Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Fireside chat for July 17, 2010 (VIDEO)

The President blasts Republicans in the Senate who are blocking unemployment insurance and small business tax breaks to create jobs, even as they push for permanent, massive tax cuts for the richest Americans.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ta-Neishi Coates's final thought...

Published in its entirety:

Here is former head and current spokesperson for the Tea Party Express Mark Williams satirically responding to the NAACP:

Dear Mr. Lincoln

We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the 'tea party movement'.

The tea party position to "end the bailouts" for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn't that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us coloreds! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds.

And the ridiculous idea of "reduce[ing] the size and intrusiveness of government." What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The racist tea parties also demand that the government "stop the out of control spending." Again, they directly target coloreds. That means we Coloreds would have to compete for jobs like everybody else and that is just not right.

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government "stop raising our taxes." That is outrageous! How will we coloreds ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.


Precious Ben Jealous, Tom's Nephew
NAACP Head Colored Person

Williams has since taken the original down and posted a half-hearted justification. Mark Williams is the same man who has denounced Barack Obama as "Indonesian Muslim" and a "welfare thug." If Mark Williams is not a racist, then there are no racists in American society--a position which many, some liberals among them, no doubt find plausible.

It's been asked in comments, a few times, what good has come of the NAACP's resolution. I would not endeavor to speak for anyone but myself when I say that I owe the NAACP a debt of gratitude. I have, in my writing, a tendency to become theoretically cute, and overly enamored with my own fair-mindedness. Such vanity has lately been manifested in the form of phrases like "it's worth saying" and "it strikes me that..." or "respectfully..."

When engaging your adversaries, that approach has its place. But it's worth saying that there are other approaches and other places. Among them--respectfully administering the occasional reminder as to the precise nature of the motherfuckers you are dealing with. It strikes me that this is a most appropriate role for the nation's oldest civil rights organization.

Ta-Neishi Coates says it for me...

This is starting to be a trend.

First Chris Bodenner (writing for the vacationing Andrew Sullivan) wrote this:

Ta-Nehisi, who has been critical of the NAACP in the past, can't side with me, Weigel, and others exasperated with the group's Tea Party resolution


For me the issue is a practical matter; was the NAACP resolution helpful for race relations? Based on the immediate and inflammatory backlash showcased in the MSM, I think not.

And then he followed up with this:

Perhaps the NAACP could have approached [Tea Party Movement] leaders in private first, offering to help with a PR strategy to purge the racist elements of the movement from its core, small government message. That would have been the Obama-esque approach. But publicly shaming the [Tea Party Movement] into doing so doesn't seem smart or pragmatic.

I cannot think of a more stupid (and yes, frankly...racist) sentence to write in the English language than that.

Why is it that every time there is racist action on the part of White Americans, and Black Americans have the temerity to protest it or just let folks know it happened; it always becomes our fault? It's never the people who committed the racist action, it's always something we should have done better.

I put the following in an email to Ta-Neishi Coates, the writer who touched off Mr. Bodenner's comments:

Perhaps the Rodney King could have approached L.A. Police in private first, offering to help with a PR strategy to purge the racist elements from their ranks and get them to stop beating the hell out of him. That would have been the Obama-esque approach.

Dave Weigel chimed in today, following through on the "the NAACP shouldn't have done this" meme :

When I said the NAACP's move would backfire, I meant things like this would happen. I didn't mean they were wrong to go down that road. It's just that they should know that calling out a group for "racism" is pointless -- whoever's been targeted will simply claim to have been attacked unfairly and had his free speech threatened. Remember what happened when Eric Holder said that America had been a "nation of cowards" in discussing race. Boom: Backlash. Anger. Debate over why he said it, but not what he meant. A year and change later we have a ridiculous national debate over whether Holder's department hates white people because it won't draw and quarter the New Black Panther Party. This stuff is what he meant, of course. But saying it isn't actually starting the debate. It's pretty obvious that the NAACP failed here.

Suddenly, I find myself just a little less sympathetic to Mr. Weigel's dismissal by the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago.

But finally, Ta-Neishi stepped up, and wrote back to Mr. Bodenner and Mr. Weigel:

To the extent that the NAACP has, as Dave says, "failed," it is because the arbiters of facts have ceded ground, and reporters and writers dutifully, and uncritically, dispense the notion that an organization which helped birth modern America has "a long history of...racism." But it also fails because there is very little pushback on this notion from "sensible" liberal writers. (I don't include Dave among them, mind you.) Instead we're getting calls for the president to condemn the NAACP, essentially, for being the NAACP.

Dave concedes that the NAACP has a case, but concludes that they're wrong for making it. But they're only wrong for making it because the broader society, evidently, believes that objecting to a call for literacy tests is, in fact, just as racist as a call for literacy tests. This inversion, this crime against sound logic, is at the heart of American white supremacy, and at the heart of a country that has nurtured white supremacy all these sad glorious years.

It is the Founders claiming all men are created equal while building a democracy on property in human beings. It is Confederates crying tyranny, while erecting a country based on tyranny. It is Sherman discriminating against black soldiers, while claiming that his superiors are discriminating against whites. It's Ben Tillman justifying racial terrorism, by claiming that he's actually fighting against terrorism. It is George Wallace defending a system built on bombing children in churches, and then asserting that the upholders of that system are "the greatest people to ever trod this earth."

Those who employ racism are not in the habit of confessing their nature--inversion is their cloak. Cutting out the cancer means confronting that inversion, means not wallowing in on-the-other-handism, in post-racialism, means seeing this as more than some kind of political game. Someone has, indeed, failed here. It is not the NAACP.

Well said. (Though I do put Dave Weigel in the category of failed "sensible" writers.)

Spoken like someone who's never had to work for a vote in his life...

Krugman, after repeating a story from Rep. David Obey about how the Stimulus was formed, and downgraded:

But remember, the Cossacks work for the czar.

When Krugman says stuff like this, it's hard to believe he's got a college degree much less a PhD from an acclaimed University. Yeah, the White House staff works for the President, but the know the people who actually vote on for the people in their districts. The President isn't a CEO, despite what Dubya would have you believe. He can't snap his fingers and get anyone in the Congress to do his bidding. The system was never set up that way. I thought that was a good thing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Joe Klein (also) says it for me...

More pushback on the Washington Post story, this time coming from the pen of Joe Klein on the pages of Time. It's not all positive, but...:

The reading and spinning of polls is more alchemy than science. The Washington Post, in its infinite wisdom, leads that paper today with this headline: 6 in 10 Americans lack faith in Obama. Uh-oh...paging Pete Wehner and the rest of the sky-is-falling crowd.

And, of course, the numbers are not great news for the President. But it takes 15--count 'em--paragraphs to get to this little news nugget: Obama has a 50-47% approval rating. How on earth can that be? Well, it turns out that Americans don't have much faith in any politicians. Indeed, people have more faith in Obama than they do in most anyone else: if 58% say they have "some" or "no" faith in him, 68% say the same about the Democrats in Congress...and 72% have no faith in the Republicans.

So, what's this all about? Tough times, mostly. Let's take a test: Do you have faith that the President is doing the right thing on the economy? My answer: I don't have a clue. Actually, at the moment, I'm leaning toward "no" because Obama seems to be tilting against stimulus and toward short-term deficit reduction--which could swing us into a double-dip recession.

This is also about the over-hyping of polls. Newspapers pay lots of money for them and hope they will create a splash. In this case, the real news is no news. The President's approval ratings remain pretty good, given all the lousy news abroad in the land--and pretty stable as well. The Congressional Democrats, on the other hand, have a lot to worry about.

It's all in how you want to spin it.

Jonathan Chait says it for me...

I've been a mite bit depressed about the Washington Post story that appeared this morning about the President's poll numbers (Dad will attest to this). I was going to write something about the general foolishness of the American public, but Jonathan Chait of the New Republic beat me to it:

The poll shows that, among registered voters, 47% plan to vote for a Republican in the House elections, and 46% for a Democrat. (Among voters most likely to vote, the GOP leads 49-45.) At the same time, the poll also shows that the public clearly favors the Democrats over the Republicans. The Post story about the poll leads with the fact that only 43% of the public has confidence in President Obama to make the right decisions for the country's future. That's low. But only 26% have confidence in Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions, which is far lower than Obama, and even lower than Congressional Democrats, in whom 32% have confidence. That's not an anomaly. Asked which party will do a better job of handling the economy, 42% say the Democrats and 34% say the GOP.

So, in sum, there's a crucial swing vote bloc that prefers the policies of the Democrats over the Republicans but plans to vote for the Republicans anyway.

My honest assessment is that the Democrats are going to lose seats, but the only way they lose either of the houses is if Democrats don't show up.

So Democrats? Show the @#$% up.