Six Degrees of Speculation: November 2006: Archives
November 27, 2006
November 26, 2006
Since the midterm election I have been pondering the purpose of blogging and I've spent much of my time observing what is now being written in the blogosphere in the wake of an important election. In my virtual silence, I haven't actually had a goal in mind. I found myself having little to say as I sought to digest the meaning of the results...not for one politician or one party but for the country and the world...all the while centered on my passion, humanity. You see, my passion isn't for blogging but for the potential to advance humanity that blogging may provide. I write with a passion for the issues that impact our humanity rather than a passion to blog...and that makes it difficult to blog just for the sake of blogging.
Perhaps that makes me a bad blogger...or at the very least a blogger who would make decisions that may well be contrary to the goal of growing a blog in order to turn it into a money making enterprise. Unfortunately, if my goal were making money, I shouldn't have walked away from a career that certainly did a good job of providing it. With that said, I realize that making money is a necessity...but for me it has to be done as a adjunct to an act of passion for me to feel whole...and more importantly for me to want to continue doing whatever it is that potentially brings home the bacon.
As I've pondered my decision to blog, it has been clear since the outset that passion would have to precede profit...and so it has to this point. As I look back on my blogging, I can pinpoint the choices I've made that have had an impact upon the pursuit of profit. Philosophically, I think of myself as a liberal but by no means am I a purist nor would I want to be. I don't say that as a criticism of liberalism, but as an admission that life isn't that simple nor could I accept living it that way as a matter of prudent considerations.
In starting Thought Theater, I chose to follow my principles regardless of their impact upon popularity or profitability. In describing myself in the section titled "Read about the Director and Cast", I stated "Perhaps I am best described as a contradiction in that I've spent a lifetime searching for an affiliation that I could accept and maintain...one that would, for the most part, define me like a word in the dictionary...and yet I have come to the realization that my identity is always evolving and I am better explained by my inability to be characterized." That in itself is somewhat contrary to blogging. Many, if not most bloggers choose to fit into ideological categories that can be easily discerned by readers and therefore serves to allow quick affiliations and allegiances. That has never worked for me nor was it a consideration when I began to blog.
Early on, I drew readers from a number of the mainstream left leaning blogs as many of my postings were consistent with their liberal content. However, with the candidacy of Ned Lamont, my ideological independence began to emerge which alienated a number of readers and put me at odds with some of the larger blogs. I knew at the time that such postings would potentially undermine my appeal...but as I've stated above, the goal wasn't to be popular and profitable at the expense of my principle goal of pursuing more "truth"...whatever that might ultimately turn out to be. Frankly, I wanted to see if I could be me and still grow a readership...and so far it has succeeded.
Statistically speaking, my experiment in blogging has been to broaden my sampling in order to see if it was possible to amass a following that valued independent thought. To prove my hypothesis, I would have to find readers that were willing to risk leaving the safety of affiliation in favor of what I call the pursuit of more "truth". That would require readers to deliberately place more value upon seeking whatever "truth" can be found or ascertained than in finding support for the "truth" that one might prefer or endorse as a matter of choice. Frankly, that's a tall order given our aversion to conflicting evidence.
From a psychological perspective, one might call Thought Theater an identity experiment. By that I am suggesting that we humans are prone to finding and choosing our identities at an early age and we then spend the rest of our lives attempting to justify that identity...to collect "truths" that support ones beliefs. My own view of my identity is that it will forever remain flexible subject to the discovery of new "truths" and I will therefore forever fail to fit into a standardized identity. The goal of Thought Theater was to see just how many others might view their identity similarly and thus might be open to debate and dialogue that challenged convention and ignored the tidiness of clear and concise categorization.
In high school, it was one of my teachers who made me aware of this identity issue that I am describing. The class was about religion and philosophy and my opinions failed to comport with any prescribed ideology and often left me at odds with both sides of an argument. He made the comment that all I ever sought was more input and more information in order to refine the analysis and distill more "truth"...in fact he said, "You're like a computer trying to solve a problem and insisting that it can't be done without more facts and more information." At the time, he meant it as a compliment but over the years I found it had the potential to be a liability...at least from any practical calculation.
Over the years, many have chosen to call me a contrarian...but that too is an oversimplification. If "truth" is so simple to find, why do we live with wars, have perpetual battles about religion, engage elaborate judicial systems to determine fact from fiction, and vote in order to define tomorrows "truth?" Further, despite all these efforts to expose "truth", we live in a world that determined the earth to be flat, that put people to death for being witches, that supported the notion that some of us were meant to be slaves and therefore not even have a say in defining "truth", and a world that continues to support bias and prejudice in spite of its disconnection from "truth".
So in my post-election silence I've found myself thinking again about the pursuit of more "truth". While I'm glad that the Democrats have wrestled power from the GOP, I remain skeptical that the "truth" will suddenly be found or illuminated. Nancy Pelosi, immediately after the election, told us that she would seek to make this the most ethical congress ever...and within days she supported two ethically challenged individuals for important positions. I don't even know how to find the "truth" in this minor, though relevant incident...let alone how to find the confidence to believe that our votes will lead us to where I would prefer to go...closer to seeking more "truth"...because its pursuit is actually a worthwhile goal regardless of the "truth" that it may uncover.
I fear most of us are forever engaged in the process of supporting the "truth" we prefer and then seeking to impose and institutionalize it rather than attempting to refine more "truth" out of that which we encounter. I can't understand what reward is found in doing as much. Perhaps it equates with the denial that I perceive must be employed to hold any absolute ideology...and therefore it serves to diminish the anxiety that comes with uncertainty or the potential to be wrong.
That all seems contrary to the revered notion of faith which is a concept I admire though do not embrace. I find it troubling that many who assert that they accept the uncertainty of faith simultaneously seek to argue the absolute nature of their beliefs while refuting other matters of fact that do not comport with their ideology. Faith is not fact though many act as if it is. If faith is sufficient for the promise of an afterlife...shouldn't that same faith be sufficient to accept those facts that are certainties in this existence without attempting to overrule them because they stand in opposition to our beliefs? Apparently not...but that supports my identity argument and explains why so many of us humans cling to absolutes despite evidence to the contrary. The closest I can come to faith is found in my unwavering belief in the pursuit of "truth"...but even that isn't an accurate representation of faith since it relies on certainty.
With that said, it is as if where I am going is where others have already concluded that they have arrived. Unfortunately, that difference isn't premised upon "truth" but merely the willingness of some to assert that they already know all or enough of the "truth". That's the problem with elections...they are an opportunity for many to conclude that the "truth" they embrace has been validated and the "truth" embraced by the opposition has been repudiated. Neither assumption can be fully supported yet such is the prevailing conclusion in the aftermath of most elections.
For me, most elections are a letdown...not because of the outcome...but because of what so many believe the outcome means. If one believes that the Bush administration had strayed from "truth" (and I do), then the goal of the election would appropriately be to move the country towards more "truth". Unfortunately, many believe that that "truth" is fully embodied in the president's opponents...a notion I find wholly inadequate and fancifully naïve. Hence my nagging reservations.
Much of what I have read since the election has been a celebration of the vindication of the victor and the vilification of the vanquished. I understand that sentiment but I deny the attempts to portray it as an unequivocal substantiation of "truth". That may eventually come to fruition but winning a majority of the votes doesn't assure as much. In fact, my fear remains that victory is viewed as an opportunity to reject the opponents "truths" and instill the victor's "truths" regardless of either's proximity to any actual "truth". The conclusion seems to be as they say...to the victor go the spoils or he who has the gold writes the rules. Unfortunately, the winning of elections doesn't necessarily bring "truth" or even the pursuit of "truth". All too often it simply brings the opportunity to impose "truth" or at least manipulate or reconstitute it.
Since the victory by the Democrats, it seems that there has been a virtual role reversal. Democrats are now scrutinized as the party in power and the success or failure of the nation is now expected to be measured as a function of their actions. The recognition of our mutual humanity and therefore the importance of our shared objectives are frequently lost in that process. Instead, the winner seeks to advance its prescribed version of humanity...whether it is actually connected to more "truth" often becomes secondary to the ability to impose ones own version of "truth".
Perhaps that is the prevailing limitation of a two party system. It leads to the presumption that there are actually two "truths" rather than the much more logical and harmonious conclusion that we actually share nothing more than our common human "truth"...even though that may at times be very difficult to ascertain. Notwithstanding, if we approached it accordingly, then "truth" would be sought by all rather than imposed by few and the more "truth" that would be obtained, the better served would be the whole of humanity.
Don't get me wrong...there will always be differences of opinion. However, if we agree that "truth" trumps opinion and that it serves humanity, then the search for more "truth" will eventually narrow the gap between opinions and fact will prevail...but only if fact is accepted...and more importantly...accepted even when it negates beliefs or refutes faith. To do otherwise is to separate us from our own humanity such that it becomes possible to condemn it...and therefore to destroy it.
Just as the individual seeks to define his or her identity, so too does humanity. In fact, our human identity precedes our individual identity and therefore we can't find a true identity if we fail to first accept our fundamental human identity. The individual identity can only be authentic if it is "true" to its human identity. Those who elect to first establish the individual identity and then subsequently define our collective human identity in conformance with that specifically chosen, though inauthentic identity, damage all of humanity. Further, they suffer the disease of denial...the ailment that will eventually end humanity if it isn't extinguished.
Such is the danger attached to our selective interpretations of election results. So long as we continue to view our elections as referendums on right and wrong whereby half of the country is affirmed and half is rebuked, we will continue to deny our human connections and cultivate the divisions that undermine our collective humanity and set in motion our collective demise.
As I resume blogging now that the election has passed, I will continue to offer my own efforts to expose more "truth". Rest assured I have my own opinions...but be even more assured that I welcome differing opinions and I am always open to amending mine in the presence of more "truth". Being right or wrong at the expense of others is not my objective. Being right in honoring the sanctity of our mutual human identity is my passion. I hope you will continue to visit Thought Theater as we explore the meaning of our fascinating and fragile human identity.
Daniel DiRito | November 26, 2006 | 8:55 PM |
November 15, 2006
I'll admit that I have never been a big fan of Nancy Pelosi. During the campaign preceding the 2006 elections, I found her remarks in numerous interviews to lack certainty and her answers were filled with hesitancy...she just didn't seem to have a good handle on how the Democrats intended to proceed if they were to win control of the House or the Senate.
Notwithstanding, in the first few days after the election she seemed to have found her stride and I found myself reconsidering my view of the Speaker-to-be. Her statements were clear and I felt she was setting the right tone for the Democrats to position themselves as hard-working, roll up your sleeves public servants intent on bringing the changes that the election results clearly demanded.
Unfortunately, within another few days my opinion has changed once again as it now appears that Pelosi has found her way to the ever dangerous punch bowl that is filled with that magical potion called power...and her actions with regard to the selection of the House Majority Leader suggest that she has been over served. Let me be clear. I have no problem with Pelosi endorsing Murtha as a matter of loyalty...but she appears to be intent on making this leadership election her first foray into the politics of power. In my opinion, her actions in that regard are a mistake and they are apt to undo the goodwill she likely gained in the immediate aftermath of the midterm election.
As I browsed the news in the last couple days, there was ample evidence of the damage being done by this apparent effort to wield power. Pelosi's willingness to make an issue of Murtha's quest to become the Majority Leader is undermining her assurances to the American people that this 110th Congress would be about integrity and would begin the process of "draining the swamp". Take a look at what is being written about Murtha in the Washington Post and in the Opinion Journal.
From The Washington Post:
The videotape is grainy, dark and devastating. The congressman and the FBI undercover agents -- the congressman thinks they represent an Arab sheik willing to pay $50,000 to get immigration papers -- are talking business in the living room of a secretly wired Washington townhouse.
Two other congressmen in on the deal "do expect to be taken care of," the lawmaker says. But for the time being -- and he says repeatedly that he might change his mind and take money down the road -- he'd rather trade his help for investment in his district, maybe a hefty deposit in the bank of a political supporter who's done him favors.
"I'm not interested -- at this point," he says of the dangled bribe. "You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't, you know." Indeed, he acknowledges, even though he needs to be careful -- "I expect to be in the [expletive] leadership of the House," he notes -- the money's awfully tempting. "It's hard for me to say, just the hell with it."
This is John Murtha, incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi's choice to be her majority leader, snared but not charged in the Abscam probe in 1980. "The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.
I don't dislike John Murtha. In fact, he was instrumental in steering the country towards a discussion about the benefits of a prolonged presence in Iraq without the potential for meaningful results. Nonetheless, his history as a Congressman who has played the margins with regards to influence peddling only serves to hurt Pelosi's credibility. That is not to say Murtha is guilty of any significant ethical offenses or that the opposition isn't exaggerating his questionable activities...but if Pelosi is as smart as many think she is this is one ill-chosen fight. Take a look at John Fund's efforts to spin the Murtha situation into a major issue.
From The Opinion Journal:
House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. John Murtha for majority leader, the No. 2 position in the Democratic leadership, has roiled her caucus. "She will ensure that they [Mr. Murtha and his allies] win. This is hardball politics," Rep. Jim Moran, a top Murtha ally, told the Hill, a congressional newspaper. "We are entering an era where when the speaker instructs you what to do, you do it."
But several members are privately aghast that Mr. Murtha, a pork-barreling opponent of most House ethics reforms, could become the second most visible symbol of the new Democratic rule. "We are supposed to change business as usual, not put the fox in charge of the henhouse," one Democratic member told me. "It's not just the Abscam scandal of the 1980s that he barely dodged, he's a disaster waiting to happen because of his current behavior," another told me.
Melanie Sloan, the liberal head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, was cheered on by Democrats six weeks ago when she helped reveal the Mark Foley scandal. Now she says that "Ms. Pelosi’s endorsement of Rep. Murtha, one of the most unethical members of Congress, show that she may have prioritized ethics reform merely to win votes with no real commitment to changing the culture of corruption."
In contrast to Sen. John McCain, whose experience in the 1990 Keating Five scandal turned him into a good-government reformer, Mr. Murtha's brush with infamy stirred in him a conviction that members of Congress deserve more protection from ethics probes. In 1997 Mr. Murtha joined with Rep. Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican, in blocking outside groups and private citizens from filing complaints directly with the House Ethics Committee.
Mr. Murtha also pushed for a law that would require the Justice Department to reimburse the legal bills of any member of Congress it investigated if it was shown the probe was not "substantially justified"--a privilege no other American enjoyed. Only after Henry Hyde, then chairman of the Judiciary Committee objected was the bill amended to allow reimbursement for anyone--member of Congress or not--acquitted in a "bad faith" prosecution.
Gary Ruskin, director of the liberal Congressional Accountability Project, told Roll Call that "when it comes to institutional policing of corruption in Congress, John Murtha is a one-man wrecking crew." Now with the support of Ms. Pelosi, that "wrecking crew" stands just one ballot away from becoming House majority leader. Should he win the sealed-ballot election of his peers tomorrow, Democrats may have a hard time explaining just what has changed regarding the Congress's "culture of corruption."
I just don't get it. Many have said that Pelosi is a very loyal person and John Murtha has proven his loyalty to Pelosi in the past and that required she reciprocate. I'm sorry but we just concluded an election that repudiated a President who many Democrats said was blindly loyal to numerous incompetent and wrong thinking associates. Why would Nancy Pelosi make her first act a carbon copy of all that Democrats found wrong with a circle-the-wagons presidency? Even if one sets aside the loyalty factor it would be difficult to understand the benefits of Pelosi drawing a line in the sand on Murtha being the Majority Leader.
Given that many Pelosi detractors argue that she is to the far left ideologically, the Murtha endorsement is being used to portray her as adamant that we withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible without consideration for the risks to our national security. The fact that Pelosi doesn't intend to appoint Jane Harmon to chair the House Intelligence Committee further supports that contention. I am not suggesting that I agree with those who seek to paint Pelosi as an anti-war liberal...I am merely pointing out that her actions may be used to advance that assertion.
There is no doubt that every move made by Pelosi will garner scrutiny and the GOP will seek to discredit her and the Democrats at every turn. With that said, it is imperative that Pelosi and the Democrats avoid providing the opposition with the fodder to fuel such efforts. I don't know definitively why Pelosi has chosen to engage in a very public power struggle so early into her leadership role...but it doesn't do much to advance the agenda she and the Democrats have indicated they will pursue. While she hasn't asked for my advice, I would simply suggest that Nancy Pelosi step away from the punch bowl.
November 10, 2006
In the aftermath of the election, the prevailing instinct is to either feel vindicated or vanquished. Unfortunately, that is an oversimplification and likely a skewed perspective. Granted, elections create winners and losers in the conventional sense…but if one was to step back and ponders the intention of an election, it is only a success if it has brought us closer to "truth"...not the "truth" that one group can impose upon another but a "truth" that advances all of us and therefore all of humanity.
Victory is an elusive concept. For those of us who found the results of the midterm election to be satisfying, it’s easy to conclude that life is good and that our beliefs have been affirmed. However, little has actually been achieved. The country remains largely divided...pundits have begun their efforts to spin the outcome and to craft messages meant to undermine the opposition in order to insure a future victory...thus perpetuating the process while ignoring the purpose.
It seems to me that victory should actually be found in our ability to understand each other and to engage in civil debate that seeks to find our shared "truths" rather than reinforce our intolerance for the views of others. The validation / repudiation model is convenient and often comforting...but far removed from the fundamental principles behind the creation of this country. I believe our forefathers intended government to be the glue by which we could bring our diverse beliefs together under the shared umbrella of freedom without the fear that any of our beliefs would be unfairly abridged by the will of others.
The following poem talks about these issues and is offered with the hope that we all step back and take more time to understand ourselves better before we endeavor to influence those in our midst. Happiness is primarily an internal construct and an individual concept and the more easily that it can be altered by external factors, the more suspect I believe it must be. All too often, we look to obtain our happiness from external sources because it lessens the responsibility we take for our own self-fulfillment. Politics and governance should not be the vehicle to happiness. It should insure our individual right to pursue it but it should not predetermine the means by which to achieve it.
As we all attempt to make sense of this election, my hope is that it serves as an entree to more understanding and more cooperation. In the end, there is little joy in being the villain or the victim. Truth has neither as its goal.
Empty lives walking busy streets
In search of something to believe
The bargains we make for happiness
Will another dollar mean success?
Winning and losing is a state of mind
Pursuing the truth is how life’s defined
Is life a game that we can ever win?
The outcomes certain before we begin
Filling the void with book and verse
The fear of death becomes the church
Dueling gods are created by men
The righteous use them to condemn
Values established by men in robes
Freedom’s values cannot be imposed
The Shaman’s tell of another place
Collect the tariff and guard the gate
The weak decide they're born again
Afraid to face that death’s the end
The hole you find inside yourself
Cannot be filled by something else
Feed the spirit, build your soul
Build it well, the truth your goal
Freedoms found when truth is told
Befriend it now and be consoled
Death’s an end, forget tomorrow
The spirit lives, no need for sorrow
Have faith in life, face your fear
Live life well, heaven’s right here
November 7, 2006
As we await the returns on this Election Day, this may be the most watched election in recent history...and most of those watchers don't even live here in the United States. Howard Fineman provides his thoughts on the topic in a new article that can be found online at Newsweek. From my own perspective, when I traveled around the world just after the 2004 reelection of George Bush, it was clear to me that many foreigners didn't understand the outcome of the election. Many of those I encountered wondered if they no longer understood the American mindset and the American people. Many times I was asked if most Americans actually supported the policies of President Bush.
Keep in mind that the view of America in the rest of the world focuses primarily on our foreign policy; making it more difficult for foreigners to understand the impact that our left / right divide may have on elections. In other words, we may understand the nuances of our "culture war" and how that plays into voter decisions but the vast majority of outsiders can't relate to that dynamic...especially in Europe where they typically draw a more distinct divide between church and state. That makes today's election all the more significant.
Do we believe in the president’s war in Iraq, or not? The world wants to know. It will react accordingly.
Our elections have never really been our own; the world always has sought lessons and leverage here. That is even more the case now, in the aftermath of 9/11, in the midst of what some call the “clash of civilizations," at a time when capital, data and ideas flow across what used to be borders. We invented the idea that public opinion governs. The way we conduct our elections, and the outcomes of them, matters to the world helped bring into being.
Do Americans care what the rest of the world thinks of us? Even if they do, will that influence how we vote? Talking to voters this year I was struck by the extent to which they were thinking in global terms—about terrorism, trade, the planetary environment, music and culture.
In the absence of another idea, most Americans accepted the Texan president’s “One Riot, One Ranger" theory of “taking the war to the terrorists," even, if not especially, in Iraq.
But there have been costs, and the American people are beginning to do the worldwide strategic and ethical math.
Voters are angry about the loss of American life and treasure, but many of them also worry about whether we are losing something just as precious, and as critical to our security: our sense of commanding moral mission in the world.
My own experience tells me that much of the world will view this election as an opportunity for Americans to reiterate their sense of decency and their prevailing desire to act as an impartial and influential force for peace and stability throughout the world. Let me be clear so as to avoid giving the impression that the rest of the world is made up of pacifists who would oppose the use of force under any circumstance. That's not the case and a number of those I spoke with indicated that they understood our invasion of Afghanistan and they supported that effort to extinguish those terrorists responsible for 9/11.
However, the invasion of Iraq never met with the favor of many foreigners...even though some of their governments supported the American invasion. That opposition has continued to grow as the reasons for the war in Iraq have continued to evolve (viewed by many as rationalizations) while the outcome continues to deteriorate. The following photos are from late 2004 and early 2005 and they demonstrate the level of opposition to the war nearly two years ago. It’s hard to imagine that this disfavor hasn't accelerated.
I think the above pictures give readers a sense of the opposition to the war in Iraq and what many viewed as unwarranted American aggression. Again, I want to be careful to not portray the rest of the world as pro-terrorist...they aren't and they fully accept that the U.S. has every right to pursue those responsible for 9/11. The many people I met had great sympathy for America's loss but they simply couldn't connect that loss with the necessity to invade Iraq.
I tend to agree with the following conclusion from Fineman in that I doubt there will be any simple solution to the mess in Iraq. That presents numerous problems. One, those voters and observers that may see a Democratic victory as a sign that change is coming will have high expectations. Two, once we face the mess in Iraq absent its partisan benefit, the solutions will be difficult and the outcome from any chosen course will likely be less than perfect...far less...and that may hold true for Iraq, for America, for U.S. voters, and for the rest of the world.
While I'm hoping for a Democratic victory today, I expect that tomorrow will require an abundance of hope that all those politicians in positions of power will find the will and the way to take decisive actions and lead us past this dangerous and complex juncture. The whole world will be watching.
Some analysts have argued that the vote today is not and cannot be interpreted as a referendum on Iraq. The polls show otherwise: it is the number one issue on the minds of the voters. Other analysts suggest that, even if Democrats take back the Congress, little will change in terms of Iraq policy. There will be no “cut and run" regardless—no immediate cut off of funding, no decision to set a firm timetable. So the theory goes: nothing changes.
I don’t buy any of that. If the Democrats win big, the world will assume that our policy will change somehow. No “cut and run," former President Bill Clinton said on the campaign trail, but “stop and think."
I would tell the Democrats: be careful what you wish for. The world will cheer your arrival, and then you will not only have to “stop and think," you will have to think and act.
November 6, 2006
The GOP has added robocalling to their final get out the vote / suppress the vote effort in a number of Congressional districts. The gist of robocalling is to make repeated calls to voters at annoying times and with outrageous messages that appear to be from the Democratic Party or the Democratic candidate. They are lengthy messages that frequently lead those receiving the call to hang up after hearing the inference that the call is coming from a Democrat and before hearing that the Republican Party sponsored the calls. John Cole at Balloon Juice provides the following advice:
When you get a call, do this:
Record the call, making sure that you get the end where the RNC announces its sponsorship.
Record the phone number.
Make sure that Metro desks at your local newspaper, TV stations and radio stations hear about it. If you know anybody who has also received the calls, have them call in as well.
Contact Josh Marshall with the details and the phone number, especially if you live in a state not listed above.
Tell EVERYBODY you know. The only thing that will kill this is word of mouth. In fact, outrage about this behavior (interrupting people repeatedly during dinner, waking them up repeatedly at ridiculous hours) should spark a major backlash. But that will only happen if people know about it, so start calling around now.
Again, if you know anybody who woke up at 3 AM to take an irritating automated phone call make sure he or she knows that the call came straight from Ken Mehlman at the RNC. Let’s help revolting behavior get the reward it deserves.
We now know that the bogus robocalls are a single coordinated campaign targeting fifteen races: CA-04, CA-50, CT-04, CT-05, FL-13, ID-01, IL-06, IL-08, KS-02, NC-11, NH-02, NY-19, PA-06, WA-05. If you know of any more please leave the information in the comments.
A more thorough list of targeted races at TPM. The perpetrator is definitely Conquest Communications of Richmond, Virginia.
This is one of many tactics employed by the GOP at the last minute to create confusion and to impact voter turnout. The RNC amassed a huge cash advantage over the DNC for this very type of last minute campaigning. Rather than have their candidates debate the issues, they have encouraged them to distance themselves from the President if necessary while at the same time the RNC will fund efforts like this to discredit their opponents. One would expect nothing less from the values party!