OpenLeft: VIDEO: Center-Right Nation Highlight Reel


VIDEO: Center-Right Nation Highlight Reel

Just to follow up on Chris’s last post – yes, the “center-right nation” meme is out in full force. ThinkProgress, in fact, has put together a fantastic video highlight reel of how this phrase is now being parroted everywhere.As I said in my column, “the ‘center-right nation’ phrase is being parroted with the propagandistic discipline of Cuba’s Ministry of Information.”

OpenLeft: Get Ready To Turn Inward


Get Ready To Turn Inward

Inevitably, there will be a plethora of talking heads tonight arguing that while Obama and Democrats won, this was really a center-right, “bi-partisan” victory. Or, at least, they will argue that Democrats better govern in a center-right, bi-partisanship fashion, or else. Such comments will, inevitably, be just about the least enjoyable part of what otherwise should be a fantastic night.

It will be a sad sight to see so many people praise certain sections of the Democratic effort this year, while dumping on the rest. Specifically, the left-wing and the netroots will be dumped on the most, as always. The Village must never credit the DFHs with anything. For example, Adam Nagourney is on MSNBC a few minutes ago talking about how Dean doesn’t deserve any credit for the 50-state strategy, even though that was really the entirety of his tenure at the DNC.

This should be a victory for all Democrats, given how hard everyone has worked. However, it just won’t be spun that way. It was clear in 2006, for example, that certain sections of the party were eager to demean all others after our victory. Jim Wallis’s trumpeting 2006 as a defeat of the secular leftRahm Emanuel’s media deification, and the constant pundit drumbeat of just how conservative all these new Democrats were (a claim that was based almost entirely on Heath Shuler being anti-choice), are just some examples of what happened.

This time, it will be key for progressives and the netroots to claim victory, too. Republicans will be reduced to such small numbers in Congress, that Democrats will be governing virtually unopposed. As always happens in such situations, the dominant majority party will factionalize quite a bit. We have to be aware of this, and ready to fight. After today, the struggle will take place almost entirely within the Democratic Party, not between Democrats and Republicans. If you are a progressive or a grassroots activist, and you expect unity and praise for your efforts afterward, then you are being very naïve. Tonight is the end of one phase of the fight for a progressive governing majority, and the full-fledged start of another.

Media Matters: Discussing death of Obama’s grandmother, Savage continued to promote discredited birth-certificate rumors

Media Matters

Discussing death of Obama’s grandmother, Savage continued to promote discredited birth-certificate rumors

Summary: While discussing the death of Sen. Barack Obama’s grandmother, Michael Savage again revived widely debunked “rumors” about Obama’s “birth certificate not being valid.”

National Review Online: The Manchurian Candidate III

National Review Online

The Manchurian Candidate III


Paradise on earth.  But our hero, young fifth-grader RAYMOND SHAW, is not happy.  Half-Kansan and half-Kenyan, he’s spent much of his childhood in Muslim Indonesia, where he’s learned to recite the Koran in Arabic.  Although Hawaii is multi-racial (Japanese, Chinese, Hawaii, Filipino, Samoan, and white, both native-born and military), the black/white structural paradigm so beloved of the New York Times does not obtain there, since there are precious few African Americans in the islands.  

Heroically, Raymond does what he can to impose an artificial, Bull Connor narrative on his life, but with white people — politely called haoles in pidgin English and effin-haoles in common parlance — making up less than a third of the population, it’s tough to pretend he lives in the Deep South.  Alone and nearly friendless, he consoles himself by shooting hoops and writing bad poetry and, later experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

Destiny takes a hand when his typical white grandfather, a disaffected midwesterner who has drifted from Kansas to radical Mercer Island, Washington, to lefty Honolulu, introduces Raymond to FRANK, a “progressive” who advocates the destruction of capitalism and its replacement by socialism.  Frank had once been a columnist for the Chicago Star, a “labor-community organizer” newspaper in the city that had given birth to the Communist Party USA 1919.  

Raymond thrills to Paul Robeson recordings and the older man’s denunciation of the “racist white power structure,” while raptly listening to tales of a magical and wondrous placed called “Chicago.”  Chicago is not only the city of Al Capone, Moses Annenberg, and Dion O’Bannion, it’s also the center of Black Capitalism, the successor to Harlem as the mecca for blacks.  It’s home, too, to the “Nation of Islam,” whose close-cropped adherents wear simple dark suits and narrow ties — a costume Raymond himself will later adopt.

One night, Frank looks at Raymond and says: You are the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life, and hails the boy as “the Expected One.” Raymond vows that, someday, he too will go to Chicago and become a community organizer… and perhaps even more.  Frank gives the boy a copy of Dune. 

TPM Election Central: Obama Volunteer On Scene Disputes Fox News’ Suggestions That Black Panthers Are Initimidating Voters

TPM Election Central (11/4/08)

Obama Volunteer Disputes Suggestions that Black Panthers are Initimidating Voters

Fox News and other conservatives on the Web are pushing hard on the story that two black panthers may be intimidating voters at a polling place in north Philadelphia.

But an Obama campaign volunteer who’s been on the scene since 6:30 AM this morning tells me in a phone interview that there’s been absolutely no intimidation of voters at all today. And a Pennsylvania spokesperson for Obama said the two men aren’t in any way affiliated with the campaign.

Fox News’ story is right here. It says one of two black panthers on the scene was “allegedly blocking the door,” says another was “holding a nightstick.” and adds that “the concern was that they were intimidating people who were trying to go inside to vote.”

But Jacqueline Dischell, the Obama volunteer, tells me by phone that that’s false.

Dischell confirms that there were in fact two black panthers guarding the polling place, a nursing home on Fairmont Avenue in north Philadelphia, earlier this morning.

But she says one was an officially designated poll watcher (it was not immediately clear which municipal office had designated him in that role), and the second was his friend. The second panther, who left two or three hours ago, was the one with the nightstick, she says.

Dischell says that earlier this morning a few men who identified themselves as being from the McCain campaign came and started taking pictures of the two panthers on their cell phones. She suggested that they seemed to be baiting the panthers, and that the designated watcher may have given one of them the finger in response to the picture taking.

The police came roughly an hour and a half later. She says she talked to the cops and told them there had been no incident. The police drove away without getting out of the car, she adds.

Salon: Black presidents we have known


Black presidents we have known

What does it look like to have an African-American in the White House? Pop culture has offered versions awful and great, from Sammy Davis Jr. to Chris Rock.

If Barack Obama wins Tuesday, he might begin his victory speech by thanking Dennis Haysbert.

At least Dennis Haysbert seems to think so. Months ago, he declared that his portrayal of a black president on Fox’s “24” series had paved the way for the real-life senator from Illinois. “If anything, my portrayal of David Palmer, I think, may have helped open the eyes of the American people. And I mean the American people from across the board — from the poorest to the richest, every color and creed, every religious base — to prove the possibility there could be an African-American president, a female president, any type of president that puts the people first.”

He may be on to something. As one of “24’s” most dedicated and ambivalent fans, I have always marveled that a single program could accommodate both Dick Cheneyesque interrogation techniques and the liberal wet dream that is David Palmer. Unassailable in his goodness, ironclad in his resolve, Palmer is only incidentally a black man, and he is, not so coincidentally, everything you could want or need in a commander in chief. In the checks-and-balances universe of “24,” a figure of such virtue cannot live indefinitely, and in the opening episode of Season 5, David Palmer was duly sent to his reward. His legacy lived on, fitfully, in younger brother Wayne (D.B. Woodside), who overcame his wicked-pol origins (and his goatee) to become the Bobby to David’s JFK. “24” is hyper-adrenalized pulp, but pulp can be as good a teacher as art — better, maybe — and it’s hard to deny that six years of the Palmer brothers have inured a whole segment of Fox America to the sight of black faces in the Oval Office. But, in fact, the Palmers are just the latest milepost in a long road of acculturation that has taken several curious detours along the way.

To the audiences of the early 20th century, perhaps the most defining image of black power was provided by “The Birth of a Nation” (1915), which shows the Reconstruction Legislature of South Carolina overrun by barefoot black legislators — an open reproach to everything white civilization holds dear. Given the prevailing political climate, it’s no wonder that the idea of a black president, before it could be broached anywhere else, had to be considered through the prism of fantasy.

In 1926, a Brazilian children’s author named Monteiro Lobato had to look far into the future — the year 2228, to be exact — to imagine an African-American president. In Lobato’s obscure, half-prescient novel, “O Presidente Negro (The Black President),” a politician named Jim Roy, leader of the Black Association party, actually succeeds in claiming America’s highest office, only to be undone by a coalition between the incumbent white president and a white feminist named Evelyn Astor. Roy is murdered in short order, leaving his race to be sterilized into extinction by “the Aryan super-civilization.” See where ambition gets you?

Fantasy of a different order is on view in “Rufus Jones for President” (1933), a bizarre Vitaphone musical short in which a black mother (the great jazz-blues singer Ethel Waters) dreams that her little boy (an immediately recognizable Sammy Davis Jr.) has been elected president. A modern viewer barely has time to register the aspiration before recoiling at the racial slurs that were common to that day: black voters lured to the polls with free pork chops; Rufus celebrating his victory with a half-eaten piece of chicken; a presidential platform that calls for unlatching chicken coops and planting watermelon vines close to the fence.

From bulging eyes to happy feet, scarcely a single racist trope is omitted from this 23-minute film. But perhaps the most disturbing sight is Davis, whose grown-up clothing and prematurely aged face give him the appearance less of a child than of a midget. It’s as though the filmmakers understood that the only way to make a black president pass with Depression-era audiences was to shrink him into freakish insignificance.

Newsweek: Howard Fineman: Campaign Avoided Racial Warfare

Newsweek: Howard Fineman

Campaign Avoided Racial Warfare

You knew it was going to happen. I’m only surprised it took so long. 

In Pennsylvania, Sen. John McCain’s must-win blue state, local Republicans now are up with a TV ad linking Sen. Barack Obama to his former pastor, the corrosively race-based Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The ad plays Wright’s familiar “no, no, no” and “KKK” clips from incendiary sermons, and asks how Obama could ever have countenanced the guy. In fact, Obama no longer does. The split was final. 

The McCain campaign distanced itself from the ad, insisting that they didn’t approve of–but could not prevent–the spot being aired.

But here is the good news, and I don’t mean for either campaign but for the entire country: so far as I know, the ad was the first of its kind to be sponsored by a state party or other above-ground entity.

Obama’s longtime relationship with Wright–and especially the Illinois senator’s shaded and reluctant characterizations of it–may be valid topics of debate. But McCain and the GOP largely have stayed away from the subject. 

And that is a good thing. There are plenty of other topics to discuss.

I am willing–we all should be willing–to give McCain the benefit of the doubt on his motives. True, he voted against the Martin Luther King holiday a quarter century ago, and, in this year’s South Carolina primary, he allied himself with some of the same operatives who savaged him on racial grounds (over his adoptive daughter from Bangladesh) when he ran against George W. Bush in 2000.

But I know McCain and know that he does not have a racist molecule in his body, and that he is no fan, at heart, of the kind of politics that pokes at racial or religious sore spots in someone else’s life.