The River

Friday, October 31, 2008

November 4th can't come soon enough

I've been reading around the blogs, like usual. I look at my friends' sites, my favorite off-the-beaten track sites, and some of the high-traffic lefty sites. But it wasn't until today that I finally found a couple of posts that reflect my apprehension about this election.

A new blog to me, "The Rant by Tom Degan," echoes what I've been thinking: PA will be the new Ohio, which was the new Florida. Pennsylvania should be out of reach for McCain, yet he's spending a lot of time and money there. I checked, and the majority of Pennsylvania counties use the outrageously fraudulent DRE voting machines. Says Tom regarding Pennsylvania: "I don't know about you, but I smell a rat."

Go read his post. It begins, "These are going to be the longest five days in our entire lives." And it's blogging at its finest.

Meanwhile, Winter Patriot says all these polls saying the race is tightening, some even saying the battleground states are up for grabs, plus the constant drumbeat of "the Bradley effect" and "undecideds breaking for McCain" are nothing more than preparation for acceptance of a rigged result. His post is pointedly titled "The Fix Is In!"

How's that for a Halloween post?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The New Yorker's endorsement of Obama

For anyone truly fence-sitting, this should provide a decent shove


What most distinguishes the candidates, however, is character—and here, contrary to conventional wisdom, Obama is clearly the stronger of the two. Not long ago, Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, said, “This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” The view that this election is about personalities leaves out policy, complexity, and accountability. Even so, there’s some truth in what Davis said––but it hardly points to the conclusion that he intended.

Echoing Obama, McCain has made “change” one of his campaign mantras. But the change he has actually provided has been in himself, and it is not just a matter of altering his positions. A willingness to pander and even lie has come to define his Presidential campaign and its televised advertisements. A contemptuous duplicity, a meanness, has entered his talk on the stump—so much so that it seems obvious that, in the drive for victory, he is willing to replicate some of the same underhanded methods that defeated him eight years ago in South Carolina.

Perhaps nothing revealed McCain’s cynicism more than his choice of Sarah Palin, the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, who had been governor of that state for twenty-one months, as the Republican nominee for Vice-President. In the interviews she has given since her nomination, she has had difficulty uttering coherent unscripted responses about the most basic issues of the day. We are watching a candidate for Vice-President cram for her ongoing exam in elementary domestic and foreign policy. This is funny as a Tina Fey routine on “Saturday Night Live,” but as a vision of the political future it’s deeply unsettling. Palin has no business being the backup to a President of any age, much less to one who is seventy-two and in imperfect health. In choosing her, McCain committed an act of breathtaking heedlessness and irresponsibility. Obama’s choice, Joe Biden, is not without imperfections. His tongue sometimes runs in advance of his mind, providing his own fodder for late-night comedians, but there is no comparison with Palin. His deep experience in foreign affairs, the judiciary, and social policy makes him an assuring and complementary partner for Obama.

The longer the campaign goes on, the more the issues of personality and character have reflected badly on McCain. Unless appearances are very deceiving, he is impulsive, impatient, self-dramatizing, erratic, and a compulsive risk-taker. These qualities may have contributed to his usefulness as a “maverick” senator. But in a President they would be a menace.

By contrast, Obama’s transformative message is accompanied by a sense of pragmatic calm. A tropism for unity is an essential part of his character and of his campaign. It is part of what allowed him to overcome a Democratic opponent who entered the race with tremendous advantages. It is what helped him forge a political career relying both on the liberals of Hyde Park and on the political regulars of downtown Chicago. His policy preferences are distinctly liberal, but he is determined to speak to a broad range of Americans who do not necessarily share his every value or opinion. For some who oppose him, his equanimity even under the ugliest attack seems like hauteur; for some who support him, his reluctance to counterattack in the same vein seems like self-defeating detachment. Yet it is Obama’s temperament—and not McCain’s—that seems appropriate for the office both men seek and for the volatile and dangerous era in which we live. Those who dismiss his centeredness as self-centeredness or his composure as indifference are as wrong as those who mistook Eisenhower’s stolidity for denseness or Lincoln’s humor for lack of seriousness.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Did everybody sign the sheet?

There weren't no pen

A dramatic reading of the transcript of Mayor Sarah Palin's May 1996 Wasilla, Alaksa, town meeting, by the actor Chris Schneider.

I don't know what's funnier, this video, or the fact that McCain and the wingnuts think we should be impressed with this "executive experience."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama '08 - Vote For Hope from MC Yogi on Vimeo

Dave Lindorff: Why I'm Voting for Obama

Okay, I was going to vote for Ralph Nader this November 4.

It was an easy decision. I live in Pennsylvania, which is now, according to all the polls, reliably in the Obama column, with the Democratic candidate holding an insurmountable lead in the polls of 14 percent over Republican John McCain -- enough to overcome even the most devious Republican vote suppression techniques and voting machine chicanery.

I was going to vote for Nader because I find Obama to be a seriously flawed candidate. He ran early on an anti-Iraq War platform, saying not that invading Iraq was wrong legally and morally, but that it was "the wrong war." Since then, he has backed away even from saying he wanted the war ended, opting for a 16-month withdrawal timetable that would have the killing and dying in that sad land going on longer than most wars this nation has fought. He has also called for an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, despite clear evidence that more troops just will make the situation there worse, and has called for an expansion of the U.S. military budget, to increase the size of the Army and Marines, which will only encourage more warmongering, more killing and more waste of precious resources.

Obama also sold us all out by going along with a bill sought by President Bush granting immunity to telecom companies that aided and abetted the illegal and unconstitutional spying on Americans by the National Security Agency -- spying that we now know is massive almost beyond our imagination, even including the monitoring of private family conversations of American service personnel in Iraq, of journalists, and almost certainly of Bush Administration political "enemies." By backing that obscene bill, Obama has made it almost impossible for victims of this police-state surveillance campaign to sue and find out what the Bush/Cheney Administration has been up to all these years.

In so many ways, Obama has tacked to the middle or even the right, while spouting soaring but empty rhetoric about "change."

Meanwhile, everything Ralph Nader says makes perfect sense. He has consistently called the Iraq and Afghanistan wars the crimes that they are. He has consistently called for a nationalized health care system, which every other modern nation has long since proven to be a more cost-effective and health-effective way to run a medical system than the failed free-market approach advocated by Obama and the rest of the Establishment political system. He has correctly denounced the economic bailout as welfare for the rich and for the corporate criminals who have been sucking the life out of the U.S. economy for years.

And yet, I think I have to vote of Obama this year.

The reason is partly because I know I would vote for Obama if I lived in Ohio or Indiana, where the race between McCain and Obama is too close to call, and so, to vote for Nader when it is simply safe to do so here in Pennsylvania is really a cop-out.

But even more important, when I see the hate-filled racists and right-wing yahoos braying at McCain and Palin rallies, when I hear people calling for Obama to be killed or lynched, and when I see the rabid hate mail circulating in e-mail inboxes falsely labeling him as a secret Muslim, a terrorist, a Marxist and a black nationalist, I want to see the man resoundingly win this election.

But it's more than that. I also, perhaps against all logic and experience, admit that I expect something good of an Obama presidency.

Call me naïve, but based upon my own life experience, I keep thinking that a guy who has worked as a community organizer, a Harvard Law School grad (and even law journal editor!) who could have named his price at a Wall Street law firm, but who chose instead to be a political and community activist, a guy who has relatives who live in humble surroundings in Kenya, and who spent some of his childhood actually living in a Third World Asian nation, not to mention a guy who has surely felt the sting of being called a "n*gger" has to bring something new to the White House. Certainly no other president in the history of the country has come to the office with such a background.

Sure Obama is no leftist candidate. But if he were, he wouldn't be heading for an election victory. He wouldn't even be the Democratic nominee. He'd be, at best, where Dennis Kucinich is -- holding a seat in Congress where his every progressive effort would be stymied or mocked by the House leadership.

The unfortunate reality is that the true left in the U.S. is a joke (many of its purists even mock successful left candidates political figures such as Kucinich, for god's sake!). Fractured and fractious small groupings have little or no link to the organized labor movement -- traditionally the bedrock of any successful left political power. And the labor movement itself is as weak as it has ever been and keeps growing weaker. The left in the U.S., such as it is, has even less connection with the broad mass of the American public, thanks to years of successful propaganda linking it to Stalin, Mao, and Soviet Communism.

I have no illusions about the progressivity of the Democratic Party. Certainly it has its progressive elected officials who have made it into office -- people such as Kucinich, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Maxine Waters, and the like. But clearly, the Democratic Party has shown itself to be in thrall to the moneyed interests on Wall Street and in the corporate suites.

That said, there are important things that could happen -- and I stress the word could, not would -- if this election were to be won by Obama and by Democrats in the Congress. One of these things is that there will be new Supreme Court justices named over the next four years. Some will inevitably replace some of the aging "liberals" on the bench (some of whom have not always been so liberal on economic issues). Some could also replace current conservative justices (Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, both obese men, don't look terribly healthy to me, Justice Kennedy is getting on in years, and even Chief Justice Roberts, while looking hale, has a problem with epilepsy or some other ailment that has caused him to collapse in a frothing fit of unconscious on occasion).

Also important is legislation to make it less of an obstacle course for workers to win union representation and labor contracts on the job. A major reason that unions have shrunk from over 30 percent of the workforce in the 1950s to just 9 percent of the private workforce (and 13 percent of all workplaces, public and private) today, is that labor law has been whittled away and turned to management's advantage to such an extent that it is almost impossible now to win a union election. Employers who break labor laws suffer no penalty even when found guilty, and workers who are unfairly fired for union activity can hope, at best, if they are lucky, to win reinstatement and back pay after fighting for years. Most just give up.

If a Democratic Congress passed new labor legislation and a President Obama signed them into law, as he has promised to do, and if new pro-labor officials were appointed to the national, regional, and local labor relations boards that adjudicate labor issues, we could see a genuine revival of the labor movement in America with consequences for workers' lives, and for the political system that would be far reaching and profound -- and that could even pave the way for a resurgence of a left/labor political movement.

Finally, with respect to war and militarism, I tend not to take Obama's warmongering seriously. Given the man's background, I am confident that he is not a militarist by nature. It may be politically opportunistic for him to try during this campaign to out-tough McCain on Afghanistan while calling for a wind-down of the war in Iraq, but it would be a disaster for him to pursue a wider war in Afghanistan after taking office, ensuring that his presidency, like Bush's, Lyndon Johnson's and Richard Nixon's before him, would be dragged down by an endless bloody conflict.

A President Obama will have his hands full trying to deal with an unprecedented financial fiasco, and will want the wars off his plate as quickly as possible. Maybe I'm being a Pollyanna, but I simply can't see a smart guy -- and Obama is a smart guy -- getting dragged into another quagmire.

Besides, I have a darker vision, which is that the crisis of global warming, so long denied by the Bush Administration, is going to make itself felt soon in ways that will be impossible to ignore, and which will demand a crisis response. Obama, I believe, will be the right person at the right time, to lead that response.

And that brings me to the final reason I am voting for Obama. As crazy as John McCain clearly is, with his default setting on war as a solution for all problems, this sickly and possibly terminally ill old man has chosen to have a certifiable right-wing, closed-minded, bigoted and stunningly ignorant religious zealot as his backup. Sarah Palin, as vice president, would in all probability end up becoming president during a McCain first term.

This country and the world simply cannot risk having as the leader of America an end-of-times believer at this critical moment. It's not just the polar bears and the wolves in Alaska who would suffer under a Palin presidency. It would be all life on Earth.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lou Reed - Bottoming Out

The Dow of Lou.

You know the election season is heating up when...

Even Chris Locke provides us with a straightforward partisan post.

"I don't think there's any analogy"
(because I'm a total fucking idiot)

From the Better Late Than Never Department, the following are excerpts from a 16 September ABC News story titled McCain Economic Adviser Carly Fiorina's Golden Parachute...

Republican ticket mates John McCain and Sarah Palin Monday blasted corporate executives who leave their company with a "golden parachute" and pledged to "stop multimillion dollar payouts" to CEOs, seeming to forget their own top economic adviser Carly Fiorina walked away with $45 million, including a $21.4 million severance package when she was dismissed by Hewlett Packard in 2005.

And not-so-btw, she was fired for nearly destroying the company. HP employees were dancing in the streets when Carly was handed her walking papers. For example: "Good riddance. Colleagues still at HP report that there is open celebration in the labs and cube-farms."

more, including the source of the quote in Chris's post title

Re: William Ayers

If a person can never change for the better, if they are marked for life by stupid things they did in their youth, then our current president is a cowardly coke-head, John McCain is a reckless rich-boy drunk (though with plenty of wrecks in his history)and Palin is an air-headed local beauty pageant runner-up who had to shop around through five colleges until she found one lax enough to give her a degree. I guess that makes Obama a mixed-race child of a single mother who buckled down at his work, excelled in all of his classes at the best universities in the country and pulled himself up by his own bootstraps.

by greatnorthwoods October 10, 6:41 AM

Note to media: now that the McCain/Palin campaign have made William Ayers a media celebrity, it would be nice to hear from him. To go from a radical anti-war movement leader in the 1960s to a present-day University of Illinois at Chicago Distinguished Professor and elementary education theorist sounds like a great American life story to me.

Why won't the corporate media let the man speak for himself?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This is no time for on-the-job training

This is no time to risk bad judgement calls, said the "we'll be greeted as liberators" Iraq-war-cheerleading presidential candidate who picked Caribou Barbie as a running mate.

Illustration by Zina Saunders

Thanks to Mike Golby for highlighting Zina's work.