Monday, November 14, 2011

License plates and dog whistles *updates and responses*

(This post originally appeared last August, and was OSD's rejoinder to Progress Texas' effort to prevent the Confederate license plate design from being offered among the options for vanity plates in the state. In light of the defeat of the proposal, I present Mark Corcoran of Progress Texas' response, received today via e-mail.)

We took (Open Source Dem's) criticism seriously because we believe that online actions, when done right and properly combined with earned media strategies and offline actions, can be extremely effective.

Over the last few months we collected 25,000+ petitions signatures and had 5,000+ people directly contact the TxDMV opposing the Confederate flag proposal, generating hundres of earned media stories. Last Thursday, the TxDMV unanimously voted down the Confederate license plate after previously being tied 4 - 4.

Johnny Walker, a board member who switched his vote from yes to no said - “I listened to the comments, the feelings and emotions of people before the board and what they think is best for the state.”

We understand that other organizations have given online organizing a bad name. We don't do actions to simply grow an email list. All of our actions have a purpose and goal - some are long term, some are short term.

Open Source Dem's original post from August 11 follows.


Texas has privatized production and distribution of license plates. There is already a “Bonnie Blue Flag” vanity plate reminiscent, notably, of battle ensigns favored by Confederate regiments from Texas:

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I do not know if neo-Confederate yahoos understand this and use the existing Texas plate as a signaling (or fund-raising) device. Most KKK and Aryan brotherhood types prefer the “Southern Cross” (figuring in the design discussed below) to the “Hardee Pattern” device (above).

More important may be the “T for Texas” series of plates. I think these may be a Tea Party, True the Vote, or Christianist signal. It may be used to raise funds not just for Rick Perry cronies but for a battery of far-right political organizations. The new license plate regime seems to be a multi-level marketing arrangement, probably not just outrageous but actually illegal.


Tacit communication -- dog whistles -- are a salient part of the "politics as war" practiced by the far right. This is very effective relative to the brain-dead Methodism of our state party, including Progress Texas' attempt to emulate the right-wing outrage machine in order to raise money. The Texas Democratic Party and its partners, allies, whatever in Austin are breaking any semblance of message discipline and cranking out "pink noise" with no coherence or effect at all. This is consuming precious resources on make-work for hangers-on in Austin and generating spam.

Fake petitions and non-binding referenda signal political weakness and indecision to potential Democratic voters, something else to waste their time and money. This is stupid on steroids.

(Ed. note: This is what OSD is referring to in the previous.)

Pink noise and a mish-mash of campaign finance and non-profit enterprise are really dangerous in the hands of people with little proficiency in anything but bipartisan cronyism.


Matt Bramanti said...

"More important may be the 'T for Texas' series of plates. I think these may be a Tea Party, True the Vote, or Christianist signal."

Or it could be that Texas starts with the letter T.

At least, that's what they want you to think.

MyPlates is a joint venture of Etech and Pinnacle Technical Resources.

Etech's CEO is a solid donor to right-wing fringe groups like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Christianist wackos including Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Robert Wexler.

Pinnacle is led by a husband and wife team of Nina and Jim Humrichouse, who have a mixed record of contributions. Their largest beneficiary has been secessionist teabagger Robert Menendez. Their biggest state-level gifts were to noted Tea Party radicals Royce West and Rafael Anchia.

You and OSD really nailed it -- that silence you hear is a symphony of dog whistles.

Matt Bramanti said...

Also, what OSD calls the "Bonnie Blue Flag" is the apocryphal DeZavala flag. It's a variant of the Burnet flag, adopted in 1836, which was itself patterned after a West Florida flag from a quarter-century earlier.

PDiddie said...

OSD responds via e-mail:

This from Bramanti is an admirably professional response –- “spin”.

It is, nonetheless, useful.

MyPlates is a web-based marketing portal cobbled together by Etech and Pinnacle Technical Resources that is sub-licensed to numerous sales agents, in this case an individual Texas government concession-holder not disclosed.

Actually, the concession-holder and the beneficiaries of the Texas plates are not disclosed by Bramanti, just obscured defensively –- spin.

That said, this response is illuminating and suggestive of “multi-level marketing” –- a right-wing commonplace usually involving patent medicines or lately gold coins.

Nobody has yet described the license-plate privatization in Texas with journalistic rigor. It is a business story, with political implications.

The Bonnie Blue Flag had a history in Tennessee and Florida even before being adopted as the Second National Flag of the Republic of Texas. The previous de Zavala flag had T E X A S spelled out in between the five-pointed star.

The Bonnie Blue and the Hardee pattern flags had this in common mainly: They were mostly blue. The CSA (and the USA) had plenty of vegetable-based blue dye. Only the British had ample supplies of color-fast German red dye.

The Battle Ensign of Northern Virginia was pink after one rain.

I do not know who owns the “T for Texas” royalty at the DMV. But, “T for Texas” is a Tea Party slogan.

Matt Bramanti said...

It wasn't a professional response -- I have no connection to MyPlates or anyone involved (that you can prove).

It just seemed like a bizarre conspiracy theory. Very little is asserted as fact, and what is asserted as fact just doesn't ring true.

For example, the claim that "T for Texas" is a Tea Party slogan. I've followed the Tea Party stuff pretty closely, and I've never heard or seen "T for Texas" used in signs, rallies, advertising, or anything like that. I think it's a reference to the old Jimmie Rodgers song that's been covered over and over for the better part of a century.

I don't know whether OSD has made FOIA requests for information about the program. But he's making really bold statements -- it's "probably not just outrageous, but actually illegal" -- with absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Not a scintilla. "Open Source" indeed.