ebogjonson.com's talking androids archivethese people are not our kin; condiclarence
August 25, 2007
two jack and jill hat-tip "ha!"s
Fox-Backed Democrat Debate Called Off
(AP) Fox News and a black political group say they will not hold a Sept. 23 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, which the leading candidates already were planning to skip.
A new date had not yet been set, Fox News spokesman Michael Murphy said Thursday.
The campaigns of U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards had said they would not participate in the debate. Opponents have criticized Fox as biased against Democrats.
The debate, co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute, was to have been held at the Fox Theatre.
Institute chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement on the group's Web site that the "overwhelming number of party presidential debates has created a scheduling challenge."
"Revisiting the CBC Institute's debate schedule will allow the time necessary to complete all debate logistics in an effective manner," he said. The group had said it planned to sponsor two Democratic and two Republican presidential debates. [full item, h/t Jack and Jill Politics]
To echo Jack and Jill Politics blogger Jack Turner:
Big Up/Hat Tip to all in the netroots that helped kill this thing including Robert Greenwald at Fox Attacks, Color of Change, and many, many, many more.
Black Agenda Report's Bruce Dixon writes:
When George Curry's Emerge Magazine published its famous 1993 cover depicting US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as "Lawn Jockey for the Far Right", he used ridicule to ignite a potent WMD --- a weapon of mass discussion among African Americans that clarified black opinion on the uses to which an earlier Bush administration put its prominent black faces. In that spirit, Black Agenda Report and CBC Monitor will be at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in DC this September 26 to establish a new tradition --- the awarding of the "Lawn Jockey" to the three or four African American members of Congress who score lowest on the semi-annual CBC Monitor report cards. The Honorable George Curry will present the awards. It's time to reclaim, to restart and to redeem the African American political conversation, the dialog among and about us that neither black nor white corporate media is willing to air. [full item, h/t Jack and Jill Politics]
While I shed a tear that my own preferred coinage hasn't taken off in this arena -
- I can't wait to see who wins the coveted Lawny in September.
(Those of you confused by the use of the lawn jockey in this case should consult this chart.)
April 5, 2007
why does the Congressional Black Caucus suck so much?
As you already know, I am not a fan of the CBC. As I wrote almost exactly a year ago:
The votes [by CBC members against net neutrality] throw a neatly illuminating light on the coming disconnect between the civil rights establishment and the overwhelmingly white "net-roots." It's fair to say both sides view each other with some distrust. We're living through a deeply contradictory time when black folks (and what's left of the unions) are the Dems only truly reliable voting block, and yet every other manifesto for Democratic revitalization is some kind of attenuated, okie-doke Souljah-moment retread. War or no war, that particular center will not hold, and when it comes finally undone the pressure will be on our black and Latino Democrats to articulate a vision of civil rights, diversity and community that intuitively understand issues of net neutrality as one of "our" issues. Performances like yesterday's make me a little nervous, though. [full me]
It's a common talking-android punk-move to gripe about black leadership, but jeez! Must we be so consistently let down by our so-called leaders? The decision by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute to partner with FOX News on presidental debates is just another crap move by an organization that increasingly seems to serve no real purpose. To (mis)quote a (white) man:
Have you no sense of decency, Congressional Black Caucus Institute, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency? [the real quote]
Rather than repeat myself, I would instead like to turn the floor over to the folks at Color of Change:
Last Thursday, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute announced plans to partner with Fox News to host presidential debates--using the name and legacy of the Congressional Black Caucus to legitimize an organization that has shown nothing but hostility to Black Americans.
The announcement came after the Institute ignored more than 12,000 emails from [Colorofchange.org] members, and after 790 phone calls to CBC leaders asking them to denounce the deal were met with side-stepping and inaction.
The CBC and CBCI are betraying Black America, not just by partnering with Fox, but by willfully ignoring the people they claim to represent. It's a display of irresponsible representation and disconnected leadership.
Voices of protest from Black America and our allies are getting louder every day, but members of the CBC still haven't responded. Will you join us in demanding that they take a public stance, today?
Today, we're launching a campaign to ramp up pressure on the CBC. We have two goals: to force the CBC Institute to call off the Fox debates and to make it clear that Black elected leaders cannot act in our names while ignoring our voices.
Our first step is targeting members of the CBC. We know that some members of the CBC oppose a partnership with Fox, but none have spoken publicly. Their silence implies agreement and lends credibility to the Institute's decision. If we can force each member to publicly take a stance on this issue, we're confident some will come out against the partnership. Once there's dissension in the ranks, the Institute's leadership will not be able to maintain the legitimacy of their decision.
But getting there won't be easy. CBC offices have given our members the runaround for weeks--saying the Fox debates are an Institute issue that they can do nothing about and then referring our members to a CBC Institute voicemail box that was full for over two weeks. Members are clearly not trying to go on the record about this issue. But with enough pressure, they will have to speak, and if they continue to hide, we will broadcast their cowardice to Black America and voters in their district.
The pressure is already mounting. Following the lead of ColorOfChange.org members, Black bloggers, academics, and community newspapers have all taken bold stands. Now it's up to us. If we keep up the pressure, we can force voices of reason and conscience to arise from within the CBC, and help bring the CBC back in line with Black America. Please join us.
Thank You and Peace,
-- James, Van, Clarissa, Gabriel, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
April 5th, 2007
ColorOfChange.org members taking a stand on this has helped it get plenty of coverage: in national news, blogs, online journals, and the Black press. Here are links to some of the posts and articles, as well as letters sent from ColorOfChange.org to CBC members and the CBC Institute.
"Who will lead?" Afro-Netizen.com, April 4, 2007
"Update on CBC Fox Debates," Jack and Jill Politics, March 30, 2007
"Fox News sets debates with Congressional Black Caucus Institute???" Superspade.blogspot.com March 29, 2007
"Why is the Congressional Black Caucus Institute hopping in the sack with Faux News?" Pam's House Blend, March 30, 2007
"The CBC Needs to Learn From Us: Just Say No to FOX," CorrenteWire, March 14, 2007
Because the so-called netroots are currently, like, whiter than my graduating class at Yale, web outrage at a Democratic caucus getting in bed with FOX has been pretty much akin to the sound of your nutty Polish neighbor yelling at something across a backyard fence. You don't talk Polish, she don't speak English; who knows what the fuck old girl is going on about today.
The outrage of the white folks is meaningless to black incumbents sitting in safe districts. Until they feel pressure from black folks, the CBCI will continue to sell us out in order to get available pieces of the pie. It was telecom pie last year, FOX pie this year, who knows the year after that?
I was speaking to a pretty smart person yesterday who was like: well, it's not as if anyone is lining up to give the CBCI money. Sure, of course. I understand that no one is lining up to give the CBCI money. But an organization's values are best indicated by the hard choices it makes when the proverbial chips are down. I already know you're broke and that you wouldn't dream of taking money from the Klan; big deal. If you want to impress me, show me real character and vision. I don't give a fuck about your lengthy record of fundraising balls, invite-only morning legislative breakfasts, and yearly conventions; I have no interest in partying with Michael Eric Dyson. Lead, already, or get out of the way.
This is an aside, but if Obama becomes president, who do you think is going to have more room on his coat-tails: ColorofChange.org or the CBCI? Black-enuf, not-black-enuf isn't about race, it's about political power in a post-internet political context. There is a realignment coming, and when it does, these folks will not know what hit them. At that point, the CBCI will likely go running to Russell Simmons or maybe BET asking to be made relevant again "with the youth." I dunno about Viacom, but Russell will likely oblige, this as long as the CBCI agrees to partner with him on an educational program about "underbanking," this as a trojan horse to promote his crap, stored-value RushCard. You heard it here first!
January 6, 2007
michael eric dyson is an idiot
"The haters... and negative nabobs...the people who spoke against him couldn't prevail against the people who spoke for him," Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, master of ceremonies for the CBC's celebratory event, said Thursday morning.
Can you guess who Dyson is talking about? Also, can anyone tell me why the Congressional Black Caucus keeps lining up behind crap legislators in the name of blanket racial solidarity.
Hat tip Steve Gilliard.
Posted by ebogjonson at 7:43 AM | Permalink
December 2, 2006
heaven can wait
Rice Not Ready to Discuss U.S. 'Mistakes' in Iraq
Secretary of State Suggests Reflections on Likely U.S. 'Mistakes' in Iraq Will Have to Wait Until She's Out of Office
Although she is not yet ready to explain herself, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is admitting that the United States has made mistakes in Iraq.
"As to whether the United States has made mistakes: Of course, I'm sure we have," Rice told the Arabic satellite television station Al-Arabiya. "You can't be involved in something as big as the liberation of a country like Iraq and all that has happened since, and I'm sure there are things that we could have done differently."
However, Rice told Al-Arabiya that now is not the time to talk about U.S. mistakes in Iraq.
"Frankly, we are looking ahead," she said.
Once her tenure as secretary of state is over and she is back at Stanford University, she said she will reflect on the war.
"I can look back and write books about what we might have done differently," she said. [full item]
November 28, 2006
fun with photoshop
EBOG PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS: KOSMO KRAMER KAPERS!
a JOHN RIDLEY and THE LEAGUE OF DISTINGUSHED FOREHEAD ANTI-RACIAL HYPOCRITES adventure!!!
Hat tip to Jenn at Reappropriate for the racial fairy idea.
to be continued....
November 15, 2006
don't call it a comeback, i've been racist for years
I guess the Republicans figured that since Corker's victory was their only bright spot on 11/7, that they had better get back to racist basics.
WASHINGTON -- Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive, won election to the chamber's No. 2 GOP post Wednesday.
Asked whether he felt vindicated by the 25-24 secret ballot vote, Lott deferred to newly-elected party leader Mitch McConnell.
"The spotlight belongs on him," Lott said of his Kentucky colleague.
McConnell, who was uncontested and will succeed Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, predicted that he and the rest of the newly-elected GOP team will provide a muscular opposition to the new Democratic majority.
"We will be a robust minority, a vigorous minority, and, hopefully, a minority that is only in that condition for a couple of years," McConnell said.
Lott's comeback-kid victory was generating the most buzz in the Capitol hallways. Pressured to step down from the Senate's top spot over four years ago, Lott returned to the center of power by nosing out Sen. Lamar Alexander, who had made an 18-month bid for the post.
"I'm honored to be a part of this leadership team, to support Mitch McConnell and all of my colleagues and to do a job that I've really loved the most: count the votes," Lott said. "I'll do my very best in that effort."
For his part, Alexander was circumspect.
"Senators, like most Americans, like a comeback," Alexander said afterward, adding that he believes he lost three votes to Lott. [full story]
For those of you who don't recall, Lott got in trouble for saying of Strom Thurmond (h/t atrios):
I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.
That was in 2002. In 1980 he said:
You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.
And what did Strom Thurmond run on that could have prevented "the mess we are in today?"? Here's his 1948 platform [via L/G/M]:
1. We believe that the Constitution of the United States is the greatest charter of human liberty ever conceived by the mind of man.
2. We oppose all efforts to invade or destroy the rights guaranteed by it to every citizen of this republic.
3. We stand for social and economic justice, which, we believe can be guaranteed to all citizens only by a strict adherence to our Constitution and the avoidance of any invasion or destruction of the constitutional rights of the states and individuals. We oppose the totallitaran, centralized bureaucratic government and the police nation called for by the platforms adopted by the Democratic and Republican Conventions.
4. We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to learn one's living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.
5. We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of private employment practices, voting, and local law enforcement.
6. We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive of the social, economic and political life of the Southern people, and of other localities in which there may be differences in race, creed or national origin in appreciable numbers.
7. We stand for the check and balances provided by the three departments of our government. We oppose the usurpation of legislative functions by the executive and judicial departments. We unreservedly condemn the effort to establish in the United States a police nation that would destroy the last vestige of liberty enjoyed by a citizen.
8. We demand that there be returned to the people to whom of right they belong, those powers needed for the preservation of human rights and the discharge of our responsibility as democrats for human welfare. We oppose a denial of those by political parties, a barter or sale of those rights by a political convention, as well as any invasion or violation of those rights by the Federal Government. We call upon all Democrats and upon all other loyal Americans who are opposed to totalitarianism at home and abroad to unite with us in ignominiously defeating Harry S. Truman, Thomas E. Dewey and every other candidate for public office who would establish a Police Nation in the United States of America.
9. We, therefore, urge that this Convention endorse the candidacies of J. Strom Thurmond and Fielding H. Wright for the President and Vice-president, respectively, of the United States of America.
For those of you who don't believe that the above program was (in basic ways) about the right to kill black people with impunity, consider this language from one of Thurmond's offical campaign flyers:
A vote for Truman electors is a direct order to our Congressmen and Senators from Mississippi to vot for passage of Truman's so-called civil-rights program in the next Congress. This means the vicious FEPC - anti-poll tax - anti-lynching and anti-segregation proposals will become the law of the and our way of life in the South will be gone forever. [full flyer]
But I guess all you black conservatives out there who support a party that puts an apologist of lynching in a position of power are thinking: Hold on, now. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Those planks about judicial activism and individual rights are right up my alley!
Don't get me wrong about Lott. People change and maybe he has; who can say. But some beliefs and behaviors can put you permanently beyond the pale as far as I'm concerned, and persisting in your praise of the embodiments/avatars of those beliefs and behaviors is no way to come in out of the cold. The problem isn't Lott's friendship with Thurmond (I got a lot of fucked up friends), it's the specific nature of his praise for Thurmond's failed policies, his clearly articulated belief in those policies' enduring rightness, that makes him unacceptable as the whip of any legitimate American political party.
This is an aside, but I am fairly convinced that future generations will treat the GOP's current gay marriage obsession with the same scorn we treat the above segregationist language. I can just picture today's GOP toadies on TV in 30 years disavowing their gay-related bigotry as an artifact of their times, just as Lott whitewashes his longstanding racism today. I mean, who knew black folks were actually human in 1948? Who knew gay people had a right to marry the person of their choice just like any other human being in 2006? It's completely unfair to impose today's standards on the past.
November 8, 2006
black republican and talking android massacre!
From the often wrong-about-race New Republic:
All three black Republicans vying for major statewide offices appear to have lost. J. Kenneth Blackwell conceded his race for governor of Ohio early in the evening, and Lynn Swann, running for the top seat in Pennsylvania, fell short by a double-digit margin. Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele appears to have lost in his quest for the Senate, and all of the black Republican House candidates have gone down in flames. And, while boatloads of exit polls and turnout reports will come out over the next few days, enough data is available to know that these candidates did not get substantially more black support, or create more excitement about the party nationally, than white Republicans normally do. (Steele did better than average, but his campaign consistently dissociated itself from the party, and materials distributed on election day claimed, falsely, that he was a Democrat and had support from key black Democratic leaders.) [full link]
Steve Gilliard agrees with TNR for likely the first time ever:
Did you think it would end any other way? Did you think it would end with the white folks hosting you on their shoulders and smiling at you? Did you think you were the special negro who would prove you weren't like us?
Ken Blackwell lost in a landslide, as did Lynn Swann. Steele lied and played on his skin color to make it far closer than his record had any right to make it.
You shame our forefathers, those who died in the Crater, on San Juan Hill, in the Argonne, in the Battle of the Bulge, in the streets of Alabama. They did not make their sacrifices so you could sell out your people for personal gain. They didn't survive bullets, poison gas and the deadliest winter in a century so you could preen and strut about for the people who have dedicated their lives to making our lives harder.
People did not flee from dogs so you could append your lips to the asses of your white patrons. [full ass-whipping]
It's worth pointing out that talking androids from both parties lost elections last night. Sure, there was Steele, Swann, and crazy Kenny Blackwell, but Democratic talking android Harold Ford went down to defeat, while crook talking android William Jefferson is heading to runoff in LA that he is likely to lose.
Corrupt talking android Albert Wynn held his seat, but given his heavily Democratic district, the main chance for unseating him was during the Dem primary, which, BTW, Wynn bragged of stealing from opponent Donna Edwards.
I have to confess to having developed mixed feeling about poor, little Harold Ford in defeat. While Blue Dog Democrat Ford is exactly the kind of talking android, Dem up-and-comer that rubs me the wrong way (think a Southern Cory Booker), and while his votes on war authorization, gay marriage, partial birth abortion, bankruptcy, faith-based initiatives, and flag burning suggest a mercenary eager to play to conservatives, it's always sad to see a proverbial brother run into the proverbial glass ceiling. If you took Harold Ford and, everything else remaining equal, made him white, he would have beaten the largely unknown Corker, especially on a night like last night. Instead Ford lost, largely because gents like this one turned out not to be able to see past his color:
COALMONT, Tenn. -- John Layne is a 57-year-old white Republican with a long gray beard, no job and advancing emphysema. He arrived an hour early to hear Harold Ford Jr. speak in this struggling mountain town.
"Oh, sure, there's some prejudice," Layne said as he contemplated casting a ballot for a black man. "I wouldn't want my daughter marrying one." But he's more concerned about rising medical costs: When it comes to voting, "you gotta look at the person, not the color." [full story][forwarded by the illhindu; thanks!]
Yeah, right. The idea that any amount of tacking right was going to sway racists like John Layne turned out to be a pipe-dream, and it's difficult for me to decide whether that dream was cynical or simply naive. For the moment, though, my feelings about Ford largely echo those of his (white) ex-girlfriend:
Just to clarify, I dated Harold more than three years ago, back when I was young and more than a little
cluelessslightly retarded. I certainly have impressions of him, but they have more to do with his lack of skiing ability than anything else. As I said in a previous interview, he's a politician. After living in DC for almost five years, I would contend that they're all douchebags, every one of them - Harold's no more douchebaggy or less douchebaggy than any of the others. I make an exception for Barack Obama, whom I worship slightly (how original, I know). [full confession]
No more douchebaggy or less douchebaggy, indeed!
This year was billed as the year of the black neo-douchebag, high-profile black GOP candidates and endorsements by the likes of Russell Simmons (or Mike Tyson) suggesting that an era of increased canoodling between black voters and Republicans was somehow underway. It turns out, however, that reports of black Republican rebirth were premature. Instead of rebirth, we get electoral reconfirmation that there is no national black conservative agenda, no constituency for black Republican candidates outside a handful of white folks.
The tired signature issue of most black neo-cons - echoing yap about "values" - turns not to play as well with black voters as the Republicans expected it to. While black Americans do poll as socially conservative on some issues, we also don't show much enthusiasm for using the electoral process to mind other peoples' business the way, say, white fundies do:
In an AP-AOL poll from late October, black voters thought that the most urgent problem facing their community was the economy, and more black voters ranked health care and Social Security as "extremely important" issues than they did anything else--including terrorism and the war in Iraq. (The general public, according to a Washington Post poll from last week, ranks Iraq a full ten points ahead of the economy.) And gay marriage barely mattered: Even though two-thirds of blacks oppose same-sex unions, well over half trust the Democrats more than the Republicans to "do a better job of handling" the issue. "On Election Day, African Americans tend to put their economic and social situation in perspective," says Donna Brazile, the Democratic consultant who ran Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. "Personal opposition to wedge issues like abortion and gay rights is not going to make anybody write home and say 'Wow, we need to vote Republican.'" [full, surprisingly astute TNR story]
The problem for black conservatives is that, while black Democratic politics still offer a distinct vision of the Democratic party and it's role in the nation's affairs (contrast the focus on race, income inequality, cities and multilateral foreign policy to the post identity netroots aesthetic or to DLC triangulation), there is no discernable black way of being a Republican. That's why black Republicans are so often accused of careerism, as, whether running from the GOP (as Steele did this year) or enthusiastically doing its dirty work (as Blackwell did in 2004), their politics regularly reduce to a mix of regurgitation, radical individualism and chiaroscuro, the optics of being black+Republican are 95% the already-limited game.
That lack of a distinct politic is also why yesterday's only legit black conservative victory was the one brought to you by a black man willing to get in bed with the most virulent white racism imaginable. Michigan's anti-affirmative action Civil Rights Initiative passed yesterday (this even as South Dakota's draconian anti-abortion law was deep-sixed) and the campaign's signature moment was the assertion by talking android Ward Connerly that he was willing to accept support for his cause from the Ku Klux Klan:
The man leading the effort to ban affirmative action in Michigan, Ward Connerly, welcomes the support of the Ku Klux Klan. Connerly said, "If the Ku Klux Klan thinks that equality is right, God bless them. Thank them for finally reaching the point where logic and reason are being applied, instead of hate."
Connerly, "defended his remark in a statement, saying he accepts support for banning affirmative action wherever he finds it." According to Mark Bernstein of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, the Ku Klux Klan is the "only large organization" to endorse Connerly's ballot measure.
Last month, Connerly was photographed shaking hands with John Raterink, chairman of the Michigan chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white separatist organization. The CCC "opposes most immigration and 'all efforts to mix the races of mankind.'"[full item]
The video in question can be viewed below.
Connerly's statement is a neat encapsulation of the only truly (and terrifyingly) unique thing black conservatives add to the national political landscape, i.e., their willingness to work with the most disgusting racists in politics. Like an American Jew opining that he or she is glad that the American Nazi Party has finally "moved beyond its ugly history" by supporting some or another ballot initiative, Connerly's comment is a form of derangement that seems somewhat common among minority Republicans. (Think of all the gay Republican staffers who came to light during the Foley scandal, men and women eagerly working for a Republican party whose number #2 go-to-gambit after terrorism is painting homosexuals as sub-humans.)
But all that is, today, just a lot of theorizing, and much of it has been rendered just a touch neither here nor there by the cumulative scale of yesterday's victories. Yes: the Michigan Initiative passed, and yes: it will be tied up in knots in the courts for years. With a Democratic-held Senate and House, our ability to fend off such attacks has been strengthened. The world turns out to be much smarter and more concise than I am: Out of office, fuckers, we've completely had enough. You lose.
November 7, 2006
can the IRS investigate this guy already?
It's late on election night (PST), but this item by Prometheus 6 caught my eye:
And now a message from Rev. Creflo Mammon
I have disliked this sucker since the first time I saw him on TV. I think this is grounds to pull his tax-exempt status.
Begin by making these confessions:
* In the name of Jesus, I declare that I will not allow any corrupt communication to proceed out of my mouth concerning President Bush or others in leadership (Ephesians 4:29).
* I declare that he is a man of wisdom, and he is strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit. I wholeheartedly support the decisions he makes for this country (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
* I lift up every man and woman serving in the Armed Forces. I declare that they walk in favor, wisdom and safety and that their lives are redeemed from destruction (Psalm 91:7; Psalm 103:1-6).
If you have taken part in any protests or have allowed any corrupt communication to flow out of your mouth concerning the president, repent and begin to show your support for him by calling his name out before God. Pray for wisdom and wise counsel regarding the decisions he must make for this nation. Obey what the Word says in 1 Timothy 1-2 and 1 Peter 2:13 and: 1) continue to pray for those in authority over you; and 2) submit to that established authority. In doing so, you honor God, our president and thousands of service members. When the temptation comes to murmur or complain, rejoice that there is a man in the White House who walks and talks with God daily. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall (Matthew 12:25)!
--Dr. Creflo A. Dollar
Prometheus 6 is referring to this statement put out by Dollar calling on his flock to fall in line or face the divine consequences.
For those who don't know, Dollar is a among the worst of the so-called prosperity ministers, who are basically neurolinguistic programmers with bibles - think it, say it, get it. From a freak theology perspective, the prosperity gospel has fairly interesting echoes of everything from gnosticism to various forms of magic to, like, the word-gun in Dune. It really is among the finest examples of whacked out Americana that you can find.
That said, though, it still kind of amazes me that people continue to treat individual prosperity ministers as if they're anything except the worst kind of self-help, snake-oil salesman. Creflo Dollar is basically a prayer-cloth-selling Armstrong Williams, which is to say he's a money-focused hustler posing as a religious authority. I respect genuine religious sentiment, but a hustler is a hustler is a hustler. In my mind, you give something like the prosperity gospel the same kind of respect as you give the plastic cylinder containing a stool sample: sure, expert analysis of either might shed critically important light on the health of a body or society, but that don't mean they're not both completely and literally full of shit.
Prometheus is right: Creflo Dollar's ministry should have its tax-exempt status yanked.
October 17, 2006
john mcwhorter: talking android
The first in an occasional series on black America's talking androids.
Would you have any idea who John H. McWhorter was if, instead of being black, he was white?
The answer is obviously, unequivocally "no." McWhorter is an able linguist (The Missing Spanish Creoles is a nifty piece of work) but his entire portfolio as a racial pundit springs rather specifically from the combination (novel to some; useful to others) of his blackness and his neo-conservative inclinations. Without blackness to authorize his critiques of his brethren, McWhorter would be just another white neo-con competing with the already-entrenched Marty Peretz's of the world for the privilege of castigating the coloreds for fun and profit. Instead, the relatively young linguist has published a number of books, appears regularly in various media, and has landed a perch at the Manhattan Institute (the same think tank that initially sponsored, then thought better of, Charles Murray), from which he publishes largely self-evident books and newspaper essays.
Despite this clear indebtedness to racial status, McWhorter recently felt moved to sniff that Barack Obama has been riding some sort of racial tailwind to unearned, premature prominence:
The key factor that galvanizes people around the idea of Obama for president is, quite simply, that he is black. Other things about him don't hurt, but that's all -- they are not the deciding factor. Take away Mr. Obama's race and he's some relatively anonymous rookie [named Barrett O'Leary]. Barrett O'Leary, even if as cute and articulate as Mr. Obama, would have to wait at least another four years, and possibly six or seven, before being considered as a possible commander in chief.
What gives people a jolt in their gut about the idea of President Obama is the idea that it would be a ringing symbol that racism no longer rules our land. President Obama might be, for instance, a substitute for that national apology for slavery that some consider so urgent. Surely a nation with a black president would be one no longer hung up on race.
Or not. Mr. Obama is being considered as presidential timber not despite his race, but because of it. That is, for all of its good intentions, a dehumanization of Mr. Obama. We're still hung up. What Mr. Obama has done is less important than his skin color and what it "means." The content of our character is not exactly center stage here. We are a long way from Selma, but not yet where the Rev. King wanted us to be.[full story]
Maybe McWhorter is transferring some anxiety about the roots of his own career. Or maybe these comments are actually a poorly crafted act of solidarity, one black man obliquely warning another not to let the accolades soup his head up. All the same, McWhorter's strangely catty expression distaste for the Obama phenomenon is a bit like a porn star's complaint that a legitimate actress gets meaty roles just because of her "big tits." That may well be the case, but, big or not big, one of them puts food on the table by fellating men in print and on camera and the other doesn't. McWhorter further underscores the pettiness of his analysis by going on to make the bizarre claim that he's further disinclined to get on the Obama bandwagon because someday some hypothetical black lunkhead might reject our hero for being a tad too light-skinned:
Another reason for my lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Obama as symbol is that the racial healing many might see him as portending would not happen. Among a certain kind of black person and non-black fellow travelers -- roughly, those given to surmising that the levees near the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans were deliberately blown up -- the going wisdom would be that Mr. Obama was elected only because he is merely the kind of black person whites are "comfortable" with.
With his light skin, African father and white mother, and only faint hint of what I call a "black-ccent" -- the subtle vocal quality that makes most black Americans identifiable as black over the phone (yes, one can "sound black." It's been demonstrated repeatedly by linguistic analysis, and the "black-ccent" overlaps only partially with white Southern) -- Mr. Obama would easily be cast by these types as "not too black."
This is clearly a fantasy, McWhorter's "would not"s, "would be"s and "would easily"s untethered to even the pretense of reality, but it's interesting to note that his is a fantasy of revenge. Rather richly, Obama has been projected into a pickle that is most commonly the lot of the black conservative, McWhorter imagining that a man who is the most feted and buzzed-about black leader in two decades should be kept at arms length because he might, maybe, perhaps, someday be Mau Mau'ed by Spike Lee. Given that McWhorter himself could hardly be described as the brownest crayon in the box (in the interests of full, disclosure, I'm a "desert sand" myself), one can imagine the satisfactions such a fantasy might hold for him. Too bad all of that also has absolutely nothing to do with Barack Obama.
Despite being billed as an expert on racial dynamics, McWhorter is resolutely unwilling to address the obvious about race's role in Obama's aura, which is that many people believe his race, instead of offering mere symbolism, might also be an asset in the actual conduct of the American presidency. Blackness might offer a president access to unique experiences and points of view (unique for American presidents, at least) and might also lend novel forms of moral authority to his policies and pronouncements. One can legitimately debate the value to a leader of any such categorically expressed and experientially derived asset - lessons drawn from military service, for example, or from faithfulness - but for McWhorter to create fantasy color-caste conflicts and ignore a genuine point of interest is a kind of non-fiction malpractice. It's also an act of profound disingenuousness on McWhorter's part, as categorically expressed and experientially derived insight and authority happen to be the very foundations of his own practice as a pundit.
In so much as working black conservatism could be said to have a job description, it involves being an authentic, biologically-confirmed Blackman/Blackwoman who also echoes the right's policies, assessments and solutions vis-à-vis the problem of persistently restive, self-owning negroes. McWhorter has ably fulfilled these duties for almost a decade, lending a resolutely understated, youngish, and slightly effete face to an enterprise usually marked by bare-knuckles and bloodletting. (Just ask Clarence Thomas, or Michael Steele, or any other poor sap who has woken up in the morning to find their mug p'shopped to a lawn jockey.) As McWhorter points out in the New York Sun, this isn't the kind of gig from which millions are made, but it certainly does pay the bills. Although their author is handicapped by a vocal and presentational style that seems deliberately designed to tranquilize undergraduates (no racial charisma or rabble-rousing here! Just tendentious psycho-babble passed off as racial ontology!) McWhorter's books are widely reviewed, his essays regularly appearing in a range of venues. He himself presents as an intelligent, introspective gent, so one would imagine that he'd not only understand his race's particular use-value to the policy/opinion machine, but that he might even find some ironies there to savor. Instead, McWhorter, in classic, talking android style, refuses to admit that his race has afforded him any unique opportunities beyond a front row seat to black perfidy. Arguing that his success in the racial punditry racket was a matter of accident, good-fortune and right-place / right-time-ism, he explains in I'm black, I work for the Manhattan Institute, and I'm proud that, sometimes, shit really does just happen:
For eight years after I got my P.h.D, I was a professor of linguistics. I first found myself involved with the media in 1996 when the Ebonics controversy hit. I happened to be the black linguist working closest to Oakland where the issue arose (I was at UC Berkeley), and so the media called me. As the result of a series of chance developments afterward, I wrote a book questioning the leftist orthodoxy on race. Somehow it got national attention, and I started to be asked to write and speak on the topic.
This included writing for and speaking at the Manhattan Institute think tank in New York. A few years ago, I decided that I would be able to do my second career as a race commentator better by working for the Institute full-time in New York and doing linguistics research and writing independently (and, still, obsessively).
That's my story, a mundane one, really. I do two things. First, one of them put food on the table. Now, the other one does.
Nothing to see there, right? Except for perhaps the language. Take notice of the obsessive linguist's preference for verbiage that paints his transit from the academy to the punditocracy as a matter of imponderable happenstance. He found himself involved. Chance developments (whatever those are) had him writing a text questioning leftist orthodoxy. Somehow or another that book got national attention. Although the facts force McWhorter to make a feint towards the obvious racial foundation of his notoriety - i.e., that the only reason anyone wanted to talk to him in the first place was that he was the black linguist working closest to Oakland - he's careful to depict his racially-dependent coming-out party as a surprise that came looking for him, perhaps as he reclined languid and reasonable in the faculty lounge at Cal. Again, that's likely true enough, but the fact that it then must have taken plenty of drive, choice and will on McWhorter's part to so thoroughly capitalize on that initial incident is conveniently left out of his right-wing Horatio Alger story. Like a wingnut Lana Turner claiming she "just happened" to be discovered by Matt Drudge while sucking down a soda-pop in Schwab's Pharmacy, McWhorter pretends that his being a black man predisposed to espouse a predictable set of propositions was neither asset nor attraction, that the length of his neo-con gams had no bearing on his ability to play the sultry ingénue from the wrong side of the tracks during the Oakland Ebonics fracaso. This is all, of course, a fairy tale, but McWhorter sells it with an impressively effective soft-pedal. The militance of his affection for understated banalities, the signature underwhelming-ness of his rhetoric, ends up being deployed as the main proof of his tall-tale's honesty and guilelessness, contrasting as it does with the loud, angry, indignant, Machiavellian, like, blackness that is McWhorter's favorite straw man.
Although he is Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, the list of the things that McWhorter is not includes sociologist, educational policy expert, historian, child psychologist and music critic, so the bulk of his punditry must therefore rely not on research or expert knowledge, but on the chiaroscuro produced by contrasting his own thinking on a given issue with that of a deluded, leftist and largely hypothetical black consensus. Take his career-making assertions about black middle-class laziness in Losing the Race, as summarized in a 2001 San Francisco Chronicle profile:
In his book, McWhorter uses observation, personal anecdotes and others' research to support his conclusions. He describes how a band of black kids tormented him for being a good speller when he was young and moves on from there.
In one of the most disturbing sections of the book, he tells story after story of black UC undergraduates he has taught who had spotty attendance records, disappeared without explanation, avoided research, were generally disengaged or flunked out.
". . . In my years of teaching, I have never had a student disappear without explanation, or turn in a test that made me wonder how she could have attended class and done so badly, who was not African American," he writes.
He is convinced that black people think of school as a "white" thing: "The sad but simple fact is that while there are some excellent black students, on the average, black students do not try as hard as other students. . . . All of these students belong to a culture infected with an anti-intellectual strain, which subtly but decisively teaches them from birth not to embrace schoolwork too wholeheartedly." [full story]
McWhorter, of course, offers little to support these highly prejudicial generalizations beyond personal observations of a few students at one school, in the process passing off the only thing he can say for sure - that he was unable to motivate or inspire respect in his black students - as an insight or profundity about race. It never occurs to McWhorter that he himself might have been the problem, that he might, for some reason or another, be constitutionally or temperamentally ill-equipped to teach certain black students. By his own admission he had very little in common with those students beyond skin color: "[t]hroughout the '90s, I found that I never seemed to agree with most black people I knew about any race event that came up [...] I felt like I was on a different planet than most black people." And yet hailing from a different planet or failing spectacularly to teach an entire demographic is apparently no barrier in conservative circles to becoming a paid, expert-witness on education and undergraduate psychopathology. In any other realm of professional endeavor, folks would intuitively understand that such an "expert" could only have gotten where he is thanks to some form of nepotism, affirmative action, secret-handshake, or ulterior motive on the part of his patrons, but McWhorter persists in carrying himself as if he were the world's last honest black man facing down dusky, cynical hordes.
Typical of the talking android, McWhorter both rejects blackness and relies on blackness (or at least relies his biological association with it) to guarantee him professionally. Extra-planetary or no, at the end of the day McWhorter's only professional qualification is that he's a black man who can be relied upon to write about his people to the satisfaction of certain classes of white folks, his race validating an endless stream of negative anecdotes at the level of accuracy. Consider the role McWhorter's blackness plays in this rather pedestrian depiction of public misbehavior among some Harlem yout':
Not long ago, I was having lunch in a KFC in Harlem, sitting near eight African-American boys, aged about 14. Since 1) it was 1:30 on a school day, 2) they were carrying book bags, and 3) they seemed to be in no hurry, I assumed they were skipping school. They were extremely loud and unruly, tossing food at one another and leaving it on the floor.
Black people ran the restaurant and made up the bulk of the customers, but it was hard to see much healthy "black community" here. After repeatedly warning the boys to stop throwing food and keep quiet, the manager finally told them to leave. The kids ignored her. Only after she called a male security guard did they start slowly making their way out, tauntingly circling the restaurant before ambling off. These teens clearly weren't monsters, but they seemed to consider themselves exempt from public norms of behavior--as if they had begun to check out of mainstream society. [full story]
Leaving aside the built-in absurdity of John McWhorter politely masticating ghetto chicken while the teenagers at the next table tighten his psychic knickers into a knotty bunch, it becomes obvious fairly quickly that this dispatch from the heart of darkness hinges not on the expertise or insight of its correspondent but on his mere blackness. Turning "Unruly Teenagers!" into a meaningful lead would test the powers of wordsmiths more skilled than McWhorter, but "Black Man Attests to the Slow Collapse of Civilization in Harlem!!!"? Now that's a lead. The color of the source is clearly the entire game here, as the actual reports - from "unruly teenagers" to "hip hop: bad" to "black students: lazy" - are not only common caricatures, but in McWhorter's hands they're ineptly drawn caricatures.
Blackness is such a foundational element of McWhorter's shtick that it consistently authorizes him to pontificate on topics on which he has demonstrably limited grasp. The above KFC tableaux, for, example leads into an attack on hip hop that is not only ill-informed on basic, uncontroversial points of musicology (the so-called "origins of the hip hop ethos," for example) but that is also arbitrary in its assessment of historical import, as in the place of honor given Ice-T's "Cop Killer," or the breathless overstatement that attends dramatic readings of Schooly D rhymes.
Consider also, his more recent essay on the Survivor racial casting controversy which not only completely misstates objections to the tactic ("segregation!" wasn't the rallying cry so much as "exploitation!" and "cynicism!" and "pointless!"), but also indicates McWhorter and his editors have little appreciation for way racial conflict is used across the board in reality teevee to stoke viewer interest. Indeed, on such nuances of the popular culture McWhorter is reliably tone deaf. His takes invariably either received or frozen in amber, McWhorter seems to have missed much of the last twenty-five years, his ability to play black Trivial Pursuit likely no better than the average white conservative's, which is to say, no better than his editors'. As I noted in my review of Authentically Black McWhorter's relationship to any form of contemporary black culture seems to have ended with his graduation from junior high school, his love for the new no doubt beaten out of him by the same toughs who, as he incessantly reports, objected to his "talking good" as a child. This would all be problem enough, but in editorial environments where McWhorter is likely (and no doubt profitably) the only black man in the room, his ignorance becomes practically impossible to address. Setting aside the intuition that most of these essays are acts of politically-motivated hackery, the editors of City Journal or The Sun imported McWhorter to interpret black talk for them in the first place, so they can't be expected to meaningfully assess the merits of his interpretations beyond how well they conform to general conservative principles. Take away the epidermal guarantor of McWhorter's blackness, though, and the above essays would fall apart even for their editors, crumbling to dust like undead things exposed to sunlight.
For a man who regularly complains that African Americans are coddled and forever mired in a kind of unexamined and self-created mediocrity, McWhorter is a kind of object lesson in what it means to be the member of an underperforming yet protected class. One has the impression reading McWhorter's prose that somewhere deep down he understands this. A typical McWhorter essay is a horrorshow of powerfully neurotic transferences and recoils, his sensitivities to unruly children, loud voices, vulgar lyrics, strident drums, angular movements and so on as much evidence of a delicate, traumatized constitution as they are indications of distinct neo-conservative cultural politics. If there is a victim cowering at the heart of any McWhorter piece, it is invariably "John McWhorter," who is written of as being constantly under some form of largely sensory assault by uncouth, angry black folks. Indeed, from Losing the Race on, McWhorter's primal scene remains an incident of schoolyard abuse endured at the hands of a group of black kids. Not a book is written, no interview is given, without McWhorter offering ritually masochistic testimony to what he has been forced to endure just for the crime of being John McWhorter:
When I was four--and this is my very first memory--a group of black kids in the neighborhood stopped me and asked me to spell a word. When I did, one of them directed his little sister to hit me repeatedly. I later watched a friend of mine treated similarly for answering such questions as, "How far is it from New Jersey to Florida," and I'll never forget being asked by one of his tormentors, "Are you smart?" in the menacing tone you'd use to ask, "Did you steal my money?"[full story]
We have admittedly now left the frame of legitimate criticism, but there is a sense in which McWhorter has never recovered from the shame and trauma of having been beaten up by a girl when he was four. His entire politic can be read as one long act of revenge against that girl and her brother, that incident growing into a life-long prejudice that quite literally colors his every argument. (One can only imagine what it was like to look like that girl or her brother and to be in one of McWhorter's classes.)
What McWhorter doesn't understand is that everyone - quite literally everyone - has a story like his, a singular, massively dense event against whose pull one struggles in order to eventually (hopefully) become oneself. McWhorter has obviously chosen to become "John McWhorter" by orbiting around that moment, ensuring his abuse by those children remains eternal, implacable, and total, but he could have easily gone another route and still been true to the hurt and injustice of that moment. There is a powerfully troubling and potentially instructive conundrum to be found in the realization that one lives (at four!) in a society stratified by race and where your co-ethnics can nonetheless hurt you worse than any racist ever could. That conundrum is among the deepest things one could ever confront, and writers from Toni Morrison to Gayle Jones to Albert Murray to Richard Rodriguez have all wrestled with it in their own way and to their eternal credit. John McWhorter, though, has little in common with the folks listed above beyond a bit of brown. He would rather wrestle with children.
Posted by ebogjonson at 11:45 PM | Permalink
October 5, 2006
party of allenfoleybush and other morons
I love it when talking android morons explain their own self-serving political choices by swearing that Frederick Douglass or MLK were Republicans. From LaShawn Barber's short-bus black history blog:
MD Lt. Governor Michael Steele has asked the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) to remove a radio advertisement (heard in Baltimore) because it is "insulting to Marylanders[.]"
The ad is factual: MLK was a Republican, Republicans spearheaded major civil rights legislation and the Democrats tried to block it, etc., but Steele says: "Although they may have had good intentions, there is no room for this kind of slash-and-burn partisan politics in the important conversation about how to best bring meaningful change to Washington, D-C, and get something done for Maryland."
I'm guessing, but he seems to think the appeal to race is unnecessary and divisive. Although I tend to agree, it doesn't hurt to get the truth out there.
LaShawn must mean the "truth"/"voices" chattering thou-shalt-nots in her head, because "out there" it is pretty established that MLK was not a Republican. And if she really believes that the fact that Douglass was a Republican provides any guidance for blacks considering the GOP in 2006, well, let's not even go there. Trying to decide whether certain kinds of hack conservatives are ignorant, incompetent or just plain idiots is an endless game of "heads: I lose; tails: you win." Totally not worth playing.
Despite numerous folks correcting LaShawn's false MLK assertion in comments, she has yet to update or correct her factually incorrect statement. Maybe Charles Murray wrote the Bell Curve using IQ data from a black Republican caucus?
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:30 PM | Permalink
September 25, 2006
lashawn & russell heart george allen
"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."
A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said. [full, disgusting story]
It's amazing to think that not very long ago George Allen was considered a contender for '08 Republican presidential nomination. We live in 2006, and yet these kinds of racists continue to hold positions of some honor in the Republican party. Not a year goes by that some or another prominent Republican isn't revealed to be the most base and disgusting kind of racist, and yet talking androids from here to Russell Simmons try to justify their pursuit of narrow economic self-interest by claiming black folks need to start thinking "outside the box" and switch to the party of George Allen. Simply amazing.
Besides being amazing, Simmon's line also the oldest form of okey-doke. Russell's idea of thinking outside the box is to make a buck, as in his plan to "address" the problem of underbanking in the black community by hooking teens on fee-laden Rush Cards that line his pocket while doing nothing to help black folks accrue interest, save or build a credit history. I don't pay any attention to George Clooney's politics, I don't know why I should give a damn about Russell Simmons', but you can't throw a rock at a hip hop blog without reading some predictable asstalk about Russell's "thoughtful" reply to critics of his support for talking android Michael Steele. Fuck joining the Republican party: it really is enough to make you a social anarchist.
September 22, 2006
alphonso jackson, still android talking
HUD Secretary and Talking Android Alphonso Jackson
From Think Progress:
The Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development has conducted a detailed investigation [of HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson] and produced a 340-page report detailing his findings. The agency has given a copy to Jackson, but refused to release the report to the public.
ThinkProgress has obtained the executive summary. Here are some key excerpts:
- "During the investigation, Secretary JACKSON's Chief of Staff, as well as the HUD Deputy Secretary testified that, in a senior staff meeting, JACKSON had advised senior staff, to the effect, that when considering discretionary contracts, they should be considering supporters of the President, language consistent with the remarks made by JACKSON in Dallas, Texas, on April 28, 2006."
- "Investigation did disclose some problematic instances involving HUD contacts and cooperative agreement grants, in particular, the cooperative agreement award issued to Abt Associates...was blocked for a significant period of time due to Secretary JACKSON's involvement and opposition to Abt. Secretary JACKSON's Chief of Staff testified that one factor in JACKSON's opposition to Abt was Abt's political affiliation."
- "Secretary JACKSON's Chief of Staff also identified other instances of Secretary JACKSON intervening with contractors whom he did not like. Reviews of political contributions indicated these contractors had Democratic political affiliations."
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) have already called on Jackson to resign immediately. The White House yesterday gave him "a tepid vote of confidence."
Talking androids have been having a hard run with this Preznit. Remember Claude Allen and his evil twin?
Posted by ebogjonson at 4:25 PM | Permalink
September 21, 2006
Al Wynn brags of stealing election
By now you are aware of the multiple layers of problems that occurred in the Tuesday, September 12, election in Maryland's 4th Congressional District. Whether these flaws are attributable to incompetence, inefficiency, or fraud -- we may never know. Votes are still being tabulated in Maryland's 4th District -- provisional ballots arriving as late as Tuesday, September 19, a truckload of machines and memory cards arriving 21 hours after the polls closed on September 12, changing estimates of absentee ballots to be counted, etc.
Needless to say, the system is deeply flawed -- leaving voters with little reason to be confident. In the midst of all of this system failure and uncertainty, I wanted to share with you the transcript of an exchange that took place on Tuesday, September 19, between my opponent, Albert Wynn, and his colleague on the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee:
BARTON: Down in Texas, we had a Democratic primary about 50 years ago that Lyndon Johnson won by 54 votes. And he got the nickname "Landslide Lyndon." We have Mr. Wynn next. He had a little bit of a tussle last week, but he did win. And so, I want to recognize "Landslide Wynn" for any opening statement that he wishes...
WYNN: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. In fact, they're still counting, but we're quite optimistic. And I did take a couple pages out of Lyndon's book, so if I win, it can be attributed to Texas know-how.
(UNKNOWN): Did you (inaudible)?
BARTON: I hope not. I hope you win fair and square.
WYNN: A win is a win.
P.S. Just within the last couple of hours, the Board of Elections in Prince George's County opened up a machine with no tamper tape (so much for security), and at least one other machine that recorded votes for other offices but none for U.S. Congress.
That's just awful. Albert Wynn who is regularly rated among the worst of the CBC, is nonetheless likely to survive this challenge. It seems sometimes like black voters are particularly unable to punish crap or corrupt black politicians, that no matter how disgusting or ineffectual, pols safely ensconced in black districts are hard to extract. Is it that we feel like we are going to be underserved no matter what, so we might as well be underserved by one of our own?
I'm glad to see the so-called liberal blogosphere tracking this story, though. Between their fear of being called racists and their cultural affinity for talking androids like Harold Ford or Cory Booker, the more vocal sectors of the online volume industry have been pretty invisible on the issue of effective governance for black folks. Calling Edwards "the black Ned Lamont" is to use unfortunate, predictable shorthand, but it beats white folks having no emotional hooks at all for understanding her fight with Wynn.
Posted by ebogjonson at 6:36 PM | Permalink
September 6, 2006
condi condi condi
Condi, in the New York Daily News:
Secretary of State Rice compared the Iraq war with the American Civil War, telling a magazine that slavery might have lasted longer in this country if the North had decided to end the fight early.
"I'm sure there are people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold," Rice said in the new issue of Essence magazine.
Leaving aside the patently absurd historical comparison (justifying the Iraq war by comparing its critics to apologists for slavery is the height of moral hypocrisy... and political panic), it is interesting to note that Condi's comments came in Essence. She specifically crafted this patently ridiculous argument for a black audience, suggesting the Secretary of State buys into the racist, right-wing mythology that black folks are sheep prone to unthinking, knee-jerk reaction to certain code-words, "slavery" apparently being a Susquehanna Hat Company-type trigger that leaves us uncontrollably frothing at the mouth.
Rice's comments also just go to show that no talking android, no matter how craven or sold-out, can resist switching codes and evoking metaphors rooted in the traditional black political consensus when forced to address black audiences. These are folks who, in every way possible, at every possible turn, have chosen their own careers and the rewards of white patronage over the health of their community, and yet stick them in front of a black crowd and suddenly they're eager to connect, evoking conceptual frames (like the fight for equal rights) that they've otherwise worked so hard to disassemble.
One minor nit to pick with our friends at the Carpetbagger, tho. They write:
Maybe Rice thought that Essence's circulation is small enough that these comments wouldn't cause a stir.
Hey friend: Essence is not only the leading publication for black women, it's owned by the same people who own CNN, making it part of the major media octopus. Relative size of circulation has no bearing on how and why she said what she said..
The Bushites fully expected this line of argument to get out into the general mediastream. Equating anti-war politics with apologia for slavery is just another part of the ongoing campaign to make opponents of an illegal, ill-advised war out to be the enemies of freedom, truth and apple pie and so on. It's just another trial balloon in the endless quest for new justifications for the same failed policy. These people are monumental fuckers.
August 27, 2006
charter schools, not so hot
From the New York Times:
Exploding the Charter School Myth
A federal study showing that fourth graders in charter schools score worse in reading and math than their public school counterparts should cause some soul-searching in Congress. Too many lawmakers seem to believe that the only thing wrong with American education is the public school system, and that converting lagging schools to charter schools would cause them to magically improve.
The study, based on data from 2003 on students' performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, found charter school students significantly behind their non-charter-school counterparts. But it also showed that not all charter schools are created equal.
On average, charter schools that were affiliated with public school districts performed just as well as traditional public schools. That may be a disappointment to advocates who expected them to show clear superiority. But the real stunner was the performance of free-standing charter schools, which have no affiliation with public school systems and are often school districts unto themselves. It was this grouping that showed the worst performance.
Charter schools are a core obsession of the Cory Bookerite/Talking Android wing of the Democratic party. You don't know how many genuinely nice black Ivy League graduates I know who get all het up about charter schools, swearing up and down how a new generation of non-ideological race men (i.e. them) is going to roll their sleeves up and finally, really get something done in the community at the most basic levels, starting with its children.
It's a noble aim, but the hype over charter schools has always struck me as neo-conservative un-cola. (I guess it is technically true that it's a different color and has hint of lemon-lime, but at the end of the day it's just another can of soda.) I feel slightly bad for charter school folks, who tend to be genuinely well meaning and are likely assuring each other that study or no they are just getting warmed-up. But to parody some the movement's own rhetoric, there is no "E for effort" when running an underperforming school. You claimed you had a better way to do this, so maybe you should spend a little less time at the think tank, and shut the fuck up and educate some black kids, already.
Posted by ebogjonson at 9:59 PM | Permalink
August 16, 2006
ann hearts harold
I mean, really. Unless you are secretly doing her [NSFW, bub], I don't think there is any possible justification for having Ann Coulter ever say anything like this about you, ever:
Ms. COULTER: And it's especially bad for me because you know how I hate saying anything kind about a Democrat. Harold Ford is one of my favorite Democrats, but the problem is he belongs to the Democratic Party. And if he does not, as reasonable as he sounds today--and you do, Representative--if he does not toe the lunatic anti-war, high-tax line, he'll end up being primaried like Joe Lieberman. [full story]
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:02 PM | Permalink
August 10, 2006
barack and harold
This is old, but:
Barack Obama looks to me like he's asking himself what THE FUCK he's doing campaigning for Harold Ford.
What the fuck indeed, Barack.
Posted by ebogjonson at 11:30 AM | Permalink
July 6, 2006
lashawn barber's not too bright
What Steve Gilliard said.
Posted by ebogjonson at 6:51 AM | Permalink
June 16, 2006
the perfect world of bill jefferson (D-LA)
So first the Democrats, then the full House voted to remove alleged crook William Jefferson from his House Ways and Means seat.
William Jefferson is a terrible, terrible excuse for a Democrat/black elected leader, and I kind of hope he goes to jail, or at the very least stops being a member of Congress. (Check his crap voting record here.) His refusal to step down pending resolution of the charges against him is what the old, alliterative folks like to call "both dishonorable and disgusting," and the subsequent ugly racial spill-over is 1000% Jefferson's fault.
Still, the forcible removal of someone from a committee seat is unprecedented (Jefferson is not under indictment... yet), and calling for new rules that respect due process while maintaining the highest ethical strandards for legislators is hardly unreasonable. In a perfect world, events would have played out differently and the following things would have happened:
1 - William Jefferson would not be in the pocket of every corporate interest or shady lobbyist from here to Nigeria ('Natch.)
2 - William Jefferson would not be some kind of (alleged) crook. ('Natch.)
3 - Accused of/and or caught being an alleged crook, William Jefferson would immediately give his committee seat up "in the best interests of the blah blah, in order to clear my blah blah" But barring that, in the absence of an indictment or formal House Ethics Committee investigation, basic fairness would demand allowing dude to sit there until an actual non-news cycle driven process produced additional results or milestones. Calling on Jefferson to resign is one thing, and I think "Resign, Bill Jefferson!!!" or "Lose, Harold!!!" would make great bumper stickers, but refusing to create rules and then using the power of the House Democratic Caucus to send pre-election ethics "messages" ("Dems super good," perhaps?) seems a mite like prematurely throwing a brother off the boat for atmospheric effect.
4 - The Congressional Black Caucus would have modulated its support for Jefferson, murmuring about due process and putting calls for a better procedural approach to open-ended ethics problems like l'affaire Jefferson front-and-center. What the CBC would not have done is talk pointless, hyper-aggressive smack about how there was going to hell to pay for the Democrats with black voters if anyone dared to lay a hand on one square centimeter of Jeff's gigantic, bald forehead. Black voters are loyal, but we give shits primarily about the treatment of our own, local machine hacks. Everyone else's hacks are under-serving the community and are generally understood as poxes on the race.
By putting race over rules in its defense of Jefferson, the CBC is acting as if the Democratic Party wasn't a political caucus but instead was some kind of corporation with different (i.e., potentially illegal) ways of treating black and white employees. There is certainly some cynicism in pointing out the Democratic leadership makes decisions like seeking today's vote at its discretion and according to highly complicated political rules, but none of that obscures the fact that it's William Jefferson, not Nancy Pelosi, that has been accused of breaking the laws of the land.The language of discrimination, of workplace inequality, of disparate treatment is powerful language, and evoking that language to defend one of the worst lobbyist-loving fatcats on the Hill cheapens us all.
5 - And speaking of cheapening us all: In a perfect world, progressive white folks (or at least, Daily Kos members and Huffington Post posters) would stop all the whining about how just pointing out the race angle in this story is harshing their gate-storming mellow. Like it or not, this story has racial implications, so deal with it, Kimosabe, and don't give me bullshit about how "dealing with it" involves bending over or kowtowing to "special interests." I don't agree with Nancy Pelosi's hard-line stance, but when she makes it a point to do a tour of black press to explain her logic, she isn't kowtowing, she's doing the difficult work of maintaining a valued relationship with a key segment of her coalition. (The so-called netroots are always down for "hard work" except when it comes to building bridges with people of color. I wonder why.)
But all that aside, in a perfect world, I would know what to call Bill Jefferson. I know what to call corrupt black conservatives - a talking android, 'natch! - but what funny, vaguely science-fictional tag do you give a machine hack black Democrat?
May 22, 2006
mary cheney is a lesbian talking android
See the Crooks and Liars video and judge for yourself.
Kiss kiss, Michelle and La Shawn!
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:33 PM | Permalink
May 19, 2006
uh, did I say "talking androids"?
I just really want to thank god and the Academy for these google results for search string "talking android".
Also: I want to share this just for kicks.
And, of course, it goes without saying that I should link to wikipedia, which just has to have a great entry on Reed and Mumbo Jumbo and the talking android.
Huh. I guess a stub is a start, right? This brings to mind two things:
1 - Every time I try to do a search for something like "talking android" I think with sadness of the old Africana.com article and encyclopedia database that was deep-sixed by AOL and the new managers of AOL Black Voices.
2 - Every time a search for black subject matter on wikipedia produces a stub instead of an article I feel incredibly fatigued. I think: I barely have enough energy to update my dumb blog; now I have to get up early and write and 500 word entry on Ishmael Reed? And what with my copy of Freelance Pallbearers being in a box at my mother's house and all...
Posted by ebogjonson at 3:57 PM | Permalink
May 16, 2006
black commentator on net neutrality
I was mistaken when I said earlier that there was no black web media coverage of net neutrality. I should have checked The Black Commentator before I typed, since - lo and behold! - last week's issue included a thorough (and typically feisty) piece on the issue by BC editor Bruce Dixon:
America's black misleadership class, which is nearly indistinguishable from its black business class, has struck again. In a stunning coup, a mainline African American voting rights group has been enlisted on the side of AT&T and other telecom monopolies in their legislative push to privatize the Internet and roll back hundreds of agreements with local communities that force these monopolies to extend Internet and cable service to poor and rural communities around the country. [full story]
It's a good piece, well reported and effective in eviscerating a number of talking androids working for the telcos, and it follows up previous coverage by Dixon. I shouldn't be surprised by the article: my lapse in attention aside, BC has always been a great source of black political POV and I've always been a fan. The site provides exactly the sort of aggressive, independent, smart black media I naively kept trying to build in my various previous lives under corporate umbrellas. Which is to say it's precisely the kind of thing that can't be done when the people above you are white folks who understand "black" as being synonymous with "entertainment," or the people below you are mediocrities who couldn't hack it in other parts of the company and thus cling to the black division as a life-preserver / HR-run bantustand. (Sure, white companies do black media in order to reach back audiences, but it's also a great way for them to manage their own internal diversity problems by giving scads of disaffected, glass-ceiling prone negro employees something to do.)
But about BC: knowing a few things about the economics of this biz I have always been slightly afeared that one day I'd wake up and BC would be gone. Concerned that my slack, do-nothing worry in many ways reproduced the various apathetic horrors I have beheld, I just went and subscribed to the site and urge you to do the same. It's a painless buck a week and your kharmic debt to all the late-great black media you didn't previously support will be considered paid in full.
Posted by ebogjonson at 10:36 AM | Permalink
alphonso jackson is a liar
Remember talking android (and HUD Secretary) Alphonso Jackson? It turns out that while I was in Vegas he "confessed" to "lying" in remarks about screwing Democrats out of government contracts:
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson apologized yesterday for telling a Dallas business group that he had rejected a HUD contract because the contractor had criticized President Bush.
Jackson said he made up the story. "I deeply regret the anecdotal remarks I made at a recent Texas small-business forum and would like to reassure the public that all HUD contracts are awarded solely on a stringent merit-based process," Jackson said in a statement. "During my tenure, no contract has ever been awarded, rejected, or rescinded due to the personal or political beliefs of the recipient." [full story]
I suppose that there are senses in which saying "I lied" is better than saying "I broke the law," but I don't think the mitigation effect works when both things are said in the same sentence/news cycle. Alphonso Jackson should resign.
Posted by ebogjonson at 1:29 AM | Permalink
May 9, 2006
alphonso jackson - shameless talking android
You know, the Bush Administration really is a talking android goldmine.
HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson (pictured in android glory above) recently bragged to an audience that he likes denying government contracts to qualified minority contractors on the basis of the contractor's political opinions. (Hat tip digby):
After discussing the huge strides the agency has made in doing business with minority-owned companies, Jackson closed with a cautionary tale, relaying a conversation he had with a prospective advertising contractor.
"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'
"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'
"He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe." [full article]
Don't get me wrong: telling a hack political appointee that you can't stand the man they fellated in order to get their gig is probably not a tactic that will earn you an A in Procurement Negotiations 101. Still, bragging about fucking over a contractor for political reasons is even dumber, as Jackson has copped to breaking the law. Dude should resign.
Take note that Jackson's comments were made to a minority professional group, as other talking androids will likely seize on the fact to argue that Jackson was only speaking "privately" "in-group" about the "realities" of the contract process. (The deployment of the word "brother" in his little anecdote will figure prominently in any such reading, if not explicitly, than psychologically.) This "in group" defense has roots in the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy, when Harvard prof Orlando Patterson (another talking android) speculated that Thomas was at worst guilty of letting his hair down with Hill on the basis of a mistakenly perceived racial affinity, a faulty assumption on Thomas' part that he was within a circle of racial intimacy.
In so much as there's a grain of experiential truth to that reading then or now, it's just a pinch of salt to flavor the steaming, monumental pile of extruded mediocrity that is the talking android as a general type. It's one thing for James Six-Pack to step over any given line, but it's another for the heads of HUD or EEOC to step over the lines their departments are sworn to enforce. Managing contracts or prosecuting sexual harassment claims are/were Jackson and Thomas' jobs, making their infractions not just political scandals but indications of the rankest incompetence and unfitness. These people complain about affirmative action yet one after the other are revealed as unable to do their jobs without white Republican patronage. But what you do expect? As the old joke/slur about black conservatives puts it, the Alphonso Jacksons and Clarence Thomas's don't switch sides out of principle, but because "the line is shorter over there," and who needs a shorter line more than your average talking android?
April 28, 2006
remember the Claude Allen evil twin theory?
Something I made back during the Claude Allen thing, but never used.
Posted by ebogjonson at 10:24 AM | Permalink
April 26, 2006
does the CBC hate net neutrality?
A Democrat-sponsored bill protecting net neutrality was rejected in committee today by a 34-22 vote. Said House committee has a Republican majority, so the amendment by Ed Markey (MA-D) was unlikely to make it out alive, but five Democrats - including Congressional Black Caucus members Edolphus Towns, Albert Wynn, and Bobby Rush still felt the need to cross the aisle and vote with the Republicans. Throw in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Charlie Gonzales and four out of five of the ATT Five are members of the Hill's civil right's caucuses. What gives?
What gives is that these four made the cynical and depressing calculation that black and Latino folks don't care about or follow telecom/internet regulation issues, giving them a free vote to toss the telecom lobby's way. Besides being gutless, this vote puts Towns, Wynn and Rush's constituencies at greater risk for higher internet bills and poorer service. Lots of folks have explained net neutrality better than I will be able to, but suffice to say that if telecoms are allowed to pin premium pricing schemes to the delivery of services they currently treat "neutrally" (delivering you this blog page vs. a video download vs. an e-commerce site vs...) black consumers will be among the first to get fucked.
That prediction isn't idle conjecture on my part, but a projection of current patterns in how telecom, cell, cable and information services are marketed to black audiences. After decades of being redlined and underserved, the African American market has become highly attractive on the thesis that we tend to spend heavily, first and freely on premium telecommunication services, and that where we go youngish, crossover audiences tend to follow. (Where you at, indeed.)
Advertisers and providers have all kinds of shiny jargon and sociology to account for these behaviors: we are "luxury conscious." African Americans "enjoy feature rich environments." We're "trendsetters." Black folks like and understand bling. What all this boils down to practically is that the media, advertising and telecom bizzes expect black folks to enthusiastically pay for any old "extra" shit that comes packaged as a premium, style or luxury add-on. In my experience, study after focus group after sales presentation has enshrined this counter-intuitive fact as ethnic marketing 101, and any rep worth their pillar of salt can toss off related factoids like how, compared to the average white cell phone customer, a demo-comparable (age, sex income level and so on) black cell customer will tend to sign up for more initial minutes or text messages or photo uploads. (Sure, they may dial it back after a few bills, but the initial deviation still makes for pretty spreadsheets.) The same goes for black new car buyers choosing between stereo systems, cable subscribers picking standard, bronze or gold plans, and, of course, no one needs me to rehash the long history of hijinks associated with high end sneakers, a story whose only silver lining is the near ubiquity of cheap knockoffs.
This counter-intuitive spending pattern (in so much as black people are simultaneously imagined as having less) is the dirty little secret of all black consumer media and no business plan proposing a black magazine, website, telecom, MVNO, cable channel or radio station is complete without it.
Which brings us to net neutrality. Do you imagine that in a post-net neutral world AOL or Time Warner Cable, for example, is going to deliver AOL Black Voices the same way they currently deliver competitor BlackPlanet.com? Or taken from another angle, imagine the epic buffets of pointless feature-sets, packaging hustles, and junk "premiums" that will be hawked by SBC in a post-net neutral world, the byzantine universe of hidden deals and associations. For-pay BET branded chat for the teens? Creflo Dollar paying to slow down TD Jake's sermon streams? Conglomerate A paying to stream crap music at superspeed while everyone else's beats crawl along or queue up at the entrance to the thin, slow pipes? These are precisely the kinds of scenarios that should inform the thinking of representatives like Towns, Wynn and Rush, but I guess that telephone money was just too good to pass up.
Posted by ebogjonson at 5:27 PM | Permalink
April 25, 2006
Resolved: LaShawn Barber is some kind of super moron
1 - LaShawn Barber is (by some accounts) the world's most linked-to black blogger.
2 - LaShawn Barber has been enthusiastically directing her rather large readership to a new videoblogging site run by fellow conservative of color Michelle Malkin:
I don't know how she does it.
Michelle Malkin -- wife, mother of two, author of three books, syndicated columnist, speaker, FOX News guest host, and prolific blogger extraordinaire -- has started a new venture called Hot Air, a conservative Internet broadcast network.
OK. This is very cool. I want to do it, too!
3 - Michelle Malkin's new videoblogging site is sponsored by Those Shirts.com, maker of this conservative t-shirt:
4 - Resolved: LaShawn Barber is some kind of super moron.
I've got pro. Con? (Hat tip Digby.)
preval, reduced to a symbol, invents strategies to avoid a deficit
[hat tip 893 for inspiring the post title]
Haitian president Rene Preval is trying to create some synergies with Venezuelan Hugo Chavez.
from Voice of America:
Venezuela's president has invited Haiti to join a program offering inexpensive oil to Caribbean nations.
The offer came during a visit Monday to Caracas by Haiti's President-Elect Rene Preval.
Mr. Preval met with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. They discussed Haiti's inclusion in Venezuela's Petrocaribe program which offers generous payment options to Caribbean countries for the purchase of Venezuelan oil.
During the meeting, Mr. Chavez said Venezuela would also donate diesel fuel for use by schools and hospitals in Haiti.
I think of this (likely largely theatrical) instance of inter-American amity against the backdrop of the small but rising anti-Latino chorus from black neo-cons (hat tip Steve Gilliard) and/or the know-nothing corners of the black blogosphere. The number of folks either directly on the racist right's payroll or naturally inclined to get down on their knees and fellate it (this, no doubt, while gagging out the words "no homo" every other sentence) is, as always, something to behold.
Posted by ebogjonson at 12:36 PM | Permalink