Republicans Running to Obama, One as Unlikely as the Cubs Winning the World Series

What’s more unlikely, the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, or the Chicago Tribune endorsing a Democrat for President? It’s the latter, but it happened today, and they are especially critical of John McCain. That and some Philly news in this afternoon’s commentary.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

No, this isn’t a comment on yet another story about Oregon Senator Gordon Smith trying to jump on the Obama bandwagon in order to save his political hide. Sam Katz has run as a Republican three times for Mayor of Philadelphia, and once for Governor of Pennsylvania. A reporter spotted an Obama sign on his lawn, and this is what Sam Katz had to say. From the Philadelphia Daily News Clout column:

“We have six voters in the house, a lot of points of view,” Katz said yesterday, seeming to ponder how much candor to include in his explanation.

“In all honesty, it will probably be a unanimous vote in the Katz household . . . I was undecided and wanted to stay undecided. But the collapse of the economy and McCain’s performance through that process pushed me a little bit over the other side. I tell people I don’t think Obama’s ready to be president and I don’t think McCain should be. But I always try to vote for the guy I think will do the best job.”

Sam Katz was always a centrist, so this isn’t very surprising. And Pennsylvania is rapidly losing it’s status as a battleground state, what with the huge edge the Democrats have in voter registrations. The real surprising news is the Chicago Tribune endorsing Obama, the very first Democratic candidate for President they have ever endorsed. Heck, as the article notes, the Tribune was founded by one of the founders of the Republican Party. Here’s part of the Tribune endorsement of Barack Obama, where they smack John McCain a bit:

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office – and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

We might have counted on John McCain to correct his party’s course. We like McCain. We endorsed him in the Republican primary in Illinois. In part because of his persuasion and resolve, the U.S. stands to win an unconditional victory in Iraq.

It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush’s tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.

McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate–but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin’s exposure to the public. But it’s clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment’s notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.

The newspaper that began by endorsing Horace Greeley, stood by every single other Republican nominated for President since then, including Coolidge, has now endorsed a Democrat for President for the first time. This is as unlikely as the Cubs winning the World Series, and we all know that’s one of the signs of the coming Apocalypse. Perhaps we should be very afraid.

Friday, October 17th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

The Evolution Of Elections – Intelligent Design Debunked

It seems to me that fear plays an integral role in politics. I suspect there is a connection between the fear of death (terror management), the rejection of evolution, a predisposition to create fact from fiction when faced with frightening situations…and a convergence of all three in politics.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

As we move closer to the election, I’ve witnessed a phenomena that has only recently begun to make sense to me (by the fact that it doesn’t make sense). First, I have to hand it to my Republican friends…their tenacity in creating tangible talking points out of thin air is unmatched.

Let me provide an example before I attempt to draw the connection between the manner in which they analyze and strategize elections and the predisposition of some Christians to promote intelligent design over evolution.

Over at the National Review, flummoxed politicos are desperate to craft a salient narrative to leverage John McCain back into a position to win the election. What they fail to realize is that their lurching from one idea to the next is simply supporting the Obama mantra that John McCain and the GOP are erratic. Take a look at the following.

From Jonah Goldberg (Part One):

I have no idea whatsoever if there’s merit to this, and if there is how much merit, but lots of email like this:

When are people going to start talking about the REAL reason the markets are down – Obama up in polls. If I was McCain, I’d start telling people, “If you want to lose more money, vote Obama.”

From Jonah Goldberg (Part Two):

Now, it’s far more likely that the causation and correlation suggested by some readers is backward: the markets tank for non-political reasons and Obama does well as a result, rather than Obama does well and then the markets tank. Still, I think Pethokoukis’ point that Obama’s success may make investors more pessimistic about the future has some plausibility to it.

Finally, it sounds like this reader has it right (and I should correct a bunch of emailers who seem to think I was suggesting McCain blame Obama for the crashing markets, which I think would be ludicrous).

Jonah,

The suggestion that markets are down because of Obama’s rising in the polls shows a preposterous misunderstanding of economics, and McCain will be (rightly) pilloried if he tries to make that claim. I have no doubt Obama will be an utter disaster for business and economic growth/recovery in this country, but the markets are reacting to fact that unemployment is way up (and climbing), manufacturing numbers are way down, housing prices are still falling, credit has seized up, overnight funding is near impossible to acquire at anything but prohibitive cost, there continue to be real questions as to the solvency of financial institutions and their nightmarish balance sheets, etc. Just about every piece of data that comes back these days is negative, with the exception of falling commodity prices and a strengthening dollar, as Kudlow correctly mentioned last week. Companies growth prospects in this kind of environment are bleak at best, and the markets are reacting in kind. In addition, the ban on short selling of financials rolled off today, so some of the downward pressure that had built up over the past week released itself today.

We’ll reach a bottom of the market eventually, however–and I mean no disrespect to the previous e-mailer you quoted below–it’s na–¯ve to suggest the continued hammering we’re all taking has anything material to do with the political zeitgeist.

OK, to argue that the ascension of Obama in the polls is responsible for our crashing financial system requires the suspension of reality. Now in fairness, I have to note that Jonah, in his second posting, dismisses the notion offered by the emailer in his prior posting. At the same time, this has seemingly become standard operating procedure for my friends on the right. Again, there’s no fault in testing trial balloons; though there is folly in releasing the ones that don’t merit a moments consideration. Doing so gives them an air of legitimacy that fosters more of the same.

Here’s the problem…all too often GOP operatives establish an outcome (the preferred fact or belief) and then they create a hypothesis to support it. Clearly this isn’t out of the ordinary with regards to scientific study. Virtually every hypothesis has at its origin some level of belief that it may be true, which leads to its testing. The problem with many on the right is that their bias and partiality leads them to corrupt the construct in order to rig the results. In other words, the scientific method is an acceptable construct when it yields the preferred result. Should it refute the optimal outcome, the kitchen sink must be tossed at it in order to discredit it.

That brings me to the connections between those who oppose the theory of evolution in favor of creationism or its most recent stepchild, intelligent design, and those who would put forth an intellectually dishonest explanation to further their political objectives.

Let me be clear, it’s a free country and we’re all entitled to attempt to influence others with whatever arguments we choose to employ. The problems arise when the credible and convincing means to measure the validity of a theory are cast aside in deference to ideological intransigence. You see, when an individual can dissect the Bible into those portions they accept and those segments they set aside…all the while maintaining the infallibility of the process and the indisputable nature of the conclusion…fiction has been elevated to a level commensurate with fact.

Even worse, there is no rational or reasonable means to compel these believers to abandon their arbitrary assertions in favor of a fact driven formula. Once this rejection of reasonability is rejected relative to religion, the distance to its dissolution with regards to other disciplines is easily abridged. In the field of politics, once dogma is allowed to dethrone dutiful deduction, extremism is enabled.

Hence, the efforts to assign arbitrary attributes to Barack Obama is the epitome of embracing this elusive equation. Not only does this promote discord, it precludes its resolution. Before it can be corrected, the quintessential question must focus upon uncovering the underlying motivations.

As I watch John McCain and his minions grapple with the prospect of defeat…and the fear that imparts…it supports my suspicion that terror management is at the core of our conundrum. Terror management posits that we humans are prone to obsessing upon the fear of our mortality and acting to diminish it.

As such, religion and the promise of an afterlife is a strategy to assuage the anxiety. Those predisposed to acting from fear are therefore susceptible to strategies that allow irrational ideations to override objective analysis. When confronted with fearful events, the instinctual reaction is to resort to the suspension of reason in order to construct a place of comfort.

Unfortunately, this behavior has an “imprinting” quality such that it is self-reinforcing the longer it persists. In the political realm, it is manifested in a refusal to allow or applaud alternate avenues of governance. The Clinton presidency is an excellent example. There is little doubt that his tenure was a period of relative peace and prosperity…and yet many on the right refuse to recognize as much. These individuals often argue that the time a president is seated in office isn’t the essential measure of his merit…or they prioritize other considerations…such as morality in the case of Clinton.

Here’s the problem. This approach isn’t applied consistently. Ronald Reagan receives credit for his time in office as well as for a number of ensuing years. Questions of morality, such as his having been married twice and his silence on the AIDS epidemic, are ignored. Shades of gray are danger zones and the pursuit of black and white…regardless of either’s availability…is the ultimate safe haven from which to view the world. With the passage of time, the GOP and its pliable and therefore palatable propaganda becomes the only amenable world view…facts be damned.

Doubt is equated with death and it must, therefore, be banished. Science, though seemingly certain, is still too slow in providing a palatable domicile from which to proceed. To embrace it is to risk the possibility that one’s earthly existence could end before it can afford acceptable answers to free one from fear. A retreat to the malleability of irrational ideations is the only avenue by which one can construct an illusory and idyllic island, insulated from the unmovable manifestation of mortality.

Death is certain; political suicide is optional. Come into the light my GOP friends…I promise it won’t kill you. Besides, you’ll still have heaven as a backup, right?

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, October 9th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

The Stark Contrast: Repubs and Sane People on Terror

Today brings us contrasting opinions on the War on Terror. The WingNut view is given by an immature Benjamin Shapiro, who wishes for the annihilation of all Muslims. The mature, moral view is represented by a man assigned to interrogate prisoners for the US military, Matthew Alexander. I applaud the military’s striving towards morality.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Two articles strike a chord today. One, from WingNutDaily, recommends a scorched earth policy against all Muslims. Yes, they published an essay that recommends death to all Muslims. The other story is about an interrogator in the US Military and his take on how to treat prisoners. the contrast could not be more stark. First, the essay by Benjamin Shapiro, who runs what he calls an “ultra-Ortho Blog” of his own, from WingNutDaily:

Enough with the lies. Stop telling us that Islam is a religion of peace. If it is, prove it through action. Stop telling us that President-elect Obama will fix our broken relationship with the Muslim world. They hate Obama just as much as they hated President George W. Bush, although they think Obama is more of a patsy than Bush was. Stop telling us that we shouldn’t worry about the Islamic infiltration of our economy. If the Saudis own a large chunk of our banking institutions and control the oil market, they can certainly leverage their influence in dangerous ways.

Enough. After the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the plane downed in Pennsylvania, the endless suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks in Israel, the Bali bombings, the synagogue bombing in Tunisia, the LAX shootings, the Kenyan hotel bombing, the Casablanca attacks, the Turkey synagogue attacks, the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, and the repeated attacks in India culminating in the Mumbai massacres – among literally thousands of others – it’s about time that the West got the point: We’re in a war. Our enemies are determined. They will not quit just because we offer them Big Macs, Christina Aguilera CDs, or even the freedom to vote. They will not quit just because we ensure that they have Qurans in their Guantanamo cells, or because we offer to ban “The Satanic Verses” (as India did). They will only quit when they are dead. It is our job to make them so, and to eliminate every obstacle to their destruction.

So enough. No more empty talk. No more idle promises. No more happy ignorance, half measures, or appeasement-minded platitudes. The time for hard-nosed, uncompromising action hasn’t merely come – it’s been overdue by seven years. The voice of our brothers’ blood cries out from the ground.

Wow! Sometimes we forget that it isn’t just the extremist Christian movement that produces whack jobs. There are extremist fanatics in Judaism as well, and it is important that we recognize them. Hey, there are extremist fanatics in the Muslim religion, in the Hindu religion, and in most other sects, and we all need to be vigilant against such fanatics. Benjamin Shapiro, the darling of WingnutDaily and assorted other extremist right wing web sites, and the O’Reilly Show as well, is one to condemn. That he is young and fanatical is no excuse for his blatant bloodlust. Surely any God would condemn such words.

What is important is that there are good Americans who understand strong moral values, who understand that torture and fanaticism are not an answer. The Washington Post today gives us just such a moral American. His name is Matthew Alexander. For those of us based in reality rather than on the fanatical fantasy of the extremist religious right, Matthew Alexander is a blessing. He stands for our values, of respect for humans. His essay is about how disgusted he was with the regime of torture that still held in Iraq when he served as late as 2006. Yes, we’ve got a witness to the Bush regime of torture that held sway as late as 2006. From the Washington Post:

Amid the chaos, four other Air Force criminal investigators and I joined an elite team of interrogators attempting to locate Zarqawi. What I soon discovered about our methods astonished me. The Army was still conducting interrogations according to the Guantanamo Bay model: Interrogators were nominally using the methods outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual, the interrogators’ bible, but they were pushing in every way possible to bend the rules – and often break them. I don’t have to belabor the point; dozens of newspaper articles and books have been written about the misconduct that resulted. These interrogations were based on fear and control; they often resulted in torture and abuse.

I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology – one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they’re listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of “ruses and trickery”). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.

Perhaps there could be no more stark contrast between strategies and ideologies. One, backed by a raving bloodlust and enumerated by a young fanatical orthodox Jew, advocates annihiation of his enemies. The other advocated by a man in the field, Matthew Alexander, in all other ways an ordinary American, but today shows himself as extraordinary, shows respect for his fellow man.

Surely there is no mistake about how I feel here. I was raised Christian and believe in loving one’s fellow man. I will be raising my child Jewish, and will use the same God’s moral guidance to raise him. Surely I will need to teach him that there are bad people who speak trying to back their opinions with the zeal of false religiosity. Benjamin Shapiro is such a man. I will teach him instead the value of life and of the soul, and how when we respect those values, as does Matthew Alexander, virtue will prevail.

WingNutDaily should be ashamed to publish the ugly and racist drivel that came from Benjamin Shapiro. At the same time, I commend the Washington Post for showing us a man enlightened by true morality, Matthew Alexander.

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Donna Brazile & Sarah Palin: The Truth Is Black & White

The McCain campaign’s use of inflammatory innuendo is an affront to American decency and a detestable example of cynical contrivance. The following videos highlight the hypocrisy of Sarah Palin as well as the promise of rejecting her rancid racial rhetoric and McCain’s reckless candidacy.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

It’s easy to get lost in the rampant rhetoric of elections. All too often we forget what the stakes are and just how important it is to vote. We do so at our own peril. The following two videos serve to illuminate the bright line between rhetoric and reality.

In the first video, we garner some insight into the extent of Palin’s hypocrisy and her willingness to ride the political fence for advantage. While Sarah Palin is busy traveling the country attempting to portray Barack Obama’s brief association with former Weatherman, Bill Ayers, as the reason to reject his election, she completely ignores her own suspect affiliations.

She wants us to believe that Barack Obama is a terrorist sympathizer because he sat in the same room with Bill Ayers and served on an education committee with him. At the same time, she completely ignores her endorsement of a man and an organization that is actively seeking the secession of the state of Alaska from the United States…a man whose hatred for his country is every bit as inflammatory as the words of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Now take a look at the second video and listen to the impassioned remarks of Donna Brazile as she elucidates the essence of this election absent hateful hyperbole. If Brazile’s utter honesty doesn’t move you, you might want to start looking for your misplaced soul. If you don’t know where to look or can’t be bothered, I know an abrasive Alaskan governor you might want to pal around with.

If you want to know why this elections matter, watch these videos a second time and ask yourself where the truth lies. The evidence is overwhelming. Casting a vote on election day is our opportunity to send a message that the truth still matters. If Sarah Palin wants to reject America when it’s politically expedient, I think it’s only appropriate we return the favor.

Given the choice, I’d much rather take a seat in the back of the bus with Donna Brazile than hitch a ride on the “Straight Talk Express” with the likes of Sarah Palin and John McCain. Come November 5th, I want it to be clear that Donna Brazile can sit anywhere she likes and I want Sarah Palin to know that her brand of rancid rhetoric has no place at the political table.

Sarah Palin’s Pals

Donna Brazile

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

Afghanistan: Gates Calls UK Negotiation Remarks “Defeatist”

It’s tiring that anyone seeking political solutions in either Iraq or Afghanistan is framed as waving the white flag of surrender. There will be no “victory” in Afghanistan, any more than there will be in Iraq. The violence will cease when there’s a negotiated settlement between the internal warring factions, and even that settlement will probably hold only as long as foreign troops remain.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

The Bush administration’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has responded to UK press stories over the past couple of days in which the senior UK military leadership, the UK Ambassador to Afghanistan, and others have termed a military “victory” as not achievable.

Britain’s military commander and ambassador in Afghanistan are being “defeatist” by thinking the war cannot be won, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, as Washington seeks more troops for the conflict that started exactly seven years ago.

The comments by the officials from Britain, a key ally to the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, were echoed by the top United Nations official in Kabul, who said success was only possible through dialogue and other political efforts.

Did you expect anything different from the war dogs in the Bush regime? I guess Sarah Palin must be feeling pretty jingositically smug today.

On Monday, it was widely reported that various leaders in Great Britain were saying it was time to work toward a political solution in Afghanistan. Clearly, the resistance by the Taliban and other insurgent factions in the country can continue for as long as they want. Years ago, they showed the Soviets, as they’re now showing the Western world, that they can hold out forever.

I really don’t pretend to know the answer to the quagmire in Kabul, anymore than I knew the answer to the one in Baghdad. NATO forces have been bogged down in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion in 2002. There’s no end in sight.

Apparently, the Brits are looking forward a bit. Like Iraq, much blood and treasury has been spilled in Afghanistan, with the end result after 6 years being that Kabul is about the only marginally secure area in the country. The Taliban still control large swaths of every other area, and any semblance of religious or social freedom outside of the immediate environs of Kabul simply don’t exist.

The reconstituted Afghan military is every bit as corrupt as their Iraqi counterparts. Bottom line: it’s every man for himself.

I’m very tired of anyone seeking political solutions in either Iraq or Afghanistan being framed as waving the white flag of surrender. There will be no “victory” in Afghanistan, any more than there will be in Iraq. The violence will cease when there’s a negotiated settlement between the internal warring factions, and even that settlement will probably hold only as long as foreign troops remain.

It’s been said that war with the Afghans essentially bankrupted the Soviet Union, and directly led to perestroika in the U.S.S.R. and the eventual dissolution of the country. At least they could make the argument, even when their Afghan policy fell apart, that they had a strategic interest in the region. With bin-Laden, Mullah Omar, and crew freely roaming the mountains in the Pakistan border region, the U.S. and its allies can no longer credibly make the same claim.

All parties have been making back channel overtures to the warlords in Afghanistan for quite some time. For Gates to term political negotiation as “defeatist” is to completely ignore the reality on the ground, and to ignore the Bush regime’s past efforts aimed at bringing hostilities to a negotiated conclusion.

His remarks aimed at the Bush regime’s closest ally in the global war on terror are not only misplaced, but disingenuous. Just the other day, the New York Times reported that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly sought intervention and talks with the Taliban via facilitation by Saudi Arabia. This proxy negotiation would not have happened without the direct blessing of the Bush administration.

The whole world is basically on hold until Bush and Cheney vacate their Washington residences. If Gates is trying to bolster John McCain’s cred by terming the overt desires of the UK leadership as “defeatist”, it’s not going to carry much weight in the international community.

It’s time for administration officials to STFU, and work on getting their moving vans ordered up. I’m sure they can all be in a safe, non-extraditable location by the middle of January, 2009.

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Vets of Iraq and Afghan Wars Give McCain His Report Card

John McCain may be good at inciting his followers to yell obscenities and “terrorist” in a crowd, but the real people fighting terrorists think McCain is a fraud, at least in promising to support veterans and failing to come through. The fact is that McCain was AWOL when it came time to support the troops, time and again.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

While John McCain (video link) and Sarah Palin (video link) whip their crowds into a frenzy, inciting ugliness not seen in Presidential elections in some time, a more sane group is letting its views be known concerning John McCain’s support of men in uniform. That group is the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and nonpartisan group of veterans who are working for the benefit of our soldiers on those two fronts. They have released their report cards on all Seantors and Members of Congress, and that includes Biden, McCain and Obama. John McCain follows up his truly awful grades at Annapolis with stunningly bad grades by the IAVA. Here’s a report

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

The White Flag of Surrender – In Afghanistan

In the U.S., the neocon uberhawks only think in shades of black and white. No war has ever been won against non-state sponsored actors. It always – always – comes down to a negotiation process, and finishing up business in both Iraq and Afghanistan will be no different. A report this morning from the U.K. makes it clear that the Brits understand this. The PALIN / McCain ticket does not.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

In the U.S., most people don’t even discuss George Bush’s two-front “global war on terrorism” anymore. The topics of Iraq and Afghanistan have largely fallen down the memory hole and off the political radar screen in this presidential election year, regardless of the fact that both countries are still in a state of turmoil, and low-level insurgencies loom over any time horizons for withdrawal. Bush has been quietly busy rearranging the deck chairs on the Lietanic, proposing some troop withdrawals in Iraq (conditions permitting), and essentially redeploying those troops to the Afghan theater.

The change of venue hasn’t escaped the U.K. press, largely because they’re now out of Iraq, and are redeploying British units to Afghanistan. Today, the U.K. Daily Mail reports that both the U.N. envoy to Afghanistan and British military leadership agree that the ongoing war in Afghanistan “can not be can not be won militarily”.

What does this mean?

The UK’s most senior commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, admitted yesterday it was unrealistic to think there would be a decisive military victory.

He went on to suggest that international forces may end up striking a deal with the insurgents about security.

Brigadier Carleton-Smith, commander of the 16 Air Assault Brigade, said it was necessary to –lower our expectations’.

He added that there was likely to be –low but steady’ levels of rural insurgency once international troops eventually leave Afghanistan.

…In an interview with the Sunday Times, Brigadier Carleton-Smith said: –We’re not going to win this war. It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army.

–We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations.

–If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this. That shouldn’t make people uncomfortable.’

…His assessment follows the leaking of a memo from a French diplomat who claimed that Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Kabul, had told him the current strategy was –doomed to fail’.

…Last week, Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand, said the Taliban controlled more than half the province despite the increased presence of British forces.

The Brits are being pragmatic. They’re not waving Sarah Palin’s “white flag of surrender”, but if anyone on this side of the pond were to express the same opinions, they’d be shouted down by the few remaining adherents of the Bush Doctrine and the administration’s failed policies in the region. What the Brits are proposing is borne from hundreds of years of experience with colonial imperialism in the region. They know from where they speak.

In the U.S., though, the uberhawks only think in shades of black and white. No war has ever been won against non-state sponsored actors. It always – always – comes down to a negotiation process, and finishing up business in both Iraq and Afghanistan will be no different.

Sarah Palin and John McCain might not be too fond of a diplomatic solution for the issues in either country. Heck, Barack Obama might not find such solutions as very politically palatable, but at least he can cast whatever path he choses as a result of bad choices left to him by the most despised regime in U.S. history – that of George W. Bush.

Monday, October 6th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Racist Voter Intimidation in Philadelphia

Racist voter intimidation is starting early in Philadelphia, with fliers hitting the streets designed to scare voters in African American neighborhoods. Such GOP tactics usually occur right before an election when there’s no chance to correct the ugliness. This is a case of incompetence on the part of the GOP, not merely un-American behavior.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

If it is nearing the election, we can expect voter intimidation tactics from Republicans. We can expect all sorts of shenanigans. Heck, the McCain campaign is all negative all the time on the campaign trail, and they’re getting desperate, having abandoned Michigan. Now they’re reaching into their bag of trick for voter intimidation in some of the poorest and most ethnic naightborhoods of Philadelphia. From the Philadelphia Daily News:

With just weeks to go before the presidential election, voter intimidation has reared its ugly head.
An anonymous flier circulating in African-American neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia states that voters who are facing outstanding arrest warrants or who have unpaid traffic tickets may be arrested at the polls on Election Day.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison, who learned of the flier last week, said that the message is completely false.

“The only thing that police officers are going to do that we’ll be encouraging that day is that they’ll be exercising their own individual right to vote,” Gillison said.

He plans to put up statements on the city and police Web sites to let citizens know that the handouts are false. He said that he also will record a public-service announcement for broadcast.

Gillison referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the district attorney.

“We are not going to stand for any intimidation of voters,” Gillison said. “Not in this city.”

Who else but the Republicans could be behind such voter intimidation in neighborhoods where 90% and more of the population will vote for Barack Obama. Of course, there will be no trail back to the Republican Party. If anyone is caught in this clearly undemocratic ugliness it will be some low level doofus the GOP can deny they ever knew. That’s the way they roll at the GOP. They also roll with incompetence.

As Zach Stalberg of the Committee of Seventy (a nonpartisan Philadelphia elections watchdog group) notes, he is surprised this sort of intimidation surfaced a full month and more before the election, as this sort of thing is usually used by Republicans in the couple days before elections so that city and state officials who value voter participation, unlike Republicans, do not have the time to counter the ugliness. There’s a video on the local ABCNews web site, and here’s some of Stalberg’s words from the Philadelphia Daily News:

“I’m a little surprised it appeared this far before Election Day,” he said. “It’s another indication of how dirty this election might become.”

As I mentioned earlier, we already knew this campaign was getting dirty from looking at the lying negative ads on the McCain side. So Stalberg is right. But this is an example of incompetency also, putting across an easily refutable message with plenty of time to educate and innoculate the citexenry from further racist intimidation that might happen between here and election day. Yeah, not only is this undemocratic, and not only is it racist, but it is incompetent. In that sense, McCain is following the Bush lead of the last eight years, and maybe he ought to change his campaign slogan to. . .

Incompetence First

Saturday, October 4th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |
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