“Playing with Fire”

Hzcajfetancasvyk6rca9dj8mtcazx5en7c "The McCain-Palin ticket has given toxic speeches accusing Obama of being a friend of terrorists, then released short, meek repudiations of some of the rough stuff, including McCain’s call Friday to "be respectful." Back in February, the Arizona senator apologized for the "disparaging remarks" from a talk-radio host who sneered repeatedly about "Barack Hussein Obama" before a McCain rally. "We will have a respectful debate," McCain insisted afterward. But pretending to douse flames that you are busy fanning does not qualify as straight talk.

What I find most unconscionable is the refusal of the McCain-Palin tandem to publicly condemn the cries of "traitor," "liar," "terrorist" and (worst of all) "kill him!" that could be heard at recent rallies. McCain is perfectly capable of telling hecklers off. But not once did he or his running mate bother to admonish the people yelling these obscene — and potentially dangerous — words. They may not have been able to hear the slurs at the rallies, but surely they have had ample time since to get on camera and warn that this sort of ugliness has no place in an election season. But they have not. Simply calling Obama "a decent person" is not enough. "  Washpost


Something happened that caused McCain to rebuke a woman at a rally who fumbled in frustration for words and then called Obama an "Arab."  McCain drew back from that and insisted to her that his opponent was a "decent man, a family man, with whom I disagree on some things."  The mob did not like that.  It hissed and cried out in frustration when denied its leader in hatred.  The mob had a right to be confused.  McCain had made no previous objection to this kind of talk.  The mob was puzzled.  Appeals to hatred of the "other" have been occurring at his rallies for a couple of weeks.  Something must have happened to change his attitude.  Did the Secret Service object to this incitement of violence?  Did some saner soul amongst the Republicans object?  Something happened.

The McCain/Palin base is now revealed as essentially nativist and "know nothing."

They howl for Obama’s blood.

This is not Conservatism.  Barry Goldwater would be dismayed.

It is now clear that for many people in the United States, foreigners are indistinguishable in their variety.  East Asians, Muslim/Arabs, Africans, Europeans, and Latinos are the groups into which a lot of people sort "the other."  Canadians are generally thought to be shamming their foreignness.

For that woman in the upper Mid-West who fumbled for a word with which to describe Obama, the people who attacked us on 9/11 were Arab/Muslim/Black/terrorists.  For her there are no separate nations or countries in the Middle East and if there were, the differences among them would be unimportant.  For this woman, the idea is unattainable that there could be Arab Christians or a man who is; half black African, half white American, and a Christian.  The fact that he has an Arabic and Muslim middle name but is not an Arab or a Muslim is unapproachable for such people.  People like that are dangerous and there are a lot of them.

Someone will now protest that "Hussein" is a Swahili name.  Yeah?  So what.  Like a lot of words in Swahili it is a loan word from Arabic, as is the word "Swahili"   itself.  "Hussein" is not a Muslim name?  Baloney!  I have been around a lot and have never met anyone with the given name, Hussein, who was not a Muslim, but that does not make Barack Obama a Muslim.  He did not name himself.

And what if he were a Muslim?  What if he were a Jain, or a Sikh or a Baptist?  (The Baptist part was a joke.)

In any event. McCain should get his dogs under control.  He is truly playing with fire.  pl


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56 Responses to “Playing with Fire”

  1. Dunkleosteus says:

    Note: Obama is “not an Arab, but a decent man, family man.” As if being an Arab means one can’t be such person.
    Juan Cole, who is an expert on Middle East issues, has more on this.

  2. bstr says:

    Dear Sir, thank you for this post. You have stated very clearly what the danger of a cultural divde is in our political process.

  3. lina says:

    “Something must have happened to change his attitude.”
    Yeah, like internal polling showing his “unfavorable” numbers on the rise. Plus, the “angry mob” has become the central news story about the McCain campaign. Undecided voters are not going to be swayed his way by mob mentality. It’s also possible some Republicans have quietly told McCain if Obama gets assassinated, he’ll get blamed AND lose the presidency. Maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t want that little item in the first paragraph of his Wikipedia entry.
    God bless the Secret Service and the tireless work they do.
    And FYI to the McCain campaign hacks: The time to destroy your opponent’s character is August, not October.

  4. J says:

    If you watch McCain carefully, you will find that McCain drifts in to and out of his progressing Alzheimers. A sad thing to observe in anyone.

  5. frank durkee says:

    Since the tactic seems to be that they {Rep.s ] must sow significant doubt about Obama’s character in order to have a chance to win, it is doubtful if they will in fact stop. they may alter the focus somewhat. otherwise the race is very possibly over.
    Perhaps Acton’s dictum “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” needs to have an addendum about the ‘drive for power’ what this does is take all the coding off the right’s
    racism and manipulations and expose them to the light.

  6. fnord says:

    The worst of it is that it seems pre-meditated. When you study modern communication, you can see the iceberg of rightwing paranoic literature. And McCain/Palin is dipping into that black hole of human spirituality, hate.

  7. drongo says:

    General Omar Bradley had an Arabic first name. General Abizaid was ethnic Arab. Senator Mitchell of Northern Ireland fame was Lebanese by descent – an Arab nation.

  8. ServingPatriot says:

    It seems that the fire is already well and truly lit.
    And at this point, even if JSMiii made an all out effort to contain it, he’d be as helpless as the guy whose campfire blew into the tinder-dry forest. There’s hundreds of years worth of tinder out there in our country and the only apparent “brush clear” comes along when all boats get lifted on the rising tide. Since the end of the 20th Century, the tide has ebbed far and thus, the firefighting will be difficult.
    Ultimately, the best fire break will be a very clear and convincing win nationwide on 4 November. But, if it jumps that line, then the nativist/know-nothing/class fire the Palin/McCain/fundie crowd lit might just burn the whole country down. I can’t help but wonder if that is just what these secessionist & Darbyists are actually striving for.

  9. Dana Jone says:

    One thing I noticed in the so-called debate that I think hasn’t been commented on enough: When the Moderator asked the candidates to list their three top priorities, McCain had to write them down and make notes. Obama did not.
    This was very telling to me, and to others when I have pointed it out to them.
    Or perhaps it was just because it was past McCains bedtime?

  10. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    A quote of American tolerance from the 10th President of the US, who considered himself a Democrat-Republican, sheds light on the situation and reflects how our nation perhaps has fallen into arrested development. The president in 1843 reportedly wrote…
    “No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgment. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgment of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mohammedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the Constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political institutions… The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid… and the Aegis of the government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it.”
    But, alas, with that quote in mind, here is the surprise. President Tyler became a Confederate and led the Peace Conference in 1861.
    Life does trick expectations.
    And, for the sake of fairness, as George Orwell made clear in Homage to Catalonia, the political left sometimes becomes intolerant themselves from time to time. (oblique allusion to Picasso’s Guernica posted at another thread).
    And Paddy Chayefsky, better than anyone, described leftist intolerance brilliantly in the prophetic film, Network. Would the character Diana Christensen, played by Faye Dunaway, rabidly support Obama, if alive today? Me thinks so. Bet she would drive a car with the bumper sticker, Visualize Peace, as well and not think twice that the Democratic Platform, in fact, is racist, if Pappe and Carter are correct in their assessments of Gaza.
    That said, I am all but certain I am voting for Obama. Much preferred Colin Powell as our first African American US President back in 96 (and even Andrew Young before him) but much to respect about Obama. Of course, if Tyler is mentioned as the man who brilliantly described the American dream of religious freedom, some Obama voters would probably argue that Tyler should be erased from the collective memory via government law and Democratic political scientists. Stay tuned…

  11. Paul says:

    The event you make reference to is perhaps the one that took place in Bethlehem PA. Anyone who has been to (or through) Bethlehem knows that it is a town that is down on its luck and fortune since the steel mills closed several years ago. No doubt the citizens who took part in the rally are hard-working types who have not (and will not) benefitted from inheritance or six figure incomes – if they have incomes at all.
    I come from an area that suffered the same fate as Bethlehem. The citizens are decent and beer-drinking workers – the “Joe Sixpack” to whom Palin compares herself. Though I cannot speak to the personal habits of the fine citizens of Bethlehem, their equivalent in my former home town spend their time watching television. They are not a curious lot nor are they habitués of libraries or the internet. Their knowledge comes from television. With apologies to most (if not all of them), they can be classified as STUPID because a vote for McCain is a vote against their interests. They do not realize that the corporations that run the government outsourced their industries and jobs, made health care impossible for those on the low rung of society, and, if given their druthers, would subject Social Security and everything else to the Wall Street casinos.
    The common denominator for these afflicted people: they cannot abide blacks even if a black person offers a helping hand! To them, time stands still. They are desperate people who are easily led by false statements and promises.
    Very late last evening I had convinced myself to forego a read of the Troopergate report. When sleep escaped me, I started reading and became more alert and pleased. Everyone should read the report in its entirety for they will observe a soap opera that is superior to any ever broadcast. The pettiness and vindictiveness of Ms. Palin and her crew is alarming. The “First Gentleman” is something else; he comes across in this report as incongruent to Alaska’s government as the sound and smell of a fart in church. Imagining VP Palin and the “Second Gentleman” in the corridors of power is frightening.
    The best part of the report is unstated: McCain hand-picked her! What was he thinking?

  12. George Lowry says:

    When I was in the ninth grade I aspired to a career in photojournalism.
    I attended a rally in Pasadena for George Wallace as the American Independent Party
    candidate for President.
    I spent one semester of high school in suburban Dallas.
    There I orbited the outer periphery of a Young Americans for Freedom group.
    MY William Ayers moment, ya might say.
    I don’t recall either of those episodes as being as creepy as some of the video and
    audio from the Palin rallies. Maybe our bigots and aspirational fascists were a
    better class o’ cracker back then.
    The Placerville Pinko

  13. Bobo says:

    Yes, things are getting heated. But its just politics and the end of long presidential campaign. One side is calling another eratic (they mean he is nuttier than a fruitcake), some on this site are big proponents of this tactic. The other is homing in on the socialist, terrorist, crook side of the game.
    Now if we all took a breath and recollect all the names and inuendo that have been used in past campaigns this is mild. Give em a break.

  14. Will says:

    Obama’s father was of the Luo tribe in Kenya. Ironically that tribe is majority Christian and peaceful. They were not involved in the MauMau uprising against the British.
    Omar is the only Arabic name in the “white” English lexicon. In Black America, there are many Arabic names such as Jamal, Karim, etc. I’ve always wondered how the name of the second Kalif ever became popular. I guess through Muslim Spain?
    The slain Medal of Honor winner Navy SEAL Michael Mansour honored at McCain’s convention was Lebanese origin.
    The trouble w/ Lebanese is some admit to Arab, some claim Phoenician, some Marada. This is even though they were instrumental in coming up with the secular pan-Arab ideology and the Baath party as well as the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party.
    Identifying as Arab is like the outer coat, you can wear other inner garments such as Christian, Druze, Sunni, or Shiite. Arab identity means able to speak a common language, having a common culture, values, and literature. It doesn’t mean being an ARABIAN. But due to having lost so many wars and having been humiliated and vilified by the Israelis and their lobby for so many years there has been attrition. Many of the Egyptian Copts refuse to be Arabs. Many of Iraki Christians identify as Assyrians and they sport the Eagle of Sargon as their symbol. And then there are the Lebanese Marada (claiming Greek) descent) and the Phoenicians. The results of genetic DNA population studies by National Geographic and others are hotly debated.
    Senator Mitchell was doubly Lebanese. His Irish father was an orphan that had been adopted by a Lebanese family. John Abizaid the CENTCOM is not the only famous general. George Joulwan, who was a center at West Point, hence nicknamed the Coach for his football metaphors, was SACEUR. Col. James Jabara was the first American jet ace. I wrote a wikipedia article on captain teddy shapou, a world war II flying tiger. Elias Corey won a Nobel prize in Chemistry. There’s been one Lebanese Guv, Victor Atiyeh of Oregon, and about three or four senators.(Spencer Abraham, Abdnor, Abourezk, Mitchell, Sununnu)
    There’s only one state where the Arab vote is appreciable, Michigan at 5%.
    In NH, Sunnunu part Lebanese is running against Shaheen (sp) a governor who is married to a Lebanese.

  15. David W. says:

    This is where i’m from, so these attitudes don’t surprise me. To be fair, Minnesota and Wisconsin have a strong progressive Democratic tradition, of the Farm and Labor kind (DFL), however, like most of the country, there are plenty of ignorant cranks and haters. I witnessed this attitude firsthand in 2003, when I told my mother that I was marrying my wife, a Lebanese who grew up in France, due to the war). I’ll never forget her first words: ‘But…we’re at war with those people!’
    Inbred racism and hatred are somewhat natural, and endemic to a certain part of our population. However, the sensationalist and incendiary rhetoric of the Limbaughs, Hannitys, and O’Reillys, and the pro-war cheerleading of CNN all have the effect of throwing gasoline on this smoldering pile of ignorance, hate and resentment. It is not a coincidence, I think, that my parents get their ‘news’ from FOX and CNN.
    McCain got a taste of the power that Limbaugh and Hannity relish so much, and to his credit, he took a step back. Though diminishing, the demagogue machine remains. It looks a lot uglier in the light.

  16. Bill W, NH, USA says:

    The Republican Party could do themselves well by (not sure if it’s allowable, but..) recalling McCain and nominating a decent man, Ron Paul. Paul knows what needs to be done to get our economy back on track and part of that isn’t expanding the war in Afghanistan.

  17. Charles I says:

    What I am looking forward to, well, expecting, is the post-election fallout among the losing side. I predict right wing hysteria will make their performance to date look like that of cum laude graduates of Ms Manners’ How To win Friends and Influence People Finishing School. Angry, ignorant people reacting emotionally by seizing on simple otherness, Arabness, blackness, Muslimness will have their worst fears confirmed by the very fact that their emotional processing of reality has failed to produce the desired, comforting, clearly(to them) moral result.
    The resulting cognitive dissonance and intolerance will be wielded like a machete by the right that ratcheted up the with-us-or-agin-us culture wars in the first place. Debate has seen free speech painted as treasonous during time of permanent war. Inerrant, indignant intolerance has proved to a versatile political resource. It has been successfully used to stifle debate and delegitimize opponents, while obviating any examination of differing, less stridently promoted views. I expect it to be far baser that anything seen to date. My only sanguine hope is that the ignorance will be more fully exposed to the the clarifying light of day for the benefit of those not already too far gone down any handy emotionally protective rabbit hole.
    There will be a war against against an Obama presidency that will, I think, further reduce the standing of the U.S. The shrill pettiness and vindictiveness Paul notes above are the hallmark of the intolerant, morally certain, right-wing cretin, and the merely fearful and ignorant. Both are part of their armament against reason and product of their black and white, all or nothing, good vs evil context, aside from their intrinsic value as political weapons. That context makes fervent intolerant pushback a moral imperative that in turn justifies and demands their slimy anti-rational approach.

  18. Charles I says:

    p.s. I forsee the possibility of a third, more overtly religious and intolerant ” nativist and “know nothing” party emerging from defeat to confront ever mounting crises the only way they know how.

  19. Cieran says:

    And Paddy Chayefsky, better than anyone, described leftist intolerance brilliantly in the prophetic film, Network.
    And he depicted both the heroic and foolish nature of war in The Americaization of Emily. He also aptly described the chaos of left-wing 1960’s ideologies in The Hospital.
    But honestly… so what?
    What on earth does left-wing thinking from several decades ago have to do with McCain and Palin fomenting ethnic hatred and inciting violence today? Why bring up Faye Dunaway and Ilan Pappe as relevant evidence on the topic of GOP cultural intolerance?
    With all due respect, what point is served by introducing red herrings into the discussion?

  20. LJ says:

    I have to wonder if the Secret Service had a roll to play in McCain’s behavior–cease and desist.

  21. John Howley says:

    I expect Republicans to do more incitement of the their base even though it may turn off independents. Why?
    Because they have given up on the presidential race. What they fear most is that the people you describe simply tune out and stay home, producing a real collapse on Election Day. THAT would mean a big loss of seats in the Congress.
    So, Obama the terrorist is being used to mobilize their base voters to protect seats in Congress, not to defeat Obama.

  22. peg says:

    thank you for writing about this, Col Lang
    thank you, commenters.
    i learn a lot coming here! i find all of this useful when i speak with people in my area who only watch Fox News.

  23. Dan M says:

    Alzheimers? Maybe… but it seems to me McCain has being going along to get along.
    Have none of us other laughed along with a joke, then later realized it was cruel or racist, and regretted it. Or realized later that we should have spoken out against something?
    And this is an instance where laughing along not only might get us ahead, but get us ahead in what we truly believe is a noble cause (McCain actually believes Obama is bad for America, and he can “save” us).
    Is the noble cause more important than principle? A struggle for McCain, who at one time acted as of his own sense of honor was more important than partisan politics, and who still likes to believe that’s true about himself.
    So we have an instance where the angels of his better nature caused him, however briefly, to do the right thing.
    But the Rovian devil is still crouching on his shoulder and he will have to do much more before we can believe he has stopped taking its advice.

  24. srv says:

    As others have said, this century will be the final battle between religion and reason.
    The economic disaster we now see the edges of will be used by these people to rip apart whatever remaining social veneer remains. Obama just isn’t a socialist, he’s their antichrist.
    We can’t win carrying this dead weight around. We’ve been trying for over 150 years, and it isn’t going to work. We need to let these people go.

  25. charlottemom says:

    I’m hoping that Obama wins this election in a landslide (which it’s looking more like he will). These low-information individuals screaming for Obama’s head will no doubt still feel the same about him, but be less likely to lay it bear should he win in an election rout. Hopefully most will slink away.
    In a crowd of the like-minded, they can feel comfortable by passively participating with boo, and even an “we hate domestic terrorist-loving Obama,” but I think it’s a leap to see those attending McCain/Palin rallies (as individuals would seem fairly conventional rule followers) as dangerous to Obama or blacks or Obama supporters.
    Isn’t there always a danger that unhinged extremist(s) — who are always out there — would act on pandering slurs and accusations made by candidates and highlighted by media. Dangerous yes, but haven’t we been there.. this election’s mult-racial terrorist simpathizer was yesterday’s communist-loving Yankee, or some such slur?

  26. Mad Dogs says:

    At one of McSame’s rallys this past week, I remember watching some lost soul taking the microphone and plaintively asking (himself, McSame, the crowd?): “How did we find ourselves here?”
    And I thought to myself:
    1. How is it that you can’t even remember that you brought this all down upon yourselves?
    2. You and the rest of your cretin accomplices voted for it fool! Over and over again for the last 8 years!
    3. If ever a whine was due its time!
    And I suppose that after the rally, all these folks headed for the nearest Army Surplus store to pick up that one last order of freeze-dried before the mad dash home to scurry down into the bunker and await Armageddon.
    Hopefully they’ll not pop out again until Groundhog’s Day.

  27. Mark Logan says:

    Thank you and wonderfully well put. Conservatism it
    certainly isn’t.
    I registered no surprise at McCain’s balk. I get the feeling this business of trading of honor for power doesn’t sit well with him.
    Hasn’t quite got the hang of it yet. Until quite recently, it hasn’t been
    a prominent feature of his MO. Bless his ornery heart..

  28. trstone says:

    The mob can’t solve any problems, only create more.
    If in our history we needed a calm measured, need I say intelligent, response it is now!
    Agreed, BHO has not been overly specific, but he has not swung widely at the crisis(es). We have one president and that is unfortunately George “Herbert Hoover” Bush. It is his responsibility to lead and attempt to solve this crisis.
    The reality of it all is we, all working class Americans, are going to take it in the shorts, no matter who is elected! (It would serve JSM and the gop right to win).

  29. Matthew says:

    I think the euphemism for these people at McCain rallies is “low information voter.”
    Didn’t Plato say the government goes through four cycles: (1) dictatorship; (2) oligarchy; (3) democracy; and (4) [repeat].
    According to one report, most of these people are going to the rallies to see Palin. John Steward sent one of his “reporters” to interview people in Wasilla. Alaska is very, very far away.

  30. bcw says:

    as a black man i am afraid that there will be a backlash to an obama victory .

  31. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    I’m enjoying these comments. It’s like discovering that your neighbors really do have a world view that is not all that different from your own.
    Regarding Cieran’s comments about Sidney’s comments: The aphorism that past is prologue is important to remember as is the admonition of Santayana about the need to remember history. Seeing the past as a ‘red herring’ just doesn’t work for me.
    As to the long term fate of the Republican Party: I’m not sure that its end will be as apocalyptic as some are suggesting, but this election isn’t going to help it much.
    For example, there is growing evidence that religious affiliation (Southern Baptist) is a significant determinant of voting preference regardless of the voter’s socio-economic status. That is, this time around, voters appear to be more likely to vote for candidates whom they feel are sympathetic to their particular religious views even if, at a secular level, it may not be in their best interest to do so.
    At an earlier time, this was often said about the ‘poor whites’ who would not vote for a black man. Thus, although the ground may have changed from race to religion, a dysfunctional stereotype remains.
    My sense is that the groups that McCain-Palin has been speaking to fall into this category. Their energy is not so much directed to positive support for McCain but to the hope that he will honor their anger at having their religious views belittled or ignored. This is an easy fire to fan. And McCain has been doing it ever since he picked Palin as his running mate.
    Prior to Palin, social and religious conservatives were cool to McCain. After Palin, these same opinion leaders endorsed Palin and the ‘tingle’ she produced. Unfortunately, McCain’s insistence on focusing his campaign on satisfying this social conservative base has closed the ‘big tent’ to other voters who might otherwise vote for him.
    Given the profound nature of our economic crisis, and McCain’s difficulty in articulating a coherent approach to its solution, there’s a strong possibility that the only people who will vote for McCain are religious conservatives. And, that as a result, the electoral vote for Obama will be a landslide.
    Where will this leave the Republicans as a national party? Will they even be able to maintain the hope of a ‘big tent?’ Perhaps Andrew Sullivan is right when he suggests:
    . . . What this [McCain] campaign may be doing is stripping most secular Republicans and independents from the GOP coalition. We could be left with a purely sectarian-Christianist rump, which will control the GOP for a generation. And McCain will have distilled Rove’s religious coalition in eight weeks more effectively than Bush in eight years!

  32. Rumored that death threats serious enought to require Secret Service inquiries are running at historic high against Candidate OBAMA! Hope not true!

  33. Will says:

    it appears that MODO agrees w/ the Col. but it’s hard to tell. writes in a dead tongue.
    “Manes Julii Caesaris paucis diebus aderant — “O, most bloody sight!” — cum Ioannes McCainus, mavericus et veteranus captivusque Belli Francoindosinini, et Sara Palina, barracuda borealis, qui sneerare amant Baracum Obamam causa oratorii, pillorant ut demagogi veri, Africanum-Americanum senatorem Terrae Lincolni, ad Republicanas rallias.
    “Cum Quirites Americani ad rallias Republicanas audiunt nomen Baraci Husseini Obamae, clamant “Mortem!” “Amator terroris!” “Socialiste!” “Bomba Obamam!” “Obama est Arabus!” “Caput excidi!” tempus sit rabble-rouseribus desistere “Smear Talk Express,” ut Stephanus Colbertus dixit. Obama demonatus est tamquam Musulmanus-Manchurianus candidatus — civis “collo-cerviciliaris” ad ralliam Floridianam Palinae exhabet mascum Obamae ut Luciferis.
    “Obama non queretur high-tech lynching. Sed secreto-serventes agentes nervosissmi sunt.

  34. m savoca says:

    i do not fear any nationality nor any religion.
    i fear ignorant minds that do not question and will not entertain the opinion of others who question.

  35. Jon T. says:

    Wordsmiths and linguists to the front please, on the double: we need to create a word or two for the TV audience – a focus, an illuminator.
    Bullies, people who know God’s will and have no room for God to be God and guide us, those who must control, they speak, and a mass of humans listen. Those listeners seem deaf and blind. Perhaps not though, perhaps not.
    Mr. Obama has not once got heavy. Mrs. Hockey Mom, listen up. In hockey when you attack the opposing teams star player, the de facto, self regulating rule of the hockey rink is that team’s enforcer will confront your team’s toughest player. No waiting for the league, the referees. It is handled by the players. They know there will be repercussions and take them.
    Mr. Obama has not gone anywhere near questioning Joel’s Army, The Wassila Commission, or The Casting Out of Witches that are behind the question of “What was McCain thinking when selecting Ms. Palin?” He has not approached The Finish of The Crusades that lurks in the language and gatherings of the Republicans.
    We cannot call them “Evil” “Liars” “Accusers”. That would be akin to a dirty hit in the hockey analogy. We need a clean solid hit – one that says, “We got this man’s back”. And we will keep him safe and we will lead from the front.
    Wordsmiths and linguists come forward please. We need to construct a way to communicate to beer drinking, insult slinging, power plant operating, TV watching men and women who respond to Todd, the man who WON the longest snowmobile race in Alaska four times. Those people hear in their own way. Talk to them in their own language.
    Today I worked at West Point and again was impressed by the courage and dedication of the soldier leaders there. I am awaiting
    ” The soldier and the state : the theory and politics of civil-military relations” by Samuel P. Huntington so I can learn something about that as I feel we are going to soon need some VERY courageous men and women in our military – and not for overseas duty – for integrity and dignity and to uphold the Constitution here.
    P.S. Being a prisoner of war is not a qualification for President of the United States. It is a qualification for a PTSD rehab at Montrose Veterans Hospital for 30 days followed by intensive outpatient treatment one day at a time. Patience, courtesy, integrity, dignity, courage, calm under pressure, clear thinking under pressure – that’s Presidential.
    PPS Take this if someone likes it: Where’s Abe Lincoln when we need him? A tall strong man from Illinois once led us at a time when we were divided and helped heal the country. Another tall, strong man from Illinois can do that right now, today.

  36. kao-hsien-chih says:

    Thank you, Colonel, for pointing this out in your blog.
    This is truly something that approaches an outrage–and that this sort of thing is openly taking place at campaign events for a major party presidential candidate is truly dismaying.
    The only thing that comes even close to this, as far as I can tell, was the attack on Al Smith for his “rum and Romanism.” (although I’d imagine that Governor Smith was probably more fond of whiskey) But then, the attacks weren’t quite so visible as now.

  37. kao-hsien-chih says:

    John Howley,
    I think this sort of antics are doing more than just turning off the “independents.” Many Republicans are not exactly yahoos like these…and they will want to distance themselves from this sort of nonsense.
    In other words, whoever’s behind this is destroying the Republican party’s own future–by making it a gang of lunatics–just for the sake of a now increasingly hopeless campaign. If I were still a Republican, i’d consider quitting now.

  38. condfusedponderer says:

    even if it is just a crowd ‘getting into the mood’, passive bystanders can encourage those with a more hands-on attitude.

  39. charlottemom says:

    Of course the passive “mobster” who boos and cat-calls CAN encourage the more active “mobster” into rioting or other law breaking and harm. And yes, I think it is terribly ignorant behavior. However, is this McCain/Palin mob different from other elections? Or more potentially harmful?
    If anything, this mob is scaring away the moderate McCain supporter and the mob gets smaller. Also how about the “mob” that booed Palin at hockey game equally dangerous?

  40. Arun says:

    Obama is competitive in West Virginia (go to pollster.com and look at the trend lines).
    I think there is something really positive here; and what we hear in the McCain/Palin rallies is the fearful gibbering of Sauron as he loses the one ring “that in the darkness binds them” – namely, the southern strategy will no longer work. The era of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove may be ending.

  41. Cieran says:

    The aphorism that past is prologue is important to remember as is the admonition of Santayana about the need to remember history. Seeing the past as a ‘red herring’ just doesn’t work for me.
    The relevant past is indeed prologue, but the irrelevant is not.
    So consider this: the GOP smear machine is spewing hateful guilt-by-association diatribes based on a tenuous connection between Bill Ayers and Barack Obama, and somehow light is supposed to be shed on this McCainiac misbehavior by postulating an infinitely more tenuous connection between Obama and a fictional character from a classic 1976 movie.
    Somehow, I don’t think Santayana would agree…
    That approach is not “past as prologue”. It’s merely a doubled-down version of the associative fallacy, a.k.a. a red herring.
    Besides, if Chayefsky’s classic movie “Network” were cast in today’s world, Diane Christensen would be a producer for Fox News, and would not be sporting Obama bumper stickers for fear of offending her boss Rupert Murdoch. “Network” is not about left-wing ideology: it’s about corporate greed. Its left-wing agitators are pure capitalists, because they commit acts of political terrorism for corporate money, not for ideology.
    If one wants to watch Chayefsky movies that poke holes in the fabric of 1960’s left-wing ideologies, a better choice is “The Hospital”, with George C. Scott in top form, and with the incomparable Diana Rigg in the all-star cast as well.
    That movie’s scenes of left-wing urban protest are classics, and Chayefsky’s prescient critique of failed American approaches to health care is still painfully relevant today.

  42. Brian Hart says:

    The Republican party gained and maintained power these last eight years by promoting willful ignorance. A party of no nothings. Rallies like lynch mobs. Ignorance as virtue. Our country deserves better from its leaders.

  43. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Alvnal and Cieran,
    Alvnal, I agree with you re: the voting trends of Southern Baptists, at least to this date. I, however, would expand it to include the evangelical dispensationalists from coast to coast — the crowd so well described by Prof. Kiracofe here at sst. His upcoming book appears vitally important for national debate!
    Aren’t you trained in psychology? So much of the past few years has reminded me of passages in Jung’s book, Man and His Symbols, where Jung writes about how different cultures can project the more negative aspects of themselves onto the other without realizing that their own actions are the same. Jung, if I remember correctly, was taking from Freud’s idea that an entire nation can suffer collectively from a “dysfunction” and project it outward onto other nations (the theme from Freud’s book, Civilization and it Discontents, if I remember correctly).
    But perhaps the same dynamic occurs not only between nations but within a nation as well. And such a dynamic causes societal and cultural fragmentation.
    And while I agree with you that, demographically speaking, a certain religious strata of American society appears to have coalesced around the McCain campaign, I am not sure if, ultimately, the experience is properly described as “religious”, as you are well aware. The Rapture movement, at least as described by Hagee, appears fueled not by the religious or transcendent experience but, instead, by a racial or racist animus, once you pull back the religious pretext and look behind the mask.
    So we are back to the age old problem of a collective racial experience, while enormously and overwhelmingly powerful, masquerading behind the mask of a religion. (At this point, I’ll resist the temptation to apply the same analysis to other movements, including, dare I say, the more extreme aspects of black liberation theology, which I quickly add is rejected by the majority of African Americans).
    As I wrote elsewhere, 9-11 and the Iraqi invasion pretty much shattered the American ethos, much like a brick thrown through a beautiful stained glass window. All we can do is pick up the different shards from the American experience and try to create something new. As a result, at this stage, I am inclined to cross examine all historical assumptions by often relying on certain historical analogies, if that makes sense.
    The best I can do right now is argue that no traditional political ideology answers our problems. The only ideology I can even remotely promote is an idea from the school of realism that the goal in 2008 is to restore a balance of power particularly between the branches of the federal government and between the feds and the states. Such an idea rejects all messianic movements, whether it be Marxism, anarcho-capitalism, and what War Eagle Raimondo brilliantly has called the movement of “The Establishment Messiah” (establishment adoration of you know who).
    The best we can hope for is a type of peace when everything is in “balance”, which is only temporary and fleeting, if it happens at all. And the measures that must be taken in 2008 to restore balance are perhaps different from that which would be taken in 1960 or 1910 or 1850 or any other time. (for example, I doubt very seriously, I’d reconsider Lincoln’s legacy if it were 1908, but today, yes, as his actions have limited the ability for state legislatures to prevent the rise of an imperial executive branch).
    And finally, as for the Spanish Civil War, I find it of relevance as it pitted the fascists against the “left”, which may echo our political landscape today. And from an American perspective, it occurred during a time of economic depression. But more than anything else, it foreshadowed a catastrophic world war that resulted in the death of untold millions. So Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia is worth a gander, in my view.
    BTW, I respect greatly Bill H. of New Hampshire’s decision to vote for Paul. Paul is man of moral courage and that’s what it will take to restore a balance of power, in my view. And only Paul has mentioned the dangers of a federal government where the balance of power no longer exists. Moral courage in the political sphere may be more important than “charisma” in the long run. So hat tip to Bill H. of New Hampshire.

  44. Cieran says:

    I find myself in agreement with you on most of these topics (save for cinema, of course), and I think that you and Alnval are on to something important here, e.g., with this:
    And while I agree with you that, demographically speaking, a certain religious strata of American society appears to have coalesced around the McCain campaign, I am not sure if, ultimately, the experience is properly described as “religious”, as you are well aware. The Rapture movement, at least as described by Hagee, appears fueled not by the religious or transcendent experience but, instead, by a racial or racist animus, once you pull back the religious pretext and look behind the mask.
    I believe that the broad acceptance of dispensationalism in the American protestant community, coupled with the whole rapture/end-times eschatological foolishness, is arguably the most important trend in American politics today, because it has created an immense class of voters who are happy to elect morons like Bush to high office, and who are then equally happy to complain bitterly about the outcome of those electoral choices… and all while blissfully ignoring the obvious connection between the two.
    It used to be the case that we got the government we deserved, but increasingly we get the government that Hagee and Haggert and their ilk prefer, and that’s got to change if we are ever to get this country back on track towards a reality-based future.
    Dispensationalism as practiced in much of the US is little more than the theological equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme. Mouth the right words, hate the right people, vote as you’re told, and you’ll soon land in heaven without the muss and fuss of actually dying.
    It’s no surprise that this belief appeals to Americans, as we have a broad streak of exceptionalism-fueled entitlement, apparently including believing we are entitled to deliverance into the blissful hereafter during our lifetimes.
    That kind of thing doesn’t make much sense to a recovering papist like me, but it sure seems to turn out the vote for the wingnuts of the GOP.

  45. doug says:

    Reminds me of Doug Feith’s interview with Lang:
    “He says, ‘Is it really true that you really know the Arabs this well, and that you speak Arabic this well? Is that really true? Is that really true?’
    “And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s really true.’
    “That’s too bad,” Feith said.
    The culture of ignorance is quite ingrained. Even in high places. Sad.

  46. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Re Cieran’s & Sidney’s most recent comments:
    Points taken: The issue for me, however, at its root, remains whether the McCain campaign has effectively maneuvered the national Republican Party into a situation that puts it on the road to extinction.
    If the majority of folks who support the RP are those who view the world through the lens of a faith-based belief system that does not serve their practical, reality-based needs, then how can they be expected to become constructive participants in achieving the reality-based political ‘balance’ that Sidney refers to? Granted that we have no more room or need for messianic political movements, who then is going to draw the circle that includes them in?
    They’re not going to go away and they’re too valuable as citizens to be ignored.
    ‘Playing with Fire’ indeed.

  47. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Hi Cieran:
    I too agree with much of what you write, and if you have any good film recommendations, let us know.
    And I probably should disclose that, despite the economic chaos (and de facto creation of a one world bank?), I remain an one issue voter. US foreign policy, particularly that in the Middle East, remains my number one priority and will remain so as long as the USM continues deployed in large numbers in that part of the world. So US foreign policy is the focal point. I care about little else in the political world.
    I can’t really say much about “recovering papists”. I don’t lead a religious life (understatement) but I respect the authentic ones that do. And some of them I respect very much, in part because I don’t have that kind of talent.
    But, that said, I must tell you that one of the few places where I have witnessed an authentic “post racial” community was when I visited an urban parish in Atlanta several months ago. No doubt about it. Race consciousness had no relevance at all and the congregation was truly of an universal mix — old Atlanta bluebloods, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians and so on and so on.
    Is it possible that the path to an authentic post racial society leads through institutions considered “conservative?” I dunno’ but the USM deserves credit for the work they accomplished in race relations, particularly in the 1980’s. I researched their techniques several years ago and the results were surprising. (It is one reason I preferred Colin Powell as our first African American US President. It also is the reason I started reading the works of Shelby Steele and perhaps is one reason I mention Chayevsky’s film.)
    And just to try to confuse the issues re: Southern Baptists even more so, which, of course, I thoroughly enjoy, I must relate to you an event in my life. As God is my witness, one of the most courageous and perhaps even spiritual, people I have ever come across in my life was a little ol’ Southern lady who was a Baptist. At the time (years ago), I was a prosecutor handling a bloody knife fight between two Vietnamese men who lived in the town where I was then working. Both Vietnamese men were Southern Baptists (breaking the stereotype of Southern Baptists right there) but the defendant was wealthy while the victim was dirt poor. But this little ol’ white “country” lady, in her 70’s, was willing to testify on behalf of the poor Vietnamese victim. I’ll never forget her. Gutsy.
    And doubtless if some of the left had been engaged in Baptist profiling, which I certainly am prone to do as much as if not more than others, she would have been brushed aside and categorized as racist, ect.
    And remember the famous photo of the little Vietnamese girl running down a road with napalm burns? If memory serves me correctly, she eventually converted to Christianity and became a Baptist. And in the mid 1990’s she placed a wreath at the Vietnam memorial Wall. (need to verify that but I am pretty sure I read about such).
    And, finally, Huckabee stood up and defended some of Rev. Wright’s statements.
    I grew up with a lot of Southern Baptists (white and black) and obviously have parted ways with them over the Rapture movement. But many are decent folks, at least compared to my hell raising days. And no doubt a few have pulled me through tough times. So I don’t blame them per se. My disagreement is more with the words from the pulpit by people they trust. And if the USM was not deployed in the Middle East, I probably would not even care about that.

  48. GOPnot4me says:

    In re: Alzheimer’s
    As a health care pro for 35+ years now, I’ve been concerned about Sen. McCain for about 6 months now.
    The stress of the campaign shows more and more each week now.
    The changes in his appearance and locution lead me to suspect some HTN or stroke-related problems.
    He sure looks older than just a year ago and older than most of the 71 year olds we treat on a daily basis.
    He also seems to do better earlier in the day, which may indicate “sundowner’s” syndrome, an early symptom of dementia.
    My hopes are for his good health. I just don’t know.

  49. zanzibar says:

    This seems to be prelude to the launch of the right wing attack and hate machine that will be far more virulent than what Bill Clinton faced.
    Divisive politics and hate is a tactic that have served these people well. They also have the media outlets for the propaganda.
    An Obama presidency may feel its under siege. With deep rooted political and economic issues to deal with and the constant froth at the mouth spouting of the hate machine.

  50. Patrick Lang says:

    Nobody cares what the piece of calligraphy at the head of the post says? pl

  51. Tyler says:

    Col Lang:
    All praise to Allah, the wise, the merciful, the compassionate?

  52. Cieran says:

    Nobody cares what the piece of calligraphy at the head of the post says? pl

    We care… but for me, at least, I have absolutely no clue what it means, and I figure you’ll tell us when you’re ready to.
    Could you please be ready now? Inquiring minds, etc…

  53. Patrick Lang says:

    It says “Hussein,” and most beautifully as well. pl

  54. Binh says:

    What happens to the McCain-Palin lynch mob when Obama becomes president? Seems like the Secret Service will have its work cut out for them.

  55. I care about the calligraphy and am dismayed I can’t make it out. Am just returning to the internet after 3 weeks’ spotty access while traveling in South Lebanon and Damascus. Will read the rest of the comments for the (hoped-for) answer, but am registering my interest here.
    Best wishes to all. Everybody in South Lebanon I talked to, especially Shi’ite men and women in the streets, assured me they love Americans, just not American leaders who “send death” to them. I heard a lot of talk that seemed heartfelt about how they want unity and an end to religious confessionalism.
    I did not hear this from some of my Christian relatives but others are more hopeful. The Christians of South Lebanon feel under pressure — so many have emigrated and their villages are half empty.
    The economy looks pretty good.
    In Damascus, my Shi’ite Lebanese taxi driver sang a few lines of a song to the “Enduring South” (inti samed ya Jounub) to the Syrian soldier who checked us out of the taxi garage. The soldier broke into a huge smile and said “I was just singing that song this morning when I woke up.”
    There are posters of B. As’ad and Nasrallah all over Damascus, especially at the edges of the old Christian quarter, which it seems houses a growing population of Shi’a (in the area that was once Jewish). But Christian shops, too, post Nasrallah pictures along with As’ad. I saw only one yellow Hezbullah flag – in an antique store on Straight Street, by the East Gate. ???
    Damascus is full of tourists, mostly Europeans. Not a hotel room available last weekend.

  56. Wow I would never have read Hussein. It looks like the little dots for the “y” are separated, maybe? Beautiful indeed.

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