Friday, October 31, 2008

White Supremacists Fantasize That Obama Will Help Them Recruit

By Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast. Posted October 31, 2008.

David Duke and white supremacists are grappling with arrests for an Obama murder plot, while hoping an Obama presidency will be good for them.

On October 27, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms announced the arrest of two young neo-Nazis, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, who allegedly plotted to assassinate Barack Obama. The strange event suggests that a criminal element within the white supremacist movement is hell-bent on racial violence if Obama becomes president.

On the other hand, key leaders of the movement's organized front see a potential Obama administration as a rising tide that will lift their sagging boats. They hope to leverage white resentment against Obama's presidency to generate unprecedented funding, bolster membership rolls, and influence the political mainstream.

According to the ATF, Cowart and Schlesselman planned to suit up in white tuxedoes and top hats and then massacre 88 black people, 14 by decapitation, including Obama among their targets. The numbers 88 and 14 are signifiant in neo-Nazi culture: "H" is the 8th letter of the alphabet; "HH" stands for "Heil Hitler." Fourteen symbolizes the 14-word pledge of the neo-Nazi group, The Order.

Initially portrayed in media accounts as "lone wolves" without institutional affiliations, new information about the would-be assassins suggests deeper connections into the subculture of neo-Nazi thugs united by an adulation of Adolf Hitler and desire for vigilante violence. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the would-be assassins, Daniel Cowart, was a "probate member" of an incipient youth group of the neo-Nazi movement, Supreme White Alliance...

The Triumph of Ignorance: How Morons Succeed in U.S. Politics

By George Monbiot,
Posted on October 31, 2008, Printed on October 31, 2008

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the United States come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind's closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist?

Like most people on this side of the Atlantic, I have spent my adult life mystified by American politics. The United States has the world's best universities and attracts the world's finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage.

There have been exceptions over the past century: Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton tempered their intellectualism with the common touch and survived; but Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore and John Kerry were successfully tarred by their opponents as members of a cerebral elite (as if this were not a qualification for the presidency). Perhaps the defining moment in the collapse of intelligent politics was Ronald Reagan's response to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debate. Carter -- stumbling a little, using long words -- carefully enumerated the benefits of national health insurance. Reagan smiled and said, "There you go again." His own health program would have appalled most Americans, had he explained it as carefully as Carter had done, but he had found a formula for avoiding tough political issues and making his opponents look like wonks.

It wasn't always like this. The founding fathers of the republic -- men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton -- were among the greatest thinkers of their age. They felt no need to make a secret of it. How did the project they launched degenerate into George W. Bush and Sarah Palin?

On one level, this is easy to answer: Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people. U.S. education, like the U.S. health system, is notorious for its failures. In the most powerful nation on Earth, 1 adult in 5 believes the sun revolves around the Earth; only 26 percent accept that evolution takes place by means of natural selection; two-thirds of young adults are unable to find Iraq on a map; two-thirds of U.S. voters cannot name the three branches of government; and the math skills of 15-year-olds in the United States are ranked 24th out of the 29 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development...

Who Has John McCain Been Palling Around With?
Don't tell my mother I work at the White House. She thinks I play the piano in a whore house.

By William Blum

October 30, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" -- The Republican presidential campaign has tried to make a big issue of Barack Obama at one time associating with Bill Ayers, a member of the 1960s Weathermen who engaged in political bombings. Governor Palin has accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”, although Ayers' association with the Weathermen during their period of carrying out anti-Vietnam War bombings in the United States took place when Obama was around 8-years-old. Contrast this with who President Ronald Reagan, so beloved by the Republican candidates, associated with. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was an Afghan warlord whose followers first gained attention by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. This is how they spent their time when they were not screaming "Death to America". CIA and State Department officials called Hekmatyar "scary," "vicious," "a fascist," "definite dictatorship material".1 None of this prevented the Reagan administration from inviting the man to the White House to meet with Reagan, and showering him with large amounts of aid to fight against the Soviet-supported government of Afghanistan.

Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush, palled around with characters almost as unsavory during his first campaign for the presidency in 1988. His campaign staff included a number of genuine pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic types from Eastern and Central Europe. Several of these worthies were leaders of the Republican campaign’s ethnic outreach arm, the Coalition of American Nationalities, despite the fact that their checkered past was not a big secret. One of them, Laszlo Pasztor (or Pastor) had served in the pro-Nazi Hungarian government’s embassy in Berlin during the Second World War. This had been revealed in a 1971 page-one story in the Washington Post.2 When this past was again brought up in September 1988, the Republicans were obliged to dump Pasztor and four others of his ilk from Bush’s campaign.3

And who has John McCain been palling around with? Who has been co-chair of McCain's New York campaign and a foreign policy adviser to McCain himself? None other than the illustrious unindicted war criminal and mass murderer Henry Kissinger, who must be very careful when he travels to Europe for there are committed and serious people in several countries there who will again try to have him arrested for the crimes against humanity he's responsible for ... Chile ... Angola ... East Timor ... Vietnam ... Laos ... Cambodia ...

By contrast, there is no evidence that Bill Ayers was involved in any Weathermen bombing that killed anyone; nor have I seen any evidence that on the very rare occasion that an anti-Vietnam War bombing in the United States resulted in a casualty that it could be ascribed to the Weathermen.

John McCain's bombings certainly killed – some two dozen aerial attacks upon the people of Vietnam, people who had neither done nor threatened any harm to him or his country. What label do we give to such acts, to such a man? His level of violence is matched by his degree of hypocrisy. Speaking of Ayers, McCain asked: “How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?”4

In his 2001 memoir, “Fugitive Days,” Ayers writes: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” This is something very few Americans can accept, and I wouldn't even make the attempt to persuade them. But I personally didn't blame the Weathermen then, and I don't blame them now. The Vietnam War was in its eighth year of barbarity. I and the rest of the army of the powerless needed a few points up there on the scoreboard against the lords of the national-security corporate state. A bombing, with a suitably war-criminal target – like the State Department or the Pentagon – and taking care to prevent any casualties, told the bastards that we were still out there, that their impunity was not total, that this is how it feels to be bombed. Armed propaganda. It told the public that there was something more serious going on than a town-hall difference of opinion that could be reasonably resolved by reasonable people discussing things in a reasonable manner. And like an unhappy child having a temper tantrum, we needed some instant gratification. We were struggling against the most powerful force in the world...
An 'Idiot Wind'
John McCain's latest attempt to link Barack Obama to extremism

Friday, October 31, 2008; Page A18

WITH THE presidential campaign clock ticking down, Sen. John McCain has suddenly discovered a new boogeyman to link to Sen. Barack Obama: a sometimes controversial but widely respected Middle East scholar named Rashid Khalidi. In the past couple of days, Mr. McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, have likened Mr. Khalidi, the director of a Middle East institute at Columbia University, to neo-Nazis; called him "a PLO spokesman"; and suggested that the Los Angeles Times is hiding something sinister by refusing to release a videotape of a 2003 dinner in honor of Mr. Khalidi at which Mr. Obama spoke. Mr. McCain even threw former Weatherman Bill Ayers into the mix, suggesting that the tape might reveal that Mr. Ayers -- a terrorist-turned-professor who also has been an Obama acquaintance -- was at the dinner.

For the record, Mr. Khalidi is an American born in New York who graduated from Yale a couple of years after George W. Bush. For much of his long academic career, he taught at the University of Chicago, where he and his wife became friends with Barack and Michelle Obama. In the early 1990s, he worked as an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at peace talks in Madrid and Washington sponsored by the first Bush administration. We don't agree with a lot of what Mr. Khalidi has had to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years, and Mr. Obama has made clear that he doesn't, either. But to compare the professor to neo-Nazis -- or even to Mr. Ayers -- is a vile smear.

Perhaps unsurprising for a member of academia, Mr. Khalidi holds complex views. In an article published this year in the Nation magazine, he scathingly denounced Israeli practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and U.S. Middle East policy but also condemned Palestinians for failing to embrace a nonviolent strategy. He said that the two-state solution favored by the Bush administration (and Mr. Obama) was "deeply flawed" but conceded there were also "flaws in the alternatives." Listening to Mr. Khalidi can be challenging -- as Mr. Obama put it in the dinner toast recorded on the 2003 tape and reported by the Times in a detailed account of the event last April, he "offers constant reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases."

It's fair to question why Mr. Obama felt as comfortable as he apparently did during his Chicago days in the company of men whose views diverge sharply from what the presidential candidate espouses. Our sense is that Mr. Obama is a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position. To suggest, as Mr. McCain has, that there is something reprehensible about associating with Mr. Khalidi is itself condemnable -- especially during a campaign in which Arab ancestry has been the subject of insults. To further argue that the Times, which obtained the tape from a source in exchange for a promise not to publicly release it, is trying to hide something is simply ludicrous, as Mr. McCain surely knows.

Which reminds us: We did ask Mr. Khalidi whether he wanted to respond to the campaign charges against him. He answered, via e-mail, that "I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over." That's good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign's increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Neocon weasels heart Sarah...

The Insiders

How John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin.

by Jane Mayer

“Here’s a little news flash,” Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska and the Republican candidate for Vice-President, announced in September, during her début at the Party’s Convention, in St. Paul. “I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly these past few days that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington élite then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.” But, she added, “I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion.”

In subsequent speeches, Palin has cast herself as an antidote to the élitist culture inside the Beltway. “I’m certainly a Washington outsider, and I’m proud of that, because I think that that is what we need,” she recently told Fox News. During her first interview as John McCain’s running mate, with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, Palin was asked about her lack of experience in foreign policy. She replied, “We’ve got to remember what the desire is in this nation at this time. It is for no more politics as usual, and somebody’s big fat résumé, maybe, that shows decades and decades in the Washington establishment . . . Americans are getting sick and tired of that self-dealing, and kind of that closed-door, good-ol’-boy network that has been the Washington élite.”

Palin’s sudden rise to prominence, however, owes more to members of the Washington élite than her rhetoric has suggested. Paulette Simpson, the head of the Alaska Federation of Republican Women, who has known Palin since 2002, said, “From the beginning, she’s been underestimated. She’s very smart. She’s ambitious.” John Bitney, a top policy adviser on Palin’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign, said, “Sarah’s very conscientious about crafting the story of Sarah. She’s all about the hockey mom and Mrs. Palin Goes to Washington—the anti-politician politician.” Bitney is from Wasilla, Palin’s home town, and has known her since junior high school, where they both played in the band. He considers Palin a friend, even though after becoming governor, in December, 2006, she dismissed him. He is now the chief of staff to the speaker of the Alaska House.

Upon being elected governor, Palin began developing relationships with Washington insiders, who later championed the idea of putting her on the 2008 ticket. “There’s some political opportunism on her part,” Bitney said. For years, “she’s had D.C. in mind.” He added, “She’s not interested in being on the junior-varsity team.”

During her gubernatorial campaign, Bitney said, he began predicting to Palin that she would make the short list of Republican Vice-Presidential prospects. “She had the biography, I told her, to be a contender,” he recalled. At first, Palin only laughed. But within a few months of being sworn in she and others in her circle noticed that a blogger named Adam Brickley had started a movement to draft her as Vice-President. Palin also learned that a number of prominent conservative pundits would soon be passing through Juneau, on cruises sponsored by right-leaning political magazines. She invited these insiders to the governor’s mansion, and even led some of them on a helicopter tour...


Jane Mayer on “The Insiders: How John McCain Came to Pick Sarah Palin”

...Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jane.

JANE MAYER: Hi, thanks. Good to be with you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Why don’t you tell us the story of the cruises to Alaska?

JANE MAYER: The cruises. Well, Juneau, Alaska turns out to be a major stop for cruise ships that come through Alaska, and there are political cruises, in particular, that are run by the conservative political magazines that stop there. And so, when Sarah Palin was elected governor, she learned that a number of those Washington insider elite members of the media would be trooping through Juneau. And despite the rhetoric that she’s got that is about, you know, sort of deriding them and saying she doesn’t, you know, seek their approval, in fact, she invited most of them to lunch and to other receptions that she threw. She even brought some up on a helicopter ride to go see a couple sites in Alaska.

So, she was courting some of those Washington insiders. In particular, they were the pundits that work for the Weekly Standard magazine, which is Rupert Murdoch’s conservative political magazine, and the National Review, the old conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley. So she made a great impression on some of these pundits when they came through. They enjoyed their lunches and receptions and went back and wrote fabulous stories about her, and this was one of the things that really got the ball rolling for her.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you know, Jane, if you could actually tell us the story—for example, first, I mean, you had the two magazines, the Weekly Standard had one cruise, and the National Review, Buckley’s publication, had the other. William—Bill Kristol and his crew came into town for the first lunch. Just describe it for us and their impressions, as you understood them from your sources.

JANE MAYER: Well, I mean, I interviewed many of them. They described her as completely charming. And an unusual dish was served, an Alaska dish, halibut cheeks, in the governor’s mansion. And she was—her little girl Piper popped in and asked about dessert. And Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, who is a regular on a show called The Beltway Boys and writes for the Weekly Standard, and Michael Gerson, who was a former speech—top speech writer for President Bush and writes a column in the Washington Post, were all there with various family members of theirs. And they were smitten by her, especially Bill Kristol, who has really been beating the drums for Sarah Palin, pretty much ever since.

And then, the second group came in several weeks later. They were the National Review crowd, and it was a much bigger group. One of the things that interested me about that group was, among the dignitaries was Dick Morris, who is a political consultant and a very sort of cynical, savvy player in politics, the ultimate, really, Washington insider, in a way. All the kinds of people that Sarah Palin has said that she—you know, she’s such an outsider to, well, they were all at a reception for her there. And, in fact, Dick Morris sort of pulled her aside for a private conversation, which she then revealed later to the group, in which he said, “If you want to be successful politically, you’ve got to continue to hold onto your image as an outsider. Play up that outsider thing.” And obviously, she has. But it’s just so interesting to hear that really it’s a calculated strategy. It’s not just because she is an outsider; it’s a—you know, it’s a ploy, to some extent.
Evangelicals and Rural Americans Are Breaking Big for Obama
By Robert S. Eshelman,

There's clearly a new political landscape forming in the U.S. That's what the polls are telling us. It's not just that the first major-party black candidate for President is leading by significant margins in the national polls; it's not just that North Dakota, a state George W. Bush won in 2004 by 64%, is believed to be "in play"; it's not just that Virginia which, like North Dakota, was last carried by a Democrat in the sweep year of 1964, is, according to the most recent Washington Post poll and others, in the Obama camp by at least 8 points, or that he's leading in a remarkable number of states Bush took in 2004, or even that Democratic Senate and House candidates are making a run of it in previously ridiculous places.

Consider, instead, three recent polls in the context of the Bush years. Obama and McCain are now in a "statistical dead heat" among born-again evangelicals, those Rovian foot soldiers of two successful Bush elections, according to a recent survey; and the same seems to be true in Sarah Palin's "real America," those rural and small town areas she's praised to the skies. According to a poll commissioned by the Center for Rural Strategies, in those areas which Bush won in 2004 by 53%-41%, Obama now holds a statistically insignificant one point lead. To complete this little trifecta, Gallup has just released a poll showing that Jews are now likely to vote for Obama by a more than 3 to 1 majority (74% to 22%).

If present projections come close to holding, this could prove to be a rare reconfiguring or turning-point election -- as Wall Street expert Steve Fraser first suggested might be possible at TomDispatch way back in February 2007. If so, the Republican Party, only recently besotted by dreams of a generational Pax Republicana, might find itself driven back into the deep South and deep West for who knows how long, "an extremist rump, reduced to a few stronghold states and obsessed with causes that seem not to matter to the general public."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Even in the rural heartland, Obama has sparked an explosive conversation
In this weathervane state they love God and guns. But they also see the long shadows of slavery and discrimination

Timothy Garton Ash in Missouri
The Guardian, Thursday October 30 2008

In Warsaw, Missouri, there's a ghost who keeps talking to me through the mouths of strangers. He is the ghost of slavery past, and he casts a long shadow, even across the streets of this cheerful little lakeside town on a sunny autumn day. A local Obama campaign volunteer tells me about a woman she had canvassed who said she personally would vote for Barack but that her daughter wouldn't - and then the mother lowered her voice - "because he's black". Nor would her son: "he's even more racist". How horrible to feel impelled to say that of your own children. The jokey-scary commercial paraphernalia of Halloween is all around, but here are America's real ghosts and witches.

Missouri matters. It is a national weathervane. Located bang in the middle of the American heartland, where east meets west and north meets south, over the past hundred years it has chosen the winner in every presidential race except one. In the opinion polls, it's among the few states that are still too close to call. That's why Obama was here speaking to massive rallies a fortnight ago, and why both he and Joe Biden are back here again this Thursday. That's why the Obama organisation in Missouri plans to use its 25,000 volunteers to knock on some 1.3m doors during the last four days of the campaign.

Most of those key swing voters are in the sprawling, laundered suburbs of St Louis and Kansas City, but every vote from these rural areas, whose native sons include one of the greatest Democratic presidents, Harry Truman, will count too. And I'm in the heart of the rural heartland: beautiful, gently rolling country, with dawn mist rising from cattle ponds, trees turning every impressionist's shade of autumn russet, yellow and red, cows picturesquely munching lush grass, and roadside signs proclaiming Dirt For Sale, and Jesus Is Lord.

On the corner of Van Buren and Kosciusko street (Tadeusz Kosciuszko, that is, the Polish freedom fighter who inspired the town's name), I notice a neat, white-painted house with a sign in the window saying "This House Protected by God". Out front, a guard dog barks. (A dog called God?) And there's another sign on the lawn: For Sale. The Lord may provide, but people have housing and money worries here as everywhere. And they don't just hunt for the sport. A good shot can put a nourishing turkey or quail on the table for dinner. So the Republicans claim Obama wants to take away your gun. A McCain advertisement on the local country music radio station declares, in a deep countryman's voice, "We love our God and we love our guns" - and you can almost hear a second capital G. And, it goes on, "liberals" want to take them away, being "out of touch with our America". ......(more)

The complete piece is at:
Geoffrey Wheatcroft: As the US right disintegrates, only one result seems possible
Obama has simply waited for his opponent to self-destruct
Thursday, 30 October 2008

... Large political parties, especially under the American (as the British) electoral system are bound to be coalitions, often of highly disparate elements. That was true of the Democrats in their heyday under Roosevelt to which many are now harking back, a weird alliance of organised labour, city bosses, intellectual progressives and Southern segregationists.

But the Republicans have become an equally improbable mixture of fiscal conservatives, religious reactionaries and neocons, who really have little in common beyond a shared enemy in the form of "liberalism" or what passes for such in America. The nomination of McCain himself was a sign of the conservatives' difficulties. He defeated his rivals because of his seeming authenticity and decency, but many on the Right greatly dislike him as ideologically unsound.

Then came the anointing of Palin, which may prove to have been a decisive moment. In a most entertaining article in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer describes not one but two sea cruises to Alaska in the summer of last year arranged by right-wing magazines of different hues, National Review and Weekly Standard. There they met Palin and fell for her – "my heartthrob," says William Kristol – even though the advocacy of this gormless backwoodswoman by clever rightist intellectuals was the height of cynicism.

It was also a mark of despair. "Nothing is inevitable,"McCain said on Tuesday, but a victory for Obama now looks very likely indeed, and if the turnout of younger voters rises sharply it could be a landslide. We may all yet be disappointed by President Obama, but this election will still be a thrashing from which the Right will take a long time to recover.
Blessed Are the Persecuted
How Joe the Plumber fits the GOP narrative.

Historically speaking, conservatism is a movement organized and funded by society's most powerful members; politically speaking, it lusts for tax cuts and government rollbacks that will benefit those same fortunate folks at the top.

But what it really is, in its own mind, is a crusade on behalf of society's most abject members: the true Americans who are victimized, sneered at and persecuted for their faithfulness.

Who persecutes them? Well, the mainstream media, to begin with, which supposedly chuckles at their unadorned heartland ways from its lofty perches in New York and Washington. Academics, for another, with their fancy rhetoric and their bottomless contempt for the red, white and blue. And the ACLU, for a third, with its unceasing war on Ten Commandments monuments and Nativity scenes.

Then there is "the culture." Who is the butt of every joke you see on TV? Oafish Middle Americans. From sitcoms to Hollywood blockbusters to ads, their customs are disrespected in a thousand ways. Bestselling conservative books remind average citizens, in fantastic detail, the slanders and slights the world heaps upon them.

Apply this way of thinking to politics and every part of the conversation comes unmoored from reality, drifting off into an endless metaconversation about who's disrespecting whom.

All these attacks on the good people of the trans-Beltway region, and yet no actual, physical attacks to speak of! The need for such a manifestation was clear, and last week a College Republican volunteer in Pennsylvania stepped forward to reveal to the world the stigmata of Middle America's persecution. She was robbed and beaten, she told Pittsburgh police, by a tall mysterious black man who, upon discovering her Republican affiliation, proceeded to carve a backward "B" onto her cheek -- a "B" as in Barack Obama, that tormenter of average Joes everywhere. The next day, of course, the victim recanted her tale and the whole thing fell apart.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Politically Motivated" Mutilation - Real or Hoax?

Pittsburgh law enforcement sources tell TMZ they have serious questions about the authenticity of the alleged victim who says she had her face cut by a politically-motivated attacker.

We're told there are several things about the alleged attack that don't add up. A Pittsburgh PD official says they are conducting a "thorough investigation" and have not determined if the alleged attack is real or a hoax. But we're told there is definitely a level of skepticism.

As we reported, the alleged victim claims she went to an ATM and when she turned around, a large dark-skinned man took the money she withdrew. She says when he noticed she had a McCain/Palin bumper sticker on her car, he became enraged, knocked her down and cut a "B" in her face.

We're told the woman refused medical assistance at the scene and said she would go to the hospital the next day.

The investigation continues.

Hey look! Morton Downey Jr. is back!
GOP 'goner' list warns of House rout

10/23/08 5:34 PM EDT An internal document circulating among House Republicans warns of an impending congressional bloodbath, listing 58 Republican-held House seats being at risk, and 11 already considered as good as gone. As many as 34 GOP-held seats are in serious jeopardy of swinging to Democrats, the assessment shows.

The state-of-the-race update, first reported on by U.S. News’ Paul Bedard, shows the GOP already writing off the seats of Reps. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), John R. Kuhl (R-N.Y.), Don Young (R-Alaska) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.). It also expects losses in the seats of retiring GOP Reps. Rick Renzi of Arizona, Jerry Weller of Illinois, Jim Saxton of New Jersey, Mike Ferguson of New Jersey, Vito Fossella of New York, James Walsh of New York and Tom Davis of Virginia.

Drafted by a Republican consultant, the document ranks seats on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most likely for a Democratic takeover. Eleven members received a 5, meaning the seat is gone unless “a significant turn of events” changes things in the final two weeks. An additional seven seats are ranked as a 4, in the leaning Democratic category, and 16 seats are in the tossup category.

One well-connected Republican operative told Politico that the list, if anything, understated the number of members needing a political lifeline. The operative also said the GOP is all but writing off the seats of Reps. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Phil English (R-Pa.), and the open New Mexico House seat of retiring Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), who is running for the Senate. . . .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Joe the Plumber and GOP 'Authenticity'

It's hard to reach out to workers while cracking down on unions.

The conservative movement made its name battling moral relativists on campus, bellowing for a "strict construction" of our nation's founding documents, and pandering to people who believe that the Book of Genesis literally records the origins of human existence.

And yet here are the words of Ronald Reagan's pollster, Richard Wirthlin, as recorded in one of the main Reagan strategy documents from 1980: "People act on the basis of their perception of reality; there is, in fact, no political reality beyond what is perceived by the voters."

The context of Wirthlin's reality-denial, according to the historian Kim Phillips-Fein, who unearths his statement in her forthcoming book, "Invisible Hands," was the larger Republican plan to woo blue-collar voters.

The mission was a success. It worked because Republicans wholeheartedly adopted Wirthlin's dictum. Reality is a terrible impediment when you're reaching out to workers while simultaneously cracking down on unions and scheming to privatize Social Security. Leave that reality to the "reality-based community," to use the put-down coined by an aide to George W. Bush.

The "perception of reality," on the other hand, is an amazing political tonic, and with it conservatives have cemented a factproof worldview of lasting power. It is simply this: Conservatives are authentic and liberals are not. The country is divided into a land of the soulful, hard-working producers and a land of the paper-pushing parasites; a plain-spoken heartland and the sinister big cities, where they breed tricky characters like Barack Obama, all "eloquence," as John McCain sneered in last week's presidential debate, but hard to pin down.

"There are Americans and there are liberals," proclaims a bumper sticker that adorns my office. "Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God," proclaimed Rep. Robin Hayes (R., N.C.) on Saturday at a rally in North Carolina. Speaking of Mr. Obama on the day before that, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R., Minn.) expressed deep concern on MSNBC "that he may have anti-American views." And on the day before that, GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin saluted "these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

Foursquare fans of perceived reality must have rejoiced when they beheld, on the hard streets of suburban Toledo, Ohio, that most authentic of men, Joe the Plumber: "the average citizen" in the flesh, according to Mr. McCain; "a real person," according to Mrs. Palin, who deftly ruined Mr. Obama's "staged photo op there" -- a subject on which Mrs. Palin can surely count herself an authority.

Joe the Plumber -- along with his just-discovered supporter, Tito the Builder -- has brought to the GOP what Richard Wirthlin went looking for so long ago: blue-collar affirmation. But consider the degree of reality-blindness it takes to kick out the authenticity like Joe does. The rust-belt metro area in which he lives has been in decline for decades. In 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked it 335 out of 369 small metropolitan areas for unemployment; for home foreclosures, according to a 2007 article in the Toledo Blade, it is the 30 worst of all cities in the nation. According to Census numbers, median household income in the Toledo area, measured in constant dollars, has actually decreased since the late 1970s.

Joe's town may be circling the drain, but Joe's real concern, as the world knows, is that he might have to pay more taxes when his ship finally comes in. For good measure, Joe also declares Social Security "a joke": "I've never believed in it," he told reporters last week. Maybe that's because this realest of men knows that Social Security is just a hippie dream, despite the Census's insistence that 28% of his city's households received income from that source in 2003. Maybe all those people would be better off if we had invested Social Security's trust fund in WaMu and Wachovia -- you know, the real deal.

Here is the key to this whole strange episode: Government is artifice and imposition, a place of sexless bureaucrats and brie-eating liberals whose every touch contaminates God's work. Markets, by contrast, are natural, the arena in which real people prove their mettle. After all, as Mr. McCain said on Monday, small businessmen are just "Joe the Plumbers, writ large." Markets carry a form of organic authenticity that mere reality has no hope of touching.

This is not a good time for market-based authenticity, however. It now seems that those real, natural Americans who make markets go also cook the books, and cheat the shareholders, and hire lobbyists to get their way in Washington. They invent incomprehensible financial instruments and have now sent us into a crisis that none of them has any idea how to solve.

If that's nature, I'm ready for civilization.

Drudge is fudge. It couldn't happen to a fruitier little fruitfly.

Drudge unplugged: How his campaign influence has collapsed

by Eric Boehlert

I'm not saying that given the choice I wouldn't pick a robust economy and a worry-free global outlook. But circumstances being what they are, I have to say that as the White House campaign hits its final stride under the ominous shadow of the Wall Street meltdown and the deep recession that's hurtling this way, perhaps the only silver lining -- the one unexpected pleasure -- has been watching the Drudge Report be completely neutered by current events.

Matt Drudge is still doing his loyal best to boost the chances of the GOP down the homestretch in the form of a blizzard of anti-Obama and pro-McCain links on his site. (Last week, it was the half-baked McCain "comeback" that Drudge hyped relentlessly.)

And there's no question that Drudge's Web traffic remains strong and continues to grow, thanks to a burgeoning international audience. But in terms of setting the ground rules -- in terms of setting the campaign agenda -- Drudge has been AWOL since mid-September when the credit crisis erupted.

His current spectator status mirrors that of the low-flying right-wing bloggers. Just as the bloggers were hailed for their (pseudo) detective work in undermining CBS' Dan Rather in 2004, Drudge was credited for the way he used his widely read platform to push the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth story into the mainstream press, which helped derail John Kerry's campaign.

Four years ago, Drudge and the right-wing bloggers were at the peak of their political power. Today, they're pretty much watching the election pass them by, reduced to the role of frustrated sideline hecklers...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Click to enlarge image.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Republicans have lifted the lid off their rightwing id
Now McCain's supporters are casting Obama as anti-American. This may well scare voters, but not the way they mean to

Michael Tomasky
The Guardian,
Monday October 20 2008

...This point was proved most dramatically by a woman named Michele Bachmann, a member of Congress from Minnesota. In an interview last Friday on Hardball, a leading US cable talk show, host Chris Matthews asked Bachmann whether Obama worried her. "Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views," she said. He asked her what she thought distinguished liberal from hard left from anti-American. If she maintains such distinctions in her mind, she refused to acknowledge them. Then, finally, Matthews - who deftly fed her the rope to hang herself - asked her how many members of the US Congress held, in her view, anti-American views.

It's been almost a two-year campaign. There have been moments we've thought of as memorable, only to see the tide of events erase their mark from the sand. Bachmann's answer, however, will live imperishably: "What I would say - what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an exposé like that."

Before we go any further - who is this Bachmann? She's a first-term backbencher from exurban Minneapolis who says the Lord told her to run for Congress. She declared herself "a fool for Christ" in 2006 when she announced her candidacy. By all accounts she's down with the whole rightwing Christian package: immigrants bring disease and pestilence, homosexuals want to indoctrinate straight children, and so on. Republican leadership undoubtedly pushed her out on to television because she is, as you Brits say, a looker - at least by the standards of Congress.

The call for an investigation into the beliefs of every federal lawmaker, and an exposé of those found wanting in their patriotism, certainly takes us into deeply creepy territory. I would not call Bachmann herself a fascist. Odd as it sounds, to do so would be to grant her far too much credit. For one to embrace an -ism, even a repugnant one, one needs to have read a certain amount of history and political philosophy. Bachmann is just an idiot. She wouldn't know Edmund Burke from Billie Burke (she played the good witch in the Wizard of Oz), and she obviously has no idea that, in her rejection of the two bedrock American principles of separation of church and state and freedom of thought, she is the one who is as anti-American as they come.

But friends, all is not darkness. Bachmann's appearance caused a national uproar. Colin Powell, in endorsing Obama yesterday, said of Bachmann's comments that "we have got to stop this kind of nonsense and pull ourselves together". Her Democratic opponent raised nearly half a million dollars from around the country in just 24 hours, and he now has a chance of beating her.

That would be nice. But let's go back to the big contest. With Bachmann, the lid came off the rightwing id. It will happen many more times over these next two weeks. McCain, now openly using the word "socialist" to describe Obama's proposals (the week after his friend George W Bush took federal control of nine major banks!), and especially Palin have shown every sign of encouraging it. Their goal is to scare Americans about Obama, but moderate, independent voters might well decide that Obama looks a lot less scary than they do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The divided GOP. They all suck, just in different ways. Left out of this graphic illustration are the hard, right Zionist neocon cabal...Kristol, Gaffney, Pipes, Wolfowitz, etc...

Waiting for the Barbarians


By Richard Kim

This article appeared in the November 3, 2008 edition of The Nation.

October 16, 2008

In case you haven't heard, there's a guy running for president named Barack Hussein Osama Nobama. This Nobama was born outside America and secretly schooled in Islamic terrorism at a Wahhabi madrassa. He then moved to the United States to take up the radical '60s teachings of the Weather Underground's Bill Ayers, while also organizing for ACORN, a subprime-lending, voter fraud-committing collective of affirmative-action welfare queens. All this happened before he became an elitist celebrity advocate of socialism, infanticide, the sexual abuse of children and treason.

Suffice it to say, this caricature stretches even the limits of comic imagination. The real Obama's Christianity, his patriotism, moderation and commitment to capitalism, law and order, and national security are matters of abundant public record--some of which displeases the left wing of his party. But this is of little import to the Republican rank and file. For them, the fallaciousness of the whole counts for less than the suggestive appeal of the parts. All John McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates need to do is raise the insidious question--"Who is the real Barack Obama?"--and the zealots conjure the rest, along with cries of "Treason!" "Kill him!" and "Off with his head!" The virulence of such rhetoric makes even Palin seem thoughtful; she at least inserts whole verb phrases like "palling around with" in between nouns like "Barack Obama" and "terrorists."

Such scenes are alarming not only because of the McCain campaign's willingness to stoke such murderous mania but also because of its apparent inability to control the madness once it has been unleashed. At more than one rally, McCain has been booed by the audience for attempting to interrupt panicked rants about the impending socialist or terrorist takeover of America. The crowd's immediate anger is directed not at Obama and the Democrats but at their own party's standard-bearers, who should be "representing us" but have so far refused to "take the gloves off" and "take it to Obama" and "hit him" in "a soft spot." If the GOP leaders don't give these folks what they want, they had best watch their own soft spots, for there is no shortage of backbenchers ready to seize the helm. Take Jeffrey Frederick, the 33-year-old chair of the Virginia Republican Party, who said that Obama and Osama bin Laden "both have friends that bombed the Pentagon." Denounced by the McCain campaign, Frederick has defiantly refused to apologize for his remark.

Perhaps he knows which way the wind blows: the Republican Party's electoral strategy of sowing resentment and fear--sprung from Nixon and nurtured by admen like Lee Atwater, Floyd Brown and the Swiftboaters--has finally taken on a life of its own. It thrives as a postmodern pastiche of conservative hate speech that no longer requires a master--a Frankenstein monster freed from his creator. What holds this beast together is not the fear and loathing of any particular despised identity so much as the idea that America is under siege, disordered, on the cusp of imminent and total collapse, threatened by terrorists abroad and undermined by enemies at home.

Of course, certain pariahs are useful in certain times. In the old lexicon it was Communists, feminists and gays who peopled the right wing's paranoid imagination, and if the sheer breadth of the slander by association against Obama is any indication, these bugaboos are still of value. But this time around the terror has been most sharply drawn along the lines of xenophobia and racism, a potent combination of hostile drives of which trolls like Andy Martin, the anti-Semite behind the "Obama is a Muslim" e-mails, are but minor instigators. The real enablers are demagogues like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck, who have made careers out of inciting frenzied aggression at anyone to the left of Joe McCarthy. Only now it seems that even these right-wing pundits have been outdone by their formerly loyal listeners. Coulter, whose contempt for Muslims ("invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity") is surpassed only by her scorn for liberals ("even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do"), has yet to call for the assassination of Barack Obama. But if she genuinely believes that liberals are more dangerous than Islamic terrorists, she should follow the courage of her convictions and do so.

To pre-empt such embarrassing displays of weakness, softer propagandists like Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens--who once brayed on and on about the left's "hatred of the United States" and its role as a "fifth column" "in favor of surrender and defeat"--have declared their support for Obama. But as Hitchens's recent endorsement in Slate amply demonstrates, he is not quite ready to give up the poisoned sword. Obama, he writes, is not a "capitulationist," even if he does "accept the support of the surrender faction."

If the polls are any indication, Obama will endure this smear campaign just fine, with or without the backhanded compliments of apologetic neocons. And if his election is not quite the ringing victory for civil rights and liberties, diplomacy and cosmopolitanism that we might like, it will at least beat back for a while the idea that defaming these values as traitorous constitutes sound electoral strategy. If Obama wins, and the barbarians do not show up to rattle the gates, what will the conservatives do next? For them, the barbarians were a solution, of sorts.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Here's what her state paper of record says about nutjob Michelle Bachmann.

It's interesting to find out she has a 'law' degree from one of those fake Christian schools, Oral Roberts.
This election has been something else. It's deeply sad-making that there are so many morons in this country.

Bachmann on TV questions Obama's patriotism

October 18, 2008

Defending the McCain campaign's automated phone calls attacking Barack Obama's judgment and character, Rep. Michele Bachmann on Friday said Obama "may have anti-American views" and called for a news media "exposé" of the views of members of Congress.

Bachmann's comments came in a 13-minute interview on MSNBC, during which she asserted that Obama has a close connection to 1960s radical William Ayers, a theme of the phone calls and recent remarks by McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin.

"Barack Obama didn't have a mild association with Bill Ayers," Bachmann, a Republican, said. "He had a very strong association with Bill Ayers."

Later, when asked by Chris Matthews whether she believes that Obama may have anti-American views, Bachmann replied, "Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views."

Bachmann also said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both Democrats, have "far-leftist views." When asked whether she considered members of Congress anti-American, she said, "The news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out are they pro-America or anti-America."

On Friday, Bachmann's DFL opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, said Bachmann's comments "undermines our political process. Instead of being able to disagree respectfully, it turns it into this kind of vilification. You're just not disagreeing. The other person is un-American."

But a spokeswoman for Bachmann denied that the congresswoman had portrayed all liberals as anti-American.

The controversy arose on a day when Palin was quoted by Time magazine online saying, "I don't question at all Barack Obama's love for the great country."

Increasing prominence

Bachmann's interview is the latest in a series of national television appearances by her in recent months. In the midst of a reelection campaign that Democrats say is growing more competitive, she has become an increasingly prominent spokeswoman for conservative causes ranging from defending the choice of Palin for vice president to demanding more oil drilling.

"For a long time, Republican congresswomen were not the best spokespeople for the party simply because they tended to be more liberal than the Republican Party," said Kathryn Pearson, a University of Minnesota assistant professor of political science. "If anything, [Bachmann] is to the right of the Republican Party median in the House of Representatives."

Since August, Bachmann has made dozens of TV appearances on CNN's "Larry King Live," and on MSNBC, Bloomberg and Fox. She was on "Larry King" Friday night.

It's unclear what impact, if any, Bachmann's increasing national exposure will have on her campaign for reelection to Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. National Democratic groups recently targeted the race for increased attention and spending.

Tinklenberg has criticized Bachmann's national media appearances as coming at the expense of time spent with her constituents.

In a rally for his supporters several weeks ago, Tinklenberg said, "She doesn't want to be in the district. She wants to be on 'Larry King.'"

He also said at the time that Bachmann's comments show that she espouses "a narrow ideological approach" to governing.

Regarding Bachmann's call for a media "exposé" of Congress, Tinklenberg said, "Is this the revisiting of a McCarthy era where we start investigating who's American and who's un-American?"

Bachmann's spokeswoman, Michelle Marston, issued a statement after the MSNBC interview that said in part:

"There's no question that Barack Obama has many relationships ... with people who hold views far out of the mainstream. It's perfectly legitimate for the American people to want to know how all this informs his policy positions and what direction an Obama administration would want to lead the nation. This is particularly true given that the Senate and House are likely to remain in Democrat hands, possibly with a margin wide enough in the Senate to prevent the traditional minority right to filibuster."

Marston said MSNBC attempted to "paint Congresswoman Bachmann into a corner," but that "she never said that all liberals are anti-American and she never asked for an investigation of members of Congress."

GOP Rep. Channels McCarthy: Obama "Very Anti-American," Congressional Witch Hunt Needed

Update: A campaign to censure Rep. Michelle Bachmann over her remarks has been launched.

* * *

In a television appearance that outraged Democrats are already describing as Joseph McCarthy politics, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann claimed on Friday that Barack Obama and his wife Michelle held anti-American views and couldn't be trusted in the White House. She even called for the major newspapers of the country to investigate other members of Congress to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America."

Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, Bachmann went well off the reservation when it comes to leveling political charges against the Democratic nominee.

"If we look at the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had in his life," she said, "it calls into question what Barack Obama's true beliefs and values and thoughts are. His attitudes, values, and beliefs with Jeremiah Wright on his view of the United negative; Bill Ayers, his negative view of the United States. We have seen one friend after another call into question his judgment -- but also, what it is that Barack Obama really believes?"

Goaded by a Chris Matthews to explain exactly what she was talking about (at one point Bachmann seemed to imply that liberalism was anti-Americanism), the congresswoman waded deeper into the mud.

"Remember it was Michele Obama who said she is only recently proud of her country and so these are very anti-American views," she said. "That's not the way that most Americans feel about our country. Most Americans are wild about America and they are very concerned to have a president who doesn't share those values."

Matthews later pressed her to name a single member of Congress other than Obama who she thought was anti-American. Bachmann, who initially wouldn't budge, called for a major "expose" into the matter.

"What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America," she said.

There were additional nuggets here and there. But the whole episode was a sight to behold. It is hard to imagine how this type of message actually helps the McCain campaign. For starters, there has been a relatively respected rule to leave candidate's wives out of campaign attacks. Moreover, there is already a deep resentment towards the severity of the political attacks McCain and his surrogates have launched against Barack Obama. Having a like-minded member of Congress essentially call for a witch hunt within Congress isn't the practical-minded message that the Arizona Republican wants out there.

What makes the incident even more bizarre is that Bachmann is in a close congressional race and just this past week offered warm words to the Illinois Democrat. "If the presidency would somehow go to Barack Obama, I would welcome him to the 6th District as well," she said after a debate. "As a matter of fact, I would put my hand on his shoulder and give him a kiss if he wanted to."

A Democratic campaign official emailed that Bachmann's Democratic opponent has raised at least $23,000 online since the Hardball segment aired.

After Bachmann's appearance, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel labeled the comments McCarthyist.


Michelle Bachman Calls for Media Investigation of Anti-American Members of Congress»

This rant from Rep. Michelle Bachman on Hardball that starts out criticizing Barack Obama and winds up claiming that there’s a vast nest of anti-American activity in the congress (I have expected her to start claiming to be in possession of a list of Communists) that the press needs to investigate really needs to be seen to be believed:

(Vid clip @ link)

I think this is the “second time as farce” repetition of the Joe McCarthy era. Alternatively, maybe she’s auditioning for a spot as a Corner blogger.


I find it amazing that far, far right insanity like this still exists.

It was 'fringe' when I was a young person, now it's the Republican mainstream.

I certainly blame the Reaganite/neocon cabal for that.


Friday, October 17, 2008

OK. This is weird. This photo is NOT doctored.

I don't know what's going on here; some unholy tranformation.

Just too weird...
Robert L. Borosage
Posted October 17, 2008 | 07:47 AM (EST)
The Horror, The Horror Yet To Come

The Wall Street Journal editors peer fearlessly into the increasingly likely terror of an election that produces a Democratic President with larger Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Disregarding the delicate sensibilities of women and children, the editors expose to all the stark horrors that could ensue:

Voters will be registered. Workers organized. Banks regulated. Health care provided for all. Government investment will drive a green revolution that generates millions of jobs. The wealthy will pay more in taxes. Guantanamo will be shut down; torture will end. Net neutrality will be mandated. Citizens may even be able to sue corporations that negligently do them harm. And that doesn't even mention ending the war in Iraq.

The horror of it all. Can the Republic survive? The editors hold out one slim hope. Perhaps Democrats will divide. Perhaps the entrenched lobbies, the interest of the corporations and the wealthy will buy enough support to stand in the way of the tumbrels.

And that defines our job pretty clearly: to organize engaged citizens to hold Democrats accountable to the promises that have been made and the agenda the country needs. If we do that well, just maybe we can deepen the Wall Street Journal's lamentations. Cut the military budget. Forge a national strategy for the global economy. Make college affordable for all. Provide the basics in education, from pre-school to small classes, to lifelong learning. Revive national service. Rebuild trust in government. Launch the unspeakable - a true war on poverty.

The horror, the stark horror of it all. Can Americans - after Iraq, Katrina, bankers run amok, gilded age inequality, Robber Baron corruption - actually have the gall to vote the bums out? Say it ain't so, Joe the plumber, say it ain't so.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

10 years of the Pinochet principle

The arrest warrant served on the Chilean head of state in 1998 changed history and has implications for the US government now

Philippe Sands, Thursday October 16 2008

On October 16 1998, a magistrate signed a warrant for the arrest of Senator Augusto Pinochet and changed the course of history. The former Chilean head of state was arrested a few hours later, at the request of a Spanish prosecutor who charged him with a raft of international crimes, some dating back to the early 1970s. Over the next 18 months, one dramatic development followed another. The House of Lords rendered three landmark judgments in the space of five months; home secretary Jack Straw defied expectations by giving a green light to the continuation of proceedings that could lead to Pinochet's removal to Madrid; Pinochet made a dramatic appearance in the dock at Belmarsh magistrate's court; and eventually Straw decided that Pinochet was too unhealthy to stand trial and he was returned to Chile in April 2000. For the rest of his life he was dogged by legal proceedings.

One central question lay at the heart of the whole affair: was a former head of state entitled to claim immunity before the English courts, where it was alleged that he had participated in crimes, in violation of international conventions, such as torture? This question had never before been decided. It pitted two competing views of international relations against each other: traditionalists argued that the maintenance of serene relations between states required the courts of one state to refrain from sitting in judgment over the highest officials of another; the modernists argued that no person was above the law where the most serious international crimes were involved, and that the system of human rights laws put in place after the second world war substituted a rule of immunity with a new rule against impunity.

In March 1999, the House of Lords came down strongly in favour of the modernist view. It did so carefully, and in a way that was both reasonable and sustainable. The majority ruled that Pinochet's loss of immunity arose not from some unstated general rule of international law, but rather from the terms of a treaty to which Britain, Chile and Spain were party – the 1984 convention outlawing torture – the terms of which were inconsistent with immunity for a former head of state. It is impossible to overstate the significance of that ruling, which reflected a new balance of global priorities, a shift in favour of principle over pragmatism. It has been followed by international indictments against other former heads of state – Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor – and the coming into force of the international criminal court and possible proceedings against the serving president of Sudan. It has also given rise to criminal proceedings before national courts in other parts of the world. The Pinochet judgment has withstood the test of time. It has not been overruled in the court of international opinion, and it has not brought international relations to a grinding halt.

Nevertheless, it seems that Pinochet's case caused concerns at the highest levels of the Bush administration, as described in a revealing account by a former lawyer in the Bush administration, Jack Goldsmith. He describes how, during 2002, Henry Kissinger found himself on the sharp end of the Pinochet case. Reportedly livid, a rattled Kissinger complained to his old chum Donald Rumsfeld, who was already worrying about "lawfare" (the use of law to achieve operational objectives). Rumsfeld instructed the chief lawyer at the Pentagon, Jim Haynes, to address the problems posed by this "judicialisation of international politics". Haynes passed the assignment on to Goldsmith, whose memo reached the National Security Council, which also worried about the threat of foreign judges. According to Goldsmith, the NSC couldn't work out what to do about the problem.

We now know that while this was going on, Rumsfeld and Haynes and others at the Pentagon were secretly circumventing international laws like the Geneva conventions and the torture convention and removing international constraints on the interrogation of detainees at Guantánamo and in Iraq. Torture and other international crimes followed. So did the Abu Ghraib photos. Amid the welter of legal opinions received by the administration none, it seems, bothered to examine the consequences of the House of Lords judgment for senior US officials.

The legacy of the arrest warrant signed in Hampstead 10 years today, is the Pinochet principle, that no one is above the law. It may one day come to haunt the very people who sought to set it aside. If, that is, they ever dare to set foot outside the United States.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Friend Bill Ayers

Once wanted by the FBI, he's since become a model citizen.

"Waving the bloody shirt" was the phrase once used to describe the standard demagogic tactic of the late 19th century, when memories of the Civil War were still vivid and loyalists of both parties could be moved to "vote as they shot." As the years passed and the memories faded, the shirt got gorier, the waving more frantic.

In 1896 the Democrats chose William Jennings Bryan as their leader, a man who was born in 1860 and had thus missed the Civil War, but who seemed to threaten the consensus politics of the time. In response, Republican campaign masterminds organized a speaking tour of the Midwest by a handful of surviving Union generals. The veterans advanced through the battleground states in a special train adorned with patriotic bunting, pictures of their candidate, William McKinley, and a sign declaring, "We are Opposed to Anarchy and Repudiation."

The culture wars are the familiar demagogic tactic of our own time, building monstrous offenses out of the tiniest slights. The fading rancor that each grievance is meant to revive, of course, dates to the 1960s and the antiwar protests, urban riots and annoying youth culture that originally triggered our great turn to the right.

This year the Democrats chose Barack Obama as their leader, a man who was born in 1961 and who largely missed our cultural civil war. In response, Republican campaign masterminds have sought to plunge him back into it in the most desperate and grotesque manner yet.

For days on end, the Republican presidential campaign has put nearly all of its remaining political capital on emphasizing Mr. Obama's time on various foundation boards with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weathermen, which planted bombs and issued preposterous statements in the Vietnam era. Some on the right seem to believe Mr. Ayers is Mr. Obama's puppet-master, while others are content merely to insist that the association proves Mr. Obama to be soft on terrorism. Maybe he's soft on anarchy and repudiation, too.

I can personally attest to the idiocy of it all because I am a friend of Mr. Ayers. In fact, I met him in the same way Mr. Obama says he did: 10 years ago, Mr. Ayers was a guy in my neighborhood in Chicago who knew something about fundraising. I knew nothing about it, I needed to learn, and a friend referred me to Bill.

Bill's got lots of friends, and that's because he is today a dedicated servant of those less fortunate than himself; because he is unfailingly generous to people who ask for his help; and because he is kind and affable and even humble. Moral qualities which, by the way, were celebrated boisterously on day one of the GOP convention in September.

Mr. Ayers is a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where his work is esteemed by colleagues of different political viewpoints. Herbert Walberg, an advocate of school vouchers who is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, told me he remembers Mr. Ayers as "a responsible colleague, in the professional sense of the word." Bill Schubert, who served as the chairman of UIC's Department of Curriculum and Instruction for many years, thinks so highly of Mr. Ayers that, in response to the current allegations, he compiled a lengthy résumé of the man's books, journal articles, guest lectures and keynote speeches. Mr. Ayers has been involved with countless foundation efforts and has received various awards. He volunteers for everything. He may once have been wanted by the FBI, but in the intervening years the man has become such a good citizen he ought to be an honorary Eagle Scout.

I do not defend the things Mr. Ayers did in his Weatherman days. Nor will I quibble with those who find Mr. Ayers wanting in contrition. His 2001 memoir is shot through with regret, but it lacks the abject style our culture prefers.

Instead I want to note that, in its haste to convict a man merely for associating with Mr. Ayers, the GOP is effectively proposing to make the upcoming election into the largest mass trial in history, with all those professors and all those do-gooders on the hook for someone else's deeds four decades ago. Also in the dock: the demonic city (Chicago) that once named Mr. Ayers its "Citizen of the Year." Fire up Hurricane Katrina and point it toward Lake Michigan!

The McCain campaign has made much of its leader's honor and bravery, but now it has chosen to mount its greatest attack against a man who poses no conceivable threat to the country, who has nothing to do with this year's issues, and who cannot or will not defend himself. Apparently this makes him an irresistible target.

There are a lot of things to call this tactic, but "country first" isn't one of them. The nation wants its hope and confidence restored, and Republican leaders have chosen instead to wave the bloody shirt. This is their vilest hour...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Well, here we are folks...Nazis by any other name...on FOX 'NEWS'...right here in River City...we got trouble...yes we got trouble...

This has been true for a long time. Maybe it's time for the average stupid American to be a little concerned about how the average stupid American forms their 'opinion'.
Bring back the fairness doctrine that Nazi-lovin' Reagan took away. For every minute of idiocy on the public airwaves there should be a minute of non-idiocy. They'd give up. No more bloviating idiots...
(Then we could get rid of tax-exempt status for fake churches like Dobson's. )

The Man Behind the Whispers About Obama

The most persistent falsehood about Senator Barack Obama’s background first hit in 2004 just two weeks after the Democratic convention speech that helped set him on the path to his presidential candidacy: “Obama is a Muslim who has concealed his religion.”

That statement, contained in a press release, spun a complex tale about the ancestry of Mr. Obama, who is Christian.

The press release was picked up by a conservative Web site,, and spread steadily as others elaborated on its claims over the years in e-mail messages, Web sites and books. It continues to drive other false rumors about Mr. Obama’s background...

...Until this month, the man who is widely credited with starting the cyberwhisper campaign that still dogs Mr. Obama was a secondary character in news reports, with deep explorations of his background largely confined to liberal blogs.

But an appearance in a documentary-style program on the Fox News Channel watched by three million people last week thrust the man, Andy Martin, and his past into the foreground. The program allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government.

An examination of legal documents and election filings, along with interviews with his acquaintances, revealed Mr. Martin, 62, to be a man with a history of scintillating if not always factual claims. He has left a trail of animosity — some of it provoked by anti-Jewish comments — among political leaders, lawyers and judges in three states over more than 30 years.

He is a law school graduate, but his admission to the Illinois bar was blocked in the 1970s after a psychiatric finding of “moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.”

Though he is not a lawyer, Mr. Martin went on to become a prodigious filer of lawsuits, and he made unsuccessful attempts to win public office for both parties in three states, as well as for president at least twice, in 1988 and 2000. Based in Chicago, he now identifies himself as a writer who focuses on his anti-Obama Web site and press releases...


A motion he filed in a 1983 bankruptcy case called the judge “a crooked, slimy Jew who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race.”

In another motion, filed in 1983, Mr. Martin wrote, “I am able to understand how the Holocaust took place, and with every passing day feel less and less sorry that it did.”

In an interview, Mr. Martin denied some statements against Jews attributed to him in court papers, blaming malicious judges for inserting them.

But in his “48 Hours” interview in 1993, he affirmed a different anti-Semitic part of the affidavit that included the line about the Holocaust, saying, “The record speaks for itself.”

When asked Friday about an assertion in his court papers that “Jews, historically and in daily living, act through clans and in wolf pack syndrome,” he said, “That one sort of rings a bell.”...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama

Published: October 11, 2008
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...

Have you ever visited Free Republic? It's a completely nutlog site based in Fresno or some shithole like that. Don't go. But if you must (like me), be prepared for some very 'special' forms of thinking:

The Obama/ACORN/Gallup/MSM Kenyan 2-Step Campaign Strategy
Vanity | 10/11/2008 | EarlyBird

Posted on 10/11/2008 5:33:46 AM PDT by EarlyBird

Here's how this strategy works:

Obama knows he's can't win the election with his current support base: racist blacks and some naive guilty whites who are voting for him only becuase of his skin color, loony left wingnuts who are drooling at the chance Obama offers to "re-educate conservatives", and the elite limousine liberal MSM wolfpack, whose inevitable demise can only be averted if Obama wins and they become the official state propoganda organ.

Obama and his coterie know he cannot possibly win because he can't close the deal with his party base. They all know that the Democrat party is now hopelessly divided because of the still seething anger of the multitudes of former Hillary supporters and because of the large numbers of Reagan Democrats, none of whom will ever vote for Obama. On the other hand, they can clearly see that the Republican base is motivated as never before.

So the Obama cabal turns to their long-time ally, ACORN, and directs them to step up their cynical efforts to submit fraudulent Dem voter registrations. ACORN, who has been at this for over a year already, suddenly goes into a frenzy and brazenly submits millions of fake registrations. ACORN doesn't care that many of these registrations will be caught and discarded by the authorities -- they know many of them will get through to be counted. And in this case, it's not fraudulent votes that ACORN wants counted, it's the fake registrations themselves. You see, the idea is simply to inflate the number of Democrat voter registrations.

Next, the pollsters say, Wow, look at all these new Dem registrations -- there's obviously going to be a lot more Democrats than Republicans voting this time! We better re-weight our polling samples to compensate. They do so, and the re-weighted polls then naturally show Obama ahead, some more than others. Newsweek's latest poll, for example, has a full 11% difference favoring Democrats in their weighting. Coincidently, the same Newsweek poll shows Obama winning by 11 percent. The actual difference recorded in 2004 was zero -- 39% Democrat, 39% Republican.

Carville, Mathews, Oberman, and the rest of the MSM report on these polls and then start saying, Jeez, if Obama loses the election while the polls show him winning by this much, there's gonna be riots! Why would they say this? Could it be that they know Obama is going to lose?

Meanwhile, at McCain/Palin rallies, where each crowd is more huge than the last, Obama and the MSM plant fake agitators to shout violent, anti-Obama soundbites. Or not. Whether or not the soundbites are really heard at the McCain/Palin rallies is irrelevant, the MSM is nevertheless directed by Obama to report that McCain supporters are losing control and calling for violence against Obama.

Obama and the MSM then lambast the McCain/Palin campaign for the increasingly violent nature of their supporters -- these Republicans are really getting more and more desperate because the polls show McCain is losing badly, the MSM reports. At Obama rallies, where the crowds are steadily dwindling, Obama gets what's left of his supporters all worked up about these reported threats to his Oneness, and his followers come away ready for a fight.

On November 4, Obama badly loses the election as he, ACORN, Gallup, and the MSM all expect... Shazam! Obama supporters begin to riot that night and the next day, carrying professionally made placards reading something like, "How Can All the Polls be Wrong? McCain Stole the Election!"

What's the Kenyan connection to this 2-step? Obama advised his cousin Odinga to use this same strategy during the recent election aftermath in Kenya when Odinga lost by 200,000 votes. I think we're all familiar with what happened there. Will there be as much murder and mayhem here as there was in Kenya? Will Obama be able to wrest control of the U.S. government through this strategy like Odinga did in Kenya? That remains to be seen...

Larisa Alexandrovna

Posted October 10, 2008 | 09:39 PM (EST)

Hate as a political strategy...

McCain-Palin have been rather busy this week endorsing the view of some of their psychotic supporters who chanted "Obama is a traitor," among the other hate-filled rants. Well, DU blogger Heather located this document - a political ad that ran in Dallas the day before John F. Kennedy was assassinated - from the national archives:

How far will McCain and Palin go to get what they want? Are they willing to incite violent behavior? The fringe of the right-wing does not need to be encouraged or supported. They simply need to be pushed to the outskirts of civilized society. Sure they can vote, but KKK members can vote too. Best not to pander to hate in a country where hate has already caused so much horror.
Here's a slippery little rat deserting the sinking ship while pretending he didn't love it while it was sailing on & on & on ... Nice try, no sale.

The Class War Before Palin

October 9, 2008

Modern conservatism began as a movement of dissident intellectuals....Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counterestablishment with think tanks and magazines. They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind....

(F)or a time, it seemed the Republican Party would be a broad coalition — small-town values with coastal reach....But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts. What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole....


The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.

The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community. Conservatives are as rare in elite universities and the mainstream media as they were 30 years ago. The smartest young Americans are now educated in an overwhelmingly liberal environment....


(N)o American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as (Sarah) Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the “normal Joe Sixpack American” and the coastal elite....

The party is losing the working class by sins of omission — because it has not developed policies to address economic anxiety. It has lost the educated class by sins of commission — by telling members of that class to go away.