Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.
First, let me say I'm not thrilled at the prospect of having to pull for Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln in November after her victory last night in the runoff election against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. But, the voters have spoken and made their choice. I wish Senator Lincoln the best of luck against Republican John Boozman come November. She's going to need the best and lots of it.
I am much more thrilled and excited by the outcome in the race for the 2nd Congressional District which covers central Arkansas.
State Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock defeated state Rep. Robbie Wills of Conway in Tuesday’s race for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder in central Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District.
Elliott, widely regarded as part of the political left, and Wills, who has called Elliott “extreme” in her views, led a five-way Democratic race May 18, Elliott getting 30,370 votes to Wills’ 21,290, according to the uncertified results. Again, he led in seven of the eight counties, but she bested him strongly in the most populous one, Pulaski.
This race is critical because the winner will be replacing the "left-leaning" Vic Snyder. Needless to say, Elliott's Republican opponent in November calls himself a "conservative" who will be the "polar opposite" of Snyder.
The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Democrat Al Franken the winner of a tight U.S. Senate race over Republican Norm Coleman, which should give Democrats the 60-seat majority they need to overcome procedural obstacles and push through their agenda.
Coleman has said in published reports he is unlikely to appeal the state court's decision to the federal courts. Under state law, the court's decision gives Franken the right to occupy the seat, which has been up for grabs since last November's election.
Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has said he will certify the election winner based on what the state court decides.
It affirmed the three-judge panel's ruling that declared Franken the winner.
It made these additional points:
•Coleman did not establish that, by requiring proof that absentee voting standards were satisfied before counting a rejected absentee ballot, the trial court changed standards that violates Coleman's due process rights.
•Coleman didn't prove that either the trial court or local election officials violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.
•The three-judge panel did not abuse its discretion when it excluded additional evidence.
•The panel court ruled correctly when it included in the final election tally the election day returns of a precinct in which some ballots were lost before the manual recount.
"For all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. 32 Stat. § 204C.40 ( 2008 ) [CERTIFICATES OF ELECTION] to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota."
Sen.-elect Al Franken (D-MN) held a press conference outside his Minneapolis home, celebrating his win in the long drama that has been the Minnesota Senate race.
"Franni [his wife] and I are so thrilled that we can finally celebrate this victory, and I'm so excited to finally be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota," he said. "I received a very gracious call from Sen. Coleman a little while ago. He wished me well, I wished him well, and we agreed that it is time to finally bring this state together."
Iran's top legislative body confirmed on Monday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won re-election in a disputed June 12 vote, saying it had dismissed complaints of irregularities by his pro-reform opponents.
The announcement by the Guardian Council came after it carried out a partial recount of votes cast in the election.
Ahmadinejad's main moderate challenger, former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi, says the vote was rigged in favor of the hardline incumbent and he has repeatedly called for the whole election to be annulled. [snip]
The Guardian Council had earlier made clear it would not annul the election, describing it last week as the healthiest in Iran since the Islamic revolution three decades ago.
"The secretary of the Guardian Council, in a letter to the interior minister, announced the final decision of the Council ... and declares the approval of the accuracy of the results of ... the presidential election," state broadcaster IRIB said.
Iran's English-language Press TV television station said the recount of a random 10 percent of the votes, carried out on Monday, had shown no irregularities.
"The Guardian Council approval of the vote negates the possibility of an election re-run," Press TV said on its website.
Guardian Council Declares Vote Valid After Partial Recount
"From today on, the file on the presidential election has been closed," Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said on state-run Press TV.
Mousavi supporters have taken to the streets in protest after the election, outraged by official results that gave Ahmadinejad the victory by a roughly 2-1 margin. Police and the feared Basij militia have taken increasingly harsh measures against the demonstrators, prompting widespread international criticism.
The recount conducted Monday had appeared to be an attempt to cultivate the image that Iran was seriously addressing fraud claims, while giving no ground in the clampdown on opposition. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Council already had pronounced the results free of major fraud and insisted that Ahmadinejad won by a landslide. And even if errors were found in nearly every one of the votes in the recount Ahmadinejad, according to the government's count, still would have tallied more votes than Mousavi. [snip]
News of the partial recount comes as Ahmadinejad on Monday ordered an investigation of the killing of a young woman on the fringes of a protest. Widely circulated video footage of Neda Agha Soltan bleeding to death on a Tehran street sparked outrage worldwide over authorities' harsh response to demonstrations.
Ahmadinejad's Web site said Soltan was slain by "unknown agents and in a suspicious" way, convincing him that "enemies of the nation" were responsible.
The developments appear to show that Iran's leaders are concerned about international anger over the election and opposition at home that could be sustained and widespread _ but is trying to portray the country as victimized by foreign powers. [snip]
The regime has implicated protesters and even foreign intelligence agents in Soltan's death. But an Iranian doctor who said he tried to save her told the BBC last week she apparently was shot by a member of the volunteer Basij militia. Protesters spotted an armed member of the militia on a motorcycle, and stopped and disarmed him, Dr. Arash Hejazi said.
Basij commander Hossein Taeb on Monday alleged that armed impostors were posing as militia members, Iran's state-run English-language satellite channel Press TV reported.
Protesters and riot police clashed in the streets around Iran's parliament Wednesday as hundreds of people converged on a Tehran square in defiance of government orders to halt demonstrations demanding a new presidential election, witnesses said.
Police beat the protesters gathered on Baharestan Square with batons and fired tear gas canisters and rounds of ammunition into the air, the witnesses told The Associated Press. They said some demonstrators fought back while others fled to another Tehran plaza, Sepah Square, about a mile (2 kilometers) to the north. [snip]
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's refusal earlier Wednesday to bow to demands from protesters effectively closed the door to any compromise with the opposition.
The wife of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was defiant, saying protesters refused to buckle under a situation she compared to martial law. Mousavi's official Web site said a protest was planned outside Iran's parliament Wednesday afternoon. [snip]
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered protests to end, leaving Mousavi with the choice of restraining followers or continuing to directly challenge the country's ultimate authority despite threats of escalating force.
"On the current situation, I was insisting and will insist on implementation of the law. That means, we will not go one step beyond the law," Khamenei said on state television. "For sure, neither the system nor the people will yield to pressure at any price." He used language that indicated he was referring to domestic pressures. [snip]
Meanwhile Wednesday, a conservative candidate in the disputed presidential election said he was withdrawing his complaints about voting fraud for the sake of the country, state television reported.
The announcement by Mohsen Rezaie, a former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, moved the cleric-led government one step closer to a final declaration of victory for Ahmadinejad. State TV reported that Ahmadinejad would be sworn in sometime between July 26 and Aug. 19.
Whatever happens from this point on, nothing will ever be the same in Tehran.
Whatever happens, if the protest gains momentum or loses steam, if it ends up prevailing or if the regime succeeds in terrorizing it, he who should now only be called president-non-elect Ahmadinejad will only be an ersatz, illegitimate, weakened president. [snip]
Whatever happens, and beyond these internal conflicts, the people will be dissociated from an anemic and fatally wounded regime.
Whatever happens, young people, who were believed to be enthralled by the principles of political Islam and who a month ago, upon Ahmadinejad's return from Geneva, had supposedly planned a triumphal reception for the president-non-elect, will have said, loud and proud, with an audacity matched only by their political intelligence, that this president shamed them.
Whatever happens, there will be in Tehran, Tabriz, Ispahan, Zahedan, and Ardebil, millions of young people who in a matter of a few days will have become, like the timid Mousavi, in a sense larger than themselves--and will have understood that they could, with their bare hands, without provocation or violence, keep a power at bay.
Whatever happens, this extraordinary event--which is a miracle, as a popular uprising always is, and which was endowed under this circumstance with the blind mimetism and un-self-consciousness that is peculiar to the Angel of History when it thinks it is going forward, but is actually looking backward--will seem to have reproduced topsy-turvy the very scene in the same streets, surrounding the same barracks and the same shops, that was described thirty years ago by Michel Foucault, who never imagined that the real revolution was still to come, and that it would be the exact opposite of what he described.
Whatever happens, the people know, from this point on, that they are the people and that there is not a regime on earth that can remain in power against the people.
Whatever happens, a body politic has been formed in the heat of peaceful protests--and even if it gets winded and loses steam, even if the murderers think they can declare victory, there is a new actor onstage, without whom the rest of this country's story will not be written.
Whatever happens, the beautiful face of Neda Soltan, killed at point-blank range last Saturday by a Bassidj henchman, the images of kids beaten to death by the attack squadron and motorcycle infantry of the guardians of the revolution, the videos of the enormous protests, impressively calm and dignified, will have, via Twitter, circled both the cyberplanet and the planet.
June 22: Iran’s Guardian Council finally acknowledged that more people voted in the country’s presidential election than were eligible to vote but insisted the results were not compromised. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.
6:55 PM ET -- A bit more on Neda. A blogger apparently in touch with Neda's family members offers some new details (translated by reader Nima): she was born in 1982, apparently her full name was Neda Agha-Soltan, and she was at the protest with one her professors and several other students. She was, they said, shot by a basiji riding by on a motorcycle. Also, she was apparently buried today at a large cemetery in the south of Tehran. ABC News' Lara Setrakian writes, "Hearing reports Neda was buried in Behesht Zahra cemetery earlier today, memorial service cancelled on orders from authorities."
2:23 PM ET -- Neda before she was shot. A reader forwards this video showing Neda (in the black shirt and blue jeans) and a companion (blue striped shirt) during the rally. Another reader sends an unconfirmed report of a memorial service for Neda planned for tomorrow at 5PM at Niloufar mosque at Abas Abad, Tehran.
_ _ _ _ _
1:03 PM ET -- An interview with Neda's fiance. As I noted earlier, BBC Persia today aired an interview with Neda's fiance. Several readers graciously volunteered English translations. I'm posting the full transcript below -- it's long but very interesting.
"She was a person full of joy," said her music teacher and close friend Hamid Panahi, who was among the mourners at her family home on Sunday, awaiting word of her burial. "She was a beam of light. I'm so sorry. I was so hopeful for this woman."
Security forces urged her friends and family not to hold memorial services for her at a mosque and asked them not to speak publicly about her, associates of the family said. Authorities even asked the family to take down the black mourning banners in front of their house, aware of the potent symbol she had become. [snip]
Her friends say Panahi, Neda and two others were stuck in traffic on Karegar Street, east of Tehran's Azadi Square, on their way to the demonstration sometime after 6:30 p.m. After stepping out of the car to get some fresh air and crane their necks over the jumble of cars, Panahi heard a crack from the distance. Within a blink of the eye, he realized Neda had collapsed to the ground.
"We were stuck in traffic and we got out and stood to watch, and without her throwing a rock or anything they shot her," he said. "It was just one bullet." [snip]
As to the person or persons responsible for her death, they will not be forgiven, he said.
"When they kill an innocent child, this is not justice. This is not religion. In no way is this acceptable," he said. "And I'm certain that the one who shot her will not get a pass from God."
June 22: During one of the Iran opposition demonstrations on Saturday, protesters faced down and ultimately chased away the volunteer government police force, called Basiji. Rachel Maddow is joined by Washington Note editor Steve Clemons. [Full segment, 8:34]
8:53 PM ET -- "Sister, have a short sleep, your last dream be sweet." Yesterday we printed a touching letter from an Iranian woman that began with these ominous lines: "I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed..."
Tonight, she posted a second letter, passed along and translated by two readers. She writes about her "sister" in this cause who was killed today, referring to Neda.
Yesterday I wrote a note, with the subject line "tomorrow is a great day perhaps tomorrow I'll be killed." I'm here to let you know I'm alive but my sister was killed...
I'm here to tell you my sister died while in her father's hands
I'm here to tell you my sister had big dreams...
I'm here to tell you my sister who died was a decent person... and like me yearned for a day when her hair would be swept by the wind... and like me read "Forough" [Forough Farrokhzad]... and longed to live free and equal... and she longed to hold her head up and announce, "I'm Iranian"... and she longed to one day fall in love to a man with a shaggy hair... and she longed for a daughter to braid her hair and sing lullaby by her crib...
my sister died from not having life... my sister died as injustice has no end... my sister died since she loved life too much... and my sister died since she lovingly cared for people...
my loving sister, I wish you had closed your eyes when your time had come... the very end of your last glance burns my soul....
sister have a short sleep. your last dream be sweet.
7:57 PM ET -- Neda. That appears to be the name of the woman whose death in the streets today was captured on film, and has been broadcast around the world. I posted it earlier at 2:57 PM.
From Twitter, via Chas: "Her name was Neda, which means voice or call in Farsi. She is the voice of the people, a call to freedom - RIP, Neda"
2:37 PM ET -- Graphic video of a woman shot. In the past hour, I've received this video via email and IM dozens and dozens of times. I had various YouTube versions linked below but they kept being removed, so I've uploaded the videos to our own servers. Warning: they are intensely graphic scenes depicting a woman who has just been shot and dies on camera. They are extremely difficult to watch (though, rather stunningly, they were aired on CNN earlier today).
Still images are here if they would be easier to see for you.
Thousands of supporters of Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi marched in Tehran on Tuesday following a disputed poll prompting the biggest street protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
(Editors' note: Reuters coverage is now subject to an Iranian ban on foreign media leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.) [snip]
Illustrating Iran's sensitivity to world opinion, authorities on Tuesday banned foreign journalists from leaving their offices to cover street protests.
Supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his main rival in the disputed presidential election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, massed in competing rallies Tuesday as the country's most senior Islamic cleric threw his weight behind opposition charges that Ahmadinejad's re-election was rigged.
"No one in their right mind can believe" the official results from Friday's contest, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said of the landslide victory claimed by Ahmadinejad. Montazeri accused the regime of handling Mousavi's charges of fraud and the massive protests of his backers "in the worst way possible."
"A government not respecting people's vote has no religious or political legitimacy," he declared in comments on his official Web site. "I ask the police and army personals (personnel) not to 'sell their religion,' and beware that receiving orders will not excuse them before God."
As many as three more protesters were reported killed in clashes during Tuesday's opposition demonstration in Vanak Square — adding to eight who were confirmed killed in Monday's protests.
Foreign news organizations were barred from covering Wednesday's demonstrations, and the source of the report of the latest deaths was a witness known to McClatchy, who asked that his name not be used for his own security.
Tehran residents, who spoke to a McClatchy reporter on condition that their names not be published, said there was widespread intimidation by thousands of members of the Basij, a hard-line Islamic volunteer militia loyal to the Islamic regime.
Iranian bloggers reported scattered violence after dark by Basij members.
Nor were reports of violence limited to the capital. [snip]
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance issued the ban on foreign news coverage of rallies in Tehran, revoked the credentials of those with temporary visas and ordered them to leave the country as soon as possible. Cell phone service was cut in the city.
The ministry also prohibited news agencies and foreign broadcasters from distributing video and pictures — a move that could precede a more violent government crackdown. However, details of the Ahmadinejad and Mousavi rallies reached the outside world via Twitter, YouTube and other Web networks.
(1) twerp: someone who is regarded as contemptible
(2) tease: harass with persistent criticism or carping; aggravation by deriding or mocking or criticizing
I'm guessing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is currently mostly concerned with the second definition. Since the preliminary results for the Iranian election were announced, a steady stream of updates has been accumulating on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other social networking sites. (For Andrew Sullivan's report on feeds to follow, click here).
The tweets are becoming so important to ongoing coverage of Iran, that Twitter has delayed previously scheduled maintenance so that the outage will occur in the early morning of Iran's time zone and will therefore be minimally disruptive.
In addition to providing first hand reports on the violence (especially important now that most foreign journalists have been asked to leave), Iranian bloggers are using Twitter and Facebook to organize giant rallies in the streets of Tehran. One protester has even used Google Maps to track the location of government tanks.
Social media hasn't only given Iranians a way to evade censorship and speak out; it has given them a way to mobilize attacks on Ahmadinejad's coalition, attacks that go beyond rallies. Some Iranian twitterers have called for foreign supporters to attack Ahmadinejad's websites using a distributed denial of service attack. [snip]
It's too early to know how this protest will end, but it is clear that the Internet enables Iranian bloggers and twitterers to put pressure on their government and keep a record of human rights abuses, opening the possibility that justice may one day be served. This uprising is a potent reminder of the power of speech and of the press.
Nearly one hundred years ago, H. L. Mencken said, "Freedom of the press belongs to those that own one." Today's fluid, resilient Internet has given the power of the press, of written, public records, to anyone with a connection. Perhaps, today, our rallying cry should be that of John Gilmore, computer scientist, "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." We must commit to preserving this free flow of information, which is the greatest defense against tyranny for the Iranians' (and all of us).
Thanks to John McCain’s campaign finance reform legislation it was a bit difficult for me, legally speaking, to state this point clearly back during the campaign but now that we’re not within the BCRA window of any election he’s participating in we can say clearly that the guy is a dangerous madman whose ideas would risk incredibly suffering and destruction around the world. Just saying. His twitterview today with Jake Tapper is full of examples as he talks about Iran not so much as an actual country full of actual people doing actual things in a difficult situation, but instead as a kind of phantasmagoric canvass onto which we should paint a tableau of American hubris and militarism.
This presidency is finally over. We can say goodbye to an administration whose misdeeds have piled so high that the size of the mountain no longer shocks us. In our lifetimes, we will see administrations of varying degrees of competence and integrity, some we'll agree with and some we won't. But we will probably never see another quite like the one now finally reaching its end, so mind-boggling a parade of incompetence and malice, dishonesty, and immorality. So at last - at long, long last - we can say goodbye.
And good riddance.
Goodbye and Good Riddance
After eight years of President Bush, we almost don't know how to function without him -- almost. But before we move on, we should pause to remember just what we're leaving behind.
Since last week, I have stopped short and shaken my head in amazement every time I have heard the words "President-elect Obama." But it is equally extraordinary to consider that in just a few weeks, George W. Bush will no longer be our president. Let me repeat that: In just a few weeks, George W. Bush will no longer be our president. So though our long national ordeal isn't quite over, it's never too early to say goodbye.
Goodbye, we can say at last, to the most powerful man in the world being such a ridiculous buffoon, incapable of stringing together two coherent sentences. Goodbye to cringing with dread every time our president steps onto the world stage, sure he'll say or do something to embarrass us all. Goodbye to being represented by a man who embodies everything our enemies want the people of the world to believe about America -- that we are ignorant, cruel, and only care about foreign countries when we decide to stomp on them. Goodbye to his giggle, and his shoulder shake, and his nicknames. Goodbye to a president who talks to us like we're a nation of fourth-graders.
And goodbye, of course, to Dick Cheney. Goodbye to the man whose naked contempt for democracy contorted his face to a permanent sneer, who spent his days in his undisclosed location with his man-sized safe. And while we're at it, goodbye to Cheney's consigliore David Addington, as malevolent a force as has ever left his trail of slime across our federal institutions.
Goodbye, indeed, to the entire band of liars and crooks and thieves who have so sullied the federal government that belongs to us all. We can even say goodbye to those who have already gone, to Rummy and Scooter, to Fredo and Rove, tornados of misery left in their wake.
Goodbye to the rotating cast of butchers manning the White House's legal abattoir, where the Constitution has been sliced and bled and gutted since September 11. Goodbye to the "unitary executive" theory and its claims that the president can do whatever he wants -- even snatch an American citizen off the street and lock him up for life without charge, without legal representation, and without trial. Goodbye to the promiscuous use of "signing statements" (1,100 at last count) to declare that the law is whatever the president says it is, and that he'll enforce only those laws he likes. Goodbye to an executive branch that treats lawfully issued subpoenas like suggestions that can be ignored. Goodbye to thinking of John Ashcroft as the liberal attorney general. Goodbye to the culture of incompetence, where rebuilding a country we destroyed could be turned over to a bunch of clueless 20-somethings with no qualifications save an internship at the Heritage Foundation and an opposition to abortion. Goodbye to the "Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva job" philosophy, where vital agencies are turned over to incompetent boobs to rot and decay. Goodbye to handing out the Medal of Freedom as an award for engineering one of the greatest screw-ups of our time. Goodbye to an administration that welcomed gluttonous war profiteering, that was only too happy to outsource every government function it could to well-connected contractors who would do a worse job for more money.
Goodbye to the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Goodbye to the lust for sending off other people's sons and daughters to fight and kill and die just to show your daddy you're a real man. Goodbye to playing dress-up in flight suits, goodbye to strutting and posing and desperate sexual insecurity as a driver of American foreign policy. Goodbye to the neocons, so sinister and deluded they beg us all to become fevered conspiracy theorists. Goodbye to Guantanamo and its kangaroo courts. Goodbye to the use of torture as official U.S. government policy, and goodbye to the immoral ghouls who think you can rename it "enhanced interrogation techniques" and render it any less monstrous.
Goodbye to the accusation that if you disagree with what the president wants to do, you don't "support the troops."
Goodbye to stocking government agencies with people who are opposed to the very missions those agencies are charged with carrying out. Goodbye to putting industry lobbyists in charge of the agencies that are supposed to regulate those very industries. Goodbye to madly giving away public lands to private interests. Goodbye to a Food and Drug Administration that acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry, except when it acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the fundamentalist puritans who believe that sex is dirty and birth control will turn girls into sluts. Goodbye to the "global gag rule," which prohibits any entity receiving American funds from even telling women where they can get an abortion if they need it.
Goodbye to vetoing health insurance for poor children but rushing back to Washington to sign a bill to keep alive a woman whose cerebral cortex had liquefied. Goodbye to the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research.
Goodbye to the philosophy that says that if we give tax cuts to the rich and keep the government from any oversight of the economy, prosperity will eventually trickle down. Goodbye to the thirst for privatizing Social Security and to the belief that the success of a social safety-net program is what makes it a threat and should mark it for destruction. Goodbye to the war on unions and to a National Labor Relations Board devoted to crushing them. Goodbye to the principle of loyalty above all else, that nominates Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and puts Alberto Gonzales in charge of the Justice Department. And goodbye to that Justice Department, the one where U.S. attorneys keep their jobs only if they are willing to undertake bogus investigations of Democrats timed to hit the papers just before Election Day. Goodbye to a Justice Department where graduates of Pat Robertson's law school roam the halls by the dozens, where "justice" is a joke.
Goodbye to James Dobson and a host of radical clerics picking up the phone and hearing someone in the White House on the other end. Goodbye to the most consequential decisions being made on the basis of one man's "gut," a gut that proved so wrong so often. Goodbye to the contempt for evidence, to the scorn for intellect and book learnin', to the relentless war on science itself as a means of understanding the world.
Once again the Demowienies are in the process of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Why am I not surprised? So much for that much lauded theory from the usual Democratic pundits who haven't rubbed elbows with the common man in years. You know the theory that said that Obama had a better chance of beating McCain than Hillary would. This election cycle has been rigged since day one and anyone who thinks that things are going to change in January needs to share their psychedelics with the rest of society.
An untried, unproven (did you know he's black?) political upstart against a professional politician whose main claim to fame was to be shot down in Vietnam and held as a POW; who left his first wife while she was recovering from a car accident for his current and much richer wife; who can barely tell the difference between Iraq and Iran, much less Shia or Sunni; was closely related to the Keating scandal and hasn't accomplished much since then except to keep running for office and now he's ahead in the polls.
And the best part? The Republicans haven't even brought out the big guns yet. One of Hillary's greatest strengths (yes, she had some to go along with her baggage), besides her experience and her previously shown ability to work well with others, would have been that they couldn't dig up any more dirt on her than has already been thrown. Not so for the anointed one, have you seen the story about the brother? This is just the beginning. I hope Hillary takes the Gray Davis approach and decides to live a life of happiness away from all the lies and selling of souls for votes. She and Bill will be able to laugh sadly at the mess that people who supposedly knew better have created and left the American people to drown in.
As goes California, so goes the nation. Down hill and into the sewer ditch. Californians were so sure that getting rid of Gray Davis and installing Schwarzenegger would make things better for the state. Several years later and now look at where we are. No budget, deeply in debt and no way out except to either hurt the people who have nothing more to give or give to the people who keep finding things to take. You remember the takers from when we all used to go to grade school together before they destroyed one of the best educational systems in the country. They had all the best toys, hung around in cliques that the average (read poor) person couldn't get into and made sure they were the only ones on the cheerleading squads and running for school offices. The original '09ers. Obviously they haven't changed one bit.
What has changed is that the American people still believe in royalty and have decided to appoint those with money as the sole arbiters of what is best for the common man. That would be the other 99% of America, soon to be known as the poor and downtrodden. Or in the language of the Dark Ages, serfs.
War and terrorism have replaced social issues in the conservative culture wars.
Will "character," the culture wars, and security fears help elect the most woeful Republican candidate since Bob Dole -- and in a country that not only increasingly doesn't think much of Republicans, but has never cared to vote old? (Ronald Reagan was the exception to this rule, always running young and vigorous, whatever his age.) McCain, in a golf cart being piloted by 84-year-old George H.W. Bush, actually looked older than the former president. And, gee, you might go for the jugular early, too, in a year in which the Republicans don't even control the political machinery of the state of Ohio.
Now, let Ira Chernus take you on a magical mystery tour of the strange world of American "values," American "values voters," and a mainstream media that values the value-voter story above all else.
-- Introduction by TomDispatch editor, Tom Engelhardt
Desperate McCain Tries to Play Terror Card One More Time
The centrist and even liberal media are as busy as conservatives propagating the idea that, to be one of the average, ordinary Americans, you have to prize (white) working-class values considered "Republican turf" since the late 1960s: individualism, self-reliance, hard work for "modest" (which means stagnant or falling) wages, faith, and a patriotism so strong that it will never surrender.
The American Everyman, the hero of this year's media story, is an underpaid worker who may very well vote Republican against his or her own economic interests, and all too often against the interests of loved ones who hope to come home alive from Iraq or Afghanistan.
* * * * *
Of course it may turn out that the old melodrama of an "experienced" Vietnam hero against the "summer of love" no longer draws much of an audience, even with both campaigns and the mainstream media so focused on it. No matter how things turn out on Election Day, however, it's beginning to look like the big winner will -- yet again -- be the conservative "culture war" narrative that has dominated our political discourse, in one form or another, for four decades now. With Obama and both Clintons endorsing it, who will stand against it?
For the foreseeable future, debates about cultural values are going to be played out fiercely on the symbolic terrain of war and national security issues. The all-too-real battlefields abroad will remain obscured by the cultural battlefields at home and by the those timeless "ordinary American values" embedded in the public's imagination. It's all too powerful a myth -- and too good an election story -- to go away anytime soon.
* * * * *
It does no good to complain about "spineless Democrats" who won't risk their political careers by casting courageous votes against war. Their job is to win elections. And you go to political war with the voters you have. If too many of the voters are still trapped in simplistic caricatures of patriotism and national security created 40 years ago -- or if you fear they are -- that's because no one has offered them an appealing alternative narrative that meets their cultural needs.
Liberals didn't think about alternative narratives of America that could be meaningful across the political board. Now, they reap the harvest of their neglect.
It does no good to complain that such working-class views are illogical or stupid or self-destructive. As long as progressives continue to treat "ordinary Americans" as stupid and irrelevant, progressives will find themselves largely irrelevant in U.S. politics. And that's stupid, because it doesn't have to be that way.
What can be done to change this picture? Facts and logic are rarely enough, in themselves, to persuade people to give up the values narratives that have framed their lives. They'll abandon one narrative only when another comes along that is more satisfying.
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No matter who wins this year's election, the prevalence of the "ordinary American" voter story should be a useful wakeup call: It's time to do something similar on a much broader scale. This election year offers an invaluable opportunity to begin to grasp some of the complexities of culturally conservative Americans. Equipped with a deeper understanding, progressives can frame their programs of economic justice and cultural diversity within new narratives about security, patriotism, heroism, and other traditionally American values.
That will take some effort. But it will take a lot more effort to stave off the next Republican victory -- or the next war -- if the project of creating new, more broadly appealing narratives continues to be ignored.
"In wing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color. In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives - overwhelming Black voters.
In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor.
In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure.
My investigations partner spoke directly to Barack Obama about it. (When your partner is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., candidates take your phone call.) The cool, cool Senator Obama told Kennedy he was "concerned" about the integrity of the vote in the Southwest in particular.
He's concerned. I'm sweating.
It's time SOMEBODY raised the alarm about these missing voters; not to save Obama's candidacy – journalists should stay the heck away from partisan endorsements - but raise the alarm to save our sick democracy."
If he was the only candidate running. Change. That's the biggest joke since the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner. This election cycle has been a mainstream farce, specializing in marginalizing the candidates that the people were interested in and forcing us to decide between three of the worst choices since the last two bad options in 2004. Does this mean I'm not voting? No, I'm just not voting for President. It isn't going to make a positive difference to this country no matter who we get stuck with. We moved from being a republic to a corporatacracy a long time ago. And for those who think the United States was or is a democracy, you need to take American Government 101 again.
I've been thinking about writing this for a while now, but certain things like life have been interrupting. However, the saga is still ongoing - and it looks like it'll be going on and on until at least November.
The voting follies are in full swing here in Colorado, and they go something like this:
Since the vast majority of voting machines in the state were now unable to be used, and the election being less than a year away, there was a problem. How, exactly, would people vote without the electronic ballots? There is still an ongoing battle over what sort of ballot will be used. At one time, the idea of an all-mail-in election was suggested, but rejected. This past week, a bill allowing for an all-paper-ballot election passed through committee and is on its way to another vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee. This plan has been endorsed by our Governor, Bill Ritter, and many of our legislators. Our Secretary of State, as well as most of our county clerks, opposes this plan. His idea is to recertify the formerly unacceptable machines in time for the general election.
As has been reported earlier, Coffman has some, um, interesting ties to Premier Election Solutions. To be more accurate, members of his campaign staff, both those who were around for his Secretary of State bid in 2006 and his current campaign to replace Rep. Tom Tancredo in CO-6. It might possibly have something to do with his claims that their electronic voting machines were perfectly acceptable for use - and possibly why he's so eager to recertify the other machines in time for November. But perhaps that's just my overly suspicious nature. Yes, that must be it.
This isn't the end of The Voting Follies here. There'll be more, really really soon.
I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)