You are currently browsing the daily archive for October 29, 2008.

Advertisements

(CBS) Personal Internet pages and web postings provide a disturbing glimpse into the racist minds of the two self-described “skinheads” who were allegedly plotting to carry out a mass killing spree that included beheading African-Americans and assassinating presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Yesterday, federal investigators announced the arrests of 20-year-old Daniel Cowart of Bells, Tenn., and 18-year-old Paul Schlesselman of West Helena, Ark., who were driving around in a car painted with swastikas and other white supremacist slogans while in possession of five stolen guns. Authorities are skeptical the men were a threat. They say there is no evidence of them actually trying to carry out an assassination, but during questioning the men allegedly told investigators they were preparing to kill 88 people “targeting a predominately African-American school, going state to state while robbing individuals and continuing to kill people.” The men also allegedly said they wanted to “drive their vehicle as fast as they could towards Obama shooting him from the windows” while dressed in “all white tuxedos” and wearing “top hats.”

While the alleged plot may never have been carried out, both men have their own Myspace pages where they make a series of racist assertions and proudly tote their guns.

On his MySpace page, Schlesselman lists his occupation as “being racist” and writes “I’m white. I’m proud. I get angry. I like guns. I like weapons. I need money wiggers…be afraid.” “Wiggers” is a derogatory slang term used to describe a white person who emulates stereotypical mannerisms of African-Americans. He also posted a homemade video on MySpace in which he appears to be mocking “wiggers” and African-Americans.

He last logged onto his MySpace page on October 20 the same day, investigators say, Cowart traveled from Tennessee to Arkansas to meet with him and begin the alleged killing spree. On that day, Schlesselman listed his mood as “creative.”

Schlesselman also lists his cell phone number on his MySpace page. CBS News called the number. His voicemail first plays what sounds like a racist country song. Then, Schlesselman leaves a disturbing rant filled with profanities and racial slurs against African-Americans. He ends the message saying “white power.”

On Cowart’s MySpace page, there are a series of photos showing guns displayed in different positions titled “my guns.” In one photo, Cowart is holding a large rifle while wearing a sleeveless shirt. A swastika tattoo, typically associated with white supremacists, can be seen on his right arm. In another picture, he displays what appears to be an iron-cross symbol, often associated with racist skinheads, tattooed on his left chest. A message on his MySpace pages says: “Better to die quick fighting on your feet then to live forever begging on your knees.”

CBS News traced Cowart’s email and discovered that he is a forum member of the website StormFront.org, reportedly the nation’s largest website for white supremacists known as “white-power.” In January, Cowart posted a note on a message board titled “what to carry for protection in a car?” He wrote “I live in Tennessee and I carry a expandable/collapsible police baton with me nearly everywhere. It is 100% legal here but I doubt it is in Jew York City.” He continued, “I would carry a handgun, but as you know you must be 21 to do so. But I would go with the other suggestions of either a baseball bat, hammer, or some other tool.”

In another posting about slavery, he wrote: “Why buy a slave? Haven’t we learned our lesson already? If we didn’t bring slaves over here in the first place, would things be so bad now? I think not…”

Cowart and Schlesselman are being held without bond in Tennessee. They are scheduled to appear before a judge on Thursday.

Source: CBS News

Alaska Governor and Republican Vice President hopeful Sarah Palin may be facing another round of scrutiny, this time for charging the state for her children to travel with her while conducing official state business.

CBS News has obtained a copy of the complaint that Frank Gwartney, a retired lineman in Anchorage filed last Friday, with Alaska’s Attorney General, Talis Colber in Juneau. “Palin ran on the platform of ethics, transparency and anti-corruption. I’m tired of the hypocrisy that exists in Government and people need to know the truth,” said Gwartney.

The complaint against Governor Palin, alleges Misuse of Official Position: “Gov. Palin attempted to and in fact did use her official position for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits for her daughters…” All the allegations contained in the complaint are related to state reimbursed travel.

In Alaska, ethics complaints filed against the Governor are confidential. “We can neither confirm nor refute that a complaint has been filed against Governor Sarah Palin. Any complaint remains confidential unless the person being charged waives confidentiality or if the complaint progresses to the state of probable cause,” Assistant District Attorney, Dave Jones told CBS News.

Bristol, Piper and Willow, Palin’s daughters, accrued $32,629 in travel expenses while Palin’s husband Todd raked up $22,174 – all billed to the state for a total of $54,803.00.

“The Governor’s office has expended $54,803.00 in Alaska state dollars for family travel since December 2006,” according to the Governor’s Administrative Services Director, Linda Perez. “The documentation related to family travel has changed and you have to keep in mind that the governor and her family are very popular,” added Perez. […]

Source: CBS

In an October 27 article, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz reported that Fox News Channel “now expresses regret for booking [Andy] Martin” — who, as Media Matters for America has noted, has, among other things, referred to a judge as a “crooked, slimy Jew” and accused African-Americans of being “willing to corrupt and abuse their public offices” — on the October 5 edition of Fox News’ Hannity’s America.

As Media Matters documented, Sean Hannity hosted Martin — identified by Hannity as an “Internet journalist” — to make what Hannity called “the explosive claim that [Sen. Barack] Obama’s role as a community organizer was a political staging ground perpetuated by the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers.”

Kurtz wrote: “[Fox News Senior Vice President Bill] Shine says Hannity disagrees with some of Martin’s past comments. ‘Having that guy on was a mistake,’ Shine says. ‘We obviously didn’t do enough research on who the guest was.’ ” But according to searches of the Nexis and Factiva databases, Hannity himself has not expressed regret or acknowledged having made a mistake regarding Martin on either Hannity’s America or Hannity & Colmes, both Fox News shows.

Source: HP

Why Are the Conservatives Quoting an Anti-Semite?

Robert Gibbs takes on Sean Hannity on Ayers, Racist Anti-Semitic Guest

A new poll from Arizona State University finds John McCain just two points ahead of Barack Obama in his home state.

The results would likely be dismissed if not for the reputation of Bruce Merrill, the poll director, whose work is considered a gold standard in Arizona polling.

Some details:

    Republican John McCain leads Democrat Barack Obama by two points (46 percent to 44 percent) in Arizona, a margin that makes the race too close to call, according to a new Cronkite/Eight Poll. The poll of 1,019 registered voters in Arizona was conducted Oct. 23-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    According to poll director Dr. Bruce Merrill, “The race in Arizona is very close. Supporters of both candidates are highly committed to their candidates, with 94 percent of Obama’s supporters and 93 percent of McCain’s supporters indicating that they are firmly committed and won’t change their mind before Election Day. In addition, the undecided vote is very low, which means that there are few people remaining to be persuaded during the last week of the campaign. Obama has been closing the gap by attracting independents and women to his campaign. McCain does well among conservative Democrats and evangelicals. Still, a week is a long time in a political campaign and anything can happen. Who wins will be determined by which candidate gets their supporters out to the polls on Election Day.”

The previous Arizona State University, taken last month, had McCain leading 45 percent to 38 percent

Source: HP

Obama’s largest US rally

The real question should be does Barack Obama – represent a new politics? No doubt one that is more inclusive and forward thinking. That that many people could hear his message and believe it enough to turn out in numbers upwards of 1/4 million (some were turned away), in a country such as Germany, with its history in the last century – which could be held up as a lesson for us all – that were eager for a new message of hope and away from the things that divide us – and to build the future that if we work for and we believe in – we can have – could not have been an accident – as this type of change is no extravagance – its human kind saying we want something different – and we like what he is offering us.

Barack Obama will go on national television tonight and air a 30-minute infomercial about himself and his presidential campaign.

Several political image makers, both Republicans and Democrats, say it’s a smart move. But is there a risk of excess in it, as well?

While Obama hasn’t made many strategic mistakes in his campaign against Republican John McCain, he has, on occasion, shown a weakness for extravagance.

In July, Obama’s visits to Afghanistan and Iraq generated comforting images of the senator with military leaders and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But his trip ended in Berlin with an image of 200,000 fans, mostly Europeans, chanting Obama’s name.

In August, his campaign navigated the minefield of the Democratic Party’s feuding families to pull off a convention that began healing the wounds between the Clinton and Obama camps. Then it came to its conclusion between two Greek columns where a triumphant Obama delivered an acceptance speech to a football stadium crowd of more than 80,000.

Today, Obama is dominating the television ad wars. As of Oct. 22, Obama placed 150% more ads than McCain in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to the Nielsen Co.

Despite all that, and despite his lead in national and most battleground polls, the campaign decided to plunk down between $3 and $5 million to buy half-hour blocks of time at 8 p.m. tonight on NBC, CBS, FOX, Univision, BET, MSNBC and TV One for delivery of his final argument to the voters.

Could it seem to some voters like overkill?

Republican political strategist Alex Castellanos says that it might. But even his advice is to go for it.

“It’s like football,” says Castellanos. “People may complain that a team is running up the score, but that team is still the one that wins.”

The Obama campaign scoffs at the idea that the infomercial is more luxury than necessity. This is, after all, a campaign scarred by its surprise loss in the New Hampshire primary after polls had shown double-digit leads.

On the campaign trail, Obama’s warnings against complacency are taking on increasingly urgent tones. He has vowed to finish the race on offense and the infomercial is a part of that strategy, say advisers.

“With this historic election only a week away – and John McCain’s angry, desperate attacks mounting by the day – we want to make sure every voter heading into the voting booth knows exactly what Barack Obama would do to bring about fundamental change as president,” a campaign statement noted.

Jim Jordan, a Democratic strategist, says the broadcast is timed to sway late breaking, undecided voters who can often tighten or determine a close race in the final days.

“There is a discrete segment of the electorate, primarily female, who are late deciders. They care about policy and elections, but they are very, very busy. They actively tune it out until the last week or ten days. Then they go and seek and acquire information,” he says.

The trick, of course, is getting them to watch rather than click away to ABC, the lone major network that won’t air the infomercial, or to some other Obama-free cable TV station.

Politicians have had mixed success at that in the past.

Before this year’s Super Tuesday primary, Democrat Hillary Clinton broadcast a live town hall meeting on the Hallmark Channel. It was watched by 540,000 households or about 705,000 viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings.

A better parallel to Obama’s strategy could be Independent candidate H. Ross Perot, who aired 15 infomercials in the 1992 presidential campaign.

Perot’s programs drew an average audience of 11.6 million viewers, or 4.6 percent of viewers nationwide, according to Nielsen. His one simulcast on ABC and CBS on Nov. 2, 1992 attracted 26 million viewers, Nielsen found.

Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project, said Obama may not draw as large an audience as Perot.

“Ross Perot was sort of new on the scene. People hadn’t heard of him,” said Goldstein. “I’d be surprised if there are a lot of undecided eyes or passive viewers watching the Obama video. It could be a lot of Obama house parties.”

But Goldstein and Evan Tracey, founder of Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising, said the real benefit to Obama could be simply the attention the infomercial draws from the mainstream press.

“It probably locks up 24 hours of the news cycle,” said Tracey. “It’s going to suck a lot of oxygen out of the room.”

Adds Goldstein: “John McCain’s only chance is to disqualify Barack Obama. He has seven days. Every day that people are talking about Barack Obama’s infomercial is a day that John McCain isn’t getting his message out.”

The biggest risk in airing the infomercials, according to the strategists, is that Obama could irritate people by interrupting their regular television viewing habits.

Joe Lockhart, a Democratic strategist, says that is less of a risk today given the hundreds of television shows to watch at any given hour.

“If this was 30 years ago, you’d be running a big risk that people who don’t want to watch it would be mad,” says Lockhart.

“The benefit is you get to make your closing argument in a dramatic way without the filter of the media. It gives you more context and texture than a 30-second or 60-second ad,” he adds.

Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist who was once a McCain adviser, agrees. “I don’t see any risk at all,” he said in an e-mail. “I’ve been urging McCain high command to do a TV show too, but….”

McCain, of course, could air his own show. Under federal law, if he sought to buy equal time, the networks would be required to sell it to him.

His problem is money. Unlike Obama, who has collected more donations than any other general election presidential candidate, McCain would be forced to pull money from a battleground state in order to pay for the national infomercial.

It’s that imbalance in resources that might touch the overkill nerve in some viewers and voters.
But Goldstein can’t imagine such a worry is even a factor in the Obama camp.

“Campaigns tend not to worry about overkill,” he says. “Campaigns, by definition, are overkill.”

NATIONAL

From the ABC/Washington Post tracking poll:

    More than twelve million voters have already cast ballots in the presidential contest, according to one estimate, and new data from the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll shows these voters breaking Democratic by a wide margin.

    Among those who said they have already voted at an early voting location or sent in an absentee ballot, Barack Obama picked up 60 percent of the vote in the new poll to John McCain’s 39 percent.

    These voters make up 9 percent of “likely” voters in the track.

    The senator from Illinois has a similar lead, 58 to 39 percent, among those who plan to vote early but have not yet. (Those who plan to vote on Election Day also go for Obama, but by a narrower, 51 to 45 percent.)

From Gallup:

    The voter preferences of the group of 1,430 individuals who have already voted and who were interviewed by Gallup between Oct. 17 and Oct. 27 show a 53% to 43% Obama over McCain tilt.

    Among the group of those who say they have not yet voted, but will before Election Day, the skew towards Obama is more pronounced, at 54% to 40%. By comparison, those who are going to wait to vote on Nov. 4 manifest a narrower 50% to 44% Obama over McCain candidate preference. (Across all registered voters over this time period, Obama leads McCain by a 51% to 43% margin).

Some analysis of early trends from Nate Silver:

    According to Michael McDonald’s terrific website, there are three states in which early voting has already exceeded its totals from 2004. These are Georgia, where early voting is already at 180 percent of its 2004 total, Louisiana (169 percent), and North Carolina (129 percent).

    Hmm … can anybody think of something that those three states have in common?

    The African-American population share is the key determinant of early voting behavior. In states where there are a lot of black voters, early voting is way, way up. In states with fewer African-Americans, the rates of early voting are relatively normal.

    This works at the county level too. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland), which about 30 percent black, twice as many people have already voted early as in all of 2004. In Franklin County (Columbus), which is about 18 percent black and also has tons of students, early voting is already about 3x its 2004 total.

COLORADO

Early voting is currently at over 75% of 2004 levels with one week to go.

Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in early voting, albeit by a slim margin – 38.6% of all early voters, to 37.9% Republicans

TEXAS

“Across Dallas County and into the outer suburbs, thousands of people continue to stream into polling places, dwarfing early-voting records and raising questions about what the preliminary tallies mean for candidates and political parties.”

FLORIDA

In this critical swing state, early voters already make up 27% of total 2004 numbers (in 2004, early voters constituted 36% of total votes).

Dems outnumber Republicans so far, 44.7% to 40%.

GEORGIA

Early voting is already 33% higher than 2004 numbers, and is equivalent to 31% of all votes cast in Georgia in 2004.

Of early voters, 35% are African-American, compared to 25% of the total voting population in 2004.

Also, nearly 56% of early voters are women, another excellent sign for Democrats.

OHIO

“Among those in Ohio who told WHIO-TV/SurveyUSA that they have already voted, Barack Obama leads by 13 points. When the two populations are combined, the data is as here reported: Obama 49%, McCain 45%. Compared to an identical WHIO-TV/SurveyUSA poll released two weeks ago, Obama is down 1 point; McCain is flat.”

ILLINOIS

60,000 votes have already been cast in the Tenth Congressional District.

Of those, 58% were cast by registered Democrats, compared to 25% for Republicans.

Obama should win the district and state in a landslide, but these numbers bode especially well for IL-10 Democratic candidate Dan Seals.

IOWA

Registered Democrats have a 20-point advantage in early voting over Republicans in Iowa.

LOUISIANA

Early voting is near double 2004 levels. Of early voters, registered Democrats have a huge edge, 57.9% to 29.4%.

34% of early voters are African-American.

NEVADA

Democrats lead 54.4% to 29.1% among early voters. Early voters constituted 59.4% of all voters in 2004; this year, early voting to this point is equivalent to 44% of all 2004 numbers.

NORTH CAROLINA

The proportion of black voters among all early voters has leveled off – they constitute 28% of all voters now – but still exceeds black registration in the state.

Early voting has far outstripped 2004 levels, and Democrats are turning out disproportionately.

Source: HP

It’s always nice to see Michelle Obama.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, answers a question from plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Pic. Ap

16/10/2008 WIRE: Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, answers a question from plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Pic. Ap

See original Obama-JTP footage below

The Statement:

Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, speaking at an October 27 rally in Leesburg, Virginia, referred to Barack Obama’s October 12 conversation about tax policy with Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the citizen now known as “Joe the Plumber.” She said Obama said he “wants to spread the wealth” and that “Joe the Plumber said to him, it sounded like socialism.”

Get the facts!

The Facts:
Obama met Wurzelbacher at a campaign stop outside Toledo, Ohio, on October 12, Wurzelbacher told Obama he was getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year and asked, “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” Under Obama’s plan, taxes would rise for individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and families with incomes above $250,000.

Obama went into a lengthy explanation of his plan. He said he wants to cut taxes “a little bit more for the folks who are most in need; and for the 5 percent of the folks who are doing very well — even though they’ve been working hard and I appreciate that — I just want to make sure they’re paying a little bit more in order to pay for those other tax cuts.”

He argued that if consumers had more money to spend, it would be good for enterprises such as a plumbing business. “Right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody, and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Wurzelbacher invoked a common small-business concern with Obama: that higher taxes compromise hard-earned profits. “I’ve worked hard. I’m a plumber. I work 10-12 hours a day and I’m buying this company and I’m going to continue working that way. I’m getting taxed more and more while fulfilling the American dream.”

He never told Obama at the time his idea “sounded like socialism.” But two days later, in an interview on Fox News, Wurzelbacher said, “he wants to distribute wealth. I’m not trying to make statements here. That’s kind of a socialist viewpoint.”

In an interview with CNN that aired October 16, Wurzelbacher clarified that the company he wants to buy makes well less than $250,000 a year — which, under Obama’s plan, means his taxes would not be increased.

McCain and Palin frequently refer to “Joe the Plumber” on the campaign trail. Since his encounter with Obama, Wurzelbacher has received much notoriety and has signaled his support for McCain.

Wurzelbacher told conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham on October 24 that he’s considering a run for Congress in 2010. That would pit Wurzelbacher against longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur for Ohio’s 9th District on the state’s northern border, which includes Toledo and Sandusky.

“I’ll tell you what, we’d definitely be in one heck of a fight, Marcy Kaptur definitely has a following in this area,” he said of the possibility. “But, you know, I’d be up for it.”

The Verdict: True. However, while Wurzelbacher has said Obama’s plan comes from a “socialist viewpoint,” [Mr. Wurzelbacher did not mention the word ‘socialism’ at the time of meeting with Obama.]

Source: CNN Political Ticker

Keith Olbermann feature:

The original JTP-Obama footage starts about 6:00 mins in :: commentary on JTP-Obama starts about 4:45 mins in :: It shows how McCain and Palin have whipped up a story out of details that were largely not in their favor :: Obama explains how his plan would be better for a small business like the one Joe hoped to own and Joe listened without ever telling Obama that his plan sounds like Socialism, as both Palin and McCain have claimed.

Obama’s Day In The Rain

Barack Obama spent part of Tuesday outside in the rain in Chester, PA, while John McCain postponed his outside rally in nearby Quakertown. Dressed in sneakers and jeans, the rain pouring down as he spoke, Obama addressed the 9,000 who turned out. “”Let me just begin by saying that a little bit of rain never hurt anybody.”

Photos: HP