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News and Opinion
October 19, 2008
The New York Times will break new ground on the health of the presidential candidates and their running mates in a major expose set to be published in Monday’s print edition.
Lawrence Altman — the veteran Times reporter, George Polk Award winner, and one of the few medical doctors working as a full-time journalist — has spent weeks working with the campaigns and medical professionals on the piece, sources say.
Much of the speculation centers on new questions about the status of John McCain’s cancer raised by the story. The Washington Post reported last week that a growing number of doctors believe that McCain’s melanoma is “more advanced than his physicians concluded and that the chance of recurrence is consequently higher.”
But another peculiar facet of the Times story involves the McCain campaign’s refusal, as of this weekend, to turn over Sarah Palin’s medical information.
Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden reportedly provided documentation to the Times.
The issues of John McCain’s age and health have repeatedly been pushed, with much resistance, into the heart of the political discussion. Prompted in part by the selection of Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee, the topic crested with the release of a political advertisement by Brave New Films PAC calling attention to McCain’s history of skin cancer and the need for more information about his medical records.
McCain’s campaign says it has released all of the information needed to make a thorough assessment of his health, and then some. In late May, the Senator allowed the vetting of over 1,000 pages of his records that showed him in generally good condition despite having skin cancer eight years ago. But the process was far from transparent.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical correspondent who was one of only a handful of reporters allowed into the review, summarized the problems recently to the Huffington Post:
“We were given three hours to go over 1,200 pages of records. That is a lot to go through. It was very sort of cloak and dagger and I’m sure they had their reasons. Given that I had my medical training, I was able to hone in on what it thought was important more quickly. But the pages weren’t numbered, so I had no way of knowing what was missing… As a reporter I can only comment on what I saw but I can’t say by any means that this was complete… As far as the secretiveness of it, what they said to us is that you can’t take anything out of the room, but you could make notes. So it was a lot to go through in a short period of time.”
The Washington Post reported last week that McCain’s campaign refused to turn over additional documents for its story.
By Amy Goodman
October 16, 2008/truthdig.com
The 2008 presidential election may see the highest participation in U.S. history. Voter-registration organizations and local election boards have been overwhelmed by enthusiastic people eager to vote. But not everyone is happy about this blossoming of democracy.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has become a lightning rod for the right wing. ACORN’s Web site notes that “the electorate does not reflect the citizenry of the United States of America. It skews whiter, older, more educated and more affluent than the citizenry as a whole.” Bertha Lewis, ACORN’s lead organizer, told me: “We organize low- and moderate-income people, usually folks who are minorities—African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and working-class white people. And most of these folks have always been disenfranchised out of the electoral process. … We’ve registered 1.3 million new voters across the country over an 18-month period of time. We had over 13,000 hard-working voter-registration workers. And we may have had a few bad apples, but I don’t know any organization that didn’t.”
Barack Obama himself was questioned about ACORN’s problematic registrations. He said: “Having run a voter-registration drive, I know how problems arise. This is typically a situation where ACORN probably paid people to get registrations, and these folks, not wanting to actually register people, because that’s actually hard work, just went into a phone book or made up names and submitted false registrations to get paid. So there’s been fraud perpetrated on probably ACORN, if they paid these individuals and they actually didn’t do registrations. But this isn’t a situation where there’s actually people who are going to try to vote, because these are phony names.”
ACORN has seen some clearly fraudulent registrations submitted, with names like “Mickey Mouse” turned in. ACORN says it reviews all the registration forms. However, it does not serve as the ultimate arbiter of which registrations are fraudulent. In fact, ACORN cannot legally throw away any voter-registration cards. It flags suspicious cards and submits them to the appropriate state election authority to make the judgment.
Republicans are increasingly alarmed at the shifting demographics of the United States. Minorities tend to vote Democratic, and the United States is slowly becoming a majority minority country—by 2050, whites will no longer represent a majority in the U.S. As right-wing commentator Patrick Buchanan lamented in 2004: “In 1960, when JFK defeated Nixon, America was a nation of 160 million, 90 percent white and 10 percent black, with a few million Hispanics and Asians sprinkled among us. We were one nation, one people. We worshiped the same God, spoke the same English language.” Buchanan’s xenophobia highlights a political reality: Immigration and mobilization of the urban poor are shifting the electorate to the Democrats, especially in key swing states like New Mexico, Colorado, Florida and Ohio.
The federal Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002 in response to the electoral crisis of 2000. But it requires new voters to present identification at the polling place, which critics allege is a modern-day Jim Crow law. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (the son of the assassinated 1968 presidential candidate) said recently: “I have an ID, and most Americans have an ID. But one out of every 10 Americans don’t have a government-issued ID, because they don’t travel abroad, so they don’t have passports, and they don’t drive a car, so they don’t have driver’s licenses. The number rises to one in five when you’re dealing with the African-American community.” The online Michigan Messenger revealed that Michigan Republicans were planning to use a list of people with foreclosed homes to purge voter rolls. And a federal judge in Detroit has just ordered that 1,500 people be restored to the Michigan voter rolls, based on “voter caging”—purging people if mail to them is returned as undeliverable. The scandal around the firing of U.S. attorneys, which ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was based largely on the refusal of the Republican prosecutors to pursue unfounded voter-fraud cases.
Citizen groups like Election Protection and Video the Vote are organizing to document and report problems at the polls on Nov. 4. It is more likely that they will see honest people denied the right to vote, purged from the voter rolls, than an attempt by Mickey Mouse to vote Obama.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
© 2008 Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.
We are a stalwart and stouthearted people, and never
more so than in hard times. People weep in the dark and
arise in the morning and go to work. The waves crash on your
nest egg and a chunk is swept away and you put your salami
sandwich in the brown bag and get on the bus. In Philly, a
woman earns $10.30/hour to care for a man brought down by
cystic fibrosis. She bathes and dresses him in the morning,
brings him meals, puts him to bed at night. It’s hard
work lifting him and she has suffered a painful hern ia
that, because she can’t afford health insurance, she
can’t get fixed, but she still goes to work because
he’d be helpless without her. There are a lot of people
like her. I know because I’m related to some of them.
Low dishonesty and craven cynicism sometimes win the
day but not inevitably. The attempt to link Barack Obama to
an old radical in his neighborhood has desperation and
deceit written all over it. Meanwhile, stunning acts of
heroism stand out, such as the fidelity of military lawyers
assigned to defend detainees at Guantanamo Bay —
uniformed officers faithful to their lawyerly duty to offer
a vigorous defense even though it means exposing the
injustice of military justice that is rigged for conviction
and the mendacity of a commander in chief who commits war
crimes. If your law school is looking for a name for its new
library, instead of selling the honor to a fat cat alumnus,
you should consider the names of Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift,
Lt. Col. Mark Bridges, Col. Steven David, Lt. Col. Sharon
Shaffer, Lt. Cmdr. Philip Sundel and Maj. Michael Mori.
It was dishonest, cynical men who put forward a
clueless young woman for national office, hoping to juice
up the ticket, hoping she could skate through two months of
chaperoned campaigning, but the truth emerges: The lady is
talking freely about matters she has never thought about.
The American people have an ear for B.S. They can tell when
someone’s mouth is moving and the clutch is not
engaged. When she said, “One thing that Americans do at
this time, also, though, is let’s commit ourselves just
every day, American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms
across the nation, I think we need to band together a nd say
never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage
of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us
these dollars,” people smelled gas.
Some Republicans adore her because they are pranksters
at heart and love the consternation of grown-ups. The
ne’er-do-well son of the old Republican family as
president, the idea that you increase government revenue by
cutting taxes, the idea that you cut social services and
thereby drive the needy into the middle class, the idea
that you overthrow a dictator with a show of force and
achieve democracy at no cost to yourself — one stink bomb
after another, and now Governor Palin.
She is a chatty sportscaster who lacks the guile to
conceal her vacuity, and she was Mr. McCain’s first
major decision as nominee. This troubles independent voters,
and now she is a major drag on his candidacy. She will get
a nice book deal from Regnery and a new career making
personal appearances for forty grand a pop, and she’ll
become a trivia question, “What politician claimed
foreign-policy expertise based on being able to see Russia
from her house?” And the rest of us will have to pull
ourselves out of the swamp of Republican economics.
Your broker kept saying, “Stay with the
portfolio, don’t jump ship,” and you felt a strong
urge to dump the stocks and get into the money market where
at least you’re not going to lose your shirt, but you
didn’t do it and didn’t do it, and now you’re
holding a big bag of brown bananas. Me, too. But at least I
know enough not to believe desperate people who are talking
trash. Anybody who got whacked last week and still thinks
McCain-Palin is going to lead us out of the swamp and not
into a war with Iran is beyond persuasion in the English
language. They’ll need to lose their homes and be out
on the street in a cold hard rain before they connect the
John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as “not one of us,” I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.
At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, “Kill him!” At one of your rallies, someone called out, “Terrorist!” Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee – an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.
John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.
You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.
John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post- 9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.
Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.
John McCain, you’re walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out “Terrorist” or “Kill him,” history will hold you responsible for all that follows.
John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.
Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people – forever.
We will hold you responsible.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of “Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.” His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Plaid Lemur Blog
October 13, 2008
A scandal twice the size of Ted Stevens’ is brewing for Sarah Palin. No, it’s not the troopergate report, which in its own right is a monumental scandal, but one that hasn’t hit the mainstream media yet. This one’s a doozie. A half million dollar doozie.
Those of us who pay attention to the election with our proverbial telescopes and microscopes have all seen the pictures of Sarah Palin’s beautiful home overlooking a pristine Alaskan lake. It’s very picturesque, and enviable for most Americans. Now, it’s all the more idyllic if you believe the Palin’s–Todd built it himself, with his own two hands. What a nice image, but is that image the true one?
The home was constructed in 2002, right before Sarah Palin’s tenure as the director of Ted Stevens’ PAC, Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Incorporated. Ted Stevens, you may recall, was indicted for taking a quarter of a million dollars worth of gifts in the form of construction on his Alaskan cabin, and there are potential striking similarities to Sarah Palin’s situation. Not only is it improbable that Todd Palin built an almost 4,000 square foot luxury home with a ‘couple of buddies’, but it is looking as though Todd Palin had very little to do with the construction other than supervision.
Remember the massive, and horribly overpriced sports complex that Sarah Palin pushed through in Wasilla? Well, it seems that the sports complex contractors and architect have strong links and ties to Palin. Spenard Building Supplies was one, and wouldn’t you know, they also supplied the materials for the Palin’s home. Sure, a small connection, but get this–Spenard also was the supplier for Ted Stevens cabin. This one building supply company is involved with Palin, Stevens, the Wasilla sports complex, and is a financial contributor to Palin. Keep in mind that the sports complex was being constructed at the very same time as the Palin’s home.
This connection is neither fleeting, nor minor. This appears to be a pattern of concurrent events that makes it more and more likely that the Palin’s home may have been some sort of quid pro quo arrangement for the massive influx of money into the building supply company. An area that could reinforce this connection would be if the architect of the Wasilla sports complex, Blase Burkhart (also a contributor to Palin), had anything to do with the construction of the Palin’s home.
Another interesting twist to the story is that Sarah Palin was, at the time, also running for Lieutenant Governor, a position that could further reward those contributing to her campaign, and those that were involved with the Wasilla sports complex and the construction of Sarah Palin’s home. We know that Alaska has been a bastion of corrupt political activities.
Spenard Building Supplies has connections to Ted Stevens indictment, but also the Murkowskis. They have been a major contributor to Murkowski’s daughter’s Senate run. Frank Murkowski was the center of a massive corruption probe, with his Chief of Staff, Jim Clark, being found guilty in a conspiracy involving Veco, the company at the center of the Ted Stevens corruption scandal. Spenard worked with Veco on Stevens cabin.
So, Sarah Palin’s home involves a company involved with Ted Stevens, Palin became the director of Ted Stevens PAC within months after the home was built, and there is a plausible quid pro quo with the involvement of the $12,500,000 Wasilla sports complex. These connections are proven with city, state and court documents, the question now is whether Palin’s home had any amount of work contributed by Spenard, Veco, Burkhart, or any other contractors involved with the building of the Wasilla sports complex. My guess? There’s more to this story than has been uncovered so far. Todd Palin didn’t build a nearly 4,000 square foot luxury, lakeside home valued at over $500,000 by himself. Who helped him build it?
October 13, 2008/truthdig.com report
Todd Palin seated behind a White House desk and shaping national policy could be one of the most dangerous aspects of a potential Sarah Palin presidency.
An overlooked part of the Alaska state trooper investigation is its finding on the influence of Gov. Palin’s husband, Todd—the “First Dude” or, as he is known around the Alaska statehouse, the “First Gentleman.”
This is crucial in view of the age of the Republican nominee, John McCain, 72, and the fact that he has suffered from melanoma skin cancer. His doctors have pronounced him in excellent health, but his age and the serious nature of this type of cancer should focus attention on his running mate and her operating methods.
A fascinating picture of Todd Palin’s influence in Alaska’s capital is provided in the report of a legislative investigation that concluded that Gov. Palin unlawfully abused her power in seeking the firing of a state trooper once married to her sister. The report, released Friday, also criticized Palin for allowing Todd Palin to push hard for the dismissal of Trooper Mike Wooten.
Wooten had been married to the governor’s sister. Their divorce was messy. So, apparently, was Wooten’s career as a trooper. He had been accused of illegally shooting a moose, drinking beer in a patrol car and using a Taser gun on his stepson. He was disciplined before Palin became governor and was allowed to remain a trooper.
When Palin took over, the Wooten case was high on the family agenda, with Todd Palin leading the effort to get rid of the trooper. As Associated Press writer Mike Apuzzo put it in his story on the report, Todd Palin had “extraordinary access to the governor’s office” and he “used that access to try to get [Wooten] fired.”
His target was Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who said he lost his job because he refused to fire Wooten.
The report, by investigator Stephen Branchflower, a retired state prosecutor, shows how Todd Palin operates.
Monegan’s secretary, Cassandra Byrne, said that on Jan. 4, 2007, she received a phone call from the governor’s office. An aide told her “the First Gentleman would like to have a meeting with Commissioner Walt Monegan. At the time, I was not familiar with the term ‘First Gentleman.’ … So I kept asking ‘Who?’ and she eventually said ‘Todd Palin.’ I said, ‘Oh, OK,’ so we set the time and the place which was the governor’s office in Anchorage. … ”
Investigator Branchflower said that when Monegan arrived there he was directed into the governor’s office. Todd Palin, wearing a business suit, was alone, waiting for him. “Mr. Palin was seated at a large conference table and invited Mr. Monegan to sit,” the report said.
Monegan said, “What I recalled was Todd sitting there. He had three stacks of paper in an array in front of him” dealing with the Wooten case. One was from the Department of Public Safety, under which Alaska state troopers serve.
Monegan told Branchflower that he got “the impression that Todd was not happy with the investigation [that the department had made before disciplining Wooten].
“He told me that he [Wooten] just got a few days off [suspension] and didn’t think that was enough. And this guy shouldn’t be a trooper.”
Describing Todd Palin, Monegan said, “I saw someone who was somewhat animated. Not certainly out of control but he was passionate about how he was addressing the issue.
“And my impression was that he was venting. I mean there was a complaint, the troopers investigated it and that they had come up with a conclusion and that he was not happy with the conclusion.”
The telling vignette shows Todd Palin’s position in the governor’s office. Dressed in a business suit, seated behind a big conference table with state documents in front of him, he tried to tell the state’s top cop how to do his job.
This is a man who was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a radical group advocating Alaskan secession from the United States. Gail Fenumiai, director of the Alaska Division of Elections, told TPM Muckraker that Palin registered as an AIP member in October 1995 and continued in that status until 2000, when he registered as undeclared for a few months. He registered as an AIP member again and remained with the party until 2002, when he registered as undeclared.
What other radical ideas are percolating in the mind of a man who is now portrayed in the media as sort of a lovable guys’ guy?
If Sarah Palin ever becomes president, it is safe to assume that the First Gentleman of Alaska will slip into the role of First Gentleman of the United States with as much access to the Oval Office as he has to the governor’s office in Anchorage.
That is a truly scary thought.
This is from the Blog of “Margaret and Helen: Friends for 60 years and counting …
These two old dames have really got their, ahem, stuff together, and I highly recommend their site:
Did any of you watch the news shows this weekend? And I am not talkng about Troopergate because everyone saw that coming. I’m talking about the video from the McCain rallies. Clearly we now have proof postive that you shouldn’t sleep with your cousin.
My hat’s off to McCain for trying to set the record straight about Obama not being an Arab, but what does it say about his judgment that he handed a live microphone to Ma and Pa Kettle in the first place? I mean what truck and tractor pull was cancelled to make room for that stop on the Straight Talk Express?
Look. I called Governor Palin a bitch. Some of you didn’t like that word and I really don’t care. I’ve been around the block a few times. Hell, in dog years I’m already dead so a little word like bitch is hardly cause for concern in my world. But when a crowd starts yelling “terrorist”, “kill him” and “Arab”… well that is entirely different and it’s time the guys driving this Straight Talk Express started using their heads for something other than hat racks. If you watch Palin doing her little performance at those rallies you quickly realize that she is either too stupid to see or just doesn’t care that her dog sled is going down a slippery slope. We can’t put that in the White House. We just can’t.
But McCain has only himself to blame. He brought that pitt bull in lipstick down from Alaska and turned her loose on the lower 48. This is what you get when you begin to pander to the fears of the most ignorant among us. Lesson learned: if you lie down with Palin, you’ll get up with fleas.
That’s all until the debate. Thanks for stopping by. I mean it.
The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama
Sunday 12 October 2008
by: Frank Rich, The New York Times
Frank Rich believes that, “the McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism.” (Photo: Reuters)
If you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him.
Some voters told reporters that they didn’t want Obama to run, let alone win, should his very presence unleash the demons who have stalked America from Lincoln to King. After consultation with Congress, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, gave Obama a Secret Service detail earlier than any presidential candidate in our history – in May 2007, some eight months before the first Democratic primaries.
’I've got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying,’ Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.
Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of ‛Treason!’ and ‛Terrorist!’ and ‛Kill him!’ and ‛Off with his head!’ as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.
All’s fair in politics. John McCain and Sarah Palin have every right to bring up William Ayers, even if his connection to Obama is minor, even if Ayers’s Weather Underground history dates back to Obama’s childhood, even if establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform. But it’s not just the old Joe McCarthyesque guilt-by-association game, however spurious, that’s going on here. Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly ‛even-handed’ journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.
What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama ‛launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.’ He is ‛palling around with terrorists‘ (note the plural noun). Obama is ‛not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.’ Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.
By the time McCain asks the crowd ‛Who is the real Barack Obama?’ it’s no surprise that someone cries out ‛Terrorist!’ The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.
That’s a far cry from simply accusing Obama of being a guilty-by-association radical leftist. Obama is being branded as a potential killer and an accessory to past attempts at murder. ‛Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family’ was how a McCain press release last week packaged the remembrance of a Weather Underground incident from 1970 – when Obama was 8.
We all know what punishment fits the crime of murder, or even potential murder, if the security of post-9/11 America is at stake. We all know how self-appointed ‛patriotic’ martyrs always justify taking the law into their own hands.
Obama can hardly be held accountable for Ayers’s behavior 40 years ago, but at least McCain and Palin can try to take some responsibility for the behavior of their own supporters in 2008. What’s troubling here is not only the candidates’ loose inflammatory talk but also their refusal to step in promptly and strongly when someone responds to it with bloodthirsty threats in a crowded arena. Joe Biden had it exactly right when he expressed concern last week that ‛a leading American politician who might be vice president of the United States would not just stop midsentence and turn and condemn that.’ To stay silent is to pour gas on the fires.
It wasn’t always thus with McCain. In February he loudly disassociated himself from a speaker who brayed ‛Barack Hussein Obama’ when introducing him at a rally in Ohio. Now McCain either backpedals with tardy, pro forma expressions of respect for his opponent or lets second-tier campaign underlings release boilerplate disavowals after ugly incidents like the chilling Jim Crow-era flashback last week when a Florida sheriff ranted about ‛Barack Hussein Obama’ at a Palin rally while in full uniform.
From the start, there have always been two separate but equal questions about race in this election. Is there still enough racism in America to prevent a black man from being elected president no matter what? And, will Republicans play the race card? The jury is out on the first question until Nov. 4. But we now have the unambiguous answer to the second: Yes.
McCain, who is no racist, turned to this desperate strategy only as Obama started to pull ahead. The tone was set at the Republican convention, with Rudy Giuliani’s mocking dismissal of Obama as an ‛only in America’ affirmative-action baby. We also learned then that the McCain campaign had recruited as a Palin handler none other than Tucker Eskew, the South Carolina consultant who had worked for George W. Bush in the notorious 2000 G.O.P. primary battle where the McCains and their adopted Bangladeshi daughter were slimed by vicious racist rumors.
No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was ‛regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.’ In the ‛60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: ‛Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.’
This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan – or William Ayers – in Denver.
The operatives who would have Palin quote Pegler have been at it ever since. A key indicator came two weeks after the convention, when the McCain campaign ran its first ad tying Obama to the mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Rather than make its case by using a legitimate link between Fannie and Obama (or other Democratic leaders), the McCain forces chose a former Fannie executive who had no real tie to Obama or his campaign but did have a black face that could dominate the ad’s visuals.
There are no black faces high in the McCain hierarchy to object to these tactics. There hasn’t been a single black Republican governor, senator or House member in six years. This is a campaign where Palin can repeatedly declare that Alaska is ‛a microcosm of America’ without anyone even wondering how that might be so for a state whose tiny black and Hispanic populations are each roughly one-third the national average. There are indeed so few people of color at McCain events that a black senior writer from The Tallahassee Democrat was mistakenly ejected by the Secret Service from a campaign rally in Panama City in August, even though he was standing with other reporters and showed his credentials. His only apparent infraction was to look glaringly out of place.
Could the old racial politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and liberal panic) that this election will be decided by racist white men in the Rust Belt. Now even the dimmest bloviators have figured out that Americans are riveted by the color green, not black – as in money, not energy. Voters are looking for a leader who might help rescue them, not a reckless gambler whose lurching responses to the economic meltdown (a campaign ‛suspension,’ a mortgage-buyout stunt that changes daily) are as unhinged as his wanderings around the debate stage.
To see how fast the tide is moving, just look at North Carolina. On July 4 this year – the day that the godfather of modern G.O.P. racial politics, Jesse Helms, died – The Charlotte Observer reported that strategists of both parties agreed Obama’s chances to win the state fell ‛between slim and none.’ Today, as Charlotte reels from the implosion of Wachovia, the McCain-Obama race is a dead heat in North Carolina and Helms’s Republican successor in the Senate, Elizabeth Dole, is looking like a goner.
But we’re not at Election Day yet, and if voters are to have their final say, both America and Obama have to get there safely. The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.
Alaskan Independence Party: The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel
Thursday 09 October 2008
by: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Huffington Post
(Illustration: Alaskan Independence Party)
In 2004, America’s malleable mainstream media allowed itself to be manipulated by artful Republican operatives into devoting weeks of broadcast attention and drums of ink to unfairly desecrating John Kerry’s genuine Vietnam heroics while obligingly muzzling serious discussion of George W. Bush’s shameful wartime record of evasion and cowardice.
Last week found the American media once again boarding Republican swift boats against this season’s Democratic candidate armed with unfair and hypocritical attacks artfully designed by GOP strategists to distract attention from the cataclysmic outcomes of Republican governance. Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin has taken to faulting Senator Barack Obama for his casual acquaintance with a respected Illinois educator Bill Ayers, who forty years ago was a member of the Weathermen, a movement active when Obama was eight and which he has denounced as “detestable.” Palin argues that the relationship proves that Obama sees “America as being so imperfect that he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”
The Times dedicated a page one article to Obama’s relations with Ayers and CNN’s Anderson Cooper obliged Palin by rewarding her reckless accusations about Obama’s patriotism with a major investigative report. Fox, meanwhile, is still riveting its audience with wall to wall coverage of this pressing irrelevancy.
But if McCarthy-era guilt-by-association is once again a valid political consideration, Palin, it would seem, has more to lose than Obama. Palin, it could be argued, following her own logic, thinks so little of America’s perfection that she continues to “pal around” with a man – her husband, actually – who only recently terminated his seven-year membership in the Alaskan Independence Party. Putting plunder above patriotism, the members of this treasonous cabal aim to break our country into pieces and walk away with Alaska’s rich federal oil fields and one-fifth of America’s land base – an area three-fourths the size of the Civil War Confederacy.
AIP’s charter commits the party “to the ultimate independence of Alaska,” from the United States which it refers to as “the colonial bureaucracy in Washington.” It proclaims Alaska’s 1959 induction as a state “as illegal and in violation of the United Nations charter and international law.”
AIP’s creation was inspired by the rabidly violent anti-Americanism of its founding father Joe Vogler, “I’m an Alaskan, not an American,” reads a favorite Vogler quote on AIP’s current website, “I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.” According to Vogler AIP’s central purpose was to drive Alaska’s secession from the United States. Alaska, says current Chairwoman Lynette Clark, “should be an independent nation.”
Vogler was murdered in 1993 during an illegal sale of plastic explosives that went bad. The prior year, he had renounced his allegiance to the United States explaining that, “The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government.” He cursed the stars and stripes, promising, “I won’t be buried under their damned flag…when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home.” Palin has never denounced Vogler or his detestable anti-Americanism.
Palin’s husband Todd remained an AIP party member from 1995 to 2002. Sarah can be described in McCarthy-era palaver as a “fellow traveler.” While retaining her Republican registration, she attended the AIP’s 1994 convention where the party called for a draft constitution to secede from the United States and create an independent nation of Alaska. The McCain Campaign has reluctantly acknowledged that she also attended AIP’s 2000 Convention. She apparently found the experience so inspiring that she agreed to give a keynote address at the AIP’s 2006 convention and she recorded a video greeting for this year’s 2008 convention. In other words, this is not something that happened when she was eight!
So when Palin accuses Barack of “not seeing the same America as you and me,” maybe she is referring to an America without Alaska. In any case, isn’t it time the media start giving equal time to Palin’s buddy list of anti-American bombers and other radical associates?