Cultivating Prejudice, Racism, Fear and Ugliness

At their rallies McCain and Palin have been encouraging the worst from the Republican base. Accusations of “palling around with terrorists” and causing the financial crisis, and you-name-it they’re accusing. Jack Turner says what needs to be said, at Jack & Jill Politics,

Everything we need to know about John McCain and Sarah Palin is summed up by their reaction to these incidents. Their positions on health care no longer matter. Their tax policies are irrelevant. Their talking points made moot. Not only do they bring out the worst in people, but they feed the worst in people. They are basing their campaign on painting Obama as a terrorist and monster. They are cultivating prejudice, racism, fear and ugliness.
America has been down this path before, and it is the exact opposite of what this country needs right now.
History awaits moments like these. We are on the brink. When a society’s pent up frustration and anger searches for an outlet, it is a leader’s job to step up and focus those wild emotions away from destruction and toward something productive. At least that is what a good leader would do. [emphasis added]

Go read the rest.

What Is Obama’s Story?

Note to Reddit users: This is a GREAT post, but Reddit screwed up and the post titled “Palin Is Not Even On Fox or Rush” is at http://www.seeingtheforest.com/archives/2008/09/palin_not_even.htm
We now continue with our What Is Obama’s Story? post:
Almost every single thing Palin said in her speech the other night turns out to be just a lie — and it doesn’t matter. She now has 58% favorability among the public. And she has a story. Within a day of the Palin announcement a well-informed, liberal, Democratic, pro-choice friend told me that Palin is “a reformer” — “just like McCain.”
Here is what the Republicans understand: facts don’t matter, stories do. So knowing this, they just lie and say anything they want as long as it reinforces the story. How do you fight this? Getting bogged down refuting the lies can never work because they’ll just make up a ton more lies for you to refute and you can’t keep up. Meanwhile, they keep reinforcing the story while you’re mired in the refutation. This is why almost every single thing Palin said in her speech turns out to be just a lie. But look how her STORY has taken hold! The story overcomes all the lies, even though the entire story is based on the lies.
The Obama campaign was the beneficiary of just such a story during the primaries. Obama became the great progressive transformation that we all want, while Hillary came to represent the past. She became NAFTA and DLC and lobbyists. Once these stories took hold there was nothing at all Hillary could do about it. Everything started to reinforce it. “Experience” came to mean “Bill” which meant the past.
THAT is how a story works. Facts just get in the way. (NOTE I am not saying that Obama’s story was based on lies, I am saying the power of a STORY took over and swamped Hillary.)
This is the power of – and the reason for – the “elite” storyline they are trying so hard to establish. If it can take hold there is nothing that can be done about it. So far it is just a little bit too unbelievable. But we have seen how they have tried to tell one story after another, to see if one sticks.

So what IS Obama’s STORY today?
The FISA swing and a few things like that got rid of the “great progressive transformation” story that won the primaries. What does he represent and how do we drive the new story? How do we establish a negative story about McCain that sticks?
Remember how at the end of the Kerry campaign people still were saying that they didn’t understand what Kerry and the Democrats were about, were for, etc? They were saying that there was no story.
What is the Obama story, in a sentence? McCain is the maverick who will change Washington, and so is Palin-the-reformer. That is a story. It is a story because they said it is.
What is the Obama story?

Palin – THE Most Qualified Republican

As I wrote below, I have to agree with John McCain that Sarah Palin is absolutely the most qualified Republican to be Vice President.
Of all the Republicans in the entire United States, Sarah Palin is the most qualified Republican.
John McCain has suffered FOUR bouts of melanoma. So it is imperative that the Vice President be the most qualified possible person, ready to step into the leadership role on a moment’s notice.
There is NO Republican more qualified than Sara Palin.
There is NO Republican less corrupt.
There is NO Republican that foreign leaders will respect more.
Of ALL the Republicans in the entire United States, including ALL of the candidates for President in this year’s primaries, not a single one measures up to Sarah Palin. Not one.
Let them deny it.
Discuss.

McCain’s “Cross In Dirt” Story Questioned

In a book, at campaign stops and in an ad John McCain tells a story about a North Vietnamese prison guard drawing a cross in the dirt:

In his 1999 memoir, Faith of My Fathers
“We both stood wordlessly looking at the cross until, after a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away. I saw my good Samaritan often after the Christmas when we venerated the cross together.”

In his campaign ad in December, he adds mention of “the true light of Christmas”:

“We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas. I will never forget that no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up.”

At the Saddleback Civil Forum:

“For a minute there, it was just two Christians worshipping together.”

Well guess what, a Kos diarist has come up with something interesting: Cross in the Dirt" story stolen from Solzhenitsyn,

A story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his times in the Soviet Gulags.
Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.
As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed. He knew he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet he knew there was something greater than the evil he saw in the prison camp, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that hope for all people was represented by that simple Cross. Through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.

The source of that story about Solzhenitsyn is The Sign of the Cross, Fr. Luke Veronis, In Communion, issue 8, Pascha 1997 but clearly the story was known before 1997 for Fr. Veronis to cite it here. Update – the source is Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, published in the West in 1973.

In the winter of 1974, unbound and mimeographed samizdat copies of The Gulag Archipelago began being surreptitiously passed between Soviet citizens. These initial readers were normally given 24 hours to finish the work before passing it on to the next person, requiring the reader to spend an uninterrupted day and night to get through the work. Years later, this initial generation of Soviet readers could still recall who had given them their copy, to whom they had passed it on, and who they had trusted enough to discuss their thoughts about the book.

Here is McCain in his ad:

Here is McCain, being “reluctant” to tell this “powerful story” about his “faith”:

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m4s0n501

If You Can’t Do The Time, Don’t Do The Crime

A new group called Accountable America is warning conservative donors about staying within election laws. The New York Times wrote about this the other day with the misleading headline, Group Plans Campaign Against G.O.P. Donors.
Of course it isn’t a “campaign against GOP donors” it is a campaign warning against unlawful and unethical activity. But stopping unlawful activity just might dry up a lot of the Republican Party’s — and the right’s supporting infrastructure’s — cash flow. This includes 501c3 tax-free “charity” think tanks and 501c4 “issue” organizations that are really illegally engaged in candidate activity, or otherwise acting as conduits for corporate money or for those who have “maxed out” (reached the legal limit) for political donations.
The other day I wrote about,

… companies intimidating workers to vote a certain way, churches, think tanks, front groups incorporated as c4s but doing candidate work, campaigns violating election laws, etc.
… Suppose [we could create] some concern among the Wal-Marts and the Sheldon Adelsons that they had better think about following the law?
What would this do to the funding sources of the right’s machine?

So I guess great minds think alike. Heh.
There is plenty of need for an effort to get conservative and corporate donors to follow the law. Just for example — last week’s news about “curious” bundled political contributions made by employees of oil companies receiving billion-dollar contracts from the government to McCain and Republicans. Some of these donations came from people clearly unable to make such a donation on their own. This makes it appear that the companies may have illegally given these people money to give to McCain and the Republican Party and groups are demanding an investigation (that will never happen).

[Public interest groups] want the Justice Department to investigate whether bundlers for John McCain’s presidential campaign are using “straw” donations — those made in the name of someone else to evade contribution limits.

A story at TPM elaborates,

“An executive from a company that has a billion dollar contract to deliver oil to U.S. bases in Iraq possibly violated election law to funnel contributions to McCain. We think that warrants an investigation.”
And on the Hess matter … : “An office manager for an oil company that stands to gain millions in profits from offshore drilling makes donations for the first time this cycle to McCain, and did it at the same time nine other Hess donors do. That’s worth an investigation.”

Now that Accountable America is on the scene maybe corporations and big donors who are thinking about engaging in illegal activities will think twice.
If you want to help this effort you can donate by clicking here.
Update Kathy G writes about Accountable America in her post Liberal fascism strikes again!

* The new group will offer a $100,000 reward to those providing information that leads to the conviction or judgment against a conservative or business-related organization that violates the law.
* Accountable America will provide information to the public through television ads, mailings, phone calls and its Web site.
* Next week the organization plans to send a mailing warning nearly 10,000 Republican donors of the consequences of funding organizations that break or skirt the law.

Millions Of Dollars Versus Millions of Voters

In a democracy, every person has a single vote. Unfortunately, what is becoming increasingly true is that someone with millions of dollars and the willingness to fund front groups has the ability to influence millions of votes.
Take the issue of the Iraq War – by any and every national poll, millions of Americans want the war to stop as they see through the lies that got us in the war, the lies that have kept us in the war and now with even the Iraqi leadership asking we leave, the vast majority of Americans see no reason to fund billions on dollars in war every month.
However, despite their wishes and their votes, the wishes of the people are countered by the wishes of the few, or in today’s example, the wishes of one, Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson is one of the very few wealthy “behind-the-scenes” manipulators that set up phony front groups and fund them with millions and millions of dollars to pollute our country’s discourse, smear people, spread fear and lies and the worst kinds of dirty stories. Every politician knows that this ugliness could be directed at them if they dare try to fight this kind of power.
Where do these Republican, pro-war front groups get so much money?

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Is The Corporate Media Deciding This Election For Us?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Are you following the election coverage? Here are some recent stories: The media pounds candidate Hillary Clinton to release her tax forms, because the public has a right to know. And she does release her and her husband’s returns, going back a decade. The media trumpets how much income they have been receiving, how rich they are, and drills down into details. If you follow the news, it is inescapable. At the same time candidate John McCain releases only partial forms that show all assets are now in his wife’s name, and he won’t release his wife’s tax returns. The media is mostly silent on this; most of the public has little opportunity to learn of this.
Another story: Candidate McCain won’t release his medical records. Again from the media there is mostly silence; most of the public has little opportunity to learn of this.
And here is the big story: Unless you have been in a coma you know that for several weeks video clips of statements by Barack Obama’s former minister have been aired nearly 24 hours a day on the news shows, especially on FOX News. These clips are considered scary by certain demographic groups who are not familiar with the speaking patterns of black ministers
Interestingly, at the same time as this “Obama’s minister” story is saturating the news there is another Presidential candidate with a “scary minister” problem of his own. But the news media is not providing the public with any information at all about the things this minister has said. In this case the Presidential candidate is John McCain and the minister is John Hagee. This minister has issued statements condemning Jews, is described as “virulently anti-Catholic,” and says that 9/11 and Katrina are examples of God punishing America. Yet John McCain sought out this minister’s endorsement and insists that he is “proud” to have received it.
While saturating the airwaves with scary video clips of Obama’s scary minister the corporate media is providing the public with almost no information about McCain’s. In the article, The McCain-Hagee Connection, the Columbia Journalism Review asks, “Why is the press ignoring this hate-monger?
Why, indeed?
A well-functioning democracy depends on an informed public. There is no question that the public deserves to know these things about Senators Clinton and Obama. The information in the examples cited here could and should have an effect on the election, because the public will weigh these factors into their voting decisions. But the public also needs the information about Senator McCain, presented with equal emphasis. And clearly this isn’t happening.
So with nearly identical stories — a relationship with a minister who makes scary and hateful statements — the corporate media chooses to present the information about only one to the public, and does so in a way that is guaranteed to scare the … excuse me … bejeesus out of everyone. The other is given a pass and a free ride, and the public is left without the information it needs to make an informed choice.
Why is this happening? Here is some background on our media:
In the United States the broadcast media used to be required by law to serve “the public interest” ahead of profits. Use of OUR airwaves was licensed out to private interests that were allowed to use them to profit to a limited extent in exchange for providing the public with information and news. We did this because it served our interests and those of our democracy.
The rules allowed very limited commercialization of this public resource. For example, in exchange for the license to make a profit from the use of the public airwaves the companies were required to provide educational content for children, news coverage, documentaries, arts and other public interest content. And by law the information had to be objective and balanced.
At certain times of the day the companies could then present commercialized content. But even then the commercialization was to be limited. They were limited in how much time during a show could be used for commercial advertisements — and the shows themselves were not allowed to be commercialized. There were even restrictions on what the commercial advertisements could say. Public benefit was the priority, commercial profits were limited.
It was an exchange – they get to make some money using our resource, and we get news and information that educates us and strengthens our democracy. Why else would we have allowed private companies access to our airwaves, but to serve the public?
This changed. In the early 1980s the Reagan administration unilaterally dropped the requirements that broadcast media serve the public interest and these companies promptly stopped serving the public interest and started serving their own corporate interests. As happens with any for-profit corporate interest commercialization became the only use of our public airwaves.
Shocked by this seizure of a public resource for corporate commercial interests the Congress immediately voted to restore the public benefit requirements, but Reagan vetoed this. Then, under President George H.W. Bush the Congress again voted to restore the public benefit requirements, and this was again vetoed. Under President Clinton the requirement was against brought before the Congress and again a majority voted to restore placing the priority on public benefit but Senate Republicans filibustered and blocked the bill.
So today there is no requirement that our mass media serve the public interest. Instead the only interests that are served are private, corporate interests and the only information the public receives through these outlets is information that benefits the corporations that control them.
Is this why we are seeing such dramatic disparities in the way information about the candidates is presented to the public? Should we be surprised?
Control of our information sources is now in the hands of corporations with no requirement that they serve the interests of democracy. So shouldn’t we expect that corporate interests are placed ahead of the public interest? If for-profit enterprises control the information the public receives then why wouldn’t they promote candidates who would be more favorable to their commercial interests?
Let me provide a clear example of how this affects all of us: When was the last time you saw or heard on a corporate outlet information about the benefits of joining a union? Of course you haven’t, and you wouldn’t expect to. And, in the years since the requirement that the broadcasters serve the public interest by providing balanced information, we have seen a dramatic decline in the percent of the workforce that is unionized. At the same time we have seen a dramatic increase in commercialization of everything, and in the power of corporations over the decision-making of our government.
What else should we expect?
Click through to Speak Out California

One image, One moment – On the Road to the Beijing Olympics

Guest Post by Michelle Kraus
There is a promise of hope in the Beijing Olympics if global leaders come together for the Dali Lama and human rights. The image of the torch is not just the Olympic Torch, but rather the beacon of hope for the people of the world.
One image, One moment, a chance for peace.
Stepping back and taking a moment and to consider him carrying the Torch or stepping onto the podium at the Opening Ceremony – perhaps there is a chance for peace. Maybe what we must do is take baby steps and lobby for his presence at the Opening Ceremonies and that would be enough.
One image, One moment, a chance for peace.
A bold, online campaign launched today at www.humanitariandream.com proposing a solution to all the controversy surrounding the Beijing Olympics this summer. Amidst all the outcries for boycott and the resulting acrimony, businessman Steve Varon proposes a plausible solution.

“With controversy and strife surrounding the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay over the past few months, this proposal is the first publicly announced solution to the dilemma. Imagine the Dalai Lama carrying the Olympic torch along the torch relay route, past the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet – or anywhere else on the relay route. It has the potential to quell the violent protests and return the focus of the torch relay to a celebration of peace through sport, inspiring hope for all people around the world. Corporate, civic and government leaders globally have been encouraged to support this opportunity. The idea has been warmly embraced publicly and privately.”

See the video and hear the words of this quiet man, a businessman, who has committed himself to this one moment of light.
Sign the petition online and form the human link to this one moment.
All the political and global forces are wrong for this to have a prayer of success. The Chinese own a substantial amount of the US debt at a time in which the economy is teetering on recession. Human rights activists have lost their spokesperson in the late Congressman Tom Lantos. A United States boycott of the games is impossible, and not the answer.
One image, One moment, a chance for peace.
Sports should be about freedom, not politics. So let’s have the games and abide by this Call to Action. Sign the petition and consider the solution is of finding a way to unify the Dali Lama and the Chinese government on this one day.

“If constructive dialogue with China could result in the world seeing the Dalai Lama carrying the torch” said Varon “it would send a powerful message about the Olympics as a force of good, and truly symbolize the ‘One World, One Dream’ slogan of this year’s Games.”

One image, One moment, One World, One Dream – On the Road to Beijing.

McCain, O’Reilly: It’s About Keeping Jews, Blacks and Women Out Of Power

The Democratic Party,

Near the end of the video, there was this exchange:
Bill O’Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you’ve got to cap with a number.
John McCain: In America today we’ve got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don’t need so many.
[crosstalk]
O’Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don’t know, I don’t know. We’ve got to cap it.
McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you.

John McCain 2000: The Swiftboaters’ First Mission

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project
Imagine that it’s 1997, and you’re a strategist trying to figure out how to get George W. Bush, of all people, into the White House. Your candidate’s record is, to put it mildly, not so great: he had been elected Governor of Texas in 1994 and before that … well … never mind. His term as government is marked by cronyism and corruption, and if elected to the nation’s highest office it promises to be more of the same.
If you’re going to win this you will need to mask your candidate’s record and agenda. You need a strategy that turns your opponent’s advantages into disadvantages, and, most important, that distracts everyone from your own candidate’s awful record. And to accomplish this you need a team that is willing and cynical enough to do what it is going to take to sell your guy. Bush’s top strategist Karl Rove learned his licks alongside Lee Atwater. Rove and Atwater went back a long ways,

Back in 1972, the 22-year-old Rove was a candidate for chairman of the College Republicans. The rambunctious Atwater was his Southern regional coordinator.

What kind of campaign schooling did Rove receive? In 1981 Atwater, then a Reagan strategist, said in an interview,

You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ – that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff.

In 1988, Atwater ran Bush’s father’s campaign against Michael Dukakis,

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