Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another disappointed Obama hater

-- by Dave

in Midland, Michigan:

A Midland man told police that his walking on the sidewalk in full Knights of Ku Klux Klan regalia while toting a handgun had nothing to do with Barack Obama winning the presidency.

Later, however, he admitted that Obama's victory was the catalyst for his display.

Midland police questioned Randy G. Gray II, 30, who was walking on the sidewalk along Eastman near North Saginaw Wednesday afternoon while waving an American flag, but released him because he wasn't breaking any laws.

Gray was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of a vehicle dealership while several motorists shouted obscenities at him and others shouted ''accolades,'' police said.

Randy Gray's name may ring some bells ...

Yep, he was tossed from the Ron Paul campaign when they discovered he was a Klansman. My guess is he didn't vote for McCain either.

Here he is in action at a Ron Paul rally "white power" event.

There are some things about the next four years I am definitely not looking forward to.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Great Repudiation

The Concern Trolls are roaming free in the Village these days: John King, Laura Ingraham, Charles Krauthammer, Tom Brokaw, Karl Rove, Ruth Marcus … I don't know how many talking heads I've heard claim that "America is still a center-right country" in the past few days, but if it were a drinking game, I'd have alcohol poisoning.

I guess I'm confused. I keep hearing from a lot of conservatives that McCain lost because he wasn't conservative enough -- that is, he was essentially a center-right candidate. And I think that's the consensus about where he sat on the political spectrum.

So if America is a "center-right country," then why didn't they elect the center-right candidate?

It's all bullshit, of course. As a CAF/Media Matters study found last year: "Media perceptions and past Republican electoral successes notwithstanding, Americans are progressive across a wide range of controversial issues, and they're growing more progressive all the time." In fact, as CAF's Robert Borosage points out, "Voters didn't just elect Democrats, they elected progressives." This is a liberal mandate.

Yet it's probably true that the election doesn't necessarily reflect an all-out embrace of all things liberal. Obama largely succeeded by making clear that he has a moderate temperament on a number of issues, and more importantly, in his style of governance. So a certain caution is probably wise.

No, this election was about one thing primarily: a sweeping repudiation of movement conservatism.

The breadth and depth of Democrats' victory was a loud shout from the American public: We have had enough of this crap.

Specifically, we've had enough of two things: conservative governance, and conservative politics.


The swirling global economic crisis produced by Republican rule is only the most prominent debacle produced by eight years of conservative philosophy being put into action. Conservatives never met a deregulation scheme they didn't like -- and it was that very mania for breaking down well-established institutional barriers, particularly in the financial sector, that led to the housing bubble and the collapse on Wall Street. Certainly, Democrats played along, often eagerly -- but they were being conservative when they did.

No doubt the solutions to the economic crisis will entail re-regulating the financial sector and imposing strict government oversight. And when they do, no doubt conservatives will accuse Democrats of indulging "socialism". But it is to laugh: the right has earned all the credibility of Joe the Plumber on such matters.

Especially when you consider all the other fruits of conservative governance:

  • Foreign-policy debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • A government that invades nations under false pretenses.

  • A nation less secure and at greater risk of terrorist attacks than ever.

  • A sinking economy.

  • An expanding gap between rich and poor.

  • Utter inaction on global warming.

  • $5-a-gallon gasoline.

  • An unresolved immigration problem.

  • An incapacity to deal with natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

  • A debacle in public-school education testing and funding.

  • Declining food and consumer-product safety standards.

  • A government that spies on its own citizens.

  • A government that tortures prisoners held in their detention facilities.

These messes weren't the result of George W. Bush being too liberal and straying too far from the movement's party line. To the contrary -- they're the direct result of him toeing that line to the millimeter. They are all the direct product of the conservative philosophy of governance.


Conservatives have practiced a politics of fear for the past forty years -- since 1968, when Richard Nixon perfected the technique. Since then, as Rick Perlstein has brilliantly limned, we've been living "Nixonland." In recent years, the right has turned politics into a dark art: a relentless parade of smears, demonization, and eliminationism that has profoundly poisoned the public well and deeply divided the country.

In the past decade, we've been subjected to a nonstop battering, cheapening, and demeaning of the nation's public discourse. Nonstop public attacks on liberals -- their policies and their persons -- have come in the form of vicious attack-dog pundits for whom "pushing the envelope" has entailed dredging into the very worst kind of ugly innuendo, and wingnut politicians for whom no smear is too low to stoop to.

Look at what has littered our landscape as a result:

  • The absurd impeachment of Bill Clinton in spite of the public's broad disapproval.

  • The caricaturization of a future Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore, in the course of foisting a Bush presidency upon an unsuspecting public.

  • The relentless campaign to portray anyone dissenting from Bush's post-9/11 war plans as insufficiently patriotic and "soft on terrorism."

  • The tireless recourse to a string of "Friedman units" in excusing the interminable extension of the Iraq war.

  • The swift-boating of John Kerry.

  • The Terri Schiavo fiasco.

  • The Graham Frost fiasco.

  • The ritual and ongoing demonization of Latinos as criminals, welfare bums, America-hating, job-stealing foreigners.

  • The crude dog-whistle campaign run against Obama, depicting him as a terrorist-loving, America-hating, secret Muslim brown man.

  • The deeply disturbing way that conservatives acted on this rhetoric: spewing hate, racism, and threatening violence.

The right threw all of its traditional smears at Obama: Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, the "birth certificate" -- you name it, they flung it at him. And this time around, it didn't take. Poll after poll demonstrated that these attacks actually hurt Republicans across the board.

This happened in dozens of races. The most prominent was Elizabeth's desperate attempt to smear Kaye Fagan with a last-minute round of ads accusing her of palling around with godless types -- and she lost by an even larger margin than polls indicated. It happened at the state and local levels, too; in Washington state, Republican Dino Rossi's relentlessly negative campaign against Democrat Chris Gregoire actually worked against him -- in 2004, he lost by a handful of votes, but in 2008, the margin was a wide one.

In this election, Obama remolded the Democrats into the party of hope -- in particular, the hope for a better America. In the process, we discovered that hope can defeat fear. That is a discovery that could profoundly reshape our national politics for generations.

If Obama's presidency is successful, the "Nixonland" era will finally be over. Voters in 2008, for the first time in memory, clearly repudiated this kind of politics and this kind of governance. But it took a supreme pushback effort to get there. Staying there will be even more work -- this defeat will not mean the right will go away.

Ironically, it will now be in movement conservatives' interest to make sure that an Obama presidency fails (so much for "Country First", eh?). It will be in the interest of everyone else -- liberal, progressive, centrist, even center-rightist -- to make sure that the failure, once again, is theirs.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The electoral muscle behind the big win: Latinos

-- by Dave

We knew beforehand that the Latino vote was going to be a major player in the 2008 election.

And they were:

About two-thirds of Hispanics voted for Obama, decisively surpassing the 53 percent who voted for Democrat John Kerry in 2004, exit polls showed. That year Bush enjoyed a high-water mark of GOP support from Hispanics with 44 percent of the vote from the nation's fastest growing ethnic group.

America's Voice reports in a press release:

  • The Latino Vote Surged in Size: The Latino vote comprised at least 8% of the overall electorate, according to exit polling. This works out to approximately 10.5 million voters, given the expected 130 million votes cast. This figure represents a jump of 3 million voters since 2004, when 7.6 million Latinos cast ballots, and is almost double the Latino turnout of 2000.

  • The Latino Vote Broke Democratic: In 2004, Democratic candidate John Kerry won the Latino vote 56-44% against George W. Bush. Yesterday, Barack Obama won the Latino vote by a 66-32% margin against John McCain, and even won a majority of Latino support in Florida, a former Latino stronghold for the GOP. Given the increased size of the Latino electorate, this means that 2.9 million more Latino votes went to the Democratic candidate compared to 2004.

  • Barack Obama Swept the “Latino Battleground” States: Both the Obama and McCain campaigns focused their Spanish-speaking advertising and outreach on four key battleground states – CO, FL, NM, and NV. Within these states, the Latino vote’s rapid growth and break towards Democratic candidates played an important role in Democratic victories.

  • CO: The Latino vote in CO grew from 8% of the state’s electorate in 2004 to 17% in 2008. Obama gained support of 73% of CO Latinos – key to his 53-46% victory in the state, as well as the Udall Senate victory.

    FL: The Latino vote’s shift towards the Democrats was essential in Obama’s win. FL Latinos broke 56-44% for Bush in 2004 and 57-42% for Obama in 2008.

    NM: Latinos comprised 41% of the NM 2008 electorate – a jump from their 32% in 2004. Latinos in NM supported Obama 69-30% -- a big jump from 56-44% support for Kerry. NM Latinos’ trend towards Democrats played a huge role in the Presidential race and in handing the open Senate seat and two Congressional races (NM-1 and NM-2) to the Democrats.

    NV: Latinos in NV supported Kerry 60-39% in 2004 and Obama 78-20% in 2008. Latinos in NV also increased from 10% of electorate in ’04 to 16% in 2008, and played a key role in handing the NV-3 Congressional seat to the Democrats.

  • John McCain’s Support Among Latinos Was More Dole than Bush: John McCain’s received just 32% of Latinos’ support nationwide – closer to the Republicans’ low-water mark of 21% support received by Bob Dole in 1996 than the high-water mark of 44% received by George W. Bush in 2004.

  • Voters Broadly Rejected Anti-Immigrant Candidates and Politics: Voters defeated leading anti-immigrant crusaders such as Marilyn Musgrave (CO-4), Thelma Drake (VA-02), Lou Barletta (running for Rep. Kanjorski’s seat in PA-11), and possibly Virgil Goode (VA-5) (race too close to call at press time), and supported candidates with practical and common sense approaches for fixing our nation’s broken immigration system like Dina Titus (taking Rep. Porter’s seat in NV-3), Bill Foster (IL-14), Jim Himes (taking Rep. Shays’ seat in CT-4), Rep. Giffords (AZ-8), and many others. In the Senate, new pro-reform senators include Mark Warner in VA, Jeanne Shaheen in NH, Mark Udall in CO, Kay Hagan in NC, and Tom Udall in NM.

This all happened, as a few news stories noted, because of the Republican brand -- not just the conservative malfeasance in handling of the economy, but most of all the flaming bigotry that the GOP provided a cozy political home for these past several years.

Also, McCain's two-faced strategy was a loser from the outset.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Monday, November 03, 2008

The racists come crawling out of the woodwork

-- by Dave

As we've already noted, the looming prospect of a Barack Obama presidency is driving the racist right over the edge. It's also making them bolder in its recruitment. In Marion, Ohio, this week, Klansmen left recruitment fliers keying off the current election:

The fliers, in the likeness of the old "Uncle Sam wants you for the U.S. Army" posters, depict a hooded Klansman:

Join today and help us win back your rights that have been given to others in the name of political correctness. We are fighting to preserve the existence of our race and a future for our white children.

You may recognize that last line: It's taken directly from the "Fourteen Words" slogan favored by the radical racist right. It was a significant component of the murderous fantasy cooked up by those two skinheads arrested last week for plotting to kill Barack Obama, along with 102 black people.

The Ohio incident raises more importantly the way these folks are becoming bolder in proclaiming themselves and recruiting disenchanted conservatives:

Neither Marion police nor state agents believe the fliers are an intimidation tactic, instead viewing them as recruitment.

The national membership director for the Ku Klux Klan LLC, a chartered organization with its headquarters in Arkansas, said few legitimate KKK chapters have to actually recruit right now.

"This office gets about 100 calls a day, and it's been that way since the start of the election season," said Travis Pierce. "People are looking for answers to what's going on in this country and they are coming to us."

If they're getting their answers from the Klan, that's bad news for everyone.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Neo-Nazis, Obama, and the real domestic terrorists


-- by Dave

Has anyone else noticed how little coverage the skinhead plot to assassinate Obama has been given?

Eric Ward has noticed:

While the public, political pundits, and even some law enforcement officials have been quick to downplay the actions of Cowart and Schlesselman using words such as “unlikely,” “unsophisticated,” and “bizarre”, these individuals are making a case for who they believe is an American. I can’t help but think back to 2006 when seven men who thought they were working with al-Qaida (but in actuality an FBI informant) were arrested in a plot against Chicago’s Sears Tower.

I can’t help but to ask if Coward and Schlesselman had been self-proclaimed Muslims would these same political pundits and law enforcement officials find themselves so blasé? Would the public write it off as “stupid kids who weren’t serious?”


I know the looming election has sucked all the oxygen out of the newsroom. And it's true that the plot -- they wanted to kill 102 black people, 14 of them by decapitation, before they culminated their spree with a frontal attack on Obama -- more resembled a dumb fantasy out of a bad action flick than anything likely ever to become a reality.

But that's what anyone who might've stumbled onto Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols prior to April 19, 1995, likely would have concluded too. And the fact is, these guys were serious, they were heavily armed, and they took concrete steps to begin making their fantasy into a reality.

No, they almost certainly would never have reached Barack Obama. But would they have been capable of killing large numbers of black people before the law caught up with them. Just like the three men caught in Denver before the Democratic National Convention, they weren't likely at all to succeed but they almost certainly would have killed innocent members of the public along the way.

And unlike the Denver tweakers, these two young men not only appeared much more capable and competent, but also much more motivated. After all, they were entrenched in the skinhead scene and heavily involved in the white-nationalist movement that inspired them.

Max Blumenthal has the details at Daily Beast:

Initially portrayed in media accounts as “lone wolves” without institutional affiliations, new information about the would-be assassins suggests deeper connections into the subculture of neo-Nazi thugs united by an adulation of Adolf Hitler and desire for vigilante violence. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the would-be assassins, Daniel Cowart, was a “probate member” of an incipient youth group of the neo-Nazi movement, Supreme White Alliance.

Cowart also maintained a friendship with the SWA’s founder, Steven Edwards. Steven Edwards is the son of Ron Edwards, the founder of the Imperial Klans of America, a neo-Nazi outfit best known for the “Nordic Fest” white power concerts it holds at its 15-acre compound in Kentucky.

After the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed Cowart’s connection to SWA, the group posted a defensive statement on its website denying his role in organizational activities. “Since [the SWA’s annual election] none of the SWA members have had any contact with accused,” the website declared. “So before you get your story wrong, [SPLC], get the facts.” At the same time, the Supreme White Alliance acknowledged that Cowart was indeed a “probate member.”

The ADL has details about the SWA, including their advocacy of "lone wolf" attacks to inspire a race war:

SWA members echoed such calls elsewhere. One member, Jarod Anderson, declared his determination to "re-light the Fire in the Movement." He added that SWA was his "Crew and Life," and that he would die for it "as much as I would for my Family." Ohio SWA member Richard Kidd claimed, in May 2008 in an Internet posting titled "Its [sic] time for war," that "We will all die one day so lets [sic] die for some thing [sic] not nothing."

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently had a noteworthy examination of how skinheads are trying to mainstream themselves these days as a way of expanding their reach. It included this denunciation of the two Tennessee skinheads' plot:

Steve Smith, director of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre chapter of the KSS, said that it was the type of plan that "makes us look like we're a bunch of loonies."

"They're a couple of loony bins that give our movement a bad name," Smith said. "I don't know anybody who would even think that killing Barack Obama would solve anything.

"Anyone who tries to kill Barack Obama does a lot more harm to the white movement than anything," he said.

The reporter and the public are being bullshitted by Smith here, because their ideology specifically is devoted to inspiring race war. That's what the "14 Words" these two wannabe-killers intended to memorialize by decapitation is all about. These cats are just afraid of the massive pile of law-enforcement bricks that will descend on their heads should such a plot ever succeed.

But the cold reality is that for the white-supremacist faction out there, assassinating Obama is widely viewed as the ticket for inspiring race war. Which means that there are going to be at least a few dozen of these "lone wolves" out there devising a means to attain instant Aryan glory.

James Ridgeway recently observed in an interview with Amy Goodman:

Well, I don’t think you see the groups so much strengthening, but what has happened is that racism in general, racial comments, you know, have come to the surface much more, you know, in greater numbers and more openly, because of the Obama candidacy. And you hear all sorts of racial slurs all over the place. So, this subject, this atmosphere, this kind of racial energy, is very much in evidence. And some of these people undoubtedly are motivated and encouraged by this, you know, that they—it’s hard to know to what extent, but they clearly come forward much more openly than they have in the recent past.

Certainly, the FBI has noticed:

Ward says the increasing anger of white supremacists has manifested itself in Internet postings and threats reported to law-enforcement agencies. What worries the FBI most, he says, are "lone wolves" who might be seething with anger and armed to the teeth but who do not show up on any government radar screens.

Since last February, a presidential-campaign-threat task force created by the FBI and Secret Service has conducted more than 650 "threat assessments" to evaluate reports that could involve threats to presidential or vice presidential contenders or any others connected to the election. About 100 of those threats have been assessed to be "racially motivated" and are thought to be directed at Obama. Another 100 of the reports received since last winter are deemed to be "political" and come from across the ideological spectrum. They include pro-gun groups and anti-abortion extremists. Other categories used by the task force to track threats don't breakdown along ideological or political lines.

Now you have to wonder when the mainstream media -- particularly the news networks -- will notice too. If experience tells us anything, it won't be until after the guns and bombs have gone off.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]