Republicans Say Jump, Democrats Say How High?

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.

—Jeremiah 13:23

It was all grins and giggles today, after President Obama met at the White House with leaders of both parties.  While the atmospherics may have improved—even Mitch McConnell said, “there’s no reason we can’t find areas of agreement“—there is in fact no reason to believe that Republicans have suddenly changed their focus from defeating Obama to enabling him.

The problem with the nicey-nice rhetoric coming from the Democratic side—meaning Mr. Obama—is that it comes at a bad time, at least for efforts by Congressional Democrats to actually do what President Obama says he wants done: to pass a middle class tax cut extension that doesn’t include the rich.

“Top-ranking aides in the Senate” have told HuffPo’s Sam Stein that,

Senate Democrats have come to the fragile conclusion that they should and will hold a solitary vote to extend rates for the middle class while letting those for the wealthy expire.

In the House, Lucia Graves reported today that Democrats “intend to put forward a bill that fulfills the platform the president campaigned on,” which would include,

a permanent extension of tax cuts for married couples earning up to $250,000 and for single people making up to $200,000. It would also make the president’s childcare tax credit and the earned-income tax credit permanent.

However, even as some Congressional Democrats seem to be hardening their spine, Mr. Obama appears to be in Kumbaya mode.  He truly believes that the American people deserve a working government, and he is set to make it work, even if it means compromising before negotiations begin, which essentially is what he said today. 

Mr. Obama also suggested—and Republicans agreed to—a meeting on the tax cut issue, with one member from each caucus in both chambers, along with Tim Geithner and OMB head Jacob Lew. The purpose of the group will be to find a compromise position on the Bush-era tax cuts.  The presence of Tim Geithner doesn’t give much hope to liberals, I’m afraid.

That, in all likelihood, is the end of the line for those Democrats who want to take and hold the better moral and fiscal ground on the issue.  Now, it’s likely just a matter of how high Republicans will ask Democrats to jump.

[NBC News photo]

Will The Last Democrat Out Turn Off The Lights?

Shannon McCaffrey reports on a disturbing, but not surprising, result of the 2010 election:

Staggering Election Day losses are not the Democratic Party’s final indignity this year. At least 13 state lawmakers in five states have defected to Republican ranks since the Nov. 2 election, adding to already huge GOP gains in state legislatures. And that number could grow as next year’s legislative sessions draw near.

These 13 state lawmakers, frauds all, did not abandon the Democratic Party for any other reason than the lust for power.  These people ran as Democrats, took Democrats’ money, and got elected as Democrats. Yet, today, less than a month after the election, they are Republicans.

And in some cases, the switches made a significant impact:

In Alabama, four Democrats announced last week they were joining the GOP, giving Republicans a supermajority in the House that allows them to pass legislation without any support from the other party. The party switch of a Democratic lawmaker from New Orleans handed control of Louisiana’s House to Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction.

Shameful and disgusting.

Since I was once a bull-headed conservative, I can understand switching political allegiances due to disagreements with a party’s philosophy. But despite what these opportunistic scoundrels say, there wasn’t much of an ideological component to their betrayal of the Democratic Party.

Democrats, including Barack Obama, campaigned on an aggressive agenda in 2008, some of which they actually tried to convert into law.  After assuming office in 2009, they never “moved left” one inch, in terms of what they ran on to get elected in 2008. And the turncoats who defected to the GOP knew all that.  The only thing that has changed since then is that Republicans made substantial gains this time, and that means a period of wandering in the political wilderness, something that phony Democrats just can’t tolerate.

McCaffrey writes:

Most of the party swaps are in the South, where GOP rule is becoming more entrenched and Democrats – many of them already more conservative than their counterparts elsewhere – are facing what looks like a long exile in the minority.

The prospect of a “long exile” is unacceptable to people who never cared much about anything except “relevance,” or to put it more starkly, power. And it’s no accident that most of the disloyalists were in the South, The Land of Betrayal.  Remember the Civil War?

In any case, I write all of the above to make a point about those who still retain the Democratic label but appear to be backing away from the principles it is supposed to represent. I speak of President Obama and certain members of the still Democrat-controlled Congress.

If anything should differentiate Democrats from Republicans, it is the issue of extending the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans. Not only have Democrats been on the fiscally responsible side of this argument—that the wealthiest Americans should see their rates go back to Clinton-era levels—but a majority of Americans agree with them. And everyone, except ideologically-poisoned Republicans, understand that giving rich folks tax cuts has almost no stimulative effect.  It’s simply just a giveaway to a Republican constituency.

Yet, I hear talk everyday that Democrats are ready to compromise on the issue, despite the fact that they still run the bleeping government.  It’s really just incomprehensible to me.  Oh, I understand the dynamics of next year’s mix of Tea Party Republicans and weak-kneed Democrats, but this isn’t next year.  It’s now.  And Democrats still have an overwhelming advantage in the House and the Senate.

At the very least, Democrats should put up a bill that includes tax relief for only middle class Americans and force Republicans to vote against those tax cuts. Republicans claim that Democrats don’t have enough votes in their own caucus to pass such a bill.  Let’s find out. Rather than talk about compromising with Republicans, Obama should be twisting the arms of his fellow Democrats.  That’s what leaders do.  If the middle class is worth fighting for, then, by God, fight.

It’s the same for extension of unemployment benefits. Republicans refuse to extend them for nearly two million Americans. Why isn’t President Obama on television every damned day pointing out what Republicans have done to folks who lost their jobs because of Republican policies?  I don’t get it.

And now Democrats are talking about trading tax cuts for the wealthy for an extension of unemployment benefits.  Are you kidding me?  The Republicans are holding the unemployed—and the economy—hostage and Democrats are willing to pay the ransom?  Huh?

When Republicans were walloped in 2008, they didn’t go running to the Democrats to compromise. Even though voters turned away from them in droves, Republicans doubled-down on the philosophy that brought the nation to its economic knees, hoping against hope that the public’s understanding of the causes of the Great Recession could be muddled by overblown rhetoric against Obama and Pelosi and Reid.

Unfortunately, that strategy worked because of a slow-recovering economy and because too few Democrats were willing to defend Democratic principles in the face of Tea Party resistance. And after what Obama did yesterday, I don’t hold out much hope that Democrats are up to any kind of fight for what is right.

President Obama, desperate to impress anyone who will listen that he is serious about deficit reduction, said he was freezing pay for federal workers, including underpaid people who care for our veterans and pick up trash in our national parks.  Yeah, that’ll show ’em. Mr. Obama said his pay freeze will save about $2 billion in 2011. That’s about .0005 of the projected 2011 budget. Get that? That’s 5/100 of 1%!

And besides the mere symbolism of it all, the federal pay freeze nonsense was a Republican idea, based on a faulty notion that government workers are overpaid and underworked. If Democrats, who are supposed to be the party of good government, won’t stand up for government workers, including many at the top who could earn more in the private sector, then who will?

If President Obama and the Democrats can’t do better than this, when they still have a majority in both houses of Congress, what will the next two years be like?

Maybe those Democratic state legislator-defectors have a point.

Richard Lugar To Republicans: “There are still thousands of missiles out there. You better get that through your heads.”

Yesterday, The New York Times ran a friendly profile of Senator Richard Lugar, who passes for a reasonable Republican in the Obamaphobic Caucus, despite his nearly complete agreement with his party’s recalcitrance the past 21 months.

Saying Lugar “is standing against his party on a number of significant issues at a politically dangerous time to do so,” the Times overstates the case a little bit.  Here is its list of “significant issues”: 

Now, in the heat of the post-primary lame-duck Congressional session, he is defying his party on an earmark ban, a bill that would create a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, a military spending authorization bill and an arms control treaty with Russia.

That last one, the New START treaty, is definitely a significant issue, in terms of our national interests.  Lugar, who I suppose does deserve some credit for putting his country ahead of his party—a rare move for a Republican senator these days— has recently called on his fellow obstructionists to stop obstructing passage of the treaty, but so far, they are staying in anti-Obama mode.

Senator Lugar has even tried playing the patriot card:

Every senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to do his or her duty. Maybe people would prefer not to do his or her duty right now.

Yeah, maybe. Or maybe they simply see their primary duty as hurting Barack Obama, so as to follow the lead of their leader, Mitch McConnell, whose number one stated goal is to defeat the President next election.

For his trouble, in his 2012 primary, Lugar will likely be challenged by far right teapartiers, who just don’t like it when a Republican dares credit Obama with getting something right.  As our old and dear Missouri friend John Danforth said,

If Dick Lugar, having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.

Now, that’s coming from a man who brought us Clarence Thomas, who puts the far in far-right conservatism, as he enjoys his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

In any case, it’s unlikely START will be ratified in the lame-duck session, and it’s also unlikely Republicans will pay any price for it, since Mr. Obama is not in the mood to put up much of a partisan fight these days. 

The President will likely say a few things about the failure of START and then move on to more attempts to compromise with Republicans. 

For a smart guy, he is a slow learner.

Theocracy Or Bust

From the bend-over-here-it-comes department:

TOPEKA, Kan. — Although fixing the economy is the top priority, Republicans who won greater control of state governments in this month’s election are considering how to pursue action on a range of social issues, including abortion, gun rights and even divorce laws.

John Hanna at HuffPo points out that our neighbors, Kansas and Oklahoma, are far more conservative after the November elections:

The tension is particularly visible in Kansas, where the victory by Gov.-elect Sam Brownback, a strong opponent of abortion and gay marriage, has created strong expectations among evangelical supporters.

A similar scenario is taking shape in strongly conservative Oklahoma, where a Republican governor will replace a Democrat, and to a lesser extent in Michigan, Wisconsin and several other states.

All of this means, of course, that evangelical Christians will have a good chance of turning those states into quasi-theocracies.  And they won’t wait too long, as this quote exemplifies:

“We’re not going to spend the next 18 months doing nothing but economic issues,” said Wisconsin Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman, an advocate of tougher abortion restrictions.

Hanna points out that Republicans won all statewide races on the ballot in Kansas and have a 92-33 advantage in the House. Couple that with the election of Sam Brownback, a Christian fanatic, as governor, and the question, “What would Jesus do?” will finally have an answer in Kansas politics.  About the only thing that has stopped religious zealots from turning Kansas (my home state) into an evangelical Vatican has been the presence of Democratic governors.

Brownback, at one time a resident at the now-famous C Street Center, owned by a group of Christian extremists called The Family, was a co-sponsor of the Constitution Restoration Act, which, of course, doesn’t restore the Constitution at all.  But here’s what it does do, according to Wikipedia:

…the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity’s, officer’s, or agent’s acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government. In other words, the bill would limit the power of the federal judiciary specifically in religious liberty cases. The bill also states that judges or other court officials that listen to cases that meet said criteria are to be impeached and convicted.

The Constitution Restoration Act is considered by some to be part of a movement of so-called Christian dominionists*, who in the extreme version believe biblical law should exclusively govern society and in a slightly milder form believe, according to sociologist Sara Diamond,

that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.

Wikipedia continues:

Diamond declared that this concept “has become the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right” (p. 138, emphasis in original). In 1995, she called it “prevalent on the Christian Right”. Journalist Chip Berlet added in 1998 that, although they represent different theological and political ideas, dominionists assert a Christian duty to take “control of a sinful secular society.”

None of this should come as a surprise, especially in Oklahoma, which has already been the nation’s leader in terms of Talibanic governance.  This time Oklahoma voters exorcised even more Democratic legislator-demons and will have a Republican governor to oversee the transition to a brand of politics that Tulsa’s Oral Roberts would be proud of.

Oh, for a while the evangelicals will tolerate some backsliders among their new politicians.  Hanna quotes Shawnee, Kansas, Republican Owen Donohoe as delicately saying Sam Brownback’s legislative agenda “may not be as conservative as we wish.”  But such grace won’t last forever.  I know evangelicals and they won’t tolerate a failure to enact their holy agenda for too long.  After all, the fate of America as a Christian nation is at stake.

Abortion rights (what’s left of them) and gay rights will definitely be the target of the Christian Taliban as evangelicals and fundamentalists attempt to take their country back and turn it into a theocracy, one state at a time.

And Kansas and Oklahoma represent the low-hanging fruit of that Crusade.


*For more on Sam Brownback’s connection to the dominionist movement and controversial pastor Lou Engle, see here and here.  The short of it is that Brownback apparently lived with Lou Engle for a time and attended “several events” with him, according to Right Wing Watch, which then writes:

So let’s ask Brownback again just which of Engle’s views concern him the most:  Is it his Dominionism? or his view that homosexuality should be criminalized? or his fear that President Obama is unleashing demons upon this nation? or that universities are conditioning students to accept the Mark of the Beast? or maybe that Satan has gained control over the US government?

You get the idea.

Al Gore And The Ongoing Attack On Science

Al Gore, who, democratically, beat George Bush in the 2000 presidential election, has revealed just how political politics is by admitting his support for the ethanol industry—and the government subsidies that still help to maintain it—was much more related to his desire for higher office than it was related to ethanol’s effect on the environment.  According to Reuters, Gore said,

One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.

Gore, whose vote in 1994 broke a tie in the Senate over authorization of ethanol production, was among many politicians in the 1990s who just couldn’t say no to farmers, especially those who grow corn.  According to Reuters, 41% of the U.S. corn crop—and 15% of the world’s—will be used to produce ethanol.   And American taxpayers subsidized its production last year to the tune of almost $8 billion.

Yet, most scientists have come to understand that grain-based fuels just aren’t all that environmentally friendly. Gore himself said, “The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.”  Some believe that ethanol production may actually have a larger carbon footprint than fossil fuel.

So, naturally all this will lead to conservatives making the argument that Al Gore, the leading voice on global warming, is just as wrong about climate change, as he was about ethanol.  And conservatives will argue that government is the problem, as Andrew Cline did at The American Spectator:

The great ethanol error would’ve been corrected quickly had the market been left in control. It was only the misguided hand of government that grew this problem to global proportions, and perpetuates it still…

The bottom line is this: If we cannot base our environmental policies on the pronouncements of Al Gore, should we really be passing costly, far-reaching mandates that force people to behave as Al Gore would want them to? Wouldn’t it be better to let the market decide, and leave Al Gore to investing heavily in biofuel companies?

Let the market decide.”  That will resonate among those who fail to understand that Al Gore’s past surrender to his political ambition does not in any way diminish the fact that our best guide to understanding the environment and the impact of certain human activity—including government policies—on the environment still rests with science in general, and in the case of global warming, with climate scientists in particular. 

Gore didn’t base his support for ethanol on science.  He based it on politics.  And the science relative to climate change is solid: The planet is warming and mankind has something to do with it.

But Gore’s honest admission will only continue the assault on science and “the experts” that conservatives long ago undertook as part of their mission to muddle the mind of the public on global warming and what to do about it. Unfortunately, it appears that the muddlers are winning. According to the Pew Research Center:

Much of the erosion in understanding of the global warming issue has been among Republicans and some Independents, but “Tea Party Republicans” are especially hostile to the evidence.  Pew asked those who either agreed with or disagreed with the Tea Party what their opinions on global warming were.  Here is the opinion of those who agreed with the Tea Party:

Al Gore deserves a lot of blame for extolling—without solid science—the value of ethanol production years ago as part of a personal political calculation, but even more blame goes to anti-government, anti-regulatory conservatives who have dumbed-down the public understanding of current climate science as part of a collective political calculation.

Happy Thanksgiving Tom DeLay And Roy Blunt!

I wonder what Roy Blunt is thinking today.

Tom DeLay, who was once on top of the political world, is now a convicted felon.  Along with Jack Abramoff and others convicted of wrongdoing during the heady days of the GOP congressional majority, which was not that long ago, DeLay can now take his rightful place in the lineup of Republican rogues, who thought they were untouchable, in terms of political reality (which hit DeLay in 2005) and in terms of the law (which hit him today).

From the AP:

Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a scheme to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge, although prosecutors haven’t yet recommended a sentence…

Prosecutors said DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and whose tough tactics earned him the nickname “the Hammer,” used his political action committee to illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations into 2002 Texas legislative races through a money swap.

Speaking of the Hammer, it was in 2003 that DeLay christened Roy Blunt—by literally passing to him what turned out to be a tainted hammer—as the Republican Whip, after DeLay became the Majority Leader.  That year, 2003, was an eventful year for Blunt.  From Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington—which rated Blunt as one of “the 13 most corrupt members of Congress“:

In 2003, Rep. Blunt divorced his wife of 31 years to marry Philip Morris (now Altria) lobbyist Abigail Perlman. Before it was known publicly that Rep. Blunt and Ms. Perlman were dating – and only hours after Rep. Blunt assumed his new role as Majority Whip – he tried to secretly insert a provision into Homeland Security legislation that would have benefitted Philip Morris, at the expense of competitors. Rep. Blunt’s provision would have made it harder to sell tobacco products over the Internet, and would have cracked down on the sale of contraband cigarettes. 

In addition, Rep. Blunt’s son Andrew lobbies on behalf of Philip Morris, a major client he picked up only four years out of law school.  Notably, Altria is Rep. Blunt’s largest campaign contributor, having donated more than $270,000 to political committees tied to him. 

In 2003, Rep. Blunt also helped his lobbyist son Andrew by inserting a provision into the $79 billion emergency appropriation for the war in Iraq to benefit U.S. shippers like United Parcel Service, Inc. and FedEx Corp… Andrew Blunt lobbies on behalf of UPS in Missouri, (in addition to Philip Morris)11 and UPS and FedEx have contributed at least $67,500 to Rep. Blunt since 2001…

Rep. Blunt has ties to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of criminal and congressional probes. In June 2003, Mr. Abramoff persuaded Majority Leader Tom DeLay to organize a letter, co-signed by Speaker Hastert, Whip Roy Blunt, and Deputy Whip Eric Cantor, that endorsed a view of gambling law benefitting Mr. Abramoff’s client, the Louisiana Coushatta, by blocking gambling competition by another tribe.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Abramoff has donated $8,500 to Rep. Blunt’s leadership PAC, Rely on Your Beliefs. 

Roy Blunt, who worked closely with his “friend” and now convicted felon Tom DeLay, was sent to the United States Senate with the blessing of Missouri’s tea partiers, who supposedly were “fed up” with Washington insider politics and deal-making.  Uh-huh.  Representative-elect Billy Long, the feddest of the fed-up crowd, even donated money to Blunt. Stay tuned for more hypocrisy, as Long’s legislative career begins.

Here are three videos featuring Roy Blunt and Tom DeLay. The first is Blunt assuming the job as Whip in 2003.  The second is of Blunt defending the Hammer, after DeLay was forced to resign his leadership post in the wake of the charges brought against him in Texas in 2005, which resulted in his conviction today (Blunt is at 2:15).  The third is a tribute to DeLay by Blunt, in which he praises his “friend.” 

Enjoy watching your new Senator! 

Thanks to Sean at FiredUpMissouri for lifting these from C-SPAN and posting them on YouTube.

A Thanksgiving To Remember For Business

Yet again, I heard another Washington “insider” arguing this morning on TV that Obama sorely needs to repair his relationship with the business community.  They think he is an enemy of business, don’t you know.  But mostly, they just think he talks mean about them.

This time it was the Washington Post‘s Steven Pearlstein, who repeated the Obama-needs-to-suck-up-even-more-to-business nonsense, but it has been a recurring theme for quite some time on the cable shows.  Apparently, chronic whining from people who are taking a disproportionate share of the economy pays off in more ways than one.

Not only do these people want all the bleeping money in America, they want good press on top of it. And, generally, they get it courtesy of the so-called liberal media.

But the truth is that the era of Obama has been berry, berry good to business.  And here’s why:

The New York Times reported yesterday that,

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.

It’s fair to ask, just what have those increased profits brought to the rest of America?  Not much. From The Atlantic:

From the Wall Street Journal this summer:

The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that nonfinancial companies had socked away $1.84 trillion in cash and other liquid assets as of the end of March, up 26% from a year earlier and the largest-ever increase in records going back to 1952.


But wait, there’s more!

TARP, which began under Bush and continued big time under Obama, saved the financial industry and the economy, by most accounts.  Does Obama hate business?

The GM/Chrysler rescue not only saved the American auto industry, but businesses big and small that are dependent on the success of the American car companies.  Does Obama hate business?

The Recovery Act, the economic stimulus bill so hated by Republicans, resurrected economic growth:

And the growth for the 3rd quarter of this year was revised upward to 2.5%.  That’s five straight months of growth.

Again, does Obama hate business?  Or is it just that business hates Obama?

Motor Trend Dope-Slaps Conservative Icons

Show Me Progress turned me on to an article on Motor Trend by Todd Lassa

Mr. Lassa does some rhetorical violence to Rush Limbaugh and George Will for their comments on the Chevy Volt, which Motor Trend named its 2011 Car of the Year.

Right-wingers hate General Motors and wanted to see it die because of the union thing, you know.  So, naturally, the Chevy Volt makes a good target, especially if conservatives can convince enough folks not to give it a try when it becomes available.

Limbaugh said,

…of all the cars in the world, the Chevrolet Volt is the car of the year? Motor Trend magazine, that’s the end of them. How in the world do they have any credibility?

Lassa responded,

So, Mr. Limbaugh…assuming you’ve been anywhere near the biggest automotive technological breakthrough since…I don’t know, maybe the self-starter, could you even find your way to the front seat? Or are you happy attacking a car that you’ve never even seen in person?

…our credibility, Mr. Limbaugh, comes from actually driving and testing the car, and understanding its advanced technology.  It comes from driving and testing virtually every new car sold…We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.

Commenting on things they understand is a fairly high standard to inflict on right-wing talk radio hosts.  I mean the only thing they understand well is a fairly simple version of conservative dogma, which they pump out constantly to eager conservative listeners, no matter the facts.

And it’s not just blatherers on the radio who are guilty. For instance, an intellectual of the conservative movement, George Will, had written,

General Motors, an appendage of the government, which owns 61 percent of it [not anymore, alas], is spending some of your money, dear reader, on full-page newspaper ads praising a government brainstorm – the Volt, Chevrolet’s highly anticipated and prematurely celebrated (sort of) electric car.

A “government brainstorm“?  You mean, among his other talents, Obama can design cars?  What a guy!

Except, that the car was not a government brainstorm at all.  Lassa:

GM designed the Chevy Volt after its failed experiment with the EV1, which was its attempt to respond to a California mandate.  States rights, you know…

It unveiled the Chevy Volt concept at the 2007 Detroit auto show.  That means GM began working on it before the November 2006 elections, when the Republican Party had majorities in the House and Senate, before President Bush had signed a single veto.  Bob Lutz [GM design chief], who famously decreed, “Global warming is a crock of shit,” introduced the car two years before Bush gave GM its first bailout from TARP pocket change.  This was two-and-a-half years before Obama’s Automotive Task Force forced GM into bankruptcy.

Lassa wasn’t finished with Limbaugh and Will, though.  To Rush he said:

You’ve made two king’s ransoms by convincing legions of dittoheads to tune into you every day.  I wonder, do you ever ride in anything that’s not German or Anglo-Saxon? Do you have any idea how powerful IG Metall [German metalworkers’ union] is, and of the size of Germany’s social safety net?

And for Will:

My esteemed colleague, Johnny Lieberman, got a copy of Will’s hit piece on the Volt, and responded thusly: “A bit of flag waving is in order—but instead, Will chooses to be a partisan clown and gets everything wrong.” 

And for both Limbaugh and Will:

You and Will don’t even worry about being un-American, anymore.

That, my friends, is a dope slap.

Fox On Fox

From the Fox Broadcasting Company’s The Simpson’s:

Why It’s Not Okay To Refer To The President As “Boy,” Even If You’re Not A Racist

I wrote a column that appeared in the November 19 edition of the Joplin Globe.  The column was a response to another Globe blogger, Geoff Caldwell, who had criticized me in the paper for, among other things, claiming that the mid-term election was largely about the economy.  Naturally, I countered Geoff’s criticism with what I judged were relevant facts.

But for anyone who has ever read the “discussion” section that accompanies articles on the Globe website, most of the comments on the column I wrote were predictable, if mostly unenlightening. 

There were a few positive comments, which I appreciated very much.  But most were quite negative, including these:

DAVE wrote:

I confess that Graham is consistently wrong. I confess that Graham isn’t going to ever be right. I confess that after reading Graham accuse another of racism, my first two confessions are proven correct. I confess that I think reading Graham is tiring.

a reader wrote:

Graham has no basis for argument except to insinuate racism on someone else. Man, this is lame and juvenile writing.

Observation wrote:

Duane has become some sort of obsessed and juvenile character concerning all this. I can not believe that the first thing he does is somehow make up and attribute racism to Caldwell. You see what some minds resort to when they lack the truth. This is amazingly childish.

Not Surprised wrote:

I hope you’re not surprised that Duane would resort to a thinly disguised accusation of racism, Geoff. It’s the typical Alinksy ‘Rules for Radicals’ stuff. If you’re getting your butt handed to you by the facts, attack the messenger. It doesn’t matter whether the attack is true, it only matters that you get the accusation out there to get others thinking about it. Make them spend time defending themselves against the accusation. The more you make them defend against it, the more you can turn the topic to what you accused them of and distract others from the original topic where they destroyed you with the facts. It’s scummy, but then scummy is right up Duane’s alley…

So, you get the point.  I confess to one and all that I have never read Saul Alinsky, although I wish I had the time.  Since the right hates him so much, he must be worth reading.  But I digress.

Here is how someone writing under the name of Geoff, presumably Geoff Caldwell, responded:

Geoff wrote:

I’m used to you distorting the facts and re-writing history to support the liberal cause but calling me racist crosses the line bud.

Now, I don’t know for a fact that this is the real Geoff Caldwell, but it doesn’t really matter for my purposes here.  What matters is just why all these folks would accuse me (falsely, of course) of labeling Mr. Caldwell a racist?

Well, because that’s one way the right-wing has of deflecting criticism of their use of language, when they are talking about our president. 

Mr. Obama has suffered many indignities since he assumed office, including incessant questions from the non-fringe right-wing about his birthplace and his patriotism.  Even his wife’s patriotism has been challenged, again and again. He and his family have been the subject of racist e-mails that to this day circulate around the country, with many of the circulators claiming they are not racists for participating, since the e-mails are “jokes.”

Which leads me to how I began my column that so offended the right-wing sympathizers who read the Globe:

I was grateful that in his post-election analysis last Sunday  (Globe, Nov. 14) blogger Geoff Caldwell managed to avoid the use of “O boy” and “Bama Boy” as references to President Barack Obama.

Geoff’s pale-faced sense of humor tends to have an Old South edge to it, and I commend him for dispensing with the disrespectful — dare I say, racially charged — epithets for Mr. Obama he has sometimes used on the Internet.

Now, it doesn’t take a Saul Alinsky to figure out that I never called Mr. Caldwell a racist.  But I mentioned that some of the language he has used in reference to President Obama was disrespectful and racially charged, and somehow that is the same thing as claiming Geoff wears a funny-looking hood at night and has a peculiar affection for flaming crosses. 

In truth, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea whether Geoff Caldwell is a racist in his heart of hearts. Unless he specifically identifies himself as such, or unless he uses language that leaves no doubt, I can only comment on the nature of the language he selects when identifying our African-American president.

And here are only two examples, which appeared in the comments section of this blog recently, and which served as the source for those in my column:

I’ll take the Koch brothers over Bama Boy and your ilk any day.                              –Geoff Caldwell, 10/15/2010

Get a grip DB, as much as Frank tries to explain it away he was neck deep in this mess and the Dems planted all the seeds that caused the initial crisis and now Oboy continues it with his government expansion and mounting debt.                             –Geoff Caldwell, 10/23/2010

Given our nation’s history with slavery, I don’t know how any American can use the term “boy” as a reference to our black president—or any other African-American—and not expect someone to call him on it.  

Language evolves along with the people who speak it and write it, but there is no doubt that the term “boy” has always been derogatory when applied to black men.  And there is no doubt it is still offensive today.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch less than three weeks ago:

ATLANTA • In a certain context — and every Southerner knows what it is — the word “boy” is one of the oldest and most demeaning of racial epithets. During the civil rights struggle, black men sometimes wore placards stating simply, “I am a man.”

Now, a black Alabama man is pursuing a discrimination lawsuit against his employer, Tyson Foods, and has offered evidence that the white plant manager who denied him a promotion had once referred to him as “boy.”

Referring to a grown black man as “boy” is without a doubt a pejorative.  Otherwise, why use it?  What would be the point? In a Sociology textbook published in 2006, we find this:

Throughout the period of Jim Crow segregation in the American South, Black men, regardless of their age, were routinely referred to as “boy” by Whites.  Calling a grown man a “boy” is an insult; it diminishes his status by defining him as childlike.

Obviously, it is within the context of dominant and subordinate group relationships that such terms are offensive.  A black adult can often call another black adult a “boy” without offense, but a white cannot do so. It’s the same with the “N” word.  That’s Sociology 101.

And if you don’t understand that as a writer, or if you bristle at someone pointing it out to you, perhaps you are in the wrong business. 

Finally, as this case and others prove, right-wingers are hypersensitive to anyone pointing out that some of the language they use about President Obama is racially charged or racially offensive.  If only they were as sensitive to how African-American citizens—and most white folks, too—react to the unending demands, from well-placed right-wingers, for Mr. Obama to prove his citizenship.  Or hear them question out loud his love for America. 

Or read references to him like BamaBoy or Oboy, written by a local blogger and columnist.

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