Friday, October 31, 2008

Economy (GDP meas.) contracts, worst in seven years

The economy has contracted, to the worst degree in seven years.
The third quarter report for the Gross Domestic Product (the total value of goods and services produced in the country) indicates a GDP decrease of an annual rate of 0.3 percent, as reported by the U.S. Commerce Department.
In simpler terms, this means that the value of the economy got smaller, by a greater decrease of any quarter in the last seven years.
Jeannine Aversa, "Third-quarter GDP’s contraction is worst in seven years" -"Kansas City Star" Oct. 30, 2008
Reuters credited a reduction in consumer spending as the cause of the decrease.
"Economy contracts as consumers retreat"
This is significant in itself; but it should be noted that the third quarter preceded the collapse of the mortgage and crediting industries.

Fannie Lou Hamer must be smiling from heaven

Just flash back forty plus years. African-Americans were risking their lives to make sure that the Fifteenth Amendment applied to them --in reality, i.e., to get equal voting rights, regardless of color. Think of the struggles of Fannie Lou Hamer with her struggle for basic representation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, of Martin Luther King and the Selma Marches, of John Lewis.

And now, see: not only is a candidate of African (and European) descent on the verge of reaching the White House, but African-American voting power is forecasted to have an instrumental role in a tipping point effect in .....the South, toward strengthening Democratic Congressional power.

Salon.com has posted an article, pointing to how African-American voters could tip about a dozen Congressional seats in the Democratic direction. And most of these races are in the South.
Alex Koppelman, "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."

From the lead of the article:
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.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An urgent call to friends to the left of us: consider a McCain set of appointments to the Supreme Court or the federal courts

We have been hearing how this is the most important election, and so on. Well, we also heard that in the last two. We need some qualification for this claim. We have it in the Supreme Court. The Court has voted very narrowly on abortion issues recently, by a 5-4 margin. And with J.P. Stevens at 88 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 75, both could likely leave the court under the next president.

If there is any reason to get a leftist to put Green, anti-electoral, or other anti-vote-for-the-Democrats impulses on hold this year, it is the issue of who will be president, and thus able to select replacements for Stevens or Ginsburg. Friends don't let friends siphon votes from the Dem, a la Nader in '00.
Sure, the Democrats are imperfect, and tied to corporate interests, but consider the following.

We easily face an over-turning of Roe v. Wade.
But this is not the only issue. Republicans like to spur Democrats and progressives as supporting activist judiciary decisions. This is the idea that adopting a loose interpretation of the Constitution allows for passing decisions that please progressives, e.g., the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments provide for personal autonomy, and therefore provide for the right to decide to opt to have an abortion. This kind of interpretation and justice is what undergirds Brown v. Board of Topeka, Kansas.
Yet, while they [Republicans/conservatives] target us for loose interpretations of the Constitution, they opt for the same, when it suits their ideological interests.

And, we progressives should be calling attention to the conservatives' own philosophy: activist conservativism. This allows for activist court rulings that further a conservative agenda.
What have been the goals of activist conservativism?
As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in "McJustice": Liberals' long-feared judicial apocalypse is nigh," the latest hard copy issue of "The New Republic,"
So let's assume that McCain gets to appoint at least one activist conservative to the bench. How would America and the law be transformed? The most significant effect of a McCain Court could come in areas pitting the Court against federal regulations passed by Congress. Before the crash of 2008, the previous two most serious depressions in U.S. history--in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries--triggered populist economic regulations by Congress and the states to protect citizens from the excesses of industrial capitalism. In both eras, conservative Supreme Court majorities struck down those regulations--from minimum-wage laws to parts of the New Deal--as an affront to property rights and limits on federal power. This triggered a political backlash from Americans convinced that the decisions were bad for the country.
So let's assume that McCain gets to appoint at least one activist conservative to the bench. How would America and the law be transformed? The most significant effect of a McCain Court could come in areas pitting the Court against federal regulations passed by Congress. Before the crash of 2008, the previous two most serious depressions in U.S. history--in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries--triggered populist economic regulations by Congress and the states to protect citizens from the excesses of industrial capitalism. In both eras, conservative Supreme Court majorities struck down those regulations--from minimum-wage laws to parts of the New Deal--as an affront to property rights and limits on federal power. This triggered a political backlash from Americans convinced that the decisions were bad for the country.


The Times in October 29's edition, called attention to the conservative majority of judge on the appeals and circuit courts, due to Bush, Bush I, Reagan.

See Charlie Savage's article, "Appeals Courts Pushed to Right by Bush Choices," in "The New York Times," October 29, 2008.

"After a group of doctors challenged a South Dakota law forcing them to inform women that abortions “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being” — using exactly that language — President Bush’s appointees to the federal appeals courts took control,"

A federal trial judge, stating that whether a fetus is human life is a matter of debate, had blocked the state from enforcing the 2005 law as a likely violation of doctors’ First Amendment rights. And an appeals court panel had upheld the injunction.

But this past June, the full United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit voted 7 to 4 to overrule those decisions and allow the statute to take immediate effect. The majority argued that it is objectively true that human life begins at conception, and that the state can force doctors to say so.

Mr. Bush had appointed six of the seven judges in the conservative majority. His administration has transformed the nation’s federal appeals courts, advancing a conservative legal revolution that began nearly three decades ago under President Ronald Reagan.

Due to the power of the appeals courts, they have inveighed on issues, before cases reached the Supreme Court. . . . . Bush openly pandered to the ideological judicial conservative organization, the Federalist Society:
On Oct. 6, Mr. Bush pointed with pride to his record at a conference sponsored by the Cincinnati chapter of the Federalist Society, the elite network for the conservative legal movement. He noted that he had appointed more than a third of the federal judiciary expected to be serving when he leaves office, a lifetime-tenured force that will influence society for decades and that represents one of his most enduring accomplishments. While a two-term president typically leaves his stamp on the appeals courts — Bill Clinton appointed 65 judges, Mr. Bush 61 — Mr. Bush’s judges were among the youngest ever nominated and are poised to have an unusually strong impact.

They have arrived at a time when the appeals courts, which decide tens of thousands of cases a year, are increasingly getting the last word. While the Supreme Court gets far more attention, in recent terms it has reviewed only about 75 cases a year — half what it considered a generation ago. And Mr. Bush’s appointees have found allies in like-minded judges named by Mr. Bush’s father and Reagan.


The article also gives you names of people that might end up on the Supreme Court, should John McCain reach the presidency.

So, listen, leftists, I would have preferred Kucinich and so on and so on . . . but consider how much worse America could be with a 1 or 2 liberal Supreme Court or a more solidly Republican judiciary.

NYT: watch out for spooky high fructose corn syrup

Tragically, millions of our nation's children are suffering from diet-triggered medical conditions. First, the media paid attention to the rise in obesity in children. Second, they paid attention to rise in type 2 diabetes in children. Most recently, we have been reading of the rise of fatty liver disease in children. Traditionally, this disease was more frequently associated with alchohol abusers.

Today, "The New York Times," with Tara Parker-Pope's contribution to "Well" column, took the occasion of Halloween and its associated candies, and drew attention to the health hazards of high fructose corn syrup.
Click here to link to the Times article, "Still Spooked by High-Fructose Corn Syrup."

A blogspot sister, at http://dreamacttexas.blogspot.com/ has posted an article on this subject, along with a well-designed shirt for sale, decrying this additive.

220 daily newspapers for Obama, include 46 switched endorsements

From "Editor & Publisher"
NEW YORK As the Obama-Biden ticket continues to lead in daily newspaper endorsements by roughly 220 to 90, what is most startling is the Democratic ticket winning over so many editorial boards that backed President Bush in 2004.

Obama has picked up at least 46 switchers -- including the Chicago Tribune and three of the top dailies in Texas -- and we suspect the total is much higher as we have not identified how every paper decided in 2004. Some have revealed they have never backed a Democrat for president, or at least for the past several decades or 100 years (the Joplin Globe in Missouri that to declare the latter).

Penn. judge: State must have paper ballots if machines fail

From CNN: Pennsylvania judge ordered paper ballots be available should voting machines breakdown.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Pennsylvania must have paper ballots available for its voters if half the machines at a polling place break down, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The state wanted paper ballots mandatory only if all the machines in a polling place failed.

"Emergency back-up paper ballots shall be used thereafter until the county board of elections is able to make the necessary repairs to the machine(s) or is able to place into operation," Judge Harvey Bartle ruled.

The state will not appeal the decision. In a statement, Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortes said the state will work with counties to ensure emergency ballots are used consistently, and that there is a sufficient supply.

Obama to have bipartisan cabinet

Barack Obama has said that he will appoint a bipartisan cabinet. This is disappointing. The Republicans have not pursued wise policies. How could Obama or we be sure that a Republican cabinet secretary is following an Obama/Democratic vision?
From Reuters, in the New York Times:
Obama Says Would Include Republicans In Cabinet
SUNRISE, Florida (Reuters) - U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would include Republicans in his Cabinet if he wins the election.

Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, also said he had "some pretty good ideas" about people he might tap for senior government jobs, though he emphasized he is focused for now on the final days of the campaign and takes nothing for granted....

Obama said he "absolutely" considered it important to have Republicans in the Cabinet but he sidestepped a question on whether he would ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain in his job. There has been speculation that either Obama or his Republican rival, John McCain, might ask Gates to stay on.

"I'm not going to get into details," Obama said, but he added that national security policy, in particular, should be nonpartisan.

Other people mentioned as possible defense secretary picks in an Obama administration include former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska....

Interview video clip of Obama with Charlie Gibson, on cabinet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Real facts on Obama 2001 radio interview / McCain distorted

More wild accusations to dispel!!!
In case you've heard new accusations about Barack Obama, a 2001 interview and redistribution; which John McCain and rightist radio allies are twisting and exploiting:
FACT CHECK: McCain misreads 2001 Obama interview; By MARK SHERMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican John McCain is misreading seven-year-old comments by rival Barack Obama about "redistributive change" to argue that the Democrat's tax policy is built on "taking your money and giving it to someone else."

The McCain campaign and the candidate himself are pointing to Obama's comments during a Chicago public radio program in 2001 that dealt with the civil rights movement and the Supreme Court.

"It's always more interesting to hear what people have to say in these unscripted moments," McCain told a rally in Dayton, Ohio, alluding to Obama's now well-known exchange in Ohio with Joe the Plumber. "And, today, we heard another moment like this from Sen. Obama.

"In a radio interview that was revealed today, he said that, quote, One of the tragedies of the civil rights movement is that it didn't bring about a redistribution of wealth in our society."

Obama never said that, according to an audio file circulated by Naked Emperor News, a Web site with many postings critical of Obama. Fox News also posted a partial transcript of the interview.

What Obama called a tragedy was the civil rights movement's focus on the court, rather than on "political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change."
. . . . [and more in AP story]

From MEDIA MATTERS:
Radio hosts echo Drudge's distortion of Obama's 2001 WBEZ interview

Summary: Numerous conservative radio hosts, including Chris Baker, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Jim Quinn, Michael Savage and Brian Sussman, echoed the false claim, originating on the Drudge Report, that Sen. Barack Obama said in a 2001 interview that he regretted that the Supreme Court has not addressed the redistribution of wealth. In fact, the "traged[y]" Obama identified during the interview was that the civil rights movement "became so court-focused" in trying to bring about political and economic justice.

On October 27, numerous conservative radio hosts echoed the false claim, originating on the Drudge Report, that in a January 18, 2001, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio interview, Sen. Barack Obama said he regretted that the Supreme Court has not pursued wealth redistribution.

Minneapolis radio host Chris Baker distorted Obama's 2001 remarks by claiming that he said "we gotta have economic justice and the Supreme Court ought to weigh in on redistributing wealth." Baker added: "Yeah, it's too bad you kind of stuck with the Constitution as it was. It's a tragedy that redistribution of wealth was not pursued by the Supreme Court. Can you believe that?" In fact, Obama did not say, "It's a tragedy that redistribution of wealth was not pursued by the Supreme Court," or indicate, as Baker later claimed, that Obama "wants to use the Supreme Court to reinterpret the Constitution in order to force the redistribution of wealth." Rather, as Media Matters for America has noted, the "tragedy" Obama identified during the interview was that the civil rights movement "became so court-focused" in trying to bring about political and economic justice. Later in the interview, Obama added:

You know, maybe I'm showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but, you know, I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know, the institution just isn't structured that way. ... You know, the court's just not very good at it, and politically, it's just -- it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So, I mean, I think that, although, you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally -- you know, I think you can, any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts -- I think that, as a practical matter, our institutions just are poorly equipped to do it.

Several other radio hosts also falsely claimed that Obama said during the 2001 interview that courts should redistribute wealth.
[and then, Media Matters provides the various hosts and their falsehoods.]

MIT News: important bug in Premier (nee Diebold) voting machines found

MIT News, October 27: Far from perfect
With election days away, Stewart charts progress of U.S. voting security


The expert interviewed for the story is sanguine, but important comments that tip off to points of concern, include this: "[T]here continue to be an unnerving number of cases where [electronic voting] systems are shown to be unreliable. For instance, Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) recently reported that a bug in the software that accepts and counts election results from individual voting machines has a flaw that can result in some ballots being dropped from the system before they are counted."
Click here for full article.

Dozens of call workers walk off job rather than read anti-Obama scripts

Dozens Of Call Center Workers Walk Off Job In Protest Rather Than Read McCain Script Attacking Obama
Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

Nina Williams, a stay-at-home mom in Lake County, Indiana, tells us that her daughter recently called her from her job at the center, upset that she had been asked to read a script attacking Obama for being "dangerously weak on crime," "coddling criminals," and for voting against "protecting children from danger."

Williams' daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says. The call center is called Americall, and it's located in Hobart, IN.
Full October 27 story here, at talkingpointsmemo.com.

Princeton prof: e-voting machines easily hackable

With election shenanigans fresh in our minds from 2004, shouldn't we be concerned over the integrity of voting machines. Furthermore, manufacturers and politicians have resisted requirements that electronic voting machines give receipts to the voter users. This would give the voter, and the greater public, a little bit more confidence in such machines. This is amidst recent reports, in several states, of vote flipping (or vote switching) by e-voting machines.

Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel has publicized a 158 page report that criticizes certain e-voting machines as easily hackable, "Computerworld" reported October 27.
Todd R. Weiss, "Princeton report rips N.J. e-voting machines as easily hackable
Vendor challenges research, says its machines are safe and reliable"
With eight days to go before the presidential election, a report has been released by Princeton University and other groups that sharply criticizes the e-voting machines used in New Jersey and elsewhere as unreliable and potentially prone to hacking.

The 158-page report, which was ordered by a New Jersey judge as part of an ongoing four-year legal fight over the machines, says the e-voting machines can be "easily hacked" in about seven minutes by anyone with basic computer knowledge. Such hacking activity could enable fraudulent firmware to steal votes from one candidate and give them to another, the report said.

The controversy involves the Sequoia AVC Advantage 9.00H direct-recording electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting machines made by Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems.

The report comes amid news stories in at least three states -- West Virginia, Texas and Tennessee -- where voters have told local election officials that they believe the e-voting machines they used tried to "flip" their votes to other candidates.

The AVC machines can be hacked by installing fraudulent software contained in a replacement chip that can be installed on the main circuit board, according to the report. Such a part replacement is very difficult to detect, it noted.

Andrew Appel, a Princeton University computer science professor who is one of the authors of the report, said that such security vulnerabilities cause doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the machines.

The plaintiffs, a group of public interest organizations, argue in their lawsuit against the state of New Jersey that the machines should be discarded because they can't meet state election law requirements for security and accuracy. State officials who back the machines argue that the machines are adequate for the job.

The lawsuit is expected to go to trial in January, but in the meantime, the court allowed the Princeton report to be released to the public.

The report gives details on how the machines could be manipulated by someone who wanted to change the results of the election, and it strongly criticizes the designs and security of the devices.

Read the 158 page report here, in pdf format.

Mysterious resignation at ES&S, maker of vote flipping machines in W Va

Several voters voters in early voting in West Virginia complained that their votes for Barack Obama flipped unwillingly to John McCain. The maker of the vote flipping (or vote switching) machines is ES&S. Mysteriously, the company's vice president, Gary Lee Greenhalgh, resigned abruptly in May, and neither he, nor the company, will say why he quit.

The Charleston Gazette inquired into the story:
Ron J. Nyden, "ES&S official left company in May"
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - On Thursday, Secretary of State Betty Ireland defended her selection of touch-screen voting machines by Election Systems & Software, after several voters complained the machines were switching their votes from Democrats to Republicans.

That same day, during a ceremony at the Capitol, Ireland presented a special award to Gary Lee Greenhalgh, the ES&S vice president who sold Ireland on the machines.

Ireland called Greenhalgh "a pioneer in the use of technology in the election process."

But Greenhalgh left the company mysteriously in May, and neither he nor company officials will say why.

And while Ireland praises both Greenhalgh and his former employer, other states have rejected ES&S voting machines because of alleged security and accuracy problems.

An independent study determined that ES&S touch-screen machines could be "compromised and modified without detection, conceivably occurring before, during or after an election," presenting "serious risks to election integrity."

In recent days, at least 14 voters from Jackson, Putnam, Berkeley, Ohio, Monongalia and Greenbrier counties have told The Charleston Gazette that ES&S machines switched their votes from Democratic to Republican candidates.

No one has contacted The Gazette to say a voting machine flipped Republican votes to Democratic candidates.

In each case, county poll workers helped the voters correct their ballots. But several worried that others might not notice switched votes.


Read the full October 26 Gazette article here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

GOP operative, ex-con, on vote rigging tactics

" Ex-GOP operative tells cautionary tale about 'how to rig an election'"

Allen Raymond was a GOP operative, being a member of the Republican Leadership Council. He also operated a phone bank company. The two aspects came together in his role in the 2002 New Hampshire phone jamming scandal.

He tells of his role in interfering in elections, at the service of the Republican Party in a new book, "How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative."
--Click here for the alternet interview with Raymond.
Details of his role, his jail time, and his book are available in the CNN article.

In a year with election-interfering conduct by Republicans, high and low, Democrats need to be vigilant in exposing misdeeds such as those confessed by Raymond.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Opie, Andy Griffith and the Fonz for Obama

video
Remember little Opie and "The Andy Griffith Show"?
Well, the actors for Opie and Andy decided to endorse Barack Obama for president. Ron Howard and Andy Griffith are southern folks, the former, born in Oklahoma, and the latter was born in North Carolina.


They, along with Henry Winkler (the "Fonz" of "Happy Days") essentially endorsed Obama on the adjacent pro-Obama video clip. video

UN: Inequality in NYC, other US cities threatens social instabilty

UN report classifies New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami as having a high level of social inequality, on the level of cities, such as Nairobi, Kenya and Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in Third World, developing countries.
The study of 120 cities places New York City as being the ninth most unequal.
"High levels of inequality can lead to negative social, economic and political consequences that have a destabilising effect on societies," said the report. "(They) create social and political fractures that can develop into social unrest and insecurity."

According to the annual State of the World's cities report from UN-Habitat, race is one of the most important factors determining levels of inequality in the US and Canada.
. . . .
Disparities of wealth were measured on the "Gini co-efficient", an internationally recognised measure usually only applied to the wealth of countries. The higher the level, the more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people.
--from "Wealth gap creating a social time bomb," referencing the UN report, in "Guardian" of the UK, Oct. 23, 2008.

* * *
See the list of countries, by Gini coefficient, and see where the US ranks in wealth distribution. Data were from the United Nations and the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

FLASH: Michelle will fill in for Barack Obama

Michelle Obama will fill in for husband Barack Obama on the campaign trail while he is tending to his convalescing maternal grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham. --link to Guardian of the U.K.


Photo: Obama with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, at his high school graduation; released by his campaign, October 21, 2008.

Barack Obama is withdrawing from active campaigning for 36 hours, beginning late Wednesday, continuing into Friday. He will visit his grandmother in Hawaii. On Friday Michelle Obama will substitute for him, at campaign appearances in Akron and Columbus, Ohio.

OUT OF COLORADO: In matters pertaining to the John McCain campaign, his campaign has confirmed reports that the campaign will withdraw from Colorado. Real Clear Politics reports (in its aggregation of polls), as of October 21, PM, Obama leads in that state by 5.4 percentage points.
As Obama has reminded us, we cannot be sanguine about the Democratic momentum, and races have narrowed toward election day.
Nonetheless, a Democratic presidential victory in Colorado would be highly significant.

This would be the first Democratic victory in Colorado --in a two-way race-- since 1964.

The McCain campaign already conceded Michigan at the beginning of this month, and has withdrawn campaign operations from that state.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fight smear on Obama's visit to his grandmother

Have the rightists any shame?!?!

Their latest smear, which you can find on the posting portion of news pages on the Internet is that Barack Obama has no birth certificate. (e.g., go google the main keywords on AOL or Washington Post, for exsample to see this perverse argument.)
So the smear goes, in this latest vulgar whispering campaign, Obama has no birth certificate. He is taking the trip to acquire one.

First off, this is offensive to bring up.

Even if we give this charge credence, why would Obama wait until three days in the crucial, precious, last two weeks of the campaign, to make this trip? He has argued that the race will narrow in the last two weeks; so, why would he voluntarily suspend his campaign for three days in the last fourteen days of the campaign?

With his money, wouldn't he have a personal assistant take care of the errand?

Just sickening, especially to do this on the ocassion of Obama's seeing his grandmother (Madelyn Dunham).

UPDATE, from a posting on the "Washington Post" site: He was born in Hawaii. The birth certificate has been displayed close-up on the TV news and his grandmother has lived in Hawaii since she was in her thirties and his sister (Maya Sotero-Ng) teaches in Hawaii. He graduated from Punahou a private high school. Both of his parents and grandfather are gone so I hope his grandmother will see him win this for her and the rest of us. He lived with his grandparents for some time and she very much took part in raising him.

Send blessings to Obama's grandma Dunham

This in from the wire services, from Associated Press, October 20 evening, by Jennifer Loven:
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Democrat Barack Obama is cancelling nearly all his campaign events Thursday and Friday to fly to Hawaii to visit his suddenly ill 86-year-old grandmother.

Campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday that Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, who helped raise him, was released from the hospital late last week. But he says her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious.

Gibbs said Obama would return to the campaign trail on Saturday, though he was unsure where.

Obama events originally planned for Madison, Wis., and Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday will be replaced with one in Indianapolis before he makes the long flight to Hawaii.

OBAMA: palling around with Republicans & foreign policy establishment

Gen. Colin Powell (ret.) is African-American, but race and partisan affiliation are not the only thing that influences his candidate choices. No, it is not incongruous that Powell is a Republican and is supporting Obama. The fact that other Republicans have also endorsed Obama should give pause to the arguments that only attribute Powell's endorsement to shared racial identity.

Oh, right-wing wingnuts,
you've got it wrong with the place of Sen. Barack Obama in his web of connections.
Obama: palling around with Republicans.

Let's look at the Republican support Obama enjoys, aside from Colin Powell:
John B. Anderson, the Illinois Republican congressman that ran for president as an independent in 1980. Former senators that entered the senate as Republicans: Lowell Weicker Jr. (Conn.), Lincoln Chafee (R.I.)
Former Congressmen that entered the House as Republicans: Jim Leach (Iowa), Pete McCloskey (Cal.)
----and Colin Powell, career-long Republican, who referred to the Republican Party yesterday as "my party"

Obama: palling around the the military and foreign policy establishment.

Powell is an African-American, but we don't only see him as an African-American. He is part of the military and foreign policy establishment. As the following people have endorsed Obama, we can say that these military and foreign policy establishment folks pall around with Obama ... they meet with and consult him ... :
Madeline Albright (former Ambassador to the United Nations, former Secretary of State), Zbignew Brezinkski (former National Security Advisor), Wesley Clark, Anthony Lake (former National Security Advisor), Donald McHenry (former Ambassador to the United Nations), Sam Nunn (former Chair of Senate Armed Services Committee), Bill Richardson (former Ambassador to the United Nations); and
Deputy Undersecretaries of Defense, Secretaries of the Navy and Air Force, a Vice Chief of Staff of Air Force, and high-ranking Army generals.

----and Colin Powell, former National Security Advisor, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Secretary of State

NO, PUNDITS, IT IS NOT RACE THAT DROVE POWELL'S ENDORSEMENT. No one charged the above-cited individuals with racial solidarity in their endorsements; we sense an ugly double standard here, in the opposition to Powell's endorsement, by way of asserting racial solidarity as the basis for the endorsement.

McCain, Palin and the GOP's class war

As I wrote yesterday, This election, should John McCain lose, will result in a big shake-up and a long moment of self-reflection for the Republicans. They will need to loosen their strong ties to the cultural conservative right. As David Brooks noted, the Republicans have lost the affinities of many voters in affluent areas along the two ocean coasts. (See his column, "The Class War Before Palin.")
Columnists hypothesized earlier this year that McCain stood to lose the support of the anti-immigrant crowd. The Republican ticket this year stands to lose the support of many moderate thinking Republicans this year. The Sarah Palin selection sealed indecision that these moderates would have about the ticket. The Colin Powell endorsement of Barack Obama will finalize the flight of moderate Republicans from the party's ticket this year.

The Republicans/ conservatives will need to reconcile the six-pack crowd with the multiple homes crowd within their ranks.
At the close of last week, John Heilemann wrote in New York Magazine of how the McCain/Palin campaign is opening up tensions within the GOP and the conservatives:
The Right’s Class War: The prospect of a McCain loss has the Republican Party angrily turning on itself. Can the eggheads and the Joe Six-Packs get along?
For a man who has just been, in his eyes, excommunicated from both a magazine and a movement founded by his father half a century ago, Chris Buckley, son of the sainted William F., is doing a creditable job of keeping his upper lip stiff. “I’m still sort of getting my apostate act down,” Buckley says with a chuckle when I phone him a few days after the unpleasantness unfolded. “I’m reading Apostasy for Dummies.” The apostasy in question is, of course, his endorsement of Barack Obama, which provoked such a torrent of outrage and abuse from the right that Buckley felt it only proper to offer to quit his column at National Review—an offer that was taken up, to his great surprise, “rather briskly,” as he puts it. “I guess it shows, be careful to whom you tender your resignation, because they just might accept it!”
Buckley’s good humor does nothing to conceal his melancholy and bewilderment at this turn of events. “I was really quite amazed by the reaction, and I think it shows just how bloody calcified the political discourse has become, and tribalist, and snarling,” he tells me. “I want to say that it’s a tempest in a teapot, but there seems to be something going on here, and maybe this has accidentally tapped into it.”
If the Buckley affair were an isolated incident, such talk would be easy to dismiss as self-flattery—but it isn’t. With the prospect of defeat for John McCain growing more likely every day, the GOP destined to see its numbers reduced in both the House and Senate, and the Republican brand debased to the point of bankruptcy, the conservative intelligentsia is factionalized and feuding, criminating and recriminating, in a way that few of its members can recall in their political lifetimes. Populists attack Establishmentarians. Neocons assail theocons. And virtually everyone has something harsh to say about the party’s standard-bearer. Election Day may still be two weeks away, but already the idea-merchants of the right have formed a circular firing squad.
When the weapons of choice shift from pistols to Uzis after November 4, the ensuing massacre will be for Democrats a source of political opportunity, not to mention endless entertainment. But for Republicans it will be a necessary passage toward either the revival or reinvention of conservatism. Nobody serious on the right doubts that the overhaul is at once required and bound to be arduous—but it may take longer and prove even bloodier than anyone now imagines.
To get a sense of the struggle ahead, a good place to start is with Sarah Palin, who has been the flashpoint for the most severe intra-conservative contretemps so far. In the weeks since her selection as McCain’s running mate, a startling assortment of name-brand pundits on the right—Kathleen Parker, George Will, David Frum, David Brooks—have pronounced themselves displeased with the pick. Brooks went so far as to declaim that Palin “represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party.” Buckley, for his part, tells me that McCain’s vice-presidential choice was roughly 60 percent of the reason that he decided to endorse Obama. “I will readily confess that I was one of many who swooned the day after the announcement,” he says. “But it’s kind of like dating a supermodel. There comes a moment, unfortunately, where they start talking.”
Yet Palin retains the fierce loyalty of a cadre of more populist, grassrootsy voices in the right-wing punditocracy who have denounced the main-line-conservative criticisms of Palin as the snooty, disloyal, and craven attempts of faux Republicans to curry favor with the ascendant liberal elite. “They … believe as intellectuals,” writes one pro-Palin opinionator, Victor Davis Hanson, “that the similarly astute Obamians may on occasion inspire, or admire them as the like-minded who cultivate the life of the mind—in contrast to the ‘cancer’ Sarah Palin, who, with her husband Todd, could hardly discuss Proust with them or could offer little if any sophisticated table talk other than the proper chokes on shotguns or optimum RPMs on snow-machines.”
Not surprisingly, Sarracuda’s foes on the right dismiss the counter-backlash more or less out of hand. When I ask Frum about the apparent class overtones of the anti-anti-Palin argument, he deems it a mere “rhetorical trope.” What he hears instead is the sound of defeatism. “The people who defend her have already given up any serious thought of Republicans’ wielding governmental power anytime soon,” Frum says. “They have already moved to a position of pure cultural symbolic opposition to a new majority. The people who criticize her do so because we have some hope that we could be in contention in 2012, and there’s some risk that she could be the party’s nominee, and she’d probably lose—and even if by some miracle she won, she’d be a terrible president.”

Read the remainder of Heileman's column, in Power Grid in New York Magazine.

UPI, February, on poll: Powell endorsement would carry great weight

Timely, though months in the past, from UPI, February 26, citing a Fox 5/Washington Times/Rasmussen Reports poll:
A poll indicated that a presidential endorsement by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell would carry a lot of weight with U.S. voters.

The Fox 5/Washington Times/Rasmussen Reports survey released Tuesday said 22 percent of voters would look to Powell's blessings of a candidate before taking the word of U.S. President George Bush or former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The pollsters saw the support for Powell's opinion as bipartisan with 28 percent of independents listing his endorsement as the best along with 24 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of Democrats.

---UPI, February 26, 2008.

Impact of Colin Powell endorsement of Obama

The pundits share my perspective:

The Colin Powell endorsement of Barack Obama will hurt John McCain the most with the Independents.
Let's look at what some pundits have said in an article at McClatchy Report, Washington Bureau:
"It was a devastating critique. He gave a convincing national endorsement. That's what made it so damaging," said Larry J. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.


John Avlon wrote very succinctly on Anderson Cooper's blog:
This is big - rarely do endorsements matter - but Colin Powell’s announcement that he is endorsing Barack Obama for president was a bombshell that will reverberate throughout the last 16 days of this race.
It is not the unprecedented sight of an incumbent administration’s former Secretary of State crossing party lines to endorse the opposition’s nominee. It is not just that Powell’s record of military and government service lends credibility to a candidate whose lack of executive experience and military service is a subject of doubt for many undecideds.
It is that Colin Powell has unparalleled credibility with Independent voters, and his performance on “Meet the Press” today reaffirmed why. He is thoughtful and measured, he puts patriotism and principle ahead of partisanship.

--and with some Republicans. Sadiq Green wrote in Digital Journal:
His crossover endorsement is Obama's biggest yet from a myriad of Republican political figures and it could allow even more right leaners to be comfortable supporting the Senator from Illinois.


As I noted, Powell's endorsement shores up Obama's national security and foreign policy credentials.
G. Terry Madonna said, "This is a huge endorsement, maybe the most significant endorsement he's got. . . . For undecided voters who are looking at their concerns about national security and defense, this is a plus."


The collateral impact will be greatest in swing states, or battleground or tossup states, such as Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Colorado.

Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said that Powell appeals to independents who are socially liberal, fiscally conservative and moderate on defense issues. Because they shun party labels, they are more swayed by personality, and Powell is a respected national figure. Independents make as much as 9 percent of voters in swing states.



Click your vote / prediction in the online poll at the upper right: how big will Obama's win be?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

TRANSCRIPT: Fmr. Sec State, Gen. Colin Powell (ret.) endorses Barack Obama

Here is the earth-shaking endorsement by former National Security Advisor, former Secretary of State, retired head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell. Powell served under both President George H. W. Bush and President George W. Bush. He led the military during "Operation Desert Storm" in 1991. In as much as he has been political, he has always been a Republican. He spoke for George W. Bush's candidacy at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. The conduct of the John McCain campaign and many people in the Republican Party clearly drove Powell to this decision.
Scroll to the bottom, to where he squarely addressed Tom Brokaw's question of any (racial preference in his endorsement. )

Today, he added to Barack Obama's legitimacy among moderates and Independents, by endorsing the Illinois senator in an exclusive interview with Tom Brokaw on "Meet the Press." More than anything, this endorsement undergirds Obama's legitimacy as a potential commander-in-chief of the military.

THE FOLLOWING IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF HIS ENDORSEMENT OF BARACK OBAMA:
I know both of these individuals very well. I’ve known John for 25 years, as your set-up said, and I’ve gotten to know Mr. Obama quite well over the past 2 years. Both of them are distinguished Americans who are patriotic, who are dedicated to the welfare of our country. Either one of them, I think, would be a good president.

I have said to Mr. McCain that I admore all he has done. I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years it has moved more to the right than I would like to see it, but that’s a choice the party makes.

And I’ve said to Mr. Obama, you have to pass a test of ‘do you have enough experience?’ And do you bring the judgment to the table that would give us confidence that you would be a good president.

And I’ve watched them over the past two years frankly, and I’ve had this conversation with them.

I have especially watched over the last 6 or 7 weeks as both of them have really taken a final exam with respect to this economic crisis that we’re in and coming out of the conventions.

And I must say that I’ve gotten a good measure of both, and in the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having. And almost every day there was a different approach to the problem.

And that concerned me, sensing that he did not have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had. And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She’s a very distinguished woman, and she’s to be admired, but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President.

And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama, and I watched him during this 7-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge, and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a Vice President that I think is ready to be president on day one, and also in, not just jumping in and changing every day, but show intellectual vigor. I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.

I also believe that on the Republican side, over the last 7 weeks the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower. Mr. Obama at the same time has given us some more broader inclusive reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He’s crossing lines-- ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He’s thinking about all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values. And I’ve also been disappointed frankly by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign has, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign, but Mr. McCain says he’s a washed out terrorist—well, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship, that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, now Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings, and I think that’s inappropriate.

Now I understand what politics is all about, I know how you can go after one another. And that’s good. But I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrower. It’s not what the American people are looking for.

And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign and they trouble me.

And the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we would be looking at in a McCain administration.

I’m also troubled by…what members of the party say, and is permitted to be said, such things as, ‘Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, 'He is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian.'

But the really right answer is, 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?'

The answer’s 'No, that’s not America.'


Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture, at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave, and as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards, purple heart, bronze star, showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old, and then at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have a Star of David, it had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Ushad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11. And he waited until he could go serve his country, and he gave his life.

Now we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know, but I’m troubled about the fact that within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

So when I look at all of this and I think back to my army career, we’ve got two individuals. Either on of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I’ve come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities, as well as his substance, he has both style and substance, he has met the standard of being a successful president being an exceptional president, I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation, coming onto the world stage, the American stage,

And for that reason, I will be voting for Barack Obama.

--transcript from groundreport.com

Following that formal endorsement statement, he responded to Brokaw regarding Obama's capability to lead the military.:

BROKAW:
I can already anticipate some of the reaction to this. Let's begin with the charge that John McCain has continued to make against Barack Obama. You sit there, as a man who served in Vietnam, you commanded a battalion of 101st, you were chairman of the Joint Chiefs, you were a national security adviser and secretary of state. There is nothing in Barack Obama's history that nearly paralyze any--parallels any of the experiences that you've had. And while he has performed impressively in the context of the campaign, there's a vast difference between sitting in the Oval Office and making tough decisions and doing well in a campaign.
POWELL:
And he knows that. And I have watched him over the last two years as he has educated himself, as he has become very familiar with these issues. He speaks authoritatively. He speaks with great insight into the challenges we're facing of a military and political and economic nature. And he is surrounding himself, I'm confident, with people who'll be able to give him the expertise that he, at the moment, does not have. And so I have watched an individual who has intellectual vigor and who dives deeply into issues and approaches issues with a very, very steady hand. And so I'm confident that he will be ready to take on these challenges on January 21st.
* * *

Again, we should remember, Powell cited the desperate moves by the McCain campaign and Republicans (... "my party" -Powell) as repelling Powell. McCain could have had this endorsement.

Note further, the points that Powell makes in dispelling any racial bias in his endorsement:
MR. BROKAW: And you are fully aware that there will be some--how many, no one can say for sure--but there will be some who will say this is an African-American, distinguished American, supporting another African-American because of race.

GEN. POWELL: If I had only had that in mind, I could have done this six, eight, 10 months ago. I really have been going back and forth between somebody I have the highest respect and regard for, John McCain, and somebody I was getting to know, Barack Obama. And it was only in the last couple of months that I settled on this. And I can't deny that it will be a historic event for an African-American to become president. And should that happen, all Americans should be proud--not just African-Americans, but all Americans--that we have reached this point in our national history where such a thing could happen. It will also not only electrify our country, I think it'll electrify the world. --transcript from raisingkaine.com.

--->> McCain has lost the moderates. In addition to vacating Michigan his campaign should vacate upper New England and the Middle-Atlantic states, the last bastions of moderate Republican Congresspeople.

IMMEDIATE ANALYSIS: On Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama

Gov. Colin Powell's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama was mainly a rejection of the Palinization of the Republican Party.

For too many years, and with increasing intensity, we have been seeing the cultural conservatives becoming a more powerful, more incluential figure in the Republican Party. With the choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as Vice President, Sen. John McCain made it clear that he was tilting his hand toward the cultural conservative side of the party.

This saga has been a tragedy for Sen. John McCain. Here is the fellow that Independents, and even many Democrats, cited as a Republican that they felt very comfortable with. This was the Republican that people in the middle raised in contradistinction against the cultural conservatives.

This trip down the cultural conservative road marks McCain's following Buchanan in the path from the Republican Party of Richard Nixon.
Gen. Colin Powell (ret.), in his endorsement of Obama, did not reject John McCain as much as he rejected Sarah Palin, McCain's choice of Palin, and the low-road travelers of the Republican political machine. While Powell did upbraid McCain's reaction to the economic crisis as unwise, the majority of his indictment of McCain's candidacy dealt with the unclean direction of the McCain campaign and many Republicans.

Why did McCain choose Palin? He was grasping for the cultural conservative voters. But Palin embodies the cultural conservatives in a way that brings up too many embarrassing or unsettling hallmarks of cultural conservatives: her insistence of no quarter for abortions, even in the case of rape or incest (see her interview with Katie Couric), her belief that people shared the planet with dinosaurs (suggesting a literal reading of the Bible), her super-patriotism about God granting us fossil fuels.
Moreover, the selection must have tremendously offended the many Republican women that could have added strength to the ticket. Imagine the strength and wisdom that Condoleeza Rice or Kay Bailey Hutchinson could have added to the ticket.
The selection of Palin raises additional concerns about McCain. What is his conception of the role of the Vice President? However anyone wants to dress up the position, it is an understudy position. The understudy is someone hired to be ready to perform, should an actor be indisposed. The Vice President immediately steps in, in the event of the death or the temporary incapacity of the President. Now, we know that McCain's first choice actually was Sen. Joe Lieberman. Lieberman, despite plenty of mythology to the contrary, has a solid voting record on most issues, other than military policy. What was his reason for choosing Lieberman? Was it leadership qualities, personality? Was it related to whatever assumed demographic coattails a Lieberman role was presumed to bring along?
The VP pick is usually read as giving hints about the management or policy course that a candidate would take as president. Yet, the contrasts between Lieberman and Palin couldn't be more stark. Lieberman is a liberal; he would be useful for hoisting along moderates and some liberals to vote for McCain. Palin, as a conservative, is useful for shoring up McCain's conservative credentials and making conservatives a little bit more likely to forget about McCain's positions on immigration and campaign financing. The Vice President is supposed to, most of us would believe, carry on the ideological and leadership tendencies of the president. Just how would McCain govern, should he get elected? Along liberal lines, as the initial Lieberman choice suggests? -or as a hard-core, true-blue conservative Republican, as the Palin choice would suggest to us? The ideological direction of this latter choice is the direction that is turning off moderate Republicans, as Gen. Powell pointed out in his own view of the party's direction. This is not the Party of Teddy Roosevelt; this is the Party of Goldwater (recall his contempt for the United States' east coast, and his openly wondering if "just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea"). (With Palin we get that eastphobia redux, with her paranoid, blaming snipe against "East Coast politicians.")

This election, should McCain lose, will result in a big shake-up and a long moment of self-reflection for the Republicans. They will need to loosen their strong ties to the cultural conservative right. As David Brooks noted, the Republicans have lost the affinities of many voters in affluent areas along the two ocean coasts. (See his column, "The Class War Before Palin.")
Columnists hypothesized earlier this year that McCain stood to lose the support of the anti-immigrant crowd. The Republican ticket this year stands to lose the support of many moderate thinking Republicans this year. The Palin selection sealed indecision that these moderates would have about the ticket. This Powell endorsement of Obama will finalize the flight of moderate Republicans from the party's ticket this year.
(Of course, EVEN MORE DAMAGING, we should note that this endorsement, with all of the weight of Powell's gravitas, will give further encouragement to Independents to also join the rush to Obama.)

FLASH: COLIN POWELL ENDORSES SEN. BARACK OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

GENERAL COLIN POWELL (Ret.) SPEAKING ON NBC'S "Meet the Press":
[On Barack Obama]:
paraphrased, except where quotes are included.
"He has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well."

The McCain campaign "has become narrower and narrower"

"This Bill Ayers thing has gone on for weeks."

I am uncomforable with the direction that some Republicans are taking language in this campaign. --Such as, "You know that he's a Muslim."
He's not a Muslim. He's a Christian.

I'm troubled that within the party we have all these people making these statements.

Barack Obama has the ability to inspire, he has led an inclusive campaign,
he has the rhetorical capabilities, which I think matter,
He is a transformational figure.

For that reason I'll be voting for Barack Obama.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama-camp-accuses-republicans-plotting-suppress-votes

OBAMA CAMP DEMANDS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO INVESTIGATE THE ACORN "VOTE FRAUD" SITUATION.

The Barack Obama campaign's top lawyer, Bob Bauer, asked to have a special prosecutor step in, the same special prosecutor that is currently investigating the U.S. Justice Department's dismissal of attorneys.

Bauer cited "an unholy alliance of law enforcement and the ugliest form of partisan politics."

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court refused to a GOP challenge of 200,000 of the 600,000 new registrations in Ohio.

Here is the full story, as printed in Agence France Presse:

"Obama camp accuses Republicans of 'plotting' to suppress votes"

CHICAGO – Barack Obama's campaign accused rival John McCain of using a false crusade against voter fraud to suppress legitimate votes Friday as battles over who ought to be able to cast a ballot in the November 4 election intensified.

The Obama campaign's top lawyer, Bob Bauer, accused Republicans of recklessly "plotting" to suppress legitimate votes and to "sow confusion and harass voters and complicate the process for millions of Americans."

An estimated nine million new voters have registered for the hotly contested presidential election, and the Obama campaign says Democratic registrations are outpacing Republican ones by four to one.

The McCain campaign contends that an untold number of those registration forms are false and warned that illegally cast ballots could alter the results of the election and undermine the public's faith in democracy.

Republicans have launched a slew of lawsuits aimed at preventing false ballots from being cast, the most high-profile an attempt to challenge as many as 200,000 of the more than 600,000 new registrations submitted in the battleground state of Ohio.

That challenge was blocked by a Supreme Court ruling Friday.

Republicans point to investigations into whether liberal-leaning community organization ACORN had submitted false voter registrations as proof of "rampant" and widespread fraud which McCain said Wednesday could be "destroying the fabric of democracy."

But Bauer told reporters the fact that senior officials from the Justice Department leaked news of an FBI investigation into ACORN a day after McCain lobbed that attack shows that "an unholy alliance of law enforcement and the ugliest form of partisan politics" may have returned.

He said the matter should be turned over to a special prosecutor currently investigating allegations that US attorneys were fired by the Bush administration for failing to bring indictments of voter fraud and public corruption in the leadup to the 2006 election.

The McCain campaign dismissed Bauer's accusations as an "absurd" attempt to "criminalize political discourse."

"In case Senator Obama's lawyer did not notice, we are in the midst of a political campaign, not a coronation, and the alleged criminal activity he calls 'recent partisan Republican activities' are what the rest of us call campaign speeches and debates," spokesman Ben Porritt said in a statement.

Gallup's latest national tracking poll of registered voters had Obama at 50 percent to 43 percent for McCain.

Polls of battleground states by CNN and Time on Wednesday showed Obama up five points among registered voters in Colorado, by eight in Florida, by three in Missouri and by a yawning 10 points in Virginia.

McCain, who campaigned Friday in Florida, is pinning his hopes for a late comeback on "Joe the Plumber," the unlikely blue-collar hero of his final presidential debate with Obama on Wednesday.

The Arizona senator is banking that the low-tax mantra espoused by Ohio tradesman Joe Wurzelbacher, 34, in a chance encounter with Obama this week will resonate with voters at a time of economic crisis.

"The question Joe asked about our economy is important, because Senator Obama's plan would raise taxes on small businesses that employ 16 million Americans," McCain told a rally in Miami.

"Senator Obama's plan will kill those jobs at just the time when we need to be creating more jobs. My plan will create jobs, and that's what America needs."

Obama says that only individuals making over 200,000 dollars and families making more than a quarter of a million will face higher taxes if he is president, and most middle-class people will pay less.

Targeting a demographic that has proven resistant to his call for change, Obama said in Roanoke, Virginia: "When you've worked hard your whole life, and paid into the system, and done everything right, you shouldn't have the carpet pulled out from under you when you least expect it and can least afford it."

Obama was set to address a rally in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday afternoon after spending the night at home in Chicago.

McCain had events scheduled in North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday while his running mate, Sarah Palin , was set to fly to New York to appear on the comedy show Saturday Night Live which has seen its popularity spike with a series of sketches mimicking the Alaska governor.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Meet Sarah Palin's radical right-wing pals

Meet Sarah Palin’s radical right-wing pals -from The Nation, via Salon.com

Meet Sarah Palin's radical right-wing pals

Extremists Mark Chryson and Steve Stoll helped launch Palin's political career in Alaska, and in return had influence over policy.
"Her door was open," says Chryson — and still is.

Editor's note: Research support provided by the Nation Institute Investigative Fund.

By Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert
Oct. 10, 2008 PALMER, Alaska — | On the afternoon of Sept. 24 in downtown Palmer, Alaska, as the sun began to sink behind the snowcapped mountains that flank the picturesque Mat-Su Valley, 51-year-old Mark Chryson sat for an hour on a park bench, reveling in tales of his days as chairman of the Alaska Independence Party. The stocky, gray-haired computer technician waxed nostalgic about quixotic battles to eliminate taxes, support the "traditional family" and secede from the United States.

So long as Alaska remained under the boot of the federal government, said Chryson, the AIP had to stand on guard to stymie a New World Order. He invited a Salon reporter to see a few items inside his pickup truck that were intended for his personal protection. "This here is my attack dog," he said with a chuckle, handing the reporter an exuberant 8-pound papillon from his passenger seat. "Her name is Suzy." Then he pulled a 9-millimeter Makarov PM pistol — once the standard-issue sidearm for Soviet cops — out of his glove compartment.
"I've got enough weaponry to raise a small army in my basement," he said, clutching the gun in his palm. "Then again, so do most Alaskans." But Chryson added a message of reassurance to residents of that faraway place some Alaskans call "the 48." "We want to go our separate ways," he said, "but we are not going to kill you."

Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin. An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin's campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory.

Palin backed Chryson as he successfully advanced a host of anti-tax, pro-gun initiatives, including one that altered the state Constitution's language to better facilitate the formation of anti-government militias. She joined in their vendetta against several local officials they disliked, and listened to their advice about
hiring. She attempted to name Stoll, a John Birch Society activist known in the Mat-Su Valley as "Black Helicopter Steve," to an empty Wasilla City Council seat. "Every time I showed up her door was open," said Chryson. "And that policy continued when she became governor."

When Chryson first met Sarah Palin, however, he didn't really trust her politically. It was the early 1990s, when he was a member of a local libertarian pressure group called SAGE, or Standing Against Government Excess. (SAGE's founder, Tammy McGraw, was Palin's birth coach.) Palin was a leader in a pro-sales-tax citizens group called WOW, or Watch Over Wasilla, earning a political credential before her 1992 campaign for City Council. Though he was impressed by her interpersonal skills, Chryson greeted Palin's election warily, thinking she was too close to the Democrats on the council and too pro-tax.

But soon, Palin and Chryson discovered they could be useful to each other. Palin would be running for mayor, while Chryson was about to take over the chairmanship of the Alaska Independence Party, which at its peak in 1990 had managed to elect a governor.

The AIP was born of the vision of "Old Joe" Vogler, a hard-bitten former gold miner who hated the government of the United States almost as much as he hated wolves and environmentalists. His resentment peaked during the early 1970s when the federal government began installing Alaska's oil and gas pipeline. Fueled by raw rage — "The United States has made a colony of Alaska," he told author John McPhee in 1977 — Vogler declared a maverick candidacy for the governorship in 1982. Though he lost, Old Joe became a force to be reckoned with, as well as a constant source of amusement for Alaska's political class.
During a gubernatorial debate in 1982, Vogler proposed using nuclear weapons to obliterate the glaciers blocking roadways to Juneau.
"There's gold under there!" he exclaimed.

Vogler made another failed run for the governor's mansion in 1986. But the AIP's fortunes shifted suddenly four years later when Vogler convinced Richard Nixon's former interior secretary, Wally Hickel, to run for governor under his party's banner. Hickel coasted to victory, outflanking a moderate Republican and a centrist Democrat. An archconservative Republican running under the AIP candidate, Jack Coghill, was elected lieutenant governor.

Hickel's subsequent failure as governor to press for a vote on Alaskan independence rankled Old Joe. With sponsorship from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vogler was scheduled to present his case for Alaskan secession before the United Nations General Assembly in the late spring of 1993. But before he could, Old Joe's long, strange political career ended tragically that May when he was murdered by a fellow
secessionist.

Hickel rejoined the Republican Party the year after Vogler's death and didn't run for reelection. Lt. Gov. Coghill's campaign to succeed him as the AIP candidate for governor ended in disaster; he peeled away just enough votes from the Republican, Jim Campbell, to throw the gubernatorial election to Democrat Tony Knowles.

Despite the disaster, Coghill hung on as AIP chairman for three more years. When he was asked to resign in 1997, Mark Chryson replaced him. Chryson pursued a dual policy of cozying up to secessionist and right-wing groups in Alaska and elsewhere while also attempting to replicate the AIP's success with Hickel in infiltrating the mainstream.

Unlike some radical right-wingers, Chryson doesn't put forward his ideas freighted with anger or paranoia. And in a state where defense of gun and property rights often takes on a real religious fervor, Chryson was able to present himself as a typical Alaskan.

He rose through party ranks by reducing the AIP's platform to a single page that "90 percent of Alaskans could agree with." This meant scrubbing the old platform of what Chryson called "racist language" while accommodating the state's growing Christian right movement by emphasizing the AIP's commitment to the "traditional family."

"The AIP is very family-oriented," Chryson explained. "We're for the traditional family — daddy, mommy, kids — because we all know that it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And we don't care if Heather has two mommies. That's not a traditional family."

Chryson further streamlined the AIP's platform by softening its secessionist language. Instead of calling for immediate separation from the United States, the platform now demands a vote on independence.

Yet Chryson maintains that his party remains committed to full independence. "The Alaskan Independence Party has got links to almost every independence-minded movement in the world," Chryson exclaimed.
"And Alaska is not the only place that's about separation. There's at least 30 different states that are talking about some type of separation from the United States."

This has meant rubbing shoulders and forging alliances with outright white supremacists and far-right theocrats, particularly those who dominate the proceedings at such gatherings as the North American Secessionist conventions, which AIP delegates have attended in recent years. The AIP's affiliation with neo-Confederate organizations is motivated as much by ideological affinity as by organizational convenience. Indeed, Chryson makes no secret of his sympathy for the Lost Cause. "Should the Confederate states have been allowed to separate and go their peaceful ways?" Chryson asked rhetorically.
"Yes. The War of Northern Aggression, or the Civil War, or the War Between the States — however you want to refer to it — was not about slavery, it was about states' rights."

Another far-right organization with whom the AIP has long been aligned is Howard Phillips' militia-minded Constitution Party. The AIP has been listed as the Constitution Party's state affiliate since the late 1990s, and it has endorsed the Constitution Party's presidential candidates (Michael Peroutka and Chuck Baldwin) in the past two elections.

The Constitution Party boasts an openly theocratic platform that reads, "It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions and to restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations." In its 1990s incarnation as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, it was on the front lines in promoting the "militia" movement, and a significant portion of its membership comprises former and current militia members.

At its 1992 convention, the AIP hosted both Phillips — the USTP's presidential candidate — and militia-movement leader Col. James "Bo" Gritz, who was campaigning for president under the banner of the far-right Populist Party. According to Chryson, AIP regulars heavily supported Gritz, but the party deferred to Phillips' presence and issued no official endorsements.

In Wasilla, the AIP became powerful by proxy — because of Chryson and Stoll's alliance with Sarah Palin. Chryson and Stoll had found themselves in constant opposition to policies of Wasilla's Democratic mayor, who started his three-term, nine-year tenure in 1987. By 1992, Chryson and Stoll had begun convening regular protests outside City Council. Their demonstrations invariably involved grievances against any and all forms of "socialist government," from city planning to public education. Stoll shared Chryson's conspiratorial views: "The rumor was that he had wrapped his guns in plastic and buried them in his yard so he could get them after the New World Order took over," Stein told a reporter.

Chryson did not trust Palin when she joined the City Council in 1992.
He claimed that she was handpicked by Democratic City Council leaders and by Wasilla's Democratic mayor, John Stein, to rubber-stamp their tax hike proposals. "When I first met her," he said, "I thought she was extremely left. But I've watched her slowly as she's become more pronounced in her conservative ideology."

Palin was well aware of Chryson's views. "She knew my beliefs," Chryson said. "The entire state knew my beliefs. I wasn't afraid of being on the news, on camera speaking my views."
But Chryson believes she trusted his judgment because he accurately predicted what life on the City Council would be like. "We were telling her, 'This is probably what's going to happen,'" he said.
"'The city is going to give this many people raises, they're going to pave everybody's roads, and they're going to pave the City Council members' roads.' We couldn't have scripted it better because everything we predicted came true."

After intense evangelizing by Chryson and his allies, they claimed Palin as a convert. "When she started taking her job seriously," Chryson said, "the people who put her in as the rubber stamp found out the hard way that she was not going to go their way." In 1994, Sarah Palin attended the AIP's statewide convention. In 1995, her husband, Todd, changed his voter registration to AIP. Except for an
interruption of a few months, he would remain registered was an AIP member until 2002, when he changed his registration to undeclared.

In 1996, Palin decided to run against John Stein as the Republican candidate for mayor of Wasilla. While Palin pushed back against Stein's policies, particularly those related to funding public works, Chryson said he and Steve Stoll prepared the groundwork for her mayoral campaign.

Chryson and Stoll viewed Palin's ascendancy as a vehicle for their own political ambitions. "She got support from these guys," Stein remarked. "I think smart politicians never utter those kind of radical things, but they let other people do it for them. I never recall Sarah saying she supported the militia or taking a public stand like that.
But these guys were definitely behind Sarah, thinking she was the more conservative choice."

"They worked behind the scenes," said Stein. "I think they had a lot of influence in terms of helping with the back-scatter negative campaigning."

. . . .

FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE ARTICLE, PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LINK.
There's more creepy stuff, like apologist arguments for the Confederacy.

See also the video on the upper right of this page.

Report denial of voting rights

REPORT DENIAL OF VOTER'S RIGHTS AT "Election Protection," www.866ourvote.org or 1-800-866-our-vote. (NY Times says that it is nonpartisan.) Get information at the site or volunteer to help.

Weathermen prosecutor defends Obama

This letter in the October 10 "The New York Times" aptly addresses the distracting, vacuous William Ayers smear directed at Barack Obama.
To the Editor:

Re “Politics of Attack” (editorial, Oct. 8) and “Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths” (front page, Oct. 4):

As the lead federal prosecutor of the Weathermen in the 1970s (I was then chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of Michigan and took over the Weathermen prosecution in 1972), I am amazed and outraged that Senator Barack Obama is being linked to William Ayers’s terrorist activities 40 years ago when Mr. Obama was, as he has noted, just a child.

Although I dearly wanted to obtain convictions against all the Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, I am very pleased to learn that he has become a responsible citizen.

Because Senator Obama recently served on a board of a charitable organization with Mr. Ayers cannot possibly link the senator to acts perpetrated by Mr. Ayers so many years ago.

I do take issue with the statement in your news article that the Weathermen indictment was dismissed because of “prosecutorial misconduct.” It was dismissed because of illegal activities, including wiretaps, break-ins and mail interceptions, initiated by John N. Mitchell, attorney general at that time, and W. Mark Felt, an F.B.I. assistant director.

William C. Ibershof
Mill Valley, Calif., Oct. 8, 2008

Debunking WSJ's Fund's lies about ACORN & elections

Media Matters debunks John Funds' distortions about ACORN and vote fraud.
No one likes vote fraud. Fraudulent votes distort the will of the electorate; they malign the integrity of the vote. Yet, we cannot countenance Republican vote suppression or distortions of what is happening in voter registration drives.
Here's the opening of the Media Matters article, "John Fund introduces new falsehoods in 2008 version of Stealing Elections"
Summary: In the revised version of his book Stealing Elections, John Fund claims that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now "runs something called 'Camp Obama,' which trains campaign volunteers in the same tactics that Obama honed as a community organizer." In the "Notes" section of the book, Fund attributes this assertion to a Chicago Sun-Times article, but the article does not link "Camp Obama" to ACORN -- indeed, it does not mention ACORN at all. Moreover, "Camp Obama" reportedly was established and run by the Obama campaign.

Curious about the controversy over voter registration fraud? See the entire article at the MediaMatters site.

Europe unified on bank guarantees

BREAKING NEWS FROM EUROPE, via "The Washington Post":
Europe Unified On Proposal to Protect Banks
World Governments Respond to Crisis"

PARIS-- Governments around the world took unprecedented steps Sunday to rescue the global financial system, with major European powers unveiling a united plan to prevent further bank failures while Australia and New Zealand moved to calm panicked investors by guaranteeing deposits before stock markets opened in Asia.

* Europe Unified On Proposal to Protect Banks
* European Banks to Get Billions from Governments
* U.S. Moves to Get $700B Bank Rescue Started
* U.S. Markets Surge in Early Trading

With the newly decisive moves, other major nations are catching up to or surpassing the United States in sculpting a response to the crisis, which crashed stock markets last week and is threatening a broader collapse of the world's interconnected banking system. Although Congress has given the Treasury Department wide authority to intervene in financial markets with a $700 billion bailout plan, officials are still trying to figure out how best to execute it.

This morning, Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari, who has been tapped to orchestrate the bailout, is scheduled to give a speech in Washington on the giant rescue package.

In addition to Australia and New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates guaranteed all deposits with local banks yesterday, including the country's two largest lenders, Emirates NBD and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, to ensure that credit continues to flow. This follows moves by some European countries, including Ireland and Germany, to remove or raise the limit on deposit insurance. The United States also increased guarantees for banking deposits from $100,000 to $250,000.

In Europe, where dissent over how to handle the crisis has added fuel to investor panic in recent weeks, leaders presented a unified response for the first time. At an emergency summit of the 15 countries that use the euro, the continent's major economic powers agreed Sunday to offer government guarantees for troubled banks trying to raise funds and pledged that public money would be used aggressively to make sure no European bank is allowed to fail.

Europe's vow to temporarily guarantee bank debt . . .

READ THE REMAINDER of Washington Post article HERE

UPDATE, OCT 10, 2:00 PM: STOCKS RALLY IN RESPONSE TO CAPITAL PLEDGE:
"Stocks Soar on Pledges of New Capital" at the New York Times.

Howard Zinn on bailout: Take a tip from the New Deal

Howard Zinn in "The Nation": Take a tip from the New Deal: invest that $700 billion in jobs and mortgage aid for those who need it most.

How refreshing it would be if a presidential candidate reminded us of the experience of the New Deal.


Lead points in historian and activist Howard Zinn's article on stimulating the economy, via the people:
It is sad to see both major parties agree to spend $700 billion of taxpayer money to bail out huge financial institutions that are notable for two characteristics: incompetence and greed. There is a much better solution to the financial crisis. But it would require discarding what has been conventional wisdom for too long: that government intervention in the economy ("big government") must be avoided like the plague, because the "free market" can be depended on to guide the economy toward growth and justice. Surely the sight of Wall Street begging for government aid is almost comic in light of its long devotion to a "free market" unregulated by government.

Let's face a historical truth: we have never had a free market. We have always had government intervention in the economy, and indeed that intervention has been welcomed by the captains of finance and industry. These titans of wealth hypocritically warned against "big government" but only when government threatened to regulate their activities or when it contemplated passing some of the nation's wealth on to the neediest people. They had no quarrel with big government when it served their needs.

. . .

In framing the Constitution, the founders created "big government" powerful enough to put down the rebellions of farmers, to return escaped slaves to their masters and to put down Indian resistance when settlers moved westward. The first big bailout was the decision of the new government to redeem for full value the almost worthless bonds held by speculators.

From the start, in the first sessions of the first Congress, the government interfered with the free market by establishing tariffs to subsidize manufacturers and by becoming a partner with private banks in establishing a national bank. This role of big government supporting the interests of the business classes has continued all through the nation's history. Thus, in the nineteenth century the government subsidized canals and the merchant marine. In the decades before and during the Civil War, the government gave away some 100 million acres of land to the railroads, along with considerable loans to keep the railroad interests in business. The 10,000 Chinese and 3,000 Irish who worked on the transcontinental railroad got no free land and no loans, only long hours, little pay, accidents and sickness.

The principle of government helping big business and refusing government largesse to the poor was bipartisan, upheld by Republicans and Democrats. President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, vetoed a bill to give $10,000 to Texas farmers to help them buy seed grain during a drought, saying, "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character." But that same year, he used the gold surplus to pay wealthy bondholders $28 above the value of each bond--a gift of $5 million.

. . .
[Now, to the present}
We have a historic and successful precedent. The government in the early days of the New Deal put millions of people to work rebuilding the nation's infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of young people, instead of joining the army to escape poverty, joined the Civil Conservation Corps, which built bridges and highways, cleaned up harbors and rivers. Thousands of artists, musicians and writers were employed by the WPA's arts programs to paint murals, produce plays, write symphonies. The New Deal (defying the cries of "socialism") established Social Security, which, along with the GI Bill, became a model for what government could do to help its people.

That can be carried further, with "health security"--free healthcare for all, administered by the government, paid for from our Treasury, bypassing the insurance companies and the other privateers of the health industry. All that will take more than $700 billion. But the money is there: in the $600 billion for the military budget, once we decide we will not be a warmaking nation anymore, and in the bloated bank accounts of the superrich, once we bring them down to ordinary-rich size by taxing vigorously their income and their wealth.

When the cry goes up, whether from Republicans or Democrats, that this must not be done because it is "big government," the citizens should just laugh. And then agitate and organize on behalf of what the Declaration of Independence promised: that it is the responsibility of government to ensure the equal right of all to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

This is a golden opportunity for Obama to distance himself cleanly from McCain as well as the fossilized Democratic Party leaders, giving life to his slogan of change and thereby sweeping into office. And if he doesn't act, it will be up to the people, as it always has been, to raise a shout that will be heard around the world--and compel the politicians to listen.