Washington Independent: A Sign of the Times?

Washington Independent

A Sign of the Times?

As Sen. John McCain’s motorcade arrived for a rally at Cape Fear Community College, this sign, featuring a photo of Osama bin Laden in between photos of a cigarette-smoking Sen. Barack Obama and Thomas Wright, a former North Carolina state legislator who was convicted of fraud, was on display outside the venue:

Bloomberg: Albert R. Hunt: Obama Gains as New South Trumps Old Race Card

Bloomberg: Albert R. Hunt

Obama Gains as New South Trumps Old Race Card 

Harvey Gantt is exuberant over Barack Obama‘s prospects of carrying Gantt’s home state of North Carolina: “This state has changed.”

Then he has a flashback. Eighteen years ago, the African- American Gantt, a former popular mayor of Charlotte, was leading Senator Jesse Helms in the polls. The Republican incumbent then began running a blatantly racist ad. Gantt lost.

“I am confident but leery,” Gantt, 65, says over a salad at a restaurant in downtown Charlotte, a city that is emblematic of the new North Carolina.

Former Governor Hunt also credits the Democratic presidential candidate: “The regular party white Democrats are comfortable with Obama; they appreciate and admire his cool and how smart he is.” Asked if he ever thought he’d see an African-American winning a presidential election in his home state, the 71-year-old Hunt replies, “I never expected a fellow like Obama to come along.”

Gantt, remembering what happened to him, has no doubt that the race card, subtly or not, will be played in the final weeks of the campaign. He doesn’t dismiss its emotional resonance.

Still, he believes that it’s going to be a harder sell in the current North Carolina: “There are fewer people in this state that can be exploited by that sort of tactic today.”

Latina Lista: One sheriff empathizes with his constituents, the other calls Mexicans “trashy”

Latina Lista

One sheriff empathizes with his constituents, the other calls Mexicans “trashy”

Here’s a tale about two sheriffs with two very different views of the communities they serve. One saw the hurt and panic of his constituents and made a bold stand. The other sees the hurt and panic of his constituents and feeds it with callous and inflammatory remarks.

Some will argue that any comparison between the two is like comparing apples and oranges. But in highlighting the differences in how both of these men treat their constituents, it underscores the fact that there are times when humanity takes precedence over rule of law. And it’s an official who can see the bigger picture that understands when that must happen.

Illinois Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart has taken the bold stand of refusing to evict anymore people from their homes in Cook County, which also includes the city of Chicago.

North Carolina’s Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell doesn’t hold any empathy for the Latino, or as he says, Mexican, residents of his community. In an interview with a local reporter last month, Sheriff Bizzell expressed his frustration with the local Latino community in no uncertain terms.

In private conversations, Bizzell reveals that his deeper concerns, and those of his constituents, are as much about changing demographics as about crime.”How long is it going to be until we’re the minority?” he said one night in August, as he drove the darkened streets of Smithfield.


Because of this fear of change, Bizzell didn’t mind being quoted in the same article saying “Mexicans are trashy,” or that they are “breeding like rabbits.”

He resents how some of the men get drunk and end up fighting with one another, never taking into consideration that anyone who is miles from home and family and whose days are spent working from dawn till dusk will take advantage of any outlet to ease their loneliness.

No, to Sheriff Bizzell Latinos disrespect him and his officers. How does he know this?

He demonstrated his point by waving, from inside his cruiser, to a man walking through a trailer park. When the man gave a blank stare, Bizzell said smugly, “See. They hardly ever wave back. It’s like you’re the enemy.”

Facing South: Election 2008: NC Senate race robo-callers send voters a mixed message

Facing South

Election 2008: NC Senate race robo-callers send voters a mixed message

In the last week, Kay Hagan — Democratic challenger to Sen. Elizabeth Dole for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat — has been hammered by critical robo-calls from two operations:Freedom’s Watch, a non-profit founded by GOP operatives in 2007, and the Free Enterprise Alliance, an offshoot of the Associated Builders and Contractors, whose PAC is the third-biggest contributor to Republicans in the country.

But instead of calling North Carolina voters, maybe the anti-Hagan robo-callers need to get on the phone and talk to each other. Because on at least one of the key issues Hagan is being attacked over — immigration — the two groups are sending voters a mixed message.

Last week, Freedom’s Watch — which, as a tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization is not legally allowed to coordinate its efforts with a Senate campaign — started the robo-surge with a call that attacked Hagan for being soft on immigration:

“We all know illegal immigration is a serious problem across America, and in North Carolina, we’re playing host to as many as 500,000 illegal aliens,” a male voice says. “So what does Kay Hagan think about that? She opposes a program to find, track and deport criminal illegal aliens.”

The robo-call ends by telling the listener to call Kay Hagan and tell her “you want her fighting for North Carolinians, not illegal aliens.”

But don’t pick up the phone just yet — Hagan’s other robo-callers, the Associated Builders and Contractors, probably wouldn’t like it.

The ABC has backed a slew of calls that attack Hagan on unions and oil drilling. But with an estimated one out of four construction workers in the country being an immigrant, the ABC has been a fierce opponent of legislation to get tough on immigration.

Blue NC: An Obama-loathing fundie serves up hellfire on a pizza box at NC Pride

Blue NC (9/28/008)

An Obama-loathing fundie serves up hellfire on a pizza box at NC Pride

Kate and I went to the NC Pride parade on Saturday, and it was definitely the largest turnout we’ve seen. There was a lot of Obama support out there (right: this was my favorite T-shirt of the day). We marched in the Obama Pride section this time around. It was a wild assortment of progressive allies, members of the LGBT community, and very strong corporate support (Suntrust, US Air, Bank of America, Best Buy, Glaxo, to name a few).

TalkingpointsMemo: Obsession DVD Distributors: Would We Try To Influence Election? Never!

TalkingpointsMemo (9/25/08)

Obsession DVD Distributors: Would We Try To Influence Election? Never!

We’ve finally gotten to speak with the people behind the mass distribution of Obsession, a DVD warning viewers of the threats of radical Islam. And they’re actually claiming that their mailing of the DVD to millions of households in swing states, and paying to have it inserted in local papers in places like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, is not an attempt to sway voters in swing states.

And get this: They’re saying the swing-state focus is simply an effort to get the attention of reporters in swing states, because the media is heavily focused on swing states and if they distributed the DVD in non-swing states it wouldn’t get any attention.

The movie is being distributed by Clarion Fund, a right-wing group founded by filmmaker Raphael Shore, in partnership with the Endowment for Middle East Truth. Since these organizations are 501(c)(3) non-profits, it would be illegal for them to use the DVD as an express effort to win people’s votes — but they can embark on educational campaigns.

Ari Morgenstern, spokesman for EMET, concurred that this is not about influencing the election: “Well, this is in no way an effort to influence the election. The goal is to help educate the American public about radical Islam’s war with the West.”

Neither Ross or Morgenstern would disclose the identities of any of their donors who are helping with this effort, but Ross did say they “span the political spectrum.” He declined, however, to say if one or more were backing Barack Obama or John McCain.

Ross said that Clarion Fund has another movie coming out, The Third Jihad, about the threat of radical Islamists right here in America, set to premiere in October. There are not currently any plans to distribute it in swing states in the same way as they are doing for Obsession — but he’s not ruling anything out.