Sunday, October 12, 2008

McCalin: Six Degrees of a Nasty Nation

My title alludes not only to the melding of the Republican presidential candidate duo into one mind (some McCain supporters lovingly call the pair McCuda), but also to the pop culture six degrees of separation theory of how easy it is to connect one person to any other person in the world through flimsy ties. What comes to mind immediately is how easily McCain/Palin (McCalin) stirred the Republican's core base with spurious allegations that Barack Obama has been "paling around with terrorists."

As an African-American woman, I wonder, as have others, whether McCalin supporters would have bought into the lie so quickly if Obama were a white guy, but if I were to go into the details of everything that ails me lately about McCalin campaign strategy or the lack of it, I'd be typing a 1 gigabyte blog post.

Briefly, there's the manipulation of logic and linguistics and how eagerly core Republicans lapped up nonsense. At Republican rallies lately, Palin, after charging that Obama began his political career in the living room of one guy, William Ayers, who in the 60s was part of the radical group Weather Underground and was never convicted as a domestic terrorist, then jumps to the plural word "terrorists." (BTW, it's not true that Obama's career began in Ayers's living room.)

From Palin's act, some Republicans, many of whom I suspect flunked the critical thinking skills part of standardized tests, willingly leap with her to the conclusion she hopes they do and assume that since Obama lived in the same neighborhood with Ayers, a professor now, and also served on an education board with Ayers, the same education board supported by some prominent Illinois Republicans, and ignoring that when Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground Obama was a child, then Obama must be friends with a bunch of terrorists. Following that faulty logic further, Republicans Ma and Pa Smith, parents of Joe Six Pack, determine that Obama himself must be an Arab with terrorist friends who want to overthrow America. WTF!

In the meantime, Ma and Pa with Joe miss a big red light flashing Danger, Will Robinson and Other Naive People! Sarah Palin Has Attended Conventions With People Who Are Actually Anti-American Radicals and Is Married to a Former Member of a Secessionist Group.

Let the people say WTF again.

But if McCarthy-era guilt-by-association is once again a valid political consideration, Palin, it would seem, has more to lose than Obama. Palin, it could be argued, following her own logic, thinks so little of America's perfection that she continues to "pal around" with a man--her husband, actually--who only recently terminated his seven-year membership in the Alaskan Independence Party. Putting plunder above patriotism, the members of this treasonous cabal aim to break our country into pieces and walk away with Alaska's rich federal oil fields and one-fifth of America's land base--an area three-fourths the size of the Civil War Confederacy.

AIP's charter commits the party "to the ultimate independence of Alaska," from the United States which it refers to as "the colonial bureaucracy in Washington." It proclaims Alaska's 1959 induction as a state "as illegal and in violation of the United Nations charter and international law." (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at HuffPo)
Add this information to Troopergate and Palin's trashing the line between separation of church and state, Palin's serious lack of credentials, which is a reality that even reasonable Republicans can see, and you know that people who are concerned about our constitution and freedom, not to mention government ethics, have genuine cause for alarm.

Furthermore, people are saying that Palin rallies in particular look like scenes from the Third Reich. I didn't need to witness her recent rallies and Republican madness to grasp the Nazi similarities. I sensed mass repugnancy while watching the Republican National Convention and wrote about it then. Watching the group ridicule community activists, their fierce chanting that had more a nationalism flavor than wholesome patriotism, and seeing how easily convention participants embraced an unvetted Palin and her supposed "folksiness", I saw immediately that a McCalin win would be a loss for America and a blow to the kind of harmony we hope to achieve in the spirit of the American Constitution.

So What's Going On?

Book author Jeffrey Feldman says that what's going on with the McCalin campaign in light of Palin's speeches is not the rise of fascism; nevertheless, Palin's rally antics and the fervor stirred are dangerous to the peace of our democracy, he thinks.
Conclusion: Palin Not Fascist, But She Sparks Talk of Threats to Democracy
To call someone a 'fascist' is a very serious charge. 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. Instead, Palin merely thumps the war drums of George Bush's 'robber baron' style Republicanism.

What she does bring is a noteworthy skill with extreme, often violent populism. As a result, she has succeeded at creating intense loyalty to her personally, and deep antipathy for Sen. Obama--also on a personal level. And while this populism has succeeded only amongst small core of the Republican base, the fervency of Palin's supporters has been amplified a thousand times over by the obsessive media coverage that she enjoys.

So, Sarah Palin is not 'fascist,' but that does not mean her language and her events have not had a dangerous impact on our democracy. (JF at Frameshop)
Feldman's probably right. Palin's not there yet as far as fascist dictator goes, but I submit we consider that the rise of nationalism in pre-Hitler Germany sprang partly from Palin's type of populism, a disdain for intellectuals as elitist or members of the aristocracy and a hatred for people believed to be not like ordinary "good" citizens, the group populists assume they represent. Hence we get Palin's claim that Obama's "not like us," the true Americans. She's leading her supporters down a well-worn path:
German nationalism, as it arose in the time of Napoleon, set the stage for Hitler. Ordinary Germans became fascinated with the idea of political unity and national greatness, largely because they had neither.

A pastor named Fredrick Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852) put together a youth movement in which young men carried out physical exercise for the Fatherland. He led them long hikes in the countryside and staged rallies in wich they screamed denunciations of German-speaking, pro-French aristocrats. In fact, he taught them to be suspicious of foreigners, Jews, and others who would supposedly corrupt the purity of the German Volk (folk). (Complete Idiot's Guide to Nazi Germany)
I think that while the Republican's core base--mainly white, religious, middle-to-lower middle class/working class citizens--are a powerful part of our country, which is indeed great, these core members nonetheless feel powerless and believe America is in danger of losing the brand of greatness they admire.

I see the fear-tinged misinformation with exclamations of Obama's "otherness" reflected down here in Louisiana through bumper stickers, sometimes as many as ten on one SUV, with slogans such as "Watch Out! I'm bitter and clinging to my guns and religion," or a picture of Obama with the words "Socialist Fother Mucker!" and naturally the terrorist accusation, "NObama bin Biden." However, many of these McCain supporters who fear losing their country as they know it have been feeling that way since this nation enforced integration. The Republican party is an old haven for unabashed racists as well as people who don't think of themselves as bigots but do disdain inclusion or diversity.

The more America has embraced multiculturalism and its citizens have tried to live up to the values of the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, the more core Republicans on the far right have felt threatened. They do not interpret liberty for all as meaning "all Americans" but as freedom only for all who think like them, look like them, talk like them. They even express xenophobia in their prayers. It's no wonder they fall for fear tactics and ask the kinds of questions heard in the following video:

People who feel threatened are suckers for emotional manipulations that encourage segmentation, something Republicans have mastered. But the above video does not represent the more troubling result of McCalin divisive fear tactics. Palin rallies have incited crowds to the point that some nutcase shouted "kill him", referring most likely to Barack Obama, and her folks have felt emboldened to yell racial slurs. The Secret Service, working on the side of caution, has investigated Palin-ignited threats and concluded the shouting is hot air from hot heads, more or less, and we hope they're correct. Still, the outcry from people concerned about this turn of the McCalin campaign may have prompted McCain to at least appear to try calming his mob, finally.

That's nice, but McCain has not stopped using the kinds of attacks on Obama that led to his supporters' violent language, and he defends what's been said by both him and his running mate. Furthermore, McCain does not acknowledge why so many Americans find his and his running mate's terrorist and otherness rhetoric repulsive and racially divisive, which is why, I guess, McCain thinks Obama should apologize for Rep. John Lewis comparing him to George Wallace.

Topping McCalin's serving of a political sundae from hell to supporters is this fat cherry: McCain has a history of nastiness, of being dangerously erratic, hostile, and vindictive. Why would anyone in his/her right mind who knows his history of temper tantrums, foul language, and defensiveness vote him into office, let alone put Palin a heartbeat from the presidency?

I'm not a psychologist, but I suspect John McCain suffers from Intermittent Explosive Disorder, not something you want in the President of the United States of America. Here's a list of reports about his rage that leads me to that conclusion.

  • McCain's History of Hot Temper Raises Concerns
  • John McCain and A Question of Temperament
  • Military on John McCain (some of them think he should be the last person to answer a 3:00 a.m. national security phone call)
  • At the Crap Tables with John McCain ("Don't you know who I am?" he shouted)
  • And yes, I believe he called Cindy "a cunt," despite his supporters saying in comments that's only a rumor
  • John McCain Drama King?
    And how do his supporters generally defend and dismiss concerns about McCain's erratic behavior, temper flares, and nasty outbursts? They chalk it up to passion and sometimes acting. No need to be concerned, they say.
    John Lehman, the Navy secretary during the Reagan administration and a McCain supporter, said he has known the Arizona senator for 30 years. Lehman said that in comparison with some of the people he has worked for, such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, "John McCain is a pussycat."

    "I have never seen him really lose it and really be just passionately furious," Lehman said. "When I have seen him lose his temper, it is for effect." (Salon)
    Examining Intermittent Explosive Disorder, a Time article unrelated directly to McCain and the election quotes expert sources who suggest viewing the tendency to lose one's temper frequently as simply bad behavior is folly. Repeated blow-ups are not the sign of a passionate nature but of a treatable mental disorder.

    Reports of McCain's temper are not new nor have they surfaced only for this election. He's been called McNasty since high school, and even he acknowledges that while attending Episcopal High School in Virgina that he attacked others physically and verbally when he felt they challenged his integrity or self-respect. Observers say that today McCain still does not show leader-level maturity and tolerate others who disagree with him. He seems to think disagreement is an assault to his masculinity or authority, and he's tried to have people fired who've questioned his decisions or practices. Not a presidential trait, actually not the trait of a good leader, period.

    The tendency to bully others or to shout and insult one's opponent down, a tactic McCain's employs, is not a sign of strength but the mark of insecurity, the trait of the weakest link. Even dogs recognize the instinctive growler as the insecure wimp who should not lead the pack. We humans tend to mistake agressive behavior in leaders as feistiness or righteous indignation.

    But look, please, at this video from Brave New PAC, a political action committee that does not support Senator McCain.

    Usually when a group is against a candidate and presents this type of accusation, I'd say, consider the source, but we don't need Brave New PAC to tell us McCain's rage is problematic. We can confirm that through objective sources and even people who like McCain.

    So, what does his temper and erratic nature have to do with his recent campaign tactics and his slowness to rein in Palin? Everything.

    McCain's a brawler. He believes in going for the jugular. He lacks good judgment and will joke about bombing other countries. Prior to this election he defended his tendency to insult others as one of the methods he uses to win arguments, and he's proud to sic his winking "barracuda" on America during the worst economic crisis in decades. Should anyone be shocked that his campaign would risk inciting violence and racial division just to win?

    McCain's not for country first, as he claims, but for winning first and for McCain first, just as Tim Dickinson's said in McCain the Make-Believe Maverick. The people who love John McCain and are mesmerized by Sarah Palin have refused to read the bottle label, and so, have swallowed mythology. The people who've paid attention see through McCalin and refuse to drink the Kool-Aid.

    It takes less than six degrees to connect McCalin to a shadow on this nation. Between their nasty campaign tactics and McCain's volatile nature, anyone paying attention can connect them to disaster in one swift move.

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    agarthi said...

    Please help stop the hate. Sign the petition to end incitement to violence by McCain/Palin.

    Straight Talk on McCain said...

    Watching these videos, you start to get the feeling that even McCain might be starting to wonder, “What kind of monster have I created?” I wonder if McCain, when he is alone and being reflective, asks himself, “Are these people really supporting me because I have good policies, or because they’re racists, bigots, terrified because I have made them terrified because of what I’ve allowed to be said about Obama on my behalf, etc.” I wonder if deep down McCain isn’t just a bit saddened by what his supporters are doing and saying.