Monday, July 28, 2008

Of Tents and Partisanship.

Yesterday there was a diary posted on MyDD that made the Recommended List entitled 'What if Obama was a Republican?' In it, the diarist - a self-described Republican - outlined his/her support for Obama. But after reading the diary and following rah-rah comments, I got to thinking about the complexities of partisanship, progressivism, PUMA's and the General Election.

Seeing this diary both annoyed and perplexed me. I asked myself, is MyDD viewed by some as a personal advertisement for a particular candidate or rather a champion for progressive values? I think that it is safe to say that people who believe in liberal values and agenda to governance have very little in common with Republicans. So save for wanting the democratic nominee to win. Do we agree on much?

And while I share the 'big tent' philosophy, I also believe in liberal ideology and Obama's will to govern with these principles.

As well, I have seen PUMA's (save for the bunch that have really gone off the deep end) be criticized for not supporting Obama. Many of which are life-long Democrats and state that they aren't voting for McCain but leaving the ballot spot blank in protest.

This is the paradox.

I shared my confusion with some close friends today and got some interesting answers - but the following stands out the most to me.

I find it counter-intuitive to turn against Democrats who don't like the nominee while welcoming Republicans who are angry with their party. The former shares are values and beliefs while the latter do not. I don't see why we can't just welcome both. Why has expressing enthusiastic support (as grudging support does not seem to be enough these days) for a single candidate become a litmus test for MyDD?

So I'll throw it the following out there to the community:

If a Republican supports Obama but not the Democratic party ideals and/or downticket races - then how are they any better/different than PUMA who will not support Obama but assuredly the Democratic downticket races?

Friday, July 25, 2008

mediaFail™ - an epilogue.

As some of you may know I have an ongoing series of blogs called mediaFail™. In light of the growing collection, I thought an epilogue to the unraveling of the fourth estate in the US during this election cycle was necessary.

mediaFail™ has been around for some time (as seen in the build up and subsequent coverage of the Iraq war). But came into plain view in the treatment of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary.

Here's another first: the press's unique push to get a competitive White House hopeful to drop out of the race. It's unprecedented.

Looking back through modern U.S. campaigns, there's simply no media model for so many members of the press to try to drive a competitive candidate from the field while the primary season is still unfolding.

Until this election cycle, journalists simply did not consider it to be their job to tell a contender when he or she should stop campaigning. That was always dictated by how much money the campaign still had in the bank, how many votes the candidate was still getting, and what very senior members of the candidate's own party were advising.


No longer content to be observers of the campaign, journalists now see themselves as active players in the unfolding drama, and they show no hesitation trying to dictate the basics of the contest, like who should run and who should quit. It's as if journalists are auditioning for the role of the old party bosses.

It's a new brand of political commentary that leaves some veteran journalists perplexed. "The idea that it's your job to tell candidates when to get out, and really trying to control the whole process -- putting it in the hands of the journalists or the reporters or the columnists -- I find that to be new and different," Haynes Johnson told me last week. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Johnson has covered more than a dozen presidential campaigns and is currently working on a book about the unfolding 2008 contest.

The media coverage of this election however has gone to place that would be comical if not for how dangerous it is. Not only does the press literally think its part of the selection process but they are blaming bloggers for creating the 'gotcha' politics that have permeated the media coverage.

Um okay.

Maybe Alter's undies are in a twist because of the rise of the Commentocracy, with bloggers actually gaining some recognition for their importance in the election?

Which leads us to the latest edition of mediaFail™: Nagourney edition.

In a new article in The New Republic, Gabriel Sherman explains how the media love affair is over with Obama due to a variety of factors. Particularly the campaign's arrogance. But what's telling about the article is that the arrogance is perceived to be directed at.....


“I’ve never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others. I thought they crossed the line. If you have a problem with a story I write, call me first. I’m a big boy. I can handle it. But they never called. They attacked me like I’m a political opponent.” — New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney, on how the Obama campaign handles negative stories.


This is more about media arrogance and unleashed elitism than about a candidate. And I read a comment that perfectly summed up a message we should all be sending to the press.

How 'bout the media reports news, and doesn't try to get laid by the candidates?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CNN Cites Racist For Article On Obama.

Today, in a CNN article titled, “Could an Obama Presidency Hurt Black Americans?” John Blake warns that “an Obama victory could be twisted to suppress the push for racial equality” and cites several commentators — including African-Americans, whites, Latinos, and conservatives.

One such source is Steve Sailer.

For those of you that are not familiar with Mr. Sailer - he is a columnist for the American Conservative magazine. Last year he wrote that some whites who support Obama aren’t driven primarily by a desire for change. […]

“So many whites want to be able to say, ‘I’m not one of them, those bad whites. … Hey, I voted for a black guy for president"

“They hope that when a black finally moves into the White House, it will prove to African-Americans, once and for all, that white animus isn’t the cause of their troubles. All blacks have to do is to act like President Obama - and their problems will be over.”

A sampling of some of Sailer's beauties:

– African-Americans: “tend to possess poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups. Thus they need stricter moral guidance from society”

– Obama's 'Blackness': “the brutal truth: Obama is a 'wigger'. He’s a remarkably exotic variety of the faux African-American, but a wigger nonetheless.”

– Michelle Obama: “sounds like she’s got a log-sized chip on her shoulder from lucking into Princeton due to affirmative action.”

– Katrina Victims: “Nor is it surprising that the black refugees at the Superdome and the convention center failed to get themselves organized to make conditions more livable. Poor black people seldom cooperate well with each other because they don’t trust other blacks much, for the perfectly rational reason that they commit large numbers of crimes against each other.”

Several of Sailer’s comments appeared on the site VDARE, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a white nationalist hate group.

How the hell could CNN use Sailer as a source when he has a history of repeatedly made racially insensitive remarks? *Shame on you CNN.*

Oh and if you want to send good old Steve a message - here is his blog.

Unity Bitchez.

In a sign that senior Democratic party officials remain deeply concerned that post-primary bitterness, two top Democratic officials have emailed a sharply-worded letter to major donors and other leading Dems confessing "fatigue and irritation" at those withholding full support from Obama and demanding that they get behind him "without conditions or demands."

Dear Democratic Friends:
2008 is a Democratic year-at all levels in all the states. The opportunity is ours. We just have to seize it.

We experienced an exciting, intense, sometimes difficult, campaign to nominate our presidential candidate. Now it's over. Barack Obama won.

I supported Hillary Clinton and am proud and pleased that I did. But she lost. Barack Obama won. It's over.

It is time for all Democrats, supporters of Senator Clinton and all other contenders for the nomination, to stand with him to secure his election and the election of Democrats at all levels of competition.

I must confess a bit of fatigue and irritation with people who continue to carp, complain, and criticize the results of the primary and lay down conditions for their support. The Los Angeles Lakers didn't establish conditions to recognize the Boston Celtics as NBA Champions; Roger Federer did not demand concessions before recognizing that Rafael Nadal defeated him at Wimbledon.

It is time to act in a mature and resourceful fashion. It's time to put the primaries behind us. It's time to support Barack Obama without conditions or demands.

It's time to WIN for Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, America, and our future. We have an unparalleled opportunity. I hope we will all do everything we can to seize the moment.

See you at the Inauguration.


Don Fowler
DNC Member At-Large, South Carolina
Former Chair of the Democratic National Committee

Alice Germond
Secretary, Democratic National Committee

Bullying progressives that are wary and mistrustful of the party and/or its nominee by barking that it's "time to support Barack Obama without conditions or demands" is categorically dumb and goes against what the party is supposed to represent. It comes across as treating the electorate as nothing but votes to exploit, certainly not as people with genuine issues that need urgent addressing, and it echoes the dictatorial tone of the administration currently in office.

Who could have possibly thought this letter was a good idea?

Fox News Rocks!

During a segment this weekend, Fox News’ Brett Baier said that “the high price of gas may be costing your kids some of their education. We’ll explain here.”

Now watch v. carefully.... (if you are drinking or need to use the restroom - please do so before you hit play)

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Every year, malnutrition kills five million children - that's one child every six seconds. Many do not get the milk, vitamins and minerals their developing bodies need. Some mothers in these villages can't produce enough milk themselves and can't afford to buy it. Even if milk was available, its very difficult to store -- there’s no electricity, so no refrigeration. Powdered milk is useless because most don't have clean water.

But now, 'Doctors Without Borders' believes that there is a product that can save millions of these children. And may possibly be the most important advance ever to cure and prevent malnutrition.


A ready-to-eat, vitamin-enriched paste - it's cheap, easy to make, and extremely easy to use. It is a simple formula: made of peanut butter, powdered milk, powdered sugar, and enriched with vitamins and minerals. It tastes like a peanut butter and is very sweet, and because of that many of the children love it. Developed by a nutritionist. It does not need refrigeration, water, or cooking; it is simply squeezed out in a paste and thus many children can even feed themselves.

Each serving is the equivalent of a glass of milk and a multivitamin.

In Niger, in West Africa, where child malnutrition is so widespread that most mothers have watched at least one of their children die, 'Doctors Without Borders' has been handing out Plumpynut. This was covered in a segment by 60 Minutes.

Niger has become Plumpynut's proving ground. A daily dose costs about $1; small factories mix it there and in three other African countries. In Niger, most children need help now during what’s called the "hunger season," just before the new harvest. Old food supplies have run out and about all that’s left is millet, a basic grain women pound for porridge. But millet doesn’t have enough nutrients to keep kids alive; in the western world it is used it as birdseed.

Dr. Susan Shepherd, a pediatrician from Butte, Mont., runs Doctors Without Borders in Niger, says children that would have been hospitalized in the past can now be treated at home. "The reason we can do that is because we can give children Plumpynut here in the ambulatory center, and they take a week’s ration home. Moms treat their children at home and come back every week for a weight check," Dr. Shepherd explains.

Children are weighed and measured at the distribution sites. They're also examined to make sure they don't have any serious infections. Malnutrition destroys a child's immune system, so they're more susceptible to diseases and less capable of recovering from them.

If Plumpynut is the answer, how come kids are still dying?

"The answer is getting to kids earlier," Shepherd says. "Once children are as sick as she is, Plumpynut is not gonna save her."

What about peanut allergies?

"We just don't see it. In developing countries food allergy is not nearly the problem that it is in industrialized countries."

On a list of 177 developing countries, the United Nations ranked Niger dead last. More than 70% of the people are illiterate and earn less than a dollar a day. The average woman will give birth at least eight times in her life. But largely because of malnutrition, one in five of their children will die before they reach the age of five. Of those who survive, half will have stunted growth and never reach full adult height.

Fortified ready-to-eat products, like Plumpynut, save children's lives. Dr. Tectonidis says if the more countries were willing to spend part of their food aid on this, more companies will start making it.

"Even by taking a miniscule proportion of the global food aid budget, they will have a huge impact, huge impact!" Tectonidis says. "We're not even asking for billions. It will solve so much of the underlying useless death. So we gotta do that now."

"Wasted life. Just totally wasted life for nothing. Because they don't have this product, *a little bit of peanut butter with vitamins,"* Tectonidis says. "What a waste."

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Brat Who Hasn’t Been Told To Cut The Act Out.

As if we needed more evidence that the right is completely whacked...

Yesterday on his radio show, right winger Michael Savage said that autism is “a fraud” and “a racket” and that “in 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out.” Savage then asserted that all these “brat[s]” need as a father to tell them to “stop acting like a putz“:

That’s what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’” Savage concluded, “[I]f I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, ‘Don’t behave like a fool.’ The worst thing he said — ‘Don’t behave like a fool. Don’t be anybody’s dummy. Don’t sound like an idiot. Don’t act like a girl. Don’t cry.’ That’s what I was raised with. That’s what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You’re turning your son into a girl, and you’re turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That’s why we have the politicians we have.”

Savage later claimed that there was “an asthma epidemic amongst minority children” because “the children got extra welfare if they were disabled.”

Listen and vomit a little:

Where do they find these guys?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fear, Fear and more Fear.

In case anyone was wondering what an exercise in fear-mongering looks like. Here you go:

The above represents a billboard in Orange County, Florida. The local ABC News affiliate reports that the person responsible is a local musician “trying to help Republicans” but that “officials with both political parties are calling the billboard inappropriate.”

Betcha we'll see more of this as we get closer to the GE. Ya think?

Friday, July 11, 2008

mediaFail: Liddy Edition.

On the July 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, while discussing a July 8 speech in which Sen. Barack Obama discussed the importance of learning a second language, G. Gordon Liddy claimed that Obama "wants you to be sure your child can speak fluent illegal alien." He added: "Sadly, with every legal and cultural step we take to make our life more immediately convenient for non-English-speaking illegal aliens, we merely feed the beast."

Liddy later stated: " 'Round here, let's see, I speak some French, some German as well as English. Franklin [Liddy's producer] speaks fluent French, fluent Italian, as well as English. But none of us here, so far as I know, speak illegal alien." He had previously said of undocumented workers from Mexico: "[T]hey want to speak Spanish, you know, and other varieties of illegal alien."

From the July 9 broadcast of Radio America's The G. Gordon Liddy Show:

LIDDY: And that, of course is the latest pander from Barack Obama. He says that Europeans coming over here can speak German and French. Well, yes, if you're from Germany I would suspect you would speak German. And you -- you would speak French and they do study English because English is the universal language. All aircraft communications and all the rest all over the world are in English. No, they're not in Russian or Chinese, or anything else. But think about that; he wants you to be sure your child can speak fluent illegal alien. Sadly, with every legal and cultural step we take to make our life more immediately convenient for non-English-speaking illegal aliens, we merely feed the beast.


LIDDY: You've just heard Barack Obama insisting that we all teach our children Spanish. Well, not mine, no way. 'Round here, let's see, I speak some French, some German as well as English. Franklin speaks fluent French, fluent Italian, as well as English. But none of us here, so far as I know, speak illegal alien.

What a Douche.

Click here to hear the clip if you can stomach it.

Soundbites to Solutions.

Unlike any other election cycle, the issues of race, gender, age, and class have dominated public and private conversations over the course of this election.

That is why on June 17th, The Women's Media Center, along with The White House Project and The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, brought together top national political observers and media professionals for an in-depth conversation about how the media creates and reflects public perceptions on presidential candidates. Speakers included:

- Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent, CNN
- Susan Carroll, Senior Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics
- Callie Crossley, National Television and Radio Commentator and Program Manager, Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
- William Douglas, White House Correspondent, McClatchy Washington Bureau
- Juan Gonzalez, Columnist, New York Daily News
- Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center
- Celinda Lake, Political strategist and President of Lake Research Partners
- Courtney Martin, Author and Columnist for The American Prospect Online
- Pamela Newkirk, Associate Professor of Journalism, New York University
- Geneva Overholser, Director of the School of Journalism at the University of Southern California
- Ron Walters, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland
- Patricia J. Williams, Columnist, The Nation, and Professor of Law, Columbia University

Held June 17 in New York, "From Soundbites to Solutions" started a conversation that one can hope will continue through this election cycle, as the public, press and candidates grapple with tough issues of bias, identity and language.

Further information is available, including video of the conference.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

They Could Be In Cuba.

In the summer of 1964, the "Freedom Summer" campaign was launched. Dedicated to register to vote as many African American voters as possible in the state of Mississippi, which up to that time had almost totally excluded black voters. The project was organized by the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), an umbrella of four established civil rights organizations: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Over 1,000 people volunteered interested in helping out the civil rights cause.

At that time, many of Mississippi's white residents deeply resented the outsiders and any attempt to change their society. State and local governments, police, the White Citizens' Council and the Ku Klux Klan used murder, arrests, beatings, arson, rape, spying, firing, evictions, and other forms of intimidation and harassment to oppose the project and prevent blacks from registering to vote or achieving social equality

On June 19, the United States Senate -- after a lengthy filibuster and vote of cloture -- passed the landmark Civil Rights Act. Two days later, three progressives James Chaney, a 21-year-old black man and local Freedom Movement activist from Meridian, Mississippi; Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old white Jewish man, student and summer volunteer from New York; and Michael Schwerner, a 24-year-old white Jewish CORE organizer and former social worker also from New York travelled to Neshoba County, in order to inspect the ruins of the Mount Zion United Methodist Church.

The church, a meeting place for civil rights groups, had been burned just five days earlier. Before the three left the area, they stopped by the local COFO office. Schwerner, aware that their station wagon's license number had been given to members of the notorious local Citizens Council, told COFO workers to contact the FBI if he hadn't called them by 4:30 p.m.

At approximately 5:00, Neshoba County deputy Cecil Price stopped the blue Ford carrying the trio. He arrested Chaney for allegedly driving 35 miles per hour over the speed limit. He also booked Goodman and Schwerner, "for investigation." All were denied telephone calls during their time at the jail. COFO workers made attempts to find the three men, but when they called the Neshoba County jail, the secretary followed her instructions to lie and told the workers the three young men were not there.

Chaney was then fined $20, and the three men were ordered to leave the county. Price followed them to the edge of town, and saw them heading toward Meridian on State Highway 19, at approximately 10:30 p.m.

That was the last time they were seen alive.

Some local officials were hardly sympathetic to their dissapearance. Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey said, "They're just hiding and trying to cause a lot of bad publicity for this part of the state". Mississippi governor Paul Johnson dismissed concern by stating that "they could be in Cuba."

When the FBI offered a reward for news of the men's whereabouts, a break came in the case. The men's bodies were found on August 4. Schwerner and Goodman had each been shot once in the heart; Chaney, the lone African-American, had been savagely beaten and shot three time

The Ku Klux Klan, aided by local police, kidnapped and brutally murdered them. Despite overwhelming evidence and two confessions, the State refused to prosecute the killers.

The U. S. Department of Justice appointed John Doar, to bring Federal charges (of Civil Rights Violations) against the killers. Against tremendous odds, Doar's successful prosecution led to convictions against many of the conspirators. However, after 40 years, and only in 2005, finally was one of the killers convicted of their murders.

On this hot summer night, with all the bickering over the primary and election, let us pause and remember the sacrifices of the progressives before us and continue to fight for justice in the world.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Throwing Hillary Under the Bus.

When Hillary Clinton conceded several weeks ago I was sad. I truly wanted her to win the Democratic nomination and become the president in January 2009.



Since that time we have seen the PUMA movement take hold. Which for those living under a rock, stands for Party Unity My Ass. I am not going to get into a diatribe about them because in some ways I understand what they are doing and somewhat how they are feeling.

- Disappointed that Hillary will not be the President in 2009? Okay.

- Don't agree with some of his policies? Okay.

- Reviled at his campaign's tactics during the primary? Okay.

- Think Hillary would have been the better candidate? Okay.

- Dislike Obama? Okay.

But you know what? THE PRIMARY IS OVER.

And for those that are thinking of voting for McCain? Stop and think what you are doing -you are throwing Hillary under the bus. Everything she stands for has very little to do with the Republican party ideals and voting for them would be a slap in her face. Yes - a slap.

As my good pal Kysen wrote:

But, opting not to vote?
Voting only downticket?
Writing in Hillary?
Seems a bit like holding one's breath to get one's way....but, at least it is not sullying Hillary's name.

So for the love of god - if you cannot vote for the Democratic nominee - people may not like your decision but will understand it. But DO NOT betray Hillary and everything she stands for by voting for McCain.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Silencing Dissension.

Last week the blog Clintonistas for Obama was locked by Blogger. The following message was provided:

Dear Blogger User,

This is a message from the Blogger team.

Your blog, at, has been identified as a potential spam blog. You will not be able to publish posts to your blog until we review your site and confirm that it is not a spam blog.


The Blogger Team

To unlock, a code had to be entered to request an editorial review from a live person, which took four days.

I also would like to preface that C4O's mandate is as follows...

We agree with Hillary Clinton, we support the progressive values she supports, and we share her dedication to making this nation better... That's why we support Barack Obama for President! :-)

The locking of the blog puzzled the group that posts there, and personally made me suspicious since C4O is the furthest thing from being spam. So I decided to investigate this a bit further. What I discovered was shocking and disturbing to be frank.

My investigation began with a Washington Post article that exposes that the Obama smear emails originated on Free Republic. No shocker there. Freepers have been leaders of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy since its inception and full of smears, slime and innuendoes, especially about the Clintons.

But after the article was published, a Freeper, charged that the WaPo reporter has exposed the identity of anonymous posters in the past, and the WaPo article also “exposed” ordinary people who dared to think the rumour was important, but who denied being involved in the spamming.

The author is quite paranoid about it:

The article Mosk wrote today purports to be about efforts to track down where the ‘Obama is a Muslim’ allegations began. However, it is actually a warning shot across the bow to opponents of Obama that they will be tracked down and exposed for speaking ill of the Obamessiah.

While it literally pains me to agree with a Freeper, is this what is going on? Shutting down free speech online? Finding the name and address of people who post anonymously on websites? Reporters harassing them and exposing them to ridicule? I am embarrassed to say that I have witnessed behaviour akin to this on 'progressive' blogs as well.

Which brings me back to C4O. It seems that there is a concerted effort amongst a group to shut down political criticism of Obama.

Blogger offers readers the opportunity to flag blogs as spam or complain about objectionable content. And apparently someone has been using this to shut down blogs that are perceived as critical to Obama.

Several sources, including Blogspasm report that several blogs that have been shut down by Google that are critical of Obama, and the suspicion is that Google is being manipulated to shut down the opposition.

Now no one could think that the Obama campaign is promoting such deeds, but when people attack and try to shut down sites critical of a political candidate - we all have to worry.

Is this really what some people have become, bullying and intimidation to fall in line with what is 'acceptable' discussion?