Monthly Archives: July 2009

Behind the mask

The mask that has never more than partially obscured so much of the vileness directed at Obama, rooted so deeply in ancient racial animosity, is slipping further away from the true face of so many of his detractors.

They’ve been coming for years now, helped along by various social networks of web 2.0. But just this week we’ve seen a witch doctor photo shopped picture circulated by a puny neurosurgeon, despite an apology issued through a mouthpiece that is belied by his claim, via TPMMuckraker, that “he was being targeted solely because of his political opposition to health-care reform.”

I recently claimed that it’s likely that most if not all of the demons fueling the birther nuttiness and other animosity are dredged up from the wellspring of the racial politics of America’s past, present and future. Fox morning news bots aside, if Obama’s foreign parent was of a lighter hue, we wouldn’t be treated to the fun house nuttery of these conspiracy theorists.

Then there is the overreaction to his criticism of a cop who arrested a guy who was upset that he was being hassled in his own home, apparently largely for not being respectful enough to the cop. I’m a middle class white guy and I’ve received tickets, one time by the cop’s own admission, because cops thought I was “disrespecting” them.

In Texas, four cops and a dispatcher have been put on leave — paid leave — for forwarding a racist email about Obama. They are being defended in a very familiar way:

“These are some good officers who have worked at the department for a long time that made a serious lapse in judgment,” [Grand Prairie police spokesman] Brimmer said.

Few people, certainly not myself or 99.999 percent of the people giving Obama flak for this, who aren’t black, especially black males, in this society have an idea of the dynamics involved in that situation.

But that doesn’t stop the de facto head of the Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, from telling us all about Obama. Here’s a quote from Media Matters via Think Progress:

LIMBAUGH: I think Obama is largely misunderstood by a lot of people. … We’re finding out that this guy’s got a chip on his shoulder. He’s angry at this country. He’s not proud of it. […]

Let’s face it, President Obama’s black, and I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder. I think there are elements in this country he doesn’t like and he never has liked. And he’s using the power of the presidency to remake the country.

Of course, Limbaugh’s musings tell us far more about Limbaugh than they do about the president.

This racial hatred is not going to go away anytime soon. It will certainly get far worse before it gets just a little bit better. But it must be confronted.

Infection. Festering wound. Gangrene. Painful scouring. Sunlight. Disinfectant. The best.

We’ve heard the litany of metaphors and allusions before. Now, and for a long time to come, we will either finally give action to the words we’ve said so often or we will continue to mouth platitudes while reenacting the old failed kabuki dance.

Update: the puny doctor resigns but, despite his public apology by proxy, remains defiant behind the screen.

Update II: Obama hopes this can be a teachable moment.

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The birthers are a key Republican demographic

Birthers” refers to people who believe that President Obama is not eligible to be president because he is not really a citizen. Although there are variations, most of them believe he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii and, so they think, he is therefor not a citizen.

Never mind that it has been conclusively proven that he was born in Hawaii. And never mind that even if he was born outside the US like McCain was, he would still be a citizen. The Birthers are adamant that he is not in fact a citizen and can’t be president. Many seem to believe that McCain would somehow become president and Palin vice president if they could prove their case.

I, like many, believe these people are motivated by racism — they just can’t handle having a brown skinned president and have a psychological need to believe his election was illegitimate and he really isn’t president.

A conservative Republican running for Biden’s Delaware senatorial seat, Mike Castle, got booed by some local birthers because he asserted President Obama is in fact a citizen:

The ever rational Lou Dobbs, despite getting told what’s what by guest host Kitty Pilgrim, still plays up the story.

Even the extreme rightwing Republicans at redstate.com are worried about the bad press the birthers are giving all rightwingers. At least that is true of the bigwigs over there; the commenters seem to run about half and half in their acceptance of the merits of the birthers’ allegations concerning whether President Obama is a citizen or not.

And that is the key point about all this lunacy. The birthers are mostly if not completely racist and unbalanced conspiracy theorist tin foil hat wearers. But they, like global warming deniers and people who believe in ‘intelligent design’ and that the earth is only 6000 years old, are also a crucial part of the Republican base.

That base is somewhere between 20-25% of the population, maybe a little less, maybe a little more. A good chunk of that percentage is made up of the birthers and people like them.

The Republicans cannot afford to abandon them.

That is why Mike Castle followed the crackpot’s orders in the video and recited the pledge as she demanded, as did all the other Republicans in the room and on the dais.

The Republicans are beholden to the birthers.

But the Republicans also recognize that their base, even with the birther contingent, is not enough to win elections in most of the country. The Republicans know that the birthers and similar fanatics, like those who insist Obama is a secret muslim, scare off the moderates and independents that the Republicans need to win again.

The Republicans are caught between a rock and a hard place. They cannot afford to deny the lunatics that make up such a key component of their base but, at the same time, the Republicans cannot be seen by moderates and independents to embrace the conspiracy theories held so dearly by the lunatics in their base.

The Republicans will have to extricate themselves from this self imposed predicament or else they may in fact face a dissolution of their coalition.

I previously did not think it really possible that this would happen. I still don’t think it’s likely, but, increasingly, I see it as at least a possibility.

The non lunatic Republicans kick out the loonies, and maybe even ‘rebrand’ themselves as the New Republicans. The loonies then create their own party, maybe calling it the True Conservative Party. And both never get anyone elected above the post of dog catcher for several generations.

It’s not a likelihood.

But it is an appealing prospect.
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It’s okay to call for the Taliban to kill a soldier taken hostage if you’re a rightwinger

No, really. Retired Lt Col Ralph Peters says so on Fox News.

Think Progress has the story:

I want to be clear. If, when the facts are in, we find out that through some convoluted chain of events, he really was captured by the Taliban, I’m with him. But, if he walked away from his post and his buddies in wartime, I don’t care how hard it sounds, as far as I’m concerned, the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills.

And, fresh off declaring they have an exclusive monopoly on the Real America, our uber patriotic friends at redstate.com are ranting about taxation without representation and wringing their hands about the possible consequences of the Obama administration’s near pitch perfect reprise of the intolerable Acts perpetrated on the colonials by Great Britain:

Congress is Taxation Without Representation
It isn’t irrevocably broken, but it’s well on its way.
Posted by Warner Todd Huston (Profile)
Monday, July 20th at 4:59AM EDT
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We are speeding headlong toward a time when our Congress will have become just like Mad King George’s Parliament, that body from which in 1776 the American colonists separated with the rallying cry of “no taxation without representation.” Our national government is fast becoming just as unrepresentative of the people as far off Briton [sic] was when we went to war to become the United States of America.

Does that seem like a hyperbolic statement to you? At first blush, it might. But a considered look at the direction in which we are quickly heading will prove that, compared to the British Parliament that raised the ire of our forefathers so long ago, today’s Congress shows many signs of the same, oppressive, haughty, disinterested politicians that considered their national government more important than the local’s interests and needs.

Representation is the key word, here. What does it mean?

The poster uses the word “uppity” “haughty” at least four times in the post.

He then goes on to decry, as posters and commenters at redstate.com are in the habit of doing, the 17th amendment, the one entitled “Popular Election of Senators” and that begins “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof…”

He prefers the previous method by which senators were selected by state legislatures. Much more democratic, y’see?

Then we have our friendly neighborhood rightwing Cassandra, Glenn Beck, wringing his completely blood free hands about boiling cauldrons of rightwing hate stirred up by those durn lib’ruls.

But, remember, they are the patriots. They are the Real Americans. When they call for the Taliban to execute a captured soldier, it’s for the soldier’s own good.

When they say the current administration’s policies is just a hair’s breadth away from revolutionary era British oppression, they are speaking for the good of democracy.

When they call for taking the election out of the hands of the people, they are actually just trying to increase democracy.

When they blame lib’ruls for extremist rightwing paranoia, they are just hating the sin of liberalism while hoping for the redemption of the Dirty Fucking Hippie sinners.

It’s a rightwing thing. If you don’t understand, you’re just an overeducated elitist snob and a fake American.

You need to STFU while the real Americans start fixing the mess Obama has thrown us into over the last eight months and restore the tranquil utopia we all remember so fondly under the reign of Bush the Lesser.

If you have the stomach for it, read the comments in the redstate.com posts I link to. They’re even crazier — and, so, more patriotic and real American — than the original posts. Reading them is enlightening and disillusioning at the same time.

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Explaining Sessions (and the rest)

Jamison Foser has a good piece at Media Matters on the racism and sexism on display in Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing.

There have been a lot of posts at various progressive sites and blogs about the racism and sexism so I won’t rehash them here. I just want to briefly examine what seems to lie underneath the shabbiness and think about what it might mean some of the actors involved.

Sessions’ (R-AL) own racism is well known, if unremarked upon by the media in their current fainting spells about the supposed reverse racism of a latina supreme court nominee.

Another well worn racist retread media darling from yesteryear, Patrick Buchanan, also largely gets a pass. Although this is beginning to change.

Sessions trotted out the Desi Arnez “your got a lot of ‘splaining to do” gem, to his own obvious great amusement and self satisfaction.

Graham (R-SC) condescended to the judge, using anonymous quotes about her temperament that a colleague attributed to sexism [see the Foser link in the first paragraph], and told her that maybe she needed to do a little self reflection.

What do Sessions, Buchanan, Graham and the media hacks who almost completely ignored all this, while at the same time being hyper sensitive to perceived slights against white males, have in common?

They have in common a sense of entitlement, a sense of white male privilege that is so ingrained — in their own psyches and in our society — that it has become virtually invisible. Stephen Colbert breaks it down here in a segment called “Neutral Man’s Burden.”

According to this view, white males are, by definition, neutral. Anyone who is not male and white is suspect and defined, often completely, by that difference from the supposed norm of the white male. This is a fundamental reality in America today.

It is a reality so fundamental that, despite exhortations that others engage in self reflection, many people in America today, certainly a large percentage of white males, are unaware of it.

It resides just under the surface of pandering from Republicans, from McCain and Palin to their rabid admirers to so many in the media, talking about the “real America” in last year’s campaign. Even Clinton engaged in it with her desperate gambit to woo “hard working Americans.”

While Clinton and Palin broke through the gender glass ceiling, they still were clearly using thinly veiled code for “white Americans.”

This is, and has been, slowly changing. Changing at a glacially slow incremental pace. But changing.

The problem for almost all rightwingers, most Republicans and many in the media is that their either are unaware of this change or they are all too aware of the change and are trying like hell to stop and reverse it.

The idol of so many rightwingers and Republicans, William F Buckly, explained the purpose of the conservative National Review, launched in 1955 this way:

…It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no other is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.

And to this day, so many rightwingers, Repbulicans and media chatterers see it as their solemn duty to “stand athwart history, yelling Stop.”

They might be able to slow it at times, even temporarily divert it at other times, but they cannot stop it. Still, in the process of trying, they mark themselves clearly for all to see.

They mark themselves clearly for all to see them as the reactionary racists and sexists that they are.

And that mark is indelible.

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Time to call out politicians who oppose sensible health care reform despite massive public support

Most of the country favors public involvement in health care reform. But politicians like Jim DeMint (R-SC) oppose it.

In fact, DeMint wants to gin up a fight over health care reform to ““break” Obama,” asserting that such a fight “will be [Obama’s] Waterloo.”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that these politicians are thwarting the will of the vast majority of the public because they are in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies and other health care industry interests and lobbyists.

It’s time to fight the Republicans on this. Hard.

It’s also time to tell “centrist” Democrats that this is an issue that, if they side with the Republicans, will encourage progressive opponents in the primaries who will garner staunch support from progressive voters.

Lobbyists and deep pocketed business interests are powerful enemies. But votes trump legalized bribes.

Vote the bums out.

Update: This story from Politico highlights an example that should be just the start of the pushback against the Republicans and blue dogs:

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That damn liberal media: ABC’s Tapper joined rightwing hacks in carrying water for Sanford

TPM today adds to their post yesterday, via South Carolina’s The State about the media lib’ruls ruining our democracy.

A slew of rightwingers, from Fox News to redstate.com, offered encouragement and interviews on “friendly ground.” Nothing surprising there.

What should be surprising, but sadly isn’t, is that ABC hack Jake Tapper joined in. Here is TPM’s annotated quote from The State:

ABC News White House reporter Jake Tapper e-mailed Sawyer twice on June 23, both to note coverage of competitor NBC.

With a subject line of “NBC spot was slimy,” Tapper e-mailed Sawyer a “Today” show transcript of Sanford coverage, calling it “insulting.” Later, Tapper forwarded Sawyer a Twitter post [this one — TPMmuckraker] by “Meet The Press” host David Gregory.

Jeff Schneider, a vice president at ABC News, said Tapper was “carrying some water for producers who knew he had a relationship with the governor’s office.”

Again, sad but not surprising. And another case of people not understanding the intertoobz.

[Note: this version is updated and correctly gives Tapper’s first name as Jake, not Jack.]

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Erick Erickson, Presbyterian, tells some Catholics they’re not actually Catholic

I know one trait of right wing authoritarians is that they are both utterly clueless concerning other people’s worldviews and utterly without a fragment of doubt concerning their own rectitude and worthiness, but this is shocking even for a rightwing blowhard like redstate.com’s Erickson.

In Which A Presbyterian Defends the Pope

Posted by Erick Erickson (Profile)
Sunday, July 12th at 9:49AM EDT
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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend says Obama represents Catholic Americans better than the Pope.

Now, I may just be a good PCA Presbyterian headed out the door to church this morning, but I’ve got to make a few points on this.

1. I don’t know that a Kennedy knows anything about the Catholic church in reality. Sure, they know they are supposed to show up and go through the routine, but just because someone goes to church does not make them a Catholic, let alone a Christian.

2. Saying Obama represents Catholic Americans better than the Pope is like expressing shock over Richard Nixon becoming President because no one you know voted for him.

3. Does anyone really think a lady whose family is more known for rehab, rape, and Mary Jo Kopeckne than anything else can opine credibly on this issue?

I thought not.

Oh, one more — if the Pope praised abortion rights, tomorrow Newsweek and Ms. Townsend would be supporting him for President.

In order to provide the full context, that is, literally, the entire post, including the title. That title is written in the style of subtitle of a text from the 15th or 16th century, another period when people of different religions were particularly fond of telling each other how wrong they were, particularly this guy.

I’ve written before that I’m not Catholic, but where does this guy get off?

I especially like this line: “but just because someone goes to church does not make them a Catholic, let alone a Christian.” What’s with the “let alone a Christian” phrase?

If someone is Catholic, they are, by definition, Christian. This line seems to separate the two into different categories.

This is, yet again, another example of the unreflective arrogance and tone deafness that is proving such a success for the Republican party.

Update: can you believe this pearl of wisdom from a frequent commenter?

The Catholic Church is a little like the Republican Party.
mbecker908 Sunday, July 12th at 11:44AM EDT (link)
No discipline.

In any rational theological world the Kennedy family – along with every elected Democrat who professes to be a Catholic – would be summarily excommunicated.

Update II: You knew it wouldn’t be long before something like this was dredged up:

When you’re the Antichrist, even the Pope has to meet with you…
bs Sunday, July 12th at 12:39PM EDT

Or this:

I think what she said was a hate crime against Catholics
[W]ould she say Obama is a better Muslim Leader than Mohammed?
Doc Holliday Sunday, July 12th at 12:40PM EDT

Update III: It’s funny that, for all their ranting about “cafeteria Catholics,” stem cells and “the sanctity of life,” no one brings up the church’s opposition to the death penalty.

You see, according to the rightwing authoritarians at redstate.com and elsewhere, you’re a cafeteria Catholic if you support the right to choose or stem cell research, but if you deviate from the church’s teachings on the death penalty, you’re just exercising your free will.

Another case of do as I say and not as I do. It’s all right for some to ignore Catholic doctrine regarding death penalty and still be real Catholics while at the same time condemning others who deviate from other aspects of church doctrine.

If you don’t understand the logic or if it seems, y’know, like bullshit, then you’re just an over educated elite snob and probably a fake Catholic. After all, who’s a bigger authority on real and fake Catholics than Erick Erickson and all the other hypocritical rightwing authoritarians?

Update IV: another redstate.com”card-carrying Calvinist Presbyterian,” the one who called Obama the “Antichrist” in the comment quoted above, concern trolls for those poor Catholics.

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