race card redux

The other point I forgot to mention that I think is at root as to why there is questioning of race in the recent McCain attacks is the following.

If you were to imagine yourself in the black community for a second. Here is one of the best and brightest this community and America more generally helps produce. The guy overcomes issues with an absentee father, gets a handle some drug/anger issues, becomes the President of Harvard Law Review, is one of the few black Senators ever in the history of the United States, wants to work to help build up poor communities over a big money job, is by all accounts a stellar father and husband, writes one of the single best memoirs by a politician, beats the vaunted Clinton machine, nearly singlehandedly reinvents campaigning and money collection while becoming the first black candidate from either of the two parties in the history of the United States all by the age of 46!

Not exactly a slouch in other words. Like or dislike his politics, the guy is impressive. He’s a symbol of some good things in America.

Now it’s true he’s not been in federal politics as long as many previous presidents. He wasn’t a governor as has been common of late. He wasn’t a Vice President. He’s not been a Senator as long as say John McCain. This is all true.

But he is clearly not without some impressive achievements particularly for a guy his age. You could admit all of that and still think he would not be a good president, fine, that’s cool.

Contra McCain and the Clintons, however, his rise can not all be attributed to the fact that he’s a good looking guy and charismatic and/or because white liberals are into voting for a black guy because it’s chic. Obviously there some of that going on and he wouldn’t be where he is without those magnetic qualities (that’s a flaw how?), but the idea that he is essentially no different than Paris Hilton or Britney Spears is just insane and despicable.

From the perspective of those who have felt outside mainstream America, here is this great hope, and he is not simply disagreed with he is fundamentally disrespected by the other campaign and reduced to a pop star. Now again that doesn’t mean it was intentionally racial but come on, how is this not going to be interpreted by certain folk (legitimately) as an absolute slap in the face. Again it’s an attack that is out of bounds and then the fact that the he is black adds this whole other layer to the mess. Like I said before I don’t think Camp McCain used racial overtones, I just think they are a bunch of rich white dudes that don’t have the context to understand how something like this is gong to come across. It’s not a question of intentional racism (in my mind) just stupidity and classlessness.

The implication of what it says–again whether intentional or not (and I don’t believe it was–is still extremely destructive. It sends the signals to minorities particularly that even if you play by all the rules do well in school, love your country/not complain, etc. you still will never be accepted. That the story that whoever works hard and keeps their head will achieve in this country and ultimately be embraced is a fraud.

On the other hand, I have no idea why but his opponents keep underestimating this guy–to their own peril. Memo to the McCain campaign this didn’t work for the Clintons. The obvious subtext is sets up in the mind of the observer is: if this guy is all flash and no substance, if he’s real a pushover, then why are they (McCain Camp) clearly so psyched out by this guy and attacking him all the time? If he really was such a flake, shouldn’t McCain be smoking this dude?

Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 9:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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VDH at it Again

I really don’t know where to begin with this Victor Davis Hanson piece. It is contains so many errors, breezy unsubstantiated assertions, and relatively minor truths conflated into enormous macro-changing realities as to be almost impossible to criticize. But I’ll see what I can do.

The first thing to say is watch this discussion with Nir Rosen and Michael Ware the two Western journalists with the contact on the ground in Iraq (the third would be Counterpunch’s Patrick Cockburn). Rosen an Arabic speaking American has been the only Western journalist to really break through to the local Iraqi level. Ware has more contacts with the US military.

The picture they paint is one of reduced violence yes but largely due to 1) the American military undertaking a shift in realizing the basic fragmentation of the country and the recognition of the militias (The Awakening for the Sunnis, the freeze with the Mahdi Army, and the Badr Brigade and Peshmerga dominance of the ISF) and 2)the ethnic cleansing essentially completed in 2006/7.

What both make clear–contrary the entire premise of VDH’s piece–is that it is just a matter of time before these guys go at it again after the US leaves. The Awakening Sunnis see their enemy–and tell anyone who asks (e.g. Ware and Rosen)–as the Shia government which for them is an Iranian transplant. (more…)

The Race Card Gambit

It was bound to happen eventually so it’s now in the open–the McCain Camp is playing we are the victims of Reverse Racism card (following in their continuing trend of Clinton Campaign re-treads).

Classic Rovian tactic hit the guy on the issue but with enough vagueness so that you didn’t completely come out with the charge, then act all shocked and victimized and righteously indignant when you get called on it.

It revolves around the concept of what does Obama mean when he says the following:

“Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said. “You know, `he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name,’ you know, `he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.'”

Now factually you would be hard pressed to argue with most of that analysis–in fact any number of Republicans/conservatives are critical of the recent negativity out of Camp McCain–when was the last time you remember McCain coming out with a coherent him-centered message outlining his agenda? It’s been all anti-Obama. McCain for example is employing a much higher percentage of attack ads than Obama.

Now that being said, did Camp Obama play the race card? Obama uses phrases like the Republicans will scare you because “I have a funny name” and “I look different”. Now there are a number of things going on there, race at best being only one of them. (more…)

Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 12:24 pm  Comments (5)  

Political Headline of the Day

Via ThePage I see:

Clinton supporters are concerned Obama isn’t fundraising aggressively enough to help Clinton retire the debt from her bid.

That perchance wouldn’t be the debt she racked up running a kitchen-sink sleazy as hell strategy against Obama after it was clear she had no chance of winning would it?

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 4:43 pm  Comments (5)  

The Next PM of Israel?

Assuming it’ll be a three way race between her, Ehud Barak, and Bibi Netanyahu, I think she would have the inside track but who knows Israeli politics is in a weird way right now.

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

What He Said

John Cole on the money concerning the new McCain lied about Obama dissing the troops meme (aka the truth):

The McCain campaign forgot one basic thing on this attempted smear- the ego of the reporters and the mainstream media. These folks are fine with printing any lie you can come up with, as long as they have plausible deniability. You can feed them all sorts of shit about someone possessing WMD, or about Obama being Muslim, etc., so long as you cite unnamed sources or undisclosed sources in the government or anonymous experts, and you leave the blame somewhere else. They will print any old rumor if you do that.

But when you try to make them part of the lie, you just can’t get away with it. They were there on the trip- and the McCain idiots tried to make them part of the lie. And they might have gotten away with it had the Obama camp not fought back and had Andrea Mitchell not started the groundswell of media pushback. Now, when the McCain team tries to spread this lie, the egos in the media see it as an attack on their integrity, because they are named accomplices if they do not push back. Again, the ego of the media is the most important thing, and the McCain geniuses forgot it.

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 9:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Daily Dose of Stupid: Mona Charen Edition

Mona Charen with your daily dose of teh stupid:

Via Drudge comes this speech in which House Majority Whip James Clyburn, ( D-S.C.) argues that climate change disproportionately harms blacks and Hispanics. This is reminiscent of the old joke about how liberal newspapers would cover the end of the world. You know, the one whose punchline is “World to end tomorrow, women and minorities hardest hit.” Well, Clyburn is actually saying it. These people really need foolishness meters to prevent them from straying into self-parody.

I suppose Clyburn would need some such foolishness meter if the “we black folk are going to get hurt more by the end of the world scenario” was what Clyburn was actually saying–which it of course it wasn’t as MC herself describes a sentence earlier. I might suggest someone else look into the foolishness meter product line.

Climate change does not inherently equal end of the world. It might just be something like things get worse, even a great deal worse. And that worse might be worser (as it were) if you were poor and black. Because I don’t know you might have less resources to adapt to (or in worst case flee from) a negative consequence of said environmental change.

I will now take a second out of this post, just bear with me as I check my own foolishness meter cause I may have gone over the edge with last sentence or two….Waiting, waiting…..Ok, green light, looks like I’m safe so I’ll continue.

Clyburn was at the National Press Club to launch a new report (which is embedded in the middle of this article, the one Charen linked to) by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative.

The EJCC homepage reads:

Global warming, or climate change, is fundamentally an issue of human rights and environmental justice that connects the local to the global. With rising temperatures, human lives—particularly in people of color, low-income, and Indigenous communities—are affected by compromised health, financial burdens, and social and cultural disruptions. Moreover, those who are most affected are least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause the problem—both globally and within the United States.

The report lays out their argument for how that is the case relative to climate change. Doesn’t strike me as  the most radical irrational assertion in the world nor particularly self-parody or liberal minority narcissistic whining/me more-ism.

Abstracting from climate change for the moment, it’s not exactly theoretical particle physics to know that environmental pollution has hurt, particularly in poor urban contexts, blacks (the poor generally of whatever color in fact) disproportionately: toxic dumping, pollutant creating factories, bad air quality, lead paint issues, and the like.

There are plenty of points intelligent people can agree/disagree about concerning the report in a good faith manner–e.g. their policy recommendations, its feasibility–but this kind of trash does not meet that (admittedly low and reasonable) standard.

But hey why worry about any of that (and you know read something and think about it) when you can just lampoon people unfairly.

Edit: On the intentional of teh, I am aware of all internet traditions.

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 9:35 am  Comments (4)  

Foul Play: Hometown Edition

Commenter williamyard on The New Republic got Quote o’ the Day for his well thought out post (which you can read via the link in its entirety) about how once the election turns back to the economy, Obama will get his bounce.

However, take a wild guess at what part of this (otherwise intelligent argument) got my ire:

How many Americans who are motivated primarily by domestic issues and who are not outright bigots have gravitated to McCain in the last six months? Let’s see…there’s Dave, in Cincinnati, still coming back from that nasty kicked-in-the-head-by-a-mule accident…there’s Annie, in Walla Walla, who secretly donated a quarter of the kids’ college fund to Hillary and just can’t bring herself to vote for what’s-his-name…and then there’s…um…wait, I wrote it down here somewhere…

Not cool. Why does kicked in the head by a mule dude live in Cincy? It’s a city home slice–not farmland. No doubt, Cincy is old fashioned (in the bad sense–see reference to a Bowtie in 40 Year Old Virgin), corrupt, and plenty racist and yes there are a good deal of white trash billhillies as we used to call them back in the day, but the mule to the head crosses the line brother.

Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Noah Feldman on BookTV

The Link. Discussing his new book The Rise and Fall of the Islamic State. I’ve discussed Feldman’s work before (here for example).

This book follows on his previous (and recommended) work: After Jihad. Feldman is one of the principal theorists to help translate for the West the constitutions of both Iraq and Afghanistan. What Feldman is calling a modern version of sharia as rule of law.

There is a great deal that could be said about this talk/book. I’ll be breaking down in some future posts, but I want to highlight the historical time line Feldman provides.

Stage 1: Classical Age of Islam.
–The rise of Islamic Law (Hadith, the Schools of Jurisprudence) and the Balance Between the Ulema (The Scholars) and the Monarchs.

Stage 2: Colonial Era
–The Ottoman Empire seeks the codification of the law (as opposed to in Stage 1 as oral tradition based on the learning of the scholars/moral authority) and creates then disbands a parliament as a means of enacting the codified rule of law.
–Then the destruction of the clerical class sped up by the colonials who then install puppet regimes throughout the Muslim world who are no longer checked in their power once the colonials depart.

Stage 3: The Current Era
–The move to re-introduce sharia as a check (rule of law) on autocrats/dictators as un-Islamic figures. This to be done through parliaments/judiciaries and not a return to the ulema.  But started under the auspices of two foreign Western occupations (Iraq, Afghanistan) and the inevitable insurgencies.  i.e. Not the best of circumstances to try out this vision.

Reggae Break

54-46 Was My Number by Toots & The Maytals

Related note: Click here for The Clash covering a separate classic tune by Toots & the Maytals.  (The T&M original here).

Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment