Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Texas GOP "monkeys it up"

From Twitter today, two trending topics mashed into one headline.

It's almost like the Republicans are trying to lose.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

Reminiscences were the theme of the week, as Texas Progressive Alliance bloggers and news sources looked back at Hurricane Harvey, John McCain, and other people and events in the week that was.

Last Tuesday's conviction of Paul Manafort and guilty plea by Michael Cohen -- which occurred within minutes of each other -- was a turning point for the Trump presidency, and both items were briefly summarized by Somervell County Salon.

Socratic Gadfly remembers Senator Maverick (not fondly, either).

#Harvey1YearLater was an opportunity for many Houstonians to contribute their stories to the narrative of the region's most destructive storm in over a century.  Following the successful bond election on Saturday, the Houston Chronicle followed up with a report indicating that the county still hasn't decided how to fix its flood infrastructure.  The Texas Tribune collected its reporting all in one place for a compendium of good reading.  The AP, via Talking Points Memo, noted the chutzpah of Big Oil recommending taxpayers foot the billion-dollar bill for the Texas Gulf coastal spine, to protect their Southeast Texas refinery and chemical plant infrastructure from the next mega-hurricane (caused by climate change, that they caused).

Grist focused on Meyerland's recovery, while Offcite went to a couple of Houston's poorest neighborhoods, Kashmere and Trinity Gardens, to gauge the rehabilitation efforts.

Meanwhile, as developers began building new homes in the floodplain (an abandoned golf course in west Houston), Mayor Sylvester Turner and city council's reaction was ... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The neoliberal storm rages on in the Bayou City, as Harvey's damage did absolutely nothing to change the way bidness goes down at City Hall between the developers and the Democrats.

In some cases, MUDs directly lied to residents about whether their housing units were located in the region’s floodplains. In others, they directly disfigured water flow patterns of the land, opening it to more hazardous flooding against the complaints of residents.

And yet Houston developers have continued to push this privatized model, arguing that without MUDs, developers would have to pay for utilities with their own capital, likely resulting in poor service provision — if not cuts altogether.

The local debate about MUDs reflects the confidence of Houston’s developers and the weakness of the opposition, both in the council and outside of it. This balance of forces allowed real-estate capitalists to transform a statement about privatization’s fundamental insolvency into an argument for its acceleration.

In election news, Beto O'Rourke is quickly becoming a cult of personality for Democrats, not just in Texas but across the country.  The Sulphur Springs News-Telegram opined about "Havana Ted McCarthy Cruz and Robert Francis Kennedy O'Rourke" playing debate chickenSocratic Gadfly took down the Buzzfeed puff piece about Beto.  And Off the Kuff took a look at the latest Senate race poll and compared O'Rourke's numbers to those of Lupe Valdez.

The Dallas News reported that Valdez's missing pistol was located exactly where it should have been: in the Dallas County Sheriff's Department property room.  It took a second audit to locate it.

The madness of Dan Patrick was on full public display, as our state's lite governor went on Fox to rage at CNN and MSNBC for the death of Mollie Tibbetts, and challenged Geraldo Rivera -- and not Mike Collier, his actual November election opponent -- to a debate.

Doyin Oyeniyi at Texas Monthly has the latest on Reality Winner, sentenced to five years and three months in prison for leaking classified information.

Winner is a Kingsville native who joined the Air Force after graduating high school. During her time in the military, Winner worked as a linguist and translator in Arabic and Farsi with the National Security Administration in Fort Meade, Maryland. She later left the military and moved to Augusta, Georgia where she worked as a contractor translating Farsi for the NSA. It was while contracting in 2017 that she printed out and mailed a classified document regarding Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 election.


Winner’s defense requested that she serve her sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a federal prison in Fort Worth, where she can get treatment for her bulimia and be closer to her family in Kingsville. On Thursday, Judge J. Randall Hall Judge agreed to make the recommendation to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for Winner that she be detained in Texas. 

Leif Reigstad at TM also has another update on Amazon's HQ2, showing Dallas and Austin as frontrunners for the coveted economic prize.  Austin isn't all that thrilled about it.

Fracking is using up already-scarce water in the Permian Basin, says Courthouse News.  The coming underground water war between Mexico and the US is part of the focus of the Texas Observer's nine-part series, "Shallow Waters".

David Collins riffed off of Quetzal Cáceres's post at Black Agenda Report about fauxgressives and fauxcialists.

Neil at You Must Act Right Now was witness to an act of civil disobedience at the proposed location of the baby jail/family detention jail in Houston.

The Rag Blog's Paul Buhle eulogized a pair of global peace leaders, Uri Avnery and David McReynolds.

And Harry Hamid wrote about his annual near-death experience.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Funnies

"A man in his position can't afford to be made to look ridiculous".

Oh, and strip superdelegates of power ...

Women (and everyone who loves and supports them) will take to the streets today -- #WomensEqualityDay -- with rallies and marches to #StopKavanaugh.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Beto O'Rourke: a cult of personality

He's morphed from an upstart longshot right into a presidential wet dream for swooning Donkeys in the span of a couple of weeks.

No. Just no.

When Jon Tilove at the Austin Statesman featured 'Beto 2020' in his column/First Reading blog last week, I rolled my eyes.

That was the first I had read about this (like I've said before, I quit Facebook weeks ago; I'm no longer privy to the hive mind of Democratic activists ... and feel much healthier as a result).  Tilove, who normally has something valuable to contribute to the political discussion, had gone off the rails with this prognosticating.  Or so I thought.

On Monday, I led the Wrangle with my premise about a brightening forecast for O'Rourke's chances against Poop Cruz.  Then Beto's remarks about NFL players taking a knee, video posted by Real News (over 15,000 views and 28,000 reTweets), blew up the Internet.  Then the latest poll broke, from NBC News/Marist, showing a scant four-point lead for the Zodiac Killer.

That poll -- look at Kuffner! On it! And look who his first commenter is! -- does not reflect the impact of the viral 'kneeling' video or his recent teevee ad buy, as RG Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly pointed out yesterday.  (And still no mention of the one poll that had Beto just a nose ahead.  Very odd.)

So then I start seeing all kinds of fawning comments and Tweets about Beto, from locals to statewides to "Hollywood liberals" (as Rafael puts it) to the chattering political consultant class, all dreamily fantasizing not about Senator O'Rourke ... but President -- or Vice President -- O'Rourke.  Just as Tilove above speculated.

Also this, thoroughly refudiated by Gadfly.  And this.  And this.  And way too much more.

It's a shame nobody read the Texas Monthly piece I excerpted in this January post (the original at TM is currently offline) that enlightened me about O'Rourke, and led me to the conclusion that I could not ever vote for him.  It's also a shame no journalist has thought to probe a little deeper -- here on the first anniversary of Hurricane Harvey -- about why he was one of four Texas Democrats who voted against tax relief for victims of the storm.  His answer to this point has been his usual superficial BS.

But the real burning question for me is: how does Julian Castro feel about being Pipped by Beto?

Beyond that, the TexTrib via Progrexas sees the 'kneeling' comments on the video as maybe not helping Beto too much here in Deep In the Hearta.  They may, sadly, be right about that.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The summer heat is on and it's rising in the midterm statewide races.  The Texas Progressive Alliance got the kids off to school and then got back to blogging about the coming elections.

Beto O'Rourke enjoyed a swelling enthusiasm for his effort to unseat Ted Cruz and go to Washington as Texas' new junior US Senator.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collected favorable polling and mentions of television and Facebook advertising to revise his prediction to a much closer contest, while Kuff seemed to be feeling a little pessimistic about Beto's chances and speculated on some consolation prizes for Texas Democrats.

The TexTrib's Ross Ramsey has an analysis -- reprinted at Progrexas --  of Greg Abbott's attempt to expand gubernatorial power that would make even Pa and Ma Ferguson, among the most corrupt Texas governors in the state's history, blush.  (With envy, not shame.)  Retiring state legislator Byron Cook warned that the governor's move represented a constitutional overreach, aka power grab.

SocraticGadfly has some fun introducing Lupe Valdez to Aerosmith.

The Dallas Morning News had the best coverage of the Democratic statewides rallying around Texas last week, with the noteworthy development being the "upper-downballot" slate of candidates drafting off of Beto O'Rourke's blue wave machine.

The TSTA Blog sees through Dan Patrick's phony concern about teachers' health insurance premiums.

HuffPo noticed that former Congressman Blake Farenthold is continuing to disgrace himself.

There were many questions raised by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's visit to Houston last week, and the two best were asked in the headlines of articles written by Jeremy Wallace at the Houston Chronicle and Elizabeth Trovall at Houston Public Media.

Grits for Breakfast returned from summer hiatus with a comprehensive criminal justice news aggregation  that included links to stories about worsening wait times at DPS TDL offices, probation tailored for youthful defendants, bail reform, red light cameras, "convict leasing", and a lot more.

With the death by suicide of another Harris County inmate -- and a story by The Appeal about DA Kim Ogg's apparent change of heart on her 'reformer' branding -- The Intercept broadens the question to Democrats generally: why aren't they doing more to help candidates who will practice criminal justice reform instead of just preach it?

Harris County officials were "in over their heads" when they struck deals for contingency fees with lawyers who would be litigating on their behalf against opioid manufacturers, says a Yale professor emeritus of law quoted at Forbes.

The Texas Observer's nine-part series on border water and climate change, "Shallow Waters", has part four posted, about the 15 aquifers shared by the US and Mexico at the Rio Grande border and how little both countries understand about them.

Better Texas Blog can't understand the arguments against paid sick leave.  Austin became the first city in all of the southern US to pass a mandated paid sick leave policy, but Texas Standard quoted a Houston-based law professor predicting that the Lege will get involved after both the capital city and San Antonio approved ordinances enabling the employee benefit, exerting its eminence over "local control" again (as it has done with local anti-fracking laws, plastic bag bans, and so forth).

The ongoing Harris County flood bond election is noted by Save Buffalo Bayou with information about the new projects recently added.

Early voting on the bonds started Aug. 8 and continues through Tuesday, Aug. 21. The election is Saturday, Aug. 25. The $2.5 billion target is widely considered a small down payment on a $20-30 billion county-wide flood resiliency program that should emphasize buyouts, land acquisition and preservation, floodplain restoration and other non-structural approaches.

The list of 237 projects includes 38 projects that were added as a result of community meetings held across Harris County in June, July and August, according to the district website. Note that the list of potential projects is not fixed or obligatory, and citizens should still have opportunities to influence future plans and priorities.

Six additional projects were added through community input to the projects on Buffalo Bayou below Addicks and Barker dams.  (More details at the links.)

The Houston Justice Coalition has a full slate of events and media appearances this week.

The Houston Press reports on a local elementary school that believed starting the year off with a big sign that shamed girls was a good idea, and the Lunch Tray takes issue with a partnership between Houston ISD and Domino's Pizza.

BeyondBones warns of the Bananapocalypse.

And the Rag Blog's Ivan Koop Kuper bid farewell to Bayou City troubadour and the "mayor of Montrose", Don Sanders.

Arlo Guthrie and Don Sanders perform on national television as Houston’s KPFT-FM returns to the air 
after the KKK blew up the Pacifica station’s transmitter. Courtesy Kuper Group Archives.

Sanders was at the forefront of the founding of Houston’s progressive, noncommercial radio station and Pacifica affiliate, KPFT-FM, in 1970 and was an on-air personality in the station’s early days.

This was the very same public station that was bombed off the air, not once but twice. Historically KPFT-FM is the only radio station in the United States that has ever been under attack by right-wing extremists. The transmitter bombing was the handiwork of four members of the Pasadena, Texas Klavern of the United Klans of America, Inc. aka the Ku Klux Klan. However only one Klan suspect, Grand Wizard Jimmy Dale Hutto, age 24, was formally indicted and served time for the offenses.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday Funnies

Why did Nancy Pelosi avoid two of the hottest 
Texas Congressional races during her Houston visit last week?

Though Aretha Franklin wasn't the first person to record "Respect," her 1967 rendition is by far the best known and most revered. That year is important to mention because it was after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the year of the U.S. Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia and the year leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War and the movement for gender equality.

In her 1998 autobiography, Franklin said the song was "the need of a nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher — everyone wanted respect. ... The song took on monumental significance."

Thursday, August 16, 2018

DNC 2020

There's a (neoliberal) party goin' on right here this morning.

From everything that's been happening recently, I do not get the impression that when Bernie Sanders comes to town to accept the party's nomination two summers from now, he will be wildly greeted by the party's local centrists.

Alex Wukman at Free Press Houston isn't a fan of the city hosting, regurgitating the same tired historical reasons about why Texas isn't a blue state.  Not really a good excuse.

I'd be cool with the Donks coming to town, Bernie or Biden or some other being crowned.  It's an open question as to whether the nationals would credential me as media; you may recall the state party cut those out for blogs this year in Fort Worth.  Ted argued with them until he got one, but I wouldn't have bothered.  It would not stop me from covering the convention.  The problem would be all of the lazy, half-ass, intermittent local and state sycophant bloggers who would suddenly want to fanboi and -girl their way in, squeezing out someone who writes critically of the party.  Like I said, wouldn't stop me from being there and writing about it.

So best of luck to the Chamber of Commerce and I hope all of the Blue Dogs' dreams get dashed.

Update: This list is about the farthest thing from 'definitive' I have ever seen.  Positively hideous.  Cillizza is always this dumb, but Harry Enten has no excuse.

I bet you could name 1-5 in the left column and #6, top right, but can you name #7 without clicking the link?  I could not.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hot Texas takes about Beto, Pelosi, and Stormy's attorney

-- The blue worm is turning for Bob.

Yes, one point.  Yes, kos getting all giddy.  Go ahead and read the replies for a sense of what's happening on the ground, and try to ignore the consultants, wannabe consultants, and associated "Ahmanexpurt" pundificating.

(I'm surprised Kuffner is so slow on this.  Just the other day he said he wasn't buying that the race was close and that he'd need to see a poll with O'Rourke in the lead.  He should eventually resemble some eagerness once he finishes with campaign finance reports, I guess.  I have to say it again: that blog is a shell of its former small-handed, pear-shaped, obsessive-compulsive, number-nerdy self.  Which is to say it is still all of those things, just completely unreadable now.)

Texas Democrats fell in love with Bob early on, and are now so frenzied with Betomania they're about to leave a wet spot on their chairs.  Yes, that is as disgusting as it sounds.

He's rolling out positive TV ads, he's already spending more on Facebook than anyone except Trump, and the debates are coming.  The race will be much closer than I thought just a few weeks ago.

-- Nancy Pelosi is in town again today, with SJL and Congresswoman-in-waiting Sylvia Garcia.

Pelosi and Jackson Lee will participate in an event organized by Jackson Lee called the Mom’s Summit. That event starts at 10 a.m. at the Houston Community College central campus at 1300 Holman Street. Later, Pelosi attends a town hall meeting with Garcia’s campaign that is focused on immigration, gun violence and health care. That event is at 2 p.m. at Talento Bilingue, 333 S. Jensen Drive, Houston.

Keep an eye out for other local Congressional hopefuls who might be in attendance, like Dayna Steele, Mike Seigel, and Sri Preston Kulkarni.  These are the Dems who have presented themselves as progressives, and could be more likely to join the 50 others (including 9 incumbents, list here) who say they will not support Pelosi for Speaker should the Ds take back the House.

On the other hand, expect to see Blue Dogs like Todd Litton and incumbent Al Green.  Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, in avoiding giving John Culberson a cudgel to hit her with, refuses to say whether or not she will support Pelosi; so do Texas Democrats Colin Allred, Adrienne Bell, Gina Ortiz Jones, and MJ HegarSteven David (the sacrificial lamb for House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady), who desperately needs some publicity of any kind, ought to show up.

There will be a ton of local candidates, judicials, and perhaps a few statewides as well.  Attendance and the Tweeting of photos can be inferred as endorsements.  "Make of that what you will."

Update: No noteworthy sight-ems.  This, though.

While Pelosi had no public events with Fletcher or Democrat Todd Litton, who is running in the 2nd Congressional District in northern and northeastern Harris County, she cited them as two of the best chances Democrats have of picking up Republican-held seats around Houston in the November elections.

Republican Congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw, who is running against Litton, said he has no worries about Pelosi coming in to help his opponent, to whom she contributed $7,000 earlier this year. Litton previously picked up campaign donations from Pelosi, the California Democrat who hopes to become Speaker of the House again in 2019 if Democrats win back control of the U.S. House. Crenshaw said instead of being worried about Pelosi’s influence, he’s hoping it will fire up his supporters.

-- Last, Michael Avenatti, better known as Stormy Daniels' lawyer, was in H-Town yesterday.

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti, who gained national fame for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in her defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, appeared in a Houston immigration court Tuesday to reunify a 9-year-old immigrant boy with his mother, who had been deported to Guatemala.

The attorney and cable TV fixture visited early-voting Iowa over the weekend after announcing a potential presidential bid. In Houston, he urged the goverment to immediately release Anthony Tobar Ortiz so that he could return to Central America with Avenatti that same day.

A lot more about the child's case he argued at the link.  I join the opinion that the mainstream media is doing the same favor for Avenatti that they did for Trump about four years ago.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance again took a break from the most rabid Washington-related political news -- no Manafort, no Rudy, no Omarosa, no Kellyanne, thanks -- and focused on environmental, educational, and social issues occupying the public domain over the past week.

David Collins has some post-Midwestern primary election thoughts, which included a measured response to the now-weekly unhinged rants of centrist Democrats blaming the Green Party for having the temerity to allow the sun to rise too early while simultaneously turning off their snooze alarms.

Meanwhile the DNC quietly (but almost unanimously) aborted their two-month-old moratorium on accepting PAC money from fossil fuel companies, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs learned that a brand-new DNC member from Houston was probably instrumental in the move.

Reality-based Texas blogs addressed the worsening climate crisis before the DNC sold out.

Texas Vox described how cities in Texas -- beyond Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and hopefully Dallas soon -- can craft a 'Paris-friendly' climate action plan.

Downwinders at Risk advanced the hearing with the Dallas city council's Quality of Life committee on August 27th, with the current challenge being that city officials do not think that the public can "handle the truth" about air pollution in the Metroplex.

DeSmogBlog detailed how the fracking industry is cannibalizing themselves, setting up the next bust cycle via overuse of horizontal drilling, using the film There Will Be Blood's milkshake analogy to describe how it is happening.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub recalls the days when DDT was sprayed from airplanes in order to prevent the spread of polio.

In more recent poisonous aerosol applications by misguided public officials, the Texas Observer documented Sid Miller's crawfishing on cattle spray boxes.  (Just go read it.  Really.)

Depiction inaccurate; his head is up the other end.

The Culture Wars, in the diminutive form of beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions, came to Houston and promptly ate too much Mexican food, upsetting the delicate constitution of the city's liberals and conservatives.

El Jefe at the Beauty Shop also recapped the El Tiempo debacle.

UPDATE: Pro-level trolling by Montrose Tex-Mex competitor El Real, via Eater Houston.

Dallas city council member Dwain Caraway resigned after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.  The Dallas Observer compiled a few of his greatest hits, including his contribution to the QAnon controversy.

With the midterm elections looming, voter registration among millennials is surging -- just not in Texas, says the San Antonio Current.

"Texas seems to be moving backward in comparison to the rest of the country," said Zenen Jaimes Perez, communications director for the Texas Civil Rights Project. "This state, unfortunately, is becoming an outlier. … Very clearly, it’s motivated by state’s top leaders wanting to keep the same people in power."

As schools get set to open, the Texas Tribune takes note of students in Port Arthur who are still living a Harvey PTSD moment.

Texas Standard brings home the report card on Texas schools in the RGV earning an A, which defies the conventional wisdom about poverty and achievement.

In the wake of this past weekend's "Unite the Right 2" march, Jef Rouner at Free Press Houston believes that Houston should be preparing for its own white supremacist rally.

SocraticGadfly wants to know more about all the alleged Texas atheists the Lyceum poll on the Cruz-O'Rourke Senate race said the state had.

In a promising Texas media development, the Rivard Report has relocated its San Antonio offices, tripling the square footage, adding to staff and making conference space available for meetings with government officials and community leaders.

Harry Hamid has another edition of the Saint Christopher Chronicles, begun week before last and continuing with 'Breakfast with Buck'.

Carlos Sanchez at Texas Monthly eulogizes the liberal lion of the Texas Senate, A.R. "Babe" Schwartz.  He was an avid environmentalist and a civil rights advocate -- especially desegregation -- at a time when that was not a popular position.  He also pushed for open government, education, and state services for the mentally challenged.

And the biggest music news last week was rapper Travis Scott dropping 'Astroworld' and scheduling a new jam fest in H-Town in November.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Funnies

The editorial board of the Boston Globe is proposing that newspapers across the nation express their disdain for the president’s rhetoric on Aug. 16 with the best weapon they have: their collective voice.

"Bipartisan Agreement" flavor is back!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Texas Democrat leads on un-ban of fossil fuel $$$

Let's cut to the chase.

The strength of the fossil fuel donations ban seemed in question almost immediately after it passed. The DNC refused to announce the resolution, declining to comment to HuffPost for a story that made the vote public.

At the Texas Democratic Party’s convention two weeks later (this past June), a state party official opposed a state-level proposal to ban fossil fuel donations and oppose new gas extraction, arguing that the DNC’s own resolution was not set in stone.

A.J. Durrani, a retired engineer and manager at the oil giant Shell who recently joined the national party committee, said the DNC did not include the earlier vote in the minutes from its last executive committee meeting.

“There was no mention in it,” Durrani said by phone in June. As far as he was concerned, he said, “As of right now, the DNC has not voted.”

Durrani did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Texas Democrats ultimately voted down their proposed resolution.

A. J. MF'n Durrani.

I've known him from my earliest days (2002) as a Democratic Party activist in southwest Houston (though I will wager he doesn't know me, even though we served on some SD-17 committees together).  You can read about that activism of his here, and his professional life since retiring from Shell hereOil Patch Democrats (old link but note the names), SDEC, one of the first members of the Asian American Democrats club, then state caucus, and eventually growing that into DNC membership and super delegate status in 2016.  Yeah, he's done some shit.

Needless to say, he's no progressive.

He may or may not be the ringleader behind this; Durrani has without a doubt been pulling thick strings behind the scenes.  He lives in CD-7, the home of most of Houston's O&G; long been butt buddies in the OPD with James Cargas, and has likely used every method available -- light, dark, and in-between -- to bundle contributions from Shell and other Houston-based oil companies, oil company executives, and the like for Democrats up and down the ballot for the past decade.

Not that it's done them any good, of course.  (I'm not counting state representatives Hubert Vo and the Green-hating Gene Wu in the 'good' column, either.)

It's likewise difficult to imagine an old company man, top management, bucking up for the Steelworkers -- the hardhats in the refineries -- here, as Perez has suggested.

Obviously if California weren't burning, if there weren't a global heatwave, if the alarm bells weren't sounding as loudly as they ever have about tipping points tipped and 'Hothouse Earth' ... maybe the Jackass Party could have slipped this one by.

But everybody sees you, A. J.  Did you work closely with Gilberto Hinojosa on that whole "helping fund state parties" part?

We'll wait and see if "Houston's oldest continuously published" blogger, himself a Shell employee, has anything to say about this beyond a few tut-tuts -- on his most progressive day -- every time the Donkeys in charge take a shit on everybody on the left.  Somebody let me know if he does.

In the meanwhile, I just have one question: if the oil companies and the banks and the drug companies and all the rest of the corporations can buy off both the Republicans AND the Democrats ... then why would they GAF who wins?

More from Shadowproof.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday White Elitist Racist Toon

It's not just Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson and the rest of Fox News; racism has a long-standing and under-acknowledged white elitist component, and Kris Kobach is proof.

We have an unfortunate tendency in America to treat racism and racial resentment as a pathology of the white underclass. Takes about the need for Democrats to abandon woke “identity politics” typically cite a desire to win back the “white working class,” not white members of the Harvard Club.

But while there’s some survey data backing the idea that working-class whites are likelier to harbor racial resentment (see table 3 here), the racism that kept Jews and blacks out of country clubs (and out of Harvard) for generations is still around. And Kobach is a great example of how it can continue to have real political consequences.

Kobach isn’t alone. White House adviser Stephen Miller didn’t have a Huntington figure during his time at Duke; in all the profiles written about Miller, I’ve yet to find one that mentions a professor who mentored him or even liked him. But it was Miller’s role as a conservative voice on campus during the Duke lacrosse scandal (a scandal that became a national affair only because of Duke’s elite status) that catapulted him into a career as a policy aide on Capitol Hill, and now in the White House. He, like Kobach, leveraged elite credentials to implement racist policies.

Further on the fringes of American life, Richard Spencer’s time as a Duke grad student, and Jared Taylor’s Yale pedigree, have helped lift them from obscurity into being commonly cited voices from the “race realist” movement. They got a patina of respectability, a sense that they’re a different, higher class of racist.

Working-class white racists can inflict a lot of harm; hate crimes in this country are a real thing, committed by people with all kinds of income and education levels. But economically unprivileged whites typically don’t cause damage on the scale of Miller or Kobach — or even Spencer or Taylor. That escalation requires elite credentials and connections.

... I hope Kobach can help change our mental image of an American racist from lazy stereotypes of manual laborers to a Yale-trained lawyer with a PhD, whose racial views come in part from a celebrated Harvard professor. That’s the bigger danger.