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Political News of the Day

March 24th, 2008

Have you heard of the recent “Winter Soldier” event? Probably not, and there’s a reason for it. Winter Soldier is named after a similar event following the Vietnam War–you probably heard of that one, seeing as how conservatives used it to call John Kerry a traitor. The event this time around, like the last, is one where soldiers returning from war tell of the horrors they saw and experienced, and speak both eloquently and powerfully against the need for the wars being waged. These soldiers are protesting the Iraq War, and while soldiers supporting the war tend to be given coverage, the media is all but silent about this much more provocative and important event.

In fact, though regional and local papers have dedicated a few columns to it, the mainstream media, the big, national news outlets, have been completely silent on this rather significant news story. The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, CBS, ABC, Fox–none of them have written a single word on the event. MSNBC had an article, but they inexplicably took it down less than a week after the story was published.

Why the silence? Why not honor the service of these soldiers, and hear the message they have to tell us?

Go ahead, read. (Hat tip to Charles for this story.)

A card-carrying member of the Liberal Media™ reveals the left wing’s secret agenda to destroy Republicans and give liberals a break. From NBC journalist Chuck Todd, commenting on the media’s treatment of John McCain after repeatedly confusing Sunni al Qaeda with Shiite extremists:
Even if he gets dinged on the experience stuff, “Oh, he says he’s Mr. Experience. Doesn’t he know the difference between this stuff?” He’s got enough of that in the bank, at least with the media, that he can get away with it. I mean, the irony to this is had either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama misspoke like that, it’d have been on a running loop, and it would become a, a big problem for a couple of days for them.

It’s an everyday thing to see the media acting this way. It’s far more rare for them to come out and admit it.

Also under the category of “Why Won’t the Damned Liberal Media™ Ever Give Poor John McCain a Break?” is the media disparity in reporting religious affiliations. Yes, Obama’s pastor said things which, out of the context of his community and its history, sound pretty shocking to White America; however, Obama has made clear that he denounces such speech, and has made equally clear that Wright is about far more than just those few words. At the very least, this story should be on equal grounds with John McCain’s story, where he actively sought and publicized the endorsement of the even more offensive John Hagee, who has said stuff like, “All Muslims are programmed to kill and we can thus never negotiate with any of them,” or that gays caused Katrina or that we should hasten the apocalypse by invading Iran. At the very most, you can say that these sound shocking out of the context of the fundamentalist Christianity–in other words, that McCain’s religious affiliations are no less damning than Obama’s.

So, does the media cover them equally? Hell, no. Does the media cover them just a bit disproportionately? Nope, not that, either. In fact, while the media just won’t let go of the Wright story, injecting it in stories about Obama that have nothing to do with Wright, the same Liberal Media™ virtually ignores the Hagee story, writing almost nothing about it at all.

Meanwhile, Obama tends to get grilled not only for what his pastor said, but for what other people say or do, apparently just because they’re black, too. (As I write this, CNN is running the Wright video clips for the millionth time.)

The buzz is getting louder on what exactly Hillary must think she’s doing in this race, in that it seems pretty close to impossible for her to win without wreaking serious havoc within the party, alienating a huge number of Democrats, and virtually handing the presidency to John McCain. She’s too far behind in delegates, has now lost the chance to get Florida to boost her up even somewhat, and has just received a major blow with Bill Richardson, a man very close to the Clintons, who perhaps owes his career to them, giving his endorsement to Barack Obama instead. And it now seems that Obama has weathered the Wright storm very well and is back on top in the polls, showing that he can survive and flourish even under the worst conditions possible for him.

The rundown: Hillary can’t win this. She should withdraw. But it’s pretty obvious that she won’t, probably not even if Pennsylvania goes badly for her. She’s going to hang on no matter what, and she’s going to hurt the Democratic cause in a major fashion by doing so. The general consensus is, she should read the handwriting on the wall and drop out, giving the Democrats a far greater chance of winning.

But some see even baser motives in Clinton’s Quixotic challenge: that if Obama wins, he’ll be the new boss of the Democratic Party, while if Clinton or McCain win, the Clintons will maintain their control. Yikes! That’s a pretty harsh charge–that Hillary would be willing to sink the Democratic chances at the presidency just to maintain political control over the Democrats. I would not quite go so far as to accuse her of that… but I would not put it past her at this point, either.

Here are some interesting political results out of the technology community:
IT workers are evenly split between Barack Obama and John McCain as their choice for the next president of the United States, according to a new survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association and Rasmussen Reports.

The survey of IT workers, taken in early March, shows Obama and McCain in a dead heat, with each receiving 39 percent of the vote, and Hillary Clinton trailing at 13 percent.

The survey also shows that while 35 percent of IT workers identify themselves as Republicans and another 26 percent call themselves Democrats, 40 percent chose no party affiliation. An overwhelming majority—75 percent—put themselves in the conservative-moderate political spectrum.

Interesting that Obama does so well in a right-of-center environment; equally interesting to note that if Clinton were not in the picture, her support would almost certainly shift to Obama, giving him the clear advantage here.

Not a November prognosticator or anything, but interesting nonetheless.

Obama has called for a dialog on race. Fortunately or unfortunately, that dialog is already beginning to work; we’re beginning to see the true raw edge of white hatred beginning to peek out a little bit more honestly:
But Obama has invited us to talk about race.

Okay. I’m accepting the invitation. He can regret it at his leisure.

I don’t hate black people. I can’t pretend to be color-blind because absolutely nothing in my culture will allow me to be. I admire Thomas Sowell, Duke Ellington, Roberto Clemente, Muhammed Ali, Alexandre Dumas, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Count Basie, Tiger Woods, and Bill Cosby. There are many others but that’s a sampling of the famous folks whose courage, genius, character, and achievements I would be proud if I could get anywhere in the vicinity of. The bald truth of the matter is that they’re better than I am, and it doesn’t arouse a flicker of racial feeling in me to acknowledge it. They have enriched and elevated my own experience of life.

On the other hand, I am sick to death of black people as a group. The truth. That is part of the conversation Obama is asking for, isn’t it? I live in an eastern state almost exactly on the fabled Mason-Dixon line. Every day I see young black males wearing tee shirts down to their knees — and jeans belted just above their knees. I’m an old guy. I want to smack them. All of them. They are egregious stereotypes. It’s impossible not to think the unthinkable N-Word when they roll up beside you at a stoplight in their trashed old Hondas with 19-inch spinner wheels and rap recordings that shake the foundations of the buildings. It’s like a broadcast dare: Go ahead! Call me a nigger! And then I’ll cap your ass.

Here’s the dirty secret all of us know and no one will admit to. There ARE niggers. Black people know it. White people know it. And only black people are allowed to notice and pronounce the truth of it. Which would be fine. Except that black people are not a community but a political party. They can squabble with each other in caucus but they absolutely refuse to speak the truth in public. And this is the single biggest obstacle to healing the racial divide in this country. The dammed-up flood of good will in this nation for black people who want to work for their own American Dream is absolutely enormous. The biggest impediment is the doubt created in each and every non-black American by the clannish, tribalist, irrational defense of every low act committed by any black person. If you’re offended when Republicans defend Richard Nixon or when Democrats defend Chuck Schumer, imagine what it’s like when black people swarm the streets to defend Jeremiah Wright.

I’m not proposing the generalized use of the term, just trying to be clear for once, in the wake of Obama’s call for us to have a dialogue about race. However much they may scream and protest, black people will know what I mean when I demand they concede that the following people are niggers:

– Jeremiah Wright
– O.J. Simpson
– Marion Barry
– Alan Iverson
– William Jefferson
– Louis Farrakhan
– Mike Tyson

You know what I mean. They hold you back. They’re dirty, violent, and stupid. They make you look bad, and you foul yourselves by defending them, by reelecting them to office, by admiring them in spite of all their awful behavior.

I think this post is important in that it highlights a way that right-wingers legitimize racist views. They know that they don’t hate all blacks, and can list blacks they admire (all too evocative of the old “some of my best friends” line), and so use this as proof that they are not racist–whereupon they then release some pretty baldly racist invective. In this case, you have the person involved spilling forth a list of people he feels that deserve the base epithet, and the only common factor among them is that they are black and have said or done questionable or illegal things (are all whites who have similar pasts “crackers,” or whatever the epithet is today?). The claim is that they are defended and admired only because they are black (which somehow makes them qualified for the epithet), a charge you’d have a hard time defending for most of the people on that list. I don’t see Mike Tyson defended because he’s black, any more than so many other celebrities, most of them white, who get off with less than most people simply because of their celebrity (in fact, one could name more white celebrities who get treated more lightly than most black celebrities who break the law–and they certainly get far less attention, and no mention of race). William Jefferson? Don’t make me laugh. That’s entirely political, with the equivalent going for many white Republicans who committed similar crimes.

In fact, looking at the list, one quickly sees a pattern with most of those names: they are not all defended just because of their race, but almost all of them are singled out because of it. Seriously, there are white preachers who have said a lot worse than Farrakhan or Wright, but few who have been demonized as much as they have been because of it, and none that I have heard of who have been highlighted for “whites” or “Christians” being apologists for them; somehow, this is only notable with black preachers and those who follow them.

Even this relatively pedestrian display of racism is offered only upon the invitation to speak publicly about such things, and still you will not hear many people speaking so openly about such opinions. The scary thing is, if you look at the rhetoric that has long poured out of the conservative community, you can see this mindset lurking just beneath the surface, every once in a while peeking out. But it stays beneath the surface because it gets rightly slapped down when it comes out into the light of day. People who hold these views have learned to keep them hidden, to not speak it out loud. You can still make out their shape under the thin veneer of right-wing diatribe.

The positive view of all this is that it is best to pull out this fear and hatred into the light of day so that the people who feel and think this way can be presented with evidence that what they believe is not supported by fact or reality. And while that may work with a good many Americans, there is a large base of right-wing extremists who will refuse to change, no matter what the discussion. Unfortunately, these tend to be the same people who believe that George W. Bush is a great president, the Iraq War is a good thing and the administration never lied about it, and a mass of other pipe dreams which can be just as easily disproved. But the people who believe these things are not swayed by facts; they believe their guts, and short of a complete breakdown of their social support mechanism, which is unlikely to happen, most of them will not be moved by an open discussion on race. We’ve tried to move them on so much else, to no avail. Perhaps the only thing to do is to so stigmatize these racist ideas that they wither away and die slowly over time. I wish I could be more optimistic, but it is difficult to be optimistic in the face of the utter intransigence of far-right fear and loathing.

Despite what Dubya tells us, this is anything but a color-blind society. A lot of this is revealed in how race is treated when the race-baiting is anonymous. Subscribe to Scopes.com, and you’ll see what I am talking about. There are countless emails which constantly vilify blacks, some of them so baldly racist as to make you cringe. Most of these don’t make any of the news, but they are passed around by who knows how many hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of people. Want a recent and very wince-inducing example? Check out this one–which takes an old group portrait of Obama and relatives (perhaps including friends, some people in the shot are unidentified), and gives them fake names and histories–calling some of Obama’s relatives “crack addicts,” criminals, and “gay porn stars,” then inviting the reader to imagine what will happen when “this bunch starts running around the White House.”

Looking at how Obama is treated in the MSM calls forth impressions that a similar thing is being done at a far more “civilized” level, and is just as overlooked–Tim Russert holding Obama responsible for what Harry Belafonte says and does, the whole media jumping on the Wright affair and linking it to Farrakhan and worse, while not making a peep about McCain and Hagee and other controversial preachers McCain has sought endorsements from.

Yes, a dialog on race is overdue, if for no other reason than to demonstrate that race is still a huge issue in the United States, and that the right wing needs to wash out a lot of its dirty laundry on the issue.

  1. Tim Kane
    March 24th, 2008 at 13:24 | #1

    That last bit was really inflammatory stuff. I noticed that he had a list of black heroes and people he called n*gg*rs. I can’t help but wonder, if in 1992, O.J. Simpson wasn’t on this guy’s heroes list. Once upon a time O.J. was viewed in a positive light. Some how O.J.’s wife’s death, allegedly by O.J., I suppose, does this move him onto the N-list. Does that mean that anyone who is of such suspect quality get on that list?

    I think the meta theme here, is that Obama attempted to discuss race in an adult manner, as Frank Rich purported yesterday in his NYTimes column. In Rich’s mind, that is what made Obama’s speech so remarkable. And that’s what is needed to move the race issue forward. What this guy is really saying is that I am not going to discuss the race issue like an adult. To me that’s the meta theme here.

    Where anyone is on the political spectrum always goes back to one issue. And the decision behind it – really all decisions – has an emotional aspect to it. Irving Kristol is reported to have said something like: “A liberal is a conservative who’s just been laid off, a conservative is a liberal who’s just been mugged.”

    The point of the quote is that there is an emotional aspect behind where people stand. I’ve been one who’s economic security has been entirely undermined by Republican policies: not once, but thrice. I’m damded mad about it too. I am an economic Democrat. From there, I tend to side with Democrats on almost every issue – but I don’t have strong feelings on issues like the environment and gay rights. I know those things are important, they are just not my issues.

    I think far right and hard core conservatives see Obama as an enormous threat and I think it’s an emotional response, not a coherent one. And I believe they will try to bring him down anyway that they can. For starters, they are prepared to not discuss the issue of race in any way that is rational. And this I think is evidence of that.

    But, I think most Americans would like to move the race issue forward in an intellegent manner. I think most Americans that gave Obama’s speech a fair hearing will identify in Obama a unique opportunity to do so. No matter how it turned out, it would likely be a step forward. I think most people can recognize that, while 30% cannot.

    Finally, I find Hillary’s actions deplorable. I think that if she is not careful, everything is going to blow up in her face to a point where she is politically unrecognizable and perhaps ostracized and perhaps even a pariah within the Democratic party. You can’t act like Pat Buchanon and expect to exercise leadership in the Democratic party. She might as well join forces with Lindon LaRouche. I don’t think it’s in anyones interest for that to occur. At some point she has to realize that she’s a pedestrian politician who was blind sided by a political meteor, perhaps one of Lincoln or Roosevelt proportions.

    Everyone in Hillary’s coterie thought that she was the annoited one, she was, in fact, the virtual incumbent. Some powerful and high profile people, like Rubin and Blumenthal and a virtual army of big wigs hitch up their star to hers, and queued up for their expected jobs, like some kind of entitlement. Now comes their personal catastrophe, and it’s unthinkable, and so they can’t get their heads around where things are at now.

    At the very least, maybe they know how I feel about losing one’s ability to make a reasonable living.

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