Better late than never.
Better late than never.
This comment is bubbling below, and its a question I have myself, so I thought I'd pull it out:
This is just amazing. I'm tempted to say "Keep digging." But this is who these people are. They built a party on some of the ugliest impulses of humanity and now they are paying for it. I can not feel sorry for them. I can not be "charitable" to anyone who applauded while this thing was in motion.
But you already knew that. John Nichols argues that this is why Arlen matters:
No matter who Obama picks, the chances that his nominee will be confirmed with relative ease have risen significantly in recent days. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's switch from the Republican caucus to the Democratic caucus moves a key member of the Judiciary Committee into the majority-party camp. If and when Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party candidate Al Franken is finally seated, Democrats will have the 60 votes they need to advance a nomination without having to contend with a Republican filibuster.
Byron York claps back with this shocking claim:
A few commentators on the left are calling me a racist for my post, "The black-white divide in Obama's popularity." I suppose if you haven't been called a racist by the usual suspects on the left, you haven't been writing for very long...
I wrote that citing Obama's "sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are." I thought the word "overall" conveyed the idea that there was a difference between the total job-approval number and the complexities of opinion of Obama on various issues. Maybe "across-the-board" would have been better than "overall," but I doubt that would have kept a left-wing activist like Matthew Yglesias, or Andrew Sullivan, who has himself been accused of racism and, quite recently, anti-Semitism, from branding me a racist. The numbers inside the Times poll are newsworthy, if the critics would take the time to read and analyze them.
The fact that York, at no point, quotes a single "left-wing activist" calling him a racist should tell you something about the honesty of his rebuttal. For employers of the "not a racist" form letter, the unsubstantiated charge is the heading.
One reason I spent so much time yesterday talking about people who play the "not a racist" card is because I was fairly sure this would be York's response. I can't tell you how comical it is to see that he actually followed the script. (Meekly defend your position and feign victimhood for having been called racist--whether you were called one or not.)
In fact neither Matt nor "left-wing activist" Andrew called York a racist. But "you're a racist" is the easiest argument to respond to, so York just pretends that they did. It's an incredibly dishonest and intellectually cowardly move, but it's the stock and trade of your average pundit looking to "score points." Instead of evaluating your adversary's critique, you simply stick your fingers in your ear and exclaim "not a racist" and "left-wing activist" and hope no one's the wiser.
Meanwhile, York never responds to the fundamental critique of his column summed up here by noted lefty, flagrant race-card dealer, and former aide to Newt Gingrich, (and self-professed friend of Byron York!) Robert George:
The "problem" with this analysis is -- what's the point? Analysis of the GOP's relative strengths and weaknesses comes down to geographic assessment. Schneider doesn't devote a segment to "What would the Senate look like if white Southerners didn vote for Republicans (which in some states they do to upwards of 70 or 80 percent)?" But blacks voting for Democrats is staged as some sort of "exception" that should implicitly invalidate the reality of the current political situation.
Ironically, this Schneider segment -- as pernicious as it was in itself -- actually undermines York's even-worse piece: Simply put, because blacks tend to vote overwhelmingly
blackDemocrat at the presidential level, there is actually very little difference between black support for Barack Obama and that of any "generic" Democratic president.
I do not mean to make this personal, and I hope George will forgive the use of his quote in this manner. Moreover, in the spirit of honesty, it's worth noting that George denies that York is a racist--which is fine because I've yet to a see a single writer of note actually call him one. George glancingly addresses the point I'd make:
Of course, it is fine to entertain the question whether it is possible for someone (of any race or background) to write an article that is implicitly racist without that person being racist. That, however, forces a level of philosophical charity that few are willing to entertain.No disrespect, but I call bullshit. We entertained that exact argument right here, yesterday:
I don't say this because I expect York to care very much. I say this because I hope some of my white readers, who think Bobby Rush is the end of this discussion, understand why I'm very comfortable calling York's column racist. As for the matter of York's heart, I leave that to him. I don't wash his laundry. I don't balance his affairs.I can't tell you that Byron York is racist. I've never met him. I am not in this business to read the contents of York's heart. That's between him and his preacher. My duty is to try to have some honor, to respond directly to the arguments as the come, to not make up strawmen, and to be as confident and clear as possible about what I write.
A.O. Scott says the new Wolverine flick kinda blows:
"Wolverine" is shorter and less pretentious than "Watchmen," but almost programmatically unmemorable, a hodge-podge of loose ends, wild inconsistencies and stale genre conventions. Vengeance is the default motive for most of the mayhem that is perpetrated, and for good measure there is a military-scientific government conspiracy overseen by a reptilian bad guy (the excellent Danny Huston).
A flotilla of secondary characters parades through the scenery, mostly mutants with various powers and questionable franchise-enhancing capabilities. Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch and Will.i.am show up and do what they can, but prove hopelessly unable to compensate for the absence of, say, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin or Ian McKellen."X-Men Origins: Wolverine" will most likely manage to cash in on the popularity of the earlier episodes, but it is the latest evidence that the superhero movie is suffering from serious imaginative fatigue.
I'll catch it on DVD. Not because of its merits or lack therof, but because the theater's are just too damn loud these days.
I was just scrolling through some old videos, and came across the Feelin' It video. My son came in and asked me the name of the song--I told him and mentioned to him that I play it all the time. He remembered. I told him the sound sucked, and decided to play the real one.
I have a general rule about most hip-hop in this house--more important than what the boy hears, is who is willing to talk to him about it. So we've had our share of conversations about everything from Ghetto Boys to Ghostface--that last one was hard. I like to think of myself as liberal. Still, no Dad is prepared to hear his 8-year old say, "If you feel it raise your L in the sky"--even if you've done exactly that in last, uhm, decade.
Hip-Hop wasn't created with the idea that one day heads would be fathers. Anyway a much better--and tagentially related--video is below. This is actually probably my favorite hip-hop video ever, and one of my favorite period. This is so how it feels...The life of a black male in four minutes, "Everybody start to rush\Swinging through is your friendly neighborhood lush..."
Via Andrew, Who you know like Rove...
Stephen Hahn's A Nation Under Our Feet came in the mail yesterday (thanks for the recommendation, guys). Today, I got the second volume of Louis Harlan's Booker T. biography. I thought Norrell's was really well-written, but I found its polemical aspects unconvincing. I'm going to knock out Capitol Men by week's end, then tackle this Wells Towers joint. I need a fiction break.
I'm having a rather layered reaction to all this reading on Reconstruction. It's surreal to read about P.B.S. Pinchback, or any of the seemingly numerous dudes who were slaves, walked to another state, went to college and then became lawyers. But at the same time it's very hard to take the tragedy of it all. On a personal level, it's hard to read about getting your ass kicked repeatedly by the most vile elements of the country. I've got a bio on "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman waiting for me, but I'm scared to read it. All you need to know about this dude is that his name was "Pitchfork." Pitchfork Tillman. He just sounds like he should be leading a lynch-mob.
I get a lot of comments about my blogging style. A lot of folks want me to twist the knife more, or go a little harder, or throw a few more elbows. I understand the impulse. Part of its racial--they're just so few black writers who get to get on the mic. And there are so many sucker MCs spewing weak shit about black people. You want to see someone force some humility on these dudes.
But the one thing about reading a quality book is that, if you're in the right frame of mind, you're reminded that you're in no position to humble anyone. I remember being young, with my beads, with my tie-die book-bag, my Bob Marley tee-shirt, and my baby dreads. I thought all you needed to know of the world was somewhere between Cointelpro and Kimet. What did I know of class struggle, then? I didn't know even Jack & Jill existed. What did I know of "women's issues?" What do I know now?
I went off to college, and my mind was blown. Mostly by how many
fucking bad-ass honeys were walking Howard's campus. Man listen--I used
to have to sit down on the steps of Douglass Hall, because I could
barely make my way across the yard. I'm losing my balance just thinking
about it. But, in all seriousness, it was Levering-Lewis right along
with Fitzgerald, it was Hurston right along with Steinbeck. I remember
thinking, "How can I know so little of the world? How could have been
I'm not hedging, and I'm not holding back. But since I've started blogging, I've had to take in so much information, and while it's made me smarter, it's also made me aware of--again--how much there is to know. I'm almost done with Capitol Men, and I'm actually getting great insight on the late 19th century white moderate perspective on Reconstruction. They were pulling troops from the South to steal land from the Indians. There were fighting over women's suffrage. The railroads were blowing up. There was class struggle everywhere. There were bank panics. And the country was just turning 100. The South had basically worn them out. I'm actually sympathizing with the white America of the period. I actually understand why they couldn't keep fighting. Isn't that sick?
That sympathy, that sickness is bracing--it's not what I came to the book to get. But it's what I got nonetheless. It's good to remember how little power you have over what you know, and how you'll see it in five years. We have no idea where we're headed. It's blasphemy to act like we do
I'm going to wait for Nate Silver, and others, to do the math on this, but I'd be lying if I didn't say this is exciting:
Support for gay marriage, legalizing illegal immigrants and decriminalizing marijuana all are at new highs. Three-quarters of Americans favor federal regulation of greenhouse gases. Two-thirds support establishing relations with Cuba.
In one respect, a lot of this reflects where Americans have been trending--these are basically the opinions of the young. But I also think it shows how a strong leadership can transform how people see an agenda.
Frak me, I've already said too much. It could just be a bad poll. The temptation to pontificate is strong. My only salvation is to get my kicks by watching you guys go at it.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is incredible:
The historic gap between blacks and whites in voter participation evaporated in last year's presidential race, according to an analysis released today, with black, Hispanic and Asian voters comprising nearly a quarter of the electorate, setting a record.
The analysis, by the Pew Research Center, also found that for the first time, black women turned out at a higher rate than any other racial, ethnic and gender group...
Together, black, Hispanic and Asian voters made up nearly 24 percent of the voters, compared with about 12 percent in 1988.
The analysis found that southern states with large populations of black eligible voters recorded the greatest increase in turnout rates. In Mississippi, the rate increased by 8 percentage points, from 61.7 percent in 2004 to 69.7 percent in 2008.
Mr. Obama scored upsets in several southern states, which were attributed to the growing number of migrants from other parts of the country, younger voters and a surge in turnout among blacks.
Obviously, part of this is history. I doubt it will be the same in the next few presidential elections. That said, I think we're getting a glimpse of the future here. I'm thinking back to that meme about Mark Penn and him writing off states that "don't really matter." How'd that work out? Yeah...
It's worth noting, as Robert George does here, that this notion that Obama's share of the black vote is a problem in a way that, say, George Bush's share of evangelicals weren't. George notes a particularly egregious example, where Bill Schnieder did a whole piece for CNN about the Dems "dependency" on the black vote:
The "problem" with this analysis is -- what's the point? Analysis of the GOP's relative strengths and weaknesses comes down to geographic assessment. Schneider doesn't devote a segment to "What would the Senate look like if white Southerners didn vote for Republicans (which in some states they do to upwards of 70 or 80 percent)?" But blacks voting for Democrats is staged as some sort of "exception" that should implicitly invalidate the reality of the current political situation.I'd go even further. The best kept secret amongst people like Obama is this--the black vote is the best bargain in politics.
Go for yours...
A lot of folks have written in about Obsessed with some version of the following argument, "What's the problem? It's just Fatal Attraction for the hood!" In that light, I this comment from Daphne is worth highlighting:
So this film is a remake of Fatal Attraction? It sure sounds as if everybody has forgotten the feminist critique about that film, after it first came out. It was a highly convenient vehicle for a lot of sexist crap, with Glenn Close in the role of unmarried psycho bitch. Fatal Attraction delved into the psyche of unmarried successful career women, who, it transpired in that film, must be crazy and violent. A deep well of blatant sexism was opened up there.Obsessed has not reached Europe yet, so I am judging from the trailer only. But it sure sounds as if that particular sexism debate has only moved backward. The psycho unmarried blonde in the remake looks as if she has become even more weird and emotionally unstable than the original character, who at least had some real sex with Michael Douglas to back up her 'claim'. Also, the power dynamic is even more screwed up. Glenn Close's character was a professional woman, working in publishing, if I remember correctly. Her character, twenty-odd-years on, now has no power in the workplace at all, and works as a temp.
Let me precede what I am about to say by noting that I've written some of what follows before. But I think it bears repeating, and so with that in mind, I offer this:
Yesterday somebody asked if I'd comment on the following passage from Byron York:
On his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings, no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are.
At first, I said I wouldn't--mostly because I don't want to be that guy who patrols the net looking for right-wingers who say dumb shit about black people. Moreover my fellow Left-Coast Avengers were already on the case. But then the quote stayed with me. And after thinking on it, I realized why--Even by the standards of a National Review alum, I think that Byron York's column is incredibly racist.
We spend a lot of time attacking people for playing the race-card--I've done my share. But what largely animates this idea that crying racism is an overused tactic (as opposed to say crying antisemitism) is this notion that among polite, thinking people, there are no employers of racism. Racism is the trade of the American savage--the man who flies the Confederate flag, has an undiscovered dead dog under the porch, and lives in West Virginia. This man doesn't walk among the civilized.
But here is your political correctness run amok:
James Watson argues, not simply that there may be a biological explanation for IQ differences, but says of notions of intellectual equality, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not to be true," and be held up as a truth-teller.
A series of newsletters entitled the Ron Paul Freedom Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report, The Ron Paul Politcal Report are revealed to be incredibly racist. ("Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks" Martin Luther King "seduced underaged girls and boys.") But Paul knows nothing about them, and is the farthest thing from a racist. ("Ron thinks Martin Luther King is a hero.")
Duane "Dog Chapman is recorded repeatedly calling a black woman a nigger, but his son says the following of him, "My dad is not a racist man. If he was he would have no hair. He'd have swastikas on his body and he would go around talking about Hitler. That's what a racist is to me."
Geraldine Ferraro claims that a black guy has only succeeded at presidential politics because he's black (twice!) but is most offended by the notion that someone would think she was racist. (Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama's historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being racist.")
Michael Richards, repeatedly, yells at a black heckler, "He's a nigger!" then goes on national TV and says he's bothered that people think he's racist. "I'm not a racist," Richards said. "That's what's so insane."
We live in a country that may well be offended by racism, but it's equally offended that anyone might actually charge as much.
York, to his credit, does not say of Obama's voters, "They're all niggers!"--he simply argues that they don't count, presumably because they're zombies in the sway of a black dude who knows how to string together a couple of sentences.
The essential Dave Weigel displays more patience than I can muster and calmly notes what any decent political observer already knows--Obama's support among blacks isn't exactly aberrational, when compared to other Democrats. That point needed to be made, but it's so obvious that I'm at a lost to explain how York could miss it.
Which leaves me with this: I know that certain black public figures had made a game of name-calling out of racism. I also know that white people, like all people, want the benefit of the doubt--and, like all people, they deserve it. I try to give it as much as possible. In this instance, it has to be withheld.
I don't say this because I expect York to care very much. I say this because I hope some of my white readers, who think Bobby Rush is the end of this discussion, understand why I'm very comfortable calling York's column racist. As for the matter of York's heart, I leave that to him. I don't wash his laundry. I don't balance his affairs.
For the rest of you, I don't want to be in the business of shutting down conversation. But I also think that in this particular business a spade, forgive the irony, must be called by its name.
UPDATE: I edited the third graph to make my point a little clearer. Here is the old graph:
Which leaves me with this: I know that certain black public figures had made a game of name-calling out of racism. I simply know people who are under headstones because of it. I know that white people, like all people, want the benefit of the doubt--and, like all people, they deserve it. I try to give it as much as possible. In this instance, it will be withheld.