Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Fireside chat for May 22, 2010 (VIDEO)

The President announces that the independent commission he created for the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling will be chaired by former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham and former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly. He promises accountability not just for BP, but for those in government who bore responsibility.

Friday, May 21, 2010

So, my opinion doesn't count in this Rand Paul business?

Yesterday, thanks to Rand Paul, we received proof positive that the rotten racist apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I am of course speaking of Rand Paul’s not-necessarily disastrous decision to advocate for the repeal of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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I say not-necessarily, because this is still Kentucky we're talking about. Not the most racist state in the Union (too many nominees to mention), but just about as racist as they come.

Mr. Paul's racism has, of course, generated a lot of chatter on the TeeVee, and in the blogosphere. In most cases, a lot of journalists went out of their way to say that Rand Paul was not a racist. Ezra Klein's post is but one example. There are more.

Why? Because he said so.

But with regard to racism, I don't believe in any racism. I don‘t think we should have any government racism, any institutional form of racism.

That was from the Maddow interview of May 19th.

Guess that takes care of that.

If this douchebag is going to so casually throw my rights (as an African-American) under the bus to serve his ideological aims, while his remain intact (what a coincidence), how does that not make him a racist?

Put another way, a better way by Adam Serwer (first highlighted by Ezra Klein):

Paul's defenders will argue -- as conservatives did with Barry Goldwater -- that Paul himself is not a racist. Indeed, Paul said he finds racism abhorrent and would not frequent a segregated business. And Paul rather incoherently defended his position as being "the hard part about believing in freedom." This is a key statement because it rather poignantly expresses the utter selfishness at the heart of Paul's argument against the Civil Rights Act.

Paul would never face the actual "hard part" of his vision of freedom, because it would never interfere with his own life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. Rand Paul would not have been turned away from a lunch counter, be refused a home, a job, or denied a loan, or told to sit in the black car of a train because of his skin color, or because of the skin color of his spouse. Paul thinks there is something "hard" about defending the kind of discrimination he would have never, ever faced. Paul's free-market fundamentalism is being expressed after decades of social transformation that the Civil Rights Act helped create, and so the hell of segregation is but a mere abstraction, difficult to remember and easy to dismiss as belonging only to its time. It's much easier now to say that "the market would handle it." But it didn't, and it wouldn't.

But, there is another thing that has bothered me about this debate.

Where are the African-Americans? I mean, it's not like we don't have an opinion on this thing.

For some reason, the debate about Rand Paul, about his beliefs, about his racism, has happened exclusively in the province of white people.

That’s not to say that white people don’t have a say in this matter (in fact, some of my best friends are white people). But they are only half of the equation in any discussion about race in America. Worse still, they are not exactly experts when in comes to suffering under racism. (Though a some are experts at dishing it out.)

Sorry, fellow Liberals. I’m not trying to insult you, I’m just reflecting an honest truth. I know you hate racism. I know you will act against it whenever it’s identified for you. But any expertise you have comes from the outside looking in. You don’t live it like I do, or any African-American does.

It’s the same way I viscerally hate Anti-Semitism, from my gut. Still, I have to acknowledge that any Jew anywhere is better suited to speak to the issue than I am.

Following that, in a discussion about the harm Public and Private Institutions can inflict upon American Citizens of color, and the Government’s role in ending that harm, why weren’t there any African-American (people who are the authority on this kind of harm) on the TeeVee??

Yeah, we had Jim Clyburn. Twice. Both times on MSNBC. Once on Andrea, once on Keith.

That’s it?

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Not that Jim Clyburn didn’t hit it out of the park, he did. He was great. He spoke for me, word for word.

But come on, you’re trying to tell me there weren’t more Black people who could talk about this?

Eugene Robinson? (MSNBC Regular)

Melissa Harris-Lacewell? (MSNBC Regular)

LeBron James? (It's not like he hasn't been in the news).

Tiger Wo--

Yeah, you're right. Scratch that. Bad idea.

It wasn’t until Rachel Maddow (who started his mess by taking an oft-reported local story and putting on said TeeVee) interviewed Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP that we had another black person talking about the subject.

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Child, please.

Listen, it’s bad enough that you have a segment of the population desirous to go back to the “bad old days”. It’s bad enough that a moment of true racial transcendence (the election of the first black President) has become mired in an explosion of racial divisiveness.

But is it too much to ask, that if you have a discussion about race in America that we be a part of it?

Leaving African-Americans out may be the most offensive thing about all this.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The President's Speech on Jobs in Youngstown, Ohio (VIDEO)

This one almost slipped past me. It got almost zero coverage on the national stage.

Not the most extraordinary speech he's ever given, but its a good template for the campaign ahead. If you've been watching him speak, you've heard a lot of this stuff before. The crowd reaction felt a little restrained. The biggest laugh/applause lines seemed to come whenever he talked concrete job numbers (i.e., the people in the next county over, thanks to the G.M. bailout are coming back to work). That's how it should be.

The President read the room. He dispensed with the smiles quickly, and told the people of Youngstown what he did, and how it helped.

Now, we’ve got a long way to go before this recovery is felt in the lives of our neighbors and in all the communities that have lost so much ground in this recession and in years before.

But despite that sobering reality, despite all the naysayers in Washington, who are always looking for the cloud in every silver lining, the fact is our economy is growing again. Last month, we gained 290,000 jobs. (Applause.) So think about this. We gained more jobs last month than any time in four years. And it was the fourth month in a row that we’ve added jobs -- and almost all those jobs are in the private sector. Everybody talks about government was doing this, government was doing that. Now, what we did was we encouraged the private sector, gave them the funding, the financing, the support, the infrastructure support in order to invest and get the economy moving again.

And last month also brought the largest increase in manufacturing employment since 1998 -- (applause) -- 1998, because I believe in manufacturing and I believe in manufacturing right here in the United States of America. We can compete against anybody. Youngstown can compete against anybody. You got the best workers. There’s no reason why we can’t compete with anybody if you guys have the support that you need.

And you know what? I think those critics who have been trying to badmouth these efforts -- they know it’s working. These folks who opposed this every step of the way, predicting nothing but failure, they know it’s working because -- this always puts a smile on my face -- even as they’ve tried to score political points attacking these members of Congress, a lot of them go home and then they claim credit for the very things they voted against. They’ll show up at the -- to cut the ribbons. They’ll put out a press release. They’ll send the mailings touting the very projects that they were opposing in Washington. They’re trying to have it both ways.

I know that’s hard to imagine in politics, that a politician might try to have it both ways, but here’s the fact: If the “just say no” crowd had won out, if we had done things the way they wanted to go, we’d be in a deeper world of hurt than we are right now. Families wouldn’t have seen those tax cuts. Small businesses wouldn’t have gotten those loans or those health care tax credits that they’re now eligible for. Insurance companies would still be deciding who they want to cover and when they want to cover them, and dropping your health care coverage whenever they felt like it.