Thursday, September 04, 2008

As white as rice-and-cream milquetoast

It doesn't matter how many times the teevee cameras show us "Uncle Tom" Williams, he's nothing but a fly in the oatmeal:

Organizers conceived of this convention as a means to inspire, but some African American Republicans have found the Xcel Energy Center depressing this week. Everywhere they look, they see evidence of what they consider one of their party's biggest shortcomings.

As the country rapidly diversifies, Republicans are presenting a convention that is almost entirely white.

Only 36 of the 2,380 delegates seated on the convention floor are black, the lowest number since the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies began tracking diversity at political conventions 40 years ago. Each night, the overwhelmingly white audience watches a series of white politicians step to the lectern — a visual reminder that no black Republican has served as a governor, U.S. senator or U.S. House member in the past six years.

Shocked, you say. Shocked.

The lack of diversity is out of sync with the demographic changes in the United States. The Census Bureau reported last month that racial and ethnic minorities will make up a majority of the country's population by 2042 -- almost a decade earlier than what the bureau predicted just four years ago. Two-thirds of Americans are non-Hispanic whites, 12.4 percent are black and 14.8 percent are Hispanic, according to 2006 census numbers.

What has helped Republicans is that working-class whites, a bloc they rely on, are more likely to vote than other groups. "But if there is a loss this time, and it is attributed to a smaller and smaller base of white voters, there might be a rethinking" of GOP strategy, said Robert E. Lang, co-director of Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute, which studies demographics and other development patterns.

"If we don't get better at reaching out, we're in big trouble," agreed Michael Williams, a black Republican who chairs the Texas Railroad Commission and who spoke Wednesday night. "It doesn't take much to see that this is not what America looks like. . . . We're trying, but we're not there yet."

I don't think you're ever going to get there in my lifetime or yours either, Mike.

Of Lipstick and Pigs -- err, Pit Bulls

I don't think anything I can write could be more sexist than that joke, Sarah.

And we don't want to hear any whining about how "the boys are being mean to you" since you've taken the gloves off. Community organizers have to be ready to defend themselves against hostile neighborhood bullies, after all ...

(Following is a summary of what others are saying. Essentially the divide is continental; their side is positively orgasmic, our side is repulsed. Oh, and Matt in the comments in the prior posts is looking for a quarrel. Does anyone wish to accomodate him? I won't have time for that today. Or tomorrow. Maybe on the weekend ...)

Virtually all of the conservative commentariat, and a greater-than-would-care-to-admit-it share of the liberal commentariat think that Sarah Palin hit a home run tonight. I guess I'm just going to have to stick my neck out (along with Josh Marshall) and disagree. ...

I think some of you are underestimating the percentage of voters for whom Sarah Palin lacks the standing to make this critique of Barack Obama. To many voters, she is either entirely unknown, or is known as an US Weekly caricature of a woman who eats mooseburgers and has a pregnant daughter. To change someone's opinion, you have to do one of two things. Either, you have to be a trusted voice of authority, or you have to persuade them. Palin is not a trusted voice of authority -- she's much too new. But neither was this a persuasive speech. It was staccato, insistent, a little corny. It preached to the proverbial choir. It was also, as one of my commentors astutely noted, a speech written by a man and for a man, but delivered by a woman, which produces a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

In exceedingly plain English, I think there's a pretty big who the fuck does she think she is? factor. And not just among us Daily Kos reading, merlot-drinking liberals. I think Palin's speech will be instinctively unappealing to other whole demographics of voters, including particuarly working-class men (among whom there may be a misogyny factor) and professional post-menopausal women.

The irony here, of course, is that hers was a purely political speech. No issues were actually addressed... none. A catalog of Republican talking points was delivered, very well I must admit (to the extent that crap can be presented artfully). It was red meat for the base, but it is very difficult for me to see how it was in any way intended to address, say, independents. Nothing at all was said about Palin's social conservative views... opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest, her introduction of religious cant into discussions of war, her attempts to remove library books because their content did not suit her "Christian" views, etc. There is a lot more to say about Gov. Palin than was revealed in this speech... and I am depending on Obama's campaign staff to say at least some of it. (For the record, none of what I am thinking of has anything to do with her family life. However, her possible abuse of power as governor in "troopergate" does come to mind...)

And honestly... any former Hillary supporter who flipped to McCain/Palin in response to this speech must not have thought things through very thoroughly. People do not, by and large, vote their gonads, and that's about all Palin has in common with Hillary.

I am at a wonderful age. I am young enough to appreciate a woman's pleasant packaging (Stella's, for instance) when it is relevant to her relationship to me, and old enough mostly to ignore such good looks when her role in my life is that of potential commander-in-chief. In the world of government, as the old saying goes, form follows function. I am more convinced than ever that Gov. Palin could not function effectively as president any more than could the much older top of the GOP ticket. Indeed... I believe she would be a disaster as president.

Now, we know Palin to be a fringe member of the Republican right. We know her to be a petty, small-town dictator bent on settling small scores, banning books, and generally operating in a manner beneath the dignity of an already insignificant office. We know that she carried that attitude to Juneau when she became governor 18 short months ago, and that she's under investigation for abuse of that office. We know that she was either a member of, or a fellow traveler with, the secessionist Alaska Independence Party as late as the mid-Nineties. We know that she believes that God wants her to build a natural gas pipeline in Alaska.

But she won't be a fringe character tonight.

She won't admit to corruption, or champion Alaskan secession, or proclaim that God gives her personal advice on infrastructure policy. She won't list books that she wants banned, or name US Marshals that she'd want fired if elected Vice-President. Nope. She's going to come across as a mainstream American soccer hockey mom, who can't understand why people are being so mean to her. She'll speak in vague generalities about the problems that face the nation, and will wrap herself in the flag and in motherhood. She's going to read a good speech, written by professionals, off of a teleprompter, and she'll do so with a smile. She's going to appear distressingly normal. And as such, she's going to, at least in some small measure, succeed -- at least for tonight.

Thanks to the soft bigotry of really low expectations.

(T)he media coverage of the Palin story has been well within the bounds of responsibility. (McCain campaign advisor Steve) Schmidt is trying to make it seem otherwise, a desperate tactic.

There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is "a task from God." The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

American Taliban reignites culture wars

The hate rhetoric hit screechy last night:

"Democrats present a history-making nominee for president. History making in that he is the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee ever to run for president," Thompson said as delegates roared their agreement.

Yes, 'liberal' is defamatory and we all know how much experience matters by now, especially to John McSame's selection of a soul running mate. But Lazy Fred glossed over the beleaguered Sarah Palin's lack thereof ...

Thompson delivered a particularly sharp defense of the Alaska governor. She is "from a small town, with small-town values, but that's not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family."

And one more from the old actor, with feeling:

He said McCain's decision to place her on the ticket "has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic."

Well played, Fred. You get the Emmy. Only one line worth noting from Holy Joe, though: "Country matters more than party," said Lieberman, oblivious to Palin's enthusiastic participation in a secessionist third party in Alaska.

I'm at a loss to understand the cognitive dissonance associated with the Republican rationale for attracting disaffected Hillary supporters, who would have to abandon their pro-choice position in order to support the "small-town" Sarah Palin -- who doesn't believe a woman deserves a choice even if her pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Seems a bit hypocritical to me, I don't know. What is clear to me is that even Republican women who support a right to reproductive freedom for their daughters have a crystal clear choice in this election.

But most clearly, everyone gets that John McCain's a war hero. Hooray for him. John McCain also got the shit kicked out of him by the Vietnamese. Sorry for him.

Those simply aren't qualifications for the highest office in the land.

Update: The bookmaker's odds on Sarah Palin being dropped from the ticket have plummeted, just as Barack Obama's lead in the polls over McSame has soared. Though let's not disturb the GOP as they rejoice in the "land of make-believe", as Jack Cafferty noted. It's really all they have left.

Bell still the only D in SD-17

A few days ago the lineup for the special election was finalized:

Four Republicans and two Democrats got places on the Nov. 4 ballot for the vacancy created by the resignation of District 17 state Sen. Kyle Janek. ...

Republican candidates are Houston businessman Austen Furse, Houston lawyer Grant Harpold, former Harris County felony court Judge Joan Huffman and Lake Jackson engineer Ken Sherman.

The Democrats are former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Houston and Stephanie E. Simmons, who could not be reached for information about her candidacy.

As Kuffner suggests, Ms. Simmons appears to be a stooge for the Republicans. She is mentioned here as an attorney in Missouri City but save for the those two articles, has no Google hit even for her professional listing. Occasional Republican blogger Chris Elam (in Kuffner's comments) says he doesn't know her either, however.

So I suppose she could be a ghost, but most likely she's a tool. She's actually on the ballot in any event to draw one or two percent off Bell's tally to force a runoff -- where the GOP thinks they can prevail.

There's only one Democrat running for SD-17, and he's still the best and most qualified of the six candidates.