Race and presidential politics

Why is it that just about every mainstream media story allegedly analyzing the upcoming presidential election fails to mention the impact attitudes on race will have on the voting? It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum or what the writer's (non-racial) prejudices and predilections seem to be, saying that a lot of people won't vote for Obama because he's black appears out of bounds. Nor can reporters bring themselves to admit directly that a smaller but still significant number of people will vote for him BECAUSE he's black.

The polls DO show this; it's just not being properly reported.

Of course, you have to know how to read them. We've made significant strides in attitude over the past several decades, so much so that it's now considered very bad taste to admit that you wouldn't vote for a black man - or a white man for that matter - simply because of his race. But pollsters have various ways of getting around the taboos, including indirect questions. One easy, and admittedly not foolproof way is to ask if they thought their friends might be too prejudiced. Here's a summary of a recent poll from Rasmussen that did just that:

While most voters are becoming more comfortable voting for a black president, they are not so sure about their family and friends. Sixty-four percent (64%) now say they believe their family, friends and co-workers would be willing to support a black candidate, up slightly from 61% in June.

Today, just 8% say they would not be willing to vote for an African-American President and 13% say their peers would not. In June, 11% said they would not vote for an African-American candidate, while 14% said that of their peers.

There is, however, a significant generational issue. While 75% of senior citizens say they would vote for an African-American candidate, just 49% say their peers would do the same. Sixteen percent (16%) of seniors say their peers would not vote for an African-American and 34% are not sure. A person who is 65 today would have first been eligible to vote in 1964, the year when Lyndon Johnson was first elected. A major Voting Rights Act and other civil rights legislation passed in that year. For a thirty-year old voter today, those events were in the history books during pre-school days.

Men have become increasingly more comfortable voting for an African-American candidate. In February, 70% of men said they would be willing to support a black candidate, which jumped to 74% in June. This month, that number has jumped to 84%, just a point below the percentage of women who say they would be willing to vote for a black candidate.

(Link to the article on the Rasmussen Reports site here. I would suggest that the majority of those undecideds in the main poll are actually no votes too embarrassed to admit it. And by the way, this is all a well-known phenomenon that pollsters attempt to correct for when looking at polls involving minority candidates.)

I've seen reports on this poll which completely miss the point, and even the person who wrote for the pollsters tries to shape it into a positive thing, talking about how the country is making progress - nice, but kind of off-point. Imagine if the story said roughly 10 percent of the electorate wouldn't vote for McCain because he was a Navy guy.)

McCain faces a different (lesser) prejudice because of his age. Now he's a dynamic guy, full of energy, and it's likely that age isn't quite the factor for him that it could be. And it's also possible that his age may even help (slightly) more than it hurts - I think a lot of us expect a president to be an older man with a few gray (or white) hairs as proof of his experience. In any event, talking about McCain's age doesn't seem to be as off-limits as the impact of race. Maybe because talking about race has more to do with us than the candidate.

This isn't an argument that people should find another reason to vote for or against Obama (though undoubtedly they will); it's a measure of how truthful the media is willing to be about who we are. And ultimately, that's more a statement about us than the journalists.
Speaking of the man . . .

Spooky. Here's a link to the CD on Amazon . . .
Willie's bus . . .

So the Guru buttonholes me - in a nice way - and asks if I'd want to do this book signing charity thing he's putting together. Sure, I say, without waiting for the details, 'cause the Guru only has good causes, and, hell, he's the Guru.

"Oh, and by the way," he adds, "Willie Nelson may be there, too."

Which puts the request into a whole 'nother category, because Willie is The Man, and I should be begging to do this, not the other way around. I start thanking the Guru but all of a sudden he gets a worried look on his face.

"Now listen," he says, "this you have to promise me - if Willie invites you back on the bus. Don't go. Don't go. You got that? Don't. No."

I open my mouth to say something smart-ass, but I've never seen such a serious look on the Guru's face.

"If I thought you'd go on the bus," he says, "I wouldn't ask you to do this."

"No way, man," I tell him. "I'm good. I hate buses. I'm more a train guy."

"OK," says the Guru.

But as he walks away, I'm thinking if Willie invites you back to the bus, how can you say no? And what's on that bus, anyway . . .
Anybody out there? . . .

Steve Earle . . . Satellite Radio . . . who needs a reason?
Dick being Dick

People have been asking where they can hear (or read) more about Richard Marcinko, aka Rogue Warrior. The best source is always Dick, without the pr varnish and bs.

There's an interview on the Barnes and Noble website that apparently few people know about, but it's great because it's just Dick and readers talking, no journalists or mouthpieces to get in the way.

You can get there in two clicks. First click here.

Then click the features tab under the book cover.

The way it's set up I can't get a direct link. If the url doesn't work, paste this into the browser:

Dirty pleasures

Techno guys aren't supposed to like cozies, but this one my friend(s) Sue wrote is a winner. ...

The Amazon link.
Are you hot?

You think it's hot where you are, huh? These guys are hot . . .
Copy editor hell

Some days after wading through a long and harrowing copy edit, I like to grab a beer and sit out on the front bench, watch the cars go by, and think of the nervous breakdown the copy editor who worked on Fight Club must have had . . .
Dictator's Ransom

Should have linked, huh?

Here's the book on the B&N website...

Dictator's Ransom.

And the url if that doesn't work:

Another Rogue trailer

Here's another version of the Fact or Fiction book vid trailer for the new Rogue Warrior book coming this fall. The only real difference from the earlier version is that the music track starts at the top.

(There are some other technical differences, but they won't be visible in the playback. The vid is just a concept rough, not a finished product, if that matters.)

The vid probably isn't going to be used as a real promo piece because the lawyer suits thinks the script is too "controversial," whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. But I like it. Sets up the book pretty well.

Latest rumor (7/13) on Dictator's Ransom is that there's been a bigger pre-order response than expected and if demand continues to build they may release it to the stores or at least to people who have ordered it a few weeks early. Keep those cards and letters coming; we appreciate it.

Now watch me get in trouble for this, too...
Well, at least it's not China . . .

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse...

Anheuser-Busch Agrees

to Be Sold to InBev

Anheuser-Busch agreed on Sunday night to sell itself to the Belgian brewer InBev for about $52 billion, putting control of the nation’s largest beer maker and a fixture of American culture into a European rival’s hands.

No doubt they'll do for Bud what they did for Bass...

The International Thriller Writers Association held its annual dinner and group therapy session last night in New York. The Guru was there, of course, holding court in a corner of the Hyatt bar, a place where more books have been inspired and brain cells killed than any other place in Manhattan.

My only disappointment was that David Hagberg wasn't wearing a tux. On the other hand, he did have some clothes on, so I should count my blessings.

Prior to the real start of festivities downstairs, ITW gave out awards:

The Ghost by Robert Harris (Simon & Schuster)

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (William Morrow)

The Midnight Road byTom Piccirilli (Bantam)

2008 ThrillerMaster Award for recognition of her illustrious body of work and many contributions to the field was granted to Sandra Brown.

But Jim Rollins' recounting of the "best" Amazon reviews ever received by members was what stuck with me. A couple (paraphrasing):

"All your books really suck, but this latest one was by far the worst..."

"This book is so bad I'd un-read it if I could . . ."

Amazing how mothers can turn on their children...
They say four, you say three, I say . . .

By now, everyone who cares has probably heard that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards tried photoshopping their way to intimidation by altering a shot of a screwup into a success, replacing a missile launch failure with a copy of a successful one. The shot on the left is the one they released first; the other is the (supposedly) real version:

A better view of the (supposedly) undoctored version:

I say 'supposedly' because everything in the image should be treated with suspicion; start with the varying trajectories and make yourself crazy from there...

I'm no analyst so we'll let the experts digest the tea leaves, but I would point out that the missile on the erector - and it would seem the others - isn't a Shahab-3, Iran's medium range ballistic missile* that's got everyone's panties in a twist. At best (worst?) that's a theater missile, with a much shorter range and smaller payload. And if that photo is real, it looks to have about as much chance of hitting its target as I have of nailing a muskrat with a headshot at half a mile with a .44 . . .

Still hurts if you get hit with with it, of course. And you might argue that Iran's ineptness only makes them more dangerous, not less . . .

* - Another weapon whose accuracy and specs remain to be proven, but we'll leave that for another day. There's no question that it is a potent missile, at least on paper, though.
The lights come on . . .

Albeit slowly.... From the NY Times:

Militant Gains in Pakistan

Said to Draw Fighters

WASHINGTON — American military and intelligence officials say there has been an increase in recent months in the number of foreign fighters who have traveled to Pakistan’s tribal areas to join with militants there.

The flow may reflect a change that is making Pakistan, not Iraq, the preferred destination for some Sunni extremists from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia who are seeking to take up arms against the West, these officials say.

The American officials say the influx, which could be in the dozens but could also be higher, shows a further strengthening of the position of the forces of Al Qaeda in the tribal areas, increasingly seen as an important base of support for the Taliban, whose forces in Afghanistan have become more aggressive in their campaign against American-led troops...

(For the whole story, click here.)
You'll pardon the shameless plug:

Well, maybe you won't. Get the story ... and a bit more...
there anyway...

All part of the plan . . .

Exports to Iran Surge in Bush Years

At the same time that President Bush accuses Iran of helping terrorists and harboring nuclear ambitions, U.S. exports to that country have grown more than tenfold during his administration. The biggest product? Cigarettes.

Closer . . .

It figures that a Romance publisher would get it:

Harlequin is the first publisher to release entirely enriched eBooks

TORONTO, July 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Harlequin Enterprises Limited (http://www.eharlequin.com/), the global leader in series romance and one of the world's leading publishers of women's fiction, announced today the launch of their Enriched Edition eBooks. With this launch, Harlequin becomes the first publisher to offer entire eBooks that are enriched with interactive buttons that hyperlink to Web sites with more information about the content.

Won't be long now until it all comes together.
Who you callin' a dilettante???

From the wires:

White House apologizes for insulting Italian premier in press kit

The White House apologized today for a press kit that describes Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as one of the "most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for government corruption and vice."

"The often thick, paper-bound briefing book is issued to all members of the White House press corps who travel on international trips," ABC News reports. "The book usually includes maps, country statistics, transcripts of relevant speeches and interviews and biographies of the leaders President Bush will meet while traveling."

Here are some of the phrases it used to describe Berlusconi:

"hated by many but respected by all at least for his bella figura (personal style) and the sheer force of his will." (via Reuters)
"Primarily a businessman with massive holdings and influence in international media, he was regarded by many as a political dilettante who gained his high office only through use of his considerable influence on the national media until he was forced out of office in 2006." (via Bloomberg)

The Associated Press says the offending passages came from Berlusconi's entry in the Encyclopedia of World Biography.

"The sentiments expressed in the biography do not represent the views of President Bush, the American government, or the American people," presidential spokesman Tony Fratto tells the wire service. "We apologize to Italy and to the prime minister for this very unfortunate mistake."

They thought those were good things to say about him.

But really, Silvio as most controversial? In a country that gave us Nero and Mussolini? Just goes to show what a bella figura will do for a man...
Speaking of baseball . . .

Click the face, add the player. They want an email address, so give them Jerry's.

You have something under forty-eight hours...
Bean-town love...

And he seemed like such a nice fellow when he was screaming 'murder the Yankee bastards' at the Stadium the other night . . .

New Yorker Beaten on Red Sox Turf

FALMOUTH, Mass. (July 7) - A man was ordered held without bail Monday for allegedly beating a New York man with a baseball bat because he thought the man was a Yankees fan.

As it turned out, the New Yorker allegedly beaten in the land of the Red Sox isn't even a big baseball fan... (William) Nestor said he's not a particularly big baseball fan and didn't know the Red Sox were playing the rival Yankees over the weekend. He was treated and released from Falmouth Hospital.

In May, a New Hampshire woman was charged with second-degree murder and drunken driving in a fatal crash following an argument over the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Ivonne Hernandez, 43, told police she was trying to scare off a group of people who were hitting her car and yelling after they spotted a Yankees sticker on her rear windshield.

Police said Hernandez drove away from the group, then turned around and headed directly toward them. Matthew Beaudoin, 29, of Nashua, was killed, and a woman suffered minor injuries...

If you've been to a Yankees-Red Sox game at the Stadium in the past few years, you know that not only do Red Sox fans attend the games in large numbers, but they have absolutely no qualms about being as obnoxious as possible. A sizable portion attend primarily to antagonize Yankee fans. Yet no fights break out.

All right, I've seen one in the past three or four years.... things are a far cry from the days when anyone wearing a Boston cap into the stadium would leave with broken bones and little hair...

Have Yankee fans become more civilized? Older, wiser, a little less drunk? More drunk?

One thing I know - a whole bunch are paying off their car loans by selling their tickets to Boston fans looking for an easy thrill...
Rogue Warrior trailer

Just another day at the office for the Rogue Warrior . . .

That's version 1...
Laugh or cry?

Seriously, no one knew this??? . . .

China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo

" . . . Some methods were used against a small number of prisoners at Guantánamo before 2005, when Congress banned the use of coercion by the military. The C.I.A. is still authorized by President Bush to use a number of secret “alternative” interrogation methods.

Several Guantánamo documents, including the chart outlining coercive methods, were made public at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing June 17 that examined how such tactics came to be employed.

But committee investigators were not aware of the chart’s source in the half-century-old journal article, a connection pointed out to The New York Times by an independent expert on interrogation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The chart and article were from an analysis of Communist Chinese torture - um, interrogation methods - used during the Korean War to extract (false) confessions, which at least some of the commies apparently believed were truthful. (Well sure, because it's what they believed to begin with, the schmucks.)

Supposedly, the Guantánamo interrogators took the methods without knowing where they'd come from... and by implication, whether they'd work or not.

I mean, duh, even I saw the parallel. Doesn't anyone study - or even read - history any more?

Come on. I'm thinking there's more to the story, but then I'm an optimist ...

Click here for Times story