POLITICS: Reading Round-Up

Recent news reports on the case of Dr. Bruce Ivins, accused by the FBI and about to be charged with the anthrax attacks before his apparent suicide, have increasingly come under fire for various reasons, including the use of confidential sources whose own backgrounds were, to say the least, dubious. ABC in particular has fielded increasing pressure to reveal its sources for falsely claiming that the presence of bentonite in the anthrax proved that Iraq was responsible for the attacks. For some outstanding questioning of some sources and probing into the implications of this story for Ivins, the FBI, and certainly the mainstream media, check out blogger Glenn Greenwald’s articles here and here (scroll down to “Additional key facts…” and “Journalists, their lying sources…”). Greenwald does well to question the evidence, its uses, and the manipulation of the anthrax attacks while maintaining the possibility that Ivins may in fact be guilty, which is true. The New York Times also has an article worth reading that describes the evidence against Ivins as “mostly circumstantial.”

The Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson has a good column illustrating the hypocrisy of Republicans and the right in claiming that Obama was “playing the race card” when Obama stated that his political opponents have tried to characterize him as an Other, because “he’s got a funny name, you know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills…” Apparently playing the race card is recognizing that the images of Obama have been manufactured and his opponents have utilized racialized imagery and rhetoric–“playing the race card” if it’s ever been played–but not the initiating and oft-repeated acts of manufacturing and utilizing racialized imagery and rhetoric that have been disseminated far and wide. Remarkably Orwellian, as was the McCain campaign’s crying foul about Obama’s comments since it in fact has lied to portray Obama as more interested in his personal career that the outcome of the war, in fact made a commercial with Obama cast as a shallow celebrity with two young white women, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. As a side note, for those who think this is either new for the GOP or not playing upon long-standing racial fears of interracial sex, see this ad from the 2006 Tennessee Senate race between Democratic Harold Ford and Bob Corker, for whom the GOP made the ad from which Corker experienced a crucial bump late in the campaign.

More priceless to me is learning that Rush Limbaugh, of all people, was caterwauling with righteous indignation about Obama’s allegedly “playing the race card,” when Limbaugh has done nothing if not characterize Obama as Other, claiming that “Obama has disowned his white half, that he’s decided he’s got to go all in on the black side,” that Obama’s mixed-race heritage makes him not biracial but “Halfrican American,” and much more. Setting aside how hilarious this is coming from a patented hypocrite such as Limbaugh, who repeatedly called for punishing drug offenders to the fullest extent of the law while he was abusing and illegally obtaining OxyContin, Obama himself never used the word “racist” to characterize his opponents’ attack during the speech Limbaugh falsely quoted. Then again, what does accuracy matter to someone like Limbaugh when lies and smears are not only more effective in galvanizing his listeners, but rationalized by him and his sycophants as “entertainment?” Through the looking glass and down the memory hole, to mix literary metaphors.

For a very good analysis of the ways that the McCain campaign has smeared Obama with lies and racialized imagery, read this piece in New York Magazine by John Heilemann. I’m not sure I agree with all of Heilemann’s conclusions, but they’re both provocative and far from outside the realm of possibility in a country where political opponents have, throughout history, questioned people because of their race or presumptions and accusations of foreign allegiance. If you think these smears and lies of Obama as Other along lines of race, religion, and perceptions of national allegiance don’t work, watch this.

Published in: on August 5, 2008 at 9:33 am  Comments (23)  

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23 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “he’s got a funny name, you know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills…”
    the fact obama may not look like the past presidents is what makes him appealing. i’m still young and guilty of not “looking at the issues”, but just by the way obama speaks, acts and carries himself tells me that that’s the kind of guy i would want to vote for. he has a unique background that makes him a true representative of most americans, not just white or rich or any other label you can put on the past presidents. he doesn’t seem like one of those robot politicians and speaks as if he will at least attempt what others have deemed impossible [such as talking/befriending our enemies].
    i hate the mudslinging when voting comes around but it’s always there. for years i’ve wondered why they made a huge deal of a candidate’s race or religion and i know now it’s because many people will back the person who is the same race/religion as them, and i think it’s sort of a disgrace. there is nothing wrong with people of another race or religion and that should not impact anyone’s decision.
    Ehh… it’s politics.

  2. the jon stewart daily show vid was hilarious by the way.

  3. no matter how much limbauagh fulminates against obama i dont see enough rabid conservatives coming out to support the hypocrite mccain

  4. Did you Barrack Obama have any sexual relationship with Monica Samille Lewinsky? Obama has become a american idol. What have you done Jason now th DHS will be viewing all over your Yankee blog!

  5. leo – do you drink all day?

    interesting piece on iraqi gov 79 billion oil surplus:


  6. Have we became internet enemies Mike? I limit myself on Tuesdays only drinking a couple pints before noon. Watching C.C. he really is the man of the hour and he can actually run the bases? Take that Chieng-Ming Wang! I can’t believe the injuries not only this season in recent past years.

    F” the Times. I read the Post-Frank Slaughtery

  7. no leo–just kidding wit ya 🙂

  8. “A-rod has a gay 67 RBI’s and an even gayer ZERO go-ahead RBI’s from the 7th inning on”

    sentinel—here’s an official –FUCK YOU

    and i’m not kidding–keep your homophobic comments out of here

  9. I was kinda interested never had a i-n-t-e-r-n-e-t feud. That was a low blow next you’ll bring up my ex-wifes. 🙂 Have a good day mike….time for the daily commute.

  10. I was just about to echo that, Mike. sentinel, baseball comments can go under the baseball posts. But for anyone reading here, it really shouldn’t be a mystery how I feel about racism, sexism, class-based snobbery, and certainly homophobia. Using “gay” to describe what people usually mean as insufficient, lame, or any other such pejorative is juvenile and offensive and I won’t tolerate it.

    You’ve been warned, not for the first time on my blog for something, I might add.

  11. um? speaking of i-n-t-e-r-n-e-t feuds? A-rod does not dye his hair and wear lipstick! I’m listening to Cher random thoughts. Cheers keep the hapiness kids no need for insults……..

  12. Top of the hour, Jason.

  13. Sentinel, you’re so pathetically useless and stupid that, other than your bilious, nauseatingly worthless posts serving as an object lesson of what this site is not nor has ever been, you are and always will be devoid of value. Your freedom of speech in no way outweighs, equals, or approaches my freedom of assembly through which all other rights flow. If you had any brains, you would have read my first post regarding political and baseball discussions yesterday. Clearly a rudimentary understanding of basic blogging mores is beyond your painfully narrow ken.

    Good-bye, and good riddance, now and forever.

  14. I shall point out how I censored my “fuck” with all respect. That was very entertaining Sentinel do it again? To hell with those illiterit misfortuned lower class public educated citizens. This is why we stray from anything non-baseball related. It takes quite a person to stand up for your rights! ( on a blog_) I’m trying to shed some light here. C’mon guys forgive and forget. I know the Yankees are 5 1/2 back but it’s not are fault.

  15. The peacemaker was a little late, shocks. J can you e-mal me that last post by Sent? It was kinda entertaining, I’m going to ship it to my fellas. I thought for a second you were defending Alex? That will be the day, good day.

  16. Sentinel is done here.

    Let’s move on to the topics I posted initially, or something related, OK?

  17. Lets see if Andy can bid win numero lucky 13. The Texas heat shouldn’t bother the native Texan.

  18. Leo has a drinking disorder.

  19. speaking of the original post–regarding the article in new york magazine- it’s very good–and i was thinking about this earlier today–the problem is with the readership of that magazine–it’s in the
    “preaching to the choir” category.

    one of the big problems in this country is the high ratings of FAUX News.

  20. excuse me– FAUX “news”

  21. I can’t really support either party because I have issues with both of them. The liberals are a tax and spend party and the conservatives are war mongering pro big company.

  22. Lots to follow up on. I agree, Vanessa, that Obama is an engaging, articulate guy with lots to offer. His vagueness at times bothers me, but he’s not without substance as McCain and other critics say. I think he’s playing it safe, and has done a remarkably good job of responding to certain attacks and criticisms. He hammered McCain and the GOP today for their chiding him on his comments about everyday people maintaining proper tire pressure as a way to improve fuel efficiency–something most auto manuals, dealers, and my own oil change place haave printed and said ad nauseam, and that energy experts have long touted. Personally, I like Obama’s more aggressive approach and his willingness to call people out for such positions. And Stewart is priceless.

    You may be right about McCain, Mike, for many on the right have one beef or another with him–he’s not evangelical, he’s switched positions on issues of social conservatism, he’s at times touted “big government” positions on issues such as campaign finance reform (which he isn’t following and is breaking his own law, BTW), and more. You’re also right about “New York” preaching to the choir, Mike. I figured circulating it here might help spread such arguments for discussion.

    I appreciate your efforts Leo, but sentinel had to go and will stay gone. We can agree to disagree on any number of things, but when the guy who should have known better comes in and breaks one of the very few rules I have–no racism, no sexism, no class-based snobbery, and no homophobia–then responded with much more of the same and worse, he was out by the belt loops. And don’t worry, I’ll keep your ex-wives out of any and all conversations. 🙂

    I have my own deep criticisms of the Democrats too, Sean, including being weak on various fronts with the GOP and more. On taxes, I understand that people don’t want or like to be taxed too much. People have also become squeezed more during the last 40 years, which have seen such devastating trends as de-industrialization and the globalization of labor markets gut what modest personal, occupational, and policy safety nets people have. But Americans as people in a heavily industrialized nation are taxed far less than others in industrialized nations, and subsequently receive far less in return for social programs. We also live with tax systems that are regressive, such as on consumer goods, and others that have been drastically reduced for the wealthy and corporations to such a degree as to exacerbate the stratification of wealth and de-fund the treasury. A good majority of Americans support increases in taxes for particular purposes–national health care, education, and infrastructure–things I’d contend are badly needed. It’s what taxes can deliver that is worth reintroducing in the political debate, and those above are only a few. On the GOP, I agree. They’re also the party of torture, secret prisons, unaccountable executive power, more spying on Americans than usual, and more.

  23. I knew that the political blog would get the most heated in the comment section! 🙂

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