I like Bob Cesca’s piece a lot: “The Mandatory Rejection of Sarah Palin.” Cesca’s right — a large vote against the Republican ticket would send the message that would help “marginalize this darker, uglier side of America.”
Articles about vote flipping in West Virginia are easily available: The Charleston Gazette, Democracy Now. In an article from last May, we can read some of the history of voter fraud in West Virginia. Democracy Now headlines report harassment of Obama voters by McCain supporters in possible violation of the 1964 Voting Rights Act; reports of tires being slashed after an Obama rally also indicated violence. A report of the assault of a 58-year-old Obama volunteer by some guy in Wisconsin just has me wondering if we haven’t all lost our minds.
I may as well get going with this list of voting fraud. I’m going to post every time I read something. So here’s one — and a helluva read, too. Kamala Lopez tells us about Latino voters being told at a Nevada DMV that they just registered, when their voter registration was torn up if the voter indicated s/he was independent or voting for Obama. Read “Smells Like Republican Schadenfreude” and listen to Lopez’s powerful description of how a Latino/a voter might feel at the polls.
I just read an article in The New York Review of Books authored by a group of regular contributors. This article, “A Fateful Election,” includes a segment by Joan Didion in which she discusses how the presidential campaign has distracted us from “the same intractable questions.” Didion argues that it’s easier to live in the fantasy world of the campaign than it is to confront our realities:
We could forget the 70 percent of American eighth graders who do not now and never will read at eighth-grade levels, meaning they will never qualify to hold one of those jobs we no longer have. We could forget that we ourselves induced the coma, by indulging the government in its fantasy of absolute power, wielded absolutely. So general is this fantasy by now that we approach this election with no clear idea where bottom is: what damage has been done, what alliances have been formed and broken, what concealed reefs lie ahead. Whoever we elect president is about to find some of that out.
Just so — it’s so much easier to target an enemy beyond than the enemy within. Enter the Arab. Kinda like the African. Lots of different countries, languages, cultures — but in the U.S.’s studied ignorance of the world (Global Studies Lite?), all we need is one composite terrorist Arab, and we’re good to go.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has warned that targeting of Arabs and Arab Americans tends to increase as politicians cavalierly accept ethnocentric perspectives, such as McCain’s — when a rally participant accused Obama of being an Arab and McCain responded that, oh no — Obama is a decent family man — the only logical connection is that Arabs therefore cannot be decent or family men. Hmmm. The ADC has alerted folks to a recent attempt to stir up anti-Arab sentiment, which is the mass stuffing of newspapers (over 28 million) with the free DVD called Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. I’ve got a copy and don’t really want to watch it — but I will.
Hmmm. Where else have I seen this? Unknown woman goes down on man in power, gets spot on Saturday Night Live, almost fulfills dreams of becoming an actress (or at least a national phenomenon)? OK, so the analogy isn’t perfect. The symmetry wobbles. Sarah Palin did not go down on McCain, unless by “going down on” we mean disrespecting the older guy you’re hooked up with, smiling in public but in private just holding on till he kicks the bucket and you can inherit the house, the money, and the power.
Have I become a sexist bitch? No, I don’t think so. Would I be equally vitriolic had John McCain picked a running mate with the same qualities as Palin but just male? Now that’s a really good question. What would such a creature look like?
Meet Harris Nilap. He’s 6′ 3″ and brawny, former quarterback of the Pineapple Warriors from a small-town high school in Hawai’i. Nilap was born in NJ and his family moved to Hawai’i when he was eleven. He’s worked hard to erase any NJ from his language, and when rural folks from Alabama hear him speak at rallies, they swear he was born in their hometown. As governor of Hawai’i, he’s backed several English-only initiatives that have failed — but only by small margins. Nilap is known for stirring up his rallies with lines such as “Get the terrorist out of your language!” and “A pineapple and a gun in every kitchen!” Nilap’s capture of the governorship surprised those who knew his only experience for the job was sitting on the city council of a small town. Others knew Nilap owed his success to the backing of a clandestine separatist group in Hawai’i composed of disgruntled emigres from the eastern 48 states. One of these supporters has a website featuring pictures of his fully armed underground Armageddon getaway.
Harris is a family kind of guy. He’s got nine children. Oops! That’s classified information. Four of those kids are unacknowledged and the moms have paternity suits pending in court. Harris is violently pro-family. Just ask his wife about the times she’s called the domestic abuse hotline.
So — if Palin were a guy, would I be blogging so much about him-her? I dunno. There’s just something about opportunism, using politics for one’s own gain and glory, appealing to hatred and jingoism in crowds, criminal activity, hypocrisy — just something about those things that really bothers me. They’re worth blogging about.
Right now, I miss Nora Dunn. Remember when she boycotted SNL because of Andrew Dice Clay’s appearance? Both she and Sinead O’Connor protested his misogynist attempts at humor. During Palin’s bit last night on SNL, Alec Baldwin’s patter includes him saying he can’t believe SNL will have Palin on since she stands for everything they’re against…are these empty words? Oh, yeah. It’s all about ratings. I wonder — were there any SNL folks who walked away feeling just a little bit dirty…
God bless Bob Schieffer for offering the most substantive and courageous questions so far, and for keeping Obama and McCain on track! The debates are over. Now, it’s up to us to vote. I love how Schieffer ended: “As my Mom always used to say, ‘Now go and vote. It’ll make you feel strong and proud.'” I’ve probably misquoted but it was something like that.
McCain was condescending and insulting again. And he lied … again. I liked Obama’s precision. His response to McCain’s accusation about Obama’s not supporting the Columbian free trade agreement and his response to the accusation that he didn’t vote for the law that protected the child born out of an abortion — precise, clear, reasonable responses that revealed facts: the Columbian free trade agreement didn’t protect protesting workers, but he did vote for the Peruvian free trade agreement; there was already a law on the books to protect the child born from an abortion so that law was unnecessary. This shows the extent to which McCain distorts and lies.
Shields’ comment about Obama’s “eerie” calmness was weird. Brooks gave McCain too much credit. Maybe I just need to remember to turn off TV right when the debates end. Ah, well.
The McPain campain‘s incitement of hate and verbal violence from its supporters should come as no surprise. (See the disturbing footage of the Bethesda PA rally both at the Keystone Progress blog and on YouTube, where McPain supporters yell at Obama supporters with “Get a job!” and “Commie faggots!” I wonder if McPain supporters ever figured out that they were taking off work like the Obama supporters and should have been yelling at themselves, “Get a job!”)
Palin is a jingoist, no doubt. Extreme nationalism, excessive pride in belief that one’s country is superior to all others, belligerent foreign policy — those are elements that define jingoism, and I think Palin’s comments testify to that. But does that make her a fascist? Jeffrey Feldman says “no” in his article, “Palin Rallies Ignite Widespread Talk of ‘Fascism.'” While I appreciate Feldman’s caution in slinging such an incendiary term, a caution he shares with the not-so-nice George Orwell (in 1944, Orwell stated in “What is Fascism?” that the term had become meaningless, applied to groups as varied as Catholics, communists, and conservatives), I still think Palin is fascist. As much as I admire Orwell, I’m about to ignore the admonition at the end of “What is Fascism?”: “All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.”
Well, maybe I am trying to attend to Orwell’s advice because here I am — trying to prove why I think Palin is a fascist. Feldman concludes that Palin’s crime is not fascism but populism: “Despite all these questions and concerns, I have not concluded that Sarah Palin’s past or recent campaign events represent the emergence of fascism in American politics. In particular, Sarah Palin does not bring anything even closely approaching a comprehensive totalitarian nationalist ideology to the campaign trail. … What she does bring is a noteworthy skill with extreme, often violent populism.”
I think Feldman is wrong. Populism — even “violent populism” — is just too tame a term for what Palin espouses. The glaring omission in Feldman’s article is any reference to Palin’s connections to the Alaska Independence Party, connections which have been well-covered in articles such as “Meet Sarah Palin’s radical right-wing pals” by Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert, and “The Palins’ un-American activities” by David Talbot. Oh, heck — go read “Sarah Palin: The view from Alaska” by Nick Jans, which has nothing about the Alaska Independence Party but exposes Palin as a poseur. Here’s the end of his article:
In the end, Palin’s attempt to cash in on the Eau d’Alaska mystique as she supports its destruction sickens those of us who do love this land, not for what it will be some day, after the roads and mines and pipelines and cities and malls are all in, but for what it is now. What we see before us is the soul of an ambitious, ruthless, Parks Highway hillbilly — a woman who represents the Alaska you probably never want to meet, and the one we wish never existed. That said, we’re all too willing to take her back. The alternative is just too damn frightening.
Palin’s connections to the Alaska Independence Party and her statements during recent rallies qualify her as fascist. Several definitions of fascism fit Palin, but I’ll focus on Umberto Eco’s criteria. Wikipedia has a good list of these criteria taken from Eco’s essay called “Ur-Fascism”, published in The New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995. They include fear of difference (“Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks for consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference“) , disagreement is treason (“The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism”), pacifism is trafficking with the enemy (“It is bad because life is permanent warfare“), obsession with a plot (“The followers must feel beseiged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia”), selective populism (“…the Leader pretends to be their [the People’s] interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction”), and reliance on Orwell’s Newspeak (“All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning”). Sounds a lot like Palin.
I’ll just finish with the ending of Eco’s article:
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances–every day, in every part of the world.