Sickened at the prospect that a victory for reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi in the Iranian presidential election might have led to better relations with the United States, neoconservatives here and their fellow war hawks in Israel are celebrating the dubious victory of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yes, this is true: Right-wingers in America and Israel don't want peace with Iran, nor do they want anyone to get the impression that President Obama's efforts at engagement with Iran might actually work, nor do they give a damn about the Iranian people. Mad Mahmoud is the man neocons love to hate, and they're as happy as clams that their guy found a way to steal the election.
Had Mousavi won the Iranian election as many in Iran and around the world hoped, it would likely have signalled a new and more positive direction for U.S.-Iranian relations as well as providing support for the "Obama Doctrine" of engagement with Iran and others in the Muslim world with which America's relations have been troubled. Such a development would at the same time have undercut the neocon attitude of hostility and suspicion toward Iran, as well as undercutting the right-wing Israeli government's aggressive stance toward Iran. As we know, neocons can tolerate peace only when it is imposed with an iron fist or the heel of a jackboot, and the prospect of peace through diplomacy in the Greater Middle East must surely have given them nightmares the rest of us could scarcely imagine.
In the run-up to the Iranian election last week, Daniel Pipes of the right-wing Middle East Forum came right out and admitted in a speech at the right-wing Heritage Foundation that he would actually vote for Ahmadinejad if he were allowed to vote in Iran (video). This speech was followed by a June 12 blog post by Pipes in which he reiterated that he was "rooting for Ahmadinejad" based on the twisted logic that the fundamentalist clerics who really rule Iran will always be our enemies and it's better to have an Iranian president we can really hate than "a sweet-talking Mousavi" who lulls us into thinking we can be friends. Never mind the aspirations or even basic human rights of the Iranian people; never mind anyone's desire for peace in the Greater Middle East. I've long had a pretty strong distaste for Daniel Pipes, but following this admission I'm more convinced of his utter vileness than ever. This is, after all, a man who has publicly advocated for the profiling and internment of Muslims in America, and who considers Israeli and Palestinian existence mutually exclusive (see Sourcewatch). As we leave the age of the neocons behind, I look forward to watching Pipes and others like him slide into the bitter, drooling irrelevance and oblivion they deserve.
The American Enterprise Institute's equally malignant Michael Rubin likewise told Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review that it might be better for Ahmadinejad to win, because a Mousavi win might give Obama and the rest of us the impression that diplomacy was actually working. Painting Iran as inherently and hopelessly evil, Rubin said of the Iranian election that should Mousavi win "it would be easier for Obama to believe that Iran really was figuratively unclenching a fist when, in fact, it had its other hand hidden under its cloak, grasping a dagger." James Taranto strikes a similar tone in the Wall Street Journal, warning against the "eagerness to see Obama's feel-good foreign-policy approach succeed."
Now that the Iranian election appears to be over, right-wingers will be tripping over themselves in the rush to use Ahmadinejad's victory against Obama. In fact, once and future Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has already piped up, saying that Ahmadinejad's win is proof that Obama's "policy of going around the world and apologizing for America is not working." These losers obviously have nothing left but the hope that Obama will fail, or can at least be said to have failed. I look forward to watching Romney and his party lose again in 2012.
Right-wingers in Israel, meanwhile, have been making noises very similar to their American bedfellows, and appear to see nothing good for themselves in any warming of relations between the U.S. and Iran, as observed by M.J. Rosenberg at TPM. From Israel in the run-up to the Iranian election Yaakov Katz wrote in the Jerusalem Post that members of the Israeli defense establishment were "silently praying" for an Ahmadinejad victory, fearing that a Mousavi win would result in decreased pressure on Iran and its nuclear program. Now that Ahmadinejad appears to have successfully stolen the election, Israeli officials and their allies in America are calling for renewed pressure on Iran. Meanwhile, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff write in Haaretz that an Ahmadinejad victory is actually preferable for Israel because a Mousavi win would only "paste an attractive mask on the face of Iranian nuclear ambitions."
I suspect we'll hear more of this in days to come from eager neocons on both sides of the Atlantic. Obama's policy of engagement will work, however, and is working, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his Cairo speech, by the Lebanese election results, by the reform movement in Iran, and by the likelihood that Ahmadinejad kept his office only through vote-rigging, suppression, and intimidation. Obama will succeed, and once he has neocons like Daniel Pipes can take up residence in the dustbin of history where they belong.
Mark C. Eades
As Iranians go to the polls to elect a president, American neoconservatives are openly rooting not for moderate reform candidate and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi but for anti-U.S. hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This is an obvious sign both of the neocons' preference for conflict over peace between the U.S. and Iran and of the generally bankrupt state of conservatism in America, reduced now to banking on failure for the Obama administration (see Huffington Post, Rachel Maddow).
Should the reformist Mousavi win the Iranian election and become president, it would likely signal a new and more positive direction for U.S.-Iranian relations as well as providing support for the "Obama Doctrine" of engagement with Iran and other adversaries. Such a development would at the same time undercut the neocon attitude of hostility and suspicion toward Iran, as well as undercutting the right-wing Israeli government's aggressive stance toward Iran. Indeed right-wingers in Israel like those in America appear to see nothing good for themselves in any warming of relations between the U.S. and Iran, as observed by M.J. Rosenberg at TPM and Yaakov Katz at the Jerusalem Post.
The unpleasant fellow you see pictured here is Daniel Pipes of the right-wing Middle East Forum, a raging neocon who said in a speech this week at the Heritage Foundation that he would vote for Ahmadinejad if he were allowed to vote in Iran (video). The American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin likewise told Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review that it could be better for Ahmadinejad to win, because a Mousavi win might give Obama the impression that diplomacy was working. Painting Iran as inherently and hopelessly evil, Rubin said of the Iranian election that "should someone more soft-spoken and less defiant -- someone like former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi -- win, it would be easier for Obama to believe that Iran really was figuratively unclenching a fist when, in fact, it had it had its other hand hidden under its cloak, grasping a dagger."
Without so openly rooting for Ahmadinejad, other neocons are playing down the significance of a possible Mousavi victory, obviously worried that a shift in power will signal a fresh start for U.S.-Iranian relations that could leave American and Israeli hawks out in the cold. The same right-wing pundits who constantly point out Ahmadinejad's bad behavior as reasons to confront Iran now argue that it doesn't matter who the president of Iran is. Martin Peretz wrote at the New New Republic: "We've known for a long time that elected leaders do not carry the weight of those who have been anointed." Ilan Berman likewise wrote at the American Spectator: "Whoever ends up becoming president will have little real power -- and even less influence over Iran's geostrategic direction."
The prospect of peace in the Greater Middle East must give sociopaths like these nightmares the rest of us could scarcely imagine.
Mark C. Eades
Much is being made in the media of the current tension between the Obama administration and the right-wing government in Tel Aviv on the issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, and I fully expect that coverage of Israeli reaction to the tough line on settlements taken by Obama in his Cairo speech will focus on the negative. Equally important but likely to receive far less attention is the applause and support Obama is receiving from Israeli progressives, many of whom are as critical of the settlements as their counterparts in the West.
A sampling of progressive Israeli opinion on Obama and his stand on the settlement issue includes the following from Gideon Levy in Haaretz, predicting hopefully that Binyamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government will ultimately have no choice but to acquiesce to Obama's demands:
"Washington will decide the fate of the West Bank settlements, and we can only hope it insists on their evacuation. Obama standing firm beside the revolutionary Mideast policy he has begun will light the torch of hope here, too. The battle of the titans, Netanyahu and Obama, is little more than a farce - let us recall the fable of the elephant and the bee, or the frog and the ox. Not all creatures can become as great as they think. Let's also be realistic: An Israeli prime minister has no option of saying no to America once Washington has dug in its heels. Netanyahu knows this better than anyone, and the time has come to explain as much to his 'patriotic' coalition allies.... Time is short but the keys are in the ignition, President Obama. Drive on to peace."
Barak Ravid also in Haaretz provides the following comments from progressive Members of the Knesset:
Kadima MK Ze'ev Boim said that "Obama's speech is yet another proof that Netanyahu miscalculated the foreign policy of the new American administration."
"The President's take on the Palestinian question is similar to Kadima's, and it's a shame that narrow political considerations prevented the Israeli government from espousing the two-state solution which is the only one that can ensure a Jewish and democratic existence in Israel."
Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner said that "Israel could benefit from the America's improved image in the Arab world and leverage it to forge a regional coalition, together with the moderate Arab countries, to counter Iran, but instead the government is engaged in marginal debates on outposts."
Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) said that Obama was right that the world's common enemy is extremism and that finding a common strategy is the way to defeat it.
"We should adopt a similar strategy in Jewish-Arab and religious-secular relations, as well as vis-a-vis the Palestinians," Braverman said. "We are committed to the two-state solution."
Meretz leader Haim Oron, for his part, welcomed Obama's speech. He said it was filled with inspiration, optimism and vision.
"The speech is the feat of enlightenment," he said.
Negative reaction to Obama's speech from right-wing Israelis, meanwhile, has been predictably harsh. Most outspoken in their opposition to Obama are settlers themselves and their leaders, whose hysterical, lowbrow rhetoric strongly echoes that of right-wing Americans. Like their teabagging U.S. counterparts, right-wing Israelis have taken to throwing Obama's middle name around as an epithet, accusing him of being a closet Muslim and of betraying Israel. Organizers of a right-wing protest outside the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem had the following to say in a press release reported by Arutz Sheva:
"Barack Hussein Obama! Hands off the land of Israel! You cannot appease the Islamic lust for conquest by selling down the Jews and their Biblical homeland."
Settler leaders quoted in Y-Net likewise said that "Hussein Obama opted to adopt the Arab's bogus versions over the Jewish truth" and that Obama's speech "pandered to Islam." Sound familiar?
Reader comments in Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post make it clear that right-wing Israelis and right-wing Americans are finding each other and connecting online, sharing their hatred of Arabs and their contempt of Obama, and hatching all manner of hysterical theories on the coming end of civilization as we know it. Before long American news audiences may see images of their president burned in effigy not by Palestinians in a Gaza refugee camp but by right-wing Israelis in a West Bank settlement. On the other hand, the enthusiastic support Obama continues to receive from Israeli progressives sounds a hopeful note both for the peace effort and for the future of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
President Barack Obama's interview this week with Arab news network Al-Arabiya appears to have been a success. The president's first interview since taking office, his appearance with the network's Washington bureau chief Hisham Melhem was an effort to extend a hand of friendship to the Arab and Muslim world, and included Obama's acknowledgment that Americans "have not been perfect" in their dealings with that world:
"My job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives...," Obama told Melhem in the interview, "...My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as twenty or thirty years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task."
Obama's interview included a re-statement of his committments both to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and to follow through on his promise to address the Muslim world from a Muslim capital during his first months in office. It also included an aknowledgment of his own personal connections to the Muslim world -- connections for which Republican bigots viciously attacked Obama during the 2008 campaign, but which can hardly hurt him now as he begins the work of repairing US relations with the Muslim world:
"My job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.... And so what I want to communicate is the fact that in all my travels throughout the Muslim world, what I've come to understand is that regardless of your faith -- and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers -- regardless of your faith, people all have certain common hopes and common dreams."
Obama's interview with Al-Arabiya comes as his new Mideast envoy, former senator George Mitchell, heads to the region to restart a peace process long neglected by Obama's predecessor, and follows his contact with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas immediately after his inauguration Jan. 20. Obama's overtures to the Muslim world are certain to offend many conservatives, who regard Arabs and Muslims with extreme hostility and suspicion, and who think that the only people in the Middle East we ought to be talking with are the Israelis. Many of these were deeply offended when Obama's first call to a foreign leader was to the Palestinian president instead of his Israeli counterpart, and are likely to be equally offended that his first interview was with Al-Arabiya instead of the Jerusalem Post.
I say tough cookies for them. Elections have consequences. While President Obama has neither said nor done anything to suggest that he is about to "abandon" Israel (as I'm certain his conservative critics would love to charge), he clearly recognizes that a Mideast policy based on an exclusive relationship with Israel and on callous disregard of Arab concerns has not worked. The time for change has come, and from where I sit it looks like President Obama is off to a damn good start.
(Your Tax Dollars at Work in the Middle East)
The state of Israel is facing charges of war crimes following the slaughter of innocent civilians including hundreds of children in its recent campaign against Palestinian militants on the Gaza Strip. Israel's powerful ally, the United States, also faces charges of complicity in the slaughter as Palestinians declare: "This Damage Made in USA."
UN human rights expert Richard Falk said on Thursday that the recent Israeli military operation on the Gaza Strip "raises the specter of systematic war crimes" and needs to be investigated. Falk told journalists in Geneva from his home in California that he had little doubt as to the "unavoidably inhuman character of a large-scale military operation of the sort that Israel has initiated... against an essentially defenseless population." Charging that "unlawful targets have been selected" by Israeli forces during the fighting, Falk insisted that Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip including children and the wounded were effectively trapped in a war zone and prevented from fleeing.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued demands for a full explanation of "outrageous" Israeli attacks on UN facilities on the Gaza Strip including a school used as a refuge for civilians, killing dozens. The UN chief noted that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert had promised to provide results of an Israeli inquiry into the attacks "on an urgent basis" and said he would then decide on "appropriate follow-up action." On January 12, the 47-member UN Human Rights Council voted by a large majority to launch an investigation into "grave" human rights violations by Israeli forces against Palestinians. Israel is also facing questions from human rights groups regarding the use of illegal weapons, including white phosphorus munitions, against Palestinian civilians on the Gaza Strip.
These charges come amid renewed calls for a global boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel from groups such as the Global BDS Movement. Recently, Canadian journalist Naomi Klein wrote in support of such a boycott: "The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa." Some are also calling for a boycott of US exports for its continuing support of Israeli actions against Palestinians.
The Palestinian death toll from Israel's recent war on Gaza currently stands at around 1300, most of whom were innocent civilians, and around a third of whom were children. Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians were killed in Israel during the same period, an indicator of Israel's massively disproportionate response to Palestinian attacks on Israelis. A total of twenty-eight Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip since 2001, a tiny fraction of the number of Palestinians killed in Israel's recent Gaza actions alone. These numbers echo casualty figures from the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict which consistently show innocent Palestinian dead including children massively outnumbering Israelis.
Rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip deserve both condemnation by the international community and a proportionate response by Israel. The killing of one Israeli in a rocket attack does not, however, entitle Israel to respond by slaughtering twenty, thirty, or forty innocent Palestinian civilians. Such slaughter, furthermore, will no more stop Hamas' rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip than it stopped Hezbollah's rocket attacks from Lebanon in 2006. Just as Hezbollah could declare victory in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war simply by surviving to fight another day, so Hamas can declare victory in Gaza this day. Meanwhile, Israel increasingly becomes a pariah state in the eyes of the world, as does the United States for its complicity in the slaughter. Ever-growing anger particularly in the Arab world serves America's national security interests no better than it serves Israel's.
Behold, America: Your tax dollars at work in the Middle East.
Out of the tragedy of Gaza, perhaps, will come renewed opportunity to hold Israel accountable for its actions, to press for a new US policy on the Middle East, for peace, and for an end to Israel's long and bloody occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts such as those promoted by the Global BDS Movement have a proven track record of success as in the case of South Africa, and deserve our support. UN efforts to hold Israel accountable for its actions also deserve our support, but are likely to require UN Security Council action of the type America with its power of veto most often and most notoriously obstructs. Pressure, therefore, needs to be applied to the White House and Congress for a new US approach to the conflict and a new US attitude in the UN Security Council. Whether our new ambassador to the UN offers active support with a "yes" vote or passive permission by abstaining on UN efforts to hold Israel accountable for its actions, our message to the new administration regarding these efforts can be stated clearly and briefly as follows: NO VETO!
Slide show: Gaza Massacre by Sabbah.
Photo gallery: Child victims of Gaza violence.
On the night of Nov. 22, a group of Israeli settlers descended on the Jerusalem home of Palestinian resident Fatima al-Daoudi while the owner was away visiting relatives, changing the locks on the gates and putting a metal sheet over an open-air porch built in by the al-Daoudi family in 1948. Although an eviction order was obtained by the al-Daoudi family and the settlers removed, the order was only temporary and the settlers are expected to return, eventually to stay as the al-Daoudi family is forced to seek housing elsewhere. Residents of the same house since 1930, the al-Daoudi family now faces the prospect of joining the many other Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who, like those in the neighboring West Bank, have been turned into homeless refugees by expanding Israeli settlements (PNN).
Despite US and international protests, a similar fate recently befell the family of Mohammed al-Kurd and his wife Fawzieh, residents of their East Jerusalem home since 1956. Evicted in a pre-dawn raid by Israeli police, the al-Kurd family was forced to move into a tent on private land rented from a Palestinian neighbor while Israeli settlers moved into their home of more than fifty years. Israeli harassment against the family continued, however, including repeated demolition of the tent in which they had been forced to live despite its location on private Palestinian land. To make matters worse, Mr. al-Kurd suffered from complications related to diabetes, of which he finally passed away on Nov. 23. As Mrs. al-Kurd, her children, and her grandchildren mourn Mr. al-Kurd's death, the family's future remains in question (PNN, BBC, AFP, Haaretz, AIC).
As Haaretz reported prior to the al-Kurds' eviction from their home, the US filed an official protest with Israel for acts against Palestinians including the eviction of the al-Kurd family and harassment of Palestinian residents by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The US complaint was obviously ignored. Such complaints from US officials including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have grown more frequent in recent months according to a separate Haaretz report, drawing the ire of some Israeli officials, who suggest the US is meddling in local affairs that are none of its business. Despite overriding US concern for Israeli interests and massive US aid to Israel, it would seem that the Israelis have little regard for US and international opinion on the human rights of Palestinians. Billions of your tax dollars go to Israel each year, yet even the most restrained US complaints against settlement expansion and abuse of Palestinians go ignored by those who are supposedly America's best friends and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Meanwhile, anger toward both Israel and America festers throughout the Arab world.
President-elect Obama has told us that "the time for change has come." Has the time come for this long, sad state of affairs to change?
After our stunning Election Day sweep of the White House and Congress, Democrats still have one remaining opportunity to finish 2008 with a win. Even as Senate races pending recounts in Minnesota and Alaska hang in the balance favoring Democrats, one Senate runoff in Georgia remains offering Democrats the possibility of a 60% majority in the upper house of Congress. Recent polls show the Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss (pictured on left) holding a narrow lead over Democratic challenger Jim Martin (pictured on right) with just two weeks to go until the Dec. 2 runoff.
Chambliss remains infamous for his attacks on Democratic opponent Max Cleland in 2002, including an ad showing pictures of disabled Vietnam veteran Cleland along with pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, suggesting dishonestly that Cleland would allow terrorists like those who struck America on 9/11 to strike America again. Chambliss' GOP colleague John McCain called the ad "reprehensible" and "worse than disgraceful" for its attack on the patriotism of a man who lost three limbs fighting for the United States in Vietnam. Ever ready to flip on previously-held principles, however, McCain appears to have forgiven Chambliss for his attack on McCain's fellow Vietnam veteran, and is currently campaigning for Chambliss in Georgia. A noted chicken-hawk, Chambliss avoided service in Vietnam with five student deferments and a medical deferment for a "football knee."
Chambliss is also infamous for his remark, shortly following the 9/11 attacks, that Georgia ought to "arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line."
This year, Chambliss took to race-baiting in the effort to stem a Democratic tide in Georgia that threatened both to unseat Chambliss himself and to deliver the state's electoral votes for Barack Obama. As in other Deep South states, Democratic voters in Georgia are largely African American while white voters tend strongly to vote Republican. Unlike in other regions of the United States this year, white voters in the Deep South broke even more strongly Republican this year than in previous years, owing to racial antipathy toward Obama. Meanwhile, African American voters in Georgia turned out in massive numbers for Obama, producing an electoral result strongly divided along racial lines, and holding McCain's ultimate Georgia victory to a relatively narrow 5.2 percentage points.
Fearing the loss both of his own Senate seat and of his state to the Democrats owing to heavy African American voter turnout, Chambliss not-so-subtly warned his conservative white base of this on more than one occasion as a way of getting them to the polls. In one instance during early voting in Georgia featuring huge African American turnout as expected, Politico quotes Chambliss telling his white supporters that "the other folks are voting" as a warning that they too had better get out and vote. In another instance, Chambliss told the New York Times that the "rush to the polls by African-Americans" in Georgia "has also got our side energized, [because] they see what is happening." Finally, after failing on Nov. 4 to reach the 50% majority required under Georgia law to avoid a runoff, Chambliss again referred in a Fox News interview to the "high percentage of minority vote" this year and the the fact that "we weren’t able to get enough of our folks out on Election Day."
Saxby Chambliss is a liar, a bigot, and a disgrace. In 2001, he openly suggested collective punishment of Muslims for the 9/11 attacks. In 2002, he won his Senate seat by shamefully attacking the patriotism of a disabled veteran in a time of fear shortly following 9/11. This year, he used race-baiting in the attempt to save his own Senate seat and keep Georgia in the Republican column. His Democratic challenger, Jim Martin, is a Vietnam veteran, an accomplished legal scholar, and served for 18 years as a Georgia state legislator. Readers are encouraged to visit Jim Martin's campaign website, to contribute there or at Act Blue to Martin's campaign, to spread the word to other Democrats, and to contact Georgia voters on Martin's behalf.
Still reeling from the punishing defeat handed to them by victorious Democrats on Election Day, Republicans are licking their wounds and debating their strategy for a comeback. As Democrats and progressives celebrate our hard-won victory, we should also be keeping an eye on our vanquished opponents and preparing to remain on the offensive against them, whatever comeback road they attempt to pursue. For the sake of the future, we cannot allow a repeat of 1980, 1994, or 2000.
Most observers see two major possibilities for the GOP. One is that the party could stick with its rural, white, ultra-conservative base and become the party of the far right, thus alienating moderates, independents, and swing voters, many of whom would likely migrate to the Democratic Party and join the ranks of conservative-leaning "Blue Dogs" like Virginia senator Jim Webb. The other possibility is that the GOP could move toward a more moderate and less ideological, center-right position that could make it more attractive to independents and swing voters but at the same time would tend to alienate the conservative base. Neither is an exceedingly attractive option for the GOP, since either would likely result in the loss of one or another key Republican voting block. The electoral success of Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II depended upon a united Republican coalition of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, defense hawks, and "Reagan Democrats." That coalition has now fallen apart.
I personally hope the Republicans will take the former choice, stick with their demented base, and become a far-right fringe party doomed to increasing irrelevance as old bigots die off and their children discard the prejudices, fears, and hatreds of the past. This is what may well happen if far-right blowhards like Rush Limbaugh have their way, warning their shell-shocked followers now against a moderate takeover of the GOP led by once-and-future-maverick John McCain and other hands-across-the-aisle types, whose ranks will seek to purge the party of "real conservatives" like Sarah Palin and those who identify with her. Never exceedingly popular among those on the far right, McCain is already being branded a defeatist and a traitor by the Limbaugh-Palin crowd, who are incensed by the attacks on Palin now coming from within the McCain camp itself, and who increasingly regret that McCain was ever nominated even as they are in his debt for giving them "their Sarah." Meanwhile, angry dittoheads at RedState.com have launched a bitter assault on Palin's Republican critics called "Operation Leper," and appear poised to advocate for Palin as a presidential candidate for 2012 and/or 2016. Perhaps we will see a full-fledged Palin faction form within the Republican Party in opposition to the forces of Republican moderation, leading to an all-out faction fight and perhaps even a split in the party. I sincerely hope so.
If, on the other hand, the Republicans choose the path of moderation, returning perhaps to the GOP of Eisenhower and Goldwater, our work could be a little more difficult. This possibility highlights the importance of maintaining the center-to-left coalition that enabled us to win in 2006 and 2008 just as their center-to-right coalition enabled Republicans to win in 1980, 1994, and 2000, as it raises the risk of swing voters swinging back to the Republican side if they are not happy with the job Democrats are doing in Washington. Those of us such as myself who are on the Left of the Democratic Party will have to balance our expectation of having a place at the table with the realization that the rest of the country isn't with us just yet. At least in the near term, the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress will have to govern more-or-less from the center, and at the same time will have to prove that they are more capable of governing the country effectively than their opponents. Given the dominance of the far-right in today's GOP and its dependence on the conservative base, however, owing in part to the fact that so many moderate Republicans have either left the party or been voted out of office, I wonder how realistic or likely a route this second option actually is. I could be wrong, but I suspect hopefully that our opponents will remain in the funk they are currently in for quite some time to come.
Whatever course they may ulimately choose to take, our task as Democrats is to stop any GOP comeback dead in its tracks before it even starts. Democrats must remain on the offensive and must remain focused on solidifying and building our congressional majority in 2010, re-electing President Obama in 2012, and putting another Democrat in the White House in 2016. We must aggressively go after not only Republican congressional seats but also state and local offices nationwide. Grassroots Democratic organizing, voter registration, fundraising, and media activism are key to this, as is maintaining a strong center-to-left coalition through effective, balanced governance. We must demonstrate to the Republicans that they are dealing with a new, much tougher, much more aggressive and effective Democratic Party: a Democratic Party that won't be so easy to kick around as in the past, a Democratic Party whose days of whining about mean old swiftboating Republicans are over.
If we are to avoid a repeat of the last eight years or something even worse, no Republican comeback can ever be allowed to happen.
For Democrats, Barack Obama's stunning victory last night over John McCain brought a seemingly endless and often bitter presidential campaign battle to a welcome end. Obama's victory came as cause for relief and for celebration, as did Democratic gains in the Senate and the House of Representatives. When our first African American president takes office in January, Democrats will enjoy a position of authority in Washington we have not held since a brief period from 1992 to 1994. Many progressives are saying now that the era of conservative dominance in America beginning with the rise of the "New Right" in the 1970s and the Reagan victory in 1980 has now come at last to an end, that the long Republican nightmare is over, and I too am hopeful that this is so. While we celebrate and look ahead to the Obama Era, however, we should also remember that just as power can be won so it can also be lost, as it was in 1980, 1994, and 2000.
Each end is also a beginning; and so the end of Campaign 2008 and the end of Republican rule is also the beginning of something, but of what? Are we at the doorstep of a bold new progressive age that begins with Obama and extends into infinity, or of another brief Democratic reign to end again with a bitter Republican resurgence? Now that we have successfully driven the Republicans from power, how do we keep them from coming back, as we know we must if we are to avoid a repeat of the past eight years? A Republican resurgence would be a disaster, not only for Democrats and progressives, but for America and the world. The Karl Roves and Dick Cheneys of the world are not going anywhere. They will simply retreat to their think tanks and begin cooking up plans to retake power, just as they did during the Clinton years. Their success must be prevented by any and all means at our disposal.
While progressives will surely have a place at the table in the new administration, we cannot expect that the Left will or should dominate the Obama agenda at least in the near term. I would consider myself to be well on the Left of the Democratic Party, and I'm happy that progressives will have a voice in the new administration, but I feel pretty certain that Obama will have to govern more-or-less from the center if he is to avoid creating a whole new generation of "Reagan Democrats." I am hopeful that it may now be possible for progressives not simply to move the government to the left but to actually move the country to the left, and to create a new progressive America free of the politics of Reagan and Bush. In order for this to happen, however, Democrats in Washington will first have to prove themselves capable of governing the country effectively and satisfactorily in the eyes of their constituents. Once conservative-leaning, "soft" Democrats see that liberals aren't so bad after all, they will be much more likely to elect Democrats to Congress in 2010, to re-elect President Obama in 2012, to put another Democrat in the White House in 2016, and to listen to progressive ideas in the meantime with an open mind. While Democrats in Washington focus on effective governance, they and Democratic activists including us in the netroots must also focus on maintaining the gains we have made and on making further gains in election cycles to come. We cannot afford a repeat of 1980, 1994, or 2000.
Meanwhile, a whole new generation of first-time Democratic voters has been brought into the electorate, and this new Democratic base must be maintained and built at a grassroots level. Because of a far less reliable base of Democratic voters in previous elections, a hardcore Republican base of social conservatives, neo-cons, bigots, and xenophobes was allowed to dominate American politics for the better part of thirty years. This can never be allowed to happen again. Republicans who cannot be persuaded to go Democratic must be isolated and outvoted. In the immediate term, this means building a broad new Democratic base that includes centrists and even moderate conservatives in addition to progressives and the Left: not an easy task. The brilliant success of the Obama campaign in doing precisely that, however, can be credited in great part to Obama's experience as a community organizer in Chicago - experience that will serve the Democratic Party's organizing efforts well in the years to come.
Indeed if anyone is up the difficult tasks which surely lie ahead, I think it is our new president-elect. Throughout his campaign, he has shown himself to be a steady, focused, and disciplined political leader: not bad traits if one wishes to be an effective and successful president. More importantly, Obama possesses clear vision and a spirit of idealism that could not contrast more with the cynicism of the era that has just ended. He also possesses a strong, committed base of grassroots support that is ready for the battles to come. I for one look forward with hope and confidence to the road ahead.
If like me you are not old enough to have voted in 1960, or if you are old enough and voted for John F. Kennedy as you should have, try and imagine how it would feel if you had voted for Richard Nixon instead.
Imagine watching Kennedy's rise, in life and in death, to take his place among America's greatest presidents, knowing that you could have voted for him but didn't; and imagine then watching Nixon's descent to take his place among the worst, knowing that you voted for him perhaps not just once but two or even three times.
Imagine watching the secret bombing of Cambodia revealed, watching the sad tale of Watergate unfold, and watching Nixon's resignation in disgrace. Imagine looking back from the vantage point of 1974 and thinking of how you might have voted differently in 1960, of how at that pivotal point in time you made an unwise decision and ended up on the wrong side of history.
Now imagine how things might have been if lots more people had made the same mistake as you in 1960 and John F. Kennedy, one of America's greatest presidents, had never been elected. Imagine a world without President Kennedy.
Then, if you can bear repeating such a tragic error in judgment, go ahead and vote for John McCain.
Four days before Election Day 2008, I drove with a friend from my home in the San Francisco Bay Area to Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas, for a rally with Barack Obama. We arrived in Las Vegas on the Friday night preceding the Saturday morning event, which also happened to be Halloween. With little else to do before driving out to Henderson to take our places among the first in line for the Obama rally, we did what any other visitor does on a Friday night in Vegas: We went to the Strip. This was of course a strange prelude to the Saturday morning event, as apolitical a beginning to a political weekend as I can imagine. Surprisingly, among the crowds of revelers along the Strip in almost any kind of costume one can imagine, I didn't see a single Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden, or Sarah Palin. As always, Vegas seemed to occupy a world entirely its own.
Once we tired of the Strip, we drove the few miles out to Henderson on the southern edge of metropolitan Las Vegas and located the rally site, a local high school football stadium. By two or three o'clock in the morning, dedicated Obama supporters were already taking their places in line at the gate, and we soon took our places among them. I personally had never "camped out" for any kind of event, be it a political rally, rock concert, or movie premiere, but at this event I had no intention of being any further from the front than I had to be. Our diligence paid off, and once the gates were opened we and other early arrivals were able to take places along the rope line in front of a crowd that grew to number around 15,000 (see BarackObama.com, Las Vegas Review-Journal; photos available also at Flickr).
Obama's 25-minute speech contained many of the same points he has made throughout his campaign, but lacked nothing in excitement for being what one might describe as a "standard Obama stump speech" with a little extra dose of urgency just three days before Election Day. Introduced by Nevada's own Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Obama arrived at the podium to wild applause and screams of support, the energy all positive. I couldn't help but take wonder at how the overwhelmingly positive atmosphere at this event contrasted the ugly rage, bitterness, and hate we have all seen on video from McCain/Palin rallies. The one time booing started at the mention of John McCain, Obama reminded the crowd as at other rallies recently, "You don't need to boo. You just need to vote."
In his speech Obama reminded his supporters that the election has yet to be won: "Don't believe for a second this election is over. Don't think for a minute that power concedes. We have to work like our future depends on it in these last few days, because it does. But I know this, Nevada: The time for change has come." As he spoke, the tiny silhouettes of police and/or Secret Service lookouts could be seen atop buildings and other high points around the rally site, just in case anyone should wish to harm the Democratic nominee. Secret Service agents also patrolled the crowd and shared the open space between Obama's stage and the rope line with news photographers taking rapid-fire shots both of Obama up at the podium and of the cheering crowd. A helicopter circled over the rally site, too high to tell whether it was a news helicopter or police.
For us and others at the front of the crowd, the climax of the event came at the close of Obama's speech, as he began to make his way along the rope line to depart. Surrounded by Secret Service agents and rapid-firing news photographers, Obama moved along the rope line shaking hands, kissing babies, and thanking his supporters. The Secret Service agents pushed back against the metal barriers as the crowd surged forward to get a glimpse of Obama or shake his hand. My friend and I suddenly found ourselves with little room to move or even breathe as Obama approached and the crowd pressed in around us, holding their hands out in hopes of getting a handshake with the man they hope will be the next President of United States. We both did get handshakes with Obama when he finally arrived at our place along the rope line, and when my turn came I looked into Obama's face and told him the first thing I could think of to say: "You are going to be a great president." Obama looked back at me and said in all sincerity, "Thank you." Then he was gone.
Finally, as Obama moved away from us along the rope line shaking more hands and kissing more babies, we got a chance also to shake hands with Harry Reid. Having previously shaken hands with Ted Kennedy at an Obama event in Oakland just before the California primary, I can now say with pride that I have shaken hands with three of the people Republicans most love to hate in the world. One of those hands, I hope, will soon be holding the keys to the White House.
Following the failure of their "Bill Ayres Strategy" to cause major problems for Barack Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin have stumbled upon a new bogeyman from Obama's past to sow suspicion in voters' minds: Rashid Khalidi, a Middle East history professor at Columbia University, whose ties to the Middle East and the Palestinian exile community include no evidence whatsoever of terrorist activity or support. The McCain/Palin campaign has decided, however, that Khalidi is a shadowy figure with suspicious ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and with whom Barack Obama has a suspicious relationship because the two apparently attended a dinner together and said nice things about each other. I guess that means Obama has been "palling around with terrorists" again.
What John McCain seems to have forgotten, however (in addition to the number of homes he owns), is that he has far deeper ties to Khalidi than Obama has. While he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI) during the 1990s, McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth nearly half a million dollars. A 1998 tax filing for the IRI shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank (see grant number 5180, "West Bank: CPRS," on page 14 of this PDF.) The relationship between McCain and Khalidi extends back as far as 1993, when McCain joined the IRI as chairman in January. The IRI helped fund several research projects by Khalidi's organization in the Palestinian Territories that year, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of "sociopolitical attitudes" among Palestinians. Khalidi's organization has also received financial support from the American Academy for Arts and Sciences, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Foundation for Democracy, none of which are known for funding terrorist organizations (see Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, MSNBC).
Rashid Khalidi's only offense is that he has published opinions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with which strong supporters of Israel might disagree, and with which Barack Obama has in fact expressed disagreement. The right to express opinions with which other people might disagree is guaranteed by the US Constitution, and is a cornerstone of modern higher education - a fact John McCain seems to have forgotten, just as he forgot how many homes he he owns and how many grants he issued to Khalidi's organization back in the '90s.
How many more times must we listen to John McCain and Sarah Palin make sad, desperate attempts to pin other people's words and deeds on Barack Obama? Simply knowing someone doesn't make you responsible for whatever that person might have said or done in the past. Neither Bill Ayres nor Rashid Khalidi are advising Obama, serving on his campaign, or likely to serve in his administration. End of story.
The threat of GOP voter suppression and election theft is as great as ever this election year, and perhaps even greater as Republicans grow desperate to head off what appears likely to be a crushing defeat on Nov. 4. While Republicans hurl baseless accusations of voter fraud at Democrats and progressives who seek to build turnout, the fact remains that it is the GOP which has repeatedly sought to suppress voting in order to win elections. Republicans have used and continue to use a variety of methods to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters, including disqualification, deception, and intimidation.
Methods of voter suppression used by Republicans and the threat they pose this election year were recently discussed by Andrew Gumbel at The Nation as well as by Peter Rothberg. Meanwhile, Roberto Lovato discusses what we can all do to protect our votes on Election Day and after. The Brennan Center for Justice documents and reports incidents of voter suppression nationwide for public information. Reports on voter suppression activities have also recently appeared in the New York Times and at CNN.
The Election Protection coalition (1-866-OUR-VOTE) is a nonpartisan organization formed to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. Through their website and voter hotline Election Protection provides live, up-to-the-minute information and advice on voting conditions nationwide as well as taking reports of irregularities from voters. No Voter Left Behind (NVLB) is a Democratic organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to fight GOP efforts at voter suppression and election theft. NVLB also provides extensive information on GOP voter suppression methods and on how Democrats can protect their votes as well as taking reports of irregularities. In addition to offering direct assistance to voters, Election Protection and NVLB seek donors and volunteers to support their efforts.
Mark C. Eades
Republicans are once again playing one of the oldest tricks in the book to try and stop Democrats from voting on Election Day. In at least two states, according to reports from Virginia and California, Republicans have attempted to convince Democrats that they should vote on Nov. 5 instead of Nov. 4 due to heavy turnout expected.
In fact, Election Day for all voters everywhere regardless of party affiliation remains Nov. 4.
In Hampton Roads, Virginia, a phony State Board of Elections flier has been distributed advising that, due to heavy turnout expected this year, Republicans are to vote on Nov. 4 and Democrats on Nov. 5. The flier, dated Oct. 24, features the state board logo and state seal, and indicates that an emergency session of the Virginia General Assembly has adopted emergency voting regulations designating separate voting days for Republican and Democratic voters to ease the load on local voting precincts.
The Virginia elections board has stated that the flier is a forgery, and state police are investigating (Virginian-Pilot).
Meanwhile, in Bakersfield, California, conservative radio host Jaz McKay of station KNZR likewise recently told listeners that Democrats should vote Nov. 5 instead of Nov. 4 because of expected heavy turnout. Asked by the county elections chief to stop misleading voters, McKay claimed it was a joke (see Bakersfield Californian).
These are but two cases of this particular trick that I have come across, but it has been tried many times before in many places, and I don't doubt that it will turn up again somewhere between now and Election Day.
Hollywood composer Danny Elfman (famous for "The Simpsons" theme and scores to Tim Burton films) has produced a new ad for the last week of the presidential race revealing his greatest fear: a President Sarah Palin. Focusing on the possibility that John McCain might not even finish his first term as president if elected due to age and health concerns, Elfman eerily morphs a slow-motion image of McCain speaking into an image of Palin succeeding him. Here is the transcript.
"These are troubled times in a volatile world. With unprecedented crises at home and abroad, we need sound judgment and a steady hand to lead the most powerful nation on Earth. John McCain's age and continuing battle with cancer makes the liklihood of him not completing his term higher than any president in American history. President Sarah Palin. Think about it."
Elfman is seeking support to air the ad in swing states during the final days before the election. Readers are encouraged to visit OurGreatestFear.org, watch the ad, contribute if possible, and pass it on.
A new video posted to Youtube shows McCain/Palin supporters spewing racism and hate at peaceful pro-Obama demonstrators outside a McCain/Palin rally Oct. 27 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. One older gentleman early in the video shouts "Bomb Obama!" at the videographer and Obama supporters. Asked by the videographer what that means, the man says, "Get rid of him," then gestures indicating this means assassinating Obama. A younger man holding a "Democrats for McCain" sign says, when asked why he supports McCain, "I'd never vote for a black man." Another young man declares, "I do not want a black man running my country." Among women at the rally, one says she is against Obama because "his associations and his judgment are not American," repeating the Obama-as-foreigner meme. Another older gentleman also repeats this idea, insisting that Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States, and asking for his birth certificate (ample proof exists that Obama was born in the US state of Hawaii). Other rallygoers shout various combinations of "Barack Hussein Obama" in addition to the usual charges that Obama is a "terrorist" and a "baby killer." If we needed more proof that racism and hate are indeed running rampant in the grassroots Republican ranks, this is it. The video is credited to the Pennsylvania progressive organization Keystone Progress.
The last thing Republicans needed a week before Election Day was yet another high-profile GOP scandal coming to fruition and reminding voters of the "culture of corruption" they voted to end just two years ago. This is exactly what Republicans got yesterday, however, when Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted on federal corruption charges. Following more than a decade of Republican rule on Capitol Hill, the GOP scandals of 2005-2006 would be greatly to blame for the loss of the House and Senate to Democrats in Nov. 2006. As he now joins Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, and Randy "Duke" Cunningham in the Republican gallery of disgraced lawmakers, Ted Stevens may contribute greatly in turn to the Republican defeat of 2008.
The likely loss of Stevens' Senate seat to a Democrat and the shadow his conviction may cast over other congressional GOP campaigns are not the only worries this latest scandal presents for Republicans as Election Day approaches. Stevens is also a problem for the Republican presidential campaign, owing in particular to his ties to Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin. However she might seek to distance herself from her fellow Alaskan now, Palin shares an extensive history with Stevens in Alaska politics, including a stint for Palin as director of an independent 527 group organized by Stevens. Palin's relationship with Stevens is detailed in a video from the Anchorage Daily News including a joint news conference with the two from July 2008 and Stevens' endorsement of Palin for governor in 2006.
Between 2003 and 2005, Palin served as one of three directors of "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Sevice, Inc.," a 527 group authorized to raise unlimited funds from corporate donors and designed according to the Washington Post "to serve as a political boot camp for Republican women in the state." While perfectly legal, Palin's service in Stevens' group does conflict somewhat with her presidential running mate John McCain's official position that 527s should be abolished and with the McCain/Palin claim to be maverick reformers (see also Rolling Stone, Think Progress).
Following Palin's service with his 527 group, Stevens endorsed Palin in her run for governor of Alaska in 2006, while both Stevens and Palin were supporting the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" project that Palin now disavows. Stevens' endorsement for Palin is preserved in a video which Palin removed from her gubernatorial campaign website shortly following her pick as McCain's vice-presidential running mate, but which may still be viewed at Youtube and in the Anchorage Daily News video on Stevens and Palin.
Previously, as mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, between 1996 and 2002, Palin hired a Washington lobbying firm headed by Steven W. Silver, a former chief of staff to Ted Stevens. Silver's firm helped secure $27 million in congressional earmarks for Wasilla during Palin's tenure as mayor - a hefty sum for a town of only 7000 residents, and a further contradiction to Palin's claim of being a maverick reformer (Washington Post).
Palin is also associated with the Alaska-based oil pipeline company VECO Corporation and its former CEO, Bill Allen, who has pled guilty to bribing Alaska legislators including Ted Stevens' son Ben. Remodeling work organized by VECO on Ted Stevens' home is among the more than $250,000 in gifts and services Stevens has now been convicted of accepting from wealthy friends in exchange for political favors. When Sarah Palin ran for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska in 2002, she received $5,000 from VECO officials and/or their wives, including $500 directly from Bill Allen, accounting for 10% of her campaign fund (Anchorage Daily News).
So it looks like Sarah Palin has some "palling around" problems of her own with convicted felons to explain. This is, of course, in addition to Troopergate, the untaxed per diems Governor Palin recieved while at home with her family, and vacation travel for her kids billed to the taxpayers of Alaska, which voters must think about between now and next Tuesday. Do we really want Sarah Palin's Alaska coming to Washington?
This man wants your vote, and he'll stop at nothing to get it.
Republican voter suppression efforts are underway nationwide in a last-ditch attempt to head off what is expected to be a big win for Democrats on Nov. 4. With only eight days left to go until Election Day, thousands of voters across the United States are now being illegally purged from voting rolls, new voter registrations are being rejected, and deceptive or intimidating information is being fed to likely Democratic voters by Republican operatives and election officials election officials anxious to prevent them voting for Barack Obama. This is John McCain's last chance to win on Election Day, and Republicans are leaving no stone unturned in the effort.
The Brennan Center for Justice has documented incidents of voter suppression in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, and California. These include illegal purges of voters as reported also by the New York Times and CNN, rejection of new voter registrations, and deceptive or intimidating information given to voters in the hope of stopping them from voting. The New York Times also names Indiana and Nevada among swing states in which illegal or improper voter purges are taking place, often due to minor errors or mismatches which should not prevent eligible citizens from voting, and including improper use of Social Security data to purge voters. CNN likewise reports eligible US citizens being purged from voting rolls on the basis of errors and technicalities, often so close to Election Day that it is impossible for them to be reinstated, and in spite of federal laws prohibiting such purges within 90 days of Election Day. Republicans are aggressively pursuing methods such as these for disenfranchising likely Democratic voters across the United States, including lawsuits and appeals for partisan intervention by George W. Bush's Justice Department.
The Brennan Center also documents widespread cases of voter deception and intimidation by GOP operatives and even election officials. Election officials in Virginia and Colorado have provided incorrect and misleading voter information to students, and deceptive fliers have been distributed by GOP operatives to students and African Americans in Pennsylvania. In Bakersfield, California, conservative radio host Jaz McKay of station KNZR told listeners that Democrats should vote Nov. 5 instead of Nov. 4 because of expected heavy turnout - a favorite trick among Republicans trying to stop Democrats from voting. Asked by the county elections chief to stop misleading voters, McKay claimed it was a joke (see Bakersfield Californian). Many such incidents of voter deception and intimidation, too numerous to mention here, are documented by the Brennan Center.
Facing likely defeat on Nov. 4, desperate Republicans are pulling out all the stops in a last-ditch effort to steal the 2008 election.
We've seen and heard some pretty ugly stories recently from the Republican ranks, but just when you think the stories can't get any uglier, they get uglier. So it was Friday morning (Oct. 24) on radio station WLS in Chicago, when conservative drive-time host Don Wade imagined how Barack Obama's allegedly adoring press corps would react to a video record of the senator murdering his own grandmother. Sadly, Wade's comments coincided with Obama's actual visit to the bedside of his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, which Wade ghoulishly turned into a fantasy murder scene captured on video. "The video clearly shows Grandmother greeting Barack Obama coming through the door...," Wade described with obvious relish, "...Barack Obama comes over, sits down beside the grandmother, and places a pillow over her face and holds the pillow over her face until she struggles no more" (CBS-2). Wade's wife and co-host Roma (picture here with Wade) expressed shock at her husband's words even as they were coming out of his mouth; and listeners expressed even greater shock in e-mail complaints such as this one quoted by CBS-2 News in Chicago: "Don Wade of WLS talk radio crossed the line this morning describing an insensitive and coded hate scenario where Obama goes to Hawaii and murders his grandmother. It was appalling, disturbing, ugly and over the top."
The Obama campaign has declined to comment on Wade's remarks. Those who would like to comment on Wade's remarks may do so at the WLS contact page ("Don & Roma" or "Don & Roma Producer" on pull-down menu). Don & Roma broadcast from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. local time Monday through Friday and take live callers at (312) 591-8900. Alternately, recorded messages for Don & Roma may be left at (312) 357-1489.
The scene following a Sarah Palin rally Oct. 21 outside Las Vegas turned ugly when departing McCain/Palin supporters confronted a small group of peaceful pro-Obama demonstrators. Video from the Las Vegas Sun shows McCain/Palin supporters in Henderson NV shouting, "Vote McCain, Not Hussein!" at Obama supporters in addition to more overtly race-based taunts including nonsensical charges that Obama either is an Arab or has dangerous ties to Arabs. One woman shouts: "This country needs to wake up! Obama is dangerous! This man is a tyrant to this country. I mean, he has connections to Arabs! His education was paid for by Arabs! He's an abomination!" A man says: "Yes, I am a racist.... Those Arabs are dirtbags. They're dirty people, they hate Americans, they hate my kids, they hate my grandkids." More video from the Henderson event at Youtube includes the usual shouts of "Terrorist!", "Communist!", and "Anti-American!" at the small group of Obama supporters in addition to two men shouting: "No Arabs in the White House!" while the Obama supporters sing "Why can't we be friends?" An additional video at Youtube includes one man shouting "Dope and loose change!" at Obama supporters and a woman shouting: "Barack Hussein Obama! Barack Hussein, he associates with terrorists...! He is anti-American, he is anti-military, he has done nothing for Chicago, his middle name is a terrorist name, he takes money from terrorists, he associates with terrorists!" These video records from Henderson NV are only the latest in a growing library of similar material from McCain/Palin events across the United States, illustrating a disturbing pattern of hate-based behavior at these events that seems to be intensifying as Election Day nears.