A Republican’s view on racism

Mitch Pearlstein had a commentary in the Strib this week defending Republicans as not being racist.  Personally I don’t think all Republicans are racist, and I dont’ think all Democrats are not racist.  That being said, lets look at what Pearlstein had to say, and examine how valid his points are.

He starts off with a little history lesson from the 60s.

The two most important pieces of domestic legislation in my lifetime (I’m 60) were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Question: Members of which party voted for them in higher proportions, Republicans or Democrats? I suspect only a small slice of Americans knows it was Republicans, and by significant margins.

Eighty-two percent of Senate Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act, as opposed to 69 percent of Senate Democrats.

Eighty percent of House Republicans voted for it, as opposed to 63 percent of House Democrats.

As for the Voting Rights Act, 97 percent of Senate Republicans voted for it, compared with 73 percent of Democrats.

And 85 percent of House Republicans voted for it, compared with 80 percent of Democrats.

What conclusions or plausible guesses can be extrapolated from such barely recalled votes plus several other bypassed facts?

So we are looking at legislation that was passed 43 and 44 years ago, which happens to be before I was born (just for a frame of reference).

Starting with the Civil Rights Act, if you look at the vote percentage for the act by party and region, then the percentages favor the Democrats over the Republicans in the South (former Confederate States of America) and the rest of the country.

From wikipedia on the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

The original House version:

  • Southern Democrats: 7-87   (7%-93%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0-10   (0%-100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 145-9   (94%-6%)
  • Northern Republicans: 138-24   (85%-15%)

The Senate version:

  • Southern Democrats: 1-20   (5%-95%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0-1   (0%-100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 45-1   (98%-2%)
  • Northern Republicans: 27-5   (84%-16%)

Interesting what the statistics look like when you break them down by region.  So those are my counter stats that give a very different perspective for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Sadly I don’t have regional breakdown of the votes for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but it is very likely that it breaks similarly to the Civil Rights Act in the two regions.  Interesting when broken down into these two regions that Dems have a higher percentage than Republicans in each region.

Back to Pearlstein,

For one, while fully acknowledging the watershed importance of Barack Obama’s victory last week, I would argue the United States actually has been equipped and poised to elect an African-American as president for more than just the last few months.

In no way does claiming so downplay just how stunning a moment last week’s election was in the history of our nation. And neither does it grant too little credit to President-elect Obama’s remarkable political skills, as they would seem to be possibly matched over the last half-century only by those of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and maybe John F. Kennedy.

The point, rather, is that we have made more racial progress than has been routinely acknowledged, and this has been the case for years. How much progress had we made in terms of presidential politics before Obama’s candidacy? I would contend, for instance, that Colin Powell was eminently electable in 2000. In saying so I concede he was too socially moderate to win the Republican nomination and likely too closely identified with Reagan to win the Democratic nomination. But those two nonracial reasons had measurably more to do with blocking his path to the White House than his race ever would have posed. I can’t prove this, of course, but I’m confident.

I do agree with Pearlstein, we have made much progress.  Yet, he has to throw in the framing that Obama is exceptionally eloquent, which we saw McCain use during the campaign, to attribute the success of Obama’s election to his skills as an orator, not the American public wanting a shift in domestic economic policy-universal health care, worker rights, rethinking free trade, etc…

One reason I’m trusting, beyond the fact Powell is an uncommonly compelling figure, is that the overwhelming majority of Americans have long been of bone-deep goodwill when it comes to respecting the religious beliefs of their fellows, and it’s no leap to envision a similar sense of tolerance and maturity expanding, decade by decade, in akin spheres. The fact, for example, that vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman’s (orthodox) Judaism had nothing to do with Al Gore’s defeat in 2000 is evidence of this former spirit.

Well, if you know me, then you know this a load of a crap.  And the crap gets piled on in using Joe Lieberman as an example of religious tolerance.  Yeah, a lot of people identify the US as being founded based on Judeo-Christian, but that includes Lieberman, not necessarily Muslims or those of no faith, like myself.

Lets start with some of Lieberman’s words.

In another recent sound bite, Lieberman warned against “indulg[ing] the supposition ‘that morality can be maintained without religion.’ “

That is an attack on those of no faith.  Looking at the Pew Forum on Religion, 16.1% of Americans identify as Unaffiliated which is Atheist at 1.6%, Agnostic at 2.4%, and Nothing in Particular at 12.1%.  That is about 1 in 6 Americans that Lieberman would assume lack morals.

And what about tolerance for Muslims?  It isn’t like we don’t know about Muslims here in Minnesota, especially in Minneapolis where we are represented by the first member of Congress who is Muslim, my US Rep. Keith Ellison.

Well US Rep. Virgil Goode was warning of a Muslim invasion, because a Muslim was elected to Congress, despite the fact that Ellison was born in Detroit, not an immigrant.

You can read the letter here at Talking Points Memo.

You had Glenn Beck asking if he can trust Ellison to not be working with terrorists because he is a Muslim.

So Pearlstein, where is the religious tolerance that you are talking about?  Actually Colin Powell has been the best in defending Muslims in his endorsement of Obama, but Republicans in general have not been standing up, and the Democrats are not stellar either – particularly the defense of Obama that he is not a Muslim, when the right answer, which Powell stated, is “so what if he was?

Back to Pearlstein,

Remember when Trent Lott was too effusive in congratulating Strom Thurmond, his Republican Senate colleague, on Thurmond’s 100th birthday in 2002? Did conservative columnists try to bail Lott out after he “misspoke”? The opposite was predominantly the case, and not just because he had undercut his party’s political prospects. They also railed against him because they were morally offended by his comment that the nation would have been well-served if the then-segregationist (and non-Republican) Thurmond had been elected president in 1948.

Then there’s what I’ve personally heard — as well as what I haven’t heard — in decades of daily proximity to right-of-center men and women.

I have no patience for the kinds of absurd constraints imposed on language by politically correct censors and scolds. But that’s not to say I’m not acutely alert to matters of decency and civility when it comes to words, especially when the subject is as sensitive as race. Yet if you were to ask me the number of times that I’ve heard conservative colleagues say anything racially unacceptable in all that time, the answer — unbelievably, I’m sure to many — would be maybe once every half-dozen years or so. I can’t imagine liberals being any purer.

One instance, Lott’s comments, that isn’t defended.  What about what Senator Chambliss has said recently?

The development is not lost on Mr. Chambliss. “There has always been a rush to the polls by African-Americans early,” he said at the square in Covington, a quick stop on a bus tour as the campaign entered its final week. He predicted the crowds of early voters would motivate Republicans to turn out. “It has also got our side energized, they see what is happening,” he said.

“They see what is happening,” that African-Americans are rushing to the polls.  Not straight up racist, but definitely language of us vs them in the South.  Or Jesse Helms in the 90s,

Mr. Helms has also made his views on race clear through a series of merely symbolic actions. Soon after a Senate vote on the Confederate flag insignia, Mr. Helms ran into then-Sen. Carol Mosely-Braun of Illinois, who is black, in a capitol elevator. Mr. Helms turned to his friend, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, and said, “Watch me make her cry. I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries.” He then proceeded to sing the song about the good life during slavery.

That is definitely racist, no two ways about it.  Or former Senator George Allen calling someone “macaca.”

Or that Republican politician in Michigan saying,

There is rarely hard proof of the Republicans’ real agenda. One of the few public declarations of their intent came in 2004, when then state Rep. John Pappageorge of Michigan, who’s now running for a state Senate seat, was quoted by the Detroit Free Press: “If we do not suppress the Detroit [read: 81.6% black ] vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election cycle.”

So maybe they have gotten better at hiding their true feelings trying to be politically correct, but clearly these examples show that the true feeling isn’t that well hidden, and these are pretty recent.

So before you start patting yourself on the back for the role of Republicans almost half a century ago, you really need to ask, what have you done lately for civil rights.  More often than not, your party continues attacks on minority populations, many times hidden in coded language, but other times quite openly.



Bill Kristol still crushing on Palin

On Fox News Sunday’s roundtable segment, Bill Kristol defends Sarah Palin’s supposed lack of knowledge of which countries are in NAFTA.  He defends her by saying which countries are in North America, which is a fair point, after all some people only say Mexico, USA, and Canada, describing those countries south of Mexico to Panama as part of Central America.

That point being said, NAFTA was passed in September 1993 and came into effect on January 1, 1994.  So for 14 years we have been in this agreement with only Canada and Mexico.  Since the state of Alaska, the state she is governor of, has only a land border with a foreign country, Canada, which happens to be one of the NAFTA partners, you would think she would know this.

So as Colin Powell pointed out Obama has an intellectual curiosity, and I feel that he thinks that Sarah Palin has a lack of intellectual curiosity and this is proof in my mind that she doesn’t really want to understand things.


NBC’s presidential election coverage

I am not very happy with a couple parts of the coverage.

Brian Williams asked both Governor David Paterson and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani about whether or not Barack Obama would be up to the task of handling the economic crisis.  They didn’t ask if John Sidney McCain was up to it, maybe accepting that Obama had already won, but wouldn’t that be a better question to ask during the campaign, not after polls had closed?

I mean could this be, oh crap – we didn’t think of that, can we get our vote back?  Personally if I were Paterson I would have started with I think Obama is better prepared to handle the economic uncertainty than McCain is.

The other thing that pissed me off, and pissed me off a lot, was comments or lack of comments about people with disabilities.  When introducing Governor Paterson, Brian Williams pointed out that he was the first African-American governor of New York, but he didn’t mention that he is the first legally blind governor ever in the United States.

Then when discussing the re-election of Tim Johnson as Senator from South Dakota.  They talked about the medical problems he had during this last session of Congress, and how he is still very intelligent, but two of the commentors (one was Tom Brokaw) pointed out that he needs assistance walking.  Who the hell cares, and why the fuck does it matter?  After all former Georgia Senator Max Cleland was triple amputee and was in a wheelchair.  That didn’t seem to hinder his ability to serve.  Plus clearly the majority of South Dakota voters think that Tim Johnson should continue to represent them in the Senate.

It is really discouraging to see the NBC political team not highlight the great accomplishments of folks that face a little more physical challenges, but clearly are very able politicians that voters want.

Is the Republican party becoming the party that cries victimization?

The more I listen to the talking points coming out of the Republican party, the more it seems that they cry foul at any perceived slight, or sometimes even pre-empt slights.  Usually this is directed at the supposed liberal media and its unfair treatment of conservatives.

You may remember back during the Republican National Convention, that right wing pundits were on message complaining about the sexist critical coverage of who the heck is this new political person on the national scene, Sarah Palin.  I mean I didn’t know much about her, so it makes sense that the news organizations would go looking and let the public know about her.

Not exactly consistent on their opinion of the media’s treatment of female candidates.  But hey, why let consistency stop you from calling foul, crying that the big bad liberal media is being unfair to conservatives when it allows you to intimidate that media to treat you more favorably due to your whining.

More recently we have the conservatives complaining that the LA Times won’t release a videotape of a party for Rashid Khalidi that Obama attended.  As the AP reports,

Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin accused the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday of protecting Barack Obama by withholding a videotape of the Democrat attending a 2003 party for a Palestinian-American professor and critic of Israel. The paper said it had written about the event in April and would not release the tape because of a promise to the source who provided it.

McCain and Palin called Rashid Khalidi a former spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, a characterization Khalidi has denied in the past. Both candidates said guests at the party made critical comments about Israel.

So that is the situation, this is the whining that is going on,

McCain and Palin cited the paper’s position as evidence of media bias. The Times has endorsed Obama.

“If there was a tape of John McCain in a neo-Nazi outfit, I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different,” McCain said in an interview with Hispanic radio stations.

Palin said the Times should win a Pulitzer Prize for “kowtowing.”

It must be nice for a candidate to have major news organizations looking out for their best interests like that. Politicians would love to have a pet newspaper of their very own,” she said.

Apparently Republicans are a little forgetful of the withholding of a story that can only have helped their candidate in 2004.  As a blog on Wired pointed out,

The tale is an odd one. There seems to have been at least two meetings between the Times and the White House about the story, but Lichtblau’s Slate excerpt confusingly jumps between the two.

He also doesn’t explain who at the Times was persuaded in 2004, at the tail end of a presidential election, to withhold a bombshell story about the president secretly wiretapping inside the United States in plain contravention of federal law.

His book, Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice, comes out Tuesday, April 1.

Here’s hoping that the book explains much more about the 13-month hold on one of the most important stories of the post-9/11 era, instead of skimming over embarrassing details and relying on passive constructions (“It was a difficult decision for everyone.”).

The sentence “The editors were not persuaded we had enough for a story” is not enlightening nor does it ring true.  Nor does it explain at all how the nation’s most respected newspaper nearly spiked, for eternity, the warrantless wiretapping program story.

Why should the debate at the Times over the NSA’s warrantless targeting of Americans be more of a secret than the spying?

In the world of unintended consequences, the push to find out about Rashid Khalidi shows that McCain may have more extensive ties to the professor as the AP reports.

Khalidi is a professor of Middle East Studies at Columbia University and a longtime friend of Obama’s. Khalidi has publicly criticized Israel, but he and Obama have both said they hold very different opinions on Israeli issues.

McCain also has ties to Khalidi through a group Khalidi helped found 15 years ago. The Center for Palestine Research and Studies received at least $448,000 from an organization McCain chairs.

If Khalidi is so bad, so anti Israeli, why did an organization McCain chairs give him $448,000?  Think Progress has a great write up on this embarassing (well if you weren’t a rampant hypocrite) situation for McCain.

It would be nice if the Republicans didn’t cry foul at every perceived slight in the media, and learned to show a little spine.  Sadly the mainstream media more often than not enables this behavior, as I personally think that the suppression of the warrantless wiretapping demonstrates.  It is as bad as professional athletes taking dives in games to get a foul called.


Right wing talking points uploaded by McCain campaign

In response to Barack Obama’s half hour political ad buy on October 29th, the talking point coming out of the McCain campaign is that the only way that Obama could afford it was because he broke his promise on public financing in the general election.

As Rudy Giuliani said on Hannity and Colmes on October 29th,

…I think it’s a testament to his not keeping his word. I mean the reality is he’s spending money because he has broken his word about sticking with the campaign finance limits.

But history is a bit important.

In February 2008 the NY Times reported on the push by McCain to get Obama to agree to public financing of the general election.

Mr. Obama did not rule out the possibility of accepting public financing, but declared on Friday, “I’m not the nominee yet.”

“If I am the nominee, I will make sure our people talk to John McCain’s people to find out if we are willing to abide by the same rules and regulations with respect to the general election going forward,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a news conference in Milwaukee. “It would be presumptuous of me to start saying now that I am locking into something when I don’t even know if the other side will agree to it.”

Last year, Mr. Obama sought an advisory ruling with the Federal Election Commission to see whether the campaign could opt out of public financing in the primary and accept it in the general election. It was merely an inquiry, he said, not a pledge to accept the financing.

If he wins the Democratic nominating fight with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama said, “my folks will sit down and see if we can arrive at a common set of ground rules.”

Nowhere did I find anything that said Obama would take public financing.  Now the case can be made that he went back on his word to the McCain campaign, not the American public…well unless McCain now equates himself as the American public, to sit down and try to agree to some rules.

But thinking about candidate going back on their words related to public financing it interesting to contrast the two candidates.

Obama said he would meet with his opposing candidate to try to seek an agreement between both campaigns before committing to taking public financing in the general election.

McCain took public financing in the primary season when his campaign was cashed starved.  Apparently that acceptance of public financing allowed him to secure loans to continue the primary campaign.  After doing well on Super Tuesday, he informed the FEC that he would withdraw from public financing.  Before getting an okay from the FEC, they did not have enough members for a quorom to rule on his decision to withdraw, McCain spent past the public financing limits that he agreed to.  You can read more about this in my previous post.

In terms of breaking their words, Obama apparently didn’t meet with his opponent, while McCain entered into public financing, then withdrew, then spent past the limits, during the primary season.

In terms of the severity of going back on his words McCain’s looks worse than Obama’s in my eyes.  I would even encourage the Obama campaign to make this counter point to McCain’s talking points!


McCain on corporate taxes

He is talking about CEO of various corporations who could go to Ireland which has a lower tax rate, and why don’t they go there.  That is a fair question, why don’t they if it would lower their taxes?  Everyone he listed is still in the US with its supposedly too high corporate tax rate.


Can we trust him with the important decisions?

John McCain seems being getting more and more confused.

The full quote, “across this country this is the agenda I have set before my fellow prisoners, and the same standards of clarity and candor must be applied to my opponent.”

So are Republicans, because that is the audience at these things, prisoners?

But this is more priceless from October 21, 2008.


John McCain: I think you may have noticed that Senator Obama’s supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately.

Crowd: [Booes loudly]

John McCain: You know, I couldn’t agree with him more.

Crowd: [quiet chuckling]

John McCain: I couldn’t disagree with you…I couldn’t agree with you more than the fact that Western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most god loving, most patriotic part of America. [crowd cheers loudly] This is a great part of the country.

Everyone misspeaks from time to time, but with the age issue, and not releasing health records, you have to wonder about his coherence when the tough decision needs to be made.  Especially in light of the fact he seems to shoot from the hip, not make deliberate decisions.


Moderate Republicans for Obama

Earlier this week we had Colin Powell made a very compelling case for Barack Obama over John Sidney McCain, if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here.  For those dittoheads, his reasoning is reason, not just race.

Now we have Scott McCellan, former George W Bush press secretary, endorsing Obama because Scott would, “support the candidate that would have the best chance to change the way Washington works and getting things done.”

For those of you who know Minnesota political history, pre Jesse Ventura era, Arne Carlson, a two term Republican governor endorsed Obama today [emphasis added].

Former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on Thursday, saying Obama represented the best hope for an America facing an economic crisis and criticizing Republicans for waging a mean-spirited campaign that has “been going down all these side roads.”

Speaking at the State Capitol, where he was introduced by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Carlson said his party had strayed from the moderate philosophies of past Republican leaders such as Ohio Sen. Robert Taft and President Dwight Eisenhower. “I consider myself a Republican maverick,” Carlson said in explaining his endorsement of Obama.

I think Carlson has a muc more legitmate claim to the maverick Republican these days than the flip-flopping McCain that has run to embrace the base.

Hopefully this will help persuade some moderate Republicans that Obama is a better choice than the leader of their hostaged party.


Where is the 2000 McCain?

This past week, all he can talk about is “spreading the wealth” and labeling Obama with socialism like it is something horribly wrong.

Well, ironically in 2000 John McCain gave a pretty give response to a young woman who asked him a question in Hardball townhall Q & A about a progressive tax system, including the other taxes – payroll and sales – not just income tax.

Personally, I think her follow up question equating it to slavery then backtracking to socialism due to the boos was way off target and glad they booed her!


A real challenge for Barack Obama

NOW on PBS is one of the better news shows.  They had a great segment this week on the vote in Virginia which is in play this year, not solidly in the Republican column on election night.  And it isn’t just the growing DC suburbs, you know the communist part of Virginia, but disillusioned Republican voters (0:00 to 3:00), and even military families who given more to Obama than McCain in donations (12:45 to 14:50).

But even with all of that, one of the hurdles is deeply faithful people like Tracy from 8:25 to 10:05 of this video.  Make sure to watch her eyes as she makes her points.  This is the kind of total faith, and intolerance that scares the hell out of me.  She has a problem with atheists and Muslims, she has a problem Obama’s name.

Hopefully her husband Sean (6:10 to 8:25 of the video) will make what I consider to be a more rational choice about what is best for him and his children.


« Older entries