The right's self-sabotage just won't end. Also from Salon:
RedState's editor, Erick Erickson, felt compelled to stand up for white men on Wednesday. "I dunno, Sotomayor," he wrote on Twitter. "Considering white males engineered Western Civ, you'd think they'd have a handle on things to be able to make decisions."
Not surprisingly, the idea of trying to block a Latina judge from the Supreme Court by stirring up resentment over affirmative action doesn't strike many observers as the best way to appeal to Latino voters. "If Sonia Sotomayor's name were John Smith, she'd be just as qualified, and no one would be charging affirmative action or reverse racism," said Mark McKinnon, a Republican strategist who left John McCain's presidential campaign last year because he didn't want to help it go negative against Obama. "To suggest as much is itself racist. And I think most Americans see right through the smoke screen."
The White House -- which wouldn't comment for this story -- isn't exactly trying to avoid reminding people of Sotomayor's Puerto Rican heritage, preferably with a soft-focus lens that plays up the historic nature of her nomination. If conservatives overreach in opposing her, the administration won't complain. "Latino voters are responding with a tremendous sense of pride and appreciation," said Fernand Amandi, executive vice president of Bendixen & Associates, a Democratic polling firm that surveyed Latino voters for Obama's campaign last year. "The Hispanic community -- especially after the immigration issue -- is very sensitive to dog-whistle attack politics. During the immigration debate, Hispanics were never directly attacked or called out, but the message they received was they were not wanted here." The dog-whistle line may have already been crossed; it's not exactly a hidden message to call someone a race hustler.
Republicans who actually have to win elections don't seem interested in engaging in the backlash politics. "The approach that many of the senators and leadership is taking is, well, you know, let's give her a fair hearing and see what she has to say," said GOP pollster Glen Bolger. "It's really hard to stop this kind of nomination [with only 40 Senate seats], and then there's the political Hispanic angle." A Republican consultant who advises GOP candidates on winning Latino votes, Lionel Sosa, said he expected most senators to ask plenty of questions about Sotomayor, then support her. "For Republicans to mount a filibuster is foolhardy," he said. "If a Republican doesn't care about getting reelected, and a Republican doesn't care about the image of the Republican Party, they may vote against her, but I think in the end, we'll see who the smart ones are and who the not so smart ones are by how they cast their votes."
Joe Conasan takes the lash to the Sotomayor opposition over at Salon, describing the right's unpleasant experience with choosing a Justice simply because of the color of his skin, rather than the content of his intellect:
... why do some of Sotomayor's nastiest adversaries imagine that the public will accept these false characterizations of her intelligence and credentials? Perhaps that instinct follows from the right's own sad experiences with Republican affirmative action -- most notably in the matter of Justice Thomas, who embodied all of the problems that conservatives perceived in the pursuit of ethnic diversity. When the wingnuts attack Sotomayor with inaccurate stereotypes, they're projecting onto her the shortcomings of their own beloved Clarence.
Eighteen years ago, the Senate confirmation of Thomas earned historic notoriety for its bizarre descent into conflicting recollections of sexual harassment and pornographic banter. But the lingering question about the man selected to replace the legendary Justice Thurgood Marshall was whether he fulfilled the White House description of him as "the most qualified [candidate] at this time." As Thomas confessed in his memoir a few years ago, "Even I had my doubts about so extravagant a claim."
So extravagant was Bush's assertion as to verge on comical. Far from being the "most qualified," Thomas was a nominee with no experience on the bench beyond the 18 months he had served on the U.S. District Court of Appeals. He had never written a significant legal brief or article. He had achieved no distinction in private practice or law enforcement. He had never even argued a case in federal court, let alone at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Conasan's damning conclusion about Thomas:
... Flash forward now to the discussions within the first Bush administration over how to replace Marshall, the liberal lion whose departure provided conservatives with a chance to spin the direction of the court. Every account of those deliberations indicates that Bush and his aides went through a list of potential African-American nominees to the high court -- and rejected politically moderate judges with better qualifications than Thomas, such as Amalya Kearse. They picked him because they had to fill a "black seat" on the court, and because he was prepared to enforce their ideology on the court -- a function he has reliably performed in lockstep with Justice Antonin Scalia.
In other words, Thomas was chosen from a Bush White House shortlist that excluded white males – supposedly a profound sin when committed by the Obama White House in selecting Sotomayor.
Yet the right can never bring its corrosive racial skepticism to bear on Thomas, a man who had proven his willingness to parrot reactionary bromides. He is the single most prominent beneficiary of the quest for diversity in American history, but he is their diversity candidate -- and thus deserved elevation, if not as a distinguished jurist, then because he had suffered discrimination as a conservative.
My advice, which tracks with that of others today, is: 1) Don't call her names, and yes, "stupid" and "racist" are names; 2) Don't whine about the double standard when a) it's just a fact that a white male can't say the kind of things she did in her "Latina lecture" and survive (if you don't understand why, you haven't paid attention to American history) and b) liberal Democrats can get away with viciously opposing a Latino nominee like Miguel Estrada without paying a real political price because Latinos aren't primed to believe that liberal Democrats are hostile to them and their interests (plus, the public doesn't really pay attention to appeals-court nominees); 3) Do treat her personally with an extra measure of respect because old-fashioned people — and thank goodness, there are still a lot of them out there — will expect a woman to get more deference than a man.
Good luck with that, man. And his pal Mark "Change Her Name to Suddamyah" Krikorian (and how DO you pronounce "Krikorian" in American, anyway...? ... tries to become the winger
sidekick of reason: I think Krauthammer's right in his column today: "Use the upcoming hearings not to deny her the seat, but to illuminate her views. . . . The argument should be elevated, respectful, and entirely about judicial philosophy." (My own observations about her name had nothing to do with her as such.) Gingrich, Limbaugh, and Tancredo crying "racist" isn't going to help at all. I know that's unfair, because any kind of Republican nominee, even a Hispanic woman judge, would already have been crucified based on the comments Judge Sotomayor has made, and any on the Left who deny that are simply lying. But that's the reality of the battlespace we're in.
Well what DID your name change thing have to do with, then, Krikorian? An inability to pronounce compound words??? Dude, your name is KRIKORIAN...!
This complete separation of the judiciary from the enterprise of "representative government" might have some truth in those countries where judges neither make law themselves nor set aside the laws enacted by the legislature. It is not a true picture of the American system. Not only do state-court judges possess the power to "make" common law, but they have the immense power to shape the States' constitutions as well. See, e.g., Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194, 744 A. 2d 864 (1999). Which is precisely why the election of state judges became popular.
Although Justice [John Paul] Stevens at times appears to agree with Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg's premise that the judiciary is completely separated from the enterprise of representative government, post, at 3 ("[E]very good judge is fully aware of the distinction between the law and a personal point of view"), he eventually appears to concede that the separation does not hold true for many judges who sit on courts of last resort, post, at 3 ("If he is not a judge on the highest court in the State, he has an obligation to follow the precedent of that court, not his personal views or public opinion polls"); post, at 3, n. 2. Even if the policy making capacity of judges were limited to courts of last resort, that would only prove that the announce clause fails strict scrutiny. "[I]f announcing one's views in the context of a campaign for the State Supreme Court might be" protected speech, post, at 3, n. 2, then-even if announcing one's views in the context of a campaign for a lower court were not protected speech, ibid.-the announce clause would not be narrowly tailored, since it applies to high- and low-court candidates alike. In fact, however, the judges of inferior courts often "make law," since the precedent of the highest court does not cover every situation, and not every case is reviewed. Justice Stevens has repeatedly expressed the view that a settled course of lower court opinions binds the highest court. See, e.g., Reves v. Ernst & Young, 494 U.S. 56, 74 (1990) (concurring opinion); McNally v. United States, 483 U.S. 350, 376--377 (1987) (dissenting opinion).
This all comes courtesy of HuffPost reader Doug Schafer, who is of the opinion that journalists ought to avail themselves of this citation from Scalia whenever the "judges don't make law" canard arises. I agree!
Next, we'll find out Scalia's decision-making is influenced by his Italian heritage ... like Sam Alito...
CNN 'shook' by Olbermann: reading full Sotomayor statement now
Keith Olbermann stung CNN last night for parroting, out of context, the right wing's out of context lies about Judge Sotomayor for her statement during a speech that she would hope that, in a given situation:
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
CNN anchor Don Lemon is reading the full text of Sotomayor's speech now. In context, the relevant passage, which was part of a talk on the importance of having more ethnic diversity on the bench, reads this way:
In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.
However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.
In other words, she wasn't saying that a Latina judge would reach better conclusions generally, in all things, but that in matters where race and gender are material to the case, she would hope that a woman judge of color would bring life experiences to the table that would enable her to make a more "wise" decision than her colleague who "hadn't lived that life." There is nothing even remotely controversial about that. I would think that a white male former firefighter who became a judge would bring a different sensibility and understanding to the Ricci case, enabling that judge to inform his colleagues who had never run into a burning building.
Meanwhile, the Tapped blog at the American Prospect says it about as well as can be said, in answering the "affirmative action" smears against Judge Sonia, which are a think veneer over what has become a rather embarassing fit of white male self-victimization:
In short, everyone agrees that Sotomayor is an idiot, based on an anonymous quote solicited by Rosen, who admits that he hasn't "read enough of Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them," and that he hasn't "talked to enough of Sonia Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths."
This is exactly what affirmative action is meant to correct: People coming to the arbitrary conclusion that someone is "an idiot" despite all evidence to the contrary, except if you consider not being a white man evidence. Sotomayor's detractors see themselves as Frank Riccis, white men whose greatness isn't recognized because we're too busy giving brown people who can't tie their shoes certificates of achievement. But the truth is that in life and in employment, discrimination rarely manifests itself the way it did against Ricci, as something as easy to quantify as an unfair test. It's far more insidious -- a rumor, a feeling, a notion that the person standing in front of you who doesn't look like you is just "dumb and obnoxious." So you throw their resume in the "no" pile because you don't like their name, you seat them in the back of the class, you promote another person. You just can't really explain why. It's... just a feeling.
Next, Powell was attacked by Draft Dodgin' Dick Cheney, the benighted one, who got out of his Vietnam service by makin' babies! Cheney attempted to usher Powell out of the GOP, for the above-mentioned offense of supporting Barack Obama. And he sided with his teammate, Rush, over Powell (if he had to choose.) Well, Powell hit back at him, too, and now, it looks like Dick has decided to walk it back:
In an interview with CNBC's Larry Kudlow, Cheney said Powell is welcome back into the party and that Republicans would be "happy to have him."
KUDLOW: ... You kind of took a shot at General Colin Powell the other day, said you didn't know he was still a member of the Republican Party. He responded to you by saying that you were mistaken. He is a member of the Republican Party, and he regards himself a, quote, "Jack Kemp Republican," end quote. Could you react to what Mr. Powell is saying?
Mr. CHENEY: Well, we're happy to have General Powell in the Republican Party. I was asked a question about a dispute he was having, I think, with Rush Limbaugh, and I expressed the consent, the notion I had that he had already left since he endorsed Barack Obama for president. But I meant no offense to my former colleague. I wasn't seeking to rearrange his political identity.
KUDLOW: So you welcome him back into the party.
Mr. CHENEY: We're in the mode where we welcome everybody to the party. What I don't want to do, in the course of trying to expand the overall size of the Republican Party and expand our base, is to take away from basic fundamental principles. I think it's very important that we remind people out around the country what it is that we stand for, that we do believe in a strong national defense, in low taxes and limited government; and giving up on those principles, in order to try to appeal to people who are otherwise going to vote Democratic, seems to me is a--would be a fundamental defeat for those of us who are essentially conservative, who've been long-time supporters of the Republican Party.
If of course, by limited government you mean an extensive domestic surveillance network, sneak and peak searches, opening of all mail and email, tapping everyone's phone and secretly detaining American citizens ... (ahem) ... Point: War heroes.
Now, the third blow. Gen. David Petraeus, who enjoys near Jack Bauer levels of worship from the right, has sided with none other than President Barack Obama (plus Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen and SecDef Bob Gates and many, many other military men) on the subjects of ending the Cheney torture program and closing Gitmo:
Petraeus was asked if the recent moves by Obama help or hurt the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. He replied, “I think, on balance, that those moves help it. In fact, I have long been on record as having testified and also in helping write doctrine for interrogation techniques that are completely in line with the Geneva Convention. And as a division commander in Iraq in the early days, we put out guidance very early on to make sure that our soldiers, in fact, knew that we needed to stay within those guidelines.”
On the issue of Gitmo, he said, “With respect to Guantanamo, I think that the closure in a responsible manner, obviously one that is certainly being worked out now by the Department of Justice -- I talked to the attorney general the other day [and] they have a very intensive effort ongoing to determine, indeed, what to do with the detainees who are left, how to deal with them in a legal way, and if continued incarceration is necessary -- again, how to take that forward. But doing that in a responsible manner, I think, sends an important message to the world, as does the commitment of the United States to observe the Geneva Convention when it comes to the treatment of detainees.”
Can a vicious Limbaugh attack on Petraeus as a "phony soldier" be far behind? I think Petraeus can take him. Point: War Heroes.
UPDATE: Score another one for the war heroes. Barack Obama's national security adviser, a retired Marine general, smacks Cheney too:
President Barack Obama's national security adviser laid out a sweeping rebuttal Wednesday to former Vice President Dick Cheney's charge that America is less safe under the new administration.
Pointing to increases in defense spending, efforts to get out of Iraq and revamp the strategy for Afghanistan, and a broad campaign to repair the U.S. reputation abroad, retired Marine Gen. James Jones said the nation is safer today than it has been. But, he added, no administration is perfect.
"I think that the former vice president knows full well that perfection is an impossible standard," said Jones, adding that the U.S. can only do everything it can "to keep threats at bay and as far away from our shores as possible."
The right ought to be careful which ethnic Supreme Court nominees it skewers. There will always be others, like Sam Alito, whose ethnic peculiarities it once loved. Not to mention Clarence Thomas, who should be the two word answer to anyone cynical enough to question Sonia Sotomayor's qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court. Thomas was as unqualified as Sotomayor is overqualified (Alan Dershowitz once called him "the most incompetent, unqualified justice who ever served in [my] lifetime..." adding: "He doesn't read newspapers. He gets his news from Rush Limbaugh..."); as intellectually shallow as she is second in her class at Princeton sharp, and as whiney and self indulgent a "token" hire as you're ever going to get. And yet, Black winger Thomas Sowell was once moved to say this about him:
His outstanding academic record in college, his graduation from one of the top law schools in the country, his experience as an attorney both in government and in the corporate world, his years of heading a federal agency, and his service as a judge on the most influential federal circuit court in the country count for nothing, as far as the left is concerned.
Many, if not most, Supreme Court justices have not had as good a record of qualifications. But Clarence Thomas is considered “unqualified” because the Left cannot accept his qualifications without a major shock to their whole vision of the world — and of themselves.
Substitute "her" for "him" and "right" for "left" in the above passage, and Sowell could be Glenn Greenwald writing about Sonia Sotomayor. Go figure. And former president Poppy Bush once expounded on another characteristic of Clarence's that we now know to be subversive: namely, empathy...
"I have followed this man's career for some time," said President George H.W. Bush of Clarence Thomas in July 1991. "He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor."
And he'd keep on showing that empathy, if only Nino Scalia would let him talk...
My vote is: let's have the Senate quickly seat Sonia Sotomayor on the Court, and then President Obama can get to work finding a Black justice to further diversify the court... (ahem)
Meanwhile, TPM D.C. finds that Clarence Thomas was once "empathetic" too...
More GOP crazy: Mark Kirkorian of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies says the way to Stop.That.Judge is to mispronounce her name ... on purpose!!! You know, just the way we won the Iraq war by calling that country "Eye-RAAAK" instead of "Ih-Rahk," the way the Eye-RAAAK-ees do.
Yeah. That'll teach her to be so damned ... Hispanic!
UPDATE: We can now look forward to the strongest, most decisive argument sure to be leveled against Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings: the "patitas de cerdo con garbanzo" (y much arroz) challenge:
Sotomayor also claimed: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.”
This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ feet with chickpeas — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.
Republicans have already begun hurling themselves off that cliff ... BTW why is it that so many white winger men seem to get so much enjoyment out of calling people racist? It's almost as if calling non-white people racist, as the wingers are now gleefully doing with Judge Sotomayor, is the pretty colored drink in the fancy bottles in mom and dad's cabinet, that they're just dying to open, taste, and refill with water so mom and dad don't find out... A sample:
Ooooohh... The brown lady's racist... (eyes rolling) Really? Really guys? I mean Rush Limbaugh is the guy who launched "Barack the Magic Negro" and once told a Black caller to "take the bone out of her nose" and call him back. Glenn Beck, Mr. "I'm afraid to have black friends," who I once heard on his show say that he'd be upset if his daughter brought home a black man, is calling OTHER PEOPLE racist? Interesting... Me thinks the wingers doth protest too much...
Sorry Redstate (which still hasn't gotten the basic facts of the rescue straight -- no, dears, the captain didn't jump off the boat a second time...) "No Drama" Obama's handling of the pirates of the Horn of Africa is getting kudos, even from the increasingly wingery Associated Press:
Obama's handling of the crisis showed a president who was comfortable in relying on the U.S. military, much as his predecessor, George W. Bush, did.
But it also showed a new commander in chief who was willing to use all the tools at his disposal, bringing in federal law enforcement officials to handle the judicial elements of the crisis.
The rescue appeared to vindicate Obama's muted but determined handling of the incident. What won't be known for some time is whether Obama will benefit politically.
And the pillars of Obama's success should be remembered by the wingers:
1. No exploitation for political gain:
When Obama campaigns for re-election, he may take Bush's approach of turning any such incident into evidence of his leadership acumen. On the other hand, Obama didn't go before the cameras Sunday to trumpet the success, instead releasing a written statement that saluted the bravery of the military and Phillips but claimed no credit for himself.
2. No empty, Bush-style "tough talk":
He didn't call in his Cabinet for a high-profile command meeting. He let military and top administration officials do the talking, but even they kept saber rattling out of the equation.
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Obama's silence should not be interpreted to mean that he wasn't deeply involved. The president's public posture was calculated to not raise the temperature on the situation or give the hostage-takers anything to exploit.
3. Actual work instead of Rovian marketing:
So what Obama did was receive regular briefings, sometimes as often as half a dozen times a day. He weighed in with two critical decisions allowing the military to take action to save Phillips' life. And he laid the groundwork for a federal criminal law enforcement response.
4. No "war on terror" B.S.:
Obama doesn't like labels for himself or catch phrases for policy. So it's notable that in an administration that has virtually banned the phrase "war on terror," no one called the pirates "terrorists."
Reason #244 not to listen to Newt Gingrich: he spends a lot of time braying about things he knows nothing about.
This morning on "This Week," the former disgraced House Speaker took his Twitter bitching about President Obama's handling of the Somali pirate capture of an American seaman to the big leagues. I suppose Newt, who gets exactly zero national security briefings or hell, briefings of any kind, wanted Obama to go out Dubya style: start blustering on television about nuking Somalia, and order the U.S.S. Bainbridge to blow the pirate dinghy out of the water with the Maersk captain still inside, or have Navy SEALs storm the ship, risking the captain's life. Just hours later, news reports said the captain had been rescued, after three dead-on (no pun intended) simultaneous shots by SEAL snipers who had parachuted in secret aboard the Bainbridge, and CNN reported that the president had on Friday given the Seals the go-ahead to use deadly force if necessary to save the captain's life.
The right is going overboard to try and tar Barack Obama with the Blago brush. So desperate and tacky are they, that even Newt Gingrich has noticed. As you might expect, the winger cudgel has been taken up by the dutiful GOPer "Morning Joe" Scarborough, who has never let a little journalism job get in the way of his politics.
This morning, Joe harangued Obama chief strategist David Axelrod (a former journalist, just to add to the irony...) on the supposed "fact" that Rahm Emanuel (Obama's chief of staff and former Congressman from the Chicago area) "told (reporter) Ryan Lizza that he and Obama ran Rod Blagojevich's gubernatorial campaign in 2002." Really? Is that what Lizza wrote, Joe? Let's review:
*Lizza reports that Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) told him that Obama was a “top strategist” for Gov. Blagojevich’s first gubernatorial campaign. “He and Obama “participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor,” Emanuel said. “We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.” A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuel’s account, although David Wilhelm, who now works for Obama, said that Emanuel had overstated Obama’s role.”
*The 2000 remap of state senate districts is a critical benchmark in the Obama history. With Democrats in control of the legislature—winning the ability to dictate the maps—Obama in 2001 was able to create a district that stretched from Hyde Park to the Gold Coast. That let him connect with a network of wealthy donors whose support was crucial to his future success
“In the end, Obama’s North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod.”
Rahm "running Blago's campaign?" No, Joe. And as a former politician, Joe knows exactly what those passages mean. Politicians develop a base of operations, which includes donors, and precinct maps that helped them get elected. Often, they use their base to help other politicians from their party to get elected, too. I'm sure the staffers, and the campaign manager, who actually did run Blagojevich's campaign, would differ with Joe's characterization of Obama's role.
Meanwhile, the media continues to ride the Blago gravy train, with more news coming out of Chicago:
Bill Ayers today: not a terrorist so much as a college professor.
Now that one of the ugliest political campaigns in memory is over, Bill Ayers, the man demonized as an "unrepentant terrorist" by John McCain and the Palinites, and turned into a sinister "association" in order to try and bring down Barack Obama (clearly without success) finally speaks for himself in a NYT op-ed. On his actions during the Vietnam war:
... I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.
The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.
Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.
I cannot imagine engaging in actions of that kind today. And for the past 40 years, I’ve been teaching and writing about the unique value and potential of every human life, and the need to realize that potential through education.
And on whether or not he "palled around" with Obama:
... The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.
President-elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn’t pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better.
That enough for you, Palinites? How about you, Hannity? Likely not, but then, the country has demonstrated what use they have for your opinions.
The Naples News-Press has endorsed Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, despite his ethical lapse at a Sarah Palin rally in which he used Barack Obama's middle name to disparage the Democratic candidate (while Scott was in uniform.) Well, that's their prerogative, just as it's the feds' prerogative to investigate Scott for possible violation of the Hatch Act. But what Scott said long after the rally, in his own defense, might actually be worse than what he did on stage. Specifically, from an October 14 story in another Naples paper:
Scott, when told by a reporter that some people saw use of the name as an attempt to frighten people, responded, "Well, what is ‘Barack Obama?' That's not ‘Mike Scott' or ‘Jim Smith.'"
Well, what does Sheriff Scott mean by that, exactly? "...what is ‘Barack Obama?' That's not ‘Mike Scott' or ‘Jim Smith.???" If I lived in Lee County and my name were, say, Samir Muhammad or Sebastien Ibeke (my father's name) or ... say ... Barack Obama, I might not be so quick to take the News Press' endorsement to the polls, and I might not be so confident of the police services Mike Scott would provide for me.
How sick am I of this silly Bill Ayers shtick coming out of the McCain campaign and their new "my friends" on the right? VERY. And yet, I'm writing another post about it...
John McCain went on the radio with a very solicitous talk show host and responded to Barack Obama's "say it to my face" challenge. McCain said that Obama's comments had pretty much ensured he'll bring Ayers up at the next debate (it's kind of a macho thing, apparently.) Please do, Senator. That should be good for another 5 or 6 points for Barack in the polls!
"Bill Ayers is a professor of education who once served with Obama on a school reform board, a board funded by conservative Republicans tied to McCain," says the ad's narrator. "When Ayers committed crimes in the '60s, Obama was 8 years old. Obama condemned those despicable acts. Ayers has had no role in Obama's campaign, and will have no role in his administration."
"And John McCain? With no plan to fix our economy, smears are all he has left," says the narrator.
The ad is airing in Wisconsin, Colorado, and likely other states.
In 1995, Bill Ayers was part of a team that helped create the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an education reform project that worked with half of Chicago's public schools. Barack Obama, then working as an attorney and law school professor, was elected chairman of the eight-member board of the CAC. The board included individuals of diverse political backgrounds, including Ray Romero, the President of Ameritech; Stanley Ikenberry, the former President of the University of Illinois; and Republican Arnold Weber, who had served in the Nixon White House.
In their best efforts to portray Barack as out of the mainstream, some on the right have tried characterizing the Chicago Annenberg Challenge as a dangerous fringe organization. What they do not discuss is the fact that the CAC was funded by a foundation belonging to Walter Annenberg, the billionaire Republican philanthropist who served as Richard M. Nixon's ambassador to the U.K. Annenberg and his wife, Leonore, gave the CAC $50 million in the 90's.
But Walter and Leonore weren't just giving money to educational foundations started by William Ayers. They were also giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee and various other Republican groups, as well as to a whole host of Republican candidates, including the following:
George W. Bush $4000
Mitt Romney $5000
Strom Thurmond $1000
Fred Thompson $500
Rick Santorum $3000
In other words, most of the people "palling around" with this particular terrorist were ... wait for it ... Republicans, and some darned prominent ones, too! Time to send Rick Santorum to Gitmo! (Oh, sorry, did I type that out loud...?) And by the way, guess which terror loving anti-American flag pin hater endorsed John McCain for president earlier this year?
Probably the most damning op-ed yet on McCain's dishonorable campaign. Wonder if this is the kind of thing that made the "maverick" blink:
John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.
You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.
John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.
Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.
John McCain, you're walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out "Terrorist" or "Kill him," history will hold you responsible for all that follows.
John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.
Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people - forever.
McCain made a start in returning to sanity today, briefly... but then, his campaign started issuing statements like this:
McCain senior adviser Nicolle Wallace released this statement, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports. "Barack Obama's assault on our supporters is insulting and unsurprising. These are the same people obama called 'bitter' and attacked for 'clinging to guns' and faith. He fails to understand that people are angry at corrupt practices in Washington and Wall Street and he fails to understand that America's working families are not 'clinging' to anything other than the sincere hope that Washington will be reformed from top to bottom."
"Attacking our supporters is a new low for the campaign that's run more millions of dollars of negative ads than any other in history."
*** UPDATE *** McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers adds in another statement: “Barack Obama’s attacks on Americans who support John McCain reveal far more about him than they do about John McCain. It is clear that Barack Obama just doesn’t understand regular people and the issues they care about. He dismisses hardworking middle class Americans as clinging to guns and religion, while at the same time attacking average Americans at McCain rallies who are angry at Washington, Wall Street and the status quo."
So what's it gonna be, John?
UPDATE: This is what it's gonna be. The McCain campaign is now broadening it's Ayers attack ... to Michelle.
(TPM Election Central) -- The McCain campaign is now broadening their attack on Obama's past association with William Ayers to include Michelle Obama -- even though McCain has repeatedly said spouses should be off limits during the campaign.
The attack? Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers' wife and fellow former Weatherman, went to work in 1984 for the major Chicago-based national law firm of Sidley & Austin, and three years later, Michelle joined the mega-firm as well.
That's the entire attack. We wish we were joking. But we aren't.
In launching this latest, McCain is ditching yet another formerly-claimed principle as he faces the growing likelihood of defeat. In a statement back in June, the McCain campaign said: "Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign, and he has stated that position frequently."
The attack on Michelle came on a McCain conference call with reporters this afternoon featuring John Murtagh, who has been hitting Obama over the Weather Underground's attack on his family's home back in 1970. Murtagh noted that Dohrn and Michelle Obama had both worked at the firm starting in the late 1980s.
Murtagh didn't even bother alleging that the two even knew each other, instead suggesting that they might have. If so, he said, the Obamas have known the two longer than suspected.
"If it is true" that the two women knew each other, Murtagh said, "the relationship is almost a decade older than Senator Obama has acknowledged. And that can very easily be resolved by Senator Obama, by Mrs. Obama, by Mr. Ayers and by Ms. Dohrn."
"And incidentally, I would emphasize that we've all been focusing on Senator Obama," said Murtagh. "I think we need to speak to his wife."
On Monday, October 6,2008 Lee County Sheriff, Mike Scott in full uniform, spoke at a political rally for the McCain-Palin presidential campaign. He spoke of Barack Obama, calling him "Barack Hussein Obama". This was a blatant attempt to conjure images of Islamic extremism and the rally attendees took it as such. They began to cheer after the word "Hussein" and before the Sheriff had made his point. It was the name, and its connotations, they were cheering.
Sheriff Scott has said that he will not apologize and if Obama doesn't like being called Hussein, "Perhaps he should have changed his name." I would like to point out that the Sheriff's middle name was not used when he was introduced. Sarah Palin's middle name was not used when the Sheriff introduced her just moments after he referenced the Senator by his full name. This is clearly an attempt to make a racially charged assertion about who Barack Obama is, based upon his name.
Associations like these, are not only inaccurate as Senator Obama is not a Muslim, but they are inappropriate because being a Muslim doesn't equate to being a terrorist. Suggesting otherwise is offensive to Muslims, and others living in the state of Florida. The Sheriff is a public official, whose salary is paid by the very citizens he offends with such a statement.
Central Florida is home to more than 25,000 practicing Muslims according to The Islamic Society of Central Florida and countless other religious and racial minority groups. It is unacceptable to have public officials who display their disdain for these groups so proudly.
We request that Sheriff Mike Scott be publicly reprimanded for his behavior and asked to issue a public apology.
So far they're at 75 signatures. The actual petition is here.
Sheriff Mike Scott gave an interview to the Lehigh Acres News Star in Fort Myers and issued a statement on what will heretofore be known as "Namegate." First, a clip from the statement:
• Everyone seems to agree on the underlying issue…my mention of a Presidential candidate’s full, legal name of record. There were no accusations, innuendos, untruths, or malicious words before or after the candidate’s name; although many others have made inflammatory statements about the candidate’s character, etc. I did not change my tone or otherwise punctuate or repeat the name with any verbal or physical emphasis.
• “Why” did I use the Candidate’s full, legal name of record? Despite varying inferences, interpretations, opinions, and extrapolations; the answer is because I wanted to, much like I wanted to voice my support for the Barron Collier Marching Band.
• The issue of my status as an elected official participating in a political rally has been raised along with the suggestion that this somehow clouds my representation of all constituents. I have not heard similar concern over the many other elected officials that day and everyday engaging in the same activities across our state and country. For example – Governor Crist is the Governor of all Florida’s people and his support of the Republican ticket in no way implies diminished concern for anyone opposing his political choice. Likewise, my political choices against the backdrop of my proven record of service, in no way suggest diminished concern for any individual or group.
• The issue of my appearance at the rally in uniform has been raised. It is noteworthy that I recently completed my primary campaign and continue my general campaign in the same uniform. My practice has been to wear the uniform at all times and as is undisputed, I am on duty 24/7 and 365. It is also noteworthy that I joined my fellow Florida Sheriffs in Tampa very recently for a political rally…all were in full uniform. At no time during this week’s rally did I mention the agency I represent; however, I was introduced by my official title. Given the introduction and my widespread name and face recognition in this area, I am satisfied that my apparel is irrelevant and the same reactions would have resulted had I been wearing a suit and tie.
Now, about that uniform you say you wear "at all times...." when you say "at all times," do you mean "ALL times, all times? Or just at "sometimes" all times...
Mike Scott (second from the right) at an event last summer, sanz uniform...
In the statement, Scott also goes after the local NAACP for criticizing him, saying:
... The strong support these groups have always provided me is rooted in my tireless efforts to work equally hard for all of Lee County. I delivered the Dunbar Community Policing Office and shocked business owners along MLK Jr. Blvd. by regularly stopping in to say hello during my first term as Sheriff. If their support is so shallow as to wane over one (1) word that was legal, accurate, and void of supporting malice beyond dispute, then I will respectfully move on without their political support and without change to my loyalty to them or their constituents.
Well, I mean he did come by and visit...
Scott says he expects to be fully cleared on the Hatch Act charges, and that he won't be making any further public statements. Except for in this intervew, as recounted by columnist Sam Cook, in which Scott appears to leave his body, where the reason and logic purportedly reside...
"I answered a lot of e-mails and signed my middle name (Joseph) on all of them,'' says Scott, 45. "I don't see anything wrong with calling him Barack Hussein Obama.
"That is his name.'' ...
... Scott, in an interview Tuesday with news-press.com and The News-Press, says he doesn't comprehend the commotion his name-calling put in motion.
"I was told to speak three to four minutes and fire up the crowd,'' he says. "Help welcome her to Southwest Florida.
"That's pretty much what I did. I've watched that tape over and over. I don't see any malice. What I said was truthful and accurate. I did not say anything unethical, immoral or illegal.''
That's a matter of opinion.
If Scott didn't believe name-dropping "Hussein'' would create upheaval in Southwest Florida, he isn't the astute politician who captured 91 percent of the vote in Lee County's Republican primary victory last month.
Again, Scott says he won't back down from his comment.
"I'll never, ever, ever apologize,'' he says. "There is nothing in my mind to apologize for. I just can't do it. That's all. It's the principle of the thing.''
Politically speaking - even for a landslide winner - his remark was one dumb move.
Perhaps no one ever told the sheriff that throwing Barack Obama's middle name into a conversation is the most common tool that right wing talk radio hosts, bloggers and such use to deride the Senator as "foreign," an undercover Muslim, and even a friend of terrorists. (In fact, it was just done again less than two hours ago in Pennsylvania...) Maybe he's the one guy in America who despite being a Rudy Giuliani-loving Republican, who I'm assuming has at least heard of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the like, or even listened to them from time to time, still doesn't know that. Assuming he is that dumb, or that naive, maybe next time, our man with the badge should simply use the names Sarah Louise Palin or to refer to John Sydney McCain III in public conversation, just to balance things out.
Lee County, Florida Sheriff Mike Scott isn't talking to the press. So says Lt. Robert Forrest, Commander of the county's Publ ic Information Office. Forrest, the day after Scott delivered a stem winding introduction for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a campaign rally in Estero, located north of Bonita Springs on Florida's Gulf Coast.
Scott told a roaring crowd, Monday, that there are three types of people in the world: "the ones who make things happen, the ones who watch what happens and the ones who wonder what happened." Then he added, "let's leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened."
The response from Lee County constituents, and from the media, was immediate.
"We've taken probably 1,000 phone calls during this business day and we've had pretty much a 50-50 proposition," when it comes to callers' opinions of Scott's rhetoric Monday, Forrest said, "with some individuals very passionately stating their opinions, some of them in a calm, well articulated manner and others in a not so articulate, calm demeanor."
Forrest added that Scott has "wiped his hands" of the matter and didn't plan to give any interviews.
Before he stopped talking to the press, Scott was unapologetic, telling local reporters he "absolutely, unequivocally" didn't regret using Obama's middle name, and adding, "frankly, if this is such a hot-button issue, he, as a Harvard lawyer, could have changed it if he didn't like it." Obama's middle name is often used derisively by conservative talk radio and blogs, including by those attempting to imply that Obama, who is Christian, is in fact a Muslim.
"Obviously a lot of folks feel compelled to say something about this," Forrest said, but "he meant nothing by the use of the middle name, he was surprised by all the hoopla and he is moving on."
He might be the only one.
On Tuesday, the Office of Special Counsel in Washington D.C. confirmed to THE REID REPORT that it has opened an investigation into Scott's political activities Monday, which were conducted while he was in uniform. According to the federal Hatch Act, such activities might be prohibited by law. According to the Office of Special Counsel:
The Hatch Act applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. Employees who work for educational or research institutions which are supported in whole or in part by a State or political subdivision of the State are not covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act.
It states that covered persons may not "use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination," and that while "an employee's conduct is also subject to the laws of the state and the regulations of the employing agency… employees should be aware that the prohibitions of the Hatch Act are not affected by state or local laws."
"Today we've launched a formal investigation into the sheriffs activity during yesterday's political event," OSC Director of Congressional-Public Affairs Anthony Guglielmi told THE REID REPORT Tuesday. Guglielmi said that the first step would be to determine whether Scott was in fact covered by the Hatch Act, including if the Lee County Sheriff's office has received any federal grants. If violations are found, Scott would be notified and advised "how to rectify" the situation, and could face penalties including dismissal, or forfeiture of federal assistance equal to two years salary.
Guglielmi said his office became aware of the situation through "media coverage and calls from concerned citizens." He said the OSC is "taking a pro-active step" to investigate this and many other Hatch Act related claims "before the election."
On the local laws, at least, Scott appears to be in the clear. According to Forrest, Lee County policy states that "deputies and officers can't campaign in uniform, but a sheriff can because he is an elected official." Forrest added that Scott is always in uniform: "he is the chief law enforcement officer of Lee county regardless of where he is or what he is doing."
Scott's previous statements to the media said he was not speaking for the Sheriff's department on Monday.
Forrest called Scott, a Republican who is on the ballot for re-election in November, "a thorough professional and extremely popular sheriff in Lee County who is well respected and well liked," adding that "his track record speaks for itself." Scott was elected in 2004 after defeating a first-term incumbent, Rod Shoap. His official website states that former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is his "inspiration," and that he keeps a Votomatic Vote Recorder used in the 2000 Lee County election in his office. The site reads in part: "the voting booth is the sheriff's daily reminder to be responsive to voters who elected him to office. At the center of his conference table sits a sculpture with an arrow pointing outward, keeping him grounded and focused on the whole agency. Three framed words sit on his desk: Honesty. Trust. Integrity."
Update: Lee County Sheriff under federal investigation
It's the Hatch Act, stupid. I just confirmed with the Office of Special Counsel in D.C. that Sheriff Mike Scott is being investigated for possibly violating the Hatch Act during his partisan speech in uniform on behalf of Sarah Palin yesterday. My story should be posted to an online news outlet near you, very soon. The Public Information Officer at the Lee County Sheriff's Department says Scott has "wiped his hands" of the controversy and won't be talking to the media. This one's Developing...
Under color of authority: Lee County Sheriff a hatchet man in uniform
Lee County, Fla. Sheriff Mike Scott campaigns for Sarah Palin on Monday
Did Lee County, Florida Sheriff Mike Scott violate the rules of his office (in addition to those of propriety,) when he rallied for John McCain and Sarah Palin, and attacked Barack Obama while wearing his uniform? First, the story from yesterday:
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott took the stage moments ago as one of the introductory speakers at a rally here for Sarah Palin. After delivering brief remarks in support of Palin, Sheriff Scott flipped the switch and used Barack Obama’s middle name in order to incite the crowd of thousands of people who have already gathered here.
“On Nov. 4, let’s leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened,” the law enforcement officer said.
Sheriff Scott essentially lent the color of police authority to the implication, by him, and by the subsequent speakers (including Sarah Palin,) not to mention right wing talk radio, Fox News, and the McCain campaign itself, that Barack Obama is an undercover Muslim who is aligned with terrorists. And not a few observers have noted that the McCain campaign is subtly dipping into racist sentiment as well, attempting to scare working class white voters about Obama's "exoticism." (There was a time when race baiting in full uniform wasn't all that uncommon for police officers in the American south, which makes the tone of Scott's appearance all the more ... well ... troubling.) Do the people Scott "protects and serves" in Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda and other cities on the Gulf Coast, which I'm assuming includes at least a few black people and which does include more than 95,000 Democrats, feel comfortable with the apolitical and fair disposition of his authority today?
And while the campaign attempted to distance itself ever so slightly from the remarks, they aren't much worse than what John McCain's running mate has been saying in her stump speech about Obama "palling around with terrorists," (which is funny coming from a woman who pals around with her Alaskan separatist hubby...) including the remarks she made after Scott and a talk radio host were done introducing her.
A bit about Scott, from the Lee County Sheriff's website:
Small details in Scott’s office are telling. At one corner sits a Votomatic Vote Recorder used in the 2000 Lee County election. The voting booth is the sheriff’s daily reminder to be responsive to voters who elected him to office.At the center of his conference table sits a sculpture with an arrow pointing outward, keeping him grounded and focused on the whole agency. Three framed words sit on his desk: Honesty. Trust. Integrity.
The new sheriff’s first experience with law enforcement came in 1986 as a probation officer. He joined the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in 1988, serving as a public information officer and Southwest Florida CrimeStoppers coordinator until he resigned in April 2003 to run for sheriff. He also served as a motorcycle deputy in the Traffic Unit. His accolades include being named the 2003 Law Enforcement Coordinator of the Year by the Southeastern CrimeStoppers Association.
He didn’t always want to be in law enforcement, though. Scott had intended on becoming a dentist until advanced chemistry classes at University of South Florida made him think otherwise. He earned an undergraduate degree in political science instead. He also considered general contracting, following his father’s profession, but an economic downturn during that time pointed him in a different direction. Scott later earned his master of business administration degree from IMPAC University.
For inspiration, the sheriff looks to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who Time Magazine named 2001 person of the year for his leadership in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Scott also admires the leadership of Colin Powell and H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
Well, he keeps a memento of the 2000 election (though he wasn't elected until 2004) and callsh Rudy Giuliani his inspiration ... no wonder this guy behaves like a BrownShirt...
“I absolutely, unequivocally don’t regret saying it,” Scott said. “In order to be a speaker at this event, I had to give my full name — Michael Joseph Scott — to the Secret Service, even though I’m the sheriff of Lee County. So why would I apologize? Is there some kind of double standard here where I have to give my full name, but I can’t use his?”
... “I just wanted to use his full name,” Scott said. “And frankly, if this is such a hot-button issue, he, as a Harvard lawyer, could have changed it if he didn’t like it.”
Scott, who was wearing his uniform, said he was representing his own views, not his office.
He defended making those comments while in uniform, though.
“That’s what I wear every day,” Scott said. “That’s what I wore to the McCain rally in Tampa with my fellow sheriffs. But at no point did I say I was speaking on behalf of the sheriff’s office.”
I see. Well while I'm waiting for the Lee County Public Information Office to call me back regarding the ruless about campaigning while in uniform, perhaps we should take a look at a little thing called the Hatch Act. What's that, you ask?
The Hatch Act applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. Employees who work for educational or research institutions which are supported in whole or in part by a State or political subdivision of the State are not covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act.
Employees of private nonprofit organizations are covered by the Hatch Act only if the statute through which the organization receives its federal funds contains language which states that the organization shall be considered to be a state or local agency for purposes of the Hatch Act, e.g., Headstart and Community Service Block Grant statutes.
An employee’s conduct is also subject to the laws of the state and the regulations of the employing agency. Additionally, employees should be aware that the prohibitions of the Hatch Act are not affected by state or local laws.
... Covered state and local employees may not-
be candidates for public office in a partisan election
use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination
directly or indirectly coerce contributions from subordinates in support of a political party or candidate
So did Sheriff Scott commit a violation? I'm not an attorney, but maybe one should look into it.
If you want to beat a Republican, it's a good idea to know their strategy. We've talked a lot about the McCain campaign admitting that it is going to attempt to "turn the page" on talk of the economy by mounting a scorched earth, personal attack campaign against Barack Obama. Well, an email sent out by Human Events today underscores the strategy. After several paragraphs of boilrtplsyr drivel about the Democratic candidate's "dangerous liberalism", fictional opposition to guns, big spending proposals and fantasized mania for abortion, comes this bit, which starts with a strange, but newly standard, right wing endorsement of Hillary Clinton:
Hillary Clinton was late in recognizing the threat Obama posed to her campaign, but once she did, her strategy worked.
When Hillary exposed Obama publicly, her campaign saw a major turnaround.
Hillary won every major state primary in the nation with the sole exception of Obama's home state of Illinois.
And even though Obama was "anointed" by the media and Democratic elites, Hillary went on to win eight of the last 10 Democratic primaries.
How did Obama beat Hillary for the nomination?
Well, using a loophole in Democratic rules, he was able to rack up large majorities in caucus states where he outspent and out organized her.
But in large, contested states she won almost every time. Why? Because when Democrats heard what Obama really stood for, they turned on him.
Make no mistake about it: If we let Americans know the truth about Obama, John McCain can win this election!
But we must employ Hillary Clinton's strategy.
We must expose Obama for the dangerous radical he is.
... This is why the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee is moving to implement a "shock and awe" strategy against Obama in key states.
We plan to take out powerful television ads, Internet ads and other communications to inform Americans about the dangers posed by Barack Obama.
... As a political action committee, we can accept up to $5,000 in donations per contributor.
A $5,000 donation can help us saturate a key market for a full day with television ads.
Why the Hillary Love? Could it be a not-so-subtle appeal to those the media said Hillary spoke to? In other words, this is about ginning up the fears of white voters -- lower middle class white voters, to be precise. But wait, there's more. The right has another weapon in its arsenal to use to stir up white rage against Obama, and her name is Sarah (my teenage daughter's marrying a f***in redneck) Palin. As the AP's Douglass K. Daniel sums up:
WASHINGTON (AP) - By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.
And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.
First, Palin's attack shows that her energetic debate with rival Joe Biden may be just the beginning, not the end, of a sharpened role in the battle to win the presidency.
"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain's ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.
"This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," she said. "We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism."
Her reference to Obama's relationship with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground, was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were "pals" or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.
Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions.
So what's a little lying between friends? Well...
Palin's words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee "palling around" with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn't see their America?
In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers' day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.
Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as "not like us" is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.
Most troubling, however, is how allowing racism to creep into the discussion serves McCain's purpose so well. As the fallout from Wright's sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America's promise to treat all people equally.
Oh, so that's who Sarah was winking at: racist white people ... The desperate McCain campaign has been using a subtly racist argument to take Obama down for months, only now, it's about to get real un-subtle. As a friend of mine said recently, the slogan of the McCain campaign could well be boiled down to: "Forget the economy. Vote to keep the White House white."
Having failed in their desperate attempts to get the mainstream media to portray Joe Biden as just as dimwitted as their gal, Sarah Palin, the right wing noise machine is deploying a new strategy on the eve of the most anticipated vice presidential debate in modern history: Take Down The Moderator: Gwen Ifill.
Drudge led the way with a blockbuster headline this morning announcing what many in Washington already knew: that she has a book on black politics in the "age of Obama" that's set to drop on inauguration day. Drudge, of course, links to a reputable and impartial news source: WorldNetDaily, where Ifill is accused by various sources of being "in the tank" for Obama, of hoping he wins so as to boost book sales, and of "giving dismissive looks" following Palin's RNC acceptance speech. Seriously. She supposedly made unpleasant faces. Maybe she and Nancy Pelosi could see the GOP Nanny 911 together...
On this one, McCain, shockingly, keeps his head, while all those around him are acting ... like John McCain... The GOP nominee says he approves this moderator.
I think the GOPers would have a point ... if Gwen Ifill was either 1) not a serious journalist, but rather a political hatchet carrier, like Jerome Corsi, with whom some of them are trying to draw an analogy ... 2) moderating a debate featuring Barack Obama. Neither is the case. Gwen Ifill's reputation is nearly universal, for those without an agenda, as a serious and respected journalist. And Obama will not be on the stage.
Beside, her book, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," according to the much linked Amazon.com write-up, is about black politicians more broadly, not just about Obama. The write-up reads:
In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.
Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.
Nowhere in that write-up do I see an endorsement of, or even a biographical sketch of, Barack Obama. Rather, Ifill is writing about how "black politics" has changed in light of his candidacy, which by the way will be "stunning" whether he wins or not, simply by virtue of its scope, primary success, fundraising, and the fact of an African-American claiming the nomination of not just any major political party, but of the party that for the most part, led the charge to keep black people in chains until about 40 years ago. A book about that doesn't hang on Obama's election, so Ifill can rightly claim to be dispassionate about the upcoming debate, which once again for those in the cheap seats, DOESN'T INVOLVE BARACK OBAMA.
To make the wingers' analogy work, Gwen Ifill wouldn't be allowed to moderate a debate between ANY black politician and an opponent, because of this book. (And Tom Brokaw couldn't moderate a debate about any member of the "greatest generation," including John McCain.)
But of course, that would be ridiculous.
UPDATE: McCain reverses his initial grown-up stance on Ifill, and pouts on Fox & Friends.
“Frankly, I wish they had picked a moderator that isn’t writing a book favorable to Barack Obama — let's face it," McCain said on "Fox & Friends." "But I have to have to have confidence that Gwen Ifill will handle this as the professional journalist that she is. ...
“Life isn’t fair, as I mentioned earlier in the program.”
Also on Fox's ridiculous morning show, Ed Rendell helps the other side game out how best to use Ifill to their advantage:
RENDELL: Well, what we -- what I would advise my people to do is make a big stink about it but not remove the moderator so the moderator would bend over backward to be fair to me...
RENDELL: ... to show that he or she was fair.
RENDELL: So we'd use it to our advantage.
CARLSON: Well, and it could be used an advantage for Sarah Palin tonight...
CARLSON: ... because all eyes, right or wrong, will be on the questioning of the Gwen Ifill.
Steve Doocy was in on the conversation, too, but I cut him out because ... well ... he's stupid.
Meanwhile again ... the right is lying through its teeth when it claims no one knew about the Ifill book before the debate was agreed to in August:
In fact, media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that Ifill was the book's author well before the August 21 announcement that she would moderate the debate.
... Ifill's role as moderator of the October 2 vice presidential debate was announced in an August 21 joint statement from the Obama and McCain campaigns, which is posted on the McCain-Palin website.
And Gwen Ifill reacts to all the sturm and drang over the debate.
If I had a 527 ... John McCain adopts Tucker Eskew
The latest installment, complete with snappy dance track...
Update: the first McCain "If I had a 527" spot is on the move on Youtube. Thanks for all the great feedback and suggestions. Rather than pull a re-edit, to slow down the text or get it under :60, I plan to break the ad down into smaller spots, including the one above, over the next week. Keep the feedback coming, and stay tuned for updates on what we might be doing
The Obama campaign fights back against the lowest smear ad yet, from an "independent" organization tooooootally unrelated to the McCain campaign ... totally... demanding a criminal probe of the group, which is ostensibly a 501(C)4, and thus not legally allowed to call for the election or defeat of federal candidates. They've also issued a response ad.
The breathtakingly negative presidential campaign being waged by John McCain is no accident, and not the result of bungling by young aides. It's a very deliberate strategy by a group of people imported directly from the 2004 campaign, in which John Kerry was stripped of his war record and turned into a windsurfing girlie man (no wonder he's become a lead attack dog for Obama... as was clear on MTP today as he sat steaming next to Joe Lieberman, and accusing the GOP of character assassination... this is personal.) From The Guardian:
McCain's aggressive strategy is a deliberate and well-thought-out ploy. It was developed and implemented by a coterie of advisers brought in last month who are protégés of the Republican political guru Karl Rove. Schmidt, who learnt his trade with Rove, heads the group and is now guiding the campaign.
The strategy is intended to turn McCain's ailing presidential bid around and give it a firm focus: one mostly fixed on attacking Obama. Schmidt and others believe they can do to Obama what the Republicans did to John Kerry in 2004.
'They know how to win a presidential election. If you can show a candidate's basic flaws, that is one way to win,' said Steve Mitchell, a Republican political adviser and chairman of Mitchell Research. McCain's new advisers believe they can define Obama in their own terms and leave him as damaged goods in the eyes of the electorate. If that sounds like a hard-headed, unpleasant, negative strategy, that is probably because it is. But Schmidt and his allies have also started to give Republicans the one thing that Obama had seemed to be monopolising - hope of winning.
Steve Schmidt is known as 'The Bullet'. Part of that is to do with his bald-headed appearance, but it is also as much to do with his hyper-aggressive political style. He was promoted to run McCain's campaign at the beginning of last month, after he and several other aides went to McCain and warned him that his presidential bid was in dire trouble.
McCain took the warning to heart and placed Schmidt in charge of the day-to-day running of his campaign operation. It was a bold move, but Schmidt is one of the rising stars of Republican politics. The New Jersey native cut his teeth under Rove and in the Bush White House. He ran the 2004 Republican war room that was responsible for taking down Kerry. He also worked hard on getting conservative judges through the process of appointment to the Supreme Court. Then he guided the re-election campaign of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to victory.
Schmidt has been joined by other key figures from the Rove-era Bush White House. They include the formidable figure of Nicole Wallace, a Bush campaign spokeswoman in 2004, and Greg Jenkins, a former Fox TV journalist who once worked for Bush's campaign. The group has sought to tighten an operation that was floundering under its previous leadership. They have also given it a sharply negative edge.
And whatever braying there is right now about Obama "playing the race card," count on the fact that a race-based attack, not overt, but very real, is coming:
any Republicans believe that the controversy surrounding the Rev Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor, will return to haunt him. That would inject race into the campaign in ways that were hinted at last week. When McCain's camp recently accused Obama of playing the race card, it was the first time the subject of his skin colour had directly come up. Many Republican strategists believe that McCain is most likely to benefit from that. 'The more race comes into the debate, the less likely it is that Obama will win,' said Mitchell.
That contention is not proven. But prominently airing the Wright issue in the final month of the campaign would surely test that theory. McCain's camp is unlikely to bring up the Wright issue, but there are many Republican surrogates who will probably do that job enthusiastically. Again, the echoes of the campaign that derailed Kerry are troubling for Democrats. 'Come October, Wright's name recognition is going to be 99 per cent,' said Mitchell.
The pre-emptive strikes clobbering Obama for even bringing up race are likely meant to blunt any complaints from his camp once the racial stuff begins.
Of course, the strategy is also certain to permanently damage John McCain's stature and image, as I and many others have said before. But again, the new McCain team doesn't care about that. This is the 50 percent plus one crowd -- the ones whose goal is to push their guy into the White House, reputation be damned, and then force the other 49.9 percent of Americans to deal with it. They don't care if McCain becomes the second most hated president in American history (Bush II being the first) so long as he's president. And if the country falls apart after that? Sorry for ya. Worse, the fact that McCain is being diminished by the nonsense ads and smarmy tactics will only make them more desperate to win, because otherwise, McCain will be left with absolutely nothing.
I'm assuming that the Obama team knows all of this. What I hope, is that they are prepared to respond to it more forcefully than they have so far. And I think this makes the veep choice all the more important. What Obama needs in a partner in this election is not a sympatico, or someone he's "comfortable with." He needs an attack dog. He needs someone who can go out and clobber John McCain and his running mate, and who's not afraid to do so.
Otherwise, we're in for four years of war, a shitty economy, oil spills off the coast of Florida, and a world scratching its heads at how so many millions of Americans could be so stupid.
If the Obama campaign is making one major mistake, it's underestimating their opponent, John McCain; how desperate he is to win the presidency, and how low he is willing to sink in order to do so. As Josh Marshall pointed out today, to my firm agreement, McCain has already so sullied his reputation as a "maverick," an independent thinker, and an honorable man, he has to win this election, or slink back to the Senate as little more than an angry old man.
If Team Obama is making a second mistake, it's overestimating the sophistication of the average voter, who really is only lightly paying attention to the details, and thus is susceptible to generic negative messages like those being proffered daily by the McCain campaign. In fact, the sheer barrage of negative messages is offering any voter who may have, say, race-based discomfort with Barack to choose from any number of alternative "trap doors" through which to fall and not vote for him, even if they don't like McCain.
If the Obama team is making a third mistake, it is underestimating the determination of the media to make the 2008 election a horse race, and thus, to keep McCain in the running. Dana Milbank should have taught them that the media is almost institutionally biased in favor of the Republican in the race, if for no other reason than to prove to themselves that they are not institutionally biased toward the Democrat in the race. They will continue to bend over backward to advance whatever narrative McCain's team puts forward, no matter how absurd, in order to keep the tight race (and the ratings) going.
Therefore, brushing off McCain's attacks will not be enough. Assuming that "no intelligent person would buy his sophomoric attacks" risks seriously overestimating the number of intelligent people, and thus is a recipe for losing the election. And counting on the press to clear up the lies makes about as much sense as handing the campaign's messaging over to Dana Milbank.
Jonathan Chait makes it plain in his widely circulated LAT column today:
Obama is making the enormous mistake of letting the race be entirely about him, which is the only way he can lose.
McCain may be committing lots of blunders, but the blunders aren't hurting him because the spotlight is on Obama. McCain is getting attention for his attacks on Obama, especially his frequent insinuations that Obama lacks patriotism. The attacks are usually based on lies (such as McCain's discredited claim that Obama canceled a visit with wounded troops when he discovered the media couldn't tag along -- in fact, he canceled the visit, but the media were never scheduled to come).
Obama has barely hit back. His weak-tea replies express "disappointment" with McCain and reject the "same old politics."
Here's the likely rationale: The public, by a wide margin, wants a Democrat to win the presidency. So all Obama has to do is make himself acceptable and he'll win. Hence the focus on building up his own credentials rather than tearing down McCain.
Perhaps that sounds familiar. Let me refresh your memory: it was the John Kerry campaign strategy in 2004.
And needless to say, it didn't work. What Kerry failed to do, and I worked with a 527 that went down with that campaign, so I remember it painfully well, was to mount a successful offense. He never went after George W. Bush on the easy stuff: his failure to complete his military service, for instance, or his failed business dealings and poor stewardship of Texas, not to mention sending up his blue blood background, phony rancher credentials and "son of a president" elitism to counter similar attacks against Kerry. Yet they absorbed attack after attack that, even if disproved, set the narrative table for the media day after day.
It is happening again. This cycle, the media has almost always adopted the daily McCain narrative of the campaign, just as they did with Hillary Clinton during the primary. The bully usually gets his (or her) way, when it comes to the mainstream press. Even when they're debunking some outrageous lie from the McCain camp, the bottom line is that the reporterati and pundit class spend an entire news cycle dissecting whether or not it really is true that Obama hates the troops, is too foreign, is an arrogant lightweight, is Paris Hilton, or is playing the race card. By the time they get to the debunking part, half the audience has come away tainted by the McCain argument. That's how negative campaigning works. And when you add the force multipliers of the late night shows, the Internet, and 24 hour cable, you get a storm that it's very hard to fight your way out of. As one analyst noted on CNN tonight, McCain may not be lifting his poll numbers out of the 40s, but by attacking, he's keeping Obama down in the 40s with him. And when Obama chooses not to hit back, but rather to laugh off the attacks in a town hall, (and use the attacks mostly for fundraising,) I think his team is making a mistake.
Today, for instance, Obama had a great riff during a campaign speech, about McCain taking millions of dollars from the oil companies, and proposing huge tax breaks for them while at the same time championing their cause for offshore drilling. Said Obama to a receptive crowd:
The Illinois senator quickly incorporated news of Exxon Mobil's nearly $12 billion quarterly profit into his remarks at a town hall meeting here.
"No U.S. corporation ever made that much in a quarter," Obama said. "But while Big Oil is making record profits, you are paying record prices at the pump and our economy is leaving working people behind."
McCain's response, Obama said, is to propose a corporate tax plan that would give "$4 billion each year to the oil companies, including $1.2 billion for Exxon Mobil alone" and a gas tax holiday that Obama said would only "pad oil company profits and save you — at best — half a tank of gas" over an entire summer.
Well, that kind of thing belongs in a hard-hitting television or radio ad, not just in a fund raising email, which is where it wound up. Otherwise, the campaign is simply preaching to the converted, and the people on the MyBarackObama list aren't the ones contemplating a vote for John McCain in order to get the drill rigs going off the coast of Florida.
The insularity and frankly, the passivity of the Bill Burton communications operation is really starting to worry me, especially after six months of relentless attacks by the Clinton team. Unfortunately, I think the lesson the Obama folks took from the primary was that the Clinton attacks didn't work. Except that they did. Obama spent the entire primary fighting off charges -- including from the media -- that he is an elitist, a black extremist, or a Muslim, and hello! All three charges have carried right over to the general election campaign. They have became a part of his narrative, just like the word "maverick" is permanently tattooed on John McCain's butt cheeks courtesy of the lips of every reporter and pundit in Washington and New York.
It's time for the Obama campaign to hit back. They don't have to be as nasty or anti-factual as the McCain folks. Hell, how could they be? These are the Karl Rove trainees, who would saw off their mother's head to win an election (and then have Rush, Hannity and RedState.com blame HER for it.) But they have to be tough, and direct, and loud enough to drive the media narrative in the direction they want it to go: toward a debate over whether John McCain is too close to Big Oil, too much of a flip-flopper to be trusted, and most importantly, a human embodiment of George W. Bush's "third term."
As Chait puts it:
Why is Obama-as-alternative failing? First, it ignores Bush. The reason people want a Democrat is that they deem Bush a failure. By letting the race become a referendum on Obama, Bush recedes in voters' minds. McCain's ad blaming Obama for high gas prices was preposterous, but you can see why he ran it. The media are covering Obama as if he's already president. So what's that Obama guy done about high gas prices, anyway? Let's vote the bum out and give McCain a shot! ...
...McCain has de-emphasized or reversed nearly every position that set him apart from Bush, most notably the tax cuts for the rich that are the heart of Bush's economic program. To prove his partisan bona fides during the primary, he boasted that "I did everything I could to get [Bush] elected and reelected." And when an interviewer suggested that McCain was different from Bush, the senator replied, "No. No. I -- the fact is that I'm different, but the fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush." Why haven't we seen these words in television ads?
I can't answer that question, and frankly, that bothers me. The other day, Keith Olbermann rattled off a string of votes John McCain cast against veterans' issues, in a manner tailor made for a TV or radio ad. But has the Obama campaign gone up with such an ad? Nope. Better not to touch St. John's military record. Or what about an ad hitting McCain's 95% record of voting with President Bush, or one pointing out that he has surrounded himself with the same advisors who got us into the Iraq war, or using his quotes saying he's with the president 90 percent of the time, or that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq? Where are the ads slamming McCain's 30 year tenure in Washington during which he has "changed" nothing, and his newfound ties to Big Oil?
Instead, we get these rather soft spots proclaiming the McCain attacks to be "the same old politics," but only obliquely attacking McCain's Bush-like policies. Sorry, but YAWN. Maybe the spots are designed to be soothing, but most Americans aren't political junkies who sit around decrying the politics of the past. They want STUFF: cheaper gas prices, better paying jobs and a dignified end to the Iraq war. And most of all, they want to be rid of the Bushies, the neocons, and the corporate raiders who have been stripping this country naked for nearly eight years. Tie McCain to all three of them, and do it EVERY DAY, and Obama will win this election. Let him off the hook and he will shiv you like Pookie in the prison yard.
The reluctance of the Obama campaign to go up with comparative ads -- hell, with negative ones -- rather than the gauzy, biographical ads about how much Barack loves his country (which I guess are designed to reassure little old ladies in West Palm Beach that he isn't an Islamofascist terrorist) has left a lot of us out here in "old politics land" scratching our heads. Sure, it may seem that the current strategy is working, but that's only if you discount what I think is an 8-10 percentage point gap between what many white voters tell pollsters they're going to do, and what they're actually going to do on Election Day. The McCain team isn't going to play by the Marquis de Queensbury rules. They're going to attack every single day until every American voter has at least one negative meme about Barack rattling around in the back of their minds at voting time. It's time to take off the gloves.
From what I've seen, what I've heard from Harvard friends who knew him or of him in law school, and having met the man (once) and chatted with him for a few minutes, Barack Obama seems to be a genuinely good guy (unlike McCain, who by all accounts and appearances is a completeass.) No matter what happens in November, he will leave this campaign with his honor intact, having made history, and because I really can't see him running anything other than a principled campaign. However, if in the end, McCain and his Karl Rove goon squad win the White House, once again by a 50-plus-one margin (which is the only way they know how to win,) leaving half the country embittered, enraged and hating the man in the White House for for more years, what will have been the point?
More smears against Barack obama, this time in the form of an email that's been making the rounds of right wing and milblogs (winger blogs like this one even sexed it up for their readers...) but which has since been recanted by the author. From the Military Times:
The e-mail, signed by Capt. Jeffrey S. Porter at Bagram Airbase, characterized Obama’s July 19 visit with soldiers there as contrary to the positive portrayals of the mainstream press.
“As the soldiers where (sic) lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn’t say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the general,” the e-mail said.
Porter wrote that Obama then went straight to the base’s “Clamshell” or recreation facility to pose for “publicity pictures playing basketball” and “shunned the opportunity to talk to soldiers to thank them for their service. I swear we got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States. I just don’t understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-in-Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.”
Army Times sent an e-mail to Porter, a Utah Army National Guard member assigned to the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion, asking if he could verify that he wrote the controversial e-mail and requesting an interview.
Porter’s reply declined the interview request, but said:
“I am writing this to ask that you delete my e-mail and not forward it, after checking my sources some of the information that was put out in my e-mail was wrong. This e-mail was meant only for my family. Please respect my wishes and delete the e-mail and if there are any blogs you have my e-mail portrayed on I would ask if you would take it down too.”
The reason for Porter's hasty, and nervous sounding retreat? The Army confirmed that Barack Obama never even visited the "clamshell" at Bagram Airbase, to work out, or play basketball there. That's according to Bagram spokesman Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, who called the email contents “inappropriate and factually incorrect,” and "added that such political commentary is barred for uniformed personnel," which means that he may have violated military regulations.
Home-state troops were invited to meet him, but his arrival was kept secret for security reasons.
“We were a bit delayed ... as he took time to shake hands, speak to troops and pose for photographs.”
The only place that Obama played basketball wasn't even in Afghanistan, it was days earlier in Kuwait, at the start of the trip (where Obama sunk that now famous three-pointer.) Porter had literally made the whole thing up. (Hat tip to the Carpetbagger Report))
More about Captain Porter, with a bit of embellishment from The Richmond Democrat blog, (whose post includes the entire text of the email, which was headlined "Hussein's visit to Afghanistan"):
Jeffrey S. Porter--a man who is obviously unfit to carry a commission in the armed forces of the United States, intended this false e-mail to be mass e-mailed anonymously so that Barack Obama would never get the opportunity to confront his false accuser. But Porter's wife made the mistake of forwarding the e-mail under his real name to friends and family, who soon forwarded it on to complete strangers. In only a few days, the e-mail was tracked back to Porter. When confronted by his superior officers, Porter admitted that the allegations he made in the e-mail were false.
Oops. And Tiff included her own name as well:
I don't know each of your personal political convictions, and apologize if anyone finds this offensive. I thought it was important enough to share.
This is Jeff's first hand view of Senator Obama.
Though she was less personable when contacted by the Army Times:
When contacted, Tiffany Porter who identified herself as his wife, said: “There were discrepancies in the e-mail, but I am not at liberty to say more.”
Porter made the same plea for deletion that he did to the Army Times to the Daily News' Mouth of the Potomac, which added this bit of detail on the young man's internal struggle:
An Army officer familiar with the incident told The Mouth today that the writer is “devastated that the letter was made public. It was never his intention that it go beyond members of his family.”
Yeah, right, if by "his family" you mean the right wing blogosphere, right wing talk radio, and Fox News. As this blogger points out, how many letters home are signed this way:
In service, CPT Jeffrey S. Porter Battle Captain TF Wasatch American Soldier
And why the clumsy attempt to disguise his branch of service? Clearly, this was no innocent intra-family email.
So what will happen to dear Captain Porter, now that he has been made famous? Will the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion of the Utah National Guard discipline him for conduct unbecoming? Lord knows we're too shorthanded on troops for "the surge" to let him go. And how dumb is his wife? She clearly needs to go back to the Karl Rove School of Political Chicanery for a refresher course... What's worse, I'm told the couple have six ... count 'em, SIX kids. What a stupid, career-jeopardizing risk to take with so many mouths to feed. And for what? To make Sean Hannity proud?
I think this is why the military frowns on its members engaging in politics. Either that or its an object lesson in what happens when the only media you feed the troops consists of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.
More info, with video of Obama with the troops, taken by the military, from Factcheck.org.
And still more from Snopes.com, which received emails from some troops who actually did meet Obama, complete with pictures of Obama meeting the troops (he also shared a meal with them at Bagram.)
And courtesy of Snopes, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Porter probably won't face disciplinary action, just red faced embarrassment and public humiliation:
Utah Guard spokesman Hank McIntire said soldiers need to make sure they "separate their private views with what they say when they're in uniform."
"When you send out an e-mail, you just never know where it's going to end up," he said. "It's becoming more and more difficult to have a privately held opinion, you have to be doubly careful what you say and who you say it to."
McIntire said he did not expect Porter to face any disciplinary measures, noting that the captain appears contrite for having sent an e-mail with inaccurate information.
Certifiable filmmaking nut-job David Bossie in an undated photo.
From the man who brought you Willie Horton and "The Clinton Chronicles", and the director of the critically acclaimed cinematic tours de force "Fahrenhype 9/11", comes the film that will take down the Obama phenomenon: Hype: The Obama Effict. Here's how the website describes the film:
Citizens United Productions examines the phenomenon that is Barack Obama. HYPE: The Obama Effect examines the Junior Senator from Illinois and his record. Is he the new Kennedy or recycled Jimmy Carter? Is he the one who will finally change Washington, or will challenges like the Tony Rezko trial reveal politics as usual? Is he the uniter the country begs for, or a liberal divider? HYPE: The Obama Effect seeks the answers.
Including interviews with political leaders, media experts, and social commentators, HYPE provides the in-depth analysis that can only occur in a full-length feature documentary. HYPE goes to Illinois and interviews those who know the Senator's record as a state legislator. Go on the road with the campaign and experience the enthralled crowds as they are consumed by the HYPE. Washington insiders analyze Senator Obama's Senate record, his views on abortion, his statements on the second amendment, his plan for a troubled economy, and his foreign policy-will the US be safer or will the US become a bigger target? Will Senator Obama's actions match his eloquence in the toughest job in the world, or will his rapt and motivated crowds be left with little substance at the end of the day? HYPE: The Obama Effect lays out the truth.
"Hype" is the latest video hit job by a very disturbed guy named David Bossie, who heads the aforementioned Citizens United, and whose past credentials include creating those fake Bill Clinton-Gennifer Flowers audiotapes and getting fired as chief investigator for fellow nut-job Dan Burton's House Government Reform & Oversight Committee back in the 1990s. More about Dave:
Bossie started his political career (almost) innocently enough in 1988 when he served as the National Youth Director of Senator Bob Dole's unsuccessful presidential campaign.
In 1992, Bossie was working for the right-wing organization Citizens United (the group that "invented" Willie Horton). As executive director of Citizens United chairman Floyd Brown's "Presidential Victory Committee," he used taped conversations allegedly between then-Governor Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers as part of an advertising and "800" number scheme to smear Clinton. The tapes have since been discredited because they were edited and doctored. A direct mailing from Citizens United using this material was made to look as if it were an "official" mailing from Bush campaign -- and the Bush people alerted the FEC to the mailings in an effort to stop them!
Bossie spent a great deal of time in 1992 in Arkansas, digging dirt on Clinton. David Corn reports in the May 6, 1998 issue of Salon that "at one point, Bossie got into a fistfight in Arkansas with a private detective who claimed Bossie had welshed on a $10,000 payment for anti-Clinton material."
That same year, Bossie harassed the family of a suicide victim. "An anonymous and untraceable letter" was faxed to some 30 news organizations "claiming Clinton had had an affair with a former law student who committed suicide 15 years ago," an "emotionally distraught young woman, seven-months pregnant" named Susan Coleman. Only after the fact of the fax campaign did Bossie attempt to contact the family for "confirmation," and did so in a repetitive and unrelenting manner suggestive more of harrassment than fact-checking. Bossie, with help from former Washington DC police officer James Murphy, went so far as to follow Susan's mother to a hospital in Augusta, Georgia, where her husband was seriously ill and recovering from a stroke. They "burst into the sick man's room and began questioning the shaken mother about her daughter's suicide." (Source: CBS News, July 13, 1992, quoted at The Allodium web site)
Not long into the Clinton Presidency, Citizens United produced the video "Clinton Chronicles," based largely on dirt Bossie had been digging in Arkansas. The video, filled with a plethora of factual errors and uncorroborated or disproven rumors, has been almost completely discredited.
By 1994, Bossie found himself working for Senator Lauch Faircloth -- and his penchant for self-promotion was already showing. Bossie claimed that Citizens United had fed Whitewater information (much of which turned out to be misleading, incomplete or untrue) to "the top fifty major publications, networks, and editorial boards... We've provided the same material on the Hill both on the House and Senate side."
So what about his erstwhile co-producer and director, Alan Peterson? He's a sometime actor/director/producer (and by "sometime," I mean he's done each of those things once.) IMDB Pro lists just three credits for him: an acting turn in the 2007 mega-hit "The Haunting of Marsten Manor," the 2004 answer to the hugely successful Michael Moore flick, "Fahrenheit 9/11," entitled ... wait for it, "Fahrenhype 9/11" which he directed, and his lone producing gig (and while Moore may have grossed about $150 million or so domestically and more than $220 million worldwide, Peterson's "Fahrenhype" was released straight to DVD...!) and 1999's memorable "Fortune Cookie," if you remember movies you've neither heard of nor seen.
One other interesting aside to Peterson's film, from a 2004 Mormon movie site (yep, they have them...)
REVIEW OF LDS-MADE DOCUMENTARY FAHRENHYPE 9/11 - NOW ON SALE NATIONALLY (DEBUNKS MOORE) - This documentary is on the shelves at my local Dallas Blockbuster. I'm assuming it is widely available.
LDSFilm.com mailing list subscriber offers the following comments and enthusiastic review of the new documentary "FAHRENHYPE 9/11":
With all the front page newspaper coverage of Michael Moore's controversial visit to a Utah campus I'm am pleased to tell you of something special that I came upon by accident that SHOULD BE FRONT PAGE NEWS -- a brand new DVD timed to be released the same day as Moore's sick FAHRENHEIT 9/11 -- a documentary (which is really a documentary) by filmmaker Alan Peterson with the title, FAHRENHYPE 9/11.
This is a Documentary that is intended to counter act the distorted images of Moore's outrageous work. The DVD says: "You knew it was a lie . . . Now you'll know why . . . Unraveling the truth about FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and Michael Moore" And that is exactly what it does. And it does so by letting many of the people who were misused in Moore's film speak for themselves. These people tell how they really feel and speak of how shocked and disgusted they were to see how they or their loved ones were used in the context of Moore's revisionist approach to truths.
Years ago, while serving in the US Army in Germany, a fellow worker, knowing I was a member of the LDS Church, handed me a paper back he had just finished reading by Irving Wallace, The Twenty-Seventh Wife, supposedly telling the true story of Ann Eliza's forced marriage to Brigham Young. As I read it I knew it was full of lies, but Wallace had carefully listed footnotes of his historical sources on each page. When I returned home to Salt Lake after my service I came upon Hugh Nibley's newly published work, Sounding Brass. Bro. Nibley took Wallace's work apart point by point, discussing every resource that he sighted. It was a joy to have someone so knowledgeable counter-act the out and out lies that were being offered as historical truths.
And so it is with FAHRENHYPE 9/11 -- it destroys Michael Moore's distortions and out-and-out lies one by one. When you get through seeing and hearing what Dick Morris (political consultant to Pres. Bill Clinton); Zell Miller (Democratic Senator who recently made the news by speaking out for Pres. Bush at the GOP convention); Ed Kock (former mayor of New York and life long Democrat); Ann Coulter (author of Treason and Slander); Peter King (New York Congressman and member of homeland security); Steven Emerson (terrorist investigator and author of American Jihad); plus people who appeared in Moore's film, such as the school teacher who was present when Pres. Bush received the news of the Twin Towers, the Oregon State Trooper who in Moore's film appeared to be blaming Pres. Bush for budget cuts, and most moving of all, the young soldier who lost his arms in Iraq and expresses his hurt at Moore's false use of him in his film -- if after hearing all of these (and many more) you still feel Moore's film is a courageous and noble thing -- then I have a bridge in New York that I will sell you cheap!
... um... I think they meant Ed Koch... PAGING MITT ROMNEY !!! and Dr. Freud...! As for other Bossie friends, try Newt Gingrich, the man who once fired him in embarrassment.
Senator Obama is blaming the news media — and especially FOX News — for Michelle Obama's high negative ratings. Just under 30 percent of those polled had an unfavorable view of Michelle Obama in our last FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll. A Rasmussen Reports poll last month put her unfavorable rating at 42 percent.
Obama tells Glamour magazine that political spouses should be off-limits. He says the "conservative press — FOX News... went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way... spouses are civilians. They didn't sign up for this."
Though Obama failed to mention it, his wife has made a number of official campaign stops with him and has even campaigned for him on her own.
Obama then added, "If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in day out, that'll drive up your negatives."
On his upcoming overseas trip, Barack Obama will be met along the way by the anchors of the three network evening newscasts. About 200 other journalists have also asked to join Obama during his trip.
But Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post reports that John McCain has taken three foreign trips in the past four months — all unaccompanied by a single network anchor and with little fanfare. The Tyndall Report, which monitors news coverage, says that since June the nightly newscasts on the three networks spent a combined 114 minutes covering Obama while devoting just 48 minutes to McCain.
Hume and Kurtz fail to mention that the McCain camp never made the ask of the networks. Don't hate on Team Obama because they were sharp enough to do so ...
The magazine is sticking its finger in the eye of every bigot who hates the Obamas because they're African-Americans, every racist who seeks to polarize the electorate and every ignoramus who mistrusts the senator from Illinois without examining his record and background.
Something else is going on here as well. This criticism centers on conservatives' strong dislike -- "hatred" is such a nasty word, no? -- of both Obama and the New Yorker, two of the most visible and successful symbols of liberal America. While there was also carping in some liberal quarters, the most vocal anger seemed to come from the other side.
The liberals' opponents are jumping on the bandwagon partly in the hope of making the New Yorker look bad (i.e. unpatriotic). The magazine has written many stories blasting the Bush administration's policies, especially its handling of Iraq.
If Obama were to choose Powell, 42% of likely voters nationwide said it would make them more likely to support the Democratic candidate - as did 42% of Democrats and 43% of political independents. The Zogby International telephone poll of 1,039 likely voters nationwide was conducted July 9-13, 2008, and asked respondents how the selection of certain vice presidential candidates would affect their likelihood to vote for the two leading presidential candidates. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.
Watch right wing heads exploding everywhere... oh God, there go some Democratic head explosions in West Virginia! Zogby provides the doubters with a helpful table:
Likelihood to vote for Barack Obama if he chooses ... as his Vice President
What? Not much help from "Bayh Bayh Bayh"? Meanqhile, the pollster says McCain's best bets are Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Now I think that Romney will ultimately be the running mate (supporting evidence here), no matter how much Mac may still secretly hate his guts, but me thinks the pollster doth miss name recognition too much. Not that name recog doesn't count in a veep selection. Just sayin. I doubt that the respondents to the poll really sat down and thought about the idea of TWO black men running together for president.
Anyway, just to be fair, here's the GOP chart:
Likelihood to vote for John McCain if he chooses ... as his Vice President
And would ya look at Miss Charlie, getting 5 percent! |