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Inflection points

Black in West Virginia

You’ve probably already seen this article about race and the 2008 campaign.  Supposedly, if people in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and NY hadn’t been such ignorant bigots, Obama would have won by bigger margins.  That’s assuming that there was nothing more important on the electorate’s mind.

It’s an interesting study but I can’t imagine why this would be of any particular interest to anyone.  Obama won.  That means enough people were either able to overcome the conditioning of their culture or they were scared shitless about the market collapse.  What it *doesn’t* mean is that the people who were googling racist jokes would have voted for Obama if they had been more enlightened people.  For those of us who realize that race is a social construct and not a biological one, Obama’s skin color did not factor into our decision.  If you’re really post-racial, you evaluate the candidate by criteria that is important for successful presidents.  A candidate who weaponizes racism, whether real or merely convenient, against hard working people who are concerned for their own livelihoods, is not that much different than the guy who is googling the N word.  If anyone is being prejudiced here, it might be the Obama campaign who assumes that everyone in Appalachia is hiding an ignorant redneck heart.

There are some questions I’d like the answers to about this study, which I have only glanced at briefly.  For example, what about the people in these states that don’t have computers and have never used google.  I have relatives who fall into this category.  They’re more likely to google a recipe for halushka, if they had a computer or any interest in using one.  They were not fans of Obama but hardly racists, considering the diversity in their own families.  The study makes me think of Gallup polls that report on people the surveyers contacted by phone.  Presumably, that means landline.  But what if you don’t have a landline?  How would Gallup contact you to know what you think? A phone survey might oversample older people who may not believe in evolution while showing a drop off of people who do because younger people don’t need landlines.  Or, the study could be finding that race was part of the general atmosphere of 2008 and people were following up on stories they had heard. It might be a voyeur effect.  And how do you account for NJ turning up ranked #17 on the list?  I’ve never met any racists here in NJ and I’ve lived here for 2 decades.

Then there are the unanswered questions about whether Obama’s ill-timed remarks about bitter, gun-totin’, church goers before the Pennsylvania primary might have had any effect on the primaries in that state or the subsequent one in West Virginia. Obama seemed to go out of his way to insult everyone in Appalachia long before a single vote was cast for him there.  Why aren’t we questioning his stereotypes and prejudices towards the voters in these states? If you listened to the Obama campaign, you’d think that Appalachia consisted of nothing but toothless, moonshine smuggling rednecks.  I don’t doubt that there are some places in central PA where those people exist but I never spoke to one when I was phone banking or canvassing there.  Did the study author bother to explore the effect of Obama’s snubs on these primary outcomes?  Another question that I’m dying to have the answer to is how many searches of the form “hillary, bitch” came out of lower Manhattan or “redneck” from Chicago, Illinois?   Why don’t we find out whether making the men of this country less sexist would have lead to the first female presidency?

Or would we hear howls of protest?  Hillary must be judged by a completely different set of criteria.  She and her husband were centrists, they’ll say.

Ok, I’ll bite.  Would a guy who wanted to appoint the first female attorney general, who raised taxes on the wealthy, appointed two of the most liberal judges on the supreme court we have today, put health care reform at the front of his agenda, got the Family Leave Act passed, protected children’s health care with SCHIP, stared down Republicans when they shut down government and was in favor of having gays serve openly in the military years before Obama kinda sorta got around to reversing DADT, would that guy be considered centrist today?

I have a lot of differences with my own party even though I consider myself solidly liberal.  But one of the most striking differences has to be how history is remembered.  It is illogical to judge the Clintons as more “centrist” than Obama.  In fact, the only way that the word centrist becomes negative against the Clintons is when it is taken out of context and when the comparison to Obama is not made.  Instead, centrism is mapped to the Americans Elect, Thom Friedmanesque monstrosity, that thing without a soul.  It ignores the fact that centrism in 1993 was a primarily a description of where the Clintons were on the left.  On a scale of 1=>10, leftiest Democrat to rightiest Republican, the Clintons were about a 3.8.  Now that the scale goes to 15, it is Obama who is centrist at about an 8 and the Clintons look solidly liberal when the issues and voting records are compared.

Lefties seem disgusted by DADT and DOMA that were implemented in Clinton’s terms but forget (or were too young to pay attention) that it was during the Clinton administration when the topics first landed on the national scene and in the case of gays in the military, it was Clinton who brought it up in the first place and wanted to allow gays to serve.  I’m betting that many young Democrats don’t know that and their lefty elders aren’t setting the record straight.

What I think bothers lefties the most about Clinton was not his “centrism”, although he probably referred to himself as a centrist back then.  It was that he was not dogmatic in his lefty beliefs.  Dogmatism plagues both ends of the political spectrum. When people complain about partisanship, they’re really complaining about dogmatism, that persistence in believing in theories in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  Dogma has relatively little to do with politics and has almost everything to do with identity.  It also has little to do with rationality and a lot to do with emotion.

I was more than a little disappointed to see Charles Pierce jump on lefty revisionism in one of his latest Netroots Nation posts.  One of the reasons I stopped going to these events was because I wasn’t willing to empty my brain so that it could fully absorb the dogma saturated atmosphere.  Plus, I find crunchy granola, anti-vaccine, anti-nuclear energy, anti-genetically modified everything really irritating, not to mention that people who can’t differentiate between corporate shareholders and stakeholders have no idea what they’re talking about when they wail against all “corporatism”. Netroots Nation is not much different than a CPAC convention.  Both entities have solid beliefs that they base their solutions on but they have little to do with observation, data collection, careful analysis, construction of a model, proposing policies and evaluating the effect of those policies on the model.  Dogmatists don’t usually like to have their beliefs evaluated.

If there is a recent surge in interest in the Clintons, it’s probably because voters realize that one is still available.  And it’s not voters, specifically the working class and women, who are looking forward to Hillary in 2016.  No, voters would prefer to have her now.  It is the party leadership who wants to create the expectation of a Hillary 2016 run.  They’re hoping that delayed gratification will help focus voter attention on the here and now where they have presented Obama as the only choice.  But I don’t think that’s going to work this year.  And it’s great that Obama is finally getting feisty but I don’t think he’s trustworthy.  It’s not just his actions that make him suspect.  It’s primarily his contempt for voters in general.

Maybe quality doesn’t always triumph over mediocrity.  But I think that when people have had experience of both, without a dogmatic filter, their brains are able to synthesize an evaluation based on information they have gathered, whether consciously or not.  I made this point in 2008 about presentation and how a speaker who does his or her homework will shine over someone who has baffled the audience with bullshit.   The political consultant class who thinks that voters don’t know the difference may be indulging in wishful thinking.  Sure, there are the Fox News viewers who are suffering from acquired stupidity syndrome but what about the other half of the population?  They now have the kind of information about Obama that wasn’t available to them in 2008.

It’s not the dogmatists at Netroots Nation that will decide the election this year.  It’s going to be the base that the Democrats blew off in 2008.  I’m sure the Democrats aren’t happy about that but calling them racists is probably not going to work this time.  They gave Obama a chance and he has come up severely wanting.  This upcoming performance evaluation is based on actual performance.  And if the working people are chattering about Clinton, it’s not because Mark Penn has anything to do with it.

What we might really be seeing is frustration on the part of the party loyalists, Obama fan base and self-described intellectuals towards the electorate that refuses to eat its poison mushrooms.  Those working class idiots don’t know what’s good for them, they want a “centrist”, they’re racists, they’re stupid.  But mostly, those working people and women and independents have way too many votes.  There’s a lot of howling going on right now from the lefty dogmatists who simply want to believe what they want to believe, damn the facts and life and imminent poverty staring people in the face everyday. But might I suggest that calling people racists and politically naive is not the best way to win friends and influence people.  Since the great unwashed masses are the ones who are going to determine this election in the fall, whether the lefties like it or not, a much better idea would be to give them what they want before they go to the polls.

Wednesday: The voter’s have spoken, the bastards.

I’m listening to WNYC for the past hour and not one word about West Virginia. It’s been pledge drive, earthquake, cyclone and Palestine. Nada about Obama’s humiliating defeat in West Virginia where he lost 67-25.7. Hmmm, let’s see, that’s a 41.3 point difference. Not pretty for our presumptive nominee.

I broke down and caught a bit of CNN last night when Bob Casey was cocky about how the party will be unified and, yeah, Hillary supporters *say* they won’t turn out in the fall for Obama but he’s heard this kind of thing before and they’ll fall in line by November, they always do.

Oh, Really?

I got a moment of deja vu for a second there. It seemed familiar. Sort of like, “I can’t understand why you’re so mad. You’ve got no reason to be. Get over it.” or “You’re nothing without me. Where else are you going to go?” Yeah, keep on like that, Bob. Every time one of you mouth off that we’ll come crawling back instead of apologizing to us for calling us racists and stupid old women, I get a little more determined to teach you a lesson you will *never* forget.

If we’ve learned one thing from West Virginia, it’s that voters do not like to be told that their vote is meaningless. They don’t want to hear it is over before they have a chance to vote. And they overwhelmingly like Hillary in states where they snobby DINKS and AA’s don’t have a critical mass for Obama. There are many more regular working people, even working creative class, who do not think Obama is ready to be president. There’s nothing racist about that. Last night, she won the majority of college educated in WV as well. So, apparently, not all of the “smart” people are part of Obama’s fan base.

Donna Brazile and her rules and bylaws committee seem determined to drag the Democratic party to the brink. Her insistence that the magic number if 2025 instead of 2209 is a clear signal that she has no intention of letting FL and MI delegates that Hillary won go into her column so that they have some kind of critical mass to the rest of the states that voted for her. And that’s the most evil part of her whole scheme. Without those delegates, the rest of us Hillary voters might as well have stayed home. It doesn’t matter that we live in the most crucial states for the party in the fall. They have decided for us.

I don’t know how that decision can stand before someone blows a carotid and pushes Donna off a cliff but the Rules and Bylaws committee shouldn’t get too comfortable with the idea that they can get away with it. And if I were Obama and had any hope of winning in November, I’d walk back that haka right now.

In other news:

Anglachel goes over the West Virginia results and marvels at the stupidity of the Democratic party in Presence and Absence and WV Exit Polls.
Taylor Marsh has Donna’s number in Michigan and Florida. I’m getting the feeling that Donna is getting to be really unpopular.

Tuesday: Look over there!

I was listening to Taylor Marsh this morning on podcast, because, doesn’t everyone do that at 2am? She was pondering how the media is going to cover Hillary’s win in West Virginia today. I think I know the answer to this one: they won’t. Oh, it will be mentioned in passing, maybe a 30 second clip, “*yawn*, sooo boring. Besides it doesn’t change anything, Hey! Look at all the footage of the earthquake we have from China!” We’re going to make our own kind of music. For those of you who missed it, here’s Taylor’s latest podcast. It’s a good one.

She also says she got blamed for organizing a letter writing campaign to the superdelegates. Sam Stein at HuffPo writes about Clinton Supporters send Last Ditch Obama Attack Emails to Supers and calls her out but, er, I think it was us that suggested it. If I recall correctly, we recommended politeness. Then again, Donna Brazile seems to be the only one complaining… In any case, Sam should know that any push back directed to the supers is a direct result of the Obama campaign itself and its enablers, like DFA, who is actively soliciting signatures for a petition to gag the supers. We would really appreciate it if Obama’s campaign didn’t encourage stuff like that on its behalf. But that is the divisive nature of *Obama’s* campaign, not Hillary’s. We are not affiliated with Hillary’s campaign. If we’re mad at Obama, the DNC, DFA or Donna Brazile, it’s because they have offende US.

Speaking of US, it turns out that 64% of us want Clinton to hang in there. I interpret that to mean that voters want to have options, not Andrea Mitchell and Tim Russert picking our president. Maybe they are hoping that Oregon sets the record straight and stops Obama. Maybe the Obamagic is wearing off and Clinton is looking like a great candidate. Even John Edwards said as much. That reminds me of something else that Taylor mentioned: Republicans are looking on this with awe because they can’t believe that we are giving them the weakest candidate this fall. She mentions Rush Limbaugh specifically at being astonished at how the Democratic party is about to self destruct by passing up the stronger candidate. I don’t have much to add to that correct assessment except that there is no way I could ever contemplate voting for Clinton as Obama’s VP. If there has to be a unity ticket, she must be at the top. It looks more and more like there will have to be a unity ticket as much as I hate the idea. I think we can get African-Americans to sign on to him being her VP. That would get him the experience he needs and he can run in 2016. It’s the only viable option and would be a killer ticket, even if Michelle wants to dig out someone’s eyes about it. Any other combination of Obama on the ticket is a deal breaker. But the concept is so sensible that we can expect Donna and Nancy to shoot it down.

So, let’s cheer her on to finish out the primary season strongly. The media won’t be satisfied unless she wins 90% of the voters in West Viginia but I suspect that the supers will be happy if she just does very well.

Go Hillary! Rise and Shine.

Saturday: Keep your head

Conflucians, the haka is getting very intense. There are senators we once respected going on news shows that some of us vowed not to watch for the next two weeks, who are saying insulting things that are designed to discourage us. Like Kennedy implying that Clinton doesn’t have noble American principles. This is just another version of “Our warriors are bigger, badder, meaner than yours” It’s all bluster because the real proof of their fortitude, getting a $%$#load more votes, hasn’t materialized.

Oh, and then there’s Chris Dodd telling Wolf Blitzer that the party will fall into line in November after we’ve all been dosed with Kool-Aid. Well, maybe party members might. But as of two days ago, I am no longer a member of the “Misogynists for Barry” party. So, their assumptions of automatic votes is incorrect. As an “unaffiliated”, they are going to have to bust their balls to get my vote now. They should take nothing for granted. And I would advise the party to not go pinning the blame or responsibility for this on Hillary. She’s been a mensch for the party and I’m sure she would do anything for it. But voters *are* born with free will and Democrats never were like Republicans who blindly follow their leaders. Some of us do not respond well to peer pressure. It means we are less popular than we might otherwise be but we are at peace with our consciences. No, I know what abuse feels like and I won’t take it from a party. They have to get right with me not the other way around. The Dean Democrats are on their own. Good luck to them.

Now, a lot of you are starting to feel helpless, like the forces against you are too strong. Well, that’s the whole point of a haka. But there are things you can do. Here are Riverdaughter’s suggestions for fighting back, reprinted from Thursday:

  1. If you live in a state that has already voted, re-register as an “unaffiliated” voter. Tear up your current voter’s registration card and mail it to the DNC with a little note to tell them that if they don’t resolve the FL and MI delegation issue immediately, they can not count on your vote now or in the future. Also, encourage them to push Hillary and Obama to form a joint ticket with Hillary on top as this is the only viable option for averting an electoral disaster in November. They created this rift in the party. It’s their responsibility to unify it. Not ours.
  2. Have a news moratorium for the next two weeks. For the next week, turn off every network and cable news program and catch up on your gardening. Watch only C-Span. If you have TiVo or a DVR, the cable and satellite companies do disk diagnostics every night to determine what you’ve watched and they pass this info onto the networks for ad sales purposes. You will make an impact if you abstain for the next week.
  3. Save your breakfast, lunch and dinner money and send it to Hillary. She can use the money to buy ads in the remaining states. The Big Boyz have been very effective in discouraging people from donating and volunteering for her. If you send in $10 and everyone reading this does the same, we can help refill her coffers. Also, one day of fasting will give you presence of mind and remind you of what is so important here. There are millions of Americans who are one paycheck away from insolvency, who have to use a food pantry every month to feed their families and these people are going to get written off by the “new coalition”.
  4. Volunteer for Hillary in West Virginia and Kentucky if you live in one of those states or one of the surrounding states. Hell, you don’t even need to do much. Just go there and stand at the side of the road with a sign. If you can’t be there, make phone calls for her. Let the country know that you aren’t going down without a fight.

I’m going to be in central PA again today for my brother’s 40th birthday party. Tomorrow, he is off to a training school in GA for five months and after that, he’ll be shipped off to Iraq or Afghanistan. This election is very important to me and I don’t want John McCain to be our next president. So, important that if I can do it, I may sneak over to WV on Sunday to hold up a sign at the side of the road. (This very much depends on time and logistics) I am very disturbed by reports that the Obama campaign or someone calling on its behalf are calling West Virginia voters to tell them the primary season is over and asking for donations for Barry’s campaign. But this is typical of Obama’s campaign. They have gotten as far as they have by suppressing Clinton voters in FL, MI, the caucuses and now WV and KY.

Obama is the weakest candidate that we could field this year and the Republicans are licking their chops that the Democrats are going to commit political suicide to appease snobby yuppies and AA voters who make up roughly 12% of the US population and whose strength as a voting block will be seriously diluted in November. If the Democratic party wants to play a stupid game of chicken with the women, working class, elderly, hispanic, gay voters and the REAL creative class voters that have been its loyal base, it had better be prepared to lose in November. Even with all of us onboard, Obama will lose. But maybe the party will learn something from this.

One final thing, Conflucians, there will be a lot of guilt tripping and meanness directed our way in the next couple of days. They are going to want to make us feel like traitors. Don’t give in. Now is the time to “choose something like a star to stay our minds on”. The counter haka only works if everyone sticks together. This is real unity.

It’s not over until the balloons drop in Denver.

also:

Jerome Armstrong at MyDD does a fearsome counter-haka.
Jeralyn writes about Hillary’s Take on the Electoral Map
Anglachel speculates in What if nobody comes to the revolution?

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