Setting the Record Straight

October 25, 2008

Obama Has Not Won!

Why They Keep Campaigning

     There have been a lot of statements of late that the presidential race is over and that Barack Obama has won. Not so.

     That type of speculation is a result of frequent nationwide polls showing how a person would have voted on that date. The Obama lead appears to be rising, according to those polls. But those polls are weighing sentiment on a national basis and the election is not counted that way; it is counted on a state-by-state basis as the electoral college.

     There are 538 electoral votes, so a candidate in a two-person race, which this is as far as the electoral college is concerned, needs 270 to secure the presidency.



     Using this New York Times map, updated as of Oct. 24, a count of electoral college votes shows Obama with only 196 electoral votes among the states counted as favoring him and highly unlikely to vote otherwise, i.e., the blue states.

     States with another 90 votes are counted as leaning blue. If all of them voted blue, that would give Obama 286 votes, or 16 more votes than he needs to win.

     In addition to any of those nine states being capable of turning the other way by just about anything, from an international crisis or terrorist attack that would favor John McCain, or some credible scandal involving Obama—he still faces the same problem he has had since he entered the race. It is racism.

     The Times map is based on state-by-state polling, and as we and others have said repeatedly, polling does a poor job of uncovering racism, in part because racists usually don’t believe they are. The depth of racism in this country will only be known when it is too late, when the ballots are counted, or in the case of the plan by Republican supporters to challenge registrations in pro-Obama areas, not counted.

     If the race is close, we can expect an outpouring of electoral college bashing once again by the losing side. It will be misplaced. If anything, that voting system is more necessary than ever. This past year has served to underscore once again how uninformed the American people have become, and so intellectually lazy they can be swayed by just about any simpleton overture. That argues mightily for the protection the electoral college offers.



October 22, 2008

GOP’s November Surprise: Part III

 Acorns to Chestnuts 

     Here are excerpts of what FactCheck.Org says about John McCain’s claims of voter fraud being perpetrated by the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (Acorn):

     –“Neither Acorn nor its employees have been found guilty of, or even charged with, casting fraudulent votes. What a McCain-Palin Web ad calls ‘voter fraud’ is actually voter registration fraud. Several Acorn canvassers have been found guilty of faking registration forms and others are being investigated. But the evidence that has surfaced so far shows they faked forms to get paid for work they didn’t do, not to stuff ballot boxes.”

     –“Obama’s path has intersected with Acorn on several occasions–more often than he allowed in the final debate.”

     –“Destroying Democracy?

     “The McCain ad accuses Acorn of ‘massive voter fraud.’ In the final presidential debate, John McCain added that Acorn ‘is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fab ric of democracy.’ Sounds scary, but is it true?”

     –“There is no evidence of any such democracy-destroying fraud.” 

     –“No evidence has yet surfaced to show that the Acorn employees who submitted fraudulent registration forms intended to pave the way for illegal voting. Rather, they were trying to get paid by Acorn for doing no work.”

     –“Acorn pays canvassers by the hour, not by the form, but it does ask them to meet certain registration goals.”

     –“In its defense, Acorn says that only a few of its 13,000 paid canvassers turned in any faked forms.”


 Voter Registration

     Obviously, for the American voting system, or that of any democracy for that matter, to work as intended, there must be a system in place to be sure voters are counted only once in an election.

     Without registration that allows the voter to be assigned to a single locale, potential voters could wander around town casting votes in every polling place.

     The system used to verify the accuracy of registration varies according to states and even localities, so it should come as no surprise many systems are far from perfect.

     In Wisconsin, the state elections board is composed of six retired judges. When they ran their own registrations through the new state database designed to match registrations against other state records, such as Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses, four of the judges’ registrations were rejected.

     Similar problems are cropping up in many other states in database systems created to comply with the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

     The Washington Post reports scores of voters being rejected in Alabama because their names are the same as those of convicted felons, who are barred from voting by the U.S. Constitution.

     All these are mistakes of the system and not necessarily of any nefarious attempt to deny some people, particularly classes of people, the right to vote Nov. 4.

     Because of the furor raised by McCain/Palin and their allegations of fraud, the FBI is reported to be looking into the situation. Police in several cities also are checking out fraud allegations.


 Tying Obama to Acorn

     Barack Obama came on the public scene in Chicago as a “community organizer.” Acorn is an alliance of community organizer groups that work in cities all over the country. Thus, Obama would have interacted with the organization on some level.

     He does have additional ties, however minor.

     According to FactCheck.Org, Obama directed a registration drive in Chicago for Project Vote, often allied with Acorn.

     He was one of several lawyers representing Acorn is suing Illinois to allow “motor voter” registration at DMV offices.

     He served on the board of the Woods Fund that awarded grants to Acorn’s Chicago office.

     Obama’s campaign paid Citizens Services, a group also associated with Acorn, $800,000 for a get-out-the-vote efforts aimed at getting people to vote in the primary.

     It is not surprising, then, that Acorn favors Obama for the presidency.

     But Acorn never honored Obama by having him as the keynote speaker at any of their major events.

     That honor went to John McCain, who not only showed up and spoke at the group’s 2006 rally, he praised the organization for its efforts.


October 20, 2008

GOP’s November Surprise

Acorns, Buckeyes & Chestnuts
     Racism may be the elephant in the voting booth Nov. 4, but there is an even bigger elephant already in the room this election season that Americans have overlooked. It is just beginning to get some attention.
     Groups with strong Republican ties, including GOP groups themselves, have been waging a war of sorts around the country that goes beyond the current effort to create a scandal involving the Acorn voter-registration group and to tie it to the Democrats through Barack Obama.
     The effort to smear Obama with Acorn is just a small part of a much larger picture. The apparent true purpose of creating an Acorn scandal is to give credibility, legal and otherwise, to Republican backers who want to negate the newly registered voters Democrats are counting on Nov. 4.
     That effort meshes with several other GOP-led tactics already underway, including a purging even of voters who may have been registered for years, but who may not live in a Zip Code attached to a lily- white suburb. The Zip Code tactic is called “caging” in the  world of direct-marketing. And that will bring us around to an old name in GOP politics, Richard Viguerie, who is alive and well and living in Virginia—and still operating.
     Operating through the McCain/Palin campaign and the right-wing network of e-mails and other spam, the strategy appears to be to keep your mind on Acorn while the GOP deals itself a card from the bottom of the deck.
     As one of the McCain/Palin campaign’s tactics of “guilt by association,” it is beating the drums saying Obama has ties to Acorn, which the campaign also says is engaged in fraud as the group sends out volunteers around the country to sign up new voters.
     The example cited most often as evidence of fraud is that in some places voter registration cards have been turned in to county clerks bearing the name “Mickey Mouse,” and in Nevada, the Dallas Cowboys football team’s starting lineup. The GOP, with the McCain/Palin campaign providing its voice, extrapolates those anecdotes to say there is nationwide fraud going on.
     The big lie is being delivered like a drumbeat by John McCain, who says Acorn “may be destroying the fabric of democracy.” Not true. It seems it is the GOP operatives who are setting things up to “destroy the fabric of democracy” come election day.
     Get this straight. McCain/Palin are telling you all these people who registered falsely, whether as “Mickey Mouse” or common names, are going to show up on election day and present false IDs, supposedly even a driver’s license for “Mickey Mouse” with a likeness of the would-be voter, and be allowed to cast a vote. Get real. And how about all those duplicate registrations claimed. One person is going to be allowed to vote over and over? Get real.
     The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now was begun in the 1960s by community organizations populated by “community organizers,” of which, of course, Obama was one.
     The purpose of those organizers was to help people with low to moderate incomes survive and work in a democracy that more often than not is stacked against them. To that end, Acorn began helping people in those income classes to register to vote so they would have a greater say in that system stacked against them.
     Unfortunately, Acorn, spurred the past two years by a community organizer with a shot at the presidency, stepped up its voter-registration drive. Part of that nationwide effort involved paying volunteers $2 per registration as an incentive to work hard. It was a bit naïve to think many of the volunteers would not be dishonest when the chance to earn more money was involved. It should come as no surprise people at the low end of the scale would be just as greedy as those at the top, just not as successful at it.
     In fact, what is being done may not even be a crime in many jurisdictions. The crime would be if the would-be voter registered as Mickey Mouse showed up with ID made out to Mickey Mouse and bearer actually attempted to use it to vote. That would be the fraud John McCain claims already is going on. But if any laws are being violated they should be prosecuted along with those behind the effort.
     But, as noted, making that situation a campaign issue is only the tip of the iceberg of what is going on here. The real fraud is being perpetrated by Republican groups behind the scenes.

Next: Core of the Plot: Part II


October 12, 2008

Shut Up, Racism & Chairman McCain

Metaphorical Musings

     Does anyone else get the feeling Dubya would be more effective during this financial crisis if he would just shut up?

     He was whistling past the graveyard before the muck hit the fan, and since the meltdown began he has been fiddling as the U.S. economy goes down in flames.

     Climbing out of that paragraph of mixed metaphors, we should note that other countries quit listening to him years ago and have been wondering why his constituents still do.


     Back when we were still in the throes of the primaries, we wrote that racism would be the elephant in the voting booth in November when all of the racists who told pollsters they were not (most actually do not believe they are racists) actually cast their ballots in secret.

     The McCain/Palin campaign’s advisers also have known that and that is the reason the two have been whipping their audiences into a fever, with Sarah Palin even failing to rebuke a man who yelled “kill him” as she repeated her Barack-Obama-pal-of-a-terrorist claim.

     That campaign has now discovered it has been shaking a bag with a Tasmanian devil inside and is not sure how to deal with it. John McCain finally cautioned one of his audiences about hateful remarks, but then rebuked John Lewis, a black congressman, for pointing out in an op-ed piece the racist undertones of the campaign’s mud-slinging.


     It is curious, as the financial meltdown becomes increasingly serious, that the McCain/Palin campaign has little, if anything, to say about it. We know why Palin does not—George Bush looks somewhat knowledgeable by comparison—but why not McCain?

     As our Veritas reminds us, McCain once acknowledged he knew little about economics, later joined Bush and company in the graveyard whistling ding dong, the economy’s strong, and immediately after referred to the economy in crisis.

     We’ll take him at his word about the deficit in his knowledge of economics, but since he has been in the Senate, he has served on and even chaired for several years, the Senate committee that is all about regulations.

     That perhaps, is why he has been quiet about the economy when he is on the stump—it might lead to questions about his and his party’s deregulatory past, the past that allowed the runaway greed that created today’s tumbling house of cards.

     As the hate-Obama campaign begins to backfire, look for McCain to make some specific economy-repairing proposals, but be assured they will not be aimed at the little guy. They will be true-blue Republican and all about businesses and those with enough disposable income to be investors.


September 10, 2008

McCain/Palin’s Eau de Rove

McCain/Palin/Rove and Lies

     Okay. We’ve had enough. We’ve been criticized for being too strident and critical, but this presidential campaign is going too far.

     Both campaigns, as is the wont of national campaigns, are guilty of at least stretching the truth, but the campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin has reached the point it raises some suspicions worth noting.

     One can expect neophyte Palin to go overboard and repeat false phrases that appeal to the right-wing nuts, but McCain knows better. You might not agree with him, but McCain is not a right-winger and always has been, as can be said of another senator we have known—Joe Biden—a straight shooter. What you got was what he was.

     McCain, wearing a “Navy” ball cap in rural campaign stops for two obvious reasons (trust us–he is not the ball cap-wearing type), keeps repeating that Palin sold the Alaskan governor’s jet plane on E-bay, at a profit. She did neither; she tried but failed at both. But the phrase is a kick-ass crowd-pleaser.

     Palin keeps saying she stopped the “bridge to nowhere” boondoggle, i.e., earmark, enabled by the state’s two Republican senators. It turns out she was for it before she was against it after it had failed, and she kept the earmark money.

     Neither incident is worth mentioning in a national campaign. Both should be dismissed as nothing more than the fodder of shouting tabloid-cable. But they are obvious examples of a campaign that is spewing many lies, including many about the views of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

     The effort to create a vice president-pick myth out of whole-cloth, attractive to the belching-bubba crowd, is straight out of the playbook of Karl Rove. We can’t prove it, but the suspicion is Rove advised the George W. Bush White House that lying always work, that if you repeat one often enough, it will be believed.

     It would seem the McCain/Palin campaign is being advised by Rove. He now is a commentator on baldly conservative FOX, but one has to ask what other hat is he wearing.

     Yes, the Obama/Biden camp, mostly in its commercials, is guilty of stretching the truth, as most political campaigns are wont to do. But straight-out lying is beyond the pale and illustrative of a candidate who would bring no change from the current administration.

     We are talking here only of the presidential campaigns. But all political e-mails and blogs need to be examined for facts. Partisans of both sides, but not connected with either campaign, are spreading unsubstantiated lies, including a well-circulated one spreading lies about Palin.

     There are many on-line non-partisan services available for distilling truth from the fiction being spread. One we have championed is, another is, and many individual newspapers provide similar services.


July 19, 2008

Flip-Flop, Flop-Flip

Will the Real Flip-Flopper Please Stand Up?
          Consider the ineffable unpredictability of the presidential campaign.
          Much of it is puzzling and too much of it is personal. Bottom line: I wish the candidates would talk only about their own pro- posals to get the country out of what we on this site call “The Bush Messes.” Economy, environment, war, world standing, security, debt, housing, crime, you name it.
          Barack Obama proposed a specific timetable for with- drawal from the Iraq fiasco. Even some of his friends were uneasy. Then he “clarified,” but seemed to modify, that. His enemies were energized and derisive. Flip-flop, they said.
          Then, even Nouri al-Maliki, our puppet in Iraq, and some in the Bush administration are thinking of a timetable, albeit of varying intensity. John McCain continues to believe the U.S. presence in Iraq is a very long-term one. That position brought him considerable moans of dismay.
           McCain was ragging Obama about not having gone to the hot spots in the Middle East. The hidden message was, I have been there, even been kept in a bestial prison.
          But then, when Obama announced his several-stops trip to the region, the McCain reaction was, When I went it was to form my policies; but when Obama is going, it is AFTER he has an- nounced his policies.
          Obama said he would talk with foreign leaders, even some who are very unfriendly to the United States. The Bush adminis- tration derided the idea of talking to the “evil.”
          But now, the Bush administration has caught something of the national mood, and decided to talk with Iran. An undersecre- tary of State, in fact, just met with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, but just to listen, his bosses said. The Bush administration still does not call the discussions free conversations; the Bush condition is: Iran must first pledge to end its nuclear enrichment that would prepare it for a nuclear weapon.
          The fact is, despite the continuing angry national debate about the wars, it seems most Americans are worried about the increasingly desperate American economy. Instead of ragging their opponents, the candidates should flesh out every day their ideas on that issue.
          McCain is wedded to a continuation, even perpetuation, of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, which largely brought us to this deep recession because the increased money in rich hands did not help across the board. The old trickle-down idea (remember David Stockman?) that the rich would invest and hire, and help us all, did not work.
          Obama makes the possibly impossible pledge that he will balance the budget in his years in office, with some new tax breaks for the middle class, but restoring some of the old tax rates for the very rich.
          Both candidates should be held to the standard: List spe- cifically how your ideas add up to your promises.
          Complicating the campaigns of both Obama and McCain is the behavior of Congress. But the argument of a selfish, do-noth- ing-good Congress ignores some of the facts of the legislative/- presidential process.
          Even with a slender Democratic majority in Congress, the president still has the veto power, which means every piece of legislation has to have a “super-majority” to get past him. So the Democrats have an argument in that way. But they still have to defend their continuing support of the greedy habit by both parties of passing “earmarks,” those special home-district projects not subjected to the usual scrutiny in the legislative process.
          And the silly sidebar of the election campaign: When you are in the Senate and running for president, you must schedule carefully so you are in the Senate at just the right moment for some very important things–and absent, campaigning, for the rest. The trouble is, your opponent is watching and can say, “Oh my; my opponent did not see fit to be in the Senate when the important Hangnail Control Act of 2008 was debated today. Shame on him.”
          And this tongue-in-cheek comment about this year’s cam- paigns: Considering the statements that have hurt the candidates the most in this interminable campaign for the presidency, I here- by propose that NOBODY with “The Rev.” before his name be allowed to utter a word, publicly or privately, when the campaign has begun.
          As Bobby Burns said, “O wad some pow’r the giftie gie us tae see oursels as others see us…. T’wad frae many a blunder free us.” The endless campaign is subject to “frae many a blunder.”




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