Saturday, November 1, 2008

Political Sanity trumps Political Demagoguery: Newsday Endorses Barack Obama for President,0,6434543.story


Amidst all the maniacal racist hysteria coming from the McCain/Palin ticket --which has run one of the absolute worst and most dangerously irresponsible campaigns in modern American political history-- as well as from far too many of their incredibly ignorant, hypocritical, dishonest, and violently intolerant supporters--it's refreshing to know that one can still find rational, sane discussions of the real issues, challenges, and problems facing the American people (and the world). What follows is a well written, tightly argued, and well informed editorial endorsement of Obama by Newsday. It's astonishing to realize given the insane and pervasive far right wing rhetoric in this presidential race but in some parts of this crazy country some people really do still know how to think and articulate a coherent analysis of what is happening and why. Check it out...


Newsday editorial board endorses Barack Obama

November 1, 2008

Leading the nation through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, two wars and excruciating anxiety about what the future holds will demand intellect, judgment, pragmatism and the more intangible ability to nourish the American spirit.

The need to make fundamental changes in how we power our cars, heat our homes, pay our doctors, earn our livings and secure our retirements is unnerving. The times demand a president who can see promise beyond the peril and articulate that vision for the rest of us. We believe this profile best fits one candidate in this race for the White House: Democrat Barack Obama.

In this marathon of a campaign, Obama has shown the discipline and demeanor for the job. He has articulated a more compelling vision and strategy for the nation than has Republican John McCain, at a time when both are desperately needed. Obama has railed eloquently against the politics of fear and ideological combat, and promoted inclusiveness and cooperation. He has a strong grasp of the nation's economic problems, a more urgent commitment to the green energy revolution and a better plan for expanding access to health care. On issues such as Iraq, taxes and trade, he should practice the bipartisanship he promises, but has yet to demonstrate, by remaining open to alternative views. Still, on balance, Obama offers the better way forward.

When he launched his improbable presidential run, early impressions of the Illinois senator didn't go much beyond a man with limited experience who could deliver a great speech. Critics derided his ability to charge up a crowd with soaring rhetoric, calling it just talk. But it's more than that. Obama has an uncommon ability to explain and inspire. Those are vital components of national leadership as we struggle to understand and tame the complex economic forces eating away at the value of our homes and nest eggs, and making jobs and credit harder to come by.

Obama's relative inexperience was one reason we didn't endorse him in the Democratic primary, and it remains a concern: He's only three years removed from the Illinois State Senate. We are also critical of his decision to abandon a pledge to tap public campaign financing for his presidential run.

But organizing and running a national campaign is a tough test of executive ability -- one that Obama has passed impressively. We believe that he will be able to draw from his campaign and professional experience to hone conflicting ideas and philosophies into sharp policy prescriptions on the challenges the next president will face over the coming four years.


Obama demonstrated a noteworthy, clear-eyed approach to this issue last summer, when gas prices skyrocketed. As McCain and others called for a popular, temporary suspension of the federal gas tax, Obama resisted the urge to pander. His view -- that trying to ease the pain of price hikes wouldn't work and would retard efforts to wean the nation off fossil fuels -- wasn't popular. But he was right. And he was willing to take the political heat to advance the nation's long-term interest.

Obama understands the urgency of making the country less dependent on foreign oil, for both economic and national security reasons. He supports an all-out effort to develop sustainable, alternative fuels and green technology. He has also acknowledged the need to expand the use of nuclear power, and has reluctantly come to accept the need to drill more for oil here at home. McCain also supports developing alternative fuels and technology and expanding the use of nuclear power. And he says that the push for energy independence should proceed on all fronts. But he elevated increased domestic drilling to the top of his energy agenda when he made "drill baby drill" a campaign slogan, even though more domestic drilling won't do much to lower gas prices or anything to advance the key goal of energy independence.


Given the high-decibel debate over taxes, you'd think there were huge differences between what the candidates offer. There aren't, and in fact, neither plan may be realistic, given the deficit and the economic slowdown. Both Obama and McCain have proposed trillions of dollars in tax cuts over the next decade -- both for individuals and, in different ways, for small businesses. They agree on delivering tax relief for the middle class, defined as taxpayers earning less than $250,000 a year. But that's where Obama would draw the line.

McCain would extend the tax rates for everyone, including those earning over a quarter million a year, and add new corporate tax cuts for good measure.

On Long Island, with our high cost of living, close to 10 percent of households take in $250,000 or more. That's much higher than the national average of 2 percent. So some small business owners would be among those whose taxes Obama would raise. That's of considerable concern locally, because it would hamper their ability to create jobs, thus slowing the Island's economic growth. This is a case where one size doesn't fit all.


Both Obama and McCain recognize the importance of free trade to the nation's economy. But while McCain's enthusiasm for trade agreements between the United States and other countries is unbridled, Obama seems conflicted. That's troubling.

Obama should reconsider his early campaign pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement in an effort to add stronger worker and environmental protections to that long-settled deal with Mexico and Canada. Free trade is a net plus for the U.S. economy. It would be a mistake to throttle back, particularly now, when the nation is suffering such economic distress. The better approach would be to do more for displaced workers here, such as expanding opportunities for retraining, a worthwhile component of McCain's plan.


Both candidates favor a muscular foreign policy, although Obama would be more likely to make the military option a last resort. But on Iraq, they have real differences. Obama has promised to responsibly but quickly withdraw most U.S. troops from the country on a set timetable. McCain resists that plan, which he unambiguously calls surrender.

McCain championed last year's surge -- a big, temporary increase in the number of troops in Iraq that has played a significant role in reducing the violence dogging that nation. There's a lesson in that for Obama, who has been reluctant to acknowledge its success. It would be wiser to allow facts on the ground to determine when U.S. troops are withdrawn -- although the Iraqi government, which is pressing for a fixed timeline, may have more to say about when the occupation ends than the next American president.

Health care

Here, Obama and McCain offer fundamentally different approaches. Both acknowledge that the employer-based system of health insurance is disappearing. But the alternative McCain favors is a deregulated, individual insurance market in which consumers, armed with a tax credit, buy their own coverage. Obama wants to give government a bigger role. He would prohibit "cherry picking," so insurers couldn't routinely deny coverage to people who are sick. And he would establish what he calls the National Health Insurance Exchange, a group that would allow individuals and small businesses to select a plan offering a government-negotiated level of coverage, and buy it at the group rate from a participating private insurance company.

Obama's plan, which includes subsidies based on income, would cover millions more of the uninsured than McCain's approach, and cost little more. Unfortunately, neither plan would do enough to control rising costs, an even more difficult problem than the need to expand access.

Moving forward

It won't be easy for Obama to translate his transformative vision of post-partisanship into concrete change in how business is done in Washington. Particularly if Democrats control the House and Senate as well as the White House. The impulse to ride roughshod over a Republican minority may be hard to resist, but Obama must. And he should stand up to his party's congressional leaders to avoid partisan excesses.

A commitment by Obama to do that is a necessary first step toward post-partisan policymaking. The second would be for him to surround himself with top-notch advisers and a cabinet peopled by the best and brightest, from both parties. He should embrace good ideas, no matter which party produced them, and make competence, not party loyalty, the prime criterion for appointments.

For much of his decades-long career in Washington, John McCain exhibited just that kind of principled bipartisanship. For the good of the country, he bucked his party and joined with Democrats to tackle contentious issues such as campaign finance, immigration and taxes. We cited his "courage, integrity and willingness to take principled and consistent stands" when we endorsed McCain in the Republican primary in February.

But that man got lost in the general campaign. Candidate McCain abandoned Senator McCain's support for comprehensive immigration reform, saying he would no longer even vote for the bill he had previously sponsored. As a candidate, he embraced the tax cuts of President George W. Bush that as a senator he had derided as unaffordable.

While insisting he would always put country first, candidate McCain impulsively picked as his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is not ready to assume the duties of the presidency.

And when the nation was hit by the financial storm, McCain appeared rudderless. He declared the economic fundamentals sound one day and wailed the next that the financial markets were in crisis. Obama didn't have answers, either. But he was calm and deliberative, and helped the process by laying out conditions that an acceptable deal should meet.

McCain has been an outstanding public servant. He responded heroically when held captive in Vietnam. He clearly loves his country. But during this campaign he hasn't given the nation any compelling reason to make him president.

Obama has advanced big themes at a time when the nation faces big challenges. We believe he is ready to be the president of the United States. This editorial board endorses Barack Obama.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The African American Voting Bloc and the Future of Progressive Politics in the United States


Of course the crucial key to the central importance of the African American voting bloc--still the most ideologically progressive and politically savvy voting bloc among all ethnic groups in the United States today--is to use this strategically valuable bloc in these specifically regional elections to advance and enhance the amount of actual leverage and control black voters can subsequently exercise in American politics generally through their leading role in the left wing of the Democratic Party. If properly organized and mobilized in a creative, disciplined, and dynamic manner so that this bloc can not only act as a relatively independent group but also as an integral force in any broad-based coalitions across various ethnic/racial lines (e.g. Latino, white, and Asian American working and middle class blocs), it will then provide all progressive and radical political forces within and outside the electoral political arena with an opportunity to advance a unified and effective progressive agenda on political, economic, and cultural issues and concerns alike, and thus help create the larger context for truly grassroots movement and mass-based programs, organizations, and agendas to emerge and grow throughout the larger society. Needless to say we must all operate and function on many different and coordinated fronts and levels in order to realize our larger dreams of radically transforming and changing not only the political economy but the civil society and the State. If we remain focused, disciplined, patient, unified and ORGANIZED we can all seriously begin the arduous and necessary process of actually revolutionizing this society in a new and fundamentally mass democratic direction. The most important thing to remember in this ongoing Dialectic is to not lose sight of what our real goals are and how they must always be intricately linked to the theoretical assertions, strategic positions, and tactical manuevers that we collectively and critically engage ourselves in. What we must never forget in our provisional short range activity is the overall long range perspective that must always ultimately inform what we do and how we do it.


Black voters may lead Democratic wave

An Obama-propelled increase in African-American turnout, already apparent in early voting, may put more Democrats in Congress.
By Alex Koppelman
Oct. 30, 2008

Forget soccer moms. Forget hockey moms. When it comes to this year's down-ballot races — Senate and House seats, state legislatures and beyond — the Democratic Party's most loyal voting bloc could determine the outcome. Assuming that early trends hold, a Democratic wave bigger than the one that swept Congress out of Republican hands in 2006 could be coming, and if it does, it will probably be powered by African-American voters.

The question is how much the African American vote will increase this year, and how that increase will be distributed. A fair number of vulnerable Republican candidates are in disproportionately black states and districts, and a substantial jump in black turnout — especially in the South — could mean that the Democrats could pick up a significant number of seats in those areas. Data from early voting suggests that this surge could already be happening, and that even some of the Republicans who were considered relatively safe despite being in competitive battles are seriously threatened.

By Salon's count, the black vote could swing as many as 17 House seats currently held by Republicans who are running in competitive elections. It could also play a role in three campaigns for Republican Senate seats and in one gubernatorial battle. With that in mind, the potential rise in African-American turnout could be devastating to Republican hopes.

"In the general election, I think you're looking at anywhere between a dozen to potentially 20 battleground House districts where the African-American vote is going to be key," Doug Thornell, the national press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says. "If our candidates can turn out a significant number of African-American voters in those districts, I think we're going to be in very good shape."

Thornell's count, which includes both Republican and Democratic districts, represents perhaps as much as a third of all the races the DCCC considers competitive.

It's no surprise, then, that Democrats have been working hard to ensure that African-Americans vote. Barack Obama's campaign has invested substantial amounts of money and energy in registering new voters in that demographic and in a get-out-the-vote operation focused on them. It's not just the Obama camp doing that, either; other arms of the party have been engaged in similar efforts, helped out by the Congressional Black Caucus.

That work appears to have borne fruit, at least judging by astounding early-voting numbers from states like Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina. As of Oct. 29, and with two days still left in which to vote before Election Day itself, the number of people who'd voted in Georgia represented more than 40 percent of that total turnout from 2004. African-Americans have accounted for 35.2 percent of the early vote; they were 25 percent of the overall electorate in 2004 and make up 30 percent of the state's population. In Louisiana and North Carolina the numbers are not quite so striking, but they still bode well for Democrats.

"Normally we see Republicans using early voting at a much greater frequency than Democrats, and we see a much whiter electorate too. These numbers are a reverse on race and party identification," says George Mason University professor Michael McDonald, who's tracking early voting on his Web site. "Republicans are saying they're just picking low-hanging fruit, people who would've voted anyway. Well, yes, and no. In North Carolina, there are 100,000 voters who weren't even on the voter rolls, because North Carolina has one-stop registration." (In one-stop registration, voters can register and vote on the same day.)

David Bositis, a senior research associate specializing in black electoral politics at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, says that judging from new registrations and figures from the Democratic primaries, black turnout will be up 20 percent overall this year. Some places, he says, could see an even bigger increase. "In some of these states — like Virginia, for example — black turnout in the last presidential election was quite low ... there's going to be a big effort made to turn them out this time. In those places where turnout was low last time, I wouldn't be surprised if I saw a 25 and in some places even 30 percent increase."

n an interview, Bositis listed nine Republican House seats (including open seats vacated by a Republican) where he thinks African-Americans could give Democrats the win:

Steve Chabot, Ohio, District 1, 28.46 percent black
Thelma Drake, Virginia, District 2, 23.35 percent black
Open seat, Alabama, District 2, 30.72 percent black
Open seat, Maryland, District 1, 11.73 percent black
Virgil Goode, Virginia, District 5, 22.77 percent black
Robin Hayes, North Carolina, District 8, 28.56 percent black
Open seat, Louisiana, District 4, 34.47 percent black
Mike Rogers, Alabama, District 3, 32.24 percent black
Chris Shays, Connecticut, District 4, 11.15 percent black

"I expect a majority of them probably are going to flip," Bositis said. "There clearly is a strong likelihood of a Democratic wave."

Republicans seem to agree. Of those nine seats, eight appear on the now-infamous "death list," a tally put together by GOP operatives evaluating competitive seats and the chance that they will flip. Only Rogers' seat was left off.

Another five districts that appear on the GOP death list feature a relatively high proportion of black voters. Those seats are:

Open seat, Virginia, District 11, 10.97 percent black
Ric Keller, Florida, District 8, 10.62 percent black
Michael McCaul, Texas, District 10, 10.53 percent black
Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida, District 21, 10.46 percent black
Joe Knollenberg, Michigan, District 9, 10.19 percent black

The DCCC is eyeing an additional three Republican districts with a significant African-American population, Thornell told Salon. He named Louisiana's 7th District, currently represented by Charles Boustany, and South Carolina's 1st and 2nd Districts, represented by Henry Brown and Joe Wilson, respectively.

House campaigns aren't the only ones that could be affected by an increase in the African-American turnout. The outcome of some pivotal gubernatorial elections in the South — not to mention the Democrats' chance to achieve a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate — might well hinge on the black vote.

In North Carolina, which the U.S. Census Bureau says is 21.7 percent black, there's a close race to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, and Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole's re-election campaign is in serious trouble. In Georgia, recent polls have typically shown incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican, leading his Democratic challenger with a margin that's only in the low single digits. In both states, pollsters have been using a sample that assumes African-Americans will make up a decidedly smaller portion of the electorate than they have in early voting so far. And while Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker has a double-digit lead, his state is 37.2 percent African-American; a big surge in turnout could make him start to sweat.

The black vote could also knock off New England's last remaining Republican House member, Chris Shays. His district is only 11.15 percent black, but his margins of victory recently have been very close, and a swing of just a couple of points could make the difference. Michael Sachse, the communications director for Democratic challenger Jim Himes, sees a big surge in turnout overall — the number he provided Salon would represent more than a 15 percent increase over 2004. The Himes campaign is working especially hard on bringing out African-Americans.

"Democrats in all recent elections have always been talking about trying to find ways to increase black turnout in this district, and the focus of that has always been Bridgeport, which is the biggest city in the state, and has a significant African-American population. Obviously, one of our goals is to get a really good turnout in Bridgeport and in the African-American community in general," Sachse said.

In addition to the seats listed above, 12 other Republicans represent districts where African-Americans make up more than 20 percent of the population. Nine more Republicans are in districts where the population is more than 15 percent African-American. This is already a difficult year for Republicans, but if a real wave develops, Nov. 4 could get frightening for some GOP incumbents who've never faced a tight race. One Republican consultant who's been tracking House races says, "If you get a large influx in some districts of young voters or African-American voters that aren't expected or haven't voted previously, could they in theory swamp an otherwise safe Republican? Maybe."

Additional reporting by Gabriel Winant.

Radical Change Requires Far More Than Rhetorical Grandstanding--A Lesson the U.S. Left Must Learn


This is precisely the kind of infantile and smugly moronic "logic" that so many clueless American (pseudo) leftists indulge in as if their own arrogant self righteous blather and self proclaimed "moral" superiority is in itself going to change anything or anyone on its own. This kind of cynical and sophomoric "thinking" is not mature or visionary political insight or leadership--it's masturbation. The American left desperately needs to learn HOW TO THINK first before it can properly educate, organize, and mobilize others. But if it persists in just acting as though "revolution" is the mere result of simply finding the "right" leaders, ideology, and agenda and then getting everyone to "follow them" then it will continue to defeat itself before it even begins. You would think the Left would finally understand by now that truly mass-based political, economic, and cultural change doesn't happen in that way and NEVER HAS...But instead of actively working for a much broader, dynamic, creative, and far more profound vision it contents itself with lazy boneheaded lectures to the converted about why they're right and everyone else is wrong. Real change requires and encompasses a whole lot more than that. But if you pretend to know and understand everything already, why listen--right?


Chomsky, Zinn, and Obama
By Mickey Z.
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 24, 2008

“You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress.” --Malcolm X

Another Election Day approaches and I’m reminded of something the late Pakistani dissident, Eqbal Ahmad said about Noam Chomsky in the book, Confronting Empire (2000): “He (Chomsky) has never wavered. He has never fallen into the trap of saying, ‘Clinton will do better.’ Or ‘Nixon was bad but Carter at least had a human rights presidency.’ There is a consistency of substance, of posture, of outlook in his work.”

But along came 2004 . . . when Chomsky said stuff like this: “Anyone who says ‘I don’t care if Bush gets elected’ is basically telling poor and working people in the country, ‘I don’t care if your lives are destroyed.’” And like this: “Despite the limited differences [between Bush and Kerry] both domestically and internationally, there are differences. In a system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes.”

Standing alongside Chomsky was Howard Zinn, saying stuff like this: “Kerry, if he will stop being cautious, can create an excitement that will carry him into the White House and, more important, change the course of the nation.”

Fast forward to 2008 and Chomsky sez: “I would suggest voting against McCain, which means voting for Obama without illusions.” And once again, Howard Zinn is in agreement: “Even though Obama does not represent any fundamental change, he creates an opening for a possibility of change.” (Two word rejoinder: Bill Clinton)

This strategy of choosing an alleged “lesser evil” because he/she might be influenced by some mythical “popular movement” would be naïve if put forth by a high school student. Professors Chomsky and Zinn know better. If it’s incremental change they want, why not encourage their many readers to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? The classic (read: absurd) reply to that question is: “Because Nader or McKinney can’t win.”

Of course they can’t win if everyone who claims to agree with them inexplicably votes for Obama instead. Paging Alice: You’re wanted down the goddamned rabbit hole.

Another possible answer as to why folks like Chomsky and Zinn don’t aggressively and tirelessly stump for Nader or McKinney is this: 2004 proved that the high profile Left is essentially impotent and borderline irrelevant. Chomsky and Zinn were joined in the vocal, visible, and vile Anybody-But-Bush ranks by “stars” like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Medea Benjamin, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Manning Marable, Naomi Klien, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Martin Sheen, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Cornel West, etc., etc., and John Kerry still lost.

News flash: The “poor and working people in the country” that Chomsky mentions above are paying ZERO attention to him or anyone like him . . . and that’s a much bigger issue than which millionaire war criminal gets to play figurehead for the empire over the next four years.

Zinn talks about Obama and the “possibility of change.” It seems odd to be asking this of an octogenarian but: Exactly how much time do you think we have?

Every twenty-four hours, 13 million tons toxic chemicals are released across the globe; 200,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed; more than 100By plant or animal species go extinct; and 45,000 humans (mostly children) starve to death. Each day, 29,158 children under the age of five die from mostly preventable causes.

As Gandhi once asked: “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

I promise you this: The human beings (and all living things) that come after us won’t care whether we voted for Obama or McCain in 2008 . . . if they have no clean air to breathe, no clean water to use, and are stuck on a toxic, uninhabitable planet. They’d probably just want to ask us this: Why did you stand by and let everything be consumed or poisoned or destroyed?

Conclusion: A vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama is—at best—an act of criminal negligence.

Mickey Z. is author of two new books, CPR for Dummies and No Innocent Bystanders. He can be found on the Web at

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

What the critics are saying about 'Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story' (A Political Documentary)


If you really want to understand the direct historical, ideological, and political source of the heinously racist Republican rightwing attack on Obama GO SEE THIS FILM IMMEDIATELY (Click on the link above for information). It's the story of the notorious Lee Atwater, a vicious political operative/hitman for Bushwhacker One and the slimy mentor of none other than the contemptible Karl Rove. It was Atwater who effectively destroyed Michael Dukakis campaign for the Presidency (in one of the most inept and cowardly political campaigns by a Democratic Party candidate in history) by using the infamous Willie Horton ad in 1988 against Dukakis. If you want to know exactly how the pathological Republican Party and their protofascist minions operate (and understand precisely why Sarah Palin is the very latest product of everything that Atwater stood for and represented) SEE THIS FILM. COMING TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU!!


P.S. Ishmael Reed is one of the people that the filmmaker Stefan Forbes interviewed in the film!


A very clear explanation of Obama's actual tax plan...Unfortunately for us the only real socialism in the United States at the moment is that reserved exclusively for the rich (i.e. the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street which was passed by Congress and President Bush and that both Obama and McCain signed off on as Senators last month)...


Barack Obama Is No Socialist
October 28, 2008
by John Aloysius Farrell
U.S. News & World Report

We've been hearing some pretty hysterical things said by Barack Obama's critics about Obamanomics.

Socialist. Destroyer of wealth. Enemy of small business.

So, here's a primer on how Obama, if elected, will be "spreading the wealth around" in the next four years—and why he's far from a socialist radical.

And even, to a struggling but hopeful entrepreneur like myself (call me Jack the Writer), not cause for alarm.

Let's begin with some historical perspective. The United States responded to the last existential crisis faced by Americans—the triple-headed threat posed by Depression, Fascism, and Communism—by raising taxes and going into debt, big time, to pay for all those Sherman tanks and B-17 bombers and ICBMs we needed to defend ourselves. We paid down that debt, gleefully, with high income tax rates in the golden economic era, the Happy Days, that followed World War II.

But as the middle class grew larger in that time of postwar prosperity, more and more Americans crept into the top tax brackets that had, previously, been the exclusive domain of the filthy rich. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson cut income taxes, bringing the top rate down from its confiscatory wartime high of 94 percent to 70 percent.

There things stood until the modern conservative era arrived, in part on the wings of a potent antitax movement. Ronald Reagan, in his first year in office, dropped that top rate to 50 percent.

The recession of 1982 and other events led him to tinker a bit—signing big tax hikes in his remaining years in office—but, after the tax reform bill of 1986 (which eliminated a lot of the loopholes by which companies and wealthy individuals dodged taxes), he left his successors with a 28 percent top rate and a worrisome federal budget deficit.

George H. W. Bush faced reality, broke his "Read my lips, no new taxes" promise, and signed a big tax bill during his presidency. Bill Clinton, still facing those Reagan deficits, listened to the bond market and raised taxes again in his first year in office. Both men paid a political cost, but these two tax hikes put the nation's finances on a sound basis, and the economy responded with roaring growth. The top rate was now at 39.6 percent.

As James Carville likes to ask, "What didn't you like about the Clinton years? The peace or the prosperity?"

Well, the Bush-Clinton tax hikes brought in so much money during the high-tech boom that the federal budget was balanced and the deficit erased. And in the fall of 2000, both Al Gore and George W. Bush offered big tax cuts if elected.

The Gore-Bush argument was a preview of the Obama-McCain dispute. Gore wanted to target tax cuts for the middle class; Bush urged a bigger, across-the-board tax cut that was tilted toward the wealthiest Americans.

Bush won. His tax cuts (which McCain voted against) passed Congress and contributed to a massive redistribution of riches in America. Wealth moved out of the bank accounts of working and middle-class families and into those of the wealthiest Americans. The top rate was down to 35 percent.

To cut taxes as deeply as they wished, without releasing a river of red ink on the books, the administration and its allies in Congress set time limits on almost all the Bush tax cuts, which will expire during the next presidency.

If Obama or McCain don't do anything, we'll all be facing much higher taxes. Not a good idea when the nation is trying to climb out of a recessionary slump. So both parties have promised tax cuts, and we the voters have a classic opportunity to gauge each party's priorities.

As he made the transition from maverick to Republican presidential hopeful, McCain concluded that the across-the-board tax cuts that he opposed back in 2001 now look pretty good, and he has vowed to permanently extend them, and cut various other taxes, at a cost of $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years.

Obama has responded with a Gore-like approach, which favors the middle class and leaves the top rate where it was during the years of Clinton prosperity—at 39.6 percent—lower than after Reagan's first big tax cut and ridiculously undeserving of the charges of "socialism" or "destroyer of wealth."

According to an analysis by the wizards at the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, if Obama is elected, and his proposal is passed by Congress, 81 percent of American households will see their taxes go down, 8 percent will see no change, and the wealthiest 11 percent will pay higher tax bills.

Obama's plan will cost the Treasury $2.7 trillion—a trillion saved from what McCain hopes to provide the wealthy—over the next 10 years.

Under the Obama plan, the bottom 20 percent of households in America would get a tax cut of $567, and the middle 20 percent would see their taxes drop by $1,042. But the richest 1 percent of Americans (those earning an average of $1.5 million a year) would see taxes go up by $116,000.

Under the McCain plan, the bottom 20 percent would get a $19 tax cut, the middle fifth would get a tax cut of $319, and the wealthiest 1 percent would see their taxes go down by more than $40,000.

Neither plan qualifies as European-style socialism.


I thought this piece was hilarious, disturbing...and right on target...


Will White People Riot?
Ridiculous question? Then stop asking it about black people.
by Wendi C. Thomas

Oct. 20, 2008--"Would black people riot if Sen. Barack Obama didn't win the election?" That was the question a white man in Memphis recently asked a racial reconciliation group with which I am involved.

After five years of being a columnist for the daily paper in Memphis, I wasn't surprised by the absurdity of his query. Many whites still labor under the illusion that black folk act en masse and that if you ask the right one, you can get the official position of some 40 million people. If a few of us get angry, that logic allows, it must surely result in a riot.

Riot because we didn't get our way? Please. Black people have more than their share of experience with disappointment and dashed dreams. (See: King, Martin Luther; Evers, Medgar; Chaney, James.) Matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say we're experts in making the best out of a losing hand.

The reply to the curious white gentleman: "No! There is no reason to believe black people will riot if Obama does not win."

But soon after getting this man's e-mail, I started to wonder if he was on to something, if he had noticed what I had: a seething, barely constrained, ugly anger and frustration that makes good riot fuel. The kind of anger that prompts people to shout "Kill him!" and "Off with his head!" at rallies. The kind of hatefulness that would prompt a man to bring a stuffed monkey with an "Obama" sticker on the toy's head to a campaign event.

That kind of group-fueled nastiness must surely beg the question: Will white people riot if Obama wins?

Not all white people are McCain supporters. (See caucuses, Iowa.) Not all black people are backing Obama. (See Negroes, self-loathing. Just joking.)

But there is a small but vocal segment of white Republicans who just might have an aneurysm if the next occupant of the White House is a black man.

If the polls are accurate—and Obama wins—will these few angry white people make good on their oral declarations? And will those who stood by them silent, join them? With dreams deferred, can angry whites do what Langston Hughes taught us—to let it fester like a sore, even to let sag like a heavy load? Or will the dream of a perfect streak of white men in the White House, if deferred, cause white people to explode?

Might they torch stores and overturn cars? Or worse, will angry whites take out their disgust on black people by, say, denying loans, or jobs or housing? Burned-out stores and cars, that's unsettling. But the damage angry whites could inflict if they really go off—that's scary.

Will angry white people riot if Barack Obama wins the election?

There may be some people who think this is an absurd question. I honestly don't know. But it is no more absurd than asking it about blacks.

Wendi C. Thomas is the metro columnist for The Commercial Appeal. She's been a writer or an editor for The Charlotte Observer, The (Nashville) Tennessean and The Indianapolis Star. Among her many journalism awards is her 2008 induction into the Scripps Howard Hall of Fame for her opinion writing.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Psychosis That Rules America, Part VI: The Dire Consequences of Racist Republican Demagoguery


What have I been saying repeatedly about "the psychosis that rules America"?


Monday, October 27, 2008

Feds disrupt skinhead plot to assassinate Obama

Associated Press Writer

Two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, federal authorities said Monday.

In all, the two men whom officials describe as neo-Nazi skinheads planned to kill 88 people - 14 by beheading, according to documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The spree, which initially targeted an unidentified predominantly African-American school, was to end with the two men driving toward Obama, "shooting at him from the windows," the court documents show.

"Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt," the court complaint states. "Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt."

An Obama spokeswoman traveling with the senator in Pennsylvania had no immediate comment.

Sheriffs' deputies in Crockett County, Tenn., arrested the two suspects - Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark. - Oct. 22 on unspecified charges. "Once we arrested the defendants and suspected they had violated federal law, we immediately contacted federal authorities," said Crockett County Sheriff Troy Klyce.

The two were charged by federal authorities Monday with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threatening a candidate for president.

Cowart and Schlesselman are being held without bond. Agents seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men when they were arrested. Authorities alleged the two men were preparing to break into a gun shop to steal more.

Jasper Taylor, city attorney in Bells, said Cowart was arrested on Wednesday. He was held for a few days in Bells, then moved over the weekend to another facility.

"It was kept under lid until today," Taylor said.

Until his arrest, Cowart lived with his grandparents in a southern, rural part of the county, Taylor said, adding that Cowart apparently never graduated from high school. He moved away, possibly to Arkansas or Texas, then returned over the summer, Taylor said.

Attorney Joe Byrd, who has been hired to represent Cowart, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday. Messages left on two phone numbers listed under Cowart's name were not immediately returned.

No telephone number for Schlesselman in Helena-West Helena could be found immediately.

The court documents say the two men met about a month ago on the Internet and found common ground in their shared "white power" and "skinhead" philosophy.

The numbers 14 and 88 are symbols in skinhead culture, referring to a 14-word phrase attributed to an imprisoned white supremacist: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children" and to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H. Two "8"s or "H"s stand for "Heil Hitler."

Court records say Cowart and Schlesselman also bought nylon rope and ski masks to use in a robbery or home invasion to fund their spree, during which they allegedly planned to go from state to state and kill people. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the African-American school they were targeting by name.

Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, said authorities took the threats very seriously.

"They said that would be their last, final act - that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama," Cavanaugh said. "They didn't believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying."

He added: "They seemed determined to do it. Even if they were just to try it, it would be a trail of tears around the South."

An ATF affidavit filed in the case says Cowart and Schlesselman told investigators the day they were arrested they had shot at a glass window at Beech Grove Church of Christ, a congregation of about 60 black members in Brownsville, Tenn.

Nelson Bond, the church secretary and treasurer, said no one was at the church when the shot was fired. Members found the bullet had shattered the glass in the church's front door when they arrived for evening Bible study.

"We have been on this site for about 120 years, and we have never had a problem like this before," said Bond, 53 and a church member for 45 years.

The investigation is continuing, and more charges are possible, Cavanaugh said. He said there's no evidence - so far - that others were willing to assist Cowart and Schlesselman with the plot.

At this point, there does not appear to be any formal assassination plan, Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said.

"Whether or not they had the capability or the wherewithal to carry out an attack remains to be seen," he said.

Zahren said the statements about the assassination came out in interviews after the men were arrested last week.

The Secret Service became involved in the investigation once it was clear that an Obama assassination attempt was part of this violent far-reaching plot.

"We don't discount anything," Zahren said, adding that it's one thing for the defendants to make statements, but it's not the same as having an organized assassination plan.

Helena-West Helena, on the Mississippi River in east Arkansas' Delta, is in one of the nation's poorest regions, trailing even parts of Appalachia in its standard of living. Police Chief Fred Fielder said he had never heard of Schlesselman.

However, the reported threat of attacking a school filled with black students worried Fielder. Helena-West Helena, with a population of 12,200, is 66 percent black. "Predominantly black school, take your pick," he said.


Associated Press writers Erik Schelzig in Nashville, Tenn., Jon Gambrell in Little Rock, Ark., and Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company




"You cannot change in your head that which can only be changed in society."
--C.L.R. James (1901-1989)

Christian right steps up attacks on Obama
Conservative activists escalate 'doom and gloom' rhetoric as Nov. 4 nears
By Eric Gorski and Rachel Zoll
AP Religion Writers
The Associated Press
Sat., Oct. 25, 2008

Terrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts.

All are plausible scenarios if Democrat Barack Obama is elected president, according to a new addition to the campaign conversation called "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America," produced by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family Action.

The imagined look into the future is part of an escalation in rhetoric from Christian right activists who are trying to paint Obama in the worst possible terms as the campaign heads into the final stretch and polls show the Democrat ahead.

Although hard-edge attacks are common late in campaigns, the tenor of the strikes against Obama illustrate just how worried conservative Christian activists are about what should happen to their causes and influence if Democrats seize control of both Congress and the White House.

'Smells like desperation'

"It looks like, walks like, talks like and smells like desperation to me," said the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell of Houston, an Obama supporter who backed President Bush in the past two elections. The Methodist pastor called the 2012 letter "false and ridiculous." He said it showed that some Christian conservative leaders fear that Obama's faith-based appeals to voters are working.

Like other political advocacy groups, Christian right groups often raise worries about an election's consequences to mobilize voters. In the early 1980s, for example, direct mail from the Moral Majority warned that Congress would turn a blind eye to "smut peddlers" dangling pornography to children.

"Everyone uses fear in the last part of a campaign, but evangelicals are especially theologically prone to those sorts of arguments," said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University political scientist. "There's a long tradition of predicting doom and gloom."

But the tone this election year is sharper than usual and the volume has turned up as Nov. 4 nears.

Steve Strang, publisher of Charisma magazine, a Pentecostal publication, titled one of his recent weekly e-mails to readers, "Life As We Know It Will End If Obama is Elected."

Strang said gay rights and abortion rights would be strengthened in an Obama administration, taxes would rise and "people who hate Christianity will be emboldened to attack our freedoms."

Separately, a group called the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission has posted a series of videos on its site and on YouTube called "7 Reasons Barack Obama is not a Christian."

The commission accuses Obama of "subtle diabolical deceit" in saying he is Christian, while he believes that people can be saved through other faiths.

But among the strongest pieces this year is Focus on the Family Action's letter which has been posted on the group's Web site and making the e-mail rounds. Signed by "A Christian from 2012," it claims a series of events could logically happen based on the group's interpretation of Obama's record, Democratic Party positions, recent court rulings and other trends.

Among the claims:

A 6-3 liberal majority Supreme Court that results in rulings like one making gay marriage the law of the land and another forcing the Boy Scouts to "hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys." (In the imagined scenario, The Boy Scouts choose to disband rather than obey).
A series of domestic and international disasters based on Obama's "reluctance to send troops overseas." That includes terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that kill hundreds, Russia occupying the Baltic states and Eastern European countries including Poland and the Czech Republic, and al-Qaida overwhelming Iraq.
Nationalized health care with long lines for surgery and no access to hospitals for people over 80.
The goal was to "articulate the big picture," said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of public policy for Focus on the Family Action. "If it is a doomsday picture, then it's a realistic picture," she said.

Obama favors abortion rights and supports civil unions for same-sex couples, but says states should make their own decisions about marriage. He said he would intensify diplomatic pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions and add troops in Afghanistan.

On taxes, Obama has proposed an increase on the 5 percent of taxpayers who make more than $250,000 a year and advocates cuts for those who make less. His health care plan calls for the government to subsidize coverage for millions of Americans who otherwise couldn't afford it.

One of the clear targets of this latest conservative Christian push against the Democrat is younger evangelicals who might be considering him. The letter posits that young evangelicals provide the margin that let Obama defeat John McCain. But Margaret Feinberg, a Denver-area evangelical author, predicted failure.

"Young evangelicals are tired — like most people at this point in the election — and rhetoric which is fear-based, strong-arms the listener, and states opinion as fact will only polarize rather than further the informed, balanced discussion that younger voters are hungry for," she said.

Last-minute push?
In an interview, Strang said there are fewer state ballot measures to motivate conservative voters this election year and that the financial meltdown is distracting some voters from the abortion issue. But he said a last-minute push by conservative Christians in 2004 was key to Bush's re-election and predicted they could play the same role in 2008.

Kim Conger, a political scientist at Iowa State University, said a late push for evangelical voters did help Bush in 2004, "but it is a very different thing than getting people excited about John McCain," even with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential pick.

Phil Burress, head of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values, said the dynamics were quite different in 2004, when conservative Christians spent some energy calling Democrat John Kerry a flip-flopper but were mostly motivated by enthusiasm for George W. Bush.

Now, there is less excitement about McCain than fear of an Obama presidency, Burress said.

"This reminds me of when I was a school kid, when I had to go out in the hall and bury my head in my hands because of the atom bomb," he said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

MSN Privacy . Legal
© 2008


Every single maniacally racist lie and stereotype that the rightwing Republican machine can possibly conjure up is being used in a wildly hysterical attempt to futilely save what is beyond doubt one of the most sordid, vicious, and pathological campaigns in the history of American politics (and that's saying a LOT). Obama has been relentlessly smeared, libeled, slandered, and defamed in a manner that would be absolutely unthinkable if he was a white male candidate. But this is yet another ugly demonstration of the debased psychosis that rules America so no one can pretend that they are in any way "shocked" by just how criminally malicious McCain & Palin's behavior has been and will continue to be...


GOP says Obama 'soft on crime'

By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 10/22/2008

LAS VEGAS—Republicans are going after Barack Obama's record on crime and punishment in a new mail piece accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of being "soft on crime."

The flier sent by the Republican Party in Nevada and other states this week says Obama has voted against tough penalties for drug and gang-related crimes, and is against "protecting children from danger."

To back up the last claim the party cites a 1999 Illinois state Senate bill that allowed juveniles to be prosecuted as adults for firing a gun near schools. As an Illinois state senator, Obama voted "present" on the bill. His campaign says Obama did not believe there was evidence to prove the stiffer punishment would prevent juvenile crime.

The mailer, which includes pictures of guns, cash, drugs and close-ups of the candidate, also quotes an editorial published in the journal Investor's Business Daily. The editorial said Obama "acted more as a friend to criminals than to cops ... ".

The piece describes Obama as "Not who you think he is."
The Obama campaign on Wednesday issued a statement from Tom Nee, president of the National Association of Police Organizations, denouncing the mailer.

"This is one of the most dishonest attacks yet from an increasingly dishonest, dishonorable campaign," Nee said. "It's clear that Sen. McCain and his agents would rather distort facts and scare people than talk about his disastrous public safety and economic policies that offer no change from the last eight years"

Nevada GOP executive director Zachary Moyle said the flier was sent to more than 100,000 Nevada households where voters had identified crime as a top concern. Most of the campaign mail circulated by the state party is developed nationally and dropped in several key states.

"The American people are still unfamiliar with Sen. Obama and we feel it's important to bring to light his positions on all the issues. One of the reasons he's had the success he's had is that people don't know much about him," Moyle said.


The bloodthirsty rightwing maniacs in the McCain/Palin traveling circus of political demagogues are turning on each other like the murderous sharks and piranhas that they are. Welcome to the new protofascist hypocrites of the Republican Party yall. Beware of Palinology! Like Always: WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND...


Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says

Sources say there is brewing tension between McCain aides and Palin
Palin aide says she is trying to take control of her message
"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," says a McCain adviser
Next Article in Politics »

From Dana Bash, Peter Hamby and John King CNN

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) -- With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."

A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is "not good at process questions" and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions.

But this Palin source acknowledged that Palin is trying to take more control of her message, pointing to last week's impromptu news conference on a Colorado tarmac.

Tracey Schmitt, Palin's press secretary, was urgently called over after Palin wandered over to the press and started talking. Schmitt tried several times to end the unscheduled session.

"We acknowledge that perhaps she should have been out there doing more," a different Palin adviser recently said, arguing that "it's not fair to judge her off one or two sound bites" from the network interviews.

The Politico reported Saturday on Palin's frustration, specifically with McCain advisers Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt. They helped decide to limit Palin's initial press contact to high-profile interviews with Charlie Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, which all McCain sources admit were highly damaging.

In response, Wallace e-mailed CNN the same quote she gave the Politico: "If people want to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most honorable thing to do is to lie there."

But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her press interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.

They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain's record.

"Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic," said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the "hardest" to get her "up to speed than any candidate in history."

Schmitt came to the back of the plane Saturday to deliver a statement to traveling reporters: "Unnamed sources with their own agenda will say what they want, but from Gov. Palin down, we have one agenda, and that's to win on Election Day."

Yet another senior McCain adviser lamented the public recriminations.

"This is what happens with a campaign that's behind; it brings out the worst in people, finger-pointing and scapegoating," this senior adviser said.

This adviser also decried the double standard, noting that Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, has gone off the reservation as well, most recently by telling donors at a fundraiser that America's enemies will try to "test" Obama.

Tensions like those within the McCain-Palin campaign are not unusual; vice presidential candidates also have a history of butting heads with the top of the ticket.

John Edwards and his inner circle repeatedly questioned Sen. John Kerry's strategy in 2004, and Kerry loyalists repeatedly aired in public their view that Edwards would not play the traditional attack dog role with relish because he wanted to protect his future political interests.

Even in a winning campaign like Bill Clinton's, some of Al Gore's aides in 1992 and again in 1996 questioned how Gore was being scheduled for campaign events.

Jack Kemp's aides distrusted the Bob Dole camp and vice versa, and Dan Quayle loyalists had a list of gripes remarkably similar to those now being aired by Gov. Palin's aides.

With the presidential race in its final days and polls suggesting that McCain's chances of pulling out a win are growing slim, Palin may be looking after her own future.

"She's no longer playing for 2008; she's playing 2012," Democratic pollster Peter Hart said. "And the difficulty is, when she went on 'Saturday Night Live,' she became a reinforcement of her caricature. She never allowed herself to be vetted, and at the end of the day, voters turned against her both in terms of qualifications and personally."

Perceptions of Palin Grow Increasingly Negative, Poll Says

By Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 25, 2008; A03

While top-of-the-ticket rivals John McCain and Barack Obama both remain broadly popular heading into Election Day, public perceptions of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin have fallen dramatically since she emerged on the national political scene at the GOP convention.

A majority of likely voters in a new Washington Post-ABC News national poll now have unfavorable views of the Alaska governor, most still doubt her presidential qualifications and there is an even split on whether she "gets it," a perception that had been a key component of her initial appeal.

Palin's addition to the GOP ticket initially helped McCain narrow the gap with Obama on the question of which presidential hopeful "better understands the problems of people like you," but at 18 percentage points, the Democrat's margin on that question is now as big as it has been all fall. Nor has Palin attracted female voters to McCain, as his campaign had hoped.

Obama is up by a large margin among women, 57 to 41 percent in the new Post-ABC tracking poll. The senator from Illinois just about ties McCain among white women -- 48 percent back Obama, 49 percent McCain -- a group that President Bush won by 11 points four years ago and one that had shifted significantly toward the GOP this year after the Palin pick.

In polling conducted Wednesday and Thursday evenings, after the disclosure that the Republican National Committee used political funds to help Palin assemble a wardrobe for the campaign, 51 percent said they have a negative impression of her. Fewer, 46 percent, said they have a favorable view. That marks a stark turnaround from early September, when 59 percent of likely voters held positive opinions.

The declines in Palin's ratings have been even more substantial among the very voters Republicans aimed to woo. The percentage of white women viewing her favorably dropped 21 points since early September; among independent women, it fell 24 points.

More broadly, the intensity of negative feelings about Palin is also notable: Forty percent of voters have "strongly unfavorable" views, more than double the post-convention number. Nearly half of independent women now see her in a very negative light, a nearly threefold increase.

The shift in Palin's ratings come with a pronounced spike in the percentage of voters who see her as lacking the experience it takes to be a good president. Voters were about evenly divided on that question a month and a half ago, but toward the end of September a clear majority said she was not qualified. In the new poll, 58 percent said she is insufficiently experienced.

Among a recent spate of conservative defections from McCain, one leading Republican was particularly pointed about the impact of Palin's professional background on his decision. Charles Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School and former solicitor general under Ronald Reagan, asked that the McCain-Palin campaign remove his name from several committees in large part because of "the choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis."

A Post-ABC poll earlier this week reported that the Palin pick deeply damaged voters' confidence in the types of decisions McCain would make as president.

Perhaps more fundamentally for Palin's national political future, though, is that voters in the new poll are evenly divided about whether she understands their problems. Three weeks ago, 60 percent said she did; now it is 50 percent yes, 47 percent no.

Both Democratic and independent women are half as likely as they were in late September to see Palin as empathetic. Among independent women, the percentage who view Palin as in tune with people like themselves slipped from 73 to 50 percent.

Palin's struggle to connect deepens McCain's own deficit on the issue. On the question of who is more empathetic, 55 percent of voters said Obama, 37 percent McCain. And McCain picks up few of those who view Palin as disconnected.

But the gap is smaller on overall favorability, one of the factors that buoys the GOP ticket as Election Day approaches, despite generally negative poll numbers: 63 percent of likely voters have favorable impressions of Obama, 55 percent of McCain. Among the crucial segment of independent voters, the two rivals have identical 58 percent favorable ratings.

Taking the tickets together, 53 percent of likely voters express favorable views of both Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., 41 percent of both McCain and Palin. Those numbers are very close to current vote preferences in the latest Post-ABC tracking poll: Fifty-three percent said they would vote Democratic if the election were held today; 44 percent would opt for the GOP.

Assistant polling analyst Kyle Dropp contributed to this report.

Obama criticises 'ugly' tactics

US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has accused his Republican rival John McCain of negative campaigning 10 days before polling day.

Mr Obama, appearing in Nevada, said the "ugly phone calls, the misleading mail and TV ads, the careless, outrageous comments" were preventing "change".

Mr McCain accused Mr Obama in New Mexico of starting a victory lap before winning the election.

The two men are focusing on vital states in the west of the country.

Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado were all Republican at the last election but could prove crucial if the vote is tight on 4 November.

All the main national opinion polls suggest Barack Obama has a strong lead.

'Batman and Robin'

Mr Obama, returning to the campaign trail after two days off in which he flew to his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, said a negative campaign was not what the country needed.

"In the final days of campaigns, the say-anything, do-anything politics too often takes over..." he said in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"The American people don't want to hear politicians attack each other - you want to hear about how we're going to attack the challenges facing middle-class families each and every day."

Both Mr McCain and Mr Obama appeared in Albuquerque on Saturday

Later, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he sought to tie Mr McCain to the policies of the outgoing Republican President, George W Bush.

"John McCain's mad at George Bush, so opposed to George Bush's policies, that he voted with him 90% of the time for the past eight years," he told a mass rally.

"That's right, he decided to really stick it to George Bush 10% of the time... It's like Robin getting mad at Batman."

'Already written'

Speaking in Mesilla, New Mexico, John McCain seized on a report in the New York Times that the Obama camp had already drafted an inaugural address for the Democrat - an allegation the campaign has rejected as "completely false".

"Senator Obama's inaugural address is already written," Mr McCain said. "I'm not making it up. A lot of voters are undecided but he's decided for them."

"What America needs now is someone who will finish the race before starting the victory lap," the Republican hopeful added.

Speaking earlier in Albuquerque, and with a Newsweek poll putting him 13 points behind Mr Obama, Mr McCain said he was happy to be the "underdog" of the election race and was going to win because "what America needs now is a fighter".

Attempting to distance himself from President Bush, he added: "We cannot spend the next four years as we have much of the last eight, hoping for our luck to change at home and abroad."

While campaigning on Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa, Mr McCain's vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, said her criticism of Obama had not been negative.

"Don't be made to feel guilty - I'm not feeling guilty," she said as calls of "he's a socialist" were heard from the crowd.

Posted on Mon, Oct. 20, 2008
Political, cultural factors fueling anger against Obama, analysts say

An ugly line has been crossed in this presidential campaign, one in which some people don't mind calling Barack Obama a dangerous Muslim, a terrorist and worse.

"To me, this all feels much worse than we've seen in some time," said Kathryn Kolbert, the president of People for the American Way, which monitors political speech.

Experts agree on the reasons: Obama, the Democratic nominee, is different from any other major presidential candidate in history in many ways, and people often don't accept such change gracefully.

That different background fuels many fears, said Penni Pier, who's an expert on political rhetoric. People are still scared that terrorists are ready to strike and wonder about Obama's background, she said, while the Internet and other outlets are endless sources of misinformation.

Some think that Republican strategists are, as Kolbert put it, "orchestrating" the vitriol.

Republicans heatedly deny that.

"Stuff happens at rallies for all candidates," Republican strategist Keith Appell said. "What you have (from Democrats) is an attempt to shame people to vote for Barack Obama by trying to paint those who would vote for John McCain as people who somehow, some way, harbor racist sentiments. That's disgusting."

Analysts see anger rooted in a number of societal factors, some cultural, some political.

"A great many people think they're about to lose power. The world is changing around them, and they can't stop that change. So their anger is boiling over," said Mark Potok, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

The nonstop bile flowing toward Obama has been expressed in many ways:

-Racism. People for the American Way has found that since the McCain campaign very publicly has accused ACORN, a grass-roots community group with strong ties to liberal politicians, of widespread voter registration fraud, "ACORN offices across the nation have been subjected to an onslaught of racist and threatening voice mails and e-mails."

-Values. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told MSNBC on Friday that Obama "may have anti-American views," and that if one looks at "the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had over his life ... it seems that it calls into question what Barack Obama's true beliefs and values and thoughts are."

-Patriotism and religion. At Becky's Cafe in Springfield, Ohio, Nicole Ratliff, a cable-television sales representative, echoed last week what many voters have said: "Obama won't salute the flag and he has said he was a Muslim."

Obama is and has always been a Christian. The flag controversy erupted in September 2007, when then-fellow Democratic presidential candidates Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton had their hands over their hearts during the playing of the national anthem in Iowa, while Obama stood with his hands clasped. An Obama spokesman said at the time that the candidate sometimes put his hand over his heart and had no substantive reason for not doing so.

The venom endures largely because not only is the Illinois senator the first African-American who's ever come this close to the presidency, but his background - biracial, lived in Indonesia for a time, grew up in Hawaii, has the middle name Hussein - also isn't the stuff of past presidential resumes.

That rouses suspicion among some voters, said Pier, an associate professor of communication arts at Iowa's Wartburg College, because "people are still reeling from the 9-11 attacks, and some still have a tendency to see Muslims with fear."

In addition, Pier said, many older voters grew up when racial segregation was still legal, haven't necessarily accepted blacks in positions of power and are afraid of having a black president.

"Everything these people have stood for is sort of being questioned and to some degree eliminated by Obama," said David Bositis, a senior research associate at Washington's Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which studies African-American voting trends.

The angry voters have a 21st-century way to come together instantly and share misinformation. No longer do most people get news from newspapers or major television networks; instead they can access talk shows or Internet sites that are sympathetic to their own views.

"I can't recall a campaign where so many people held beliefs about a candidate that were demonstrably false," said Adam Schiffer, an expert on American political behavior and media at Texas Christian University, explaining what makes these charges different from the standard campaign tit for tat.

Last week, a McCain supporter told the Arizona senator, "I don't trust Obama. ... He's an Arab."

"No, ma'am," McCain replied, "He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with."

New York Times Endorses Barack Obama for President


The New York Times endorses Barack Obama for President...


October 24, 2008

Barack Obama for President

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 talking 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.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company