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Are Demographics Destiny?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, political analysts Merle and Earl Black discussed the importance of demographics in predicting and understanding voting patterns in different states and regions.

Earl Black said:

“Well, you can't understand the nation just by looking at national outcomes. Because America's too diverse.'”

Campaigns have long devoted resources to targeted advertising, but in recent years they have begun using sophisticated marketing techniques to engage niche demographic groups with messages tailored specifically for them.

In an interview with FRONTLINE, WASHINGTON POST reporter Thomas Edsall described the Republicans’ “metrics” system of targeted outreach in 2000 and 2004:

“[They] took Nielsen lists and then consumer data lists. You can buy all kinds of lists of how you use your American Express card and VISA card. Every time you swipe it, it goes into a data bank. And what you buy, what your habits [are] -- they then would get those lists for people. You have 200 million people on these lists that you can buy. You then survey these lists politically and find out who is a Republican. Then you do correlations on -- for example, people who have caller ID on their phones tend to be Republicans. People who drink Coors beer tend to be Republicans. People who watch Fox News tend very much to be Republican. You get all these flags … and then you would find ways to then start targeting people, no matter where they lived.”

Senator Barack Obama’s campaign has deployed an even more sophisticated system for 2008, according to SALON writer Mike Madden:

“The 5 million people on Obama's e-mail list are just the start of what political strategists say is one of the most sophisticated voter databases ever built. Using a combination of the information that supporters are volunteering, data the campaign is digging up on its own and powerful market research tools first developed for corporations, Obama's staff has combined new online organizing with old-school methods of voter outreach to assemble a central database for hitting people with messages tailored as closely as possible to what they're likely to want to hear. It's an ambitious melding of corporate marketing and grassroots organizing that the Obama campaign sees as a key to winning this fall... It means the campaign may not wind up wasting time contacting people who are probably voting for McCain, and that when Obama aides or volunteers go out looking for supporters, they have a pretty good idea of what issues those potential supporters care about most.”

What do you think?

  • Are your political views predictable based on your age, background, and consumer choices?

  • Does targeted outreach to tell niche voters what they want to hear undermine citizens’ ability to understand different viewpoints and reach compromise on issues?

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    James O'Brien,

    I share your frustration with the political process. I share your disgust with the way the campaign focuses upon personal attack instead of issues. Where I profoundly disagree with you is your assessment of Left/Right and "Half of America will hate/the other half will love" the outcome of the election.

    The entire nation has been, for over a hundred and twenty years, and especially ever since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, heavily propagandized against ANY social construct that eschews "free market capitalism".

    Anti-intellectualism has a long and sordid history in the life of our nation, going all the way back to the 1700's. In our modern era, this anti-intellectualism manifested itself as a rabid, mindless and strident anti-communism that reached its shrillest form with the insanity of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his "supporters".

    In the name of anti-communism, the American people sanctioned a shameful and dastardly 17-plus year mass slaughter in Southeast Asia.

    In the name of anti-communism, the American people sanctioned a horrific U.S./CIA intervention in the internal affairs of Iran in 1954, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Mossadegh, and paving the way for the Shah, training his secret police (SAVAK), and building enough ill will and resentment to create the Islamist backlash.

    In the name of anti-communism, the American people sanctioned the U.S. intervention in Chile that overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende on 9-11-73, ushering in the fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet.

    In the name of anti-communism, the American people sanctioned U.S. covert support for subversion of Daniel Ortega's democratically elected Sandinista government. This after U.S. support for over 50 years of brutal dictatorship under the Somoza family.

    In the name of anti-communism, the American people sanctioned over 75 years of covert as well as overt intervention in the internal affairs of Asia, Africa and Latin America. This in direct contradiction to our own revolutionary origins and our own democratic principles.

    We have, en masse, as a society, blindly sanctioned our government's crushing role in the wholesale destruction of popular democratic movements throughout the under-developed world.

    To talk about Left/Right politics in the USA is to betray an ignorance that is both deep and profound. The entire locus of political discourse in our society has been so skewed for so long that people STILL, to THIS DAY, speak of a political blue blood like FDR as a "leftist", when in fact, Roosevelt SAVED the capitalist system in America with his Keynesian economic response to the Great Depression.

    There IS no "Left" in this society. There are only varying degrees of political support for the elite who own and operate the U.S. economy. Unions and the very idea of unionism have been effectively destroyed and thoroughly discredited. Working people have no one to turn to for redress of grievances in the economy.

    The social safety net has been shredded. Deregulation has "privatized" the corporate powers that be to the point where the individual has no one to protect him against corporate wrongdoing.

    Demographics? Elections? McCain vs Obama? Does anyone really believe for one moment that the outcome of this upcoming election will begin to address the very serious underlying problems with which we have been hamstrung by the current "architects" of "compassionate conservatism"? Of "no child left behind"? Of "family values"? Of "preventive war"? Of "water boarding"?
    Of "domestic wiretapping"?
    Of "rendered prisoners"?

    The litany is seemingly endless. Our people are pitifully illiterate in ways that are far more important than technical literacy!

    No one cares anymore, its all about party politcs and hate. If either one of these guys get elected, only half of America will be happy, not the other half. Let's not kid ourselves anymore,when these two liars talk about bringing a "devided America" back together again. We all know thats a load of crap! THOSE ON THE LEFT WILL STILL HATE THOSE ON THE RIGHT AND VICE VERSUS.

    Take a real sober measure of this McCain.

    DEMOGRAPHICS??!! This subject, this question, is an abject JOKE!!

    Our citizenry DESERVES, has EARNED, has gone out of their WAY to INSURE, has by and large neglected to PREVENT, has stupidly and ignorantly ACQUIESCED in.....the USURPATION of our government and the EROSION of our Constitutional rights! What MORE can be said of an idiotic "electorate" that put this "Administration" BACK into the White House after being shown, in no vague or uncertain terms, exactly WHAT this Administration is all about?? The ELECTORATE voted for 4 MORE YEARS of this insanity!! They GOT what they VOTED for. They'll probably DO IT AGAIN!! I'll be SHOCKED if they do otherwise!

    A real citizen would have her hands on the wheel that not only leads left or right (using the rudder), but also (through a control column connected to the flaps) up or down. A proficient citizen would optimize trim (through power inclination) and perfect bank (aerolons).
    Presently we are content to fly helpless in a cattle car, where wealthy pilots are locked in the cockpit with parachutes and sidearms. Real citizenship would be like when Sarah Palin takes off for the governor's office in her fully paid for and well-serviced personally owned float plane. But we might have to totally prohibit the supersonic menace of the kind of corporate jet Cindy McCain has qualified to operate.

    Am I dreaming or......
    A 1\2 black African, abadoned by his father and raised by the white 1\2 of his family, in Hawaii, Harvard educated (so was G. Bush),grew up to be the DEM. nominee for president and just visited white, Pres. Clinton at his HARLEN office, then tell the world that Slick Willie is the smartest MAN in politics,but his wife lost the nomination to this very junior Senator from Harvard, which can only mean that Billy meant for Hillary to lose!....OR....
    is this just a SOAP OPRA?

    Is this one of those Oprah's surprise shows?

    Billy Bob, Florida where one can vote early, but not often as in Chi-town

    Jack Martin,
    Your metaphor of the American electorate being similar to a baby behind a pretend steering wheel brought a wistful half-smile to my face. Unlike that baby, however, the electorate consists of adults. As such, these adults presumably have the ability to read, to research, to explore, to discover, to look beyond tired platitudes and obvious manipulation, to plumb the depths of our historical record, generally to become very well informed. Yet most people, including our American brethren, our fellow citizens, do NOT spend much time or energy learning about our society. I would venture to say that most of our fellow citizens do not take citizenship much beyond the act of casting a ballot every 4 years. That doesn't make them bad people. It just makes them mediocre citizens.

    While I admit to being a hopeless bibliophile, steeped in the study of USA history (a passion stimulated by watching Walt Disney's "Davy Crockett" series as a young boy back in the 1950's), I have no expectation that the general public could, should, or would match my thirst for books. That said, I WOULD love to be part of an electorate that is at least SOMEWHAT educated regarding historical and societal trends. Alas, 'tis not to be!

    The digital/electronic revolution, the American penchant for anti-intellectualism, the profound deterioration in the national level of formal education, the deliberate dumbing-down of our citizenry, and the concomitant coarsening of our societal mores all trend in a very disturbing direction.

    We have become a ship on a stormy sea, without rudder, without engines, without sails, and without oars. Yet we continue to amuse ourselves as if "everything will work out".

    CC; Thanks for choosing me for your team. I thought I was beginning to sound like Fran G. in that post you lauded. There are good people on here who will take an insult and then try to reason with a reprobate. I can see though that we compassionate radicals are beginning to have an effect on this audience. (Little matter in itself.) The trouble is we have no missionary force in the field. (Or if we do the police are bustin' their cameras and heads.) Feel free to contact:
    Hell, even if you are a government plant or provocature. Some of my best conversations are with retired CIA in El Dorado, NM near Santa Fe. They tell me Pervez Mushariff will soon take up residence.

    Jack Martin's post is eminently sane, humane, rational and quite simple. For these reasons, his ideas will be dismissed or disregarded.

    Dear readers, please indulge me in a metaphor. American society is akin to a greatly suffering patient who is bordering on terminal brain and lung cancer. The patient is on life support and in gret pain.

    McCain and Palin's solution is to flog the patient with whips made of barbed wire, smugly congratulating themselves that, while this solution produces more pain in the short term, it WILL very soon put the poor patient out of his misery. There's not even a PRETENSE of actually trying to HEAL the patient.

    Obama's and Biden's solution is to put a couple of bandaids on the patient's head, some cold compresses on his forehead, and a snug brace around the patient's chest . This MAY make the patient feel better for a few minutes, but since there's no root-cause analysis, no in-depth diagnostic effort, no targeted and focused treatment, this poor patient is definitely going to die anyway.

    AND....there we HAVE it, folks! A choice between tweedle dee and tweedle dum. Either way, we as a sociey are not getting any real root-cause analysis of our problems, not getting any effective diagnoses, and CERTAINLY NOT getting any workable SOLUTIONS!

    Demographics? Say what??!!

    Sherry: Step back and understand that this demographic is "artificially" divided by the promulgation of fear and insecurity. Religion, which was the rails of morality for a non-reflective segment of the population has now become a vehicle for our environmental and social demise. And material ambition, which was the motor of capitalism has been thwarted by the imposition of elite interest with much the same fatal result. (Can't slow the burning and digging long enough to built a new better infrastructure.) Whether one seeks a life in the spirit or in the market there is no good means of expression. Most Americans are without vital vocabulary in the same way they are without adequate material means to take action. Our voting now has the efficacy of a baby behind a pretend steering wheel. You can vote for Obama, as I will, in this nightmare election, but be prepared for the collective social upheaval which must follow and supercede this silly game if we are to survive. We must all find ourselves talking and working with people we have been taught and baited to hate and distrust if any inhabitant of this planet is to have a future. What has happened, the division, is a perversion and is maladaptive. It doesn't have to be like this. Let's find our commonality and replace failure with new things. Good faith among us must be restored or we all lose.

    This election may destroy the 'demographics' of expectations. Being a female, over 50 I personally have not trusted Hillary Clinton as I've watched her play the politics game on Capitol Hill. A woman doesn't have to prove her testosterone to be a strong woman. I am a moderate independent who changed to Democrat just to vote Against her in our primary. She's a multimillionaire and drinking a beer and "slumming around" for the cameras does NOT teach her what life for the rest of us is really like. IMO - she gave women a bad name.

    Let's face it - if she had been a male challenging Obama, she would have gracefully pulled out of the race soon as it was obvious and united the People (look at the other contenders) instead of trying to use Republican tactics to destroy him - and in the process destroy the Dem party and the American Peoples chance at something besides politics as usual. Pfft - the Reps are using her Own words and tactics against Obama, and she is still holding a grudge. How many people I've heard around here going "just like a woman - gotta have the last word". If she'd shown the inner strength and was truly for the people, such a withdrawal would now see her as Obama's VP choice.

    In my town, demographics would say that McCain/Palin are a shoo in for the Presidency - but all these extreme conservatives around me are shocked at his choice and asking questions you wouldn't expect. Things like - if we're too old at 65 to be considered a good hire at the local grocery store, how come some guy at 72 is a good hire for President? Business owners, viet nam vets - why can't they run and win?

    In the churches the talk is if she truly loved her family and believed in family values - why is she abandoning her family when they need her most? I've yet to run across one woman who thinks she was a good example of a Christian woman. The women here are appalled at Palin's lack of concern for her family except in how she can use them, the men are frustrated being told they're too old and here's McCain showing a serious lack of judgement and no substance in his speeches. He states the obvious - but his only answer is drill for more oil so we can stay addicted to foreign powers, attack anyone that gets in our way in our need for oil - and destroy the environment.

    Nope - demographics not going to work this time - most of the town is leaning toward the Libertarians. o.0

    Caribou Barbie is not as bad as the Democrats say she is, but she is still awful. What a weird choice.

    Yes, demographics do count and what's more SEX SELLS, as any marketer knows.

    The Palin "bump" is unquestionably coming from the poor white semi-literate descendents of the "Daughters of the Ameerican Revolution" in the many two-mule towms scattered across the Dobson / Limbaugh "ditto head" country.

    RE: Early support for Obama blows Election for Democrats.

    On 9/8/2008, in an ABC News Poll, Senator McCain has taken a percentage lead over Senator Obama in the race for the White House; this is a result of all the disenfranchised Hillary people who feel Hillary never got a chance to finish the Primary evenly. Perhaps it was a gender thing. Early intervention on the part of Senators Kennedy and Kerry and others swung the Primary election unfavorably towards Obama; ruining Hillary's chances for a fair, unbiased Primary.

    By the major Democrats backing Obama, they prejudiced Clinton; because they didn't allow the primary season to play out. Their early intervention helped sway the primary in Obama's favor; thereby splitting the Democratic Party. The Party was never united in January when Ted Kennedy and the rest of them backed Senator Obama; after that date the party would never be united.

    They threw a monkey wrench right into the works; tilting the Primary to Obama. Now the Hillary people are turning to McCain and Palin. I am sure that they would have went with Senator Obama if it was a fair and unbiased primary. They made a terrible decision to back Obama; if they are going to call the Primary election early on. They didn't allow the Primary to play out; that was a big mistake. Also Hillary carried Massachusetts; now we have our two US Senators telling us; "No Vote for Obama". As a Massachusetts resident, I would have voted for Obama if he had won fair and square, but between the gender thing, and whatever reason they decided to back Obama; this was a mistake; especially after the people in Massachusetts all ready voted for Hillary. Obama lost Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Florida and Texas; and she won the Popular Vote. Out of those 18 million people who voted for Hillary, if 10% go the other way, it is a done deal for McCain; he will be the next President.

    It is unfortunate that the Primary election was called in January, and now the results are becoming known. When Senator Obama should have a comfortable 20-30 point lead over Senator McCain, today he is losing. The ticket should have been Clinton/Obama, but they wanted to do it their way, If Obama loses, Howard Dean, and all the top democrats will be to blame; and we'll be stuck with McCain/Bush for another four years of nothing but fear. The Democrats made a bad choice; they should have let it play out.

    George C. Assad & Shawn O'Brien
    Boston, MA

    Oh, ye of little faith...
    check out, "An unreasonable man," that aired on PBS a while back. Learn about an American that has been standing up for what many 'commentors'
    seem to be attempting to verbalize. Ralph Nader has been trying to get the Lazboy dudes to listen up for DECADES.

    Actually, after hearing McCain's nomination acceptance speech, and as it seems no one is interested in Ralph, I may possibly consider voting for him. He sounded sincere. Maybe.

    Billy Bob, Florida where Obama said our vote could not count before he said our vote could count..What a guy!

    The first thing all US citizens who can vote is to ask ALL incumbants what their stance is on "NorthAmerican Security & Prosperity Partnership",this negates NAFTA and paves the way for a militarized North America.USNORTHCOM is something else that needs scrutiny. Demographics and ideologys of the ordinary citizen do not play any role in this. It is strictly a military industrial complex takeover by big corporations who make trillions on the backs of brave soldiers. And no way want to lose that staus quo.

    No, I don't think that my demographic group is a reliable predictor of my vote at all. As the female owner of a very, very small business, I see Hillary Clinton as only hurting me and tying my hands, by focing expenses on me that I cannot afford. Being in the midwest, I am concerned about the loss of good jobs, but I don't think either party is offering any viable plan on that. My state (IN) usually goes Republican, but from what I hear from friends and clients, that could well change this year. Out of frustration more than trust in Mr. Obama or any of his unsubstantiated promises.

    CC: the character "Billy Bob" (beelzebub?) is only a disrupter working for McCain. (Shoot him down:Put him in a squirrel cage:His courage is to napalm civilians from high altitude.) The only thing BB's honest about is his psychic fear of Obama's genitals.

    According to these two white Southerners, the Blacks, the implicit racism of their peers, and the natural ignorance that it stems from historic divides, are an unchallenged assumption.

    They imply that the intrinsic stupidity of Southern Whites makes them fundamentally incapable of figuring out that they don't make enough money to be affected by potential Democratic tax changes. That they are so stupid that they would rather economically doom this nation in endless wars on tactical and religious grounds, than elect a qualified 'black' candidate for president.

    These unchallenged assumptions and unstated implications are an insult to any human being. Yes, Southern Whites have demonstrated their suborn ignorance historically, their unethical old boys networks are legendary, as witnessed by the oil and war profiteering, but to tacitly assume that they are incapable of voting for a man of mixed-race background simply due to the plague of racism, or because they lack the religious tolerance embraced in the first amendment of the US Constitution, is to imply that these Southern White people are intrinsically inferior, incapable of change, and thus inhuman.

    Southern Men have unequaled egos, they lack a broad picture of the world, their elitism and narcissism borders on psychopathic, this is true. History shows us the flaws of their actions. All that is wrong in America: Slavery, Inequality, Sexism, Injustice, Violence, Intolerance, Child Abuse, Sexual Deviance, all these things are knowingly embraced by Southern Culture. But without the South what example would we have to learn from?

    To treat 'the culture of the South' as a monolithic slab of intense ignorance, unchangeable, is to write the South off as a relic, and condemn all Southerners to eternal damnation as unenlightened and un-savable creatures.

    I agree. Let's nuke'm.

    "If blue collar white southerners think their culture's being disrespected, then it's - I think it's very hard to reverse that. And it's very hard for them to see that the Democratic Party would provide them with programs that would make up for the taxes that they are clearly paying these days that they didn't, you know, 50 years ago."

    Hear, hear, Billy Bob! Yes! Let's have responsible government, by all MEANS! As soon as we can get corporate power to "play by the rules", then perhaps we can have a government that does the bidding of its PEOPLE instead of being owned, controlled and manipulated by big wealth.

    GOVERNMENT is not the primary power or problem. Elite wealth is the primary obstacle to good government. Responsibility needs to be assigned in direct proportion to power. The problem is that no one has the power to hold the wealthy elite accountable for their actions, so Blackwaters and Halliburtons abound. Wars proliferate. The masses starve or are slaughtered. All in the name of "free market economics". What a pathetically transparent ruse to "justify" global domination by the haves at the expense of the have-nots!

    Concerned Citizen 8-3-08 5:58PM
    I had an uncle that left a large corp. to build small stores in small towns in Tenn. for his 3 sons. However, Sam Walton had a similar idea--only much bigger and the family got out the business.

    Most large corp. have stock holders & many become wealthy, though their jobs are routine.

    If our economy can not compete on the world stage, much of the blame rest with the upper level management in their attempts to keep the bottom line up for this quarter just for their gross bonuses. They put R&D, capital investment, etc. on hold for the annual or quarterly reports. Look at the Steel industry. It did not modernise & it is gone.

    There is much blame to spread around, but if we do not have responsible govt. we will have hard times.

    I do not believe that my political views are predictable based on my age, background, and consumer choices because I tend to vote for the person(s)that I believe will do the best job for this country and for its citizens.

    Does targeted outreach to tell niche voters what they want to hear undermine citizens’ ability to understand different viewpoints and reach compromise on issues? Good question. But today is seems that many could care less about "understanding different viewpoints." Many only want to hear what their "side/party" has to say and they are unwilling or incapable of having an intellegent debate about any issue. Yes, I have my opinions - but I am willing to listen to another's opinions before I make up my mind. I know many who would never consider another's opinions because their party's talking points are the only right points - no matter how out of focus they might be.

    In the book Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America by Steven Waldman ( the author discusses what the Founding Fathers thought about religion and how the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were formed. Politics have been apparently been with us from the beginning of our country but there was debate and give and take. Today people seem all too willing to be part of a niche market and they are more than happy to let others provide them with "the facts" even though they may be skewed, inflated, or out-and-out lies.

    A man was born in 1921 in New England and came of age during the Great Depression. Though very intelligent, he was needed to contribute income to the household, and therefore only went as far academically as a HS diploma. As an only child, he worked odd jobs all throughout his childhood, shovelling coal, delivering groceries, doing all manner of odd jobs to help his immigrant parents.

    When WWII started, he served 4 years in the U. S. Army. Fortunately he survived the war uninjured. He married and moved to the West Coast with his new bride and his parents in tow. He found work, saved, bought a home, raised a family and supported 8 people out of his own little family-owned business.

    By the early 1970's, his business was devastated by the power and wealth of the much larger conglomerates against whom he had NO CHANCE to compete. He vacated his business and went back into the workforce as an employee of a national grocery chain.

    When his age started to show a bit, his young 2-something "manager" started "writing" him up for non-existent "infractions", belittling his efforts to contribute above and beyond what was called for by his job description, all to no avail.

    Yet he could not accept that he was deliberately being singled out and hounded for no other reason that his advanced age (57) no matter HOW much work he did or how WELL. The relentless corporate harrassment eventually triggered a breakdown in his health and he "retired" a broken and defeated man. He never made the connection between the micro-world and the macro-world, the connection between capitalist pursuit of profit and inhumane treatment of people (and in THIS case inhumane treatment meted out to HIM by his young punk of a "boss").

    How many fine, hard-working, taxpaying citizens over the history of our nation could tell a similar story? I know the numbers have to be in the millions! The "richest nation on earth" has an atricious social record!

    Readers who try to "circumscribe", ie: "limit" this discussion to an Obama vs McCain (tweedle dee vs tweedle dum)type of "debate" have TOTALLY missed the point! The entire machinery of government/economy/infrastructure/superstructure is already, and has been for many many decades OWNED, OPERATED and CONTROLLED by the power elite. WHAT part of this idea do the "people" not understand?! If the game is rigged, all "participants" are playing in a charade. Healthy competition in the marketplace has NEVER been a desirable part of American capitalist development. The towering figures of our economic history...JP Morgan (Morgan Trust, Morgan Guaranty, JP Morgan & Compnay), John D Rockefeller (Standard Oil), Andrew Carnegie (U S Steel)and all the other "robber barons" detested and loathed the very IDEA of competition in the marketplace! They fought tooth and nail, and the international conglomerates that exist today have continued to fight tooth and nail, to emasculate and neuter ANY attempt by the general public through our elected officials, to curb or regulate or in any way exercise any restraint whatsoever upon the accumulation of monetary the exclusion of ALL other social considerations.

    Those enormous structures erected by the afore-mentioned "captains of industry" STILL exert a stranglehold upon the allocation of natural as well as human resources! This to the exclusion of all other considerations save that of ever-increasing profitability and reduction of "costs" and "expenses".

    Basically, collusion is systemic and organically integrated into the fabric of capitalist development, both historically and currently.

    The owners of the economy own the population, own the natural resources, own the government, own everything and anything that can be subjected to their power and control. Does anyone truly DOUBT or somehow FAIL to SEE this???!! If you DO doubt this, just try challenging the power elite on anything important and watch what happens. American labor history is replete with examples of the unabashed and unrestrained use of lethal violence by the owners of the economy against unarmed men, women and children right here in the good ‘ol USA! Don’t take MY word for it, just Google IWW or Centralia Massacre or Palmer Raids or Red Scare or Sacco & Vanzetti or the Pullman Strike or….or…or. The information on U.S. Labor violence in our history is readily available if anyone cares to learn. An elite that is willing to resort to wholesale slaughter of their OWN domestic population certainly has no compunction about slaughtering people elsewhere in the world. Thus Vietnam for over 12 years of slaughter and destruction. Thus Iraq for an undetermined period of several years into the future.

    Denial is NOT a river in Egypt! Denial is alive and well in 2008 in the USA population!

    Just had a question or two for Concerned Citizen, Sept. 2 8:29PM.

    Of all serious, early candidates for president, Obama has the least foundation in real world experience.
    Obama's only claim to fame is his paternal ancestory, for if it were not for Oprah's early support, he would be watching from the sidelines. If it were not for over 95% of blacks (South, north, east, or west)joining together in early support, the junior Senator would be watching from the sidelines.
    When you point a finger at someone to assign a negative term, remember where three of your four fingers are pointing.

    Very interesting! Find out what voters want to hear--tell them--get the POWER and then what...?

    Biden has more TERMS in the Senate than Obama has YEARS in the Senate. Is that in any survey?

    Oprah and Giuliani each have more executive experience than all four candidates added together. Is that in any survey?

    Obama suggested we need a $1,000.00 stimulious. Does he plan on his children's generation paying for it, or grandchildren's?

    Is there a survey exploring why northeastern Ivy League Seantors (Kennedy, Kerry, McGovern, Biden + Ewdards) joined to support a junior Senator over Hillary? Isn't SHE cut out to be a good ole BOY?

    Pundits aplenty! Where is Edward R. Morrow when you need him? With all the other journalist...prehaps.
    'Cause there don't seem to be any serious questions about issues--with follow up questions, etc.

    Can't beliece Obama adapted a Kerry line...I first voted to not let FL votes count before I voted to let them vote, (sure now the nomination is locked up). What a guy!

    Worser and worser! I've never seen good ole Dick Cheney machine-gunning wolves from a helicopter.

    I remember his boss Nixon saving the wild ponies.

    What would Sarah do?

    Concerned Citizen: cc rider
    Your theoretical assertions are correct (about power and elite control) and have been well stated by Steven Lukes (Power: A Radical View).
    The problem is that the dimensions of power are abstract and hidden in real communities and our citizens have been denied the language and the concepts to discuss these issues (see Raymond Williams). I try to deliver messages similar to yours but find only other radicalized intellectuals receptive. I'm trying to get the ideas across by writing plays (like Bertolt Brecht) and by doing philosophy and anthropology rooted in the community. You're very astute and talented, so that people would enjoy hearing relevant stories from you too. (Only Allen Wrench seems capable of filling the entire blog.)

    Story: Lately I've noticed that independent local businesses are closing in my little suburban town. The storefronts contain personal services (nails, tanning, tattoos) and upstart churches where formerly there were variety stores, food stores, druggists, car parts and hardwares. We have to drive to shopping centers to get anything when we could once walk to the old strip. Even the Post Office and the old lumber company are gone. What are the implications?

    Well, most money spent now flows directly out to the Walton family heirs, corporate investors, CEOs and even foreigners and other governments. Capitalism no longer builds community but hollows out any possibility of self-sufficiency.

    On TV they are talking about hurricanes that might come here. They are sending us out to the shopping center for more flashlights, batteries, tarps, generators, and maybe guns. We are told to hoard bottled water even as our town tap bill inches up. (They dumped sewage above the intake several years back, lost our certification, so now we buy water from a suspect contractor.) Our town government is a toy and a joke which functions only to serve developers and realtors, and even that is failing.

    So what does this say about human rights and power when hard times are on the way? It says chain vendors can dictate the kind of fence you put up or what color you can paint your house. It says a national landlord can deny you the joy of a tomato plant on your condo terrace. It says that when gas is prohibitive in price you will be denied the choice of on-foot errands, but must buy a vehicle 30 years out of date technologically, to drive to the international chain stores, because a few wealthy people feel they must milk the dinosaur petroleum infrastructure dry before they allow us anything else. Then they will want to meter the wind and own sunlight. The wholesome little town is no more.

    Try your hand, CC.

    The integration of corporate marketing strategies with the "electoral process" has only played into the existing power elite's hands. These tools enable the folks who own and operate the USA economy to slickly maintain their dominance by any means necessary. The fact that, most of the time, physical force is not NEEDED in order to maintain elite control is all the more an indicator of the strength of that elite.

    Targeted outreach and corporate marketing strategies, collecting data on individuals in order to manipulate electoral outcomes....all this and more is part of the very FABRIC of elite control over the increasingly-squeezed domestic population.

    These tools are simply another means for the corporate/military/financial/national-security-state elite to maintain and aggrandize their chokehold upon the society.

    Southern white males will vote overwhelmingly in favor of John McCain. Racism, white skin privilege, bigotry and ignorance will die very, very hard in the Deep South. I hope I'm proven wrong, but I fear my assessment is accurate.

    Hello David!

    Yes, I’ve noticed, but I think they are polling “highly unlikely voters” -- namely second graders in private schools -- for exactly the “viewership” reasons you mentioned. I’m afraid we are watching the American politics decline into an irreconcilable ideological civil war of Biblical proportions with the news media fanning the flames.

    Many of the problems with the regional bastions for Republicans and Democrats can be resolved by making two changes to our political process.

    All the third party and independent voters need to take an election cycle off to institute these changes within each state. No constitutional changes are required.

    In other words, we must keep in mind the corollary to Murphy's Law--Before you do anything, you have to do something else first.

    The two changes are (1) Institute Instant Runoff Voting. This will break up the duopoly of the Democrats and Republicans, forcing them onto a level playing field with other parties. (2) Allocate the electors to the Electoral College based on the percentage of the popular vote gained by each candidate within each state. This will bring out red voters in blue states and vice versa. They may not win in total, but they will gain delegates to count towards the final total. Indeed, the majority may find itself a minority under the new rules.

    Referendums will be required to force these changes. The legislatures controlled by the two major parties will not willingly give up power.

    More of these and other ideas at and

    This country is such a travesty!

    Why does Cindy McCain have a cast on her arm? Did she say the wrong thing about Sarah the Impaler?

    Reply to "Fran G":

    "As far as I know there's nobody living in my geographical region who thinks like you do--well, none who would have the courage to come out and say so if they were face to face."

    Take a course in reading comprehension. I'm trying to warn you about what many other whites are saying and thinking. Like many self-styled progressives, you don't know the meaning of constructive criticism.

    "We're multi-cultural and we just love Barack. Miscegenation? It's a figment of your imagination. Skin is just skin; who cares what color it is."

    See above. Apparently, you don't know the meaning of sarcasm either.

    "And maybe I wouldn't have the courage to express my view either, if we were face to face, because I get the feeling you might hurt me."

    Then you are a coward. You spend so much time attacking people of good will as "racist," you have no word left to describe the real thing (which you've obviously never met).

    "But long ago I decided that if I ever heard racist comments again, I wouldn't just be quiet and let it pass."

    You (like too many black-identifed folks) are saying that it is "racist" to say that Obama should have married a white or Hapa woman and not identified as "black." That used to be called the very opposite of racism.

    OH, I guess I had it wrong. I thought Obama's mother was a single parent, whose pregnancy resulted, as Obama said, "from a brief union" with his father. When he phrased it like that, I didn't realize that he meant a brief marriage. Anyway,thank you for correcting me on that.

    Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant by a black man? Anyway Barack Obama's Mother lived in Hawaii a multiracial enviornment and she was married to that black man and in college. SP daughter is a high school junior living under her parents roof. SP can't control a 17 year old under her own roof why should she be the Vice President of the Free World . SP is totally NASTY UGH

    Think about it.
    She’s eighteen, unmarried, and pregnant.
    But that’s not the all of it.
    She’s white; the baby’s father is black, and it’s mid-west America in 1961.
    If ever a young girl from Kansas perhaps might have considered having an abortion, surely it just might have been her. And if not, why not? That’s the probing question that nobody seems to have considered asking Barack Obama. How come? Surely his answer has a significant 2008 relevance. Well, just asking, that’s all.

    Sarah Palin and John McCain the Britney Spears Trailer Park Ticket Disgusting. Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter is pregnant which is disgusting as this ticket. Those good ole boys didnt say it and Bill let them slide by but those racist,rapist,lyncher,slaveers, would never vote for a black man. They are suppose to be such fake evangelicals thats why GOD sent Gustav to rain on the Republican Parade and thats why they lost the Civil War because they are cowards then and cowards now. Just like Merle and Earle

    Good day,

    I was watching the journal just now, and i was struck by the answer given to the question (to either earl or mearle black) regarding the percentage (58% i think it was) of "middle class white voters in the deep south" favouring McCain over Obama. The answer given was that of a "correct" society... that 58% of those "white middle class southerners" will vote for McCain because of either religious, or socio-economic views.

    I myself, am a 26 year old white male in dayton ohio. I have a deeply rooted distrust in politics, and therefore consider myself nither democratic or republican. (however my ""values" tend to be very liberal, and my "fisical/economic values" tend to sway more conservative...)

    But the answer to the question as to Why 58% of the "southern white middle class" vote is going to McCain is simple... Because McCain Is not black.

    I know that in "polite" society we aren't supposed to say that, however i have found in my own experience, that no matter how open minded some of the "democrats" are in america, they still won't vote for a black man.

    I work with a gentleman in a warehouse for a big (red) box retailer, and we have long discussions about this. His wife's family has voted democrat for many many decades, and are not at all "conservative", however, they have made it clear that they will not vote to put a black man in office. Had hillary won the nomination, they would have voted her in, but they will not support barack, and the ONLY reason is because of the colour of his skin. I find it sad and ignorant, but they are entitled to their vote.

    so, my reason for posting a comment (first time ever actually) is simply because i wanted to address the issue that is largely being sugar coated because of "polite society rules".

    if indeed McCain takes the office in november, i am convinced that it won't be for ANY other reason, but because so many white voters, no matter their party affiliation, will NOT vote for and support a black president.

    one other note. My "liberal values" are very much involved now in the whole energy situation. the similarities have already been drawn between Obama and Kennedy... and i hope that if elected, Obama (or even McCain) takes a cue from the early sixties, and sets forth an agressive program to achieve some sort of revolution / resolution in the next decade or so... ala the space race, and putting a man on the moon. if we could do that then, we can definately do this now. and with the support of industry, and the american people ,we will be in a far cleaner, better, and more economically stable place for generations to come. i truly hope that whoever it is that is elected in november, realizes not just the importance of this next crucial step, but also the legacy of his mark on mankind. thank you~

    Hi Doug,

    Yea, I was wondering about the polls too. Have you also noticed that both the liberal and neo-colonic corporate media sources aren’t disclaiming that their polls were taken from a group of “likely voters?” They used to say that all the time during the '02, '04 and '06 elections. Maybe they're fudging the numbers so we'll tune-in, but in reality, all the neo-cons who have no health insurance, or have been laid-off, or have gone bankrupt…are going to stay home on Election Day. I guess when the home team sucks, we’ll still root for them but the stands are empty. Maybe we’ll see some McCain supporters with bags on their heads, wearing “Who Dat?” t-shirts.

    Interesting question. The pictures we see of the Obama and McCain political rellies one would think are the ultimate demographic profile of each campaign, and according to the old adage, pictures don't lie. But do they? There seems to be a very large discrepancy between the number of people attending an Obama rally versus the number of people at a McCain fest. The numbers for Obama are generally 8 to 10 times larger, yet the political polls say the race is neck-&-neck? The polls seem to suggest demographics don't matter, but the pictures would have us believe the polls are deceptive and dishonest. Curious, isn't it?

    Since the turn of the century the corporate/financial/military/industrial/national security state elite (yes, they ARE all interconnected, know one another, and generally act in their own group's best interest) have ruled this nation and the world with a very sophisticated system of thwarting the will of the population. The only effective impediment to this elite is well-organized, galvanized mass movements. THIS is the VERY reason that the corporate media denigrates and derides the events of the 1960's. That decade, more than any other in modern American history, was a decidedly civilizing and refining influence on the crudeness and coarseness of American society. Conventions? What a JOKE! BTW, yes! I DO vote. I just am not bamboozled into any highfalutin delusion that any substantive democracy-enhancing change ever comes from the elite.

    By means of this posting, I am registering myself (on 8/31/2008), as the first person to refer to the Republican Presidential team as "Grandpa and Mrs. Smith". (No relevant matches on Google as of today.)

    My political views are not predictable based upon my age. However,based upon by background and my consumer choices my political views probably are predictable.

    I believe that targeted outreach to niche voters will not affect their different viewpoints nor their votes. U.S. citizens will not compromise on their vote to merely reach agreement or to seek common ground. Compromise only works when either party is unable to force an agreement upon the other party and not because a compromise is a wise or prudent result. In the U.S. a compromise is viewed as a loss, not a win-win. Such values are one reason why the U.S. has become a bully state.

    Daddy Bush expected he was talking to "Joe Sixpack" as he gnawed his pork rinds. McCain, and even Obama sometimes, expect to catch that same ear. But with the erosion of our net worth and our loss of faith in this system they are at best appealing to "Two-can Sam."

    David F you hit it on the nail !
    The Shrub supporters are just chanting the mantra of main stream media sound bites that are fed to them.

    Shrub's party is great at ''framing'' and the use of psychology on Americans who can only digest small bits and pieces at a time.

    George Santayana:
    ''Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.''

    Hi Thomas Bricker,

    Do you know anything about taxes, other than the fact that you have to cough up some cash (or a corp. has to)? Do you know that you’re just regurgitating simple dialog that a faux journalist had planted in your head in order to perpetuate a wedge issue? Sure, if you tax the hell out of a corp., they’d leave the country or go belly up. But if you use a fair progressive tax, then some corps. will have to pay a lot more, this is only because they’re earning a lot more. This is the main reasons why this wedge issue is so valuable to large corps., and they’ve devised a way into making you a cheerleader for them (money and the science of psychology). Don’t feel bad though, almost a third of the nation still thinks Shrub is more than just a nose picker. Back to taxes, if you were to dig a little deeper into the math, as if you were a non-Shrub-administration economist, then you’d realize that taxes are a vital necessity to any country’s infrastructure, except for maybe Saudi Arabia. Speaking of Saudi Arabia, why aren’t you whining about the rise in the price of a barrel of oil during the last 8 year (during the Shrub admin), from $25 up to $147? You say Obama will bring down “what was once a great country” by raising corp taxes, but what about these oil prices? What about the out-sourcing of American jobs and services? What about the trade deficit? What about the Prescott oligarchy? So, when OPEC starts jacking up the oil price again next year while Obama’s Prez, you can start spitting out what the faux journalist tell you, “Obama has destroy what was once a great country.” You write as if you know what you’re talking about, but when I read, “amount of capital available for capital,” all I could think of was, preemptive incarcerations.

    Dear Canada,
    You are right. USA does not get it. The vast majority of people are not watching these programs, or having these discussions. They already think what they think, and nothing will change that. It's a built in, anti-informational virus, and it changes everything America does because we do all have a vote.

    In spite of Sen. Obama's coronation as the Democratic nominee, the situation in black America is rather dire and desperate. If African America were a separate county it would be ranked 107 in infant mortality and 88 in life expectancy among the nations in the world. And the HIV infection rates are dangerously high among African Americans. There is huge number of young black men in jails. Very few black children are raised in two parent families. There are fewer black students enrolled in collage now than in 1970! And this list goes on and on.The severe problems that American Americans have are extensive. Although there are more and more black faces on TV and in Hollywood movies nowadays, the situation among blacks have worsened since the 70's.There are more and more black people on TV and on commercials act like they have arrived. But the truth of the matter is that African America is suffering far more acutely than the rest of America. For how long are we going to ignore truth and reality and live in Oprah style fantasy? We know now that America in general faces its decline as Asian powers like China, India, Japan grows in stature. I only see the situation with African Americans getting worse and worse.

    Are your political views predictable based on your age, background, and consumer choices?

    A former president is denied a “CIVIC FREEDOM “ to speak in DEMOCRACY, by a “PARTY of MONEY” that goes by the names “DEMOCRATIC or REPUBLICAN...” !

    “You can't give him a podium, because people will draw the conclusion” that the Democratic Party supports Carter’s views on the Middle East, said Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York. “I wouldn’t let him WITHIN 100 miles of the convention center, because it would be used by .... Republican Party that doesn’t care about the truth in character assassination against our candidate.”

    In order to pamper special interest group – “convince Jewish activists”, the “PARTY of MONEY”, used a concentrating power to deny “civic freedom within 100 miles” not only to a former president, but to any third party candidate. It is “predictable”, to deny any third party to participate in the democratic process - the debates!
    I look for changes! CHANGE to:

    THE POWER SHOULD BE IN the “WILL OF THE PEOPLE”! It is our live, our destiny and IT should be decided by “CIVIC FREEDOM”, OUR WILL - the “WILL OF THE PEOPLE”, and NOT by the dysfunctional CONGRESS, SENAT, EXECUTIVE ORDERS or corrupt JUSTICE SYSTEM!

    My search of dreams and hopes for DEMOCRACY is, to “EXPRES MY WILL on ALL ISSUES”!

    MR. Moyers:
    Caught up in your partisan frenzy, you are doing your style political bidding, like many others in the media. I see you getting less and less rational, reasonable. As a result your journalism is getting rather shoddy! Most of your guests these days seem to say the obvious; the reason being you don't include descent. You remind me more and more of a government news program in Sri Lanka. Where the host and the guest agree on all points! Don't tell me you program is improving democracy in America!!!

    It had an imperial setting; he strode through the great Doric Columns, with all the projections of America’s imperial power. For his message of supposedly of peace, it had all the symbolism of America’s imperial grandeur. For a candidate whose candidacy began by denouncement of Iraq war, it was an ironic backdrop. For a man who said his money came from small contributors, the setting itself reminded you of Cesar’s Coliseum. You would have expected Obama to wear some sort of crown. It was in some ways reminded you of a Lani Rosenthal’s documentary of Adolf Hitler’s Munich rally setting! It was hugely pompous and thoroughly indulgent and imperial event for a man who said that “He felt our pain!” To add to absurdity of the moment Sen. Obama went on to tell the story of how he was raised by a single mother, who was abandoned by his father in his infancy. He insisted he is one of us! Yet, setting aside the pomp and circumstance and all the imperialistic symbols and settings, Obama's acceptance speech was on the whole a disappointment; especially in spite all the hype and build-up the speech did not climax, I think it fizzled. His performance was not out of the ordinary. It was OK, or was it? Certainly not a great political speech by any measure! In that sense Obama failed to seize the historical moment. His speech did not grab me held me captive like Bill or Hillary Clinton’s speeches did. Obama gave too much of details, made too many promises--we all have heard all of it before. He got trapped. He was chasing John McCain like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. There was no poetry or passion that transformed his words into gems. Obama's speech was too long. He tried to cover too much and by doing that he sacrificed the magic of the moment. He failed to rise up to the historic moment he talked about. What was needed at the moment was political poetry. Obama failed to recognize that. So he loses the very first chance he had to hit a home run! He talks about it, the historical nature of the moment he faces; but he fails to live up to it. But the media is trying to tell us that he made a great speech; but he didn't. He was lost and meandering at times, repeating himself over, bogged down in details; delivery of the speech lacks sincere precision or purpose. He could have taken a lesson or two form Bill and Hillary Clinton.
    Thus the best parts of the convention still belonged to much humbler, yet electric speeches made by Sen. Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. Even when the media people like you ignores them, Hillary Clinton gave a truly brilliant speech. Bill Clinton delivered a master performance. The Clintons triumphed. In retrospect, juxtaposed against Obama’s acceptance speech, they were rousing and relevant. David Brooks of the New York Times and PBS Lehrer News Hour rated Obama speech "Underwhelming..." Obama perhaps did not fumble. Or did he? He missed a historical opportunity to be really great! He did not rise to the occasion he was presented with. So that's why on the whole, all things considered it was indeed, disappointing! The true triumph of the DNC convention goes to Sen. Hillary Clinton, for her grace under pressure and her tenacity in defeat. Hillary Clinton gave a brilliant speech and rose to the occasion. Now, that’s genius… When Bill Clinton in his speech an evening before to the Democratic convention said, “Other nations are impressed by our power of example than our example of power…” Those few words carried more power and political poetry than Obama’s entire acceptance speech…But we are told to ignore truth and substance by our media, like in the past. Therefore we are bound to face the consequences of our ignorance and neglect…

    Is there any presidential candidate who can be acceptable to most people? People say that John McCain is too old and Barack Obama is too inexperienced. Do people think that only people between 50 and 64 should run for president? Do people think that a person should be in the Senate for at least 20 years before running for president or that he should have 2 terms of being governor of his state? Just what age and what kind of experience do people think the ideal presidential candidate should have and how do people think a candidate should get foreign policy experience? Maybe there are no perfect candidates.

    Why did the convention not show apprecation for former President Johnson and why did President Carter not speak? The Democrats do fail to show respect to Southerners who support civil rights. I have no idea why not.

    I watched the interview with Earl and Merle and those ''good ole boys'' gotta get out of the South every now and then.
    I was born and raised in the Midwest and I am so tired of hearing how those 11 Southern states determine our presidential elections.
    There are 39 other states but according to Earl and Merle those states are of no value in the election.
    I guess they are right, since we still use the electoral college which was first written into Federal law in 1845.
    So I guess the country is doomed to another 4 years of Bush-Cheney rules.
    I have felt for years that no one is representing me in Washington.
    Merle and Earl sat and giggled with glee about the South. How is it that religion is part of the political process ? What about the First Amendment: which addresses the rights of freedom of religion (prohibiting Congressional establishment of a religion over another religion through Law and protecting the right to free exercise of religion), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition.
    I guess we lost that one.
    The South will rule and McCain will be president if I got it right from the brothers Black.

    The DNC should be ashamed at the money wasted on that outdoor stage & fireworks-- it was absurd!mr. Obama hardly needed all the hoopla and actually seemed uncomfortable with it. I kept thinking of pictures I saw of Abraham Lincoln when I was a kid (in those social studies books in school)--that's who Obama reminds me of. He probably didn't even need a podium, just a raised stage so people could see him. His words rang true & he IS the best man for the job of President. Meanwhile, the DNC should have donated the money spent on that silly stage to the city of New Orleans!

    About the Blacks, I was glad to see Bill put them on just because they are quite conservative gentlemen, and I think it speaks well of Bill to do so. To the person who asks why none of them mentioned the fact of Obama's race (he is half black and half white), I kind of agree. I don't want to argue this too much, but I would say on the other hand, that many southerners live in cities that are now run by African Americans, from Atlanta to Birmingham to New Orleans, and many in between and above and below. So white southerners are not 100% unfamiliar or even against voting for a black politician. I do agree that for the biggest prize of all, yes, it is different. Still.

    The numbers they cited are just downright scary and do not bode well for the Democrats in November. The only hope is that McCain continues to kind of be a bad candidate and the rest of the country overrides the South.

    Moving on, to the person from Canada, the only thing I can quickly think of in answer to your question is, perhaps if Canada had the US's fertile soil and favorable climate, things might have turned out different for you all. $$ is why slavery persisted (one reason) for so long.

    “ It isn’t that John McCain doesn’t care,” Barack Obama said, “It’s that he just doesn’t get it.” I’m a fifty-seven year old Canadian, and my question to America is this: “Why is it that Americans in general just don’t seem to get it?”
    But before you all start beating me over the head with the stars and stripes, and shouting me down with patriotic abuse, let me explain what I mean.
    There’s been no slavery in Canada since 1834; but it took another 30 years, and the bloodiest war in American history before it came to an end in your country. Even so, I can remember standing on the Canadian side of the border and watching the smoke rise from the riots in Detroit in 1967. And apparently, only now, in 2008, are you perhaps finally putting the poisonous legacy of slavery behind you.
    Let’s look at health care. All Canadians have had universal single-payer health care since 1965. For almost all the days of my life, whenever I’ve been injured and gone to a doctor or a hospital emergency room, my injury has been well treated in good order. And when I walked out the door, no one presented me with a bill, and I didn’t owe a single cent. Oh, it’s not a perfect system, I grant you. Sometimes there’s longer waiting times than everyone would like. But my mother had a cancer operation, and my father had several operations. And the financial cost to our family? Not one penny.
    Let’s examine the history of getting along with one another despite the political and racial differences inside our own countries.
    In Canada, we have a northern territory the size of Western Europe governed by native people, and, across the land, we have many native Indians. That’s not to say there’s are no problems on native reserves, and in other respects, and, in our own history, we’ve certainly made some mistakes. But we never had anything like the sustained genocidal slaughter that characterized America’s dealings with its native peoples.
    Now. Imagine an American state, bigger than Texas, whose citizens speak French, and which physically separates Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts from the rest of the United States. That’s we have in Canada; our French-speaking province of Quebec is larger than Texas, and it geographically separates 4 of our English-speaking provinces from the other 5 English-speaking provinces. Sometimes our political and ethnic squabbles have nearly broke up the country. Yet, somehow, we’ve managed to hold it all together. And never have we picked up guns and started to shoot each other. But in America, murder often seems to the common response to both political and personal disputes. In Canada, we have never had anything that even comes close the annual national murder rate that seems to be the accepted norm in the United States. Nor are our jails overflowing.
    Now before you all take a shot at me about “defending freedom,” consider this: I’m a working class guy who served in the military for five years. And look at our history. In 1914, we Canadians were in the trenches on the western front; America didn’t get there until 1917. In 1939, we had men in Spitfires flying over Britain; America didn’t show up until 1942. And since the inception of the United Nations, Canadian troops have served in every single peace-keeping mission sent around the world. But we stayed out of Vietnam and refused to join “the coalition of the willing” to attack Iraq.
    Now look. I’m not trying to wave a Canadian flag, or beat on America. I’m suggesting to you this: part of the reason for all these differences in our history, and in our current social situations is that our mantra in Canada has been “peace, order, and good government.” Yours has been “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
    Well, I ask you these things: When you get sick, does anyone care about your life? When you walk down a city street at night, do you feel that your life is safe? When you get a medical bill, do you feel free? When you get put on a no-fly list, or renditioned to Syria to be tortured, or have your Emails, phone calls, and library books monitored by your government to protect your freedom, do you feel more free than me? When you bury the young men and women that political adventurers have sent off to Iraq on a “defending freedom” scam, are you happy? When you lose your jobs and homes because your free-wheeling corporate looters and corrupt politicians tell you that the market knows best and that all regulation is bad, are you even happier?
    Bill Clinton told you a hard truth: “the world is more impressed with the power of our example, than with the example of our power.”
    Why is it then, that in general, Americans just don’t seem to get it?

    I saw most of the DNC in Denver.(Interesting to hear what the republican say next week) Looking back over the past 40 yrs on both conventions this promise of the American dream is still falling short. So the struggle for political power is ferocious...the ideology or values are still being dreamt of...and compare: Look at some of the other countries in the world, the standard of health benefits, for education, equal rights, womem in politics, etc.., are a dream already come true in which the U.S. is still dreaming . So if this American dream does not take current shape to reality, it may become a nightmare in which we are already seeing to start.

    I do think the twins' analysis had a touch of the archaic about it - and being a dreamer, I'm guessing that it may not be as easy to predict what younger voters are going to do this time around, nor as has been suggested, what any of those jobless, healthcareless, older folk struggling with higher energy costs and food prices will do. I don't hink that any of the Big Brotherisms are going to predict how each of us, like worms, turn - especially when Joh McCain is deliberately serving up more of the same which is hitting EVERY American who is not filthy rich. Credit cards? How about the soaring interest rates on those with no cap, and the sleazy practises which you yourself, Mr. Moyers, have been so helpful to point out on past programs. Something was missing from the discussion all right, but it wasn't race. It was the state of the nation as we presently find it. As Barack Obama found it and expressed it, linked to it in his speech, to the roars of some 80,000 people and a huge audience echoing the roars in their livingrooms, north, south and central. Step out of the way, twins. A tidal wave is coming. My advice to Candidate Obama is CAMPAIGN IN EVERY STATE. Just be there, and let the crowds that flock to see you bear witness that the coming election cannot be stolen. It's going to be one for history, just as the convention speeches have been.

    I'm old too, and I say, get some young folk on and hear what THEY say; it's not about credit cards and shopping demographics; it's about the urgency of fixing what is broken in this country - terribly, heartbreakingly BROKEN.

    Whether people vote for Obama or McCain is irrelevant. They are the same. THE SAME. Both parties are the same. THE SAME.

    Corporations are not change we can believe in.

    NO one is talking about race the way it is talked about in the streets and the living rooms, yes, even of the great Northeast. Where I come from, racism seems to be a matter of survival, not politics, science, or any rational process. How does one defy this underground logic that no one is hearing? FIY: these are not all old bitter people. They are a pretty young and happy group.

    I was very disappointed to see three southern white men ask each other why John McCain is beating Barack Obama by such large margins among working class southern whites, and they hypothesize about everything from taxes to Jesus while NOT ONE OF THEM mentions the big fat elephant in the room. RACE. No matter how brilliant he is, nor how well he represents their interests, many whites in the South will never vote for a black man for president. Bill, you're better and much more honest than this, and I'm shocked to see you let your guests get away with such falsely disingenuous analyses while smiling along and not challenging the incompleteness and the inadequacy of their rumin.

    No, they did discuss race.

    These fine young professors did talk about race. I just watched the program a second time. Thanks for the interview.

    Lets eliminate the pay roll deduction and tax business, not worker.s

    Information that originates from one viewpoint sources, can't help but undermine understanding of the issues.

    Not everyone has the time to research every fact/truth.

    Obama showed his true colors when he stumbled for an answer for Charles Gibson's question on capital gains tax. Many nations are lowering corporate tax rates in order to attract businesses. If Barack wants to raise taxes and therefore lower the amount of capital available for capital, then the U.S. will be as what was once a great country.

    Want to see how poor, overcrowded black schools educated some of the finest people with far less resources than today's schools? The check out Walter Williams's article "Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton High?"

    Tens of millions, including me, share your pain Fran, Ted and Chris. We must admit we are afraid before we can move.

    Without the electoral college demographics would not be destiny. The nonconforming voter is never represented in the current system, so that, we never achieve the ideal of one person;one vote, but maintain a crazy and outmoded elector system to protect wealthy vested interest. It is just another mystification used by oligarchical capitalism to thwart the popular will.

    Bill, having twins so similar to yourself seems as cronyish as a Texarcana barbershop. When Earl said the middle class had become the majority in the South I almost did a spit-take with the chocolate milk I was drinking. These two really take things as reported, and at face value, not considering how individuals would think and react in a less repressed environment.
    Even nuttier, they seem to measure the entire universe using Southern Values they should have overcome as scholars. Their view contrasts sharply with the testimony of Adolph Reed who helped organize a Labor party in South Carolina. (But then again, I have been surprised myself that South Carolina has a progressive undercurrent as typified at Winthrop University, that exceeds the superficial corporate progressivism prevalent in North Carolina institutions.

    I returned to Stanley,NC two years ago after working 20 years in Maryland and urban Pennsylvania. The first news I heard was that the daughter of a local Ku Klux Klan leader had committed suicide by lying on the railroad track. I was surprised that the broods who shot doctors in Greensboro had remained as passionate as Faulkner's characters. Soon I saw the new Confederacy monument in front of the public library and realized the racist cult had hardened into a knot here. No good old boy, Klan or not, can admit publicly that any black is a better man than he. Those who do become objects of abuse. The white churches here are the last bastions of white supremacy, although outside interests have deflated the economic impact of their networks. Now the Baptists have to enlist the Lutherans and Presbyterians and maybe even some gospel singing Foursquares to forestall justice and fairness, to maintain a vestige of straw bossism. A successful man here would ride with one foot on black backs and the other on white trash backs. Now that is no longer possible and he is beginning to be underbid by Hispanic dons. The knot of perversion only tightens.

    But if you can get almost any of these men (It's still very patriarchal.) out by himself in confidence he will agree that Bush's policies have made all of us poorer and less secure, and that McCain is about the same. He just doesn't know how to safely act on these scary thoughts and is fearful everything is a trick. We he votes I imagine a skeletal hand from beyond the grave guides his beefy hand. Such is a steer who fancies himself a bull. The sweetest souls attend VFW and American Legion halls where PTSD has been treated with prescribed and managed drinking since the Civil War, and these guys (confidentially) want us out of Iraq. They hate though, that a brownish man (Obama), is making their Mr. Charley (white boss) look like an idiot. And everywhere across America the white boy mind has been deformed by fears of black sexual superiority. It permeates Internet erotic enterprise. (How advantageous for elite capitalists!)

    Merle and Earl (and maybe Bill too) have been running with the "bulls" too long.

    Are your political views predictable based on your age, background, and consumer choices?

    Yes, for almost 40 years the national debt has been getting higher and higher!
    “The civic freedom is low - almost non existence”!
    “We have a concentrating power in few hands”!
    You can not have both “DEMOCRACY” and “CONCENTRATING POWER”!
    “It is, “corporate domination of the government”!
    Changes come by “amendment to the Constitution” such as “women rights to vote”... etc.
    Non of the candidates offer any substantial changes!
    I look for changes to:

    THE POWER SHOULD BE IN the “WILL OF THE PEOPLE”! It is our live, our destiny and IT should be decided by OUR WILL - the “WILL OF THE PEOPLE”,
    and NOT by the dysfunctional CONGRESS, SENAT, EXECUTIVE ORDERS or
    corrupt JUSTICE SYSTEM!

    My dream and hope for DEMOCRACY is, to “EXPRES MY WILL on ALL ISSUES”!

    Conservatives worry so much about government taking over their lives, when corporate taking over government is the real threat, as far as I can see.

    Gov. Palin is no Hillary, and if John McCain thinks there are many Hillary supporters who would vote for Palin, he's even more out of touch than we thought.

    In your interview with the Bros. Black, none of you touched on the influence of Swiftboating, which would cut across geography, wouldn't it? The demographics of the ignorant and paranoid.

    And shouldn't "sea change" be spelled "C-change" as in a trend that starts going in one direction and turns back and goes the opposite?

    I was very disappointed to see three southern white men ask each other why John McCain is beating Barack Obama by such large margins among working class southern whites, and they hypothesize about everything from taxes to Jesus while NOT ONE OF THEM mentions the big fat elephant in the room. RACE. No matter how brilliant he is, nor how well he represents their interests, many whites in the South will never vote for a black man for president. Bill, you're better and much more honest than this, and I'm shocked to see you let your guests get away with such falsely disingenuous analyses while smiling along and not challenging the incompleteness and the inadequacy of their ruminations.

    Yep. Thanks.

    As far as I know there's nobody living in my geographical region who thinks like you do--well, none who would have the courage to come out and say so if they were face to face. We're multi-cultural and we just love Barack. Miscegenation? It's a figment of your imagination. Skin is just skin; who cares what color it is.

    And maybe I wouldn't have the courage to express my view either, if we were face to face, because I get the feeling you might hurt me. But long ago I decided that if I ever heard racist comments again, I wouldn't just be quiet and let it pass.

    I was very disappointed to see three southern white men ask each other why John McCain is beating Barack Obama by such large margins among working class southern whites, and they hypothesize about everything from taxes to Jesus while NOT ONE OF THEM mentions the big fat elephant in the room. RACE. No matter how brilliant he is, nor how well he represents their interests, many whites in the South will never vote for a black man for president. Bill, you're better and much more honest than this, and I'm shocked to see you let your guests get away with such falsely disingenuous analyses while smiling along and not challenging the incompleteness and the inadequacy of their ruminations.

    Obama will lose big - so big that the Republicans won't even have to steal any votes. Too many of our fellow whites believe that Obama's election would cause the blacks to "take over" (don't ask how). Obama's repudiation of his white family's race and ethnicity and embrace of "blackness" might look good to blacks and white liberals, but to many others he represents the nightmare of miscegenation. He looks Negro and married a black woman, and now all the Dunham descendants will be "blacks." This is exactly what the white supremacists warned against. Obama should have stayed in Hawaii, married a Hapa or white woman, worked his way up as senator or governor, and then tried for the presidency. He should have stayed out of Chicago and away from any black identity. The blacks see themselves as a tribe, and so do Southern whites and more than a few Northerners.

    Linda jerling 6:40pm-Don't let Bob Cialdini scare you "because" psychology studies isolated behavior under controlled conditions for experimental purposes. Our purposes are life and death: Our situation is social-cultural-political: And our aim is to "throw the bums out" of controlling us. Psychology comes from commercial need primarily and is an alien science of manipulation. Notice APA complicity in torture at Guantanimo and Abu Graib.

    Mr. Moyers,
    It is interesting that you are so interested in "white voters" that one cannot help wonder if the race card is missing from the deck. It is interesting that the idea is that "white voters" just can't see instead of they do see and they disagree. On many occasion your shows are informative, but this one happened to be banal at best, and the portion devoted to Palin was overtly glib given that the news had just been released. Did you rush to put it together, because it was so shrill in its lack of objectivity that I as a Democrat was appalled. You are better than that, better than producing an obviously transparent "attack."

    remember when women couldn't vote, remember when we didn,t have the right to choose. The supreme court gave us that right. this woman for vice pres.the prolifer she would take what women have worked so hard for,what some have died for is she going to have us barefoot with babies in our bellies and shotguns at our sides. did she choose to have five children or did someone gov. do it for her. whats next will she think it alright to take away a women right to b equal or our voting voice she scares me to my bones.maybe thats why she made it in alaska theres more men then women. p.s my body my choice my vote my life!!!!!

    Bill, I just listened to your conversation with Bill and Merle Black about our divided, regional politics.
    I understand too well how this works.
    You see, I am a progressive, living in the Bloody Red State of Texas where I have not had a voice in Washington nor a say in the outcome of the general election for years.
    Every four years, I go to the polls to vote for the President of the United States knowing that my vote will not count.
    It is so depressing to care what happens to your country, knowing that you have no power to right the wrongs or change the direction of failed policies.
    After hearing the Black brothers clarify the issue of regional politics, I am more depressed than ever.

    The southern values the bros. Blacks espouse "traditional values" are old tyme racism. Call it what you will, but my observation is ,as a caucasion educator, well-traveled Army brat and SC transplant simply all "gussied up" racism or condescension of "White trash". Nothing recognizable as Christian values have I often seen in families, professional peers or the insular SC community I'm from. When a winter crisis occured, the rich headed for the Hyatt Hotel to party, left the elderly to freeze, unfed and only your individual church membership may (or maynot) check on you. It was appalling to hear the comments I heard as drowned Katrina victims floated in flood waters. What I experience is at first shock with neighbors, in-laws, co-workers etc.. then anger at them and myself for so stupidly allowing myself to have trusted my judgement that I chose to live amongst them and am complicit. I respond with "I can't believe you said that! Why someone with your intelligence would say....leaves me speechless." I have quit going to family reunions,don't socialize much with my peers or community. But race is the basis of all their fears, not taxes or choice or anything else.After reading John Deans, Conservatives without a Conscience, his assessment has been my experience, and it's a very scary one.

    While I agree with the Black's classical political analysis, it is clearly wrong, because in this election the issue has become reform, in the minds of the candidates, at least, and, it seems to me, as far as the independents are also reform-minded. This also neglects the Dean strategy, now adopted by that campaign of contesting in all the states. Did not LBJ always conclude with "and may God bless America"?

    Another refreshing interview. Thank you.

    u know im not a very smart person but i was a union worker for 22yrs and i have seen the give backs where now u have to pay for part of your medical and your paycheck is not even to rent a decent apt. in nyc and forget abt gas at $4.00 a gal u hv to sell your car. theres more but i'm to depress to keep going i'm really tired of living payck to payck miss one and the house of cards come crumbling down so it wouldn't matter if a deaf,bumd,or blind person was running for president as long as he was not a republican i would vote for him/her no real middle class would. John macain,s idea for middleclass is someone making $700.thou a year, i am considered middleclass to the fed gov. and our income is $80.thou c see we get no help and i dont want any all i want to do is to b able to survive with it to get my daughter thru college so she can b more then middle class because we are disapearing or drowning which ever comes first

    I just watched your interview with Earl and Merle Black, in which one of them implied that southern white males will vote as they have in the past. No mention of the anger some of us have against the Bush administration. Perhaps they will be surprised that the Republicans will NOT sweep the South, as they have in recent elections. I think THIS election will be significantly different than those of the past. And I hope so. I appreciate your questions, and I was a little amazed at their answers. Either they or I will be surprised at the November election for president.

    Bill - you have always been a voice for the liberal establishment and nothing has changed. The Dem's while providing good theater didn't deliver much of substance. Every challenger since 1964 has used the phrase "Change". Let's have Barack tell how he is going to do it - give everyone an education, end the war and yet make us safe, give everyone virtually free health care, and assure everyone a job . The list is endless. All to good to be true.
    If he truely wants to increase the taxes on the wealthy why doesn't he propose taxing those making obscene sums -like many of his supporter's in Hollywood- at a rate say of 70% for incomes over $20M. Now, that would impress me.

    You did a wonderful job presenting the Dem. Convention. There was no partisan shown as there would have been if Fox or CNN had presented. I am spending more and more time watching PBS. Good job.

    Well, it takes two to lie, the one talking and the one listening. There is Fox Nes and there are Republicans.

    NPR recently interviewed Robert Cialdini a social psychologist who is an expert in the systematic study of persuasion, compliance and negotiation - ''the science of influence''.

    The interview was fascinating and also quite scary at the same time.

    With so much personal information on individuals available at the touch of a mouse - yes by all means political views are not only predictable but entirely influenced at every step by any group willing to buy the information.

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