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McCain & Palin: A hopeless campaign of dog whistles and kazoos

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I grew up in the South. I know the code. I know it when I hear it, and I know how it works.  

To the uninitiated, “code” is sometimes likened to a dog whistle, heard only by a particular audience, whose ears will perk up at the mention of particular words. The code has become somewhat of a tradition in American politics, a device used to summon closet racists and certain other red-blooded Americans to the stump. If delivered properly, these same words can be used to romance the mainstream. Times used to be simpler. Restaurants, theaters, buses, water fountains and so on were duly marked: whites or coloreds. And the latter could be barred entirely from the political process by various forms of threat, including the prerequisite of taking a “literacy test” before voting. Nowadays, if a politician wishes to divide the packs into “us” vs. “them” it is more politically-correct to use a dog whistle.  

Although we’ve heard the code throughout the campaign (see examples at the bottom of this post), the dog whistling grew to a fevered intensity during the Republican convention.  After all, their opponent was not only black but — by virture of his middle name — he could also be pegged as Muslim, which, as any dog whistler could tell you, equals terrorist. So it was only natural that Sarah Palin, making her vice-presidential debut, would quote the words of a racist, fascist, pro-Nazi, anti-semitic, pseudo-populist journalist named Westbrook Pegler — a writer who openly wished for the assassinations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. As dog whistles go, Sarah couldn’t have made a cleaner, more precise delivery of his quote, when she said in her acceptance speech script: 

A writer observed: “We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity.” I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind….

To the uninitiated, it sounded like Sarah Palin was merely conjuring the honest, by-gone simplicty of Normal Rockwell’s America. To the initiated, those words sounded like the same old, same old dog whistles we’ve been listening to since George Wallace’s heyday. In politics, that’s what you call a win-win situation. And so it was that, for a few brief days in early September, a majority of Americans appeared ready to follow the pied pipers down that well-worn path that was last traveled by George W. Bush. But then, something happened. Two things, actually: Sarah Palin spoke without a script, and Wall Street began to collapse.

Both events made glaring the shoddy construction of the McCain-Palin platform, as well as the ineptness of the two candidates carrying that platform. Their poll numbers dived accordingly. Lacking substantive issues on which to run, and having failed at counterfeiting Obama’s campaign of hope, service and change, the McCain camp opted for the path of last resort: lying about their own record, while yollering baseless, incendiary attacks on Obama. After all, the fearmongering worked for George Wallace with blacks, it worked for Richard Nixon with the anti-war protesters, and it worked for George Bush with Muslims. As September wore on, the dog whistling escalated to full-throated accuastions: Risky! Elitist! Not proud of America! Dangerous! Dishonorable! Catastrophic harm! Al Qaeda! Domestic terrorist! Terrorist!  Terrorist!

With these words, the McCain-Palin ticket gave their crowds implicit permission to engage in the same. Ordinary stump patriotism quickly disintegrated into a pack mentality, as their rally mobs began shouting, with a menacing glee, racial epithets and words such as: He’s a terrorist! Traitor! Treason! He’s a socialist! A communist! A commie faggot! Barack Hussein Obama! A one-man terrorist cell! A Muslim! An Arab! Osama bin Lyin! Bomb Obama! Off with his head! Kill him!

Back when I was in school, in the earliest day of segregation, my best friend was African American. As a result, I got at least one ass-whooping per week. Some days, upwards of 50 kids would mob around me, jeering and yollering epithets as 2, 3, 4 or 5 kids would pounce, kicking me and pummeling me in the head. This was on school grounds, usually while waiting for the bus in the afternoon. I remember one day glimpsing — as I looked out between the legs of the mob — a teacher standing nearby. She was my science teacher, my homeroom teacher. She glanced over when I yelled, “Make them stop!” then turned her head away, as if distracted by something in the other direction. I learned to take the daily ass-beatings sitting down, with my arms wrapped around my head. An easier recourse would have been to step back into my proper place, an option I rejected from the get-go, back when the threats first started, back when I was first indicted with that notorious alias: n-lover. Those words were whispered and spat at me from every niche, clique and cranny of my school, and they dogged me home, via the nightly phone calls. The violence soon followed.   

As an n-lover, there were different rules for me than other white kids. If I raised my hand in class, it was as if I were invisible. My participation was, at best, endured by my teachers as they sighed, rolled their eyes or issued snappy retorts — their tone impatient, conveying a thinly-veiled contempt (English teachers being the exception to this rule).  If I forgot my homework or was late for class, I’d be sent to the office with a note deeming me ‘disruptive’ or a ‘troublemaker.’ Granted, none of these actions could have been tried as crimes in a court of law, but when such treatment becomes a daylong, day-in and day-out way of life over a period of years, it can either wear a person down in very fundamental ways, or it can inspire a person to rebel. I’ve generally, but not always, tended toward the latter. To my parent’s credit, being an n-lover was the most natural thing in the world to me. It never occurred to me, until I got my first ass-whooping, that blacks and whites could not be friends. 

So it is with no small amount of gratitude that I, as a citizen of this country, embrace any and all national and political figures who are voicing outrage over the McCain-Palin campaign’s shameful and dangerous campaign rhetoric. I am equally grateful to those in the media who are echoing censure for both the lies and the incendiary hate-baiting. Although the truth is self-evident, some of our most prominent media figures appear to be engaging in denial.  Or, perhaps, they believe it to be impolite or showing an unfair bias to state these ugly truths outright.   

The Messenger 

Just this past weekend, one of Capitol Hill’s most respected voices, Rep. John Lewis from Georgia — a man who repeatedly and quite literally put his life on the line during the Civil Rights era — spoke out against the McCain-Palin camp’s dangerous rhetoric:

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“As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing today reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

“During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed one Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

“As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Governor Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.”

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Attacking the Messenger

McCain’s response to Rep. John Lewis’ reprimand speaks for itself:

Congressman John Lewis’ comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama’s record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign.

I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I’ve always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.

I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America.

It goes without saying that McCain has backed himself into a corner. Unless he continues to draw the sort of supporters that would have seamlessly fit into a 1963 George Wallace rally, McCain will lose what what little is left of his ragtag base. It seems the old dog whistle’s grown a little rusty over the years. People don’t hear it quite the way they used to.  But still, McCain and Palin will keep bleating on the thing, which nowadays sounds more like a kazoo. And, with whatever breath they have left over, they will huff and puff fake outrage over each and ever censure, and they will continue the campaign of outrageously pathetic lies, such as the one we recently heard, when McCain tried to turn the tables and accuse Obama of calling him a terrorist. (see video here). 

Noble Words, Noble Deeds

There are some who accuse Obama of lofty rhetoric, who say that Obama can’t lay claim to  noble deeds to back-up his noble words. One of Sarah’s scripts derisively termed it “the idealism of high-flown speechmaking, in which crowds are stirringly summoned to support great things.” I would remind these people of what happened at an Obama rally at Independence Square in Philadelphia this past April. When Obama mentioned Hillary Clinton’s name, the crowd booed, and he told them to stop. It happened again, just this week, when his supporters booed McCain. Barack Obama intervened when his supporters merely booed his opponent. He called for civility. Yet, when faced with supporters who label his fellow senator a terrorist — repeatedly calling for his assassination —  John McCain says absolutely nothing.

To those who would accuse Obama of lofty rhetoric, I would ask that they turn away from the dog whistles for a moment and listen — really listen — to Obama’s speech from last March (see excerpt and video, below) delivered at Constitution Center in Philadelphia, in which he not only addressed race, but described that fundamental path by which America can work together to pursue a better future. This is the same fundamental path he’s been forging for his entire political career, including this campaign. Unlike his opponent, Obama speaks for all Americans, each and every one of us, including those who are still asking the question, “Who is Barack Obama?” Listen to his words and pay attention to his actions. You will find no contradictions.  

Tears flow down the face of Marty Nesbit as Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois, speaks in Philadelphia about race.

Tears flow down the face of Marty Nesbit as Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois, speaks in Philadelphia about race.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well. For we have a choice in this country.

We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism…. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.


That is one option.

Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.


This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with
whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power
on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on
if we do it together.


This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for
men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans
from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the
fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.


This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve
together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to
talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and
never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by
caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what
the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect,
but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today,
whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me
the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and
openness to change have already made history in this election.

ABOVE: See the full content of Barack Obama’s March 2008 speech in Philadelphia, PA at Constitution Center.  

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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AN UGLY FOOTNOTE

Below is a sampling of the dog whistles, verbal molotovs and other incendiary devices that have been lobbed in the course of this presidential campaign. There are plenty more. I’ll enter them later, if (big if) I have the stomach for it:  

Then the radical Islamists, the al Qaeda, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they will declare victory in this War on Terror. — Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) describing in March 2008 what would happen if Obama won the presidency

I’ve never believed in quotas, and I don’t. — John McCain, April 2008

I’m going to tell you something: That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button. — Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis (R) said of Obama, April 2008

Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity. — Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, in comparing Michelle Obama to Sarah Palin, Sept 4, 2008

A few years later, he ran for the U.S. Senate. He won and has spent most of his time as a “celebrity senator.” No leadership or major legislation to speak of. His rise is remarkable in its own right – it’s the kind of thing that could happen only in America. — Rudy Giuliani, in his Sept. 2008 RNC convention speech, makes a subtle nod to Affirmative Action as the conduit to Obama’s rise in politics. 

He worked as a community organizer. — Rudy Giuliani on Barack Obama, Sept. 2008 RNC

This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn’t just need an organizer. — Sarah Palin, Sept. 2008

What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay. He wants to meet them without preconditions. Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America. He’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights? — Sarah Palin on Obama, Sept. 2008

A writer observed: “We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity.” I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind…. They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America … They love their country, in good times and bad, and they’re always proud of America.  — Sarah Palin, Sept. 2008

I think it should be a states issue not a federal government, mandated, mandating yes or no on such an important issue. I’m in that sense a federalist, where I believe that states should have more say in the laws of their lands and individual areas. — Sarah Palin, October 2008 [EDITOR’S NOTE: The mention of ‘state’s rights’ has long been code for being anti-Civil Rights. This was a prominent component of George Wallace’s rhetoric, as he tried to assert the state’s right to preserve prejudice as in institution. Here’s but one example, from ne of his more famous speeches, delivered in 1963 from the schoolhouse steps, as he physically blocked the door to bar black students from entering: “This nation was never meant to be a unit of one… This is the exact reason our freedom loving forefathers established the states, so as to divide the rights and powers among the states, insuring that no central power could gain master government control.” ]

This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. — Sarah Palin on Obama,  October 2008 

Our opponent is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.  — Sarah Palin, October 2008

My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that…. In short: Who is the real Barack Obama? — John McCain, Oct. 2008 [In short, McCain would like us ask ourselves, “Is Barack Hussein Obama a *real* American? Just who is this dark stranger? And what is this scary, black, Muslim-y terrorist-like guy going to do with our country if we elect him?”] 

“Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family.” — from a McCain campaign press release, October 2008

Sit down, boy. — Shouted at an African American media soundman by a Sarah Palin supporter during a rally  

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The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise. — Frank Rich, October 2008

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For more on dog whistle politics, see:

Stop Dog Whistle Racism: tracking race in this year’s elections

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Speaking of Teddy Roosevelt…. Quotes you WON’T hear McCain repeating

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McCain takes pride in his self-anointed similarities to his hero, Teddy Roosevelt, and even quoted him the other night, saying “Walk softly, talk softly but carry a big stick,” while chastising Obama for some perceived foreign policy faux paux. Teddy Roosevelt’s original quote read like this:

I have always been fond of the West African proverb: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’ TR, 1901

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Barack Obama’s response to McCain went like this:

In the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt-ness (much as I don’t share McCain’s romance** with Roosevelt’s “big stick” approach to interventionalism in Latin America, which has been used to justify covert wars, U.S.-installed puppet regimes, death squads, human rights abuses and to otherwise rape, pillage, swindle and rob the citizens of these countries) I thought I’d toss out a few more Teddy Roosevelt quotes. Only, you’re not likely to hear McCain repeat these on the campaign trail, although Obama could do so, in all honesty:

If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful. — TR, 1915

An epidemic in indiscriminate assault upon character does not good, but very great harm. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. — TR,  1906

I have a perfect horror of words that are not backed up by deeds. — TR, 1915

No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. — TR, 1913

Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense. We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man…..The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us. — TR, 1903

I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. — TR, 1910

The object of government is the welfare of the people.  — TR, 1910

This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country. — TR, 1905

It used to be that, even as I opposed Republicans, I could often find common ground in my respect for their intellect, their character, and the sincerity of their ideals. This has not been the case in recent years. John McCain’s character represents such an extreme departure from these traits, that he has become a shame to his party — past, present and future. That his campaign actively promotes and embraces ignorance, lies, bluster and sordid values — while ridiculing intelligence and higher ideals —  only shows his profound lack of qualifications to elevate the country he sought to lead. 

The national polls reflect this, as does this interesting internet survey, titled, IF THE WORLD COULD VOTE ?  Although only 157,194 votes have been cast (as of this hour’s updated numbers) these votes came from a total of 186 countries. So far, Obama wins by 100% in many of the countries, and is in the 90% range in most countries. Seems not all the world is as enchanted as John McCain is in the unilateral, big-stick, Bush Doctrine bullying we’ve all been subjected to over the past 8 years.

 

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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** For more reading on McCain’s activities with the Monroe Doctrine and the Bush Doctrine (aka “palling around with terrorists” in Latin America and Afghanistan), these links are a good starting point. 

Huffington Post: McCain linked to private group in Iran-Contra case – GOP presidential nominee John McCain has past connections to a private group that supplied aid to guerrillas seeking to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra affair. McCain’s ties are facing renewed scrutiny after his campaign criticized Barack Obama for his link to a former radical who engaged in violent acts 40 years ago. The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.

Huffington Post: Why McCain’s time with the U.S. Council for World Freedom matters – The USCWF was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in November 1981 as an offshoot of the World Anti-Communist League. The group was, from the onset, saddled with the disreputable reputation of its parent group. The WACL had ties to ultra-right figures and Latin American death squads. Roger Pearson, the chairman of the WACL, was expelled from the group in 1980 under allegations that he was a member of a neo-Nazi organization.

Sarah Palin & the Vietnam War Era: Shall we reduce our history to bumper sticker slogans?

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I figure I can keep prefacing my posts with this anecdote until it no longer applies: I once knew a man whose parrot could say “shit.” While the bird had no idea what the word meant, it nonetheless spent its days repeating, “shit” (along with “open the door” and “what’s up?”) daylong, come rain or come shine. 

Sarah Palin is like this. Her scriptwriters have given her some zingy speeches, phrases and one-liners, which she delivers with a fair degree of skill. Problem is, she hasn’t the foggiest idea what she’s talking about. It’s one thing to memorize the facts. It’s another thing, entirely, to understand those facts — and particularly to understand them within their historical context.

Oh, that the lessons from the ugliest chapters in our national history could be reduced to bumper sticker slogans, which we could forever intone in times of trouble, to save us from all future calamity. The world doesn’t work that way. Anyone who thinks so is just plain wrong. And any national leader who thinks so is just plain dangerous. In this vein, I feel compelled to set the record straight on the Vietnam War era, which served as the backdrop to those notorious and violent protests of William Ayers that have recently become the subject of Sarah Palin’s bumper-sticker slogans — those carelessly delivered slogans that carry the same potential for deadly violence as any of the Weathermen’s bombs.    

The Vietnam War Years: some sorely needed perspective on those horrible times

William Ayers’ activities with the Weathermen were abhorrent, no matter that he committed them in the cause of ending the war in Vietnam. I can state, without a doubt (and even lacking statistics) that nearly all Americans were opposed to bombing government buildings in protest of the war. It would be a lie,  however, to say that Ayers was out of the mainstream in his beliefs that the war was wrong and needed to end. 

The fact is, during the height of Ayers’ anti-war activities, the majority of Americans were of the same mind as Ayers in opposing the war in Vietnam. Depending on the age group, the opposition ranged from 66% to 77% of Americans opposing the war in Vietnam War.

Again, we can all overwhelmingly agree today that William Ayers’ violent methods were wrong (wrong, wrong, wrong). But let’s be clear. It would be a lie to say that his opposition to the war was “un-American” as Sarah Palin would like us to believe, unless you’re the sort who believes that the majority opinion, within a democracy, is undemocratic, or that citizens who protest when they believe their government is wrong are “unpatriotic.” Because, if you’re that sort, then you’re also the sort who would paint as treasonists and terrorists men like Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson…..

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. — Thomas Jefferson

During the height of the Vietnam War, millions of Americans took to the streets in protest against the war, with the majority of violent acts being committed — not by the protesters, but by law enforcement. Even this is an over-simplification. The point here is that Sarah Palin knows shamefully little about the history of the country she’d like to rule, much less the rest of the world. In this vein, I offer, below, an exceedingly brief historical context of the Vietnam War era, because it seems history’s been re-written into things that were and were not. 

My effort here will no doubt inspire the wrath of some. I suspect this is why we don’t see an outpouring of such efforts, even as there are no doubt countless millions in this country who would agree with what I’m saying. I’m of the mind that, lest we remember the lessons of our history, we will be forced to relearn them over and over. Ain’t no bumper sticker can save us from ignorance. I am particularly mindful and fearful of this when I hear the hateful, violence-inciting vitriol of Sarah Palin’s stump speeches.  

ABOVE: A May 1964 conversation between President Lyndon Johnson and his National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, one year before the fatal escalation of troops. Here, Johnson voiced his strong reservations about escalating this war: Looks to me we’re getting into another Korea. It just worries the hell out of me….. I don’t think it’s worth fighting for, and I don’t think we can get out, and it’s just the biggest damn mess that I ever saw….. It’s damned easy to get into a war, but it’s going to be awfully hard to extricate yourself if you get in.

ABOVE: Four years after this conversation, Walter Cronkite denounced the war in Vietnam in a broadcast that effectively put an end to Johnson’s aspirations for re-election. Would that we had, today, such journalists of integrity.

ABOVE: For those who didn’t live through the Vietnam years, this is a sampling of what we saw on the evening news. For those who did live through those years, but have forgotten the national climate at that time, here is a sampling of the 66% to 77% of Americans who, like William Ayers, were opposed to the war. This footage at least shows us that the Bush Administration took one lesson from the Vietnam War — namely, that if you shut out the media (don’t show the slaughtering of women and children, and don’t show those coffins arriving home) you can keep the American public in the dark about the realities of a war and, thereby, reduce the level of negative opinion and protest.  (note: the sound quality on this video is uneven — scratchy, then loud, then soft — but well worth the 10 minutes to watch).

Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people. — Thomas Jefferson

 

See our related posts:

Sarah Palin Hurls William Ayers: A Molotov Cocktail with a Twist of Lies 

The Terrorist Tactics of Sarah Palin & John McCain: It’s time to tell the media “Enough is Enough!”

McCain & Palin — Palling Around with Terrorists While Rome Burns

 

The terrorist tactics of Sarah Palin & John McCain — It’s time to tell the media: “Enough is Enough!”

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John McCain vowed to take the gloves off during last night’s debate. To the disappointment of some, he didn’t. What seems to have escaped the media radar is that the McCain campaign had already taken the gloves off 4 days earlier. It is the nature of chickenshit men to only attack their opponents from behind. Hatred flourishes in dark places. Brought into the light of a public forum, the shamefulness of their acts becomes glaring. Even John McCain, in his most desperate hours, couldn’t bring himself to stoop to the level of his running mate, who has shown that she has no shame.    

 

The difference between Sarah Palin and William Ayers

There are those who think it is sometimes justified to commit violence for a cause. You could run the full gamut — from the Battle of Lexington to the war in Afghanistan, from militant anti-abortion protesters to militant anti-war protesters, from the suffragette movement to the civil rights movement (although, in that latter set, it bears mention that the violence was committed primarily by angry men and angry whites, respectively, against women and black protesters), and from Carrie Nation to William Ayers. I abhor violence. It is not my intention here to promote, excuse or argue the worthiness of any violent act over another, no matter how noble some may view the cause.    

Our history is equally pocked with instances of individuals and groups committing or urging violence out of a sheer hatred — born from ignorance and fear of other individuals and groups — which is not a noble cause by any standard, but is a sickness: from slavery to the Trail of Tears, from the KKK to neo-Nazis, from Charles Manson to Timothy McVeigh. The McCain campaign belongs in this group.  

To the extent that, at times in our history, this sickness has erupted into violence, we carry a collective wound that is continually re-injured, never quite healing. A source of shame for some, and a source of unresolved rage for others, this wound is part of our national consciousness. In some, it exists right beneath the surface, like an inflamed boil, ever on the verge of bursting into a poisonous flow of pus. In hard times, the rage and hatred are more easily provoked, requiring only a slight pricking of the surface to start the flow. Sarah Palin– on behalf of the McCain campaign — has taken a surgical needle to this wound, urging — nick by nick, code-word by code-word — the poison to the surface. 

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

The media are taking their cues from the American public on this. In the absence of our protests, they will likely continue airing, without counterpoint, the hateful, race-baiting, violence-inciting stump speeches of Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign. It is odd that, only during a presidential campaign, would such vitriol be broadcast, daylong, into our living rooms — as if the implications of Sarah Palin’s speeches were as benign as a rant on taxes, health care or energy independence.  At no other time would a public figure be allowed a national forum to incite violence. 

___________________________________

 

I urge all people of good conscience to write the media. Send an outpouring of protest against the unchallenged airing of this dangerous vitriol. You need write no more than a sentence. Less is more. Just remember to be courteous, respectful and succinct (admittedly not my forte). Below is a list of media contacts, from the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) site. If you’re at a loss for words, feel free to borrow some of mine, below, changing them as you see fit.

The recent tone and language of the McCain campaign is inciting a threatening atmosphere of hatred that I fear could erupt into violence. While I would never propose abridging free speech, there is a fine line between the free exercise of speech and the inciting of violence. In reporting on hate groups, such as the KKK  and neo-Nazi groups, I would not expect the media to air their hateful vitriol without a strong counterpoint. While there are many shades of gray between the two, I believe the line between free speech and violence-inciting words has been crossed, when the stump-speeches of a public figure incite the audience to jeer, “Kill him!” and “Terrorist!” and “Treason!” and (to an African American member of the media) “Sit down, boy.” Our country is in a time of crisis, with old and new angers simmering beneath the surface. I fear that, in the near future, the media will be reporting on the repercussions of these destructive speeches. I implore you to, please, exercise responsibility in the reporting of these hateful speeches.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

ABC News
77 W. 66 St., New York, NY 10023
Phone: 212-456-7777

General e-mail: netaudr@abc.com
Nightline: nightline@abcnews.com
20/20: 2020@abc.com

FAIR
112 W. 27th St.
New York, NY 10001
fair@fair.org

 

 CBS News
524 W. 57 St., New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-975-4321
Fax: 212-975-1893

Email forms for all CBS news programs
CBS Evening News: evening@cbsnews.com
The Early Show: earlyshow@cbs.com
60 Minutes II: 60minutes@cbsnews.com
48 Hours: 48hours@cbsnews.com
Face The Nation: ftn@cbsnews.com

CNBC
900 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
Phone: (201) 735-2622
Fax: (201) 583-5453
Email: info@cnbc.com

CNN
One CNN Center, Box 105366, Atlanta, GA 30303-5366
Phone: 404-827-1500
Fax: 404-827-1784
Email forms for all CNN news programs

 Fox News Channel
1211 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 301-3000
Fax: (212) 301-4229
comments@foxnews.comList of Email addresses for all Fox News Channel programs
Special Report with Brit Hume: Special@foxnews.com
FOX Report with Shepard Smith: Foxreport@foxnews.com
The O’Reilly Factor: Oreilly@foxnews.com
Hannity & Colmes: Hannity@foxnews.com, Colmes@foxnews.com
On the Record with Greta: Ontherecord@foxnews.com

 MSNBC/NBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
Phone: (212) 664-4444
Fax: (212) 664-4426
List of Email addressesfor all MSNBC/NBC news programs
Dateline NBC: dateline@nbc.com
Hardball with Chris Matthews: hardball@msnbc.com
MSNBCReports with Joe Scarborough: joe@msnbc.com
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: nightly@nbc.com
NBC News Today: today@nbc.com

 PBS
2100 Crystal Drive, Arlington VA 22202
Phone: 703-739-5000
Fax: 703-739-8458

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: newshour@pbs.org


National Radio Programs 

National Public Radio
635 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001-3753
Phone: 202-513-3232
Fax: 202-513-3329E-mail: Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Ombudsman ombudsman@npr.org
List of Email addresses for all NPR news programs

The Rush Limbaugh Show
1270 Avenue of the Americas, NY 10020
Phone (on air): 800-282-2882
Fax: 212-445-3963
E-mail: ElRushbo@eibnet.com

Sean Hannity Show
Phone (on air): 800-941-7326
Sean Hannity: 212-613-3800
James Grisham, Producer: 212-613-3807E-mail: Phil Boyce, Program Director phil.boyce@citcomm.com


National Newspapers

The Los Angeles Times
202 West First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 800-528-4637 or 213-237-5000
Fax: 213-237-4712

L.A. Times Contact Information by Department
Letters to the Editor: letters@latimes.com
Readers’ Representative: readers.rep@latimes.com
The New York Times
620 8th Ave., New York, NY 10018
Phone: 212-556-1234
D.C. Bureau phone: 202-862-0300
Fax: 212-556-3690

Letters to the Editor (for publication): letters@nytimes.com
Write to the news editors: news-tips@nytimes.com
Corrections: senioreditor@nytimes.com
New York Times Contact Information by Department
How to Contact New York Times Reporters and Editors

USA Today
7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108
Phone: 703-854-3400
Fax: 703-854-2078 

Letters to the Editor: editor@usatoday.com
Give feedback to USA Today

The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty St., New York, NY 10281
Phone: 212-416-2000
Fax: 212-416-2658

Letters to the Editor: wsj.ltrs@wsj.com
Comment on News Articles: wsjcontact@dowjones.com
The Washington Post
1150 15th St., NW, Washington, DC 20071
Phone: 202-334-6000
Fax: 202-334-5269

Letters to the Editor: letters@washpost.com
Ombudsman: ombudsman@washpost.com
Contact Washington Post Writers and Editors


Magazines

Newsweek
251 W 57th Street, New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-445-4000
Fax: 212-445-5068

Letters to the Editor: letters@newsweek.com

Time
Time & Life Bldg., Rockefeller Center, 1271 6th Ave., New York, NY 10020
Phone: 212-522-1212
Fax: 212-522-0003

Letters to the Editor letters@time.com
U.S. News & World Report
1050 Thomas Jefferson St., Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 202-955-2000
Fax: 202-955-2049

Letters to the Editor letters@usnews.com


News Services / Wires

Associated Press
450 West 33rd St., New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-621-1500
Fax: 212-621-7523

General Questions and Comments: info@ap.org
Partial Contact Information for the Associated Press by Department and Bureau

Reuters
Three Times Square, New York, NY 10036
Telephone: 646-223-4000Reuters Editorial Feedback

United Press International
1133 19th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: 202-898-8000
FAX: 202-898-8048Comments and Tips: tips@upi.com

__________________________________ 

McCain & Palin — Palling Around with Terrorists** While Rome Burns

with one comment

Perhaps if the media hadn’t let McCain spend the first half of this year skating, unscathed, across the surface of the Obama-Clinton fracas, people might have noticed long before September that the McCain platform has nothing to offer but a thinly disguised repeat of the Bush-Cheney agenda. Perhaps, had McCain been acting, well, presidential all along, he wouldn’t find himself in the position he’s in today: backed into a corner with nothing to offer the American people but an ugly smear campaign, his only hope being that he can convince us that his opponent is a terrorist.

This tactic has played particularly ugly over the past several days, as we’ve watched McCain & Palin wage their scathing fearmongering tactics from the stump, whipping their audiences into hate-filled frenzies, punctuated with cries and jeers of “Kill him!” and “Terrorist!”

Um…. And just who’s the terrorist in this equation?

I watch a lot of news, and I read even more, so I was among the first to hear the unveiling of the new McCain-Palin campaign strategy this past weekend: “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama’s aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans.”

I heard that loud and clear. But what I didn’t hear from either McCain or Palin was a statement of condolence to Joe Biden on the passing of his mother-in-law. Nor did I hear either candidate pause during their hate-filled stump dictums to comment on yesterday’s plummeting Stock Market numbers. Nor did I hear any mention of the victims of this financial disaster — those suffering the collateral damage from this 8-year long financial orgy on Wall Street: the family of six in Los Angeles, all dead; and Addie Polk, the 90-year old woman in Ohio who, in despair, shot herself in the chest as sheriff’s deputies came to evict her from her home of 38 years. 

Yeah, I’ve heard of lot of things said over the past week, but nothing in the way of solutions, hope or even a modicum of compassion from the McCain-Palin ticket. Just a lot of nasty lies, smears, character assassinations and hate-mongering, that can only serve to tear this country apart even further, at a time when we so desperately need capable leaders with the wisdom, intelligence and temperament to lead us in a direction of hope and healing.    

_______________________________________  

This is a human face for a great national tragedy. — Dennis Kucinich, speaking on behalf of Addie Polk, whose foreclosure has been dismissed, thanks to the efforts of Congressman Kucinich, October 3, 2008

Neighbor Robert Dillon, 62, used a ladder to enter a second-story bathroom window of Polk’s home (left) after he and the deputies heard loud noises inside. He hurried downstairs and let the deputies in. He said they told him they found Polk’s car keys, pocketbook and life insurance policy laid out neatly where they could be found, suggesting she intended to kill herself. — CNN News report, October 3, 2008

Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. — Sarah Palin, speaking on Barack Obama, October 4, 2008

Two things are important now. No. 1, that the administration uses the authority that it’s been given wisely. So we have to make sure that Secretary Paulson and others are structuring the purchase of these…troubled assets in a way that protects taxpayers. That’s very important. The second thing we have to do is we’ve gotta make sure that homeowners are benefiting. Now the Treasurer has authority to work with the modification of mortgages to prevent foreclosure. He’s supposed to come up with plans to do that. I want those plans on tap quick so that we start getting some relief to homeowners out in neighborhoods. The final thing is understanding that even if this rescue package works exactly as it should it’s only the beginning. It’s not the end because we still have 150,000 [sic; it was 159,000] new people who’ve lost their jobs this month, 750,000 people since the beginning of this year. — Barack Obama, October 4, 2008

_____________________________________________________

** And Speaking of Terrorists….

From the standpoint of a presidential campaign, slinging crap willy-nilly all over your opponent carries both benefits and risks. It draws crowds, for sure. But there’s always the risk of some kid wandering up and saying something wise, like, “What’s that brown stuff all over the emperor’s face?” In this spirit, I offer the following links, from which you can draw your own conclusions.

Huffington Post: McCain linked to private group in Iran-Contra case – GOP presidential nominee John McCain has past connections to a private group that supplied aid to guerrillas seeking to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra affair. McCain’s ties are facing renewed scrutiny after his campaign criticized Barack Obama for his link to a former radical who engaged in violent acts 40 years ago. The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.

Huffington Post: Why McCain’s time with the U.S. Council for World Freedom matters – The USCWF was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in November 1981 as an offshoot of the World Anti-Communist League. The group was, from the onset, saddled with the disreputable reputation of its parent group. The WACL had ties to ultra-right figures and Latin American death squads. Roger Pearson, the chairman of the WACL, was expelled from the group in 1980 under allegations that he was a member of a neo-Nazi organization.

Think Progress: McCain voted to protect domestic terrorists who carry out violence at abortion clinics – McCain has repeatedly voted against protecting Americans from domestic terrorists in the anti-choice movement. On multiple occasions throughout his career, McCain sought to limit the government’s ability to punish violent anti-choice fanatics.

ABOVE: Sarah addresses the Alaska Independence Party (AIP or AKIP) Convention in this video. Sarah and Todd Palin formerly “palled around” with the Alaska Independence Party (AIP), a militia party that seeks to have Alaska secede from the union, as either an independent country or a commonwealth. The McCain campaign denies Sarah’s involvement with this radical political party, citing as evidence the (true) fact that Sarah has been a registered Republican since 1982. This does not explain or negate the fact that she and Todd nonetheless have a history of “palling around” with this group. Todd was a member of this party from 1995 to 2002, until Sarah assumed the duties as Mayor of Wasilla.

ABOVE: The McCain party’s denial of Sarah Palin’s involvement with this group conradicts statements made by its leader, Dexter Clark, in the October 2007 video, above, starting at 1:01.  (For a longer version of this video, see here, with the Palin quote starting at 6:00.)  Dexter Clarks’s speech was delivered at the 2nd Secessionist Convention, in Tennessee, in October 2007. Below is a quote from this speech.   

Our current governor, who I mentioned in our last conference — the one we were hoping would get elected, Sarah Palin, did get elected. There’s a joke, she’s a pretty good looking gal. The joke goes around that we were the coldest state with the hottest governor. And there’s a lot of talk about her moving up. She was an AIP member before she got the job as a mayor of a small town, that was a non-partisan job, but you get along as you go along. She eventually jointed the Rebublican Party where she had all kinds of problems with their ethics, and, uh,  I won’t go into that. She also has an 80% aproval rating, and is pretty well sympathetic to her former membership.

 More links on Sarah:    

The Consortium Report: Sarah Palin’s Party Loyalty –  You may have heard that she once belonged to a political party, the Alaska Independence Party, which sports the occasional mission of establishing Alaska as its own country…. Leaders of the G.O.P. and the religious right have vowed to stick with her. But what if she supported a third party that’s bent on smashing up the Republican Party? Or one with links to militia groups? Would she still look like your garden-variety church lady to the Republican Party pooh-bahs?

Talk to Action: The Council for National Policy Meets in Minn, Vets Palin –Last week, while the media focused almost obsessively on the DNC’s spectacle in Denver, the country’s most influential conservatives met quietly at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis to get to know Sarah Palin. The assembled were members of the Council for National Policy, an ultra-secretive cabal that networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term movement strategy.

Sarah Palin Hurls William Ayers: A Molotov Cocktail with a Twist of Lies

with 3 comments

Trickery and treachery are the practices of fools that have not the wits enought to be honest. — Benjamin Franklin

In 1972 — back when Sarah Palin was in, like, 2nd grade, and Barack Obama was in 5th grade — William (Bill) Ayers was a militant Vietnam war protester, involved in those most notorious activities that are now being used to smear Barack Obama’s good name.

It was to be another 23 years before the two men’s paths would actually cross. By that time, Ayers had been married with two children for nearly two decades. The charges against him for the violent protests he waged while a member of the Weathermen had long ago been dropped. He’d since earned his Masters in Early Childhood Education, followed by a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, in 1987.  Ayers is currently a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the honor of Distinguished Professor.

By the time Barack Obama first met him in 1995, William Ayers had spent the previous two decades channeling his energies into early childhood education issues, with emphases on urban education reform and poverty & social justice. With both men actively working on the same issues, in the same town, it was only inevitable that their paths would cross. 

A CORRECTED HISTORY: Who, Why, When, Where, What & How

Barack Obama and William Ayers first crossed paths in 1995, as the two men served on the board of an educational organization, called The Chicago Anneberg Challenge, which has been described as “the largest public/private endeavor in U.S. history dedicated to improving public schools.” During this same year, Ayers and his wife held a “meet-and-greet” in their Hyde Park home, at which time State Senator Alice Palmer introduced Barack Obama as her chosen candidate for the 1996 Democratic primary. Obama’s and Ayer’s paths again crossed in 1999, as both served on the board of The Woods Fund, an anti-poverty grantwriting group in Chicago. According to Deborah Harrington, the president of the The Woods Fund, the two men were selected for the board because of their solid academic credentials and passion for social justice. In 2001, William Ayers contributed $200 to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Regarding any untoward motives involved with this donation, Harrington commented:

This whole connection is a stretch. Barack was very well known in Chicago, and a highly respected legislator. It would be difficult to find people round here who never volunteered or contributed money to one of his campaigns.

Regarding any untoward connections between the two men, Obama campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, said:

Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been involved in the arts and local theater in my own town. I wonder, were I to ever run for public office, would I be indicted for some notorious decades-old activities of a fellow thespian or artist? ]

Obama’s and Ayers’ paths crossed again, quite literally — and for the last time — in 2007, as described by an Obama campaign spokesman this past August: 

“The last time Obama saw Ayers was about a year ago when he crossed paths with him while biking in the neighborhood. The suggestion that Ayers was a political adviser to Obama or someone who shaped his political views is patently false.”

A fact that should be mentioned here is that the above-mentioned Chicago Annenberg Challenge, headed by the same William Ayers, would not have been possible without the generous support of Walter Annenberg, a staunchly conservative Nixon appointee, major GOP donor and longtime friend of Ronald Reagan.  In fact, Walter Annenberg was President Nixon’s Ambassador To Great Britain From 1969-1974, and, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As if that weren’t endorsement enough, Walter Annenberg’s widow, Leonore Annenberg ( the current president of the Annenberg Foundation) is on John McCain’s recently released list of 100 former ambassadors endorsing McCain’s candidacy.

Hardly what you could call, “palling around with terrorists”

But, then, Sarah Palin is hardly what you’d call a politician who “pals around with the truth.” In her Ayers-smears against Obama, Sarah Palin is not only guilty of taking malicious liberties with the facts, but she is also guilty of a profound ignorance of these facts, particularly with respect to their historical context. This would be harmless enough, coming from an everyday hockey mom, but for a politician aspiring to be vice-president (and back-up president)  of the United States, her ignorance is also profoundly dangerous. It is one thing to own a rote memorization of the facts. It’s another thing, entirely, to own an  understanding of those facts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I once had a friend whose parrot could say “shit.” While the bird had no idea what the word meant, it nonetheless spent its days repeating, “shit” (along with “open the door” and “what’s up?”) daylong, come rain or come shine. 

Sarah Palin has proven that she can deliver a script, a bumper-sticker slogan or a phrase, such as the zinger she hurled yesterday in her smear against Obama when she said: “Our opponent… is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country….This is not a man who sees America as you and I do.”

Just who are the “you and I” in this equation? They are, of course, the good guys and the bad guys. In Sarah-world, the good guys love America, and the bad guys hate America. It’s that simple. All we really need is a pep talk for the good guys, and a few stern warnings about the bad guys, and we’ll all be okay. Problem is, the world is an infinitely more complex place than that bean-brained vision inside Sarah Palin’s head. 

This is as true today as it was 232 years ago when our country was founded by a handful of dedicated people (John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin…) who understood that imperfection is as much the nature of government as dissent is the means to perfecting that government. Perhaps this is what inspired Thomas Jefferson to pen the following words, which were immortalized in our Declaration of Independence:

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government — Thomas Jefferson

Our American founders are surely roiling in their graves over the state of our union, in much the same spirit as the millions of living, breathing Americans who’ve spent the past 8 years watching helplessly as the Bush Administration systematically dismantled the very foundations or our country — playing reckless with our economy, cooking intelligence to take us to war, chipping away at our Constitution, staining our relationships with our allies and otherwise wrecking the integrity of our country. Barack Obama is not alone in his observation that we find ourselves in a less-than-perfect place.

 

But what does this have to do with William Ayers? Um. Nothing. 

But this surely won’t stop politicians like Sarah Palin and John McCain from playing these filthy, dirty political games for the next 29 days, even as our country is teetering on the brink of collapse. Apparently, this is the best hope they have to offer our country: throwing gasoline onto the fire in the hope of saving their campaign. Here, their methods aren’t so different than William Ayers’ methods.  Hopefully, the majority of Americans today are wiser than they were 8 years ago. Hopefully, enough of us have learned the difference between the real thing and a cheap imitation of a patriotic American.

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

with 3 comments

 

The monkeys are at it again. Lacking substantive issues on which to wage a presidential campaign, they’ve resorted to lobbing cheap incendiary devices at their opponent, in the hope that one will hit the mark and bring Obama’s candidacy down in flames. Fact is, on the issues, the McCain ticket had already self-destructed before Sarah Palin arrived on the scene. Bereft of anything to offer, other than a shoddily re-packaged version of the fatally flawed Bush Administration, the McCain team has long since lost credibility as an agent of change, maverick or otherwise.

Palin’s addition to the ticket adds nothing, beyond the squallorous baggage of her lie and scandal-ridden Alaska politics, which have perversely served to polarize this country even further from discussing solutions to the calamitous problems we face. Here, the McCain-Palin political team is proving to be a perfect match, uniquely-suited to make a seamless transition from the Bush-Cheney years. Neither McCain nor Palin has enough respect for the merit of their own credentials to run on them, so they’ve instead reinvented and embellished their records, weaving a myth, of sorts, that they are all-American mavericks, set to shake-up Washington politics, even as their campaign — run by Bush-league lobbyists and Karl Rove minions — is exactly what has so infected Washington politics over the past 8 years. Neither candidate has enough respect for their self-described maverick credentials, because neither can prove that they are any different from the same-old, same-old reckless cowboys, not mavericks, that have been running this country for the past 8 years.

 McCain’s voting record, particularly over the past 4 years, has been lockstep with Bush-Cheney. His spell as a maverick with the Bush Administration happened only briefly, after the 2000 election, when a bruised McCain was so angry at Bush, he considered switching parties as payback. Despite that his maverick record doesn’t even exist, he runs on the claim, bolstering it with self-serving reminders of his military service, which he delivers in the countless wrenching retellings of his POW experiences — stories which, in the minds of many fellow vets, play more like shameless pandering, as John McCain’s own voting record on veteran issues is no less than deplorable. Palin, for her part, brings to the ticket a thin career in Alaska politics, riddled with lies, cronyism and scandal.

Neither Palin nor McCain have shown that they own the scruples or vision to think outside of their narrow worldviews long enough to consider that they are running for high office in a country that has been left bleeding, in shambles, from the collateral damage of the past 8 years under the Bush-Cheney Administration. Neither candidate has bothered to take notice that the last thing this bleeding country needs is more blood. Yet, the two candidates are nothing, if not shrewd. They both know that — when it comes to influencing people — if you scare the hell out of them, you can bring them, lockstep, into your camp, so long as you promise to protect them. Bush, Cheney, Rove & Co. were masters at this tactic.

 

Sad thing is — and despite that this tactic is cheap, ugly and transparent to many Americans — this tactic really, truly works on a large number of voters. And the beauty of it is that, the dirtier the tactics, the better the trap they lay for their opponent. We’ve seen this over the past 12 days, as the McCain camp’s dirty bombs have escalated, leaving Obama but two choices: respond in kind, or take the high road, adhering to the strength of his issues and the authenticity of his campaign. Translated, in Rovesque terms, this means that Obama has a choice between appearing either weak or tough on terror. And, make no mistake, the McCain-Palin tactics more closely resemble terrorist tactics than the strategy of respectable, statured politicians trying to win an election. (To see an example of the latter, you’d have to study the example of the Obama campaign over the past 18 months). The only hope for the McCain-Palin team is that they can lure Obama into an even bigger trap, in which dirty does battle with dirty. And, as anyone in Washington can tell you, there’s no one can trump Rove when it comes to dirty politics.

Excerpt from an interview with McCain on Karl Rove tactics:
QUESTION: His tactics don’t, you don’t disapprove of them? They don’t make you nervous?

MCCAIN: It’s not so much whether I approve of his tactics or not. It’s that he has a very good, great political mind. Any information or advice and council he can give us, I’d be glad to have. I don’t think anybody denies his talents. So I’d be glad to get any advice and council. We would obviously decide whether to accept it or not.

 

McCain and Palin have shown their adeptness at playing gutter politics, with no lie, no slander, no blow too low or too outrageous, so long it serves to discredit their opponent or scare the American people. After all, their team includes Karl Roves brightest protege, a man named Steve Schmidt, a master of gutter politics. McCain and Palin have also shown that they are adept at waging a petty, senseless, pre-emptive gutter war — a war waged for the sole benefit of their campaign agenda, at the expense of everyday Americans who are facing calamitous changes in their lives.  Will these same Americans take the bait, as they’ve done for the past 8 years? Are Americans still so blinded by swaggering bravado, that they see strength in a leader throwing gasoline on a fire? Will they again choose the monkeys with Molotovs, or will they choose the candidate who’s fighting like hell to wage a campaign that offers tangible solutions to the very real and tangible problems we face as Americans? Only time will tell.

 

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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For more reading:

New York Magazine: The Low Road Warrior – Many of McCain’s advisers from 2000, such as John Weaver and Mike Murphy, express qualms about the campaign’s newly nasty tone. (One can only imagine the sigh of relief emanating from Mark McKinnon, the heralded adman who helped McCain win the nomination but whose aversion to taking a cleaver to Obama caused him to sit out the general.)

Huffington Post: While Rome Burned… They Talked About Lipstick

Huffington Post: Bob Cesca: Fooled Again