Archive for August 2010

Noem Losing Driving Record War

Posted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 6:36 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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What impact do you think Noem’s criminal record will have on her standing with South Dakota voters? Vote now in the newest Madville Times poll!

Joel Rosenthal tells the fumbling Kristi Noem campaign to put on the big-girl pants and get back on message:

When the story broke and confronted by KELO, Kristi Noem did the right thing. She said she was not proud of her record, was working to improve, and wanted to talk about important issues other than her driving record.

The Noem campaign and Republicans now need to move on. Quit talking about driving records, theirs and others. Don’t make this a two day or two week story. Democrats will try to keep ginning this story but the candidate has answered and must resist all impulses to keep talking about it [Joel Rosenthal, “Kristi—Get on Message,” South Dakota Straight Talk, 2010.08.30].

And what do we get from the Noem campaign? More driving records. They go after Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s dad for speeding tickets. They go after SHS’s chief of staff for a Brookings DUI.

Now as Rosenthal calmly notes, opposition research is par for the course in serious campaigns. But let’s make clear three points about the driving-record narrative and why it still tilts in Herseth Sandlin’s favor:

  1. The “family values” Republicans appear to value their opponents’ families as negative campaign targets. Noem attacks Herseth Sandlin’s husband and now her dad, just as Thune’s people gleefully attacked Daschle’s wife in 2004.
  2. Noem’s crimes aren’t just the traffic violations themselves; they are six failures ot appear in court and two arrest warrants. Everybody cited in these burgeoning attacks has broken the law; Noem demonstrated even greater arrogance by skipping court, as if she was just too good to show up before the judge and take responsibility for her crime.
  3. KELO launched the driving record story… and they even opened with the gubernatorial candidates’ tickets, which dings Dem Scott Heidepriem slightly worse than GOP Dennis Daugaard. The stories about Lars and chief of staff Gould are coming straight from the Noem machine. This part doesn’t matter quite as much to me, since facts are facts regardless of the source. But I hear enough Noem apologists making the baseless claim that the Noem-warrants story came straight from the SHS camp that it’s worth pointing out the lack of equivalence.

Back in June, I said it was a bad sign for the Noem campaign that they were hiring Josh Shields as their campaign manager. Josh Shields—you know, the guy who helped Blake Curd burn up more money than Noem and Chris Nelson combined to come in last.

And now Josh “she was trying to make up time over flat country” Shields is doing everything he can to turn another rising star into a lump of coal. If she wants to regain her momentum, Noem had better send young Shields over to Rosenthal’s house for some schooling, fast.

But in the end, why yes, we are left with a long list of lawbreakers. We’re all in glass houses, and we’re all throwing stones. If you’ve sent either Kristi or Stephanie money, or if you’ve so much as shaken their hands, you’ll probably see your criminal record published in the newspaper by November 2, too.

So let’s be consistent. Require Herseth Sandlin’s chief of staff Tessa Gould to resign from the campaign over her infraction. Require Lars Herseth to resign from being Stephanie’s dad. Require Kristi Noem to resign from her position as state legislator and from her campaign for the House.

And require Josh Shields to resign for driving another Republican campaign into the ditch.

Politics by the Numbers

Posted: Monday, August 30, 2010 at 11:02 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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chargelightbrigadeIntrepid reader Donald argues in posts at my SDP site that the turnout at Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally was closer to the 87,000 that CBS claims than to the 300,000 reported by NBC, let alone the 500,000 claimed by the organizers of the rally.  I am inclined to think that the number is well over 100,000, but beyond that I have no confidence.  What is clear is that my friends on the Left, like Donald, are fighting a constant numbers battle these days and they are mostly fighting without ammunition.

Gallup sent a shock through the political atmosphere today with its poll on the generic question.  This is the poll of voter preferences, as in: do you intend to vote Republican or Democrat in the next election?

Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP’s largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup’s history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.

That is indeed a shocking number.  It is unprecedented.  It is, as Gallup notes, twice as high as the gap favoring Republicans in 1994 when the GOP took control of both houses of Congress.

It is all the more shocking when one reflects that the generic numbers usually understate Republican support.  That is true in large part because the Gallup numbers are sampling registered voters.  Likely voters are more likely to lean toward the GOP.

I wouldn’t get too excited if I were a Republican, which I am.  Rasmussen polled more than twice as many likely voters over the same days, and showed a 6% advantage for Republicans on the generic question.  So much for Rasmussen’s bias.  If either poll is accurate, and especially if the real number is somewhere in between, we may be about to witness a tidal wave.

The other important number from Gallup is the 50% to 25% enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans.

Republicans are now twice as likely as Democrats to be “very” enthusiastic about voting, and now hold — by one point — the largest such advantage of the year.

Polling numbers are not real.  They are estimates based on samples.  These numbers however accurate correlate with voting behavior in open primaries this year.  In states where voters get to choose which primary to vote in on Election Day, those choosing the Republican primary have outnumbered their Democratic counterparts two to one.  Those are real numbers.

All this good news for Republicans does have a downside.  It will make it easier for Democrats to claim a symbolic victory if their losses are less than catastrophic.  What strikes me as fascinating, regardless of whether you view Republican fortunes as good news or bad, is how stable the situation has been.  Neither in 1994 nor in 1980, two big years for Republicans, did anyone have much warning in advance.

While Gallup’s generic poll has fluctuated a bit, Republicans have been ahead almost all year and have broken Gallup’s record three times in August.  Labor Day is usually the date by which voter preferences firm up.  It looks like the electorate has been decidedly anti-Democrat all year.  Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts, Republican gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia, were not flukes.

Tomorrow night the President will go on TV and declare mission accomplished in Iraq.  I am guessing that he will, contrary to expectations, give some credit to Bushes’ surge.  At least he can say that, unlike that bad Bush, he can admit his mistakes.  It is telling that, in his second public address, in this important election year, he is going to talk about something that is very low on the voter’s list of priorities.  For better or worse, the path he and his party tread during the first two years of his presidency has brought into being a hostile majority coalition.

Kristi – Get On Message

Posted: Monday, August 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm
By: Joel Rosenthal
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In my previous post, Not Just Another Pretty Face, I concluded that the South Dakota Congressional will be a hard fought close election. It had been a little over a week since Herseth Sandlin played the Social Security card when last week Democrat operatives exposed what they presume is a character flaw in the Republican candidate. On Thursday KELO TV ran the story “Noem Not Proud of Driving Record.”

Essentially the story reported on the driving records of the four major candidates on the ballot in the November election, (Heidepriem, Daugaard, Herseth Sandlin, and Noem). Particularly to speeding tickets Heidepriem 17, Daugaard 12, Herseth Sandlin 1, and Noem 20. What seemed so egregious is that Noem’s last ticket was for 94 miles per hour and she failed to pay several fines, with failure notices being sent and warrants issued.

Understand that most political campaigns do some opposition research. Even the most rudimentary check their opponent’s positions and their background to varying degrees. For major campaigns like for Governor, U S Senate or House, professional researchers are usually employed to do the opposition research to find the hickeys. In these major campaigns, often candidates even have their own backgrounds and records checked to see what their opponent is finding out about them. If this seems a little unseemly, it may be but there is a lot at stake on the outcomes, it is not illegal, and it is part of the drill for a successful campaign.

Public records are checked, both civil and criminal. Besides driving records, property records, mortgages, liens, judgments, employment histories, divorces, and even visits to the neighbors. You may remember a couple of years ago when Democrat Senatorial Campaign staffers watched prospective candidate and former Lt. Governor’s Steve Kirby’s home to see pet groomers come to his home to tend to his dogs. Remember in the 2004 Senate campaign when Republicans discovered Tom Daschle’s declaration of D C residency on his Washington, DC residence?  In my years at the State Party oppo research just came with the territory. As is often said, politics ain’t bean bag!

I can only imagine the light hearts and smiles in the Herseth camp when Kristi Noem’s driving record was exposed, particularly the failure to appear aspect. They had been given a gift.

Herseth Sandlin has been behind in this race, evidenced by both her campaign style and the polling that had been released (primarily by Rasmussen Reports). Stephanie played the Senior card at the Sioux Empire Fair and as previously discussed put Noem on the defensive. Then about 2 weeks later the driving records are exposed.

Sidebar – some may want to shoot the messenger, but it is newsworthy, and it is part of the campaign drill to help the media to its job. The Parties, special interests, candidate’s campaigns send out releases, talking points, blast faxes, emails, now tweets, retweets and on and on incessantly to push messages.

In South Dakota today we have just about lost our political press. I think the AP still has a State Capitol reporter and the R C Journal, the Argus, Bob Mercer, Tupper at the Daily Republic pretty much is the political press. With changing if not failing business models, mainstream media has little budget to do their own research. With high staff turnover and other coverage demands there is little time to scrutinize public records. So when presented with Noem’s failure to appear, it was in a word – Sensational.

When the story broke and confronted by KELO, Kristi Noem did the right thing. She said she was not proud of her record, was working to improve, and wanted to talk about important issues other than her driving record.

The Noem campaign and Republicans now need to move on. Quit talking about driving records, theirs and others. Don’t make this a two day or two week story. Democrats will try to keep ginning this story but the candidate has answered and must resist all impulses to keep talking about it.

What is happening is that Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has regained the momentum. HS is defining Noem rather than Noem doing the defining. I.e. Senior Citizens can not trust Noem and she has character flaws. All the while,  Stephanie is running feel good ads appealing to the her Seniors and reassuring her prior voters who might otherwise be questioning her values that she is the independent voice for South Dakota and not the candidate who is on the political fringe.

South Dakota voters do not support the President and the budget deficits are the number one issue. This is the issue South Dakotans care about. Kristi must tell South Dakota voters that Barack Obama is taking our Country in the wrong direction. His $800 billion budget busting stimulus plan is not working. Stephanie supports the President’s wrong direction and supports and voted for his stimulus plan. In her advertising Kristi should right into the camera and deliver this message with conviction.

Tell voters, real South Dakota values are paying off the mortgage for the future not adding to it. South Dakotans understand you can not buy prosperity. Tell ‘em.

Kristi Noem needs to get on message!

To comment on this post go to South Dakota Straight Talk.

Open Norbeck Cabin as Public Landmark

Posted: Monday, August 30, 2010 at 6:13 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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The latest Madville Times poll finds a majority of you gentle readers agreeing with me on the use of Peter Norbeck’s “Valhalla” cabin in the Black Hills. I asked you “Should Game Fish and Parks open the Peter Norbeck/”Valhalla” cabin for rental to the general public?” The results:

  • Yes: 88 (66%)
  • No: 46 (34%)

Norbeck’s cabin is a remarkable public asset, built by a remarkable South Dakotan. Norbeck was our first Dakota-born governor. He won the federal funds—pork and stimulus!—that allowed Gutzon Borglum to carve four white guys on sacred Lakota ground and bring thousands of tourists to the Black Hills each year (pick your own value judgment; either way, Norbeck made history). Norbeck also pushed for the development of such South Dakota gems as the Needles Highway, Sylvan Lake, and the Custer, Badlands, and Wind Cave parks.

Much of Norbeck’s life was dedicated to opening the Black Hills to more public use. That his cabin should become the private playground of “favored guests” of the ruling political regime flies in the face of Norbeck’s values.

If we really want to get Norbeckian, we should be looking for ways to make as much money off the cabin as possible. Game Fish and Parks, which manages Valhalla, says the cabin generates maybe $4500 in revenue each year. Let’s see… isolated cabin in the woods, six bedrooms, great hiking and biking and horseback riding, near several major attractions… would $100 a night be too low? At that rate, I think we could draw users for at least 180 days a year… $18,000 right there, quadruple the current revenue. And the sitting governor and his political friends could get in line to rent it right along with everyone else.

One of my good Democrat friends, Mr. Kurtz, says the governor needs a secure retreat, but I must differ. Every governor can use a vacation, sure, but can’t he buy his own cabin at the lake like the rest of us? Let’s not get too big for our britches: South Dakota’s governor is not the President with the Secret Service and the nuclear football. Security is obviously not a concern in a state where the only things standing between citizens and the governor at work are a secretary and a wooden door. What’s the point of a secure hidden location for the governor when he probably drives himself to Wal-Mart to pick up fishing tackle? The last thing we need to spend state money on is the crazy notion that our governor needs a secret compound to hide in.

The Peter Norbeck cabin in Custer State Park is a great public asset. We should make the most of it. Open it to the public. Rent it out to supplement the Sylvan Lake Lodge and other fancy lodging in our busiest state park.

Mortgage Sanity Outbreak Across the Pond

Posted: Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 11:27 pm
By: RadioActive Chief
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Bank plans to cap risky mortgages

What a RADICAL concept: tightening up on mortgages to prevent bubbles, defaults, etc. Shocking! This is the way it used to be done here too, before the rigging of Fanny May by the Pelosi/Frank/Dodd team to push home purchasing whether or not the “customer” could afford it – at ANY rate. Result: claims of helping the poor, but actually resulting in the continuing housing market bust.

Mortgage lending would be “capped” to stop borrowers taking out risky loans under radical Bank of England plans to prevent a repeat of the credit crisis, a senior official has disclosed.

Charlie Bean, the Bank’s Deputy Governor, said “direct constraints” may be needed to restrict access to credit, and that homebuyers could be forced to put down sizeable deposits before being granted a mortgage by their banks or building societies. This would mean that prospective buyers would have to put down between 10 per cent and 25 per cent of a property’s purchase price as a deposit before being able to obtain a loan.

It is the first time that a senior official has indicated that the Bank may intervene directly with new rules on so-called “loan to value ratios” to stop risky lending.

No signs of sanity on this side of the pond, with more noises in Washington about MORE easy money to “stimulate” the housing market. When will they ever learn?

Coming home from Iraq

Posted: Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 10:02 pm
By: David Newquist
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When one enters the military, one loses most of the freedoms and rights that civilians enjoy.  On some occasions, one has the right to dissent, but needs to be damned careful about what is said and how it is said.  Officers do not have the right to criticize or express low opinions of Congress, the President, or any other member of their command.  Gen. McChrystal is a case in point.  Enlisted men can bitch on their own time, but anything that is insubordinate or disloyal can subject them to severe discipline.

In battle situations, effective commanders draw upon the experience and knowledge of veterans in the field, but most battle orders come from the top down and the grunts just follow orders.  When ordered, they simply carry out the jobs they were trained to do.  And any obstinacy or delay in carrying them out will be seen as a failure to obey orders or insubordination.  No matter what a soldier may think of the way a task is set up, he or she is obligated to do it.  This is a necessary fact of military life.

The reason for rigorous discipline in the American military is rooted deep in the experience with the militia.  The militia was anything but well regulated.  Lincoln, for example, was elected as commander of his company of Illinois militia during the so-called Black Hawk War.  That honor was more a testament to his political savvy than to his aptitude as a military leader.  He did not learn those latter skills until he was President facing the Civil War.  That militia created one of the most embarrassing episodes in military history during an occasion named Stillman’s Run.  The men were encamped one night during their pursuit of Black Hawk and were enjoying their ration of whiskey.  Their commander was named Stillman.   Some of Black Hawk’s scouts approached with a white flag to ask for a meeting.  When some of the militia saw Indians approaching, they panicked and opened fire on them.  The small party that had been sent to accompany the messengers opened fire in return to protect the messengers, and the militia ran in all directions, many of them not stopping until they reached some white enclave where they could hide in basements and fortified barns.  They said they had been besieged by thousands of Indians and put all of northwestern Illinois in a state of panic.   The place in Illinois where this mass demonstration of cowardice and incompetence took place was called Stillman’s Run.  Now it as been benignly renamed to Stillman’s Valley.  However, that bit of history provides the reason why military actions are assigned to a professionally trained and maintained military, not a militia.

A soldier’s primary task is to carry out orders, and no time or circumstance is allowed to debate the wisdom or appropriateness of those orders.  In America, the military must depend on the people who order them into action to have determined whether the wars declared are just and valid, whether the battle plans are competently drawn, and whether the necessary equipment and support for the actions is provided.

During and after Viet Nam, soldiers were vilified for the actions they carried out.  The civilians who so abused and castigated them did not grasp that whatever the soldiers did they did under orders and would have received severe punishment if they disobeyed them.  There are always cases in war where some soldiers go too far and commit war crimes, such as My Lai in Viet Nam.  But even then, the ultimate responsibility falls–or at least it should–on those who are commanding the troops.

The troops are coming home from Iraq.  Many of us protested this war as the country was preparing for it.  At the time, we thought it was not justified and, as it draws down, are more convinced that American lives and resources were needlessly wasted.  But the troops went there and carried out the mission set for them.  The problem is that when one criticizes the war on Iraq, some people say we are not supporting our troops.  We support our troops.  Even though we thought this war served no  purpose and would only worsen the situation in that area of the world, we provided them the equipment and support they needed, hoping that the battle would come to a quick conclusion.  It didn’t.

The troops carried out their orders magnificently, for the most part.  Even though many of us think the war was irrational because Iraq was not a threat to us, the troops served under that pretext and deserve all the respect and honors we can bestow on them.

Any anger and resentment should be reserved for those who propelled us into the war and so botched the whole affair.

Noem Court-Dodging Provokes Awkward Silence

Posted: Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 6:31 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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I think Pastor Boese is harder on the hypocrisy of Kristi Noem and her “values” supporters than I am:

If this were Rep. Herseth all the “Patriot-Ayatollah Pastor-Priests of the Civil Religion” would be heating the tar and plucking the chickens…preaching sermons about the slippery slope of running stop signs=a form of abortion. However the shoe is on the other foot: it is Noem is running those stop signs, skipping court, etc. Oh I am sure the Ayatollah-wanna-bes will say it was to go save a life of someone (or get to her hair appt on time). They are silent…This is WHY I AM AN ANABAPTIST! [Shel Boese, “Just Sayin’ (Remember This Is Not Official Church Statement Source),” News, Thoughts, Theology, Teaching…, 2010.08.27]

I’ve heard a lot of “Oh, everyone speeds, it’s no big deal” from Noem apologists. Funny: do Christians tell their pastors, “Everyone sins, even you, so quit preaching about it”?

I have yet to hear a good rationalization for Noem’s skipping court and getting arrest warrants. The comment section is open….

Beck to the Future

Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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beckrallyToday Glenn Beck drew about 300,000 people to the mall stretching from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.  That ain’t small potatoes.  I heard someone on NPR remark that the “Restoring Honor” rally wasn’t supposed to be about politics, but that it wasn’t clear what it was supposed to be about.

There were a lot of snide comments about the “non-political” character of the rally on the radio and television.  If Sarah Palin speaks, what is it?  But I gather that the speakers did stay away from endorsing or attacking politicians or parties.  That’s one kind of non-political.

What then was the rally about?  The program was largely patriotic, pious, and pro-military.  That is to say, it was pious in the classical, pre-Christian sense.  It was a bold manifestation of civic piety.  The people who showed up at the rally, not to mention Beck and Palin, believe America is worth defending; and their patriotic faith is interwoven with their religious faith.  By going out of their way to honor the American military they recognize that, without a willingness to take up arms in defense of the Republic, one does not have a republic.

The Restoring Honor rally was a demonstration of Beck and Palin power to be sure.  Whatever one thinks about these two, and I have not been an admirer, they are important only because they represent a significant slice of the body politic.  The rally was a chance for that slice of America to show itself.

I think that all of the above is largely healthy, but I can imagine someone on the left getting very nervous.  Doesn’t this combination of patriotism, piety, and admiration for the military sound a bit like the program of religious militants?  Have we seen the face of an American Taliban that Markos Moulitsas is warning us about?

No.  American patriotism is firmly grounded in the liberal idea of individual liberty.  There was quite a lot about that at the rally.  The people who crowded our national mall today may have been very White and very Christian, but they were nonetheless quite religiously diverse.  Fair or not, they think they have been pushed around America’s elites.  Showing up at the rally was an exercise of individual liberty.  These people have chutzpa enough to think that they have the same right as anyone else to hold and express their opinions.  That’s liberalism in its classical sense.

There is also the fact that the rally occurred on the anniversary and at the site of Martin Luther King’s great “I have a dream” speech.  Beck says it was an accident, but he did everything he could to wrap himself in King’s robe.  If you like King and loath Beck, you might be offended by this.  But isn’t it a good sign?  Glenn Beck surely represents the right wing of American politics.  If Beck recognizes Martin Luther King Jr. as one of the Founders, someone whose authority he dearly wants and needs to appropriate in order to register his patriotism, doesn’t that mean that MLK has won the war?

This rally looks to me like a fine celebration of the American idea.  Contrary to the usual view of Tea Party rallies, it was largely free of rancor.  If there were any signs of racism or nativism or other sorts of intolerance among the crowd, they have gone unreported.  We have come a long way toward realizing the principles set forth in 1776.

TransCanada, Nebraska Law Unfair to Landowners

Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 7:31 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Here’s one more small way in which the eminent domain with which TransCanada threatens landowners is wholly unfair. Mother Jones posts a redacted PDF version of a letter TransCanada sent to a Central City, Nebraska, landowner making the final dollar offer for easements for the Keystone XL pipeline. We don’t get to see the dollar figure… and neither will the judge if TransCanada goes to court to seize the land. Writes TransCanada’s senior land robber baron Tim M. Irons:

While we hope to acquire this property through negotiation, if we are unable to do so, we will be forced to invoke the power of eminent domain and will initiate condemnation proceedings against this property promptly after the expiration of this one month period. In the event that we are forced to invoke the power of eminent domain, this letter and its contents are subject to Nebraska Revised Statute § 27-408 and are not admissable to prove the existence or amount of liability [Tim M. Irons, TransCanada, letter to landowner, 2010.07.21].

Sure enough, Nebraska statute 27-408 says landowners condemned by this foreign company can’t establish the market value of their property by showing the judge the fair market value the most interested buyer was willing to offer. Of course, one could argue that 27-408 applies to negotiations, and this letter doesn’t sound like negotiation; it sounds like intimidation, take it or leave it.

The deadline was August 21. No word yet on whether TransCanada has pulled the legal trigger. But remember, TransCanada hasn’t even received the necessary permits to build Keystone XL. As the Lincoln JournalStar points out, forcing landowners to incur the legal expenses of fighting eminent domain in court even before they know whether the legal fight is necessary is grossly unfair to landowners. If TransCanada truly respected American landowners, it wouldn’t go near the courts until its pipeline received official approval, if at all.
Side note on language: notice the weaselly use of passive voice by Irons. Twice he says the company “will be forced” to use eminent domain. Forced? By whom? This is standard corporate-speak, using vague passive voice to divest the corporation and the people running it of responsibility for the bad things they do. You aren’t being forced, TransCanada. You are choosing to use the American courts against American citizens to take American land for nothing more than your own profit. (Irons does slip in paragraph 2 of the letter, saying, “Keystone will use eminent domain….” Credit for at least once owning the action with active voice.)

A Fraudulent Image

Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 12:47 am
By: Ken Blanchard
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tea-party-comix-face-cropped-proto-custom_2While I was deep in Glacier National Park, my esteemed Keloland colleague, David Newquist, did a lot of posting.  I frequently disagree with Professor Newquist, but I always enjoy reading his posts.  This one caught my eye.

A black executive I know commented that if we elected a black president, long suppressed racial hatreds, resentments, and prejudices would erupt like dandelions after a spring rain.  They did. Last summer, as the so-called tea party movement gained momentum, racial signs and slogans were in the front lines of the demonstrations.  People insisted that they were protesting Obama’s policies, not reacting to his racial makeup. But it was impossible to miss the racial stereotypes and derogation as the point of the message sent from those demonstrations.

Professor Newquist makes a pretty serious accusation here, but he offers no evidence except for a single image.  It depicts a Tea Party rally, apparently.  Among the various signs which are hard to read (though one can get slogans like “Live free or die”) there is a large, black and white image that is obviously racist.  A black face, with a bald head, brilliant lips, big ears, and a cigarette, appears within a frame under the title: “Tea Party Comix.”  If you don’t look closely, you might think that this was a sign carried by someone at the rally.

In fact, the blackface image is photo shopped into the larger Tea Party rally image.  The blackface image was produced, according to the Maddow blog, by “Tom Kalb, [who] runs a store called Caveman Comics, in Mesa, Arizona.”  I gather that Mr. Kalb produced three comic books with the blackface character prominently featured.  One of them, apparently, consisted of similes of the covers of several traditional comic books.  Mr. Kalb denies that his “Comix” were racist.  Mr. Kalb is clueless.

The image that Professor Newquist inserted in his post is manifestly fraudulent.  I think it is clearly intended to make it look as though the Kalb image was a sign at a Tea Party rally.  It is certainly intended to connect the rally to the Kalb image.  There is no evidence that Kalb has any connection with any Tea Party organization, or that his deplorable work has circulated among Tea Party activists.

Professor Newquist was righteously indignant about Andrew Breitbart’s distortion of the Shirley Sherrod speech, and rightly so.  The image he inserted in his blog post is just as much an intentional distortion.  I do not doubt that there are racists at Tea Party rallies, just as there are communists at anti-war rallies.  But there have been thousands of Tea Party rallies across the U.S.  I have witnessed two in Aberdeen and Watertown.  So far I have seen only a handful of images from those rallies that even suggest racism.  The Tea Party movement has cleaner hands than whoever produced the image that Professor Newquist inserted in his post.

ps.  I wish to make it clear that I am not accusing Professor Newquist of anything.  I doubt that he produced the image above and I have no reason to know how carefully he examined it or what he thought about it.  I myself mistook it at first glance for a photo of a sign at a Tea Party rally.