BLOOMBERG NEWS: The U.S. presidential race is a tossup as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has lost what was once an eight-point lead over Republican rival John McCain, according to a new poll. The Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People and the Press said today that Obama now leads McCain 46 percent to 43 percent among registered voters, down from June when the Illinois senator enjoyed a 48 to 40 advantage. His lead narrowed to five points in July, the survey said. MORE
WASHINGTON POST: An analysis of political contributions from soldiers on the battlefield has produced some unexpected results. The Center for Responsive Politics has found that the presidential candidate with a record as a bona fide war hero is garnering far less financial support from the troops than the Harvard-trained lawyer.”Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain’s haul,” the report said.
HATEWATCH: The author notorious for his book falsely vilifying 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry has penned an equally spurious attack on this year’s presumed Democratic nominee. The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, released on Aug. 1, has taken less than two weeks to clinch the number one spot on The New York Times bestseller list. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Mr. Corsi has released a new attack book painting Senator Barack Obama, the Democrats’ presumed presidential nominee, as a stealth radical liberal who has tried to cover up “extensive connections to Islam” — Mr. Obama is Christian — and questioning whether his admitted experimentation with drugs in high school and college ever ceased. The book is being pushed along by a large volume of bulk sales, intense voter interest in Mr. Obama and a broad marketing campaign that has already included 100 author interviews with talk radio hosts across the country, like Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy, Mr. Corsi said on Tuesday. The publisher is Threshold Editions, a division of Simon & Schuster whose chief editor is Mary Matalin, the former Republican operative turned publisher-pundit. And it is a significant, early success for Ms. Matalin’s three-year-old imprint, which is also planning to publish the memoirs of Karl Rove, President Bush’s longtime political guru. Threshold says it has undertaken an extensive printing effort for anticipated demand, with 475,000 copies of “The Obama Nation” produced so far. “The goal is to defeat Obama,” Mr. Corsi said in a telephone interview. “I don’t want Obama to be in office.” MORE
INDEPENDENT: Corsi naturally insists base partisanship is the last thing on his mind. The book, he claims, is merely to spare the country, “a repeat of the failed extremism that has characterised and plagued Democratic Presidential politics since the late 1960s”. He maintains he has never been either a registered Republican or Democrat. “The only political party I ever consciously joined is the Constitution Party,” he says. (a primitivist, isolationist and socially conservative party that, among things, wants to abolish income tax, and allow individual states the right to secede). MORE
ALL POLITICS IS LOCO
The Constitution Party held its national convention last week in Valley Forge. And boy, was it a hoot.
The Constitution Party is made up of people who think the Republicans are just too damn liberal. They’re all about God, guts and guns. They’re about zero tolerance on taxes, abortion and gays. From the outside, theirs looks like every other political convention held in a slightly shabby under-air-conditioned hotel in the ‘burbs: red-white-and-blue bunting, a wall-sized replica of the Declaration of Independence, guys in tricorn hats and big-buckle shoes, bumper stickers that say “JOE MCCARTHY WAS RIGHT.”
Out in the exhibit hall, wild-eyed book peddlers offer up titles like IRS, Taxes and the Beast and Let My Children Go: Why Parents Must Remove Their Children From Public School Now.
Down on the convention floor – which is neatly divided by state delegations – sits a John Wayne impersonator. Decked out in a rawhide vest, neckerchief and 10-gallon hat, he’s a dead ringer for the Duke.
Hate-group watchdogs the Southern Poverty Law Center have some scary things to say about these Constitution Party guys, so it’s a good thing the Duke’s here in case things turn ugly.
Party chairman James Clymer is at the lectern. “We’re here today because neither major party is committed to restoring constitutional government,” he says. “Republicans are liberals with fascist leanings, and Democrats are liberals with socialist leanings.”
“Hell yeah,” says John Wayne.
Clymer speaks about the need for a “biblical restructuring.” It’s unclear if he’s referring to an apocalyptic flood, a thousand-year plague or just something involving locusts. Hanging on the wall to his right is a massive banner bearing this quote from William Penn: “Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.”
Clymer is running for Senate against Arlen Specter, who is, as you might have guessed, just too damn liberal–what with his promotion of abortion and “special rights for sodomites.”
John Wayne doesn’t like the sound of that.
Next up is the party’s founder, Howard Phillips. Like most everyone here, he looks and sounds like a reasonable person. It’s just that when he opens his mouth, some very unreasonable things come out.
A Harvard grad, Phillips was a Nixon aide until the day he decided he could no longer stomach his boss’ warm and fuzzy liberalism. Phillips started the Constitution Party in the early ’90s. Back then it was called the U.S. Taxpayer Party, which, Phillips explains, was to distinguish itself from the tax users.
John Wayne chuckles at that. Apparently that’s some kind of code word.
This is where things really go through the looking glass. It seems that the Constitution Partiers are even more aggressively anti-Bush than, say, the MoveOn.org crowd.
“We’ve all gathered here today,” says Phillips, “because we’re fed up with the Great Society liberalism of George Bush.”
“Tell it!” shouts John Wayne.
Phillips says he sat in his hotel room last night and tried to tally up all the ways that George Bush has violated the oath of the office. He says he finally stopped when he got to 200. He said 146,000 babies have died since Bush took office because he did nothing to outlaw RU486.
Phillips also rails against the $15 billion Bush proposal to fund “safe sodomy”–an apparent reference to the money Bush proposed for AIDS treatment in Africa.
It just gets weirder.
The Constitutionalists are also upset with, of all people, attorney general John Ashcroft for enforcing “unconstitutional” gun laws. Apparently “unconstitutional” is a code word for “assault weapons ban.”
Phillips calls him “Ashcrook.”
John Wayne thinks that funny. And for the first time all afternoon, the Duke is right.
[This story originally ran in the June 30th, 2004 issue of the Philadelphia Weekly]
THIS JUST IN: RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, WITH THE IRAQ VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR AND TENT STATE UNIVERSITY, HOST THE “TENT STATE MUSIC FESTIVAL TO END THE WAR” DURING THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
RELATED: “I put on Evil Empire [the other day] and the shoe still fits, stomping out of the speakers like a Hendrixian bull in the Columbine china shop of Clinton’s America. When Evil Empire came out in 1996, it just sounded like shrill sloganeering to me. After all, our guy was in the White House. He may have had a little of the devil in him, but it was the devil we knew. Sure there were injustices great and small, but we had peace, prosperity, Stereolab and the Internet stocks that were gonna make us all independently wealthy. All of us.
That was, as Karl Rove likes to say, a pre-9/11 mentality. Listening to Evil Empire now, it sounds to me like rumbling war drums foretelling the great clash of civilizations. I feel the rage. I hate rap-rock as much as you, but really, it’s come to this: The sky is actually falling.
Mister, we could use a band like Rage Against the Machine again. A band that scares the shit out of the powers that be. A band that pounds lies into dust with its bare hands. A fist that slams on the table and rattles the chess pieces. A band that brings huddled masses into the streets. A band that must be stopped. And no, I’m not just talking about Audioslave.” [PW]
The PMRC Protest
At a 1993 Lollapalooza appearance in Philadelphia, the band stood onstage naked for 15 minutes with duct tape on their mouths and the letters PMRC painted on their chests in protest against censorship by the Parents Music Resource Center. The only sound emitted was audio feedback from Morello and Commerford’s guitars. Regarding this event, Wilk said “The first ten minutes they were going nuts, but after ten minutes they were getting pissed.” The band later played a free show for disappointed fans.
“Want me to be perfectly frank? The size of my penis — that’s what was going through my mind in Philadelphia. It looked like I’d just stepped out of the ocean. I swear to God, it’s bigger than that. So I was thinking: I wish I’d worn boxer shorts before instead of briefs, because briefs kinda like constrict me. I took them off and it was this … half-roll of nickels.” – Tim Commerford, RATM Bassist
“I was thinking about how the wind felt underneath my scrotum, what the people in the front were thinking, and all the cameras flashing and what they were going to be thinking as they developed their film. Actually, doing that was no big deal. It didn’t freak me out. That’s how we all came into the world. It’s a liberating thing.” – Brad Wilk, RATM Drummer