Archive for August 22nd, 2006

Links…

Neiwert on racial profiling: When you look at the actual historical results of racial profiling, the conclusion by Canadian security officials that racial profiling is “fundamentally stupid” is really inescapable.

Shane’s got some fabulous pics of Sunday’s Tester party of (most) of the liberal bloggers. He’s got an incredible eye.

First firefighters, now farmers. Who is Boss Hogg going to pick on next? Might as well insult lobbyists and get it over with. (And why does he hate the press, anyway?)

Speaking of Conrad Burns, Mr. “tough on illegals” hires them to work on his house? Guess he’s not so opposed to illegal immigration, after all.

Rebels Are We! calls for civil debate. Volunteers welcome.

For you out-of-state readers, here’s what liberal bloggers do with their spare time.

Meanwhile, guess who’s advertising with right-wing blogs?

Opposition to the war grows.

Morgan Spurlock, of “Supersize Me” fame, tries to bridge the gulf between pro-lifers and pro-choicers in one of his 30-day swaps…

Speaking of pro-lifers, Bush p*sses them off. I guess a little early summer lip service wasn’t enough for his conservative base, was it?

Perhaps Spurlock could send Bush for 30 days to Guantanamo. Like these Algerians, who were exonerated by Bosnian courts but are being held because their release would be an embarrassment to the Bush administration.

Then again Bush does a great job of embarrassing himself. Digby is less concerned with the f*rting than he is with the claim that the Prez is “paranoid around women.”

Besides f*rting, Bush’s other hobbies include biking, reading, and lying his *ss off about his statements on Iraq and 9/11.

The LA Times: what’s that “job” we’re doing in Iraq, again?

The WaPo’s Eugene Robinson: “President on another planet.”

This little stunt only confirms what I’ve suspect…more than a little bias from The Hill towards the GOP. The Hill’s Jonathan Kaplan helps a GOP campaign staffer hijack a Kerry teleconference, repeats a Republican meme to Kerry, then in an apres-call huff, blames Kerry for the whole debacle.

Oops! Another traditional media outlet lets slip an inconvenient truth.

Apparently the Department of Education doesn’t give “smart grants” to evolutionary biologists

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A recent AP story dissects the use of YouTube.com videos and political campaigns, citing the recent clip of Burns snoozing during a farm bill hearing. Those of you reading this blog are no doubt already aware of the use of YouTube in this year’s political campaigning. No, nothing new here, except maybe Burns spokes-goon Jason Klindt’s reaction to the “Happy Trails” vid:

“We direct people to our Web site, not YouTube,” said Burns spokesman Jason Klindt. He characterized the YouTube posting as a “gotcha” video, saying Burns had gotten little sleep the night before the farm hearing because a flight had been canceled.

Well, Jason, that’s one of the reasons why Burns is going to lose this race. His staff is too politically inbred and unimaginative to actually make use of technology to aid their candidate.

(By the way, I don’t really think the video reveals much about Burns – not like this Kossak’s face-to-face encounters with the junior Senator – but he does look old. Still the video is hilarious and well worth a watch, just for laughs.)

The real story of YouTube is in Virginia, where Republican Senator George Allen was caught on video calling a man of Indian descent a “macaca,” a North African derogatory for blacks. (Allen’s mother emigrated from Tunisia.) The most recent poll of the race shows that Allen’s lead over Democratic challenger, Jim Webb, has shrunk to 3 points, 48 to 45 percent. (Allen led at one point by as much as 19 percent.)

This could be the slur that puts a Democratic majority in the Senate.

See, the Republicans hold a six-seat majority in the Senate, 55 – 43 – 2 (Independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman have vowed to caucus with the Democrats). In order win the majority, the Dems need to shift six seats to their side of the aisle. Right now, they lead in five seat-changing races: Montana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Missouri.

If – and these are big, big “ifs” – the Dems pick up those five seats, and Webb wins in Virginia, voila! Democratic majority. And the Republic will have YouTube to thank.

Incidentally, some might think a simple, momentary slip-up should not decide the composition of our government. I might agree if the slip-up had nothing to do with some general characteristics of the losing political party or candidate. (Dean’s “scream” for example.) But calling a brown-skinned activist in the opposition party a “monkey” fits in with a general trend among Republicans for all-too-often landing on the side of the nativists, racists, and white supremacists, from racial profiling to hard-line anti-immigration foes.

Like, say, Colorado’s Tom Tancredo:

America is wrestling with an identity crisis. Part of it is a result of what I call the ‘cult of multiculturalism.’ The idea that there is nothing — nothing — of value in Western civilization, that we have nothing to offer the world, that we have nothing to offer as a viable society, that everything we have is bad and ugly…. If we are truly in a clash of civilizations… which I happen to believe, then it is important for us to understand who we are.

Or Montana’s own Conrad Burns:

In 1994 Burns told the editorial board of the Bozeman Chronicle that when asked by a constituent, “how can you live back there Washington, DC with all those niggers?” he replied, “[It’s] a hell of a challenge.” About the use of the racial slur: “I never give it much thought.”

On February 17, 1999, while at a meeting of the Montana Implement Dealers Association in Billings, Montana, Burns referred to Arabic people as “ragheads”.

Or take 4&20 commentor, Frank, who either deliberately, or out of ignorance, misrepresents “affirmative action”:

Affirmative Action: Giving special treatment in pay, raises, school admission, business loans because of a persons race.

Of course, affirmative action is now simply ensuring that institutions receiving state monies at least consider or accept applications from candidates of minority ethnic groups. (Instead of, say, giving no-bid contracts to your pals.) In the recent SCOTUS decision on the issue, the highest court affirmed the practice of using “points” to ensure a diverse student body (in this case):

Grades and academics are most important, but members of “under-represented” racial and ethic minority groups have received extra points, as do children of alumni, athletes and men enrolling in nursing programs.

[snip]

[Justice Sandra Day] O’Connor, writing the majority opinion, said the Constitution “does not prohibit the law school’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

In other words, quotas are a thing of the past, and a person’s race or ethnicity is considered as influential to a person’s viewpoints and character, as, say, participation in band camp. Hardly a controversial or offensive claim.

If you feel that only academics should be considered, well, that’s a whole ‘nother claim, and I might be inclined to agree, especially if “legacy” status, athletic ability, or less relevant “academic” factors are tossed out. (But then, where will the children of Republican lawmakers go to school? Perhaps they could learn a trade.)

Of course even a quota system could be wildly effective in certain situations. Take the U.S. military for example:

The military during both World Wars consigned most black people to support jobs. The top brass commonly defended discrimination in racist terms, arguing that black men lacked the courage to fight or the intelligence to lead. These bigoted policies shadowed the military long after formal segregation was ended and nearly tore the Army apart during the 1960’s and 70’s. One of the pivotal figures in the transformation was Clifford Alexander, President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of the Army. Early in his tenure, Mr. Alexander put a hold on a list of officers proposed for promotion to general. He was troubled, as he explained in a 1997 Op-Ed article, ”because no black colonels had been promoted, even though many had achieved that rank and served with distinction.”

The board that handled promotions was ordered to look at the records of eligible black colonels and to determine if they had been given lesser assignments or evaluated negatively by officers who were racially prejudiced. Once race-related blemishes were expunged, black colonels with otherwise sterling records emerged as strong candidates for promotion.

No reasonable observer can argue against the success of the policy or discount the skill and honor conveyed on our armed forces by upper-echelon officers from minority ethnic groups. The diverse composition of the armed forces is a credit to the nation and a reflection of the patriotism and ability of all Americans.

Ultimately commenter Frank ends his tirade against affirmative action thusly:

White supremeism is horrible and MUST be stopped, but so should racism TOWARDS whites. TWO WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT

By espousing the current uses of affirmative action, of course, I’m not claiming that all, or the vast majority, of whites belong to a group of conspiring overlords. Whites suffer in poverty, struggle to get into colleges, work cr*ppy jobs. In short being white isn’t all sh*ts and giggles. But I’d argue vociferously that race is not a factor that keeps those of us struggling down. (What is is open to discussion. Luck of birth? Growing gulf between rich and poor? Shrinking real wages?)

I’m not calling Frank a racist, although I think he’s mistakenly putting the blame for the plight of white (or any color) working-class and middle-class families on the “special treatment” of minorities. And it is true that I’ve been on a binge of calling out racists on the Internet, maybe a bit too eagerly, say, when attacking the Missoulian…although maybe not.

But racism still exists in high places in this country, as evidenced by Allen’s and Burns’ remarks. And we should denounce it whenever we see it. It’s the decent thing to do.

Those Darned Red Sox

I haven’t been writing much about baseball lately, and yes the Red Sox’ recent performance has everything to do with that. Since August 1, they’re 6-13, and they’ve only done that well thanks to a mid-month sweep of Orioles. During that span, the Sox dropped two of three to the Devil Rays, Tigers, and Indians, and were swept by the Yankees (in five) and the Royals.

For me, it was obvious the season was over when the Sox lost three to Kansas City. You don’t lose to a quadruple-A squad (hat tip to Bill Simmons) in August and contend. You don’t.

Bob Ryan sums up the Sox’ plight very well in today’s column, “Warning: These truths may hurt,” in which he goes step-by-step through the lineup and outlines the flaws with this current squad. (Yes, it’s a long column.)

There’s only two decent arms on the squad: Schilling and Papelbon. Beckett has stunk up the joint. The bullpen is a mess; stick a fork in Timlin. (Thanks for all the memories, Mike.) There’s no no. 5 hitter. The Sox miss Damon. Coco Crisp is a disappointment. The Yankees are good.

The truth is that this is not a good time to be Theo Epstein. For two years running, he has been unable to construct a viable pitching rotation. (We haven’t mentioned Matt Clement, a very nice guy; no one is in a hurry to see him come back, because it’s clear he wasn’t cut out for Boston.) Theo was cut one year of afterglow slack, but overheated fans, already in a bloodthirsty mood, are downright rebellious now that the Yankees have humiliated their team with a five-game sweep.

The truth is that the essential Yankee/Red Sox dynamics haven’t changed, no matter what happened in the fall of 2004. The Red Sox have a lot of money, but the Yankees HAVE A LOT OF MONEY. The real story is that the Yankees have not won since 2000. They’re winless in this century. People around here should focus more on that. The Yankees have some splainin’ to do.

Personally, I’m not angry at Theo or the Sox. Sure he may have made some questionable moves. In retrospect they were mistakes. But some of the same columnists lambasting Theo over Beckett were singing praise to his genius when he made the trade. Theo’s attempt to rebuild the Sox from the bottom up is showing its growing pains. He’s still laboring under some of former GM Dan Duquette’s contracts (notably Manny’s) and trying to build a minor-league system that was in shambles. Let’s not forget that it was Theo’s moves to acquire Timlin, Foulke, Cabrera, Ortiz, Roberts, Mueller, et al. that won it all in 2004. One WS win in four years? I’ll take it.

Meanwhile, Boston columnists fall over themselves comparing the five-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees to the infamous 1978 “Boston Massacre” collapse, but the truth is that this team was playing over their heads all year. This is hardly a “collapse.” It’s a “market correction.”

So, thanks for the baseball, Sox. I’ll be pulling for the Tigers or Twins or Padres.




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