Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ground Game

One of the best websites of this political season has been I became addicted to it, when the owner, Nate Silver, would publish under the penname - Poblano. His accuracy in polling became almost legendary this political season.

One of the best series that they've had going has been " On the Road" series. Nate's fellow blogger has traveled the country, giving on the ground field reports on what they see at rival Obama and McCain offices. It has been illuminating.

Here is their latest entry, summing up their opinion of the Obama vs. McCain ground games.

The Big Empty

Friday, October 31, 2008
The Big Empty

As the only reporter during this election who has actually visited upwards of 50 of John McCain's field offices around the country (13 battleground states and counting), this piece by Matthew Mosk at the Washington Post comes as no surprise:

The decision to finance a final advertising push is forcing McCain to curtail spending on Election Day ground forces to help usher his supporters to the polls, according to Republican consultants familiar with McCain's strategy.

The vaunted, 72-hour plan that President Bush used to mobilize voters in 2000 and 2004 has been scaled back for McCain. He has spent half as much as Obama on staffing and has opened far fewer field offices. This week, a number of veteran GOP operatives who orchestrate door-to-door efforts to get voters to the polls were told they should not expect to receive plane tickets, rental cars or hotel rooms from the campaign.

"The desire for parity on television comes at the expense of investment in paid boots on the ground," said one top Republican strategist who has been privy to McCain's plans. "The folks who will oversee the volunteer operation have been told to get out into the field on their own nickel."

The busiest McCain office we saw was in Arlington, at the national HQ, but tight security prevented us from getting any pictures. Ironically, that was our first full office, in our 11th battleground state.

Offices in Troy, Ohio were closed on Saturday October 11. With perfect coincidental timing, two elderly women dropped by to volunteer but found the office shut. At Republican state headquarters in Columbus later the same day, one lonely dialer sat in a sea of unoccupied chairs. In Des Moines on September 25, another empty office. In Santa Fe on September 17, one dialer made calls while six chatted amongst themselves about how they didn't like Obama. In Raleigh this past Saturday, ten days before the election with early voting already open, two women dialed and a male staffer watched the Georgia-LSU game. In Durango, Colorado on September 20, the Republican office was locked and closed. Indiana didn't have McCain Victory offices when we were there in early October.

When the offices are open, they have reduced hours. We can confidently plan to get evening good-light photographs of a town after we visit the local McCain office, because we know it will be closing by 5 pm, as the office in Wilmington, North Carolina was this past Sunday. The plan is, get to inevitably closed/closing McCain office, get an hour of photos near sunset, then visit the bustling local Obama office.

In Cortez, CO, we had Republican volunteers pose for action-shot photos. The same in Española, New Mexico. Posed. For some time at the outset, we were willing to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt. They convinced us they were really working, and that we had just had unfortunate timing. It wasn't until the pattern of "just missed it" started to sound like a drumbeat in our ears that we began to grow skeptical. We never "just missed" any of the Obama volunteer work, because it goes on nonstop, every day, in every office, in every corner of America.

We found scattered nuggets of activity. Colorado Springs, Colorado held eight dialers and two front office volunteers. Albemarle County, Virginia had a busy office of 15 volunteers, and we reported that. Last night in Tampa, nine phonebankers were busy dialing at the Republican Party of Florida Hillsborough County HQ when we arrived at 8:00 pm. Seven dialers sat in McCain's Hickory, North Carolina office this past Saturday afternoon.

Those offices seemed busy to us, naturally, because they were explosively full relative to other offices we've stopped in on. But even the Colorado Springs office was dwarfed by the Obama Colorado Springs operation.

These ground campaigns do not bear any relationship to one another. One side has something in the neighborhood of five million volunteers all assigned to very clear and specific pieces of the operation, and the other seems to have something like a thousand volunteers scattered throughout the country. Jon Tester's 2006 Senate race in Montana had more volunteers -- by a mile -- than John McCain's 2006 presidential campaign.

When Republican volunteers talk to us about how much enthusiasm and participation they notice in fellow volunteers, they mention how many people have come to pick up yard signs or bumper stickers. We haven't yet seen a single Republican canvasser. (The one in Cortez, CO was staged; she said canvassing is the kind of thing she would do, and we made a decision to do the picture because we were concerned with not presenting "balance." There is no balance in the facts.)

When we attempted to visit the Republican HQ in Maryland Heights, Missouri, we saw a couple volunteers populating the office, and we were subsequently denied the opportunity to even speak to volunteers specifically selected so as to be "on message." By contrast, Obama's volunteers own such a piece of the campaign (Respect-Empower-Include) that the problem is they often have too much information, and when the campaign allows me to talk with them on the record I can ask a too-precise series of questions that result in publishing details the campaign later realizes it didn't want published.

We read the published comments from McCain spokespeople that argue the dialing/canvassing numbers are ahead of where they were at the same time four years ago. Well, either the Bush ground game of 2004 was the Big Myth, or those spokespeople are flat lying to reporters, who have no context to challenge those claims because they haven't seen the empty offices the way we have.

When the final chapters are written in this election about the ground game, many thousands of words will recognize that the Obama campaign truly was this:

But the other story, the story on which we've had a running eight-week exclusive in 36 separate On the Road pieces and counting, is that John McCain's ground campaign is just not happening. It hasn't been happening, without Sarah Palin there might be four or five volunteers across the entire nation left, and now, per Mosk's piece at WaPo, it looks like it will be happening even less.

--Sean Quinn

Please click on the piece and look at the pictures. Please read some of the series; it's been superb.

I'm not counting any chickens, I'm only stating my belief that the Obama Campaign has truly tried their best to win this thing; but, this is the time when they need US the most. WE are Get.Out.The.Vote.


Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha

Studs Terkel Has Died At 96

Acclaimed author Studs Terkel dies at 96

(CNN) -- Pulitzer Prize-winning author, radio host and activist Studs Terkel died in his Chicago, Illinois, home Friday at the age of 96.

Terkel had grown frail since the publication last year of his memoir, "Touch and Go," said Gordon Mayer, vice president of the Community Media Workshop, which Terkel had supported.

"I'm still in touch, but I'm ready to go," he said last year at his last public appearance with the workshop, a nonprofit that recognizes Chicago reporters who take risks in covering the city.

"My dad led a long, full, eventful -- sometimes tempestuous -- satisfying life," his son Dan said in a statement.

"The last time I saw him, he was up, about, and mad as hell about the Cubs," workshop President Thom Clark said in the statement.

Terkel, known for his portrayal of ordinary people young and old, rich and poor, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for his remembrances of World War II, "The Good War."

Terkel was born in New York but moved to Chicago, where his parents ran a small hotel. Terkel would sit in the hotel lobby watching droves of people arguing, fighting, ranting and telling stories.

"That hotel was far more of an education to me than the University of Chicago was," Studs told CNN in 2000.

It seems that beginning would pave the way for Terkel's love of passing on people's oral histories. He could often be found behind a tape recorder talking to the people who would eventually become the basis for his books. Terkel became famous, if not synonymous with oral histories, for his ability to cast a light on the working class.

"Oral history preceded the written word," Terkel told CNN in 2000. "Oral history is having people tell their own stories and bringing it forth.

"That's what history's about: the oral history of the unknowns that make the wheel go 'round. And that's what I'm interested in."

In an interview with Lou Waters on CNN in 1995, Terkel spoke about his book "Coming of Age," which explored the lives of people who have been "scrappers" all of their lives. Inside the book are the stories of people between the ages of 70 and 95, a group he called "the truth tellers."

"Who are the best historians? Who are the storytellers?" Terkel asked. "Who lived through the Great Depression of the '30s, World War II that changed the whole psyche and map of the world, a Cold War, Joe McCarthy, Vietnam, the '60s, that's so often put down today and I think was an exhilarating and hopeful period, and, of course, the computer and technology. Who are the best ones to tell the story? Those who've borne witness to it. And they're our storytellers."

After Terkel's wife died in 1999, he began working on a book about death, eventually called "Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith."

"It's about life," Terkel said in 2000 when asked about the project. "How can one talk about life without saying sometime it's going to end? It makes the value of life all the more precious."

Studs Terkel is an American hero to me. I've read a number of his books, and loved listening to his interviews. I'm only sorry that he didn't live to see November 4th.

Sam The Phony Is a No Show At McCain Rally

Major FAIL!!!!

Sam the Handy Man (still being touted as the fictitious Joe the Plumber/Business Owner/Earner of more than $250,000.00 by McCain's people - although it is all a lie) failed to show up at a rally yesterday...and McSenile was caught completely off guard. LOL How can you lead the most powerful nation on earth, when you can't even pull off your own BS stunts properly? You would think that he would have had his people get confirmation first.

4 Days And Counting - The 14 Speeches of the Obama Campaign: #4, Securing The Pledged Delegate Lead

May 20, 2008, Des Moines, Iowa-Securing the Pledged Delegate Lead

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The End Of America's Longest War?

Hat tip: a JJP reader

From The Daily Dish

30 Oct 2008 12:40 pm
The End Of America's Longest War?

A reader writes:

Earlier this week, in your post “The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama”, you wrote under Point 4: “A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.”

On the one hand I agree with you; on the other hand, you don't go nearly far enough. An Obama presidency means much more than a truce in the 60’s culture war. It means the end of a much older and more terrible war, in which the 60's was merely one battle: the American Civil War. That is what is at stake here.

The Civil War was fought from Sumter to Appomattox, from April 12, 1861, to April 9, 1865. But the roots of the war predated 1861, and the consequences lived on long after 1865. In reality the Civil War never ended, it just shifted from a military to a culture war - the same culture war that is still going on today.

What you call the “boomer warfare” of the 1960’s was part of that larger war, marking the struggle to end Jim Crow, the century-long regime of American apartheid (Vietnam was, in my opinion, related but secondary). The end of apartheid was a second humiliating defeat for the forces of the conservative "South" at the hands of the liberal "North", and it subsequently gave rise to those decades of distorted and irrational politics you so deplore, as the reactionary and fundamentalist forces regrouped and mounted yet another rearguard insurrection against their liberal "oppressors", culminating in their partial ascension to power under Bush. (And we can only hope it ends there, instead of with Palin and the Christian Nationalists in 2012).

I realize this may sound harsh; I do not think Bush is a racist, for instance (quite the contrary), and I am very aware of the progress made in this country since I was young, including in the South; nevertheless, this election is clearly about race, about who and what we are as a nation, as a people, as a family (I would throw California's Prop 8 squarely into this battle too).

So let's be clear - it is not "boomer warfare" which has distorted our politics, or made rational politics so elusive since the 60's: it is something far deeper, something far older, something which has been with us from the beginning in this country, and which we in turn brought with us from the Old World; something which in fact traces back to the very origin of humanity - spiritually, psychologically, politically, evolutionarily. That depth is what gives the American story its pathos and its importance. That is why the world watches us: to see if we can work it out - to see if there is hope.
And that's why January 20, 2009, is so important: the day Barack Obama is sworn in as our 44th president will mark the third, and I believe the final defeat of the forces of repression and division in this country, and the actual end of the American Civil War.

How can I be so sure? Because when the American President is inaugurated, it is directly homologous to the crowning of the King in ancient days: the King is the groom, the Nation is the bride, the crowning is the hieros gamos, the sacred marriage. When Barack Obama is sworn in as our 44th president, a symbolic marriage will be enacted, binding us together forever, black and white. We will have chosen to become one. We will have chosen to become family. The War will be over. E pluribus unum.

The whole world will be watching this. You have stated over and over again that an Obama presidency would be “transformational”, even “indispensable”. You're right. And you're right that this is only the beginning. A new chapter is dawning.

Will the old guard resist? Of course. But their power is waning. Providence made sure the better man lost in 2000, and the eight years since have been just enough rope for the old, corrupt right to hang itself.

It's observations like this that make me love the internet. Just the possibility that I could come across something that would make me go ' Damn'.

The Economist Endorses Barack Obama

Yes, that bastion of socialism, THE ECONOMIST, endorses Barack Obama.

The presidential election

It's time
Oct 30th 2008
From The Economist print edition

America should take a chance and make Barack Obama the next leader of the free world

IT IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.

For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.

Thinking about 2009 and 2017
The immediate focus, which has dominated the campaign, looks daunting enough: repairing America’s economy and its international reputation. The financial crisis is far from finished. The United States is at the start of a painful recession. Some form of further fiscal stimulus is needed, though estimates of the budget deficit next year already spiral above $1 trillion. Some 50m Americans have negligible health-care cover. Abroad, even though troops are dying in two countries, the cack-handed way in which George Bush has prosecuted his war on terror has left America less feared by its enemies and less admired by its friends than it once was.

Yet there are also longer-term challenges, worth stressing if only because they have been so ignored on the campaign. Jump forward to 2017, when the next president will hope to relinquish office. A combination of demography and the rising costs of America’s huge entitlement programmes—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—will be starting to bankrupt the country. Abroad a greater task is already evident: welding the new emerging powers to the West. That is not just a matter of handling the rise of India and China, drawing them into global efforts, such as curbs on climate change; it means reselling economic and political freedom to a world that too quickly associates American capitalism with Lehman Brothers and American justice with Guantánamo Bay. This will take patience, fortitude, salesmanship and strategy.

At the beginning of this election year, there were strong arguments against putting another Republican in the White House. A spell in opposition seemed apt punishment for the incompetence, cronyism and extremism of the Bush presidency. Conservative America also needs to recover its vim. Somehow Ronald Reagan’s party of western individualism and limited government has ended up not just increasing the size of the state but turning it into a tool of southern-fried moralism.

The selection of Mr McCain as the Republicans’ candidate was a powerful reason to reconsider. Mr McCain has his faults: he is an instinctive politician, quick to judge and with a sharp temper. And his age has long been a concern (how many global companies in distress would bring in a new 72-year-old boss?). Yet he has bravely taken unpopular positions—for free trade, immigration reform, the surge in Iraq, tackling climate change and campaign-finance reform. A western Republican in the Reagan mould, he has a long record of working with both Democrats and America’s allies.

If only the real John McCain had been running
That, however, was Senator McCain; the Candidate McCain of the past six months has too often seemed the victim of political sorcery, his good features magically inverted, his bad ones exaggerated. The fiscal conservative who once tackled Mr Bush over his unaffordable tax cuts now proposes not just to keep the cuts, but to deepen them. The man who denounced the religious right as “agents of intolerance” now embraces theocratic culture warriors. The campaigner against ethanol subsidies (who had a better record on global warming than most Democrats) came out in favour of a petrol-tax holiday. It has not all disappeared: his support for free trade has never wavered. Yet rather than heading towards the centre after he won the nomination, Mr McCain moved to the right.

Meanwhile his temperament, always perhaps his weak spot, has been found wanting. Sometimes the seat-of-the-pants method still works: his gut reaction over Georgia—to warn Russia off immediately—was the right one. Yet on the great issue of the campaign, the financial crisis, he has seemed all at sea, emitting panic and indecision. Mr McCain has never been particularly interested in economics, but, unlike Mr Obama, he has made little effort to catch up or to bring in good advisers (Doug Holtz-Eakin being the impressive exception).

The choice of Sarah Palin epitomised the sloppiness. It is not just that she is an unconvincing stand-in, nor even that she seems to have been chosen partly for her views on divisive social issues, notably abortion. Mr McCain made his most important appointment having met her just twice.

Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them.

Is Mr Obama any better? Most of the hoopla about him has been about what he is, rather than what he would do. His identity is not as irrelevant as it sounds. Merely by becoming president, he would dispel many of the myths built up about America: it would be far harder for the spreaders of hate in the Islamic world to denounce the Great Satan if it were led by a black man whose middle name is Hussein; and far harder for autocrats around the world to claim that American democracy is a sham. America’s allies would rally to him: the global electoral college on our website shows a landslide in his favour. At home he would salve, if not close, the ugly racial wound left by America’s history and lessen the tendency of American blacks to blame all their problems on racism.

So Mr Obama’s star quality will be useful to him as president. But that alone is not enough to earn him the job. Charisma will not fix Medicare nor deal with Iran. Can he govern well? Two doubts present themselves: his lack of executive experience; and the suspicion that he is too far to the left.

There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort. It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and outfought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right.

Political fire, far from rattling Mr Obama, seems to bring out the best in him: the furore about his (admittedly ghastly) preacher prompted one of the most thoughtful speeches of the campaign. On the financial crisis his performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile. He seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Of course, Mr Obama will make mistakes; but this is a man who listens, learns and manages well.

It is hard too nowadays to depict him as soft when it comes to dealing with America’s enemies. Part of Mr Obama’s original appeal to the Democratic left was his keenness to get American troops out of Iraq; but since the primaries he has moved to the centre, pragmatically saying the troops will leave only when the conditions are right. His determination to focus American power on Afghanistan, Pakistan and proliferation was prescient. He is keener to talk to Iran than Mr McCain is— but that makes sense, providing certain conditions are met.

Our main doubts about Mr Obama have to do with the damage a muddle-headed Democratic Congress might try to do to the economy. Despite the protectionist rhetoric that still sometimes seeps into his speeches, Mr Obama would not sponsor a China-bashing bill. But what happens if one appears out of Congress? Worryingly, he has a poor record of defying his party’s baronies, especially the unions. His advisers insist that Mr Obama is too clever to usher in a new age of over-regulation, that he will stop such nonsense getting out of Congress, that he is a political chameleon who would move to the centre in Washington. But the risk remains that on economic matters the centre that Mr Obama moves to would be that of his party, not that of the country as a whole.

He has earned it
So Mr Obama in that respect is a gamble. But the same goes for Mr McCain on at least as many counts, not least the possibility of President Palin. And this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

Chris Matthews After the Obama Informercial

This family has done everything you've asked them to do.
What more do you want before you'll vote for a Black guy?
What more do you want?

Oh Tweety....sometimes, you speak the truth.

5 Days And Counting - The 14 Speeches of the Obama Campaign: #5, 'A More Perfect Union'

March 2008: In the middle of the Jeremiah Wright fiasco,
Barack Obama stepped up in Philadelphia to talk about race.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Possible Great News About Attempted Ohio Voter Suppression

From The NYTimes:

October 29, 2008, 5:22 pm
Ohio Vote-Challenge Effort Hits Another Roadblock
By Ian Urbina

The Department of Justice will not require Ohio to disclose the names of voters whose registration applications did not match other government databases, according to two people familiar with discussions between state and federal lawyers.

The decision comes about a week after an unusual request from President Bush asking the department to investigate the matter and roughly two weeks after the Supreme Court dismissed a case involving the flagged registration applications.

Federal law requires states to verify voter registration applications with a government database like those used for driver’s licenses or Social Security cards. Names that do not match are flagged for further verification. But the law provides little guidance on how these flagged registrations should be handled and discrepancies corrected.

Ohio Republicans had sought the lists to challenge voters, but the Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, refused the request, saying that numerical errors or misspellings are the probable reason for most of the discrepancies. Forcing these voters to cast provisional ballots would possibly disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters, she said, since these ballots are easier to disqualify.

Republicans then took their request to court, but were unsuccessful. The Justice Department has been in contact with Ohio election officials since early October and this week its lawyers determined they would not pursue litigation before the election, according to the sources familiar with the discussions.

Most studies by non-partisan groups have found little evidence that voter fraud is a wide-scale problem or that fraudulent or duplicate voter registration applications lead to ineligible voters casting ballots.

The Ohio GOP remains unconvinced, however, and on Tuesday, it stepped up its public relations campaign on the issue. In a radio advertisement it accuses Ms. Brunner of ignoring the problems with voter registrations and “concealing evidence.”

The ad opens with the sound of a ticking clock and asks, “Could Ohio’s election be stolen?”

The only one who wants to steal Ohio's election is YOU, mofos, with your Voter Purging.

McCain's Choice Throws McCain Under the Bus

Under the ' you can't make this shyt up' file:

From DailyKos:

Palin Throws McCain Under The Bus. Updated x2.
by RenaRF [Subscribe]
Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 03:11:02 PM PDT

This is EFFING HILARIOUS. Sarah Palin is now OPENLY talking about 2012 in the event she and John McCain lose next Tuesday.

Transcription (live from CNN) over the fold.

Via CNN:
Blitzer: Republican VP Candidate Sarah Palin now speaking out openly about her intentions in 2012 if - if - she and John McCain were to lose this contest next Tuesday. In an interview with ABC News, Sarah Palin is now saying she would be interested in remaining a serious national political figure going ahead to 2012. She was asked, what happens in 2012 if you lose on Tuesday - do you simply go back to Alaska - Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News asked her - and Palin said this, and I'll read it to you verbatim according to an ABC transcript:
Absolutely not. I think that if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender, I think that some of the political shots that we've taken - that that would bring this whole - and I'm not doing this for naught."

And that's a direct quote from Sarah Palin.

The Obama Political Infomercial Open Thread

So, what did you think of it?

I thought the production values were excellent. The stories broke my heart, and were powerful.

The Rich are Different Than You and Me: They Cheat

A couple of Econ professors combed through old IRS data and have reached the conclusive conclusion that the rich cheat more on their taxes. That might explain why they have more than you. You're a regular Honest Abe and the rich are a bunch of Shoeless Joe Jacksons.

A good start at cleaning up the fiscal mess we're in would be to actually collect all that is owed the federal government. You may not like paying taxes, but it's the law. You shouldn't get to pick and choose which laws to obey. Leave that to me.

Increase fines and penalties on financial miscreants. It's one thing to make an honest error, but these folks who pay tax lawyers and accountants millions a year to hide millions more should be ashamed. My God, think of the children!

I'm not for a flat tax - it is not fair, but I do support a trimmed down federal tax code. That would certainly help.

Rachel Maddow Explains the 50 State Strategy

" His Choice"

6 Days And Counting - The 14 Speeches of the Obama Campaign: #6, Ebenezer Baptist Church

January 2008 -MLK Birthday Speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daughter of Slave Votes for Obama

From The Austin-American Statesman

Daughter of slave votes for Obama
109-year-old Bastrop woman casts her vote by mail.
By Joshunda Sanders


Monday, October 27, 2008

Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a man born into slavery, has lived a life long enough to touch three centuries. And after voting consistently as a Democrat for 70 years, she has voted early for the country's first black presidential nominee.

The middle child of 13, Jones, who is African American, is part of a family that has lived in Republican-leaning Bastrop County for five generations. The family has remained a fixture in Cedar Creek and other parts of the county, even when its members had to eat at segregated barbecue dives and walk through the back door while white customers walked through the front, said Amanda Jones' 68-year-old daughter, Joyce Jones.

For at least a decade, Amanda Jones worked as a maid for $20 a month, Joyce Jones said. She was a housewife for 72 years and helped her now-deceased husband, C.L. Jones, manage a store.

Amanda Jones, a delicate, thin woman wearing golden-rimmed glasses, giggled as the family discussed this year's presidential election. She is too weak to go the polls, so two of her 10 children — Eloise Baker, 75, and Joyce Jones — helped her fill out a mail-in ballot for Barack Obama, Baker said. "I feel good about voting for him," Amanda Jones said.

Jones' father herded sheep as a slave until he was 12, according to the family, and once he was freed, he was a farmer who raised cows, hogs and turkeys on land he owned. Her mother was born right after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Joyce Jones said. The family owned more than 100 acres of land in Cedar Creek at one point, she said.

Amanda Jones' father urged her to exercise her right to vote, despite discriminatory practices at the polls and poll taxes meant to keep black and poor people from voting. Those practices were outlawed for federal elections with the 24th Amendment in 1964, but not for state and local races in Texas until 1966.

Amanda Jones says she cast her first presidential vote for Franklin Roosevelt, but she doesn't recall which of his four terms that was. When she did vote, she paid a poll tax, her daughters said. That she is able, for the first time, to vote for a black presidential nominee for free fills her with joy, Jones said.

One of Amanda Jones' 33 grandchildren, Brenda Baker, 44, said the family is moved by the election's significance to the matriarch.

"It's awesome to me that we have such a pillar of our family still with us," Baker said. "It's awesome to see what she's done, and all her hard work, and to see that she may be able to see the results of all that hard work" if Obama is elected, she said.

Jones lives in a small gray house with white trim just off Texas 21. These days, a curious white kitten and a sleepy old black dog guard the house. Inside are photographs and relics of a long, full life, including a letter from then-Gov. George Bush in 1998 commemorating her 100th birthday. A black-and-white picture of her in a long flapper-style dress was taken between 1912 and 1918 — no one can remember the exact year, Baker said with a chuckle.

Jones is part of a small percentage of active voters above the age of 100 in the state — and the country.

Sister Cecilia Gaudette, a 106-year-old nun born in New Hampshire but living in Rome, made recent national headlines as the nation's oldest voter. But if Texas records are any indication, that's hard to validate.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Ashley Burton said Texas can't confirm whether Jones is the state's oldest active voter because there is too much voter information to sort through. At the county level, there are other challenges. An election official in Hays County said its records are not searchable by age, and Bastrop County elections administrator Nora Cano said that some counties automatically list voters who were born before the turn of the 20th century with birth dates of January 1900.

The oldest active voter in Travis County is 105, officials said, and in Williamson County the oldest is 106 — making Jones the oldest-known active voter in Central Texas.

Making it to see the election results on Nov. 5 is important, but Jones is resting up for another milestone: her 110th birthday in December. "God has been good to me," she said.

Just make me cry, why don't you?

Update to NPR's Race Series - Part 4 Added

Part 4 of the series has been added. Listen to parts 3 & 4 here.

"If Obama is elected, there will be chaos"-- Interviewee from York Pennsylvania
(an example of how fear is still influencing people)

When Mr. Charles Alexander Met Barack Obama

I Wouldn't Have Believed If I Hadn't Seen It

Spotted over at the Revolution in Jesusland blog. Also check out the official site.

"Talking Black"

Hear a discussion between John McWhorter and biracial voice actress and playwright Sarah Jones on the subject of voice and language and how you are perceived based on how you sound. The discussion centers around "Talking Black"...and the so-called "blaccent". (link below).

Sarah Jones is an amazing voice artist....

This segment is courtesy of the Studio 360 public radio program (PRI).

From Studio 360:

Black is not just a skin color; it’s a quality of voice. Sarah Jones, the Tony Award-winning performer, talks with linguist John McWhorter about what it means to sound black today. They look at how Barack Obama has used “blaccent” to drive audiences wild.

Click to hear the Sarah Jones, John McWhorter discussion.

You are definitely treated differently based on voice. There have been a couple of cases where it has caused me grief. My voice and use of language is not immediately identifiable as "Black" whatever that definition is. I would describe my voice as being close to that of Alfonso Ribeiro. Soliloquy: (I may have a similar voice, but I wish I had his money...and his women... My goodness! But that's for another post). While on a job search (many years back) I called and set up an interview with a major Department store's loss prevention team. This was a fancy chain (top of the market) located in the rich, mostly white Western suburbs of St. Louis County. The average home price in that area has to be $500,000-$600,000 or more, which is high for this part of the Country. Clearly they had an opening. I described my work history over the phone, explained that I was already licensed to do the work, and I had references. The lady on the other end (the hiring manager) explained that she really needed to fill the slot which had just come open and that I should come to the store and talk to her in person the next day, basically for an interview.

So the next day I arrive at the agreed time (cleaner than the board of health of course), resume's in hand, ready to go. I went to the Customer service desk and asked to speak to the hiring manager that I talked with the previous day, and they told me to wait...that she would be right out.

When she finally arrived.... her attitude seemed to change from the one she had over the phone. I wish I could have had a way to see inside of her mind when she walked up and realized that I was Black. All of a sudden they weren't looking to hire "right at that moment". She stated something to the effect that she was sorry that she may have misled me over the phone... but she was fully staffed at the moment. After about 3-5 minutes of her blow-off routine I realized that I had wasted my time getting ready...and driving across town. She told me to fill out an application and that they would call when there was an opening.

There have been a few situations like this in my life... I can't erase them from my memory... I recall them like they happened yesterday. Another incident similar to this one happened when I was looking for an apartment.

I was also teased in school for the way I talked (using...or attempting to use standard, proper English). Most of it came from.... can you guess?... Black students. I started to use standard English as my default language after I moved from St. Louis to Kansas back in the early-mid 1980's... I went from a mostly Black grade school... to an almost all white (but mixed) grade school in what was basically rural Kansas...although the town I was in could be considered a KC suburb...a far flung one. From that point on I was in mostly white, but mixed schools. Although as a young teen I listened to rap music and that had an influence on me. But as I got older....15, 16, 17.... I began to drift away from that and really started using standard English. Before that I would code switch...but later I began to stick with one use of English more often.

Now, as an adult, I find myself (unconsciously) doing the switching thing again...although slightly. I still run into the perception problems though.
I hate the idea that there is some box that i'm supposed to be in... a box that someone has assigned for me, telling me how I am supposed to talk and act.



Hear another, more extensive interview with Sarah Jones from a couple of years ago.

Michelle Obama Thread

Michelle Obama was on The Tonight Show. Here are the clips from that:

Part 1

Part 2

There's a NYTimes article from today about Michelle too:

New to Campaigning, but No Longer a Novice

7 Days And Counting - The 14 Speeches of the Obama Campaign: #7, The New Hampshire Primary

January 8, 2008: The night of the New Hampshire loss

America Still Has a Long Way To Go

This Country has come a long way, but it has such a long way to go.

It will take a few more generations before we can tear down the walls of the cultural divide.

Have Palin/McCain set us back... or have they simply brought out a lot of things that were already festering in people? I have been reading about cases where people didn't realize (for years) that their neighbors felt a certain way....and now they are shocked. But I think there is more good out there than bad and in the end, the good will prevail. It has to.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama Will Be One of The Greatest (and Most Loved) American Presidents

Hat tip: a JJP reader

This was so good, I had to post it.

Obama Will Be One of The Greatest (and Most Loved) American Presidents
Frank Schaeffer

Great presidents are made great by horrible circumstances combined with character, temperament and intelligence. Like firemen, cops, doctors or soldiers, presidents need a crisis to shine.

Obama is one of the most intelligent presidential aspirants to ever step forward in American history. The likes of his intellectual capabilities have not been surpassed in public life since the Founding Fathers put pen to paper. His personal character is also solid gold. Take heart, America: we have the leader for our times.

I say this as a white, former life-long Republican. I say this as the proud father of a Marine. I say this as just another American watching his pension evaporate along with the stock market! I speak as someone who knows it's time to forget party loyalty, ideology and pride and put the country first. I say this as someone happy to be called a fool for going out on a limb and declaring that, 1) Obama will win, and 2) he is going to be amongst the greatest of American presidents.

Obama is our last best chance. He's worth laying it all on the line for.

This is a man who in the age of greed took the high road of community service. This is the good father and husband. This is the humble servant. This is the patient teacher. This is the scholar statesman. This is the man of deep Christian faith.

Good stories about Obama abound; from his personal relationship with his Secret Service agents (he invites them into his home to watch sports, and shoots hoops with them) to the story about how, more than twenty years ago, while standing in the check-in line at an airport, Obama paid a $100 baggage surcharge for a stranger who was broke and stuck. (Obama was virtually penniless himself in those days.) Years later after he became a senator, that stranger recognized Obama's picture and wrote to him to thank him. She received a kindly note back from the senator. (The story only surfaced because the person, who lives in Norway, told a local newspaper after Obama ran for the presidency. The paper published a photograph of this lady proudly displaying Senator Obama's letter.)

Where many leaders are two-faced; publicly kindly but privately feared and/or hated by people closest to them, Obama is consistent in the way he treats people, consistently kind and personally humble. He lives by the code that those who lead must serve. He believes that. He lives it. He lived it long before he was in the public eye.

Obama puts service ahead of ideology. He also knows that to win politically you need to be tough. He can be. He has been. This is a man who does what works, rather than scoring ideological points. In other words he is the quintessential non-ideological pragmatic American. He will (thank God!) disappoint ideologues and purists of the left and the right.

Obama has a reservoir of personal physical courage that is unmatched in presidential history. Why unmatched? Because as the first black contender for the presidency who will win, Obama, and all the rest of us, know that he is in great physical danger from the seemingly unlimited reserve of unhinged racial hatred, and just plain unhinged ignorant hatred, that swirls in the bowels of our wounded and sinful country. By stepping forward to lead, Obama has literally put his life on the line for all of us in a way no white candidate ever has had to do. (And we all know how dangerous the presidency has been even for white presidents.)

Nice stories or even unparalleled courage isn't the only point. The greater point about Obama is that the midst of our worldwide financial meltdown, an expanding (and losing) war in Afghanistan, trying to extricate our country from a wrong and stupidly mistaken ruinously expensive war in Iraq, our mounting and crushing national debt, awaiting the next (and inevitable) al Qaeda attack on our homeland, watching our schools decline to Third World levels of incompetence, facing a general loss of confidence in the government that has been exacerbated by the Republicans doing all they can to undermine our government's capabilities and programs... President Obama will take on the leadership of our country at a make or break time of historic proportions. He faces not one but dozens of crisis, each big enough to define any presidency in better times.

As luck, fate or divine grace would have it (depending on one's personal theology) Obama is blessedly, dare I say uniquely, well-suited to our dire circumstances. Obama is a person with hands-on community service experience, deep connections to top economic advisers from the renowned University of Chicago where he taught law, and a middle-class background that gives him an abiding knowledgeable empathy with the rest of us. As the son of a single mother, who has worked his way up with merit and brains, recipient of top-notch academic scholarships, the peer-selected editor of the Harvard Law Review and, in three giant political steps to state office, national office and now the presidency, Obama clearly has the wit and drive to lead.

Obama is the sober voice of reason at a time of unreason. He is the fellow keeping his head while all around him are panicking. He is the healing presence at a time of national division and strife. He is also new enough to the political process so that he doesn't suffer from the terminally jaded cynicism, the seen-it-all-before syndrome afflicting most politicians in Washington. In that regard we Americans lucked out. It's as if having despaired of our political process we picked a name from the phone book to lead us and that person turned out to be a very man we needed.

Obama brings a healing and uplifting spiritual quality to our politics at the very time when our worst enemy is fear. For eight years we've been ruled by a stunted fear-filled mediocrity of a little liar who has expanded his power on the basis of creating fear in others. Fearless Obama is the cure. He speaks a litany of hope rather than a litany of terror.

As we have watched Obama respond in a quiet reasoned manner to crisis after crisis, in both the way he has responded after being attacked and lied about in the 2008 campaign season, to his reasoned response to our multiplying national crises, what we see is the spirit of a trusted family doctor with a great bedside manner. Obama is perfectly suited to hold our hand and lead us through some very tough times. The word panic is not in the Obama dictionary.

America is fighting its "Armageddon" in one fearful heart at a time. A brilliant leader with the mild manner of an old-time matter-of-fact country doctor soothing a frightened child is just what we need. The fact that our "doctor" is a black man leading a hitherto white-ruled nation out of the mess of its own making is all the sweeter and raises the Obama story to that of moral allegory.

Obama brings a moral clarity to his leadership reserved for those who have had to work for everything they've gotten and had to do twice as well as the person standing next to them because of the color of their skin. His experience of succeeding in spite of his color, social background and prejudice could have been embittering or one that fostered a spiritual rebirth of forgiveness and enlightenment. Obama radiates the calm inner peace of the spirit of forgiveness.

Speaking as a believing Christian I see the hand of a merciful God in Obama's candidacy. The biblical metaphors abound. The stone the builder rejected is become the cornerstone... the last shall be first... he that would gain his life must first lose it... the meek shall inherit the earth...

For my secular friends I'll allow that we may have just been extraordinarily lucky! Either way America wins.

Only a brilliant man, with the spirit of a preacher and the humble heart of a kindly family doctor can lead us now. We are afraid, out of ideas, and worst of all out of hope. Obama is the cure. And we Americans have it in us to rise to the occasion. We will. We're about to enter one of the most frightening periods of American history. Our country has rarely faced more uncertainty. This is the time for greatness. We have a great leader. We must be a great people backing him, fighting for him, sacrificing for a cause greater than ourselves.

A hundred years from now Obama's portrait will be placed next to that of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Long before that we'll be telling our children and grandchildren that we stepped out in faith and voted for a young black man who stood up and led our country back from the brink of an abyss. We'll tell them about the power of love, faith and hope. We'll tell them about the power of creativity combined with humility and intellectual brilliance. We'll tell them that President Obama gave us the gift of regaining our faith in our country. We'll tell them that we all stood up and pitched in and won the day. We'll tell them that President Obama restored our standing in the world. We'll tell them that by the time he left office our schools were on the mend, our economy booming, that we'd become a nation filled with green energy alternatives and were leading the world away from dependence on carbon-based destruction. We'll tell them that because of President Obama's example and leadership the integrity of the family was restored, divorce rates went down, more fathers took responsibility for their children, and abortion rates fell dramatically as women, families and children were cared for through compassionate social programs that worked. We'll tell them about how the gap closed between the middle class and the super rich, how we won health care for all, how crime rates fell, how bad wars were brought to an honorable conclusion. We'll tell them that when we were attacked again by al Qaeda, how reason prevailed and the response was smart, tough, measured and effective, and our civil rights were protected even in times of crisis...

We'll tell them that we were part of the inexplicably blessed miracle that happened to our country those many years ago in 2008 when a young black man was sent by God, fate or luck to save our country. We'll tell them that it's good to live in America where anything is possible. Yes we will.

Frank Schaeffer is the author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. Now in paperback.

Obama's Closing Argument in Canton, Ohio

Senator Ted Stevens Found GUILTY of All Counts

From Yahoo

Ted Stevens found guilty in corruption case
1 hr 10 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has been convicted of lying about free home renovations and other gifts he received from a wealthy oil contractor.

The Senate's longest-serving Republican, Stevens was found guilty on all seven counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents.

The verdict throws the upcoming election into disarray. Stevens is fighting off a challenge from Democrat Mark Begich and must now either drop out or continue campaigning as a convicted felon.

The trial hinged on the testimony of Stevens' longtime friend, who testified that his employees dramatically remodeled the senator's home.

Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count but, under federal sentencing guidelines, will likely receive much less prison time, if any.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jurors in Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial passed a note with "a potential verdict" to a federal judge Monday, a courthouse spokesman said.

The jury has been beset by problems since deliberations began Wednesday. Courthouse spokesman Sheldon Snook said the panel sent a note Monday. Attorneys for both sides were called back to court Monday for a reading of the note.

Court officials were also testing the jury microphone, which is normally reserved for the reading of verdicts.

The ambiguity of the note's description, though, apparently leaves open the possibility that jurors have been unable to reach a unanimous verdict. If so, the judge likely would send them back to continue deliberating.

In a tight election year, the verdict has the potential to alter the nation's political landscape. The Senate's longest-serving Republican is fending off an aggressive Democratic challenger. If Stevens is convicted, it would hurt his chance of keeping a seat he's held for generations. And it could push Democrats toward a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Stevens is charged with lying on Senate financial forms about $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts he received from an oil contractor.

Stevens spent three days on the witness stand, vehemently denying that allegation. He said his wife, Catherine, paid every bill they received.

Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count, but under federal sentencing guidelines, he would likely receive much less prison time, if any.

Stevens' trial hinged on the testimony of Bill Allen, the senator's longtime drinking and fishing buddy. Allen, the founder of VECO, testified that he never billed his friend for the extensive work on the house and that Stevens knew he was getting a deal.

Stevens is a legendary figure in Alaska, where he has wielded political influence since before statehood. His knack for steering billions of dollars in federal money to his home state has drawn praise from his constituents and consternation from budget hawks.

Sounds good to me.

Media Alert

Michelle Obama will be on The Tonight Show this evening.

8 Days And Counting - The 14 Speeches of the Obama Campaign: #8, The Iowa Caucus

January 3, 2008 - The Iowa Caucus.
The night many of us never ever thought they would see in America.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Talk With The Elders

Found this over at DailyKos:

"I wish I were an Alabama trooper, then I could kill a n****r legally..."
by lollydee [Subscribe]
Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 03:38:42 PM PDT

I had Sunday lunch over my aunt Patsy's house today and she sang those words to the tune of the Oscar Mayer jingle, recalling the summer of 1966 following the riots in Chicago. She was fourteen years old then, and she had never been to the deep South, but she told me that she figured that the mobs there during the open housing march she and her parents were attending probably were just as bad.

"A group of white kids were singing it at us and throwing things while their parents watched them. One white boy just stood there, not saying or doing anything. I thought to myself that maybe that kid would grow up and be different than the trash he was raised in."

My aunt told us that her boyfriend at the time wasn't a fan of Dr. King's non-violent methods, a loyalist instead to the Black Power movement. The Vietnam war was heating up and she thought this might have further radicalized young blacks, contributing to the disintegration of the coalition that had been brought together during the early 1960's.

It's a heavy conversation to have at a casual Sunday lunch, but it's eight days away from maybe electing the first African-American President and no one at the table can talk about much else.

My aunt is an ardent supporter of Barack Obama, but she scoffed a little at me when I talked excitedly about how what is happening now is a revolution, a new uprising.

"You be careful how you handle yourself. People back then got to thinking all crazy and believing all this change was gonna come all of a sudden. Radicals said dangerous things and then even white folks who were behind us started moving away from us. Be prepared for the bumps in the road."

I knew exactly what she meant by that. Whenever a Conservative talks to me about why they believe what they do, I like to remind them that the Conservative movement was a direct response to the Civil Rights movement. I can't help but to wonder what the response will be to electing Obama.

"I don't think McCain and his camp are as bad as the people back then, though. I think that they're really just trying to win an election and are getting a little desperate. They don't believe what a lot of those people do, they just want them to vote for them," my sister said.

My aunt poured herself some juice and sat down, shaking her head.

"McCain is old enough to know what he's doing. Don't you believe that. He might as well be telling those folks that if a black man takes power he's only gonna do stuff for black people, period. That's what they're hearing, if not worse."

My dad nodded his head, "People forget that one of the most profound by-products of the civil rights movement in Mississippi was the rebirth of the Republican Party."

History break: In 1972, two Mississippi Republicans, Thad Cochran and Trent Lott were elected to the House of Representatives. Neither one of them sounded like the Radical Republicans who had once attained power in the state. Both were State's rights advocated and were opposed to further federal civil rights measures like affirmative action. By the 80's they were both in the Senate and then Lott became majority leader in 1996, even though their policies often went against a sizable African American population who now had the right to vote.

Black voters at that point had the power to use their voices to move the struggle forward, but lacked the belief that they could play a major part in the political process. My father calls this "an invisible leash".

Some white people are shocked. The African American turnout is unprecedented. It must be fraud, not this many new voters could be registered. Georgia is close to being blue? North Caroline is in play? Virginia might give it's electoral votes to a Negro?

With the nomination of Barack Obama by the Democratic party, the leash holding back people like my aunt's second husband who grew up in the deep south, once watched his 19 year old cousin get lynched, and has never voted in all of his 78 years, is off.

I know we like to pretend that race in this election is a non-issue, but I think doing so is a great injustice to the descendants of one of the most shameful periods of American history. They are savoring this step forward.

"There is a lot of joy down at the meeting place. (Of a woman's club she belongs to) We all voted early. I worry every time I pick up the paper about someone being hurt like they were way back when," she said. "You all laugh at those videos you send around at those people at them Palin rallys, but I don't thinks its funny."

My Dad got a little indignant. "It's funny because they're so stupid. They can't kill us like they used to by coming and murdering us on the street."

I didn't say anything. It's clear her and my uncle still bear the pain of their past and of the people who died before them.

My aunt raised an eyebrow at him. "There was a nice young white girl over here the other day asking if I needed a ride to the polls. I told her I already sent in my ballot absentee and she told me how excited she was about Obama being elected and asked what I would do on the night he won."

We waited and she didn't say anything. "What will you do?" my Dad finally asked.

"Sleep. But I'm gonna tell Jim (my uncle) to have his gun loaded."

I laughed. "I hope we've gone beyond all that. I think some people will be mad at first, but they'll get over it. We've had black Senators, a Secretary of State. It's not the same. It's also different because the law is on our side this time."

"What about that man that spit on you?"

I though about it for a second. "He spit on me, he didn't beat me up or try to kill me. I'm perfectly unharmed. It was a childish reaction but it was nothing compared to what people back then went through."

"Aha! That's because Obama ain't President yet! Do you think he would have just spit on you if it were November 5th? And what if that story that girl made up about being robbed and beaten by a black man hadn't been proven to be a lie?"

"I don't know," I said.

"That's right. You don't know. I hope we've come far enough, but don't make fun of folks for being afraid of otherwise," she said. "Us old folks know the way this all works," she warned me. "We've been down this road before."

Another history break: The Holocaust revealed to the world the atrocities that could be committed by people driven by an ideology of supremacy and moved quite a few people towards the belief in the ideal of equality for all, but the red scare led by Joe McCarthy came along and erected a hurdle for civil rights activist to overcome. People were so afraid, that they were opposed to social change in general and handed white supremacists a potent weapon in which to smear the opposition. W.E.B. Du Bois was so tarnished by the communist label that he virtually disappeared from American life. Not until McCarthyism subsided did the civil rights movement regain momentum.

Read the paragraph I wrote above, and replace the word "communism" with "un-American".

It's a tough conversation to have. I tried to reassure her. "They can rant and rave all they want, their time is over. People send those videos around because they are in the minority. Their actions make them look ignorant. They're part of the reason McCain and Plain are looking so foolish," I said.

My aunt nodded. "I hope you're right. But now that you and your brothers and sisters are out there on the front lines, I just want you to be cautious and aware of the type of people you're up against."

It's funny to hear her say "front line". I instantly think of the people at the Media, PA office and here at DailyKos. I joke about having a Dem Mafia, but in likelihood, I'd worry more about a game of Trivial Pursuit breaking out at campaign headquarters than a revolution.

But in truth it’s people like us, chatting away in forums like this, who are on the front lines of one of the greatest cultural showdowns in our history.

Racism and prejudice have been at core of the political identity of the Republican party. Even if Obama is elected, he isn't going to be able to excise those qualities overnight. When you get a hard line Conservative into a heated discussion about this election, they always produce a Willie Horton or a Bill Ayers or some other contagious viral smear ready to infect their supporters with fears of terrorism or anti-white prejudice or whatever the code word happens to be this week.

They’re trying it even now, with the McCain campaign running ads showing Obama as darker than he is, next to other blacks in power alongside of a fearful looking white woman, switching a letter in his name to make it become "Osama" to invoke memories of 9/11. They are pulling out all of the stops. If one were to believe everything coming out of that camp, when Barack Obama is elected president, gangs of gay black Muslim immigrants will rape our children so they can force them all to have abortions.

But why not use smears? These tactics almost always worked in the past.

"This year is different, and that's why we're seeing the panic across the aisle. They aren't working anymore," I told her. "Sarah Palin’s claimed that Obama doesn’t see America as "you and I" and people didn't rise up to stand behind her, most people laughed at her."

She shook her head again. "That's good. Stay positive, baby. But just be careful."

I sat back. "I will. But I have to admit I can't wait to see some people's heads explode when he's elected. It's going to be a good day."

I was a little surprised when she frowned at me. "Hold no hatred in your heart. Do you think I'd have lived as long as I have if I held onto that anger?"

Zechariah Chaffee, Jr. once said, "The real value of freedom is not to the minority that wants to talk but to the majority that does not want to listen."

So after this election, the bigger issue of letting go of the anger, at least for me, will be the hardest thing of all.

Thanks for all those who indulged today's navel grazing. Eight more days.....

Listen to the elders. Their caution steadies with our hope.

9 Days And Counting - The 14 Speeches of the Obama Campaign: #9, The Iowa JJ Dinner

The beginning of the turning point for Barack Obama: his speech at the Iowa Jefferson -Jackson Dinner (November 2007).

The Vet Who Did Not Vet

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Those Who Know McCain's Choice Best......Endorse Barack Obama

From the Anchorage Daily News:

Obama for president
Palin's rise captivates us but nation needs a steady hand
Published: October 25th, 2008 07:37 PM
Last Modified: October 25th, 2008 08:10 PM

Alaska enters its 50th-anniversary year in the glow of an improbable and highly memorable event: the nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate. For the first time ever, an Alaskan is making a serious bid for national office, and in doing so she brings broad attention and recognition not only to herself, but also to the state she leads.

Alaska's founders were optimistic people, but even the most farsighted might have been stretched to imagine this scenario. No matter the outcome in November, this election will mark a signal moment in the history of the 49th state. Many Alaskans are proud to see their governor, and their state, so prominent on the national stage.

Gov. Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency -- but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

Since his early acknowledgement that economic policy is not his strong suit, Sen. McCain has stumbled and fumbled badly in dealing with the accelerating crisis as it emerged. He declared that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" at 9 a.m. one day and by 11 a.m. was describing an economy in crisis. He is both a longtime advocate of less market regulation and a supporter of the huge taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout. His behavior in this crisis -- erratic is a kind description -- shows him to be ill-equipped to lead the essential effort of reining in a runaway financial system and setting an anxious nation on course to economic recovery.

Sen. Obama warned regulators and the nation 19 months ago that the subprime lending crisis was a disaster in the making. Sen. McCain backed tighter rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but didn't do much to advance that legislation. Of the two candidates, Sen. Obama better understands the mortgage meltdown's root causes and has the judgment and intelligence to shape a solution, as well as the leadership to rally the country behind it. It is easy to look at Sen. Obama and see a return to the smart, bipartisan economic policies of the last Democratic administration in Washington, which left the country with the momentum of growth and a budget surplus that President George Bush has squandered.

On the most important issue of the day, Sen. Obama is a clear choice.

Sen. McCain describes himself as a maverick, by which he seems to mean that he spent 25 years trying unsuccessfully to persuade his own party to follow his bipartisan, centrist lead. Sadly, maverick John McCain didn't show up for the campaign. Instead we have candidate McCain, who embraces the extreme Republican orthodoxy he once resisted and cynically asks Americans to buy for another four years.

It is Sen. Obama who truly promises fundamental change in Washington. You need look no further than the guilt-by-association lies and sound-bite distortions of the degenerating McCain campaign to see how readily he embraces the divisive, fear-mongering tactics of Karl Rove. And while Sen. McCain points to the fragile success of the troop surge in stabilizing conditions in Iraq, it is also plain that he was fundamentally wrong about the more crucial early decisions. Contrary to his assurances, we were not greeted as liberators; it was not a short, easy war; and Americans -- not Iraqi oil -- have had to pay for it. It was Sen. Obama who more clearly saw the danger ahead.

The unqualified endorsement of Sen. Obama by a seasoned, respected soldier and diplomat like Gen. Colin Powell, a Republican icon, should reassure all Americans that the Democratic candidate will pass muster as commander in chief.

On a matter of parochial interest, Sen. Obama opposes the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but so does Sen. McCain. We think both are wrong, and hope a President Obama can be convinced to support environmentally responsible development of that resource.

Gov. Palin has shown the country why she has been so successful in her young political career. Passionate, charismatic and indefatigable, she draws huge crowds and sows excitement in her wake. She has made it clear she's a force to be reckoned with, and you can be sure politicians and political professionals across the country have taken note. Her future, in Alaska and on the national stage, seems certain to be played out in the limelight.

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

This is what Birth of a Nation, 2008 looks like, Pennsylvania-style


Feldman Speaks -- But Not About Hoax
10.26.08 -- 12:02AM
By David Kurtz

Bear with me. The intricacies of GOP dirty tricks in Pennsylvania take some unraveling. But this is too rich, and the best part comes at the end.

On Thursday the Pennsylvania GOP sent out an email to 75,000 Jewish voters in the state warning that electing Obama could lead to a second Holocaust, the AP reports:

"Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008," the e-mail reads. "Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let's not make a similar one this year!"
A copy of the e-mail, provided by Democratic officials, says it was "Paid for by the Republican Federal Committee of PA - Victory 2008."

It warns "Fellow Jewish Voters" of the danger of a second Holocaust due to the threats to Israel from its neighbors and touts Republican presidential candidate John McCain's qualifications over those of Obama.

The state GOP is now running away from that email as fast as it can. The AP leads with the state GOP's disavowal of the email, but it seems a bit more complicated than that. There doesn't seem to be any dispute that the state party or one of its committees sent the email. The party's defense seems to be that the consultant who the party hired wasn't authorized to send that particular email and was fired.

Except the AP got in touch with the consultant and that's not quite the story he tells:

Political consultant Bryan Rudnick was identified as the person responsible for it. Rudnick, reached Saturday night, confirmed that he no longer works for the party, which employed him a few weeks ago as a consultant to do outreach to Jewish voters.

"I had authorization from party officials" to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. "I'm not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I'm not naming names right now," he said.

That's a pretty good story in its own right: Another under-the-radar GOP sleaze tactic exposed and yet another low- to mid-level GOP operative scapegoated because he got caught on the wrong side of the McCain campaign's shifting line between what is just sleazy and what is too sleazy (a line that seems to get drawn immediately after the GOP gets busted).

But it gets better.

Like the state GOP, the McCain camp is running away from this email, and the spokesperson doing the distancing is none other than Peter Feldman. That's the same guy who on Thursday, the day the email went out, was pushing the mugging hoax to reporters as a politically motivated attack by a black Obama supporter, playing to the worst of white fears and racial prejudices.

Speaking of the email to Jewish voters and without any apparent hint of irony, Feldman told the AP Saturday night that McCain "rejects politics that degrade our civics."


No word on whether the AP asked Feldman about his role in pushing the mugging hoax.

Now, you can call me cynical, if you want.....but, it sorta looks 'coordinated', doesn't it? I don't believe there are enough 'coincidences' in the Western World for it just to be ' happening'.

"Defining Moment"

10 Days And Counting - The 14 Speeches of the Obama Campaign: #10, Michelle Obama - See the possibilities

November 20, 2007: Another Michelle Obama fantastic speech in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She is magnificent here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Opie, Andy and The Fonz

Hat tip: JJP

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Abandon Ship Abandon Ship! The McTanic Express Is Going Down

Former White House Press Chief, Scott McClellan, will be voting for Obama.

Plus, Charles Fried (McCain Advisor) switches sides. LOL


Dkos posted a whole list of Republicans backing Obama, but I couldn't locate the post (no time, late for work). I'll post it if I get time later on.

Hear The Third Segment of NPR's Race Series

Listen to the third installment of NPR's series on Race, as it relates to the 2008 election.

NPR started this series last month. Click here if you missed parts one and two. I found the first two segments to be quite interesting. They will do at least one more segment, after the November election.

Listen to Part 4 of the series

11 Days And Counting - The 14 Speeches of the Obama Campaign: #11, Michelle Obama - Be not afraid

Michelle Obama introduced her husband in Iowa in August 2007. Like I've said before, I've never seen 'Angry Michelle'. I have seen 'Passionate Michelle'.!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The New York Times Endorses Barack Obama

From The New York Times:

Barack Obama for President
Published: October 23, 2008

Hyperbole is the currency of presidential campaigns, but this year the nation’s future truly hangs in the balance.

The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.

As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.

Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems.

In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.

Given the particularly ugly nature of Mr. McCain’s campaign, the urge to choose on the basis of raw emotion is strong. But there is a greater value in looking closely at the facts of life in America today and at the prescriptions the candidates offer. The differences are profound.

Mr. McCain offers more of the Republican every-man-for-himself ideology, now lying in shards on Wall Street and in Americans’ bank accounts. Mr. Obama has another vision of government’s role and responsibilities.

In his convention speech in Denver, Mr. Obama said, “Government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.”

Since the financial crisis, he has correctly identified the abject failure of government regulation that has brought the markets to the brink of collapse.

The Economy

The American financial system is the victim of decades of Republican deregulatory and anti-tax policies. Those ideas have been proved wrong at an unfathomable price, but Mr. McCain — a self-proclaimed “foot soldier in the Reagan revolution” — is still a believer.

Mr. Obama sees that far-reaching reforms will be needed to protect Americans and American business.

Mr. McCain talks about reform a lot, but his vision is pinched. His answer to any economic question is to eliminate pork-barrel spending — about $18 billion in a $3 trillion budget — cut taxes and wait for unfettered markets to solve the problem.

Mr. Obama is clear that the nation’s tax structure must be changed to make it fairer. That means the well-off Americans who have benefited disproportionately from Mr. Bush’s tax cuts will have to pay some more. Working Americans, who have seen their standard of living fall and their children’s options narrow, will benefit. Mr. Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation, restore a climate in which workers are able to organize unions if they wish and expand educational opportunities.

Mr. McCain, who once opposed President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy as fiscally irresponsible, now wants to make them permanent. And while he talks about keeping taxes low for everyone, his proposed cuts would overwhelmingly benefit the top 1 percent of Americans while digging the country into a deeper fiscal hole.

National Security

The American military — its people and equipment — is dangerously overstretched. Mr. Bush has neglected the necessary war in Afghanistan, which now threatens to spiral into defeat. The unnecessary and staggeringly costly war in Iraq must be ended as quickly and responsibly as possible.

While Iraq’s leaders insist on a swift drawdown of American troops and a deadline for the end of the occupation, Mr. McCain is still taking about some ill-defined “victory.” As a result, he has offered no real plan for extracting American troops and limiting any further damage to Iraq and its neighbors.

Mr. Obama was an early and thoughtful opponent of the war in Iraq, and he has presented a military and diplomatic plan for withdrawing American forces. Mr. Obama also has correctly warned that until the Pentagon starts pulling troops out of Iraq, there will not be enough troops to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, has only belatedly focused on Afghanistan’s dangerous unraveling and the threat that neighboring Pakistan may quickly follow.

Mr. Obama would have a learning curve on foreign affairs, but he has already showed sounder judgment than his opponent on these critical issues. His choice of Senator Joseph Biden — who has deep foreign-policy expertise — as his running mate is another sign of that sound judgment. Mr. McCain’s long interest in foreign policy and the many dangers this country now faces make his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska more irresponsible.

Both presidential candidates talk about strengthening alliances in Europe and Asia, including NATO, and strongly support Israel. Both candidates talk about repairing America’s image in the world. But it seems clear to us that Mr. Obama is far more likely to do that — and not just because the first black president would present a new American face to the world.

Mr. Obama wants to reform the United Nations, while Mr. McCain wants to create a new entity, the League of Democracies — a move that would incite even fiercer anti-American furies around the world.

Unfortunately, Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, sees the world as divided into friends (like Georgia) and adversaries (like Russia). He proposed kicking Russia out of the Group of 8 industrialized nations even before the invasion of Georgia. We have no sympathy for Moscow’s bullying, but we also have no desire to replay the cold war. The United States must find a way to constrain the Russians’ worst impulses, while preserving the ability to work with them on arms control and other vital initiatives.

Both candidates talk tough on terrorism, and neither has ruled out military action to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But Mr. Obama has called for a serious effort to try to wean Tehran from its nuclear ambitions with more credible diplomatic overtures and tougher sanctions. Mr. McCain’s willingness to joke about bombing Iran was frightening.

The Constitution and the Rule of Law

Under Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the justice system and the separation of powers have come under relentless attack. Mr. Bush chose to exploit the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, the moment in which he looked like the president of a unified nation, to try to place himself above the law.

Mr. Bush has arrogated the power to imprison men without charges and browbeat Congress into granting an unfettered authority to spy on Americans. He has created untold numbers of “black” programs, including secret prisons and outsourced torture. The president has issued hundreds, if not thousands, of secret orders. We fear it will take years of forensic research to discover how many basic rights have been violated.

Both candidates have renounced torture and are committed to closing the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

But Mr. Obama has gone beyond that, promising to identify and correct Mr. Bush’s attacks on the democratic system. Mr. McCain has been silent on the subject.

Mr. McCain improved protections for detainees. But then he helped the White House push through the appalling Military Commissions Act of 2006, which denied detainees the right to a hearing in a real court and put Washington in conflict with the Geneva Conventions, greatly increasing the risk to American troops.

The next president will have the chance to appoint one or more justices to a Supreme Court that is on the brink of being dominated by a radical right wing. Mr. Obama may appoint less liberal judges than some of his followers might like, but Mr. McCain is certain to pick rigid ideologues. He has said he would never appoint a judge who believes in women’s reproductive rights.

The Candidates

It will be an enormous challenge just to get the nation back to where it was before Mr. Bush, to begin to mend its image in the world and to restore its self-confidence and its self-respect. Doing all of that, and leading America forward, will require strength of will, character and intellect, sober judgment and a cool, steady hand.

Mr. Obama has those qualities in abundance. Watching him being tested in the campaign has long since erased the reservations that led us to endorse Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries. He has drawn in legions of new voters with powerful messages of hope and possibility and calls for shared sacrifice and social responsibility.

Mr. McCain, whom we chose as the best Republican nominee in the primaries, has spent the last coins of his reputation for principle and sound judgment to placate the limitless demands and narrow vision of the far-right wing. His righteous fury at being driven out of the 2000 primaries on a racist tide aimed at his adopted daughter has been replaced by a zealous embrace of those same win-at-all-costs tactics and tacticians.

He surrendered his standing as an independent thinker in his rush to embrace Mr. Bush’s misbegotten tax policies and to abandon his leadership position on climate change and immigration reform.

Mr. McCain could have seized the high ground on energy and the environment. Earlier in his career, he offered the first plausible bill to control America’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Now his positions are a caricature of that record: think Ms. Palin leading chants of “drill, baby, drill.”

Mr. Obama has endorsed some offshore drilling, but as part of a comprehensive strategy including big investments in new, clean technologies.

Mr. Obama has withstood some of the toughest campaign attacks ever mounted against a candidate. He’s been called un-American and accused of hiding a secret Islamic faith. The Republicans have linked him to domestic terrorists and questioned his wife’s love of her country. Ms. Palin has also questioned millions of Americans’ patriotism, calling Republican-leaning states “pro-America.”

This politics of fear, division and character assassination helped Mr. Bush drive Mr. McCain from the 2000 Republican primaries and defeat Senator John Kerry in 2004. It has been the dominant theme of his failed presidency.

The nation’s problems are simply too grave to be reduced to slashing “robo-calls” and negative ads. This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities.