Saturday, September 13, 2008

An Open Letter

I realize this will be ignored. I provided a link in order, in some slim hope embedded in some small part of my brain, to attract the attention of the Obama campaign. Every liberal blogger is offering advice, and I have no reason to pretend that mine is any better (or worse) than theirs.

Dear Senator Obama,

I am a constituent as well as a supporter of your Presidential campaign. More than either, I was moved by your victory speech after the New Hampshire primary to see in you the future of both the Democratic Party and the United States. You and Sen. Clinton fought a hard, sometimes nasty, campaign and came out the other side joined in the common purpose of taking back the White House not only for the Democratic Party, but the American people.

I sat and watched the speeches at the Democratic National Convention with surprise and enthusiasm. I actually had a chill up my spine as you shouted, "Enough!" to the Republican Party's constant use of distortion and destruction in the name of hollow, narrow political victories. Yet, since that triumphant night, the impetus and momentum and coverage has all been controlled by the Republican nominee because he chose the very next morning to announce his running mate selection. It has turned into "Sarah Palin" all the time.

While a certain amount of credit is due the McCain campaign for both the audacity of the pick and the way they hijacked the news cycle, there is more than enough blame and responsibility for you to shoulder for not retaking the momentum. You used the word "lie" in one ad. One. Uno. A single ad. Over the past week both the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for the Presidency nominated by the Republican Party have released a spate of ads that are all patently false, play on dangerous racial and sexual stereotypes, and both have demonstrated an almost comical lack on understanding of even the most basic policy positions not only of the current administration, but what they might do themselves if they won office. The only way to counter this weird combination of pathological lying and ignorance is to call it by its name.

I am no longer convinced you had any idea how low the McCain campaign was willing to go. I even wrote a post in defense of your silence, in defense of your acquiescence to the on-rushing pile of bilge the Republicans started this summer with Sen. McCain's line, "He would rather lose a war than lose an election." I have read over the past couple days that you would begin to fight back.

I'm waiting.

I want to see ads that call Sen. McCain a liar. I want to see ads that call Gov. Palin a liar. I want to see ads that detail their lying. I want to see ads that feature you saying that John McCain would lose his integrity before he would lose an election. I want to see an ad that highlights the fact that, in an interview with Time magazine just a few short weeks ago, he refused to define "honor".

I want you to yank his chain so hard on his personal integrity that he begins to lose his infamously short temper. I want you to fight and win the Presidency. Do not stand on the principle that yours is a different kind of politics. That principle will lose this election for sure, because the Republicans, fearful that they might lose, have pulled out all the stops, and simply tossed factual content out the window.

I want them called out. In every townhall meeting. In every ad you put on television and radio. In every interview you give, whether locally or nationally. Use the words "lie", "lying", and "liars" as often as possible. At least one iteration per sentence would be good enough. Don't use euphemisms. Don't be afraid. Don't worry what some journalist somewhere might say. Call it what it is.

Should you lose this election, Sen. Obama, there will be little lenience, and no forgiveness. To be blunt, Senator, you had this in the bag and you are about to lose it because you refuse to fight fire with a blowtorch. Do it, not for yourself, Senator, but for all of us who still believe you want to make this country better than it has been. Before you can actually do any of that, you have to win the election. Prove you are willing to fight for it.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford

What Profits A Man?

It is abundantly clear that John McCain has no intention of presenting any reason to elect him President. It is abundantly clear that he simply removed the issues of experience and competence from the table of contents for discussion when he asked the thoroughly unprepared Sarah Palin to be his running mate. The flurry of ads the McCain/Palin campaign has released in the past couple weeks, none of which contain a single scintilla of factual content; the repeating of the easily debunked "Thanks but no thanks" line by Gov. Palin; the remarkable appearance of Sen. McCain on The View yesterday, which pointed up the relative tongue bathing McCain gets from some journalists because hosts Joy Behar and Barbara Walters managed the attempt to pin down McCain on his campaign's many falsehoods all make it quite clear that the only reason McCain thinks he should be President is . . . because he is John McCain. It is more than narcissism. It is a kind of meaningless solipsism that, were our journalistic class working properly, would be the main story. That is to say, the word liar would be tied around McCain's neck so hard it could never be removed.

I think there is a sermon here. In the Gospels, Jesus is quoted as saying, "What profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?" It is quite clear that John McCain has decided the Presidency is worth everything, including losing what little integrity he had left. A man bereft of honor, of anything to compensate for his clear lack of reasonableness, has no business seeking let alone holding high office. Were our journalistic class operating properly, this would be the only story of the campaign season. Not just that he and his campaign are serial liars; but that, by demonstrating a lack of integrity he has forfeited any indulgence by the American people for listening or heeding his words.

It is clear to me that John McCain wants office for no reason whatsoever but to occupy a position of power. He has no real plan on governance, indeed shows no real interest in the nitty-gritty details of policy. Why in the world would anyone seriously consider this person for high office if he offers no plan for using that office to serve those who elected him? This is a caricature not only of recent Republican governance pushed to its logical extreme. It is also an object lesson in the dangers of the pursuit of power for its own sake. Neither Sen. McCain nor Gov. Palin offer the electorate of the United States any reason to take them seriously.

It might be nice if someone, not least Sens. Obama and Biden, would make that case forcefully and coherently.

Saturday Rock Show

The weather here is absolute crap. Everyone is paying attention, and rightly so, to the hurricane moving ashore in the Gulf of Mexico. Yet here on the northeastern prairie, it started raining yesterday and will continue through tomorrow night, an unending, dismal haze of rain, the threat of flooding (the Rock River already flooded nearby Machesney Park and South Beloit in late-spring/early-summer and those areas have yet to recover fully), and a general feeling of "Blech". While not technically autumn, these kinds of fall rains are not only energy-draining, they are emotionally taxing, at least for me.

They also put me in mind of England, don't ask me why. For some reason the music of some English bands just seem to go well with dreary weather. Pink Floyd, especially Dark Side of the Moon and Animals just pick me up from wherever I'm at and put me in Perfidious Albion, where Jerusalem will be built among their dark Satanic mills (in the words of William Blake). Another, more recent, band that is so quintessentially English is Porcupine Tree. I mentioned them earlier in the summer, and I have been enjoying getting to know. Yet, in many ways the seasons have brought their music in to its own. What follows is long indeed, and I realize these music posts are rarely paid attention to, but I ask for your indulgence and patience. "The Sky Moves Sideways" was an attempt at a single piece of music, at close to fifty minutes in length. It failed to reach that extreme of self-indulgence, but at thirty-four minutes it does pretty well. The following four pieces together capture not just the music, but with the accompanying photograph, the mood of the piece as well.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hard Hitting, Viewer Discretion Advised

First, the ad. If you do not like visuals of brutal slaying of animals, don't watch.

I saw this at Sadly, No! and I have to agree that this is the kind of ad we need more of, not less.

This is no dig at hunters. This is no dig at hunting. See, I don't think of this as sportsman-like hunting, with a human being on the ground, doing his or her best in a blind, in a stand, or running a pack or herd. Flying along in an airplane and shooting an animal over and over again, then leaving it for carrion eaters, taking only a limb for a bounty isn't hunting. It's butchery.

Now, if only there were a 527 out there that would run an ad calling John McCain a desperate, lying panderer willing to sell his soul to the devil to win the Presidency, even though it is evident he has no idea what he will do once he occupies the Office.

New Obama Ads - A B-minus On The Curve

Christy puts up two new Obama ads:

And . . .

She then asks what we think. Overall, considering the tone the campaign has taken, the absolute refusal of John McCain to deal with issues, and the flagrant disregard for the truth or for the intelligence of the American people, I think these are, all in all, pretty wimpy. I have, below, a video feed from an Obama campaign stop in Terre Haute, IN which would have been much better. The first ad has the virtue of being kind of funny - I had flashbacks to my high school days with the picture of the TRS-80 and a Rubick's Cube - but the second ad, I am sorry to say, just comes across as pathetic, Obama begging to be heard above the din.

I am impressed with Obama's insistence on running "a different kind of campaign". By telegraphing ahead of time that he wasn't going to get all sleazy, he opened the flood gates to Republican operatives like McCain campaign chair Rick Davis to beat the crap out of him. He has hit back hard at times, but the attacks by the Republican nominee have been constant, unremitting. They are also ten pounds of shit in a two pound bag, but I honestly believe they couldn't care less.

I hate to say this, but while I am not - yet - panicked, I am concerned that Obama has allowed the McCain/Palin campaign not only to set the agenda and tone of the campaign, but receive by far the greater amount of coverage over the past few weeks. A few more, and better, more hard-hitting ads, I think would boost this Obama/Biden supporter's confidence.


Drlobojo is haunted by the images of the jumpers. I am, too.

The reason I am posting a "9/12" remembrance, and mentioning the jumpers in that context follows.

I had planned the vacation for a couple months. That Saturday, the 15th, was my father's 80th birthday party. My sisters decided to have a big "do", invited friends and family from all over. My wife and our newly born baby, Miriam, didn't go, but Moriah, just turned 4 at the time, was going with me. I got off work the morning of the eleventh, looking forward to a week away from work, with pay.

My memories of the eleventh are hazy. Lisa bursting in to our bedroom screaming that we were under attack in New York and Washington. This happened just as I had finally drifted in to deep sleep. When I got up, around one o'clock, I went and sat and watched, in shock, as the images of that horrible day played over and over, a terrible newsreel of death and destruction. Like pretty much every other American, I felt wounded, vulnerable, exposed. I felt victimized.

I was also worried about my trip. Even in the midst of the chaos of that day, I wondered if things were going to be pulled off for my Dad's birthday. News reports out of New York were sketchy. It was clear that then-Gov. Pataki had closed all the bridges and tunnels in to and out of the island of Manhattan. There were rumors that all the highways in the state would close. I called my parents, and they told me that, as far as they knew, the highways were open, even though not a single big-rig truck was running.

I lived across the street from a convenience store where we got gas. I managed to beat a rush to the pumps by mere seconds, yet even as I pumped my gas, the prices jumped up twice (!!) to the then-exorbitant price of $1.99 a gallon.

As Moriah and I made our way across I-80/90, it didn't hit me until we were in Ohio. There were no trucks on the road. Every single truck in the country was stopped. The skies were empty of plane contrails. We hit Cleveland at what should have been rush-hour and zipped through. It was as if the city had shut down.

It was when we got my parents' house and I finally sat for a few minutes and glanced at a copy of their local paper that it hit me. The image above, or one like it, was above a story about a teacher in lower Manhattan, leading her students to a place of safety. The teacher related how one of her students pointed and said, "Look at the bird!" The bird, horribly enough, was a falling human body. I had not seen or heard of the jumpers before then. I will never forget them, now.

We are a nation that suffered a horrific attack at the hands of persons bent on destroying our will by causing fear. It seemed, for a brief moment, that we would be led through that fear. I was even grudgingly admiring of President Bush's refusal to attack the religion of Islam, and encourage interfaith dialogue. It seemed, for one brief moment, he would rise above the ashes of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and have the courage and vision and strength of character to rise to the historical moment.

And he pissed it all away.

For that, he, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Doug Feith, and the rest of this hoary bunch of political gangsters and moral cretins should be held in ignominy by history. That man in the picture above, crazed by a situation bereft of any exit, jumped to his death, with the whole world watching, one fleeting moment of his final plunge captured for all ages. For the memory of that man, that he may not have died in vain, I think it is past time to call to account the men and women who have failed him, and us. While we all bear a measure of responsibility for ensuring that his death was not meaningless, that the deaths of those thousands on that day was not empty, in the end, it is our leaders who should pay.

Interesting, But Relevant?

Yesterday, there was much buzz about a missing story at The Washington Post that was supposed to chronicle Cindy McCain's drug addiction, including first-hand, contemporaneous accounts from a former confidante, Tom Gosinski. When people attempted to find the story, all they received was a blank screen for their troubles. There were furtive rumblings that the McCain campaign had managed to spike a potentially damaging story about the Republican candidate's wife.

Well, the story is out. Written by Kimberly Kindy, it lives up to its title, "A Tangled Story of Addiction", and the only conclusions I came to when I read it are as follows:

* It is clear that Cindy McCain's connection to a United States Senator helped her avoid jail time. She was clearly guilty of forgery, fraud, and theft. She also, it seems, was probably guilty of a few conspiracy charges as well, due to the connivance of a doctor who worked with the charity from which she stole the drugs she used.

* I think the Post, whatever its reasons, did well to downplay the role of Gosinski, who, it seems, did indeed attempt a type of extortion on the McCain's, making an offer to stop assisting prosecutors for a measly quarter million dollars. Appearing at a press conference under the auspices of the Democratic Party does not help. While his contemporaneous accounts are certainly interesting, in a chatty-Cathy kind of way, other sources provide enough information to detail the multiple ways Cindy McCain lied, cheated, and stole her way through Vicodin and Percocet for three years.

* The essence of this story has been around, as Kindy notes, for some time. The press started sniffing around it in 2000, until, as she notes, it became clear McCain wouldn't win the nomination. It remained a story local to Arizona until recently. The only details added by the Post's accounts, as far as I can tell, are the ways McCain managed to beat a pretty air-tight wrap through the assistance of an excellent attorney, and the way she has lied about it in subsequent interviews.

* Like Bristol Palin's pregnancy, I am wondering about the relevance of this story for the Presidential campaign. Cindy McCain became addicted to prescription pain killers in the same year many young men and women who will vote for the first time this election cycle were born. She managed to avoid prison, and beat back her addiction - not an easy process by any stretch of the imagination - sixteen years ago. While it might be nice to imagine scenarios in which there were all sorts of nefarious machinations on the part of John McCain to keep his wife out of prison, the narrative presented by the Post is pretty straight forward - she had a good lawyer. She could afford one, after all.

Now, I do not mean to downplay this. I am quite sure there are many who will insist "the whole story hasn't been told", or some such nonsense. The "whole story" is rarely if ever told, even in hindsight, so I fail to see how that means anything. In essence, this boils down to a simple story of a powerful woman who used her connections and money, a), to keep herself and her drug habit going; and b), after being confronted with it, and the potential legal penalties for her actions, doing what was necessary to help herself. While it may be regrettable that Cindy McCain did not lose as much as others in the process - the doctor who provided her with the drugs lost his license; Gosinski lost his job; Cindy McCain's life went on pretty much as before - I'm not sure how relevant that is, either. I think we all understand that, if you have the resources, and access to an excellent attorney, things the two other main protagonists in this narrative did not have, you can usually manage to wriggle out from under whatever rocks the legal system attempts to place upon you.

More to the point, there are myriad reasons to consider John McCain unworthy to hold the office of President. Helping his wife through a painful drug addiction and recovery is hardly one of them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brave New Films On McCain's Lies

I saw this, and part of the duty after watching it is to pass it on. So, I am passing it on. There are a number of videos at YouTube that feature the unending lies of John McCain. Robert Greenwald packages them all nicely. If I were Obama, I would buy this ad, and run it. Please watch it, and if you have a blog, post it. If not, mail it, or the link, to a few friends who may not know what's going on.

A Point Of Personal Privilege, Again

A member of our church, 49 years old, has to have cardiac bypass surgery tomorrow morning. He went from having chest pains yesterday to the discovery that the blood vessels around his heart need to be replaced. Please remember Mark Gray and his family, especially his two young children, and his new wife, Jill.


Courtesy of TPMTv, we have this little video. By the way, I think we need to keep James Carville's pinched face off the TV until after the election. Shut up, James. You're as stupid as they come.

Remember Turkmenistan!

War with Russia? As Josh asks, over Armenia? What if they decide to take back Tajikistan? Ukraine? Shoot, Azerbaijan is a hot-bed, just ripe for the plucking.

God help us. Do the McCain people think this kind of talk will help outside the lunatic fringe?

It will be interesting to see if Charlie Gibson - not the brightest bulb on the tree by any measure - asks a follow-up. Does she really believe risking nuclear war over South Ossetia is even close to a sane policy position?

Cultural Elitism And Its Discontents

I came across this little blurb from some yahoo named Megan McArdle, courtesy of alicublog:
Let's be honest, coastal folks: when you meet someone with a thick southern accent who likes NASCAR and attends a bible church, do you think, "hey, maybe this is a cool person"? And when you encounter someone who went to Eastern Iowa State, do you accord them the same respect you give your friends from Williams? It's okay--there's no one here but us chickens. You don't.

Now, Roy Edroso addresses this kind of thing quite well, and since I, on a much smaller scale, have had this same kind of crap tossed at me, I thought I'd pass some information along.

First, to call us "poor" when I was growing up would be correct. To call us "one hour away from finding ourselves looking for a place to lay our heads" would also be accurate. When I was a baby, we had the heat turned off in our house on Christmas Day. I rarely ate lunch at school because my parents couldn't afford the then exorbitant cost of 50 cents every once in a while. My father was a public school teacher in New York State, which pays not quite slave wages. My mother was a stay-at-home Mom until I was in sixth grade, when she went back to work as a Home Health Aide, again, hardly the roots of riches.

Yet, our house was filled with books, intelligent talk, and more important than anything, a lot of activity and love. With five kids, roughly spanning eleven years in age, "activity" is a nice euphemism for near-chaos. Both my parents were college educated, thoughtful, well-read, and the five of us were all smart, funny, and garrulous. I never noticed it until after I was married, when my wife commented that sitting at the dinner table with my whole family was a dizzying affair, because there were as many conversations going on as there were people, with everyone participating in all the conversations at the same time. Growing up, I never thought this was strange.

Even though we were poor, between help from our parents and help from the state and federal government, all five of us went to college. Two of us, my brother and me, went to private universities, when the cost should have been prohibitive. My sister and I have advanced degrees, managing the maze of academe to a Master's Degree (me) and a Doctorate (my sister).

For all that, when Lisa and I married, we made a decision to put her career first, because of the odd demands of the United Methodist ministry. I have worked as a hotel clerk, a convenience store clerk, a truck driver, and am currently an employee at the Wal-Mart in Belvidere, IL. For those of you who may not know what a third-shift employee at WM does - I stock shelves. The people I have worked beside in my life have been some of the best, smartest, funniest people in the world. I have yet to work with anyone who has the educational background I do. Yet, these men and women I have counted my friends - people with criminal records; single Moms or those who are essentially single Moms; active or recovering alcoholics and drug addicts; NASCAR fans; football fans; right-wing Republicans; left-wing Democrats. I have known women who have had abortions. I have known men who are dead-beat Dads. I have worked with people from all races, immigrants from Mexico, Bosnia, Japan, Poland, Vietnam, Thailand, and Great Britain. Some of the best and most intelligent insights I have ever had did not come from professors in classes, but the people with whom I have worked. I have been challenged and rewarded so often I can't begin to count.

As someone who lives on the rolling prairies of northern Illinois, which turns, just a few miles north, in to the rolling hills of Wisconsin, I can tell Megan McArdle that here in the American heartland there are people who would read her pap and laugh out loud. As someone who grew up in one of the original thirteen colonies, I can tell Megan McArdle that we have a genuine NASCAR veteran from my hometown, a couple in fact - the Bodine brothers. Geoff Bodine graduated from HS with my cousin Peggy. Brett would not have graduated from HS or passed physics (which he hardly needed to do considering his chosen career path) if not for my brother's help.

The kind of nonsense those on the right peddle about cultural elitism is so much bullshit. Just like John McCain's entire campaign thus far. I realize it plays well to certain elements of the Republican base, but so what? I think it is long past time for people to stand up and shout, with Barack Obama, "Enough!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Sound Of Millions Of Heads Hitting Millions Of Walls, Desks, Anything Hard

First, isn't it amazing that the recent spate of ads the McCain/Palin campaign has released have all been a tissue of lies? While I think Andrew Sullivan overstates the idea that John McCain was once an honorable man who has sold his soul to the devil (I do not believe McCain was ever honorable for the simple reason that few human beings actually are in the technical sense, and I have yet to meet a politician who is), he gets it exactly right in the second half of his equation - McCain's campaign has demonstrated that he is morally unfit to be President. It's really that simple.

Yet, in recent memory, when have Republican candidates for the Presidency demonstrated anything but contempt for the American people, or for the seriousness and gravity of the job? While many people consider George H.W. Bush's "Willie Horton" ad the beginning of the slide, in fact one can go back to Ronald Reagan's 1984, "Morning in America" ad for the way in which Republicans sidestepped any notion that the Presidency was about governance. In 1992, President Bush actually instructed parts of his Administration to investigate Gov. Bill Clinton's travel records. Some members quit. This largely forgotten story has never been completely resolved, because it became clear in the waning days of the campaign that the President would lose.

The 2000 campaign was as dishonest and trivial as they come, with Al Gore recreated as some odd mixture of megalomaniac who was unsure of his own masculinity, a pathological liar who needed a woman to dress him properly. Yet, an even cursory glance at the facts - such stupid things - would have revealed that George W. Bush was intellectually and morally unfit to lead the United States. He lied so often on the stump, in debates, in interviews, it became impossible to keep up. The nadir, for me, was the dog-whistle blowing "Jesus is my favorite political philosopher". There was actual discussion whether this was a serious answer or not. Political journalists can be really stupid. . . .

2004, in many ways, was a doubling down. When the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth emerged, I believe the Kerry campaign trusted to press to call them out on their lies. When they didn't, he tried to, but their campaign of distortions and lies was already out there, and it was a major distraction and waste of campaign resources to work against them.

This fall, we have the spectacle of a Republican Presidential candidate who offers no serious alternatives to our current policy malaise, yet insists he is the candidate for change. We have a Republican Presidential candidate who insists that experience is a necessary qualification for high Executive office, then picks an inexperienced, unknown governor for his running mate. We have a Vice Presidential candidate who lies so often in her canned stump speech, many are no longer keeping track. We have the McCain/Palin campaign weeping profusely because - in a sane world the following wouldn't even need to be typed - Barack Obama used the phrase "lipstick on a pig".

Whether it's the race-baiting, bullshit-filled McCain ad that lies about Obama's support for a bill in the IL legislature on sex education, a McCain ad that had to be pulled because of copyright violation (the sixth time the campaign has failed that particular legal test), or the lying about Obama's tax plan (more esoteric to some people, but far more important to their real lives than the contrived hissy-fit over the whole lipstick rigmarole), it seems McCain/Palin is constitutionally incapable of telling the truth.

There is some concern that the Obama campaign isn't keeping up. I think that's true, but I also think there's a reason they can't keep up. The lies are so transparent, and they come so fast, so often - at some point they are wondering if someone, somewhere might not just call John McCain a big fat liar and be done with it. Now, Obama did it in one ad. It would be nice if the campaign took the recent potshots McCain has tossed at him, bundled them in to an ad, and just had the word "Bullshit" printed across the bottom. Of course, that won't happen.

It is impossible to keep up with this kind of thing because it is quite clear that McCain doesn't really care about the truth, about how he is perceived in the eyes of voters, or anything other than winning. The irony, of course, is McCain once tried saying that Obama would rather lose a war than lose an election. The past couple weeks have made it abundantly clear - if it hadn't been already - the real pandering opportunist in this election, who would do quite literally anything including lying, cheating, and stealing (at least in ads, so far; in the technical sense, the McCain campaign has done all three) to win, the man who has no honor or integrity at all - John McCain.

This is more than just four more years of a George W. Bush Administration. Consider how this man has run his campaign, then imagine America run by this clown.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Emerging Narratives

Taking a step back from the day-to-day back and forth, I think I see a pattern emerging. To be honest, it is one of despicable dishonesty on the one hand, and counter-offensive belittlement on the other. If the national media can catch up, discard the discredited notion that John McCain was ever a "maverick", and experiences "Palin Fatigue" (I'm quite tired of her already; can you imagine if the Republicans won and she was around for at least four years?), it might be possible for this narrative to come out more forcefully.

One of the things Democrats have in their favor this time around is a candidate in Barack Obama who is running his campaign his way. In 1988, the Democrats chose a good, solid, smart, tough experienced politician who ran a dismal campaign that allowed the Republicans to make non-issues in to issues. This year, the Democrats have chosen a candidate who is solid, smart, tough, and refuses to allow the Republicans to get the better of him or his campaign. He dismisses their claims with derision, but not the Adlai Stevenson kind of derision, in which he tries to make himself look smart. It is a derision that points out McCain thinks American voters are ninnies and fools. It is a derisory on the simple point that McCain thinks he can lie with impunity. Obama calls the claims of the McCain/Palin campaign lies, without hesitation or apology. He refuses to allow McCain to run the kind of campaign he wants to, and Republicans have been running, for decades.

The latest McCain ad, which highlights Obama's support of a measure in the Illinois legislature regarding sex education, is a deft piece of dog-whistle politics for the right. It is also, to be far more blunt that the Obama/Biden campaign can be, a crock of shit.
It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls - a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn't define what honor was. Now we know why.

One of the promising things about these kinds of responses, for me at least, is they may just push McCain's infamous temper to the breaking point. That would be popcorn-worthy, to say the least.

This is why I don't worry all that much. Obama's responses aren't just defenses; they are counter-offensives.

As long as McCain keeps putting out garbage like this - and Republicans can't help themselves - Obama actually keeps the initiative in his favor, because the blows just don't land.

Long live rope-a-dope.

"It is a track record that deserves to be celebrated, not ridiculed or scorned."

Bob Herbert. Click, read, discuss.

"These People"

Courtesy of Ezra Klein, I came across this from The Washington Post's "The Trail", written by Peter Slevin.
Sen. Barack Obama delivered an impassioned defense of the Constitution and the rights of terrorism suspects tonight, striking back at one of the biggest applause lines in Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech to the GOP convention.

It was in St. Paul last week that Palin drew raucous cheers when she delivered this put-down of Obama: "Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights."

Obama had a few problems with that.

"First of all, you don't even get to read them their rights until you catch 'em," Obama said here, drawing laughs from 1,500 supporters in a high school gymnasium. "They should spend more time trying to catch Osama bin Laden and we can worry about the next steps later."

That's good, and it gets better.
Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade, said captured suspects deserve to file writs of habeus corpus.

Calling it "the foundation of Anglo-American law," he said the principle "says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, 'Why was I grabbed?' And say, 'Maybe you've got the wrong person.'"

The safeguard is essential, Obama continued, "because we don't always have the right person."

"We don't always catch the right person," he said. "We may think it's Mohammed the terrorist, but it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You might think it's Barack the bomb-thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president."

Obama turned back to Palin's comment, although he said he was not sure whether Palin or Rudy Giuliani said it.

"The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism. It's because that's who we are. That's what we're protecting," Obama said, his voice growing louder and the crowd rising to its feet to cheer. "Don't mock the Constitution. Don't make fun of it. Don't suggest that it's not American to abide by what the founding fathers set up. It's worked pretty well for over 200 years."

He ended this particular bit, according to Slevin, with the two words I quote in the title.

I would just add that Palin's comment in her speech was disturbing for the simple reason that she is running for Vice President of the United States. If elected, she takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Yet, here she was, reaching for an easy applause line in which she denigrates that very same document.

Applause lines are easy. Governing is a bit more difficult. That's what the Republicans have never understood.

If an ad appears soon in which Obama picks this up and makes it clear - that would be choice indeed.

Monday, September 08, 2008

"Politicians Lying About Their Record" - Obama Uses "L" Word In New Ad


Obama In Terre Haute (UPDATE)

Courtesy of YouTube, we have this little snippet of Barack Obama campaigning in Terre Haute, IN. What I like about this is the simplicity of it, and the way he gets some free advertising for his message. It also shows how Obama is going to win this. Meetings with people in towns all over the country, telling it like it is. "They must think we're stupid," indeed. Of course, some liberal bloggers, by panicking over recent tracking polls, are certainly acting that way as well . . .

UPDATE: Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly on-line makes a good point. One hopes the Obama campaign refines it, and puts it out there - the Republican campaign is, indeed, premised on the idea that the American people are stupid, can't find out the facts for themselves, and will buy whatever is sold to them. It is both hard-hitting and appeals to the better angels in the American character. This is the kind of message that needs to get out there, hard, fast, and often to keep the McCain campaign off-balance.

Music Monday

In 1983, Yes released 90125, with a new sound, courtesy of a new guitarist. The back story was simple. Steve Howe quit, and drummer Alan White and bassist Christ Squire were looking for new players. They played briefly with Jimmy Page, and planned to record and tour, but there were various legal hassles. Squire had been given a tape of South African musician Trevor Rabin, however, and invited him around. It took a year and a half, a band name change, and the re-emergence of Jon Anderson (who had quit Yes in 1979), but the band was back.

Except a lot of Yes fans didn't like the change.

Well, Rabin was a very different style of guitarist from Howe. Howe, who has a prickly personality, didn't get on very well with Rabin during the "Union" tour. Yet, for all their differences, both are extremely gifted musicians. Here's an example of Rabin's early work, "Getting to Know You Better":

Here's Rabin doing his acoustic solo piece, "Solly's Beard":

In 1989, he released a solo album that did quite well. This is "Something o Hold On To" from Can't Look Away:

Small Towns

I love this video from The Daily Show:

The cowboy? Queerer than a three dollar bill in Confederate money.

I grew up in a town about the size of Wasilia, Alaska. Waverly sits on the border of PA, and there are three boroughs - South Waverly, Sayre, and Athens, PA - all of which run in to one another. The area, physically formed by the junction of the Chemung and Susquehanna Rivers, is simply called The Valley by locals (I still refer to it that way, even though there are other valleys in the world). As an adult, I have lived in both small towns and two cities, one medium sized (Rochester, NY) and one large (Washington, DC). I'm still scratching my head over the whole "small towns are better" thread running through the Republican convention.

Of course, I recognize the politics of it. This is a kind of dog-whistle - it's all about "values". No gay, abortion-loving anti-Christians in LaMoille, IL, South Waverly, PA, or other "towns under 10,000". Except, of course, small towns are as diverse as large cities. The differences are largely that the power structure is inert, in place for generations. The Republicans interviewed by TDS represent the problem with small towns. Inarticulate, narrow-minded, these men and women are caricatures of what is wrong with those in power in small towns. In fact, there are many, diverse and distinct groups living in small towns. People of color, sexual, religious, and other minority groups have their own little enclaves. Some areas have different smaller groups than others. For example, not just Waverly, but the whole Finger Lakes area of western New York State, has a scattered but large population of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Recognizing the politics of such rhetoric is one thing. Cutting through the rhetoric, however, to reveal the hollowness of it is not only a wholly different matter, but necessary. Small Town USA no more provides a moral backbone to the country than do cities undermine them. The only good thing about this kind of rhetoric is that it is about a century too late. In 1896, William Jennings Bryant ran a campaign similar to this; we all know how much of a landslide he won . . . oh, wait, that's right.

Bryant lost to Ohio Sen. William McKinley.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Making It Up As They Go Along

There's been a story going around that the Democrats trashed their American flags after their convention was over. It seems the source of this story is . . . the McCain campaign.

Not only should they be ashamed of themselves, nothing coming from them should be considered legitimate at all.

I just love the way the anti-patriotic dog whistle is being blown by these clowns. They're almost too clever by half. I suppose this is another illustration of Mark Twain's dictum that a lie makes it around the world before truth makes it out the door.

Virtual Tin Cup

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