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Joe Wilson, the Know-Nothings and the Great Lost Cause: The South Rises Again

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(LEFT) A 9-12 protester, dressed in camouflage, carries a sign with a picture of an assault rifle pasted to the front. The caption reads: "A PICTURE this time. DON'T make me come back!" (RIGHT) D.C. Protester sporting a shirt that reads, "God & Guns ~ Back by Popular Demand."
(LEFT) A 9-12 protester, dressed in camouflage, carries a sign with a picture of an assault rifle pasted to the front. The caption reads: “A PICTURE this time. DON’T make me come back!” (RIGHT) A man wearing a shirt that reads, “God & Guns ~ Back by Popular Demand,” is flanked by D.C. protesters carrying “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.

 

Doomed to repeat
  
Unless we choose to learn something from this particular chapter in our history, there’s no point in belaboring Joe Wilson’s outburst or gawking over the stream of vigilante protestors who commemorated 9-11 this past weekend by issuing thinly veiled threats to kill the President of the United States, along with certain Democratic members of Congress.  The fact is, until men like Joe Wilson cease being revered as the patron saint of the great Lost Cause, we can make no claim to have learned one of our country’s greatest history lessons.
 
 
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The Lost Cause

Growing up in South Carolina, I developed a mental block toward history, beginning sometime in elementary school. What child of 1960s South Carolina could possibly keep straight which was our state flag (the pretty blue flag, with the palmetto tree? or the scary red flag, with the big blue X in the middle, that flew from the yards and pick-up trucks of certain people?) — much less keep straight all of the Important Wars that our state had fought over slavery: the War Between the States, the Civil War, the War for Southern Independence, the War of Northern Aggression, the War of Secession, the Lost Cause?

Had someone told me then, what I know now, I might not have been a C-student in history and would have understood — long before the Lee Atwater era and the rise of the Southern strategy that has given birth to today’s tea baggers, deathers, birthers and twelvers — that the Lost Cause by any other name is still just a bloody war that has to be conceded. 

Before the Civil War, both the President and Vice-President of the Confederacy of newly seceded states (Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, respectively) named slavery as the primary cause of the war. After all, until the Civil War, slaves were chattel property — not human beings. What right had the Federal government to stand between a man and his property?

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite [from the U.S. Constitution] idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.  — Alexander Stephens in March 1861, comparing the new Constitution of the Confederacy with the “old” constitution — the U.S. Constitution — which Stephens claimed was built on a “sandy foundation ” as it “rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. “

It [slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts. — Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.

After the war, Davis and Stephens backpeddled a bit, trying to divorce slavery from the equation. The emphasis was put entirely on states’ rights and secession, as if slavery had nothing to with either. It was during this period that the “Lost Cause” moniker was born.   

The Lost Cause was a purely Southern term, intended to convey for posterity the nobility of the Southern cause against the overwhelming force of the North. To this end, the Lost Causers made clear that the war was never about slavery. It was about state’s rights. It was not about the Federal government’s increasing encroachment upon the institution and expansion of slavery; it was about the South’s justification for seceding from the Union. According to this revised history, the South seceded from the Union because it was their right to resist Northern aggression toward their independence, their “Southern way of life.”

Understandably, it must have been difficult to continue infusing nobility onto a bloody war that decimated the Southern economy and humiliated its people; even more so to continue justifying the loss of 620,000 lives in a war that sought nothing more noble than the right to continue enslaving 4 million people.

dc obama massaMuch like today’s protesters who carry signs that read, “I want my country back!” — all the while insisting that their cause has nothing to do with racism — Jefferson Davis spent the balance of his life deriding the North for destroying the “Southern way of life,” all the while insisting that the war had nothing to do with slavery. Just like the protesters of today –who see today’s struggle for equal rights in health care as an assault on the Constitution and who decry Obama’s stimulus money and proposals on health care reform as the greatest assaults ever committed on our economy (even as these same protesters were perplexingly silent throughout the 8-years of the Bush-Cheney Administration’s unprecedented assaults on the Constitution and the federal budget) — Jefferson Davis was never quite able to connect the dots, never quite able to see what he was blind to seeing: the real motivation behind his selective memory on history.    

Writing in 1881, Jefferson accused the North of arriving, “like the serpent of Eden” tempting slaves with “the magic words of ‘freedom.'” If not for North, Jefferson said, these slaves — whose “servile instincts rendered them contented with their lot” — would never have succumbed to their “humble but emotional natures” and been incited to take up the cause of the North to “devastate their benefactors [slaveowners].”

And so it has been for 150 years and counting, with the torch of the Lost Cause being passed from generation to generation by various “historical” orders and “benevolent” societies thoughout the South, whose nativist, racist agendas are, at best, thinly veiled — and nearly always laid on the altar of God, Christianity and the Bible: from the Ku Klux Klan, to the  Junior Order of United American Mechanics, to the League of the South, the Association of Confederate Soldiers and the United Confederate Veterans of yore, to today’s Military Order of Stars and Bars, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the group to which the now-infamous Rep. Joe Wilson (SC) belongs, and which still embraces, today, the charge issued to them in 1906 by Lt. General Stephen Dill Lee, Commander General of the United Confederate Veterans:

To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish. 

And thus Joe Wilson’s Confederacy took the torch from Jefferson Davis, carrying it into the 21st century, their mantle cloaked in the noble language of abstracts: virtues, principles, ideals. No overt mention of the actual cause for which they fought — a cause which, by their own admission, they are committed to vindicating. You’ll find no overt pro-slavery sentiments among their literature; no overt mention of racism or oppression among the Lost Causers of today, even as their politics seek to institutionalize racism, and even as their politicians — from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to the Bush Dynasty — employ men such as Harry Dent, Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, whose job is  to groom the Southern vote by exploiting old hatred. As Lee Atwater explained in his description of the Southern strategy he used in Reagan’s campign:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites….. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

This is the secret language of the great Lost Cause. This is the language being spoken, today, by politicians who seek to romance the racist vote. This is the language of those who have hijacked Christianity, using it to justify their evil deeds, exploiting religion as a tool to claim moral superiority over those whom they seek to commit oppression and violence. This is the language of corporations who exploit old hatreds and fears to incite protest against laws that would counterbalance their corruption and abuse of the American people. This is the language that will be spoken in the upcoming event being hosted by Joe Wilson’s Sons of Confederate Veterans: The American System of Liberty: Nullification, Secession and States’ Rights.  It is the adopted tongue of the common everyday man — birthers, deathers, teabaggers and twelvers alike — who, in the process of doing the dirty work for their politicians and the corporations that line their re-election coffers,  shoot themselves in the foot, under the misguided notion that they are fighting a nobler cause than the oppression to which they, themselves, will be made victim by these same politicians and corporations.  

A riddle: How to say the N-word without saying the N-word?

Here's a riddle for you: How to say the N-word without saying the N-word?

The Lost Cause and the Bogeymen

The Lost Cause, then, is why, when I was a young child — during our night-time drives home from family weekends at the lake — I used to cover my eyes and hide on the floorboard whenever we got mired in slow traffic, as passers-by gawked at the sight of men in white hoods, burning a cross in the middle of a field. The Lost Cause is why my teachers used to turn a blind eye to my classmates, who issued my daily ass beatings to punish me for being friends with a black child. The Lost Cause is why, every year, Civil War re-enactors descend on our town to reserruct the glory of that war.  

As much as this phrase is overused — those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it — it is apropos to Joe Wilson’s outburst, pertinent to his rebel yell, “You lie!” which served as a lightning rod to draw together the forces of fear, power, money and hatred into a single hot lick of flame. This is how the torch is passed — always, always ignited by fear: fear of blacks, fear of immigrants; fear of other religions; fear of things that are different, unknown, unknowable; the fear of the bogeyman that creeps in the shadows, hiding under our bed at night, lurking in our closet, stalking us from the cradle to the grave.

The bogeymen Joe Wilson conjured in those two words were not just the stereotypical black man archetypes that white men have been inventing for the past 350 years: the arrogant Negro, the militant African American, the lazy welfare buck, always trying to pull something over on whitey. No, Joe Wilson also specifically designed to conjure the fear of the immigrant bogeyman: that foreign enemy that relentlessly steals into our borders, into the American dream — OUR American dream — the greedy Polish, German and Irish immigrants intent on stealing our jobs from under us, the gluttonous Hispanics and Latinos content to suck dry the milk of human kindness on the taxpayers’ dime, the conspiratorial Catholics, Muslims and Jews seeking to undermine and, ultimately, overthrow the American democracy and capitalism, replacing these with communism, socialism, Nazism, facism…. Or worse. This is the immigrant Joe Wilson conjured in the lick of flame he passed to his audience during President Obama’s speech — the immigrant of the Know Nothing Party.

Joe Wilson and the Know Nothing Party

Rising to power in the decade preceding the Civil war, the Know Nothing Party was born from a fear of immigration — specifically Irish Catholic immigrants. The Know-Nothings were convinced that the Pope and his Irish Catholic minions were secretly plotting to take over the U.S. government in an effort to kill freedom and democracy, and to subjugate Protestants. The Know-Nothings worked in secrecy, helping to elect leaders sympathetic to their cause. Hence, the origin of their name: Whenever asked about their activities, they answered, “I know nothing.”

On the point of anti-immigration, the Know-Nothings were united, working behind the scenes to elect leaders who promised to deliver the goods. Specifically, to institutionalize their xenophobic agenda by enacting laws to restrict immigration; by barring immigrants from working at certain jobs; by excluding immigrants from voting or holding public office; and by requiring a 21-year residency as a prerequisite to citizenship. By 1855, with their numbers swelled to a million-strong, the Know Nothings jubilantly came out of the closet and formed the American Party. 

Had the only issue been immigration, the American Party would likely have survived intact into the 21st century. However, they were divided on points of prohibition and slavery, with the issue of slavery putting the final nail in the coffin of the Know-Nothings and their American Party. The anti-slavery faction migrated into the newly-formed Republican Party of the North, while the pro-slavery faction moved their numbers to the Democratic Party of the South, joining forces in what was to become the Lost Cause. 

The rest is history:

  • the Pope and his Irish Catholic minions did not overthrow the American government, despite the Know Nothings fears;
  • the emancipated black slaves did not go on a rampage and kill white people, nor overthrow the American government in the wake of the Civil War, despite the predictions of the Southern Democrats, the Red Shirts, and Ku Klux Klan;
  • the influx of immigrants in the early 20th century was not, as the Ku Klux Klan warned, an attempt to bring the Bolshevik Revolution to American soil
  • the labor unions of the early 20th century did not topple capitalism or turn our country into a communist labor camp
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms (e.g. the FDIC, SEC, organized labor and the Social Security Act) did not turn America into a fascist state, as myriad detractors cried would happen
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower was not a “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy,” as the suggested by John Birch Society
  •  President Harry Truman and the civil rights activists, artists, intellects, writers, actors and independent-minded politicians of the 1950s were not communists conspiring to infiltrate and overtake our government, as Joseph McCarthy believed to the core of his being.
  • President John F. Kennedy, it turns out, was not the AntiChrist. And history has since shown that, despite the concerted fears of Southerners and Protestants everywhere, Kennedy’s presidency was not a secret plot to incorporate America into the Catholic hierarchy, nor to decimate our First Amendment rights. 
  • the Medicare Act of 1965 did not turn America into a socialist country, as was warned in the early 60s by Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush
  • Martin Luther King was not a communist, as Joseph McCarthy insisted, nor was the civil rights movement part of a larger communist plan to overthrow the American government. 
  • blacks did not overthrow the American government or subjugate white men in the wake of the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts of 1964-65, nor was America transformed into a communist regime, as the John Birchers predicted 
  • the idea of allowing blacks equal access with whites to schools, restaurants, bathrooms, drinking fountains and other public places did not spring from the minds of “communist philophers,” as George Wallace and others had insisted, nor did desegration “forever” kill America’s freedom
  • Hillary Clinton’s book, “It Takes a Village,” was not a Marxist manifesto calling for the destruction of the American family unit, so that our children could be placed under the care of a socialist Big Government. Nor was her health care plan.

Since the history has not yet been recorded, it will be a few years before we can offiicially add what we already know to this list:

  • health care reform is not a secret socialist plot by the Obama Administration to take over the government, subjugate Christians, empower immigrants and minorities to overpower whites, rob us of our rights and freedoms, topple capitalism, institute death panels, install fascist rule or turn American into a communist state
  • the closest America has ever come to being a fascist state was under the rule of Dick Cheney, during which time the birthers, deathers and tea baggers were asleep at the wheel

Still, hope springs eternal. Maybe one day we will no longer be a nation doomed to keep repeating this same sad, pathetic history, marching to the tune of the Know Nothings and the great Lost Causers.

 

A view of the 9-12 protest march in DC: the Confederate flag and the South Carolina state flag frame the dome of the U.S. Capitol.

A view of the 9-12 protest march in DC: the Confederate flag and the South Carolina state flag frame the dome of the U.S. Capitol.

The National Association of Retarded People and Joe Wilson’s flag

Even as the Confederate “bars and stripes” flag was never the official flag of South Carolina, nor the Confederacy, it is the official flag of the Lost Cause and all who have yet to concede the outcomes of the Civil War, the Voting Rights Act , the Civil Rights Act and desegregation.

The Confederate flag was planted on the South Carolina State House in 1961, ostensibly to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. And there it remained for 38 years, during which time the Confederate flag grew to be symbol of the Ku Klux Klan, serving as the banner under which the white supremacists marched during the Civil Rights era, then later, during the Reagan era, the flag carried by the rising movement of white supremacist skinheads and neo-Nazis. While the Civil War revisionists have long-insisted that the flag is a cherished part of our history and has nothing to do with racism, anyone who lives in the South knows the de facto symbolism. We can argue the point ’til we’re blue in the face, but the fact remains that we all know the sort of people who fly Confederate flags in their yards, or plaster its image onto their pickup truck bumpers, or proudly boast it during their Civil War re-enactments. 

And one needn’t scratch far below the surface to elicit the racial animosity that attends to this adopted symbol of our “cherished” history. In 1999, for example — after the Confederate flag had been flying over the S.C. State House for 38 years in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, and despite many efforts to have it removed — the  NAACP threatened a boycott of South Carolina tourism if the Confederate flag were not removed from the State House. In response, S.C. Sen. Arthur Ravenel announced that he wouldn’t be pressured by “that organization known as the National Association of Retarded People.” For his part, then-Senator Joe Wilson defended the flag as a “very honourable” part of his Southern heritage: 

That’s offensive to me that they would take my heritage and make it into a Holocaust era type description. I find that very offensive, and it’s not true. The Southern heritage, the Confederate heritage is very honourable.

The fact is, slavery WAS a 200-year holocaust commmitted by Christian white men – not only against blacks, but against Native Americans and any other non-white, non-Christian race that could be kidnapped and sold into slavery. Those Native Americans who were not slaughtered, were sold into slavery to fund the African slave trade, in which millons of blacks were kidnapped from their homes and stacked like common cargo into the bellies of ships for their trip to America, where they were sold  into slavery, forced to work as beasts of burden for white men. This was written into the laws, called Slave Codes, of each and every slaveholding state in our great Christian nation:

All servants imported and brought into the Country…who were not Christians in their native Country…shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion…shall be held to be real estate.” — from the Virginia Slave Code of 1705, defining slaves as those non-Christian people of color — a population that encompassed Africans and Native Americans alike, none of whom were deemed human beings in the eye of the law but were, rather, held as “real estate.” The Virginia Slave Code of 1667 had already established that Christian baptism did not alter the state of bondage.

It would be difficult to make a factual case that any of these slaves were “contented with their lot” as the Jefferson Davis-Joe Wilson school of historical revisionists would have us believe. The punishments for escape, or for stealing food, were prescribed by law and were anything but “honourable”:

For the slave first offense of petty larceny (stealing or destroying goods valued at less than twelve pence) the punishement was to be publicly and severely whipped, not exceeding forty lashes… second offense shall either have one of his ears cut off or be branded on the head with a hot iron that the mark thereof may remain… for his third offense shall have his nose slit… a fourth time shall be adjudged to suffer death or other punishment as the said judge shall think fitting. — from the South Carolina Slave Code of 1712. Similar punishments were meted to runaway slaves, with the letter “R” branded on the right cheek for a second offense. Upon the third attempt to run away, males were castrated. Should a slave die as a result of the castration, the slaveowner was compensated our of the public treasury for the value of the slave! Upon the fifth offense the “cord of the slaves legs” would be cut above the heel or, alternately, the slave would be killed. Slave owners who failed to carry out these punishments were subject to punishments ranging from fines to forfeiture of his slave.

The South Carolina Slave Codes of 1722 and 1735 took a more charitable view toward the “pretence of hunger” that might compel a slave to steal food, changing the law to reduce the number of lashings from 40 to 30 for any slave who stole “fowls, lambs, pigs, hogs, calves or pountry or any other edible matter or other thing under the value of twenty shilings.” Too, the law reflected on whether it was really in the master’s interest to kill his slave for such thefts: 

Negroes and slaves, under pretence of hunger, do frequently break open corn houses and rice houses and steal from them corn and rice…. If these slaves sought food when inadequate amounts were provided, was it in the master’s interest to kill them for burglaries committed to alleviate hunger pangs?”  from the South Carolina Slave Code of 1722

These Slave Codes remained in effect until the Civil War era, when they were replaced by a new system of laws called Black Code, then Jim Crow, then the “racial code” of the Atwater era that is with us today. For 100 years of this time – from the 1860s to the early 1960s, lynchings were the rule of vigilante justice throughout the South. Throughout this century, Southern politicians, such as Joe Wilson’s  old boss, Strom Thurmond,  fought tooth and nail against Federal anti-lynching laws — all the way into the 1950s —  insisting on the preservation of their beloved “states’ rights” for handling lynchers, sans the intrusion of the Federal government. It worked. Despite nearly 200 anti-lynching bills introduced into Congress, not a one passed, due entirely to the power of the filibuster by Southern politicians.  As some compensation, the Senate apologized in 2005 for their failure to pass antil-lynching laws.

And Joe Wilson is offended by those who would take his “heritage” and “make it into a Holocaust era type description”? Untold thousands of blacks were wantonly murdered from the 1600s onward into the earely 1960s, with a near absence of laws to protect them, much less to punish their murderers. During this time, millions of Native Americans were targeted by the U.S. government for extermination. It’s an ugly and shameful history, to be sure — one that no man or flag could, in all honesty, claim as an honorable cause. Yet, they do.  

As Joe Wilson’s own group, Sons of Confederate Veterans puts it: 

The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight.

This is all fine, so long as we understand what that fight was — and still is — really about. It’s about the cherished belief among some people in this country that the  American ideals of liberty and freedom were never more fully realized than in the days of slavery — when white men held an entire race under bondage.

This is why, when I heard Joe Wilson bellow, “You lie!” in the Senate Chamber, I knew I wasn’t hearing the voice of a principled politician fighting for a noble cause. What I heard — what we all heard — was the collective voice of the slaveowners and Know Nothings echoing their Lost Cause. It was the voices of  Jefferson Davis, Strom Thurmond, Joseph McCarthy and Lee Atwater whispering from the grave. It was the voice of schoolchildren spitting the words “Nigger lover” as they kicked their classmate in the head. It was the voice of the men in the fields, their hands raised to their hearts, singing, “God Bless America,” their dark faces lit by the glow of a burning cross.

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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REPORT VOTER FRAUD: Don’t let your vote go down the toilet! Here’s how (UPDATED 11/3/08)

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Scared witless of another stolen election?

Brain numb? Stomach in knots? Can’t sleep? Feeling helpless? Hopeless? As if the voting booths in America have become little more than fancy-pants outhouses for neatly disposing of our votes? You’re not alone. But we can fight back.. 

This is serious, serious business. Voter purging, disenfranchisement and suppression is epidemic throughout the country. The Republican’s vote-stealing campaign is a powerful, well-oiled machine. Don’t let the hugeness of this issue overwhelm you. Fight back. There’s power in numbers. The more who fight against their sleazy campaign to thwart democracy, the less chance they have to succeed. On this page, you’ll find some tools for fighting back.

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UPDATE NOVEMBER 3, 2008:

Cutting to the chase, here’s a re-cap of the 6 best options for reporting and dealing with voter problems. Write down the phone numbers, below, and take them with you to the polls:

  1. A MUST READ: Please, please read this short Wall Street Journal article before going to the polls – Heading Off Election Day Mishaps Most Pitfalls Have a Remedy, if Voters Are Prepared; Bringing Along Proper ID.  This will help you avoid and/or remedy the more common problems yourself. You want to do whatever you can to avoid getting something called a “provisional ballot,” which is often times the equivalent of throwing your vote down the toilet. 
  2. If you are having a legal problem with your vote, call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-(866) OURVOTE  or (1-866-687-8683). If you are in the midst of voting and have a problem, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR POLLING BOOTH/STATION. YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS CALL BEFORE LEAVING YOUR POLLING STATION. When you call, a pre-recorded voice will answer, asking which state you are from. Enter your two-digit state code on your phone’s keypad. You’ll be forwarded to a legal expert in your state, who can help determine your voting rights.
  3. If you don’t have a legal question but simply want to report a problem you had, you can call a separate hotline 1 (866) MYVOTE1 (866-698-6831) and leave a recorded message. Be sure to leave your name and phone number on the recording if you want someone to investigate your problem.
  4. Report voter problems to Barack Obama’s website at: http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/vpcreport
  5. For overseas voters — both military and civilian — needing help with voting issues & problems, there is information plus a “Voters Help Desk” at Overseas Vote Foundation: https://vhd.overseasvotefoundation.org/ovf/index.php?group=default
  6. I’m not sure if this will be any help, but the Dept. of Justices offers the following advice: If you experience any problem or confusion while voting report the situation to one of the poll workers or election officials immediately. Do not wait until you have finished voting. If the election officials at the polling place are unable or unwilling to help you, the problem should be reported directly to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. There are no special forms to use or procedures to follow–just call the Civil Rights Division toll-free at (800) 253-3931

Find more info at: Wired Blog Network

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p.s. I encourage readers to pass on any helpful  info/resources to me. I’ll post them here on this page. 

What you can do 

  1. Vote, and urge everyone you know to vote, no matter what.
  2. Fight voter fraud. The links on this page offer excellent info & resources. Check them out, then forward this page to everyone you know, and urge them to forward it to everyone they know. 
  3. Fight complaceny. Be informed and stay informed. Begin by watching the two videos below (15 mintues total). Then devote yourself to staying informed — no matter how godawful depressing and hopeless it may seem — from now until November 4th. It may very well be the most important work you ever do.  

 

SITES TO CHECK OUT

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Steal Back Your Vote with Robert Kennedy Jr. & Greg Palast

Voter suppression is real. It’s a crime. And it’s happening to YOU….. This is a deliberate strategy to keep minorities from voting, senior citizens from voting, young people from voting in an effort to suppress the vote and maintain their hold on power. Our concern is not partisan. We need every American to vote: Democrats and Republicans. You can do all the campaigning you want in a battleground state like Ohio or New Mexico, but if your voters aren’t counted, you’re going to lose the Presidency-and our democracy. But there’s something that you can do to prevent it. Pass on this link: http://www.stealbackyourvote.org. Go to the site. Download copies of this comic book, buy copies in bulk and download STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE: THE MOVIE. Get out the word! There’s still time to steal back your vote! — Robert Kennedy, Jr.

Steal Back Your Vote in 7 Easy Steps, by Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast

  1. Don’t, Don’t, DON’T Mail In Your Ballot. For those of you who mailed in your ballot, please tell me, what happened to it? You don’t know, do you? I can tell you that officially, three-fourths of a million absentee ballots were never counted last time, on the weakest of technical excuses. And you won’t even know it. Furthermore, tens of thousands of ballots are not mailed out to voters in time to return them-in which case you’re out of luck. In most states, new voters must now include a photocopy of your ID. Which mis, like, nuts. Every time I hear of a voter going “absentee” to avoid computer screens, I want to “go postal” myself.
  2. Vote Early…very early. Every state now lets voters cast ballots in designated polling stations and at county offices in the weeks before Election Day. Do it. Don’t wait until Election Day to find out you
    have the wrong ID, your registration’s “inactive,” or you’re on a challenge list. By Election Day, there’s little to do but hold up the line.
  3. Register and Register and Register Think you’re registered to vote? Think again. With all this purg’n going on, you could be x’d out and you won’t know it. Check online at www.votersunite.org *. Then register your girlfriend, your wife, your mailman and your mommy. Contact the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Rock the Vote, and your local party organization, and commit to a couple of days of door-to-door registration, especially in minority neighborhoods or at social service agency offices. And if you’ve served the time, you can sign: in almost every state, ex-cons can
    vote. *(for individual/personal state registration info, including deadlines, you can also check here)
  4. Vote Unconditionally, Not Provisionally In 2008, they’ll be handing out provisional ballots like candy, especially to Hispanic voters. If your right to vote is challenged, don’t accept a provisional ballot that will likely not get counted no matter what the sweet little lady at the table tells you. She won’t decide; partisan sharks will. Demand adjudication from poll judges on the spot; demand a call to the supervisor of elections; or return with acceptable ID if possible. And be a champ: defend the rights of others. If you’ve taken Step 1 above and voted early, you have Election Day free to be
    a poll watcher. If your run into trouble – you’ve been caged or purged or challenged – call Election Protection at 1-(866) OURVOTE. Then challenge the challengers, the weird guys with Blackberrys containing lists of “suspect” voters. Be firm, but no biting.
  5. Occupy Ohio, Invade Nevada. The revolution will not be podcast. Let go of that mouse, get out of your PJs and take the resistance door-to-door-to register the vote, to canvass the voters, to get out the vote. Donate time to your union (if you’re not in a union, why not?) or to the troublemakers I’ve
    already listed here and on our site. This may seem a stupendously unoriginal suggestion, but I know of no other method more effective for confronting the armed and dangerous junta that has seized the White House.
  6. Date a voter. Voting, like bowling and love, should never be done alone. As our sponsor, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, says, make a date to ‘Arrive with Five.’ And keep this comic book in your holster – with our 800 numbers and your photo ID in your hand. And Bobby, make sure your ID says, “Robert Kennedy JUNIOR” or your vote is toast. [EDITOR’S NOTE: I have a copy of this comic book. It’s loaded with helpful resources, and it’s well-worth the price — $1 to $1 million, take your pick — with every $100 sending 400 voter guides across the country, where democracy is getting creamed.] 
  7. Make the DemocracY Demand: No Vote Left Behind! I have this crazy fantasy in my head. In it, an election is stolen and the guy who’s wrongly declared the loser stands up in front of the White House and says three magic words: “Count the votes.” You can have all the paper ballots in the world, but if you don’t demand to look at them, publicly, in a recount, you might as well mark
    them with invisible ink. Democracy requires vigilance The Day After. That’s when you check in at http://www.stealbackyourvote.org/one more time.

Are you registered to vote? Do you know where to vote? What ID to bring? The poll hours in your state? About absentee & early voting? Find these answers and more at canivote.org, a nonpartisan web site created by state election officials to help voters with the voting process. At this site, you’ll be able to:  

  • Check your registration info
  • Find your polling place
  • Know what kind of ID to bring
  • Make your vote count: absentee and early voting
  • Learn about the candidates (local and state)
  • Become a poll worker

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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FOR MORE INFO:

Greg Palast’s Steal Back Your Vote site: This page has bookoos of info and links on voter fraud

The Categorical Lies of Sarah Palin, Categorically Arranged

with 3 comments

A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.

 

Retracing the story of Sarah Palin’s career is like traveling through a carnival funhouse of smoke and mirrors. No sooner do you think you’ve finally rounded the corner on Palin’s gallery of clever distortions, dirty tricks and lies, than you’re confronted with another, then another and another, until you realize you’ve traveled an entire catacomb of lies, smoke and mirrors.

 

Here, we are working to assemble the entire funhouse of lies — a motley mix, ranging from little white lies, to boldface whoppers, to the more subtle forms of needle-nosed lies that are currently being molded by team McCain into a propaganda campaign that, so far, shows promise of duping American voters into believing that the McCain-Palin ticket has something to offer besides an empty platform and a plateful of lies.

Because Palin’s lies permeate nearly everything she says and does — and also tend to reflect back and forth through her history — it was tricky to categorize them. (How to organize such a diversity of lies? By topic? By their size? By type? By era?) We finally settled on 3 categories: Sarah’s lies as mayor, governor and vice-presidential candidate. You’ll still find much overlap, with lies about Palin’s gubenatorial record being floated through her VP candidacy, and with team McCain’s lies being puppeted by Palin, and so on. Our facts were drawn from myriad credible sources, all of which are yours for the plucking at the bottom of this post. The quotes are courtesy of Pinocchio, unless otherwise noted.

 

Give a bad boy enough rope, and he’ll soon make a jackass of himself.

 

Mayor Sarah Palin (1996-2002)

 

LIE: Sarah Palin’s mayoral candidacy was built on a platform of bucking a corrupt, good-old boy system of politics.

TRUTH: The centerpiece of Sarah Palin’s mayoral campaign was an evangelical, anti-abortion, pro-NRA platform, which left many townsfolk to puzzle over her perplexing lack of interest in the town’s actual needs, such as roads. Sarah’s candidacy transformed Wasilla’s former electoral spirit from one of a bi-partisan, “friendly intra-mural contest” between neighbors, into a highly polarized, angry, partisan debate centered on evangelic-based, hot-button issues. This tactic not only put her into office, but spurred a rise in evangelism that continues to this day. Sarah was re-elected by a landslide 3 years later. 

LIE: As mayor, Sarah cleaned up the good-old boy system of Wasilla politics and ran a transparent government.

TRUTH: Once in office, Sarah fired nearly all the city department heads (six in all) — most of whom had been loyal to her and helped put her in office. She then used her political power to advance personal agenda and grievances, replacing the fired department heads with her own political hacks, cronies and others who stood to advance her political agenda. As the local newspapers became critical of both her campaign methods and her fractious governing methods, Sarah put a gag order on the city’s department heads, instructing them to get her permission before speaking to reporters.

LIE: Sarah fired Wasilla’s Chief of Police because he didn’t give her his “full support.”

TRUTH: Sarah fired police chief, Irl Stambaugh, because (1) he stepped on the toes of Palin’s campaign contributors by trying to move up the closing hours of the local bars from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. after a spurt of drunk driving accidents and arrests, and (2) because his stand on restricting concealed weapons upset Palin’s National Rifle Association contributors/cronies.

LIE: Sarah didn’t fire police chief. In her own words at the time, “There’s been no meeting, no actual termination.” 

TRUTH: Sarah had already delivered the letter of termination to Police Chief Stambaugh by the time she made this statement. The statement read, in part, “Although I appreciate your service as police chief, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore, I intend to terminate your employment.” As Stambaugh so aptly observed, “If that’s not a letter of termination, I don’t know what is.” Stambaugh had headed the Wasilla Police Dept. since its creation in 1993. Before that, he served 22 years with the Anchorage Police Dept., rising to the rank of captain before his retirement. Sarah replaced Stambaugh with one of her cronies, who said of the early bar closing, “I have a philosophy that every time there’s a new law or new ordinance, we lose a little more of our freedom.”

LIE: In Palin’s words: “I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending… and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.”

TRUTH: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks totaling $27 million for a town of 5,000-9,000 people over a 3-year period.

LIE: A keen executive, Sarah was a smart businesswoman and a responsible steward of the Wasilla budget.

TRUTH: When Sarah arrived, the budget was balanced. When she left office in 2002, she also left Wasilla with a $22 million deficit. Most of this is due to the ice rink/recreation center, complete with heated seats for the spectators. Sarah failed to get clear lands right before building it the center, which has left the city mired in expensive legal proceedings that continue to this day. Had Sarah stuck around long enough, she could have at least claimed experience in dealing with a huge deficit, which the next president will need in dealing with the federal government’s newly announced $417 billion deficit.

LIE: Sarah did not ask the Wasilla librarian to ban books. She was simply asking a rhetorical question, wanting to know if the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons (now Barker) would remove a book from the shelves, if people were to, say, circle the library in protest of a certain book.

TRUTH: Sarah twice posed such rhetorical questions to the librarian and reportedly cited three specific books, which purportedly include the titles, “Pastor I am Gay” and “Go Ask Alice.”  After the librarian refused, Sarah gave her a letter of termination, but was forced to re-instate her after a large public protest.

LIE: Sarah Palin is family-friendly.

TRUTH: The above is likely true, so long as you’re not her mother-in-law, and so long as you don’t cross Sarah’s political path. Sarah Palin’s mother-in-law, Faye Palin — a pro-abortion democrat, with a respectable history of civic and community work in Wasilla — ran for mayor after Sarah vacated the position in 2002. Faye’s campaign was not endorsed by Sarah, but was, in fact, targeted by Sarah’s political allies, as the race disintegrated into a pro vs. anti-abortion battle, with the word BABYKILLER smattered across Faye’s campaign signs several days before election day. Faye Palin was defeated by one of Sarah’s political cohorts. (It’s not that Sarah opposed her mother-in-law, it’s how she opposed her).

 

Perhaps you haven’t been telling the truth, Pinocchio.

 

Governor Sarah Palin (2006-present)

 LIE: In Palin’s words, “I told Congress ‘thanks but no thanks’ for that Bridge to Nowhere.”

TRUTH: For one thing, Sarah Palin’s say-so was irrelevant to Congress by the time she entered office, so that — even if she did say ‘thanks but no thanks,’ no one was listening. The funding for the bridge (which she kept) was a done deal. The point being that I would question whether or not she even said ‘thanks but no thanks’ to  anyone other than a mirror. For another thing, Sarah embraced the Bridge to Nowhere — even using it in her political platform while campaigning for governor — but only so long as it was politically advantageous to do so. She joined in a cause, of sorts, rallying to the defense of those poor people from “nowhere” being ridiculed by the liberal media. Once the project became a national ridicule, she jumped onboard with that idea and withdrew her support for the $398 million porkbarrel albatross, a project which McCain was to later blame for the Minnesota bridge collapse that killed 13 and injured nearly 100 people.  In a Sept. 2007 press release, Sarah actually seemed to blame the bridge’s demise on a lack of funding from Congress. Sarah continues, to this day, to brag on her ‘thanks but no thanks’ mavericketynesshood.  

LIE: Sarah Palin sold the governor’s jet on eBay for a profit.

TRUTH: Sarah Palin tried, but failed, three times to sell the jet on eBay. She finally sold it to a Republican campaign donor, a Valdex oil executive named Larry Reynolds, at a $600,000 loss to the state of Alaska.

LIE: Sarah Palin is suing the Federal government to reverse their decision to protect threatened polar bears under the Endangered Species Act because, according to Sarah, their decision wasn’t based on the best scientifc evidence.  

TRUTH: Sarah Palin is suing the Federal government — despite that she’s been given the best scientific evidence by many credible authorities and scientists, whose conclusions were based on studies of declining sea ice habitats (studies which her office chose to withhold from public debate)  — because Sarah  fears this protection will cripple offshore oil and gas drilling in Alaska.

LIE: Sarah didn’t try to pressure Alaska State Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, into firing her ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Mike Wooten. Nor did she fire Monegan for his refusal to fire Wooten.

TRUTH: Sarah, along with her husband and various people from her office, repeatedly called and emailed Monegan for this very purpose. Sarah, et al, vehemently denied this until, in August 2008, an audiotape surfaced, proving they were lying. By then, however, she was already part of a state investigation (with a tab of up to $100,000 for the taxpayers) for abuse of her executive power in the firing of Walt Monegan — an impeachable offense. 

LIE: Sarah didn’t fire Walt Monegan for his failure to fire her ex-brother-in-law, but fired him for not properly addressing bootlegging and alcohol abuse issues.

TRUTH: Several weeks before she fired Monegan, Sarah praised him for his efforts against bootlegging and alcohol abuse issues and, in fact, named him Director of the Alcohol Beverage Board, all of this appearing a bit schizophrenic, when you consider her earlier firing of Police Chief Stambaugh (see mayoral lies, above) in the wake of his efforts to address alcohol abuse issues.

LIE: As commander of the Alaska National Guard, Sarah has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities.

TRUTH: Sarah’s role with the Alaska National Guard is as little more than a figurehead. Upon out-of-state deployment, the National Guard reports solely to the Dept. of Defense, with the governor’s authority ending absolutely when those units are called into actual military service, the exception being for certain in-state deployments, such as floods. In these cases, the Maj. Gen. Campbell of the Alaska National Guard has authority to make decisions. Sarah Palin has never given orders to the Alaska National Guard.  (An aside, of interest here, is that the City of Wasilla’s website has undergone changes in recent weeks, with the addition of National Guard pics at the tops of varoius pages, including the home page. One can only assume this is to bolster Sarah’s military credentials, as there is no National Guard base in Wasilla. Correct me if I’m wrong).

LIE: In Palin’s words: “I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending… and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.”

TRUTH: In less than two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation.

LIE: As governor, Sarah Palin cleaned out the corrupt good-old-boy system in Alaska politics and replaced it with a clean, transparent, fiscally responsible government.

TRUTH: Sarah bilked, er… billed the Alaska taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office (uh, she’s only been in office for about 19 months), charging a per diem allowance intended to cover the cost of meals and incidental expenses during the governor’s travels. She also billed the state for travel expenses for her children and husband during her travels, PLUS billing the state for expenses and a daily allowance for husband, Todd, during her travels — all to the tune of $43,490. Flight expenses were the most costly, with daughter Piper’s alone totaling nearly $11,000. Lodging was also costly, with one Bristol & Mom jaunt to NYC costing taxpayers $707 per night. A question that remains to be officially asked or answered is whether or not Palin paid taxes on the income from her at-home per diem charges for those 312 nights, as this would be considered taxable income, since being paid to sleep in your own bedroom is not considered a tax-deductible expense by the IRS. This could easily be grounds for a criminal tax fraud investigation, if Palin did not pay taxes on this taxable income. Palin brags that her own personal travel expenses ($93,000) are an improvement over her predecessor, Murkowsky ($463,000), who could offer no comment on these figures to the press, as he was moosehunting.

 

What does an actor want with a conscience, anyway?

 

Vice-Presidentail Candidate Sarah Palin (8/28/08 – present)

 

LIE: Sarah Palin got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.

TRUTH: Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayoral election and 909 in the 1999 re-election race. Despite that Joe Biden dropped out of the presidential race after the Iowa caucuses, he received a total of 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia during the 2008 primaries.

LIE: Alaska is a wealthy state because of its oil revenues and Sarah’s wonderful executive and budgetary skills, making so much money that the state can afford to cut its own citizens checks from these revenues.

TRUTH: This is a yes, but only because Alaska sucks an exorbitant amount of money from the federal government. Among the 50 states, Alaska rates #1 in taxes per resident, and #1 in spending per resident. Its tax burden is 2.5 times the national average, its spending more than double. The trick is that Alaska spends money on its citizens, then bills the rest of us to pay for it. Alaska ranks number #1 in the country for the absolute amount it receives from Washington, over and above the amount it sends to Washington. Alaska receives more federal aid per capita than any other state.

LIE: The McCain-Paln team will change liberal Washington into a conservative Washington.

TRUTH: Uh, conservative Republicans, Bush-Cheney, have been in office for nearly 8 years, and the Republicans controlled Congress for 6 of those years, until the Democrats took control in 2007.

LIE: Palin’s words on Obama: “This is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the State Senate.

TRUTH: Obama worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. In Illinois, he was the leader on two major, contentious measures: studying racial profiling by police, and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

LIE: Palin’s words on Obama: “The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.”

TRUTH: You’d not have to listen to many Obama speeches to know this is patently false. Payroll taxes will decrease for 95%  of Americans (an inverse arrangement to the Bush-McCain plan) netting an after-tax increase of income by 5% (averaging approx. $2,000 annally) by 2012 for Americans earning under $250,000 annually. This is according to the Tax Policy Center, a think-tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute.  Income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes will be raised for the wealthiest, including individuals and business making over $250,000 annually. Obama will provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum wage workers, with higher credits for larger families. Again, Obama’s plan benefits 95% of Americans, unlike the Bush-McCain plan, which gives disproportianate favor to the wealthiest Americans, which comprise approx. 5% of the population. 

LIE: (and a particularly vile lie, at that, which Margaret Talex of the McClatchy Report called ‘a deliberately misleading accusation’ and ‘a deliberate low blow’ —>). A recent McCain-Palin ad claims that Obama supported legislation to provide sex education to kindergartners.

TRUTH: The legislation for sex education for grades K-12 already existed in Illinois regarding STD and pregnancy prevention. Obama voted to allow local school boards to teach ‘age-appropriate’ sex education, geared toward educating children ages K-12 on how to recognize inappropriate behaviors, as a measure to protect them from sexual predators. One need not dig too deeply into the headlines to see that pedophilia is a sad reality in our society. It is ridiculous and patently sick to insinuate that Obama approved laws to teach young children about the birds and the bees. As one blogger noted, the McCain ad’s claim that Obama approves sex-ed for tots will nonetheless be effective, as the media continue to repeat the McCain-Palin smear, without bothering to dispute it with the outrage it should be disputed. It’s a lose-lose proposition for politicians like Obama, as it takes a lot more words to defend against such outrageous lies than it takes to wage them. The defense is never as powerful as the accusation, and can never quite be disproved in the court of the media. That’s the beauty of a smear campaign. Of course, McCain, Palin, Rove and Co. already know this. 

 

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventualy they will believe it.Adolph Hitler

 

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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ABC News: Another Controversy for Sarah Palin

Associated Press: Attacks, praise stretch truth at GOP convention

thecanarypapers: Monkeys with Molotovs: The gutter politics of McCain, Palin, Rove & Co.

Librarians Against Palin: ABC Investigates

Anchorage Daily News: Troopergate Inquiry Hangs Over Campaign

Anchorage Daily News: Palin touts stance on Bridge to Nowhere, doesn’t note flip-flop

Anchorage Daily News: State will sue over polar bear listing, Palin says

Anchorage Daily News: Alaska sues over listing of polar bear as threatened

Anchorage Daily News: Oil firms get ok to bother polar bears

Daily Kos: Alaskanomics: How Palin’s State Sucks the Rest of the Country Dry

What Fresh Hell is This? (JD Rhoades’ Blog): The Librarian Who Said No to Sarah Palin, by Tess Gerritsen

AZ Central: Shook up “old boy’s network’

McClatchy: Palin has never ordered Alaska National Guard to Do Anything

Daily KOS: We need grown-ups in the White House (excellent background info, especially with respect to oil and Alaska politics, plus sorting out Sarah Palin’s financial facts vs. fallacies, written by an author whose first choice was not Obama-Biden). Excerpt: It’s 2008 in America, people: the budget is broken, the military is broken, the financial system is broken, our standing in the world is at an all-time low. We need grown-ups in the White House….

Gov. Sarah Palin’s September 2007 Press Release on the demise of the Bridge to Nowhere

Talking Points Memo: Palin Again Recites Lie About Bridge to Nowhere

TIME: Sarah Palin’s Alaskanomics

The New York Observer: The Fairy Tale of Palin the Reformer

The Reality-Based Community: Evidence of Consciousness of Guilt (regarding per diem pay for living in your own home being taxable income)

WinkNews.com: here, you can see McCain’s Sept. 21, 2007 comments on the Bridge to Nowhere.

Wall Street Journal: Record Contradicts Palin’s ‘Bridge’ Claims

Washington Post: Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home — Taxpayers also funded family’s travel

Washington Post: Does the truth matter anymore?

‘Troopergate’ news footage from August 14, 2008 (Palin coverage begins at 0:33). It’s interesting, here, to see a liar perform her craft, as Sarah first denies the charges, then backpeddles a bit when she hears, to her horror, the audiotape recordings that prove she’s been lying.