Saturday, August 02, 2008

Obama and the Anti-Christ

Yesterday, I stated that some believe that Obama is the anti-Christ. Well, according to Hal Lindsey, an advocate for Dispensationalism -- with the emphasis on sensationalism-- and a popularizer of the "end times" prophecies/ mythology, Obama is not thee anti-Christ but just prepping the world for the Anti-Christ. I wonder if he felt the same when Reagan spoke in Germany? Oh, wait...

Since when do lifestyle choices such as religion get to determine the fate of the world?

Friday, August 01, 2008

McCain, Obama, and Evangelical Voters

When I first saw this ad, I thought it was a web parody. CNN tells me otherwise.

In Grandpa McCain's new ad, he calls Senator Obama "the One." Of course, shouldn't McCain know better as he lived to see the development of all of Western Civilization, as well as the BCE - CE change over.

The video seems to be an attempt to reach out to Evangelical voters as well as develop a third argument about Obama, he is arrogant. This is on top of the other two, he is risky and he is an empty vessel celebrity. After watching the ad, it ridicules Obama by taking his words well out of context, beyond recognition, the the point of lying. This of course should not make people want to vote for McCain as each attack diminishes the ethos of Grampa Simpson.

Second, the ad appears to reach out to Evangelicals and to warn them about "false prophets." I would imagine that the reasoning behind this move is that if the Evangelical voters will not vote for McCain, they better not vote for Obama, who appears blasphemous in the video. Well, then again, maybe he is the anti-Christ.

Well, he appears blasphemous if you possess no sense of irony or no sense of humor.

Update: According to David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, because of McCain's attacke, 100,000 donated money to the Obama Campaign. One-third of those who donated were first time donors. Good job John, thanks for your support.

The Democratic Divide Continues

Backers of Senator Clinton write the problems of the primary into the Democratic Party Platform. From the L.A. Times:
As her chances of becoming vice president recede, some of Hillary Rodham Clinton's supporters are pushing for the Democratic Party's new platform to state that the primary elections "exposed pervasive gender bias in the media" and to call on party leaders to take "immediate and public steps" to condemn future perceived instances of bias.

The push for the plank in the party's statement of principles reflects a lingering unhappiness over Clinton's treatment during the Democratic primary, and over what her supporters say was an inadequate response from party leaders.Some Clinton supporters have complained of jibes against the New York senator by TV talk show hosts, off-color novelty items and incidents such as the time when hecklers yelled "Iron my shirt!" at a Clinton rally.

A Democratic committee devoted to writing the platform is to meet today in Cleveland to hear presentations from policy advocates, then draft the document.

"There were so many examples in the media of sexist comments where we never heard from the party leadership or Barack Obama," said Stacy Mason, executive director of a political action committee called WomenCount, which claims thousands of members. The group ran newspaper ads in the spring urging Clinton to stay in the contest.

"We're focused on why the Democratic leadership was so silent about it during the campaign," Mason said. "It was their obligation to come to the defense of one of their own primary candidates, and they didn't. They stayed silent during the campaign, and that's not OK."
There are no specifics yet but this will be an interesting development, especially as it seems clear that Clinton will not be the VP and that she will speak on the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. While other aspects of the Democratic Platform will concern ending the war in Iraq or passing legislation for universal health care, it is not clear what legislative action will occur, if any.

Race and the Election

In the past few days, race entered in to the Presidential campaign for the first time though it is not as explicit as it was in the Democratic Primary. On one level, the purpose of interjecting race, for both sides, is preventative. On another level, the purpose of raising the issue of race is to increase racial resentment.

The Obama camp wants to raise the specter of to race to warn against its use, redirecting the campaign to the issues because he is winning on almost all of the issues (Economy, Health Care but not necessarily Iraq). This is why he states, “they'll state I'm different and not like the other presidents on our currency;” “he has a funny name;” and “I’m black.” By preemptively redirecting, he hopes to keep the focus on the issues and avoid race. Ironically, in a web ad, the McCain campaign used the face of Senator Obama on a dollar bill, as well as on the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore.

The McCain camp wants to raise the issue that Senator Obama and not Senator McCain is playing the race card in the election, focusing the campaign on the issue of race and on character. Since McCain is not winning on the issues he must win on character. Consequently, McCain's campaign has two main arguments about Senator Obama. First, he is risky (he is a celebrity and not a politician; he has "fans;" he would rather win the campaign and not the war; he delivers great speeches but does not have great ideas).

Second, Obama is different (he likes arugula; he goes to the gym three times a day; he appeals to foreigners; he prefers MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew -- Black Forest Berry Honest Tea). At Open Left, Chris Bowers notes the premise behind this is "different who are people suck." The is just tribal politics of which identity politics is a sub-category.

In addition to his arguments, McCain's new race strategy is to push the issue of race as far as possible without every being explicit. The celeb ad is one part of the strategy. The creators of the "Celeb" ad are the creators of the attack against Harold Ford Jr., in "Call Me." However, "Celeb" does not go as far as "Call Me" did. It went far enough to move the discussion to race but it is only suggestive and implicit in a way that "Obama did drugs so maybe he is a dealer" is over the top and explicit, right Mr. Penn?

By moving the topic to discuss race we move further away from the issues, especially when the end of July numbers shows even more problem with jobs and corporations. This would be all bad news for McCain if we would focus on it. Instead, the McCain campaign stirs the pot of racial resentment, especially within the "blue collar" and lower-income demographics. As Ben Smith at Politico discusses, while racism is not necessary a campaign strategy, racial resentment is necessary to increase racially-polarized voting, which would only hurt Senator Obama or any racial candidate in most majoritarian voting systems.

In an interview with CNN's John King, Senator McCain awkward addresses the race issue, claiming that there is no place for it in this campaign, the Obama campaign used the race card, and then ends the interview with no chance of rebuttal. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, said Obama pulled from the bottom of the Deck to play the race card. For Obama to use the race card, McCain suggests, is to try to win on style and not substance, reinforcing argument one, and McCain cares too much for the Ameircan people to let that happen, reinforcing argument two that states Obama is different, since Obama is not patriotic and does not care about the American people as a president should. Subsequently, McCain cares the American people, hence, he is more patriotic.

Another potential topic where McCain can use this strategy is affirmative action. Recently McCain's reversed his position on affirmative action, as he now will vote for the anti-affirmative action initiatives in Arizona. All he needs is the media to ask him about it and he can reinforce his to arguments about Obama: Affirmative Action provides people with benefits who do not deserve them, making that group "special." The first argues that the people receiving the benefits are less qualified (aka, they lack substance) and these practices create special groups and treat citizens differently.

Conincidently, there are are three states with anti-affirmative action initiatives on the ballot this fall and two of them are the "Swing States" of New Mexico and Colorado. Imagine that: a controversial initiative hoping to stir the emotions just like, on a limited scale, the Gay-Marriage Initiatives of 2004.

By walking around the issue of race, the McCain campaign entices the media to pick up the story, which it did because there is little else to cover (or what there is to cover may require too much substantive reporting of actual issues) and draw the Obama campaign to discuss race, which they have to in response to McCain and the Media. When everyone discusses race, especially potential double-standards on race, this may raise racial resentment. And if there is a discussion of race or the development of racial resentment, Senator Obama loses voters.

If Senator Obama continues to make comments to defend himself against the different charge, then the McCain campaign will make the argument that Obama is playing a game with race. This provides he McCain campaign to interject race as they can quickly counter with a Chicken Little argument or "There he goes again." Of course, McCain will not be able to play this game throughout the fall as, at some point, he must actually address the issues and not Senator Obama.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some Pedagogical Help, Please

I was thinking about including a section on visual rhetoric in my upcoming freshmen composition course. I thought that I would start with the following picture. I'm certain that it's ripe for analysis, but I'm not really sure what to say about it, or where to go from here. Any advice...?

What's Next for G-dub?

According to Dave-TV (not to be confused with Dave TV), the best post-presidential job for George W. Bush is that of a Motivational Speaker. Here's why:
The president understands what it takes to get somewhere in life. For him, every day is a mission accomplished, and he can swiftly sum up his winning philosophy in a few words. "I hope the ambitious realise they are more likely to succeed with success as opposed to failure."

That, and his ability to shoulder responsibility ("My job is a decision-making job. As a result, I make a lot of decisions"), make him ideally suited to a career as a life coach. We expect he'll be in great demand as a motivational speaker. And let's not forget his wide understanding of how industry works. As he once said: "The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there's jobs at the machine-making place."

Ancient Fart Joke

Reuters reports that researchers have traced the world's oldest recorded joke--a fart joke--back to 1900 B.C.E. It was a saying among the Sumerians, who resided in what is now southern Iraq.

Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap.

It's been quite some time since I've studied the Akkadian language--the successor to ancient Sumerian, beginning around the second millennium B.C.E.--but I think the joke would have sounded something like this in its original tongue (NB: my translation here attempts to represent the text phonetically for my audience at TRS; obviously, it is not an attempt to reconstruct the text as it would have been read by Sumerians, as their cuneiform writing system is impossible to decipher for those who have not studied the language, and also my keyboard does not have the characters necessary to render the text such):

licunim sutatra mu naka shi ni petikkatra tam triali; tu yu mistress no ppfffttt a dkratanum pruni.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hillary CLinton Night at the Democratic Convention

According to CNN, Senator Clinton will speak on the second night of the convention, Tuesday, August 26h. Coincidently, August 26th is the 88th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. It will be interesting to see how she discusses the anniversary, the tension in the campaign, and the Democratic Party.

Of course, the underlying implication is that Senator Clinton will not be the V.P. According to USA Today, Vote Both, he Obama-Clinton advocacy group will close its doors.

And the deterioration of politics continues

Senator John McCain released a new web ad for his anti-Obama message. It is titled "Celeb." The amount to dissect in this 30 second spot is just astonishing:

First, Obama is not a member of the Liberal, Elite East-Coast. Instead, he is a "empty vessel," a representative of the Hollywood Elite. He performs, he does not lead and he does not govern. He enchants through words and images.

Second, Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears appear in the video. We know the first since she is the heiress to the Hilton chain and a movie-star. Well, she appears in them any way though she does not act. Well, maybe she acts in her home-videos. The second lip-sics, is completely crazy, and cannot raise children. I wonder what the message is, besides the Harold Ford Jr., "Call Me" implications, which may not be strong as neither Brittney nor Paris seems desirable anymore. But, as Talking Points Memo discusses, the race implications are there, yet again.

Third, and this is the best part: Obama in Germany. A Crowd chants the same phrase over and over. He is known for delivering speeches that appeal to the passions and move the masses. He is unknown, hence risky and depends on "foreign" goods. As The New Republic notes, the ad looks very similar to the end of "Triumph of the Will."

But I am sure this is a coincidence since Grampa "Straight Talk" approved the message.

And just think it is still July. I wonder how explicit the attacks will be in November.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Can anyone explain to me how public "official" apologies for hideous acts in history are useful or beneficial? (For example, the recent apology by the House of Representatives for slavery and Jim Crow). The whole effort feels very artificial and half-assed and doesn't seem to make much of a difference. Am I missing something? (Solon, I suspect that you have a lengthy explanation at the ready...)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Remember When

A friend just sent me a link to an older blog with a list of the best malapropisms from The Sopranos. In honor of the rumored movie, I thought I'd pass it on. My favorite? "I agree with that Senator Sanitorium. He says if we let this stuff go too far, pretty soon we'll be fucking dogs."

Last Night: A Study in Terministic Screens

Last night things happened that, perhaps, affected the way Board Members "view" one another.

It needed to go on record.