spent by the government must be paid for either by taxes or by more borrowing with greater debt. The only way to make more tax cuts now is to have bigger and bigger deficits and to borrow more and more money. Either we or our children will have to bear the burden of this debt. This is one kind of chicken that always comes home to roost. An unwise tax cutter, my fellow citizens, is no real friend of the taxpayer."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

In 1986, Reagan signed legislation greatly increasing the earned income tax credit, a credit for low-income workers that reduces the impact of payroll taxes in order to boost take-home pay above poverty levels. When the credit is more than the amount of federal income taxes owed by an individual, that person receives a tax “refund.”

“It's the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
- Ronald Reagan

COOPER: It's certainly a question the McCain campaign has kind of been hammering at, portraying Obama as a socialist. You hear that on -- on the Palin campaign as well.

Is it working?

GERGEN: They may be making some modest progress with it, Anderson. We did see some evidence of McCain coming up a point or two here and there. I don't think it's anywhere near close enough to win an election. And more importantly, I don't think the Democrats have really answered it appropriately.

You know, Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was very much an advocate of what's called progressive taxation. Ad that is the rich pay more than the poor in terms of taxes.

Now, one of the most effective popular programs we've had in the last three decades. It's called the earned income tax credit. It's a program whereby, if you're a working person, a working couple and you're below the poverty line, the government will actually give you money. That's a redistributed program. It's a program which takes money from the upper classes and gives it to the lower -- to the working poor.

Now who started that program? The earned income tax credit? Ronald Reagan. It was one of the -- it was an achievement of the Reagan administration that Bill Clinton then built on.

So I think that these arguments are -- you know, some of them get so carried away that they don't recognize the realities of what we've been going through in public policy and the big arguments about why the wealth over the last 30 years has been redistributed. It's been redistributed upwards.

 

Laugher of the Week: Tax Dodger's For McCain.

'Joe the Plumber' endorses McCain
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — "Joe the Plumber" is endorsing John McCain.

The Ohio plumber, whose real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher, campaigned Tuesday for the Republican presidential candidate in Columbus, the first stop in a day-long bus tour.

Wurzelbacher is a registered Republican but until now had declined to say who he was voting for.

Wurzelbacher said Democrat Barack Obama would make America a socialist nation because Obama wants to redistribute wealth. He said he thinks Obama would target the middle class for tax hikes.

Wurzelbacher became an overnight media sensation after he was referred to constantly in the final presidential debate.

He's since become the central thematic element in speeches by McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

_______________________________________________-

In Related News:

DURANGO, Colo. -- Ever since John McCain discovered "Joe the Plumber," he has exalted "small business" owners -- inviting them to announce their professions on signs at rallies -- as the country's only virtuous economic movers.

But now McCain has begun to define the term upward, leaving no mogul or tycoon behind.

On Thursday in Sarasota, Governor Charlie Crist introduced J. Robert Long, the CEO of Marine Concepts as a "small businessman." The man McCain dubbed "Bob the Boat Builder" spent, as Crist noted, most of his career at Wellcraft Marine, which reported revenues of $67 million last year, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Tonight in Colorado, Senator Lindsey Graham, a close friend of the McCains, described Cindy as "a great small businesswoman." Her "small" business -- Hensley & Co., a family-owned Anheuser-Busch distributor that is the third largest among the 800 in the country -- had revenues of nearly $200 million last year, according to Yahoo.

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Northern Exposure: Will Sarah Palin Vote for Convicted Felon Ted Stevens?

McCain Calls on Stevens to Step Down. Aides Predict Palin Won't Vote For Him.

Seth Colter Walls

On Tuesday morning, John McCain called for Sen. Ted Stevens to step down after the Alaska lawmaker was found guilty on seven counts of corruption charges, while a campaign aide suggested on television that Sarah Palin would not vote for the embattled legislator in his tight reelection race.

"Yesterday, Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty of corruption. It is a sign of the health of our democracy that the people continue to hold their representatives to account for improper or illegal conduct, but this verdict is also a sign of the corruption and insider-dealing that has become so pervasive in our nation's capital," McCain said, adding: "It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all."

And on MSNBC Tuesday morning, McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds hinted that the Governor would not be voting for Stevens next week. Asked whether the people of Alaska should vote for a convicted felon, Bounds responded:

They were very clear, both of the candidates on our ticket yesterday, in condemning his [Stevens's] corruption, condemning his practices in the Senate and saying this is a sad truth that has come to prevail in Washington, that illicit and corruptive behavior in the United States Senate and the halls of Congress seems to prevail. And that they are both people that worked against that. In fact, Governor Palin ran against the Republican establishment, a Republican incumbent governor in Alaska to win that seat and she has taken on these corruptive forces in the past. They've been quite clear in their contempt for his behavior. I don't expect that they would cast their ballot for Ted Stevens if they were Alaska voters.

Though Bounds used the subjunctive mood, perhaps to lend less declarative weight to his statement, the obvious fact is that Palin is indeed an Alaska voter. MSNBC's David Shuster jumped right on Bounds' words, telling him "that's interesting to hear because Sarah Palin was a little bit unclear about that. But you are saying that she would, you would not expect cast her vote for Ted Stevens. So that settles that."

Mere hours after Alaska Senator Ted Stevens' Monday conviction on seven counts of felony corruption, Sarah Palin appeared purposely non-committal in her response to the news. "I'm confident Senator Stevens will do what's right for the people of Alaska," Palin said, stopping short of calling on Stevens to resign or drop out of his tough fight against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. Previously, Palin had declined to reveal whether or not she was supporting Stevens' reelection bid -- despite the fact that she once served as a director of a Stevens-steered 527 group.

If Bounds is right about Palin, the the next question she should expect to field about Alaska's Senate race -- if and when she makes herself available to the press -- will likely be whether she intends to vote for Begich over Stevens, or just leave that part of her ballot blank.


 

Al Qaeda Endorses McCain

"An American president who keeps troops in Iraq indefinitely, fulminates about Islamic terrorism, inclines toward military solutions and antagonizes other nations is an excellent recruiting tool. In contrast, an African-American president with a Muslim grandfather and a penchant for building bridges rather than blowing them up would give Al Qaeda recruiters fits." - Nicolas D. Kristof


Op Ed
The Endorsement From Hell

John McCain isn’t boasting about a new endorsement, one of the very, very few he has received from overseas. It came a few days ago:

“Al Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election,” read a commentary on a password-protected Islamist Web site that is closely linked to Al Qaeda and often disseminates the group’s propaganda.

The endorsement left the McCain campaign sputtering, and noting helplessly that Hamas appears to prefer Barack Obama. Al Qaeda’s apparent enthusiasm for Mr. McCain is manifestly not reciprocated.

“The transcendent challenge of our time [is] the threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” Senator McCain said in a major foreign policy speech this year, adding, “Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House.”

That’s a widespread conservative belief. Mitt Romney compared the threat of militant Islam to that from Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Some conservative groups even marked “Islamofascism Awareness Week” earlier this month.

Yet the endorsement of Mr. McCain by a Qaeda-affiliated Web site isn’t a surprise to security specialists. Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism director, and Joseph Nye, the former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, have both suggested that Al Qaeda prefers Mr. McCain and might even try to use terror attacks in the coming days to tip the election to him.

“From their perspective, a continuation of Bush policies is best for recruiting,” said Professor Nye, adding that Mr. McCain is far more likely to continue those policies.

An American president who keeps troops in Iraq indefinitely, fulminates about Islamic terrorism, inclines toward military solutions and antagonizes other nations is an excellent recruiting tool. In contrast, an African-American president with a Muslim grandfather and a penchant for building bridges rather than blowing them up would give Al Qaeda recruiters fits.

During the cold war, the American ideological fear of communism led us to mistake every muddle-headed leftist for a Soviet pawn. Our myopia helped lead to catastrophe in Vietnam.

In the same way today, an exaggerated fear of “Islamofascism” elides a complex reality and leads us to overreact and damage our own interests. Perhaps the best example is one of the least-known failures in Bush administration foreign policy: Somalia.

Today, Somalia is the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster, worse even than Darfur or Congo. The crisis has complex roots, and Somali warlords bear primary blame. But Bush administration paranoia about Islamic radicals contributed to the disaster.

Somalia has been in chaos for many years, but in 2006 an umbrella movement called the Islamic Courts Union seemed close to uniting the country. The movement included both moderates and extremists, but it constituted the best hope for putting Somalia together again. Somalis were ecstatic at the prospect of having a functional government again.

Bush administration officials, however, were aghast at the rise of an Islamist movement that they feared would be uncooperative in the war on terror. So they gave Ethiopia, a longtime rival in the region, the green light to invade, and Somalia’s best hope for peace collapsed.

“A movement that looked as if it might end this long national nightmare was derailed, in part because of American and Ethiopian actions,” said Ken Menkhaus, a Somalia expert at Davidson College. As a result, Islamic militancy and anti-Americanism have surged, partly because Somalis blame Washington for the brutality of the Ethiopian occupiers.

“There’s a level of anti-Americanism in Somalia today like nothing I’ve seen over the last 20 years,” Professor Menkhaus said. “Somalis are furious with us for backing the Ethiopian intervention and occupation, provoking this huge humanitarian crisis.”

Patrick Duplat, an expert on Somalia at Refugees International, the Washington-based advocacy group, says that during his last visit to Somalia, earlier this year, a local mosque was calling for jihad against America — something he had never heard when he lived peacefully in Somalia during the rise of the Islamic Courts Union.

“The situation has dramatically taken a turn for the worse,” he said. “The U.S. chose a very confrontational route early on. Who knows what would have happened if the U.S. had reached out to moderates? But that might have averted the disaster we’re in today.”

The greatest catastrophe is the one endured by ordinary Somalis who now must watch their children starve. But America’s own strategic interests have also been gravely damaged.

The only winner has been Islamic militancy. That’s probably the core reason why Al Qaeda militants prefer a McCain presidency: four more years of blindness to nuance in the Muslim world would be a tragedy for Americans and virtually everyone else, but a boon for radical groups trying to recruit suicide bombers.

 

"Don't Believe For A Second This Election Is Over. Don't Think For A Minute, That Power Concedes."



October 27th, 2008 1:59 pm
Some voters 'purged' from voter rolls

By Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein / CNN

ATLANTA, Georgia -- College senior Kyla Berry was looking forward to voting in her first presidential election, even carrying her voter registration card in her wallet.

But about two weeks ago, Berry got disturbing news from local election officials.

"This office has received notification from the state of Georgia indicating that you are not a citizen of the United States and therefore, not eligible to vote," a letter from the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections said.

But Berry is a U.S. citizen, born in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a passport and a birth certificate to prove it.

The letter, which was dated October 2, gave her a week from the time it was dated to prove her citizenship. There was a problem, though -- the letter was postmarked October 9.

"It was the most bizarre thing. I immediately called my mother and asked her to send me my birth certificate, and then I was like, 'It's too late, apparently,' " Berry said.

Berry is one of more than 50,000 registered Georgia voters who have been "flagged" because of a computer mismatch in their personal identification information. At least 4,500 of those people are having their citizenship questioned and the burden is on them to prove eligibility to vote.

Experts say lists of people with mismatches are often systematically cut, or "purged," from voter rolls.

It's a scenario that's being repeated all across the country, with cases like Berry's raising fears of potential vote suppression in crucial swing states.

"What most people don't know is that every year, elections officials strike millions of names from the voter rolls using processes that are secret, prone to error and vulnerable to manipulation," said Wendy Weiser, an elections expert with New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.

"That means that lots and lots of eligible voters could get knocked off the voter rolls without any notice and, in many cases, without any opportunity to correct it before Election Day."

Weiser acknowledged that "purging done well and with proper accountability" is necessary to remove people who have died or moved out of state.

"But the problem is it's not necessary to do inaccurate purges that catch up thousands of eligible voters without any notice or any opportunity to fix it before Election Day and really without any public scrutiny at all," she said.

Such allegations have flared up across the United States during this election cycle, most notably in Ohio, where a recent lawsuit has already gone to the U.S. Supreme Court.

There, the state Republican Party sued Ohio's Democratic secretary of state in an effort to make her generate a list of people who had mismatched information. But Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said generating such a list would create numerous problems too close to the election and possibly disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.

The Supreme Court last week ruled against the GOP on appeal of a lower court order directing Brunner to prepare the list.

In Florida, election officials found that 75 percent of about 20,000 voter registration applications from a three-week period in September were mismatched due to typographical and administrative errors. Florida's Republican secretary of state ordered the computer match system implemented in early September.

In Wisconsin, Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen sued the state's election board after it voted against a proposal to implement a "no-match" policy. The board conducted an audit of its voter rolls and found a 22 percent match failure rate -- including for four of the six members of the board.

The Brennan Center has also documented cases across the country of possible illegal purging, impediments to college student voting and difficulties accessing voter registration.

A lawsuit has been filed over Georgia's mismatch system, and the state is also under fire for requesting Social Security records for verification checks on about 2 million voters -- more requests than any other state.

One of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit says Georgia is violating a federal law that prohibits widespread voter purges within 90 days of the election, arguing that the letters were sent out too close to the election date.

"They are systematically using these lists and matching them and using those matches to send these letters out to voters," said McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project in Georgia.

"It's not, you know, an individualized notion of people maybe not being citizens or not being residents. They're using a systematic purging procedure that's expressly prohibited by federal laws."

Asked if he believed that eligible voters were purged in Georgia, McDonald said, "If people who are properly eligible, are getting improperly challenged and purged, the answer would be 'Yes,' " he said.

Elise Shore, regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said letters like those sent to Berry appear to violate two federal laws against voter purging within 90 days of the election.

"People are being targeted, and people are being told they are non-citizens, including both naturalized citizens and U.S.-born citizens," said Shore, another plaintiff in the Georgia lawsuit. "They're being told they're not eligible to vote, based on information in a database that hasn't been checked and approved by the Department of Justice, and that we know has flaws in it."

Georgia's Secretary of State Karen Handel, a Republican who began working on purging voter rolls since she was elected in 2006, said that won't happen. If there are errors, she said, there is still plenty of time to resolve the problems.

Handel says she is not worried the verification process will prevent eligible voters from casting a ballot.

"In this state and all states, there's a process to ensure that a voter who comes in -- even if there's a question about their status -- that they will vote either provisional or challenge ballot, which is a paper ballot," she said.

"So then the voter has ample opportunity to clarify any issues or address them," Handel added. "And I think that's a really important process."

Handel denied the efforts to verify the vote are suppression.

"This is about ensuring the integrity of our elections," she said. "It is imperative to have checks and balances on the front end, during the processes and on the back end. That's what the verification process is about."

So someone like Kyla Berry will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot when she votes, but it's up to county election officials whether those ballots would actually count.

Berry says she will try to vote, but she's not confident it will count.

"I know this happens, but I cannot believe it's happening to me," she said. "If I weren't allowed to vote, I would just feel like that would be ... like the worst thing ever -- a travesty."

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Republican Party: Out of Touch with "Real America."

October 26, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist New York Times
In Defense of White Americans

IT seems like a century ago now, but it was only in 2005 that a National Journal poll of Beltway insiders predicted that George Allen, then a popular Virginia senator, would be the next G.O.P. nominee for president. George who? Allen is now remembered, if at all, as a punch line. But any post-mortem of the Great Republican Collapse of 2008 must circle back to the not-so-funny thing that happened on his way to the White House.

That would be in 2006, when he capsized his own shoo-in re-election race by calling a 20-year-old Indian-American “macaca” before a white audience (and a video camera). “Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia,” Allen told the young Democratic campaign worker for good measure, in a precise preview of the playbook that has led John McCain and Sarah Palin to their tawdry nadir two years later.

It wasn’t just Allen’s lame racial joke or his cluelessness about 21st-century media like YouTube that made him a harbinger of the current G.O.P. fiasco. It was most of all the national vision he set forth: There are Real Americans, and there are the Others.

The Real are the small-town white folks Allen was addressing in southwestern Virginia. The Others — and their subversive fellow travelers, the Elites — are Americans like the young man whom Allen maligned: a high-achieving son of immigrant parents who was born and raised in Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs during its technology boom. (Allen, the self-appointed keeper of real Virginia, grew up in California.)

Cut to 2008. You’d think that this incident would be a cautionary tale, but the McCain campaign instead embraced Allen as a role model, with Palin’s odes to “real” and “pro-America” America leading the charge. The farcical apotheosis of this strategy arrived last weekend, again on camera and again in Virginia, when a McCain adviser, Nancy Pfotenhauer, revived Allen’s original script, literally, during an interview on MSNBC.

After dismissing the Northern Virginia suburbs, she asserted that the “real Virginia” — the part of the state “more Southern in nature” — will prove “very responsive” to the McCain message. All Pfotenhauer left out was “macaca,” but with McCain calling Barack Obama’s tax plan “welfare” and campaign surrogates (including the robo-calling Rudy Giuliani) linking the Democrat to violent, Willie Horton-like criminality, that would have been redundant.

We don’t know yet if McCain will go the way of Allen in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1964, when L.B.J. vanquished another Arizona Republican in a landslide. But we do know that Obama swept like a conquering hero through Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, last week and that he leads in every recent Virginia poll.

There are at least two larger national lessons to be learned from what is likely to be the last gasp of Allen-McCain-Palin politics in 2008. The first, and easy one, is that Republican leaders have no idea what “real America” is. In the eight years since the first Bush-Cheney convention pledged inclusiveness and showcased Colin Powell as its opening-night speaker, the G.O.P. has terminally alienated black Americans (Powell himself now included), immigrant Americans (including the Hispanics who once gave Bush-Cheney as much as 44 percent of their votes) and the extended families of gay Americans (Palin has now revived a constitutional crusade against same-sex marriage). Subtract all those players from the actual America, and you don’t have enough of a bench to field a junior varsity volleyball team, let alone a serious campaign for the Electoral College.

But the other, less noticed lesson of the year has to do with the white people the McCain campaign has been pandering to. As we saw first in the Democratic primary results and see now in the widespread revulsion at the McCain-Palin tactics, white Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe. Just because a campaign trades in racism doesn’t mean that the country is racist. It’s past time to come to the unfairly maligned white America’s defense.

That includes acknowledging that the so-called liberal media, among their other failures this year, have helped ratchet up this election cycle’s prevailing antiwhite bias. Ever since Obama declared his candidacy, the press’s default setting has been to ominously intone that “in the privacy of the voting booth” ignorant, backward whites will never vote for a black man.

A leading vehicle for this journalistic mind-set has been the unending obsession with “the Bradley effect” — as if nothing has changed in America since 1982, when some polls (possibly for reasons having nothing to do with race) predicted erroneously that a black candidate, Tom Bradley, would win the California governorship. In 2008, there is, if anything, more evidence of a reverse Bradley effect — Obama’s primary vote totals more often exceeded those in the final polls than not — but poor old Bradley keeps being flogged anyway.

So do all those deer hunters in western Pennsylvania. Once Hillary Clinton whipped Obama in the Rust Belt, it’s been a bloviation staple (echoing the Clinton camp’s line) that a black guy is doomed among Reagan Democrats, Joe Sixpacks, rednecks, Joe the Plumbers or whichever condescending term you want to choose. (Clinton at one low point settled on “hard-working Americans, white Americans.”) Michigan in particular was repeatedly said to be slipping out of the Democrats’ reach because of incorrigible racism — until McCain abandoned it as hopeless this month in the face of a double-digit Obama lead.

The constant tide of anthropological articles and television reports set in blue-collar diners, bars and bowling alleys have hyped this racial theory of the race. So did the rampant misreading of primary-season exit polls. On cable TV and the Sunday network shows, there was endless chewing over the internal numbers in the Clinton victories. It was doomsday news for Obama, for instance, that some 12 percent of white Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania said race was a factor in their choice and three-quarters of them voted for Clinton. Ipso facto — and despite the absence of any credible empirical evidence — these Clinton voters would either stay home or flock to McCain in November.

The McCain campaign is so dumb that it bought into the press’s confirmation of its own prejudices. Even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1.2 million in Pennsylvania (more than double the 2004 gap), even though Obama leads by double digits in almost every recent Pennsylvania poll and even though no national Republican ticket has won there since 1988, McCain started pouring his dwindling resources into the state this month. When the Democratic Representative John Murtha described his own western Pennsylvania district as a “racist area,” McCain feigned outrage and put down even more chips on the race card, calling the region the “most patriotic, most God-loving” part of America.

Well, there are racists in western Pennsylvania, as there are in most pockets of our country. But despite the months-long drumbeat of punditry to the contrary, there are not and have never been enough racists in 2008 to flip this election. In the latest New York Times/CBS News and Pew national polls, Obama is now pulling even with McCain among white men, a feat accomplished by no Democratic presidential candidate in three decades, Bill Clinton included. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey finds age doing more damage to McCain than race to Obama.

Nor is America’s remaining racism all that it once was, or that the McCain camp has been hoping for it to be. There are even “racists for Obama,” as Politico labels the phenomenon: White Americans whose distrust of black people in general crumbles when they actually get to know specific black people, including a presidential candidate who extends a genuine helping hand in a time of national crisis.

The original “racist for Obama,” after all, was none other than Obama’s own white, Kansas-raised grandmother, the gravely ill Madelyn Dunham, whom he visited in Hawaii on Friday. In “Dreams From My Father,” Obama wrote of how shaken he was when he learned of her overwhelming fear of black men on the street. But he weighed that reality against his unshakeable love for her and hers for him, and he got past it.

When Obama cited her in his speech on race last spring, the right immediately accused him of “throwing his grandmother under the bus.” But Obama’s critics were merely projecting their own racial hang-ups. He still loves his grandmother. He was merely speaking candidly and generously — like an adult — about the strange, complex and ever-changing racial dynamics of America. He hit a chord because many of us have had white relatives of our own like his, and we, too, see them in full and often love them anyway.

Such human nuances are lost on conservative warriors of the Allen-McCain-Palin ilk. They see all Americans as only white or black, as either us or them. The dirty little secret of such divisive politicians has always been that their rage toward the Others is exceeded only by their cynical conviction that Real Americans are a benighted bunch of easily manipulated bigots. This seems to be the election year when voters in most of our myriad Americas are figuring that out.


 

The Scorpion and The Frog. Palin "Going Rogue" on McCain.

(CNN) -- Some aides to Sen. John McCain say they weren't happy that running mate Sarah Palin went off script Sunday and turned attention back to the controversy over her wardrobe.

The Alaska governor on Sunday brought up the recent reports regarding the Republican National Committee's $150,000 spending spree on clothing and accessories for the Palin family.

Palin denounced talks of her wardrobe as "ridiculous" and declared emphatically: "Those clothes, they are not my property."

"Just like the lighting and the staging and everything else that the RNC purchased, I'm not taking them with me," she said at a rally in Tampa, Florida.

A senior McCain adviser told CNN that those comments "were not the remarks we sent to her plane." Palin did not discuss the wardrobe story at her rally in Kissimmee, Florida, later in the day.

A Palin aide, however, told CNN that the governor clearly felt like she had to say something to defend herself, because "that's really not who she is."

Over the weekend, sources told CNN that long-brewing tensions between Palin and key aides to McCain were on the rise.

Several McCain advisers suggested that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," this McCain adviser said. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom." VideoWatch more on the 'diva' criticism »

A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is "not good at process questions" and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions.

But this Palin source acknowledged that Palin is trying to take more control of her message, pointing to an impromptu news conference on a Colorado tarmac last week.

CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ed Rollins said Palin was "mishandled" during the earlier part of the campaign, and as a result, "she's become a target of a lot of ridicule."

But, he said, "She definitely is going to be the most popular Republican in this country when this thing is over."

The Politico reported Saturday on Palin's frustration, specifically with McCain advisers Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt. They helped decide to limit Palin's initial media contact to high-profile interviews with Charlie Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, which all McCain sources admit were highly damaging.

In response, Wallace e-mailed CNN the same quote she gave the Politico: "If people want to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most honorable thing to do is to lie there."

But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her media interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.

They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain's record.

"Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic," said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the "hardest" to get her "up to speed than any candidate in history."

Yet another senior McCain adviser lamented the public recriminations.

"This is what happens with a campaign that's behind; it brings out the worst in people, finger-pointing and scapegoating," this senior adviser said.

This adviser also decried the double standard, noting that Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, has gone off the reservation as well, most recently by telling donors at a fundraiser that America's enemies will try to "test" Obama. Although some say that the McCain campaign is the one with the double standard, using Biden's comments against Obama when Joe Lieberman said the exact same thing about McCain.

Tensions like those within the McCain-Palin campaign are not unusual; vice presidential candidates also have a history of butting heads with the top of the ticket.

John Edwards and his inner circle repeatedly questioned Sen. John Kerry's strategy in 2004, and Kerry loyalists repeatedly aired in public their view that Edwards would not play the traditional attack dog role with relish because he wanted to protect his future political interests.

Even in a winning campaign like Bill Clinton's, some of Al Gore's aides in 1992 and again in 1996 questioned how Gore was being scheduled for campaign events.

Jack Kemp's aides distrusted the Bob Dole camp and vice versa, and Dan Quayle loyalists had a list of gripes remarkably similar to those now being aired by Palin aides.


 

More Palin Stupidity: Mocks "fruit fly research" during speech on "special needs children." What's Fruit Fly Research Applicable To?

In Case You Weren't Scared Enough: Palin and Fruit Fly Research

Todd Palmer and Rob Pringle

Today, we are blogging from Durham, North Carolina, where we are trying to do our humble bit to help elect Barack Obama. On Friday, Sarah Palin gave us yet another reason to feel good about what we're doing here.

We are far from the first people to comment on this subject -- even within the Huffington Post -- so we'll keep it brief. But Palin's mockery of "fruit fly research" during her October 24th speech on special-needs children was so misconceived, so offensive, so aggressively stupid, and so dangerous that we felt we had to comment.

Here's the excerpt from the speech:

"Where does a lot of that earmark money end up, anyway? [...] You've heard about, um, these -- some of these pet projects they really don't make a whole lot of sense, and sometimes these dollars they go to projects having little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not!"

It's hard to know where to begin deconstructing this statement. This was a speech on autism, and Palin's critics have pounced on the fact that a recent study of Drosophila fruit flies showed that a protein called neurexin is essential for proper neurological function -- a discovery with clear implications for autism research.

Awkward! But this critique merely scrapes icing off the cake.

Fruit flies are more than just the occasional vehicles for research relevant to human disabilities. They are literally the foundation of modern genetics, the original model organism that has enabled us to discover so much of what we know about heredity, genome structure, congenital disorders, and (yes) evolution. So for Palin to state that "fruit fly research" has "little or nothing to do with the public good" is not just wrong -- it's mind-boggling.

What else does this blunder say about Palin and her candidacy? Many people have used it as just another opportunity to call her a dummy, since anyone who has stayed awake through even a portion of a high-school-level biology class knows what fruit flies are good for. But leave that aside for a second. Watch the clip. Listen to the tone of her voice as she sneers the words "fruit fly research." Check out the disdain and incredulity on her face. How would science, basic or applied, fare under President Palin?

We have other questions. Who wrote this speech? Was he or she as ignorant as Palin about the central role that fruit flies have played in the last century of biomedical research? Or was this a calculated slight to science and scientists -- a coded way of saying, "We don't care what you know or what you think"? We find it odd that, of all the examples of dubious expenditures of public funds, the speechwriters alighted on this one.

Whatever the explanation, it scares us. Everyone who has suffered, either personally or indirectly, from an inherited illness, and anyone whose life has been lengthened or enriched by modern medicine, should channel Palin's flip comment when they stand in the voting booth on November 4th.

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