Tag Archives: election 2008

middle-rite nation

Lately annoyed by all the (conservative & mainstream) pundits asserting confidently that the US is “a center-right nation”. What? When did that happen? As long as I’ve watched these things, people’s positions on issues trend ever leftward — although the Right has successfully managed terminology such that feminists hate the “f-word”, liberals hate the “l-word”, socialists hate the “s-word”. (Anarchists and atheists are apparently so lost to reason that they can’t even be brought to disavow those terms.)

And happily David Sirota noted the same thing:

[Conservatives] contend that no matter how big progressives may win on election day, this is nonetheless a center-right nation. Indeed, a LexisNexis search shows this poll-tested term — “center-right nation” — is lately among the Punditburo’s most ubiquitous Orwellian buzzwords. From a Newsweek cover story by conservative dittohead Jon Meacham to a Wall Street Journal screed by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan to a Politico.com diatribe by former Rudy Giuliani aide John Avlon, the “center-right nation” phrase is being parroted with the propagandistic discipline of Cuba’s Ministry of Information.

The proof of this center-right nation? Republicans cite polls showing more Americans call themselves conservative than liberal. While that data point certainly measures brand name, those same surveys undermine the right’s larger argument because they show majorities support progressive positions on most economic issues.

Sirota, Mandate ’08: Reagan vs. FDR, SF Chronicle, 2008/10/31.

Yes, not only are these pundits wrong, but indeed, there is a concerted push this year on this term — the latest conservative talking point. Has anyone tracked the origin and dispersal of these phrases? I’d really like to know.

eta 2008/11/09: Lots of other folks have noticed this as well. See, e.g., Frank Rich 11/9, ….

yaay EFF & Georgia senatorial candidate

Of course, it’s never surprising when the EFF takes on the most challenging issues in technology law, but it was particularly gratifying to see them arguing to overturn the odious telecommunications immunity passed last year. The Machinist at Salon — a blog I’ve been appreciating more and more lately — has a great summary & recap of the issue.

And two for two for Salon.com today, because Glenn Greenwald, who now also blogs for Salon, highlighted today something that did surprise me: Georgia Democratic Senatorial candidate Jim Martin’s principled critique of that legislation.

Go figure. Political candidates can surprise me with something other than the depths of their ignorance and/or pandering and/or willingness to lie outright.

disappointed in dahlia

Ah, generally I am always happy to read a Dahlia Lithwick piece. She’s insightful, and a clear writer. But she blew it on her recent piece on affirmative action, “The Downsides of Diversity: What Clarence Thomas might have to say about Sarah Palin” (Newsweek; Slate, 2008/8/29).

In the article, she reminds the reader, bemused by McCain’s obviously demographically-influenced selection of Palin as his VP candidate, of Clarence Thomas’ position on affirmative action. Thomas has repeatedly excoriated affirmative action as a humiliation for its intended beneficiaries, placing a permanent mark of stigma on them. He couches his opinions in the strongest language possible, deliberately echoing the stirring phrases that condemned the injustices of segregation and Jim Crow.

Lithwick then looks at Palin’s selection by the McCain campaign, and her treatment both by the campaign and the media at large. No surprise that she observes that this appeal to diversity is better called tokenism, and correctly equates tokenism with (in this instance) sexism. The irony of the Republicans’ copping to the language of diversity is not lost on her, as she observes, “[Diversity is] certainly a noble goal, but it’s one most conservatives have disparaged for decades.”

And then the conclusion:

Liberals inclined to blindly support affirmative action would do well to contemplate the lessons of Sarah Palin and Clarence Thomas. Although the former exudes unflagging self-confidence and the latter may always be crippled by self-doubt, both have become nearly frozen in a defensive crouch, casualties of an effort to create an America in which diversity is measured solely in terms of appearance.

Ah. Oh, no. Christ. This completely confuses the actual goals of affirmative action and diversity with conservative critics’ misapprehension of those goals.

The effort to measure diversity solely in terms of appearance — that’s the conservative myth about diversity. And McCain’s gambit exemplifies the conservative myth about affirmative action: substituting “diversity” concerns for good judgment and a well-rounded selection process that is merit-based. This kind of diversity is better described as an ugly tokenism. It’s certainly not affirmative action, a process of selecting qualified candidates by including considerations of past discrimination that may disguise actual abilities, experience, and potential; as well as considerations of the larger social realities of the harms and goods that flow from perpetuating or failing to remedy past discriminatory behaviors.

As my partner observed, no wonder conservatives hate affirmative action, if they think this is what it is.

But I’m disappointed to see Dahlia Lithwick accepting this strawman’s affirmative action.

science & politics of reporting protests

Reading this account of a large “Alaskan Women Reject Palin” rally — reminds me of the massive anti-Gulf War protest in San Francisco in the early 1990s. Almost no media coverage for that protest. Almost no media coverage for this one. And yet, apparently the smaller pro-Palin rally did receive media coverage. I get “if it bleeds it leads”, but are there reasons beyond naked bias and politics for these kinds of disparities in coverage of protests?

wtf with st. paul?

This is un-fucking-believable: Amy Goodman and producers were arrested at the RNC protests. Arresting an award-winning journalist for inquiring about her arrested producers. The video of Goodman’s arrest (“Update II”) should be watched along with the SF Chronicle‘s interview of her on her release (“Update VII”). See also Washington Post. An AP reporter was arrested later, and there were various other police actions against journalists.

Glenn Greenwald said at the beginning of this column:

Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 — with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations.

See also this video of a peaceful protester being tear-gassed at close range (second video; at pharyngula).

As with the Chicago DNC in 1996, and many other political party meetings in the intervening years, activists’ homes were raided before the protests began.

Reporting of interest:
* Glenn Greenwald at salon.com
* The Revolution Will Be Twittered – firedoglake / jane hamsher
* raid on an anarchist art production in a theater – The Uptake
* ColdSnap Legal Collective – updates on arrests etc.
* house arrests of journalist group “iwitness”
* interview with st. paul officials – mayor, chief of police, police PR
* Minnesota Independent coverage
* cell phone video of police firing what may be smoke bombs & in general acting like the protesters are enemy combatants — following after a retreat
* “inside an RNC raid” – a house of legal observer coordinators was raided & folks detained.

sexism in hillary-bashing

Great article by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com about sexism lurking behind the shrill Obama support.

Notes and thoughts:
* It’s not Hillary’s “shrillness” that’s discomfiting; it’s the shrillness of boys’ support for Obama & hatred of Hillary. Dana Lossia quoted: “People can always come up with reasons they don’t like the candidate they’re not supporting. … But no one disliked Joe Biden or Chris Dodd as much as they dislike Hillary.”

* It kills me that “Some women apologized for ‘sounding so feminist.'” Fuck that. This is what post-feminism looks like: Women apologize for pointing out sexism. Looks a lot like our colorblind post-racism society. Pointing out a problem causes some white male person discomfort and reminds them of the ugly presence of sexism and racism — in the past, of course, because it doesn’t happen today — and therefore it’s just as bad as sexism and racism themselves. Why it’s almost like we’re asking to be singled out and treated like women and people of color.

* This is a brilliant historical connection that I hadn’t made:

When sexism is acknowledged in this primary campaign, it has been attributed to either Chris Matthews or the conservative, Rush Limbaugh, Iron My Shirt brigade. Little open recognition has been given to the possibility that there might be some gender discomfort behind the army of liberally minded Obama enthusiasts. But progressive politics has not always been female-friendly politics; ’70s feminism was born partly in response to the inequities of the antiwar and civil rights movements. It’s certainly possible that the youthful Obama movement has its own brand of female trouble.

* Becca O’Brien quoted in the article: “O’Brien… noted that it’s ‘very convenient that the same people who have a sense of discomfort with female authority they prefer not to examine’ also object to [Clinton’s] personality and record in specific terms, an antipathy they feel comfortable voicing. ‘What you get … is the energy of the first expressed in words of the second.”

* “‘They’re busy patting themselves on the back for supporting a black man: Aren’t we cool?’ Perhaps it is thanks to the admitted cool factor that among educated liberal voters, the assumption is that you’re for Obama, that he is the more ‘progressive’ choice. Obama loyalty, like white masculinity itself, has become normative -– if you’re not for him, you’d best be prepared to explain your deviation.” Oh, so true.

* I’d heard of the “iron my shirts” signs at Hillary appearances. Mia Bruch in the article describes a cosmetics shop in NYC that sold only one political item: “a huge stack of Hillary nutcrackers”.

* “[A] lightly disguised uneasiness with female power, as well as the “we love women, just not that woman” rhetoric will be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the reception of the feminist movement. … [Hillary Clinton] has been exactly the kind of woman that feminism made room for: ambitious, ball-busting, high-earning, untrained in the finer arts of hair care, and unwilling to play dumber (or nicer) than she is.” But this is the kind of woman who’s taking jobs from the white men who are so shrilly against Hillary and for Obama. Race and gender complexify all our lives, but ambitious successful women are villified for their very successes.

* The article describes women who know many men who are hostile, hateful, and sexist in their anti-Hillary rhetoric. My own circles are probably largely pro-Obama to the extent that they support political processes. The women can be just as enthusiastic as the men about Obama’s vision, progressive rhetoric, & stated intentions, and just as critical of Clinton’s positions on the Iraq War, cynical or conservative (or both) take on civil liberties and freedom of expression, and political pandering. Politics at their best are passionate, but not ugly, but my partner and I both know men — progressive, liberal, radical, “good guys” — who express a personal level of vitriol and antipathy towards Clinton that is ugly and sexist.

Dudely Obama supporters, are you checking your sexism?