07 October, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

The new McCain/Palin tactic: incite to riot:

Yesterday, we heard McCain/Palin supporters call Obama a "terrorist," use racial slurs, and exclaim that Obama should be "killed." Today, the hate continues.

In the latest instance of inflammatory outbursts at McCain-Palin rallies, a crowd member screamed "treason!" during an event on Tuesday after Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of criticizing U.S. troops.

"[Obama] said, too, that our troops in Afghanistan are 'air raiding villages and killing civilians,'" Palin said, mischaracterizing a 2007 remark by Obama. "I hope Americans know that is not what our brave men and women in uniform are doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is fighting terrorism and protecting us and protecting our freedom."

Shortly afterward, a male member of the crowd in Jacksonville, Florida, yelled "treason!" loudly enough to be picked up by television microphones.

Now, part of this really is Palin's fault. She's blatantly lying to her supporters, leading them to think Obama really is condemning U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The charge was debunked 15 months ago when Republicans first used it, and it hasn't improved with age. If Palin is capable of shame -- an unlikely scenario, to be sure -- now would be a good time for it.

That said, McCain/Palin have reached a point where they have to decide whether whipping right-wing activists into a frenzy, based solely on lies, is the responsible way to seek national office. The Republican candidates are not literally calling for violence against their political rivals, but they're nevertheless standing by, saying nothing, while their supporters are shouting words like "kill," "terrorist," and "treason" at their rallies.

If you can't beat 'em, assault 'em, eh? They've decided that, as they're slipping in the polls, the best thing they can do is to unleash hatred and racism. Maybe they even believe they can control it. But when you whip the crowd up to a frenzy, that crowd is going to quickly spiral out of your control. Here's a foretaste:
Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
There was a time in our society, not too many weeks ago, when it would have been unthinkable to shout "terrorist," "treason," and "kill him!" at a political rally and have the candidate respond with a smirk and more attacks. A time when calling a black man an "uppity negro" and telling him to "sit down, boy" would have been considered beyond outrageous. That was before McCain/Palin and their band of Rovian lackeys came through winking and nudging and letting the racists and violent "patriots" know it's really okay to let the worst of themselves go. That was before McCain/Palin implicitly endorsed the violence and thuggery and hate.

They're willing to tear America apart along racial and class lines to win. They're willing to unleash demons we've spent decades trying to banish. That's not putting country first.

But we shouldn't be surprised. After all, this comes from the ticket that includes a lying governor who gives peppy speeches to secessionist parties:

As Jed's video shows, earlier this year, Sarah Palin spoke at the convention of the Alaskan Independence Party, offering them cheery words and ad expressing her admiration and cheery words including: "Keep up the good work," she told them. "And God bless you." Her husband Todd was a member of the party for seven years. Sarah Palin addressed AIP conventions repeatedly during her time as mayor of Wasilla.

The Alaskan Independence Party, in case you don't recall, stands for this:

The founder of the AIP was a man named Joe Vogler. Here's what he had to say in a 1991 interview, only a few years before Palin attended its convention: "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government."

He also said this: "And I won't be buried under their damn flag. I'll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home."

Vogler has also said: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

McCain apologists will argue that Sarah Palin was not a member of this group. But Obama wasn't a member of any Ayers anti-American group, either. And again, Palin repeatedly courted the AIP, and her husband was a member for years.

If you want to talk about hating America, Barak Obama's not the one you should be looking at. Palin is.

And if you want to talk about associating with terrorists, let's have a discussion about McCain's close personal friends, shall we?
What with all the current media activity about Obama and his acquaintance, former weatherman Bill Ayers (coming coincidentally on the heels of the McCain campaign launching a full blown character attack) Media Matters wonders why nobody has yet discussed McCain's relationship with his old pal, convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy.

On October 4, The New York Times published a 2,140-word front-page article about Sen. Barack Obama's association with former Weather Underground member William Ayers -- at least the 18th Times article this year mentioning that association. But the Times has yet to mention, let alone devote an entire article to, Sen. John McCain's relationship with radio host and convicted Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy. Indeed, in its October 4 article, the Times quoted Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman denouncing Obama's association with Ayers but did not note that Chapman has described Liddy as McCain's "own Bill Ayers" and has written that "[i]f Obama needs to answer questions about Ayers, McCain has the same obligation regarding Liddy." The Times, moreover, quoted McCain criticizing Obama for his association with Ayers without noting that Chapman has faulted McCain for what Chapman described as McCain's "howling hypocrisy on the subject."

As Media Matters for America has noted, Liddy served four and a half years in prison in connection with his conviction for his role in the Watergate break-in and the break-in at the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Liddy has acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in "if necessary"; plotting to murder journalist Jack Anderson; plotting with a "gangland figure" to murder Howard Hunt to stop him from cooperating with investigators; plotting to firebomb the Brookings Institution; and plotting to kidnap "leftist guerillas" at the 1972 Republican National Convention -- a plan he outlined to the Nixon administration using terminology borrowed from the Nazis. (The murder, firebombing, and kidnapping plots were never carried out; the break-ins were.) During the 1990s, Liddy reportedly instructed his radio audience on multiple occasions on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents and also reportedly said he had named his shooting targets after Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Liddy has donated $5,000 to McCain's campaigns since 1998, including $1,000 in February 2008. In addition, McCain has appeared on Liddy's radio show during the presidential campaign, including as recently as May. An online video labeled "John McCain On The G. Gordon Liddy Show 11/8/07" includes a discussion between Liddy and McCain, whom Liddy described as an "old friend." During the segment, McCain praised Liddy's "adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great," said he was "proud" of Liddy, and said that "it's always a pleasure for me to come on your program.
From where I'm sitting, it looks like McCain really shouldn't be giving people a hard time over who they serve on boards with, considering he thinks a man as disgusting as Liddy is all that and a bag of potato chips. I wonder how swing voters, who aren't rabid right enough to put on little blinders when it comes to terrorism on the right, are going to feel about this?

We should also probably ask, just for the hell of it, why so many Republicons enjoy associating with a terrible terrorist like Ayers:

Yesterday, in a rehash of the MSM acknowledged issues of the day, NPR did a short piece on Obama and Ayers. Fortunately for many, they made news.

First, Obama began working with Ayers and others (Republicans, Independents, and Democrats) at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Well, what is the Anneberg Challenge? Who is Annenberg? Well according to NPR,

The Obama campaign says he first met Ayers in 1995, when Obama became chair of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50 million fund that awarded grants to groups trying to implement new programs to improve inner city education in Chicago.

Walter Annenberg, a lifelong Republican and former ambassador who was appointed by Presidents Nixon and Reagan, funded an ambitious program to reform urban education in many cities in the mid 1990s. Ayers was an important member of the group that developed and wrote the grant proposal to the Annenberg Foundation.

Second, there were people of all political persuasions working on this effort with this "terrorist" Ayers and who saw him as acceptable and Obama was no closer than any of the others.

...no one on the board or on the Annenberg Challenge staff remembers Obama being any closer to Ayers than to any other member of the board. The Annenberg board also included several civic, business and education leaders, many of them Republicans...

In fact one person close to the issue states:

"I don't remember ever hearing anyone raise concerns or questions or concerns about [Ayers'] background," says Anne Hallett, who has worked closely with Ayers on the Annenberg Challenge grant and with Obama on education and other community and legislative matters. "And that included everybody I was engaged with," including prominent Republicans, and corporate and civic leaders in Chicago, Hallett adds.

Guess Ayers isn't that awful, after all. On a scale of terrorists, he hits firmly in the "did incredibly stupid things in youth, is now a boring old establishment-type guy" range. But you'd never know it from the howling on the Ridiculous Right. The GOP, not to be left out when McCain/Palin started whipping up the rabid masses, have decided that Obama is "a terrorist's best friend:"

I've been writing about political campaigns for more than a quarter-century now, and it really takes a lot to surprise me, but I am absolutely stunned at the depths that the Republican Party is willing to sink to try in win this election, even as polls are beginning to suggest it may be a lost cause for John McCain and Sarah Palin. At 9:29 p.m., I received in an email the sleaziest political press release I've ever seen. It came from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and it's headlined: "PAGOP: OBAMA - A TERRORIST'S BEST FRIEND."

Here's the meat of it:

HARRISBURG – Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Robert A. Gleason, Jr. released the following statement regarding Barack Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers, a terrorist who helped found a group called the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground is a left-wing extremist group that was responsible for bombing both the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon in the 70’s. The group was also responsible for a pipe bomb that killed a San Francisco police officer in 1970.

“Barack Obama’s association with terrorist Bill Ayers is alarming and absolutely deserves to be questioned,” Gleason said. “We are electing someone to be our next Commander-in-Chief and I think it is more than fair to look into their background. The Obama Campaign admitted that Obama and Ayers were ‘certainly friendly’ and that says a lot about Barack Obama’s character. Ayers’ is a terrorist, and there is no denying that the group he founded attacked our country and killed innocent Americans.

“Obama claims that he didn’t know about Ayers background as a terrorist, but I find that hard to believe. Ayers past is well known and he has been quoted in numerous articles, including in The New York Times where he said that he thought he didn’t do enough and wishes that he would have set off more bombs. What does it say about the character of Barack Obama that he knowingly associates with terrorists? It tells me that Obama lacks the judgment and character to be our next Commander-in-Chief.”

First of all, and most importantly, there's absolutely nothing in the body of the release that supports this wildly inflammatory and arguably libelous headline, that Obama is a "terrorist's best friend." Despite more than a year of Obama's relationship with Ayers investigated by everyone from Fox News to the New York Times, no one has ever come up anything more than what the Obama campaign has said, that the two were acquaintances who traveled in the same circles in their Chicago, as advocates of school reform. That's a best friend?

When the GOP wants to smear you, the fact that you once stood in a grocery store line two people down from someone who once wrote "Teh Goovermint Sux" on a bureaucrat's car in the DC suburbs using shoe polish qualifies you as a "terrorist's best friend" - as long as you're a Democrat. If you're a Republicon, you can associate with whomever you'd like, up to and including bin Laden. You can sleep with secessionists, carry anti-regulation water for con artist bankers and cozy up to whatever right-wing extremists you'd like.

If this country doesn't disabuse them of that notion ASAP, we're going to have a horrific situation on our hands. The Republicon party no longer has any respect for America or concern for her well-being. It's time they're pushed aside and isolated just as thoroughly as we would isolate candidates from the neo-Nazi movement or any other group whose values and goals stand in direct opposition to the values and goals of this nation. Those who would incite violence and racial strife for their political gain have no place on the national stage.

1 comment:

Cujo359 said...

Nobody's uncovered anything about this that we didn't know six months ago. My only concern during the primary was that this association between Obama and Ayers would end up being used like this, particularly if Obama wasn't careful how he answered questions about that association.

This was all investigated during the primaries, and even we who were opposed to Obama didn't see this issue as anything more than a potential distraction. What Ayers did was long ago, and it's not relevant to Obama's association with him now.