The Election Carnival
January 9, 2008Those Damned Machines -- Diebold has spoken. As Josef Stalin said, "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes." How do you stop a locomotive? With Diebold voting machines, which have been shown time and again to be easily manipulated. Zogby polls had every candidate's percentages within a point or two, except for Hillary and Obama, who showed at 29 and 42 percent, respectively, instead of 38 and 36, as the official Diebold result showed. Why was that? Was it because Hillary almost cried, showed a little humanity, "found her voice"? Funny that it didn't change the tenor of her election rallies, which were still tepid, while Obama was attracting thousands of very enthusiastic voters.
What was the difference between Iowa and New Hampshire? Obviously, besides the winners there were a number of differences, but one is that the Iowa caucuses are old fashioned democracy, people being counted in a room, not the mysterious voting machines. How much longer are people going to accept the use of these machines which have been proven in laboratory tests to be unreliable?
Interesting pattern. The establishment candidate, the one who does not upset the apple cart, who does not offend the big powers, wins the election, defies the exit polls, which used to be used to verify if elections in third world countries were legitimate, and then some rather flimsy reason is given for the strange upset. In the case of Kerry over Dean in New Hampshire in 2004, it was Dean's scream. In the case of Bush over Kerry in Ohio in 2004, it was the sudden concern with gay marriage, allegedly. Now this time it's Hillary's moment of sincerity. It could have been a factor, but could it have stopped the Obama locomotive?
Clinton supported the Bush war, and virtually every other war measure, including the recent Leiberman move to practically declare war on Iran. She is not a threat to the war machine, so she is acceptable. Obama was a little too independent. Doesn't have enough baggage, might get out of hand and decide he's really supposed to represent the people, not the corporate machine.
There is not enough evidence to know if the machines were tampered with in New Hampshire. The discrepancy between the polls is extreme just in those two columns and the polls were very accurate in the others. If the results were manipulated, it doesn't necessarily mean that the Clintons knew or had anything to do with it. We know the machines can be easily manipulated. The point is that we can't rely on those electronic voting machines. As long as they are being used to determine America's future, we will never know if the result of any election is legitimate.
Here is some discussion of exit poll data in the Huffington Post. There is no indication of anything fishy in this discussion. It would certainly be nice to think the result is reliable. It will be hard to be sure as long as the Diebold machines are involved.
Here We Go Again -- According to The Associated Press, "South Carolina election officials say they still plan to use touch-screen voting machines despite the fact that other states have banned the use of similar systems made by the same company. Last month, top election officials in Ohio and Colorado declared that Election Systems and Software's iVotronic is unfit for elections. The ban was prompted by a study done for the state of Ohio in which researchers found electronic voting systems could be corrupted with magnets or handheld electronic devices such as Palm Treos. 'We've reviewed the report and we remain confident in the security and accuracy of South Carolina's voting system,' state Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said."
January 17, 2008Fundamentalist Extremism -- Mike Huckabee is an extremely gifted politician, he comes off with definitive congeniality, magnetic charm as he discusses how we need to be better stewards of the environment, need to protect the falling middle class from the assaults of corporate greed. Very liberal positions for a Republican. Remarkably seductive. However, he also says, according to a report in Raw Story, "'I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution,' Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. 'But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.'" What madness!
January 18, 2008Hitman Bill -- Bill Clinton in the role of hatchet man for Hillary is strange, to say the least, unprecedented of course. No president's wife has ever run for president in the U.S. Ex-presidents rarely get out on the campaign trail. For Bill Clinton to put down the mantle of ex-president, that image of being above it all, and to come down into the trenches to stump for his wife shows the hungry side, the raw ambition that presidents usually put on the shelf after their terms are over. Presidents traditionally put their vice presidents out on the campaign trail to do the dirty work so the president can appear to be above it all. But in this case Hillary Clinton's husband is the hatchet man, taking the less dignified role usually given to vice presidents. Very strange, a little bit unbecoming. It tarnishes his carefully-crafted image. (See YouTube, The Nation)
A Good Man for Obama -- Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy endorses Obama. USA Today Obama Digs Reagan -- Oh brother! OneGoodMove.org. He says Reagan changed the trajectory of America. Reagan's way of changing America was lousy. He put us on the track toward more concentration of wealth at the top of the scale, more people falling out of the middle class into homelessness, more concentrated corporate power, more military spending, more aggression, more consolidated media with less requirement for public service, secret wars in Central America, surface over substance, lack of accountability of presidents. If Obama really likes Reagan, we are in trouble. Edwards for president! Kucinich for president! Time to end the Reagan era. See Fuck Ronald Reagan, "Remembering the Dead: Reagan Foreign Policy From the Target End" at democracynow.org. Edwards gives Obama a history lesson, see NY Times.
January 19, 2008Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain -- The Scoop on Huckabee, the strange "Christian" affinity with killing and war. Huckabee: "We need to understand that this is, in fact, World War III. Unlike any other world war we've ever fought, this one is one we cannot afford to lose. Because losing it does not mean we lose some land or some geopolitical influence. It means we give up our own lives, because no less than that is the goal of the jihadists." See also Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi's "Mike Huckabee, Our Favorite Right-Wing Nut Job".
One Big Problem -- Stop Big Media. freepress.net. Calling O'Reilly on His Lies -- Filmmaker Robert Greenwald takes on O'Reilly for claiming there are no homeless vets. See the video, sign the petition at foxattacks.com/vets. Surge Progress Fantasy -- Joe Conason points out that as the "surge" fails as policy, it succeeds as propaganda. "Consider the work of William Kristol, who played an important role in selling the war as editor of The Weekly Standard and on the Fox News Channel," writes Conason. "From his new perch on The New York Times Op-Ed page—proof that being hideously wrong is no obstacle to scaling the heights of American punditry—he proclaims that "we have been able to turn around the situation in Iraq" and achieve 'real success.' According to Kristol, who once mocked concerns about religious strife in Iraq as 'pop sociology,' the drop in violence last month marked the lowest overall number of deaths for both civilians and military forces since the war began in March 2003. Declining casualties for a month or two means progress, which, in turn, means that the war must continue, and that the president's policy is correct. What has fallen far more sharply than the casualty statistics in Iraq is the standard for success there, as defined by neoconservatives like Mr. Kristol. In the original promotional literature produced by these individuals and their associates, and recited by the president, this war was supposed to remake the Middle East into a showcase for democracy, with ruinous consequences for our terrorist enemies and cheaper oil for us—and all for free because the Iraqi petroleum industry would cover all the costs. When that happy future never arrived, to put it mildly, the war's proponents scrambled to reduce expectations." truthdig.com Third World Financial Crisis At Home -- Paul Krugman: "The United States was not, in fact, uniquely well-suited to make use of the world’s surplus funds. It was, instead, a place where large sums could be and were invested very badly. Directly or indirectly, capital flowing into America from global investors ended up financing a housing-and-credit bubble that has now burst, with painful consequences. As I said, these consequences probably won’t be as bad as the devastating recessions that racked third-world victims of the same syndrome. The saving grace of America’s situation is that our foreign debts are in our own currency. This means that we won’t have the kind of financial death spiral Argentina experienced, in which a falling peso caused the country’s debts, which were in dollars, to balloon in value relative to domestic assets." New York Times Directors' Deal, What's the Effect on the Writers Strike? -- After the Directors Guild cut a deal with the Motion Picture and Television Producers, there is more pressure on the writers to do the same, according to David Wilkerson, writing on marketwatch.com. The article goes into details about the negotiations and quotes Norman Samnick, an entertainment attorney with Bryan Cave LLP, saying that at this point, "Whatever the writers decide, public sentiment is going to turn against them." I'm trying to figure out exactly what this means. I understand if the public turns against Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt or Michael Jackson, it could tank their sales and be a problem. But if the "public turns against" the entire writer's profession, what happens? Do people stop watching shows written by writers? I don't doubt that this could be a significant point, but I just don't see what the implications are.
January 20, 2008Educational TV -- Don't miss these on Blip TV: Meet the Neocons and The New Bush Coins.
January 21, 2008Global Vampires -- See "How Banks & The Fed Reserve Are Bankrupting The Planet" in the article by Judith Moriarty "Foreclosures - The Untold Story" at rense.com.
Media Mad -- Mindlessness in the Media by Tom Engelhardt at tomdispatch.com Forgotten War -- The ongoing tragedy in Iraq has been submerged in the news while pundits talk about the horse race of electioneering. huffingtonpost.com
January 22, 2008Obama Versus Which Clinton? Frustrating and demoralizing as American politics is, you can't say that this campaign is all just the same old stuff over and over again. Much of it really is unprecedented. Bill Clinton's campaigning for his wife, especially when he becomes that hatchet man, is of course unprecedented. There's never been a wife of a president who ran for president. There has never been a woman candidate for president who is a "front runner" or even a serious contender. There has never been a black candidate who is a front runner or serious contender either. All sorts of things that have never happened are happening.
When the Clinton campaign started using former president Bill to campaign for Hillary (who continues to be identified as "Hillary" no matter what anyone thinks about it) it was a risky move, and a sign of how desperate the campaign was after Obama took the first contest by such a surprising storm. Initially the Clintons-plural campaign slipped the new more aggressive Bill in with no fanfare, of course, and it was so odd that the reaction was slow in registering. What exactly is happening here? The Clintons picked up some momentum from some things, including Hillary's getting tearful episode, appearing human or "finding her voice", whichever version you subscribe to; maybe some help from Diebold; and probably somewhat of a boost from unleashing Bill's formidable campaign skills.
But now suddenly the desperate move of bringing the above-the-fray ex-president into the arena as attack dog is having repercussions. Now Obama has made a move in retaliation that is also, of course, unprecedented, carries some risk, but seems to be a pretty well-thought out strategem. Obama is confronting the Bill Clinton involvement directly, refusing to let them use him but keep him in a non-defined gray area. If he is going to be part of the fight, let's call it what it is, Obama's camp seems to be saying. Let's bring him back into the political fight as what he is, a guy campaigning for his wife, not just an ex-president who is to be revered as such. If he's going to get into the fight, he's got to give up that image as ex-president. He is functioning now as the dignified ex-president who occasionally says something topical, then disappears again for years.
According to The Guardian, Obama said on ABC TV that he now is taking on "two formidable opponents" in Senator and President Clintons. "You know the former president, who I think all of us have a lot of regard for, has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling. He continues to make statements that are not supported by the facts... This has become a habit, and one of the things that we're going to have to do is to directly confront Bill Clinton when he's making statements that are not factually accurate."
Obama is pretty formidable himself and probably has some good advice on this move from people who are not thrilled to see how the Clintons are conducting this move to establish a dynasty. Bill may have met his match in Obama as a skilled politician and the competition looks like it could slip into Bill versus Obama instead of Hillary versus Obama, surely not what the Clintons want. But putting Bill into that role was a desperate move. It may have helped them buy some time, and they may be banking on the momentum from the perception of Hillary as a winner to get them over the hump, but now they are stuck with the consequences of the move. It could turn very sour.
fOne of the people who has expressed some distaste for Bill's new role is Senator Edward Kennedy. According to the Guardian, "Newsweek reported there was a heated exchange when Bill Clinton called Ted Kennedy, the Massachusetts senator and still one of the most influential figures in the party. The magazine reported that Kennedy told Clinton he bore some of the responsibility for making race an issue in the campaign. Kennedy's office says he is making no endorsement 'at this time', amid fears in Hillary Clinton's campaign team that he is now leaning towards Obama because of her husband's behaviour."
The Clintons are on shaky ground now, they know it and the Obama camp knows it. Obama has taken the risk of shaking it up, calling attention to Bill's involvement. Of course if Hillary could have won without Bill getting into the nasty stuff, it would have been the best scenario for them. Obviously that wasn't happening so they changed tactics. There are plenty of strange possible ramifications here. If Bill is involved in the campaign, almost as a vice president or part of the campaign team as he has been, then it is impossible for the press to refer to Hillary Clinton as "Clinton". That has the effect of making her an addendum to him, a product of him or a continuation, or calling attention to that fact. She's not making it on her own, so she can't make the press and the public forget Bill and just call her "Clinton". She remains "Hillary", not just as a knickname, but as the only functional way she can be identified. Bill is very much on the scene, not a historical figure fading into the past. There is a real danger that he will overshadow her. He helped her, now they have to deal with the repercussions.
Obama was smart to act without any more delay. Even if he wasn't smart, he's probably getting plenty of phone calls from experienced politicos who are pointing out the weakness in the Clinton position as a result of creating The New Bill. Of course Obama is enough of an enemy to himself with his crazy talk about Ronald Reagan. Who needs opponents to bring you down when you make wild moves like that?
Meanwhile, as reported by Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post, via SUNY Buffalo political scientist Jim Campbell that "when McCain lost to then Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, he received 42 percent of the vote and roughly 237,000 votes. It was painted as a crushing loss. Eight years later McCain took 33 percent of the vote and 143,000 votes. It was cast as a triumphant win. Now, in 2000 McCain and Bush were in a one-on-one contest while in 2008 there were four viable candidates running -- McCain, former governor Mike Huckabee (Ark.), former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.) and former governor Mitt Romney (Mass.). But, Campbell notes that even if McCain had pulled in only 75 percent of those voters who supported him in 2000, he would have neared 40 percent of the vote share this time around." Protecting Crime in High Places -- And Daniel Ellsburg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, is castigating the press and the politicians for sitting on the Sibel Edmonds case against the FBI for allegedly covering up evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets, as reported in the London Sunday Times. See Ellsburg's article at bradblog.com. Reagan's Path to Ruin -- "The Other Katharine Harris" writes to Obama about his horrible statements on Reagan, and quotes his book, which is just as bad and eliminates any possibility that his comments on Reagan were taken out of context. "Senator Obama, are you tragically uninformed, trying to contrive 'unity' by pandering to right-wingers or legitimizing their idol from conviction?" Harris gives Obama a history lesson: "While I can’t fault your saying, 'Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America,' that trajectory — which sadly we’ll remain on, until the last neocon policy bites the dust — has been, for most, a path to ruin. As for his encouraging entrepreneurship, small businesses ranked among the first victims of his presidency, along with the poor. Throughout the 30+ years of his abiding revolution, everything has been rigged to profit large corporations and the ultra-rich... For instance, while governor of California, he dehumanized welfare recipients, calling the needy 'bums', 'cheats' and 'a faceless mass waiting for a handout.' He’d campaigned on cutting funds for the poor, saying, 'The time has come to stop being our brother’s keeper'. (Some 'Christian' sentiment from one who soon styled himself a righteous Bible-thumper, huh?) Condemning help for working people who lost their jobs, he sneered, 'Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders,' and he dismissed upholding minority rights with this argument: 'It doesn’t do good to open doors for someone who doesn’t have the price to get in. If he has the price, he may not need the laws. There is no law saying the Negro has to live in Harlem or Watts.' Our environment meant no more to him than marginalized citizens did. In opposing expanded protection of his state’s majestic redwoods, unique in all the world, he shrugged, 'A tree’s a tree. How many do you need to look at?' Given that attitude, it’s fair to say he never really saw one. Something else he never saw was military action. During World War II, Reagan served in an Army film studio — but, with bring-’em-on bravado, he blustered in 1966: 'We should declare war on North Vietnam. We could pave the whole country and put parking stripes on it, and still be home by Christmas.' Consigned to a special hell of hatred in his heart were the young. Of students who dared protest the war, he said they didn’t deserve an education and added, 'I’d like to harness their youthful energy with a strap.' His later words were more violent: 'If it’s a bloodbath they want, let’s get it over with.' He meant it. Let’s not forget he imposed martial law on the Berkeley campus and endorsed shootings there. As for experimentation with drugs, he deemed it 'a repudiation of everything America is' — never mind that no national drug laws existed in this country until after his own birth." O Barack!
-- David Cogswell