Monday, October 13, 2008

THE LEHIGH VALLEY CRANK: Common animal may not decide the election


Socialist communist terrorist Obama lover, go to Russia!

The Sidewalk to Nowhere video taken outside Lehigh's Stabler Arena the day of the McCain/Palin rally last week showed a variety of cranks, now older, the type of which DD knew well in the late Eighties. Also on parade, many people who, rather than behaving badly, smiled and passed by the cameraman and some Obama supporters, there merely to bait them.

Back then DD came up with the idea for a weekend column at the newspaper called Nightclubbing.

It was humorous and supercilious, its job to go out to Valley's entertainment spots and watering holes and write about local entertainers and various audiences. I knew it would catch people, often well beyond well-oiled, behaving despicably.

For instance, one sweat-inducing moment came at a place called Jeff's City Line pub on a comedy night. Jeff's was a gay bar and the booker for the event, a straight man, had brought in a about half a dozen semi-pro struggling stand-ups, some of whom -- amazingly -- did not seem to realize the club was a gay hang-out. So one slob got onstage and promptly began telling a series of jokes in very poor taste about gay people from the POV of a straight man. The place almost spontaneously combusted.

The Airport Music Hall, an old supermarket next to a stripper joint out in one of Allentown's many concrete-and-asphalt wastelands, earned the slogan, "Another night, another fight," for its punk rock concerts.

And if you were unfortunate enough to have to attend a meeting of local councilmen in the small town of Bath, you would find them calling absent rivals queer -- imagine "that [Johnny Siegenthal], he's a 'funny' boy" -- and so on.

And to see guys beating up women in public was not as uncommon as you might think.

Which brings us back to the exterior of the Stabler Arena, an old haunt.

So the image of an old white man, waddling down the Stabler Arena sidewalk, muttering, "Commie faggots, commie faggots," isn't stupefying. Cranks and assholes were and are easy to find in the Valley. And if you're on hand to give 'em a little poke, they will perk up and bark menacingly for you.

"I believe [Obama] supports terrorism," claimed one fool, after being goaded.

"Socialist swine!" another curses. A constant mixed-up refrain of "Socialism! Communism! Go to Russia! Get a job!" is heard, just before one crew bursts into a stanza of "God Bless America." No blood is spilt, no cameras smashed, and these people are, at worst, unintentionally funny, an embarrassment to themselves and their party.

What's more dismaying, though, is the image of one middle-aged woman, turning slowly to the camera and saying, "Son, he is a Muslim."

She mirrors the addled lady now known famously as the person who stood up in front of John McCain and called Obama an Arab. McCain, compelled to do something, told her he knew his rival to be a decent man. And was booed for it.

But McCain can no longer have his cake and eat it to in this matter. Any decent person with half a brain knows you can't have a running mate, Sarah Palin, insisting Barack Obama pals around with terrorists and be regarded as anything but a cynical creep flailing for victory, playing any angle.

So McCain certainly has the white crank vote in the Lehigh Valley. And that of the confused and misled, like the woman who told the cameraman outside Stabler that she knew Obama was a Muslim with the gravity of someone convinced there had been a conspiracy to disguise the truth.

To put this into a little more context, your host takes you to The Morning Call again, still a very timid publication in a deeply conservative region.

The Stabler arena rally was big news nationally and around the world. The Call sent a number of reporters to cover it but did not portray the event as it would be seen in the rest of the nation, an image which contributed solidly to the crystallization of increasingly nasty crowds at McCain/Palin rallies.

It's coverage was not in line with the observation by Paul Krugman in the New York Times last week: "Something very ugly is taking shape on the political scene: as McCain’s chances fade, the crowds at his rallies are, by all accounts, increasingly gripped by insane rage."

Instead, when Lehigh Valley Republican Bill Platt referred to McCain's opponent as "Barack Hussein Obama," the paper reacted with a piece which afforded the man an opportunity to laugh it off. (See here.)

The newspaper fell back on the standard intellectually bankrupt waffle: "Some Obama supporters say the reference to the middle name was an attempt to create doubts about his background and faith. Obama is a Christian, but as many as one in 10 Americans have described him in polls as a Muslim."

Read the paper's inference this way: The use of this trick may have something to do with the ignorant belief that Obama is Muslim and be red meat for those calling him a terrorist, or it may not. Some people believe that. (The Los Angeles Times exercised the same semantic hop-scotch when covering the Stabler event, too.)

On October 12th, the Call published ONE letter from a reader named Louis Liebhaber.

"Pennsylvania is noted for having a large number of hate groups among the states," wrote Liebhaber. "Pennsylvanians, along with other Americans, are beginning to express in bolder ways their unwillingness to vote for Sen. Barack Obama because he is a black man.

"In this context,William Platt II, head of the Lehigh County Republican Committee, in whipping up the crowd for visit by Sen. McCain, asked the crowd how it would feel if they woke up to headlines on Nov. 5 that 'Barack Hussein Obama' won the election. Mr. Platt either knew exactly what he was doing, contributing to the hate-mongering that is destroying our society, or he is ignorant of the world around him, and should not claim to be a leader in the Republican Party.

"Instead of whipping the crowd into a frenzy about the good that John McCain could do for his country, Mr. Platt wrapped himself and Mr. McCain in the flag of hate and intolerance. Shame on Mr. Platt!"

If you know The Morning Call newspaper, it was actually a bit daring. When DD was in residence, the assistant managing editor detested getting phone calls from irate readers and generally hated allowing anything into print which suggested a local from the regular Bund might be less than a sterling character.

The letter writer, insisting McCain and Platt had wrapped themselves "in the flag of hate" was far more direct than its own piece on the latter, which concluded: "Some people at the [McCain/Palin] rally, [Platt] said, suggested he seek public office."

Laboring for an appearance of fairness, the Call's letters page published this counter piece, penned by someone named Brian Snyder:

"I don't understand the uproar when someone refers to the Democratic nominee for president by his full name ... It's no different then referring to, say, a man named William Jefferson Clinton by his complete name."

Heed the words of the reasonable man. Hussein, it's political symbolism -- no different than Jefferson. At all. Haw! DD's middle name is Christian. It's true! Don't you think I should run for office? I have a built-in advantage!

That the newspaper, like many others, in pretending that there's a logical argument to be made over whether the Republican usage of Obama's middle name at political rallies is part of an effort to assassinate his character or just something incidental, is contemptible.

In this context, there's little wonder at a crazy voter outside Stabler saying, "Son, he is a Muslim."

"Obama is the ultimate radical," ran the heading of another Call letter-writer, one day after the Stabler rally.

"If Barack Obama is elected, we will have the most inexperienced, left-wing radical liberal ever in the White House," wrote a man named David Krause. "If this is the change that people want, so be it."

"The campaign lies that are being spewed on every Obama TV commercial including the character attacks on McCain and Palin are all reminiscent of the Clinton years -- no change ... We do need change to get our country back. The American people depend upon it, the future of our children depend upon it, and the survival of the Free American republic depends upon it. People need to vote all of the liberal, socialist Democrats out of office."

Today, the newspaper again felt bold enough to print another letter condemning Republicans.

"The most recent allegation of the John McCain/Sarah Palin campaign that Barack Obama somehow consorts with terrorists, has been checked out by a number of media sources and proved to be baseless," wrote a man from Bethlehem.

"The only thing this allegation does prove is the complete intellectual and ethical bankruptcy of the Republican presidential ticket and the Republican Party itself, as well as the abject desperation of their campaign.

"Anyone still supporting this misbegotten ticket will of necessity look with shame and discomfort at the figure peering back in the bathroom mirror."

Always straining to be fair, editors balanced it with another letter riffing on the meme that Obama was a terrorist.

"Sen. Barack Obama is a political hack in the making," wrote one woman from Saucon Valley. "Strange but true, his past associations include Bill Ayers, an American terrorist and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright who proclaims, 'God Damn America' from his pulpit. Let's not forget that Obama said Pennsylvanians are people who hang on to '''their guns, their old-time religion, and blue collar work ethics.' There is an old saying that you can judge a man from the company he keeps."

Much of what the LV newspaper publishes -- or chooses to highlight -- often simply passes on the wisdom of the heevahava.

Take the Call's website.

It features a dozen or so local blogs, an unsurprisingly excellent exercise in nut-picking. Always striving to be fair, none were done from the perspective of liberal Democrats. (See See here.)

The highlight is reserved for a blog by a lady who, the paper boasts, is "a regular contributor to the Opinion pages at The Morning Call."

I leave readers to evaluate the worth of such a claim.

Alert readers will note that in this piece defending defending Sarah Palin, its creator manages to spell the name of the vice-presidential candidate wrong every time she uses it.

"I am not really a political junkie," she writes.

Another crank, the Lehigh Valley Conservative, incoherently mixes scripture, worries about an imminent new world order, and the belief that liberal Democrats -- who he refers to as socialists -- are evil.

"We have every Socialist, hater of America and God, all the slime balls who call themselves politicians and every pervert saying and/or asking [sic]. “— where is now their God?” -- Psalms 115:2 King James Bible," it babbles.

"The disappointment is we are trying to argue the issue as though their side has a legitimate position from which to present. We must elevate the argument to one that must have a Biblical, Constitutional position and if it doesn’t – what are we doing?"

DD's favorite, however, is reserved for a selection from Schuylkill County, by a blogger who refers to the foe as B. Hussein Obama.

"The Schuylkill County Republican Committee kicked off the campaign season with a $45/plate dinner at the Pottsville Club last night," it starts off, informatively.

However, it jumps the rails, too, on the Fox News-fed conspiracy theory that Barack Obama and his followers are going to instigate a coup in the voting booth.

"State GOP Chairman Robert Gleason warned the crowd that 'the only way Barack Obama will win Pennsylvania is if he steals the election. Don’t stand by and let him do it.'

While reading, one comes away gripped by the airs of grievance, that the mainstream media is in the tank for Obama -- a theme sometimes unimaginatively repeated in the Call's letter section, that Democrats/socialists are evil, and that our FREE NATION is about to topple if the wrong person is elected.

They're discouraging, crabbed and collectively as dumb as a pile of rocks, not much of a selection for the newspaper to be putting forward.

In closing, an excerpt from a Sunday editorial in a newspaper in York, Pennsyltucky, a conservative town with voting demographics much like the Lehigh Valley.

"[McCain] is essentially a snake-oil salesman, a narcissistic con artist whose personal ambition trumps his alleged patriotism, a hypocrite who condemns those who secrete sleaze into our discourse while vomiting huge amounts of political bile, all while sporting that reptilian grin of his," it spits.

"[To bring this up] would be entirely fair under the standards set forth by McCain and his running mate, Caribou Barbie."

That's York, not the socialist liberals storming the ramparts, delivering the news.

Almost a week after the Stabler Arena rally, the Morning Call's opinion page, helmed by Glenn Kranzley, finally gets around to addressing what's in front of its nose. And what the rest of us got in full measure: the stoking of hate by enraged nuts blurting out what John McCain himself dared not.

"It's hard to tell whether the tenor of the McCain-Palin campaign is more distressing to supporters or those who don't support the ticket," the newspaper begins enigmatically.

"Sen. John McCain is slipping behind Sen. Barack Obama in polls in Pennsylvania and other must-win states, and yet his TV ads, speeches and talking points don't change. For the most part, they attack Sen. Obama's past and his personal integrity.

"That focus has led to bitter outbursts from the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, especially in the last week or so. A prime example came during their appearance Oct. 8 at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem. When the Obama name was mentioned from the stage, people responded with boos and shouts of 'No-bama,' which fall into the category of tough and passionate politics. But there also shouts of 'Treason!' and 'Liar!' At other places around the country, the shouts have been even more virulent and hateful.

"It isn't entirely fair to blame the top of the ticket for how supporters choose to express themselves."

Yes it is and it is the newspaper's waffling which makes matters worse. In the day after the election, the Morning Call's reporters did not meaningfully cover the behavior which today's opinion piece finally felt obligated to mention.

In the intervening period, pics and reports of the Stabler Arena rally went worldwide and the Sidewalk to Nowhere video of GOP cranks outside the Stabler Arena on YouTube went to 350,000+ views, a number a great deal larger than the newspaper's Sunday circulation.

What was the newspaper doing while this was going on?

Publishing stupid letters from readers asking what was wrong with using Barack Obama's middle name and how more attention had to be paid to his links with Bill Ayers, pretending it was airing reasonable views for people of varying opinions to chew over. Mentioning that Bill Platt had gotten a lot of calls right after he said "Barack Hussein Obama" and that some thought he should run for political office.

"The speed of discourse in these Internet days and the dominance of irony in almost all communications make for easy travel when a candidate chooses the low road," continues the newspaper.

"Get over it."

Wow. That's a scintillating and tough observation.

Read the rest here.

Morning Call letters

Obama is the ultimate radical

Speaker waved the flag of hate

Judge Obama by the company he keeps

Abject desperation in campaign

It's just his middle name

Comment insults the best and brightest

Media in the tank for Obama in not sufficiently covering link to Bill Ayers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dick!

Of course, when the woman called Obama an "Arab", McCain went to correct her and tell her that she was wrong, that Obama was a decent family man, and a citizen.

It's good to know that Arabs can't be decent American family men. Way to go, McCain.

11:44 PM  

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