Tuesday, October 07, 2008

lower instincts: appealing to the mob

From Huffington Post:

"John Aravosis at AmericaBlog writes:

McCain was speaking today in New Mexico, doing his usual personal attack on Barack Obama, as the stock market plummeted (you can see the ticker next to McCain on the screen, an apt reminder of what McCain and his fellow Republicans represent), and McCain asked the crowd "who is Barack Obama?" Immediately you hear someone yell "terrorist." McCain pauses, the audience laughs, and McCain continues on, not acknowledging, not chastising, not correcting. Oh, but McCain does say in the next sentence that he's upset about all the "angry barrage of insults."

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports on a similar moment at a Palin rally today:

"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.

"Boooo!" said the crowd.

"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

And Dana Milbank highlights another incident from Tuesday:

Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

"Getting ugly out there," says ABC's Jake Tapper.


Jared said...

So basically the McCain/Palin ticket appeals to racism.

Liam said...

That's basically what they're going for now. It's all subtext: Obama isn't like us, he's like terrorists. He's not what he says he is, he has a hidden agenda. He's an angry black man, his wife is an angry black woman. He's not Christian, he's Muslim. It's not hard to see that kind of thinking behind the crowd reaction. Of course all McCain and Palin have to do is offer suggestion, and the crowd will fill in the blanks. Palin is even leaving suggestion behind.

jazzycat said...

If a conservative is criticized for speaking at a Christian college like Bob Jones University, why is it improper for Palin to quote the NY Times in pointing out Obama's connection to an unrepentant anti-American terrorist? It does speak to both character and judgment.

Liam said...

Did you read the Times article? Do you think that "palling around with terrorists" is any way to describe what happened?

Liam said...

Also, from the fons veritatis (otherwise known as Wikipedia):

Michael Kinsley, a longtime critic of Ayers,argued in Time that Obama's relationship with Ayers should not be a campaign issue: "If Obama's relationship with Ayers, however tangential, exposes Obama as a radical himself, or at least as a man with terrible judgment, he shares that radicalism or terrible judgment with a comically respectable list of Chicagoans and others — including Republicans and conservatives — who have embraced Ayers and Dohrn as good company, good citizens, even experts on children's issues." "Ayers and Dohrn are despicable, and yet making an issue of Obama's relationship with them is absurd."

Liam said...

But still the important thing is that it's not just "a question of judgment" -- Palin is racebaiting with the way she is presenting it, and getting violent responses from her audiences.

jazzycat said...

1) Yes, I read the Times article online.

2)definition of pal:
1. a very close, intimate friend; comrade; chum.
2. an accomplice.
3. to associate as comrades or chums: to pal around with the kid next door.

3) Since Obama began his first campaign in an event hosted by Ayers, I think pal is an appropriate description.

4) Because many others have embraced Ayers and Dohrn including conservatives does not make it respectable in my eyes. That is like the argument that children give to their parents when they say, but mom everybody else is doing it.

5) Race baiting by the way she is presenting it!!!!! I see nothing wrong with the way she has presented it and she is not responsible for how people in the crowd react. I certainly would not hold Obama responsible for the signs and comments of code pink or PETA activists that may be in his crowds. The issue has nothing to do with race. I am from Mississippi and would and in fact have voted for black conservatives. I would vote for a conservative of any race over a white liberal in a New York minute....

6) violent! I don't think so, but if it is so people should be arrested and prosecuted.
definition of violent:
1. acting with or characterized by uncontrolled, strong, rough force: a violent earthquake.
2. caused by injurious or destructive force: a violent death.
3. intense in force, effect, etc.; severe; extreme: violent pain; violent cold.

Liam said...


Look... Ayers is seen by just about everyone in Chicago politics as an education specialist with a radical past which is now behind him. Is that right or wrong? You can decide, but in the end there is no connection between who Obama is and radical violent 60's politics.

Giving a dictionary definition of a word does not necessarily explain its power in public discourse. If I say "palling around with terrorists," the message is not "had a brief association with someone with a violent radical past." You know the emotional power of the word terrorist. Palling around implies a close association and acceptation. The message comes across as "Obama is like bin Laden."

Why is this racist (I am NOT saying that all supporters of Palin are racist or that she necessarily is -- I think she is appealing to racism)? As I implied above, there is a racist narrative out there about Obama. There are false internet rumors about him being Muslim (the "enemy" for a lot of people), about him really being an "angry black man" about his wife shouting "whitey" from a microphone... It is unfortunately to be expected in our country, which has not yet put racism behind us. The heart of this, of racism in general, is that Obama (and blacks in general) is "the other," different in essence from white people and necessarily with a different agenda that is dangerous to whites.

Last poll I heard, 10% of people STILL think Obama is Muslim.

Now this narrative is in the air. It is an emotional, not a rational narrative, and in order to tap into its power, you just need to give suggestion. There are key words and expressions. "Terrorist" is one of the most loaded words, if not the most loaded word, in American discourse, and it brings to mind the violent "other," the one who hates who we are and (regardless of people like Bill Ayers and Timothy McVeigh), someone who is darker, different.

In addition to tying Obama to terrrorism, Palin makes the "he's not like US" point very explicitly. Yes, you can say, he's not like us small town Joe six-pack hockey mom types (or whatever other talking point cliche she's using now), but the implication is inescapable.

Because questions of race hang over our society so heavily, using this language is a choice to stoke the fires of racism. The Clinton campaign made that choice during the primary, and I called them on it (check my blog archive). Palin is doing it with a much blunter hammer.

Given the fact that they are bringing up these associations, the crowd reaction is not completely surprising. Calling an opponent a "terrorist" or shouting "kill him" is violent language. Neither Palin nor McCain said anything to these supporters -- and why would they, since this is obviously what they're going for?

Jack said...

Liam, I was going to comment, but you covered my thoughts perfectly. Jack

jazzycat said...

Ayers is seen by just about everyone in Chicago politics as an education specialist with a radical past which is now behind him. Is that right or wrong?

Uh, since I am not from Chicago, I don’t know nor care what they think. I do know that is not what conservatives think across America. We see an anti-American, anti-capitalist, Marxist who has a past of terrorist activity. His specialty in education seems to be in the indoctrination of children into his political view-point. Since Obama worked with him in this endeavor, it must be concluded that Obama shares some of his radical views. Ayers criminal behavior may be behind him, but his radical agenda is alive and well as Hillary pointed out during the democratic debates.

While I could go point by point on your criticism of Palin, I will just say that your charges are totally without merit. In no way are conservatives implying that Obama has anything to do with terrorism. We are accusing him of close ties to someone with an extreme radical agenda that wants to re-shape our capitalistic system. The fact that Ayers is so radical that he participated in criminal terrorism just emphasizes his hate and contempt for America as it now exists. I would not have respect for anyone who launched their political career in his home anymore than I would respect anyone who would let David Duke launch their political career. I am sure you would probably agree with me on David Duke.

The double standard that is applied here is striking. It is unfair guilt by association when Obama is connected with his radical associations like Ayers, and Wright, but fair game when Palin so much as wears a Pat Buchanan or attends a church where a preacher preaches about sin.

Again, it is nice to be able to discuss this in a rational civil manner with you as I have not been able to do at some blogs.

jazzycat said...

Also, The black liberation theology of Jeremiah Wright is basically the social gospel implemented with Marxism. Obama had to know that after 20 years in that church.

That may not alarm you, but it certainly alarms me.

All the racism stuff is just a red herring, and the MSM is really pushing it.

Liam said...

Hi Jazzycat,

Thanks for stopping by. I think we're getting to the point where we're just repeating ourselves. Just comments on a couple of your points:

"In no way are conservatives implying that Obama has anything to do with terrorism."

Palin said he palls around with terrorists. The PA GOP put out a press release that called Obama "a terrorist's best friend." Those are statements from candidates and a state GOP.

I've already explained why I think the Ayers thing is a non-issue. You disagree, which is fine, and we can stop beating that dead horse. What I am referring to in this post and in my comments is the direct association, by Palin and others, of Obama and terrorism. I'm not saying you are doing this -- but they are, and I've explained the best I could why I think it's an appeal to racism, and that explains the nasty reaction of the crowds.

"Again, it is nice to be able to discuss this in a rational civil manner with you as I have not been able to do at some blogs."

Likewise. I was mentioning to my wife this morning that I enjoy our discussions because it does make me clarify my ideas.

Liam said...

Jazzycat --

Are you saying that Obama is a closet Marxist?

jazzycat said...

I appreciate your attitude. Tell your wife hello from an ole Mississippi boy.

I am very concerned that Obama may promote Marxist policies.

Liam said...

You'll have to be more specific. Do you mean he is going to declare the dictatorship of proletariat, send every Republican off to a Gulag, and nationalize every firm in the country? That would worry me, but that is not going to happen.

Which of his policies is Marxist? Go check them out on the website. The guy has written (unlike other politicians, really written) two books, numerous speeches, and legislated in the US Congress and in Illinois. He is a moderate to liberal Democrat. His policies may call for more government (and that's fine if you don't agree with that), but they're not Marxist.

Whenever critics talk about Obama and Wright or Ayers, the main charge is often a question of judgment, but then something else is suggested. I know you can't answer for everyone, but I would like you to say clearly if you think the public persona of Obama as a moderate/liberal democrat is a complete lie and that once he's president he will govern according to a radical agenda that is now hidden from us. If so, why do you think that? Is it just because of a couple of bad decisions (from your point of view) that led him to associate with people that are on the left side of the spectrum? Does that really tip the balance?

cowboyangel said...

JazzyCat, Only from way out in right field would it look like Barack Obama is pushing "Marxist" policies. Hell, Richard Nixon was probably more of a Socialist than Obama.

I do know that is not what conservatives think across America.

No, you know what some extremist conservatives think. Many old-time conservatives are bailing out on McCain, because he's run a despicable campaign.

We see an anti-American, anti-capitalist, Marxist who has a past of terrorist activity.

See, that's a view from someone wayyyyy out on the right. You sound like an extremist. And a troll. You're not here to discuss the issues. You're like a Miami Dolphins fan lurking on a New York Jets blog. you've got your team and just trying to stir things up with the enemy.

Tell me what you like about Obama, as many other conservatives are able to do. Otherwise, you're just a right-wing extremist troll. What I don't understand is what kind of mentality somebody has who goes to other blogs and lurks like this? You're not a friend or relative or colleague who genuinely wants to know what someone you like thinks about politics. You just want to be negative and attack people.

Would Jesus be a blog troll?

Jack said...

I am appalled by this discussion on Ayers. Logic out the window. The only question is: Is association with a former criminal or immoral person after the criminal or immoral has changed his position evidence of poor judgment? There are many examples of such associations. But here I will cite just one.

Whittaker Chambers was a Russian spy dedicated to the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.He left the communist party and stopped his espionage. Later he was a friend of many conservative American figures, was praised by Reagan, and awarded the Medal of Freedom by Bush. Does the connection of Reagan, Bush, and others with Chambers cast doubt on the judgment of Reagan and Bush?

jazzycat said...

You said....The only question is: Is association with a former criminal or immoral person after the criminal or immoral has changed his position evidence of poor judgment?

The problem here is that Ayers has not changed his position. This was pointed out by Hillary Clinton in the democratic primary. The problem is that Ayers had his picture taken standing on a wadded up American flag after his relationship with Obama started. The problem is that Ayers worked with Obama on radical educational programs. The problem is that Ayers hosted Obama's first campaign event. One must logically conclude that Ayers saw in Obama someone who shared some of his political views.

Had Ayers repented and become a regular liberal instead of remaining a radical, then this probably would not be a serious issue.

Cowboyangle, I have had dissenting opinions at my blog and have debated them without personal attacks and calling them trolls. I have some shocking news for you if you think my views are extremely right wing. In the so-called red states my views are very main stream. As to Jesus. Do you think he would support infanticide? Do you think he would support partial birth abortion? Since it was Jesus who gave us the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20, I would say he would be very much in favor of spreading the gospel through leaving comments on blogs. If this is a blog troll, then so be it.

crystal said...

from the fons veritatis (otherwise known as Wikipedia)


cowboyangel said...

I have some shocking news for you if you think my views are extremely right wing. In the so-called red states my views are very main stream.

Quit trying to justify your extremist views by tying yourself to other conservatives. Take responsibility for your own beliefs. My step-father is a Republican precinct captain in rural Texas. An evangelical who has been a minister. We watched Obama's speech at the Democratic convention together and he thought Obama had a lot of good things to say. He's not out there making false accusations about Obama being a Marxist or Muslim or a terrorist.

Not everybody in your so-called red states (and several of them won't be red for much longer) behaves or believes the way you do. Not everybody who's a Republican or conservative believes the way you do.

And your behavior on this blog is exactly like that of a troll.

Jack said...

But, jazzycat. You make statements. The burden of proof is on you to prove them. You give absolutely no proof. Just throw something out there. All of your stuff is just "supposition" on your part and in the past.

jazzycat said...

liam and I debated our view of the facts, but not the actual facts. Therefore, please be more specific on the exact facts I have given that you would like me to prove! I do not want to waste time proving something you acknowledge.

Talk about false charges: I have not accused Obama of being a muslim, or terrorist. I have not even stated that he is a proven Marxist. I am concerned that he may lean that way and I have offered darn good reasons (facts). To say that I am not a main stream conservative because every single conservative does not agree with me would prove beyond any doubt that no one is a main stream conservative or anything else.

As far as Obama's speeches go, I am judging him on his record (votes) and not on what he says he will do. For example, he says he is for gun rights, but has also said he will appoint the kind of judges on the Supreme Court who recently voted to restrict gun rights. He voted not to confirm two who voted for gun rights! This is not consistent with being for gun rights! I could talk about his flip flop on the FISA legistlation and others as well. These are all things you can google for more information.....

Jack said...

Okay, Jazzycat, define a "radical educational program?Definition, facts, and not just hot air.

Also, you apparently want me to believe the "Hillary" quote. Then must I believe her quote that Bush was incompetent? Now, don't try to "double standard me". Should I believe both "Hillary" quotes, neither or just one and if the latter, why the distinction?

jazzycat said...

The following paragraph is from an article written by (Sol Stern, a contributing editor of City Journal, has written for Commentary and the Wall Street Journal and has served as a policy analyst for the governments of New York City and New York State.)

"As I have shown in previous articles in City Journal, Ayers’s school reform agenda focuses almost exclusively on the idea of teaching for “social justice” in the classroom. This has nothing to do with the social-justice ideals of the Sermon on the Mount or Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Rather, Ayers and his education school comrades are explicit about the need to indoctrinate public school children with the belief that America is a racist, militarist country and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive."

That is a radical education program in my book.

I only used the Hillary quote to show that even democrats have raised objections. BTW, Obama's response was to remind Hillary that Clinton had pardoned two or so weather underground terrorists just before he left office.

Am I to understand that if you quote someone on a point you have other sources for, you must then accept everything they've ever said as truth without verification? With that standard, I do not believe we could have a court system.

jazzycat said...

From the Wall Street Journal:

In works like "City Kids, City Teachers" and "Teaching the Personal and the Political," Mr. Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression. His preferred alternative? "I'm a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist," Mr. Ayers said in an interview in Ron Chepesiuk's, "Sixties Radicals," at about the same time Mr. Ayers was forming CAC.

Jack said...

Jazzycat, you would be a poor attorney or judge. All you did in response to my question was quote some right wing guys opinion. Please direct me to the written part of the curriculum in which it states the goals you claim.

You completely dodged my Hillary question. As you know, if the testimony of a witness is false in part the jury is always instructed that all the testimony of the witness may be discarded. Hillary says McCain would be a disaster? Should I believe that or not since you use Hillary quotes as proof. "Get thee to a law school; it may help you to reason."

With all your 'talk' you haven't made one assertion that proves anything! Jack

jazzycat said...

If you will note the Wall Street Journal quotes Bill Ayers from his own book. If you will not accept what Ayers himself says in his own book about the subject, I don't know where to go to convince you.

Would you have a problem with a Republican conservative launching his career in the home of an unrepentant KKK former terrorist who had not changed his basic ideology? Do you think there would be any outrage over such a situation? Would the CNN, CBS, NBC, NY Times, Time, etc. investigate it thoroughly?

jazzycat said...


Link to Bill Ayers blog. His speech in Caracas, Venezeula with Hugo Chavez in the audience to the World Education Forum. Again, in his own words......

You can have a mulligan and ask me to prove something else that you claim is false.

Liam said...

You guys are welcome to debate Ayer's views here, though I have to admit it gets boring after a while. Remember, Ayers is not running for president. He has not endorsed either of the candidates, he has not advised either of the candidates, and he is not the friend of either of the candidates (despite Palin's lying smear) in any meaningful sense of that word.

It is clear that Ayers was accepted as rehabilitated by the establishment of Chicago, both Democrats and Republicans. That may be wrong, but that is how he was perceived. Hell, he made Citizen of the Year. Now that may be wrong, but it shows how he is perceived, which basically means Obama's interaction with him was far from exceptional. It may or may not be an error in judgment, but if it is it's minuscule. The dog definitely does not hunt.

My original post was not about minor errors in judgment, it was about how Palin and her running mate are creating some very ugly rallies. Yesterday a guy talked in a McCain townhall about how he worried that the "socialists" were going to take over America, and McCain said he agreed.

Jazzycat, you never answered my question. Given all the information we have about Obama, what possibly could lead you to suggest that he is something fundamentally different than how he presents himself? What possible grounds do you have to say he is a socialist or a communist? What is going on with this absurd 1950s-style red baiting?

cowboyangel said...


Did you read Sullivan today on the increasingly ugly and dangerous mob mentality at these events?

The Dangerous Panic On The Far Right

There was always going to be a point of revolt and panic for a core group of Americans who believe that Obama simply cannot be president - because he's black or liberal or young or relatively new. This is that point. As the polls suggest a strong victory, the Hannity-Limbaugh-Steyn-O'Reilly base are going into shock and extreme rage. McCain and Palin have decided to stoke this rage, to foment it, to encourage paranoid notions that somehow Obama is a "secret" terrorist or Islamist or foreigner. These are base emotions in both sense of the word.

But they are also very very dangerous. This is a moment of maximal physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire. If he really wants to put country first, he will attack Obama on his policies - not on these inflammatory, personal, creepy grounds. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.

For God's sake, McCain, stop it. For once in this campaign, put your country first.

You'd think after the racist crap we saw in the primaries from some of Hillary's supporters I'd be used to this by now, but I'm stunned watching videos of some of the people at these McCain events. They're bloody nuts, dude. Seriously mentally and spiritually ill. It's like a bunch of damn John Birchers from 1959 have taken over McCain's campaign.

Luckily, it's starting to backfire among his own party. In addition to several of the conservative commentators being disgusted by it all, you've got former Michigan Gov. William Milliken (R), who endorsed McCain and is now backing away from him. "I'm disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign."

But I'm really concerned. These nuts are the kinds of people who would try to assassinate Obama. Everyone should double-up on prayers for the man's safety.

Jack said...

Liam, you are right. Jazzycat has presented nothing but old stories and right wing opinions. He has yet to show anything of relavence. Jack