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Herbert Must Reading Today

Bob Herbert provides must reading today, especially for Brad DeLong, Andrew Sullivan, Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, Brendan Nyhan, and of course, David Brooks.

Herbert writes:

Andrew would not survive very long. On June 21, one day after his arrival, he and fellow activists Michael Schwerner and James Chaney disappeared. Their bodies wouldn’t be found until August. All had been murdered, shot to death by whites enraged at the very idea of people trying to secure the rights of African-Americans.

The murders were among the most notorious in American history. They constituted Neshoba County’s primary claim to fame when Reagan won the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1980. The case was still a festering sore at that time. Some of the conspirators were still being protected by the local community. And white supremacy was still the order of the day.

That was the atmosphere and that was the place that Reagan chose as the first stop in his general election campaign. The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!”

Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”

. . . Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.

Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.

And while I expect nothing better from Brooks, Nyhan and Sullivan, I do expect better from people like Drum and Yglesias. And maybe now DeLong sees some value in Herbert's work.

“As usual, . . . more analytical and calm”

Three guesses who is being referred to in the title.

NYTimes Opinionator.

Personally, I have never seen such a trenchant description . . .

Who Woulda Thunk It?

Here is a shocker:

Matzzie to Head Democratic Soft Money Effort

Even as the Democratic primary fight enters the final stretch, plans are proceeding apace among party strategists to build an independent money machine that will rival or eclipse what they created in 2004, when donors poured millions into two key outside-the-party organizations — America Coming Together and the Media Fund.

Tom Matzzie has been hired to run a new effort for 2008, which he has described in an e-mail as a $100 million-plus venture organized around “issues and character.” Matzzie is leaving his post as the Washington director of to take the job. . . . The news of Matzzie’s hiring comes roughly two weeks after a group of the largest donors in the Democratic party gathered in Washington to discuss where they’ll put their money during the 2008 race. . . . Those familiar with overall Democratic fundraising plans for 2008 say that everything is still in a very nascent stage, but party heavyweights are clearly on the march — setting up various organizations that may be integrated into a larger uber-fundraising effort, perhaps under Mattzie’s group.

Move On’s political director who wasjoined at the hip with the Democratic Party on Congressional issues now getting a big Dem fundraising gig? Shocking.

Move On and Mattzie have played its members for a while now. You think they’ll figure it out? Me neither.

The Myth of the Straight Talking Pol

Booman writes:

Which gets straight to the problem with so many Democratic nominees. Was Michael Dukakis a tough guy? Could you believe Bill Clinton? Which Al Gore was going to show up to which debate? Where did John Kerry stand on the war? As Terence Samuel notes, this is not the kind of image that we need in our next nominee.

Hillary has worked hard to project an image of toughness, but she hasn't mastered it at all, the art of creating trust. . . . [S]he isn't really all that tough and, more importantly, she isn't trustworthy. She doesn't project trustworthiness. . . .

What nonsense. There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton is perceived as tough. Indeed, that is one thing the “castrating bitch” GOP meme has accomplished. But she has been attacked as untrustworthy. The funny thing is Booman notes that no Dem GE Presidential candidate seems to have figured out how to be viewed as trustworthy. But he thinks Clinton is the problem. What myopia! Bob Somerby has covered this extensively and it is amazing that Booman does not seem to know about it:

P]onder this statement by the New York Post’s Charlie Hurt. The boys were discussing Saint Rudy:

HURT (11/6/07): You know, because [Giuliani] is such a gun-slinger, and because he is such a straight-talker, people believe him . . .

Giuliani’s endless, howling misstatements are becoming the stuff of legend—but to Hurt, he’s still a “straight-talker.” But then, Time’s Mike Allen had stated this view roughly one minute before:

ALLEN: . . . It turns out they like his gun-slinging, straight-shooting swagger, that he comes across—he will answer a question, he will say, “No way, no how.” People like that.

To Allen, he’s a “straight-shooter.” . . .

All week, Clinton’s “evasiveness” and “double-talk” have been trashed on Hardball—like Gore’s lies and Kerry’s flip-flops before her. But Giuliani is still a “straight-talker!” There is absolutely nothing on earth that will keep these lads from their Group Tales.

Apparently, Booman knows nothing of this. And let me be clear about something, there are no straight talking pols. Never have been, never will be. Not George Washington. Not Abraham Lincoln. Not FDR. My gawd, are we so far gone in our naivete about this? Don't believe me. Well, watch this:

We need to stop putting these folks on pedestals. And understand that pols are vessels for political interests. Best fight for your own political views to be adopted by the pols you can choose from.  For pols, it's hard to be a saint in the city.

Racial Thoughtlessness

Speaking for me only

Brad DeLong is a great progressive commentator on matters economic. But, for a second time that I know of, DeLong has demonstrated a thoughtlessness about race issues. The first, in which he was joined by Matt Yglesias, involved a defense of Bill Bennett's offensive remarks regarding fighting crime through termination of African American pregnancies. (See also Nathan Newman's great piece on the subject.) Today, in pointing out factual errors in a Bob Herbert column (Herbert erroenously confused the Consumer Price Index with the core inflation rate and confusingly used the technical term recession when making an argument about our skewed economy), DeLong, in my view, innocently but insensitively, asked:

How has the New York Times managed to pick Bob Herbert out of the 75 million liberal adults in America? It is a mystery.

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion about Bob Herbert. Mine is that he is a national treasure. Certainly NOT liking Herbert is a respectable, though wrongheaded opinion. But surely DeLong SHOULD have known what his comment would invite.

For example, “respectable” champion race baiter, Andrew “Bell Curve” Sullivan wrote:

A question only a left-liberal could ask:

“How has the New York Times managed to pick Bob Herbert out of the 75 million liberal adults in America? It is a mystery.”

Is he kidding me?

Get it? It's because Herbert is black. Ha! What a funny racist idiot Sullivan is. And make no mistake. Andrew Sullivan is a racist. More.    

NYTimes Does Not Understand What Poor Harry Reid Is Going Through

If only the NYTimes Editorial Board could have had Major Danby explain to them how HAAAARD it is on poor Harry Reid. They never would have written this:

Abdicate and Capitulate

It is extraordinary how President Bush has streamlined the Senate confirmation process. As we have seen most recently with the vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as attorney general, about all that is left of “advice and consent” is the “consent” part.

. . . In less than seven years, Mr. Bush has managed to boil that list down to its least common denominator: the president should get his choices. At first, Mr. Bush was abetted by a slavish Republican majority that balked at only one major appointment – Harriet Miers for Supreme Court justice, and then only because of doubts that she was far enough to the right.

The Democrats, however, also deserve a large measure of blame. They did almost nothing while they were in the minority to demand better nominees than Mr. Bush was sending up. And now that they have attained the majority, they are not doing any better.

On Thursday, the Senate voted by 53 to 40 to confirm Mr. Mukasey even though he would not answer a simple question: does he think waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning used to extract information from a prisoner, is torture and therefore illegal?

Democrats offer excuses for their sorry record, starting with their razor-thin majority. But it is often said that any vote in the Senate requires more than 60 votes – enough to overcome a filibuster. So why did Mr. Mukasey get by with only 53 votes? Given the success the Republicans have had in blocking action when the Democrats cannot muster 60 votes, the main culprit appears to be the Democratic leadership, which seems uninterested in or incapable of standing up to Mr. Bush.

Senator Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat who turned the tide for this nomination, said that if the Senate did not approve Mr. Mukasey, the president would get by with an interim appointment who would be under the sway of “the extreme ideology of Vice President Dick Cheney.” He argued that Mr. Mukasey could be counted on to reverse the politicization of the Justice Department that occurred under Alberto Gonzales, and that Mr. Mukasey’s reticence about calling waterboarding illegal might well become moot, because the Senate was considering a law making clear that it is illegal.

That is precisely the sort of cozy rationalization that Mr. Schumer and his colleagues have used so many times to back down from a confrontation with Mr. Bush. The truth is, Mr. Mukasey is already in the grip of that “extreme ideology.” If he were not, he could have answered the question about waterboarding.

. . . The rationales that accompanied the vote in favor of Mr. Mukasey were not reassuring. The promise of a law banning waterboarding is no comfort. It is unnecessary, and even if it passes, Mr. Bush seems certain to veto it. In fact, it would play into the administration’s hands by allowing it to argue that torture is not currently illegal.

The claim that Mr. Mukasey will depoliticize the Justice Department loses its allure when you consider that he would not commit himself to enforcing Congressional subpoenas in the United States attorneys scandal.

All of this leaves us wondering whether Mr. Schumer and other Democratic leaders were more focused on the 2008 elections than on doing their constitutional duty. Certainly, being made to look weak on terrorism might make it harder for them to expand their majority.

. . .

Shame on the NYTimes for not understanding the tribulations of our Dem leadership. If only Danby were there to explain it.

The Risk of Science and Race

The New York Times has an article that lays out the risk very clearly, it is the EXPECTATION that more research in genetics will indeed prove innate differences in the races in physical and mental attributes. And if there is one thing we can know about the history of science, scientists will find what they look for. Consider this:

“Regardless of any such genetic variation, it is our moral duty to treat all as equal before God and before the law,” Perry Clark, 44, wrote on a New York Times blog. It is not necessary, argued Dr. Clark, a retired neonatologist in Leawood, Kan., who is white, to maintain the pretense that inborn racial differences do not exist.“When was the last time a nonblack sprinter won the Olympic 100 meters?” he asked.

“To say that such differences aren’t real,” Dr. Clark later said in an interview, “is to stick your head in the sand and go blah blah blah blah blah until the band marches by.”

First, to answer the good doctor's question, Alan Welles of Scotland won the Olympic gold medal in 1980. Prior to that, Valery Borzov of the then-Soviet Union won the 100 meters in the 1972 Olympics. Prior to that, Armin Hary of Germany won the 100 meter dash in 1960. 1956? White American Bobby Joe Morrow. To wit, from 1956 to 1980, white men won 4 of 7 100 meter dash Olympic gold medals. Presumably, for the good doctor, all these genetic changes occurred since 1980. MORE.  

“Jonathan” Does The Florida Recount 2000

Avedon has a great find, “Jonathan” of Buffy fame, Danny Strong, wrote a movie on the Florida recount that is in production, appraently with some big names:

Recount, the film written by Danny Strong about the 2000 presidential election, is currently filming in my state — at the scene of the crime. . . . What was more fun was meeting Danny Strong. Since I’m not a convention-goer, I figured I’d never actually meet any of the Buffy actors. But he was on the site, and I saw him here and there between takes. Then, there was one fairly long wait between takes, and he was taking photographs of the set. I was talking to another extra, and then I turned, and there he was a mere inches in front of me, with his back to me. Well, I couldn’t let the moment pass, so I said, “Thank you for writing this movie.” He turned, and I told him I was a fan, and we ended up talking about 15 minutes about the film, the election, etc. A couple of other extras also entered into the conversation, talking about their memories of the protests in Tallahassee back in 2000. Anyway, I think he was genuinely surprised to have someone single him out, as I don’t think anybody else among the extras knew who he was . . .

For Buffy fans like me, that is quite cool.  

Netroots Identity Crisis: Act 2

Like the Welshman before him, Major Danby does not get it. In rationalizing the handling of the Mukasey vote, Danby argues:

You can argue that Reid should have still allowed a cloture vote so that we could see which of the 40 Senators who opposed Mukasey were unwilling to filibuster him.  That would make sense if Reid were a journalist or a netroots activist.  But he’s a Majority Leader, and he serves his caucus, and sometimes that means letting them get away without having a vote that spotlights the hypocrisy nuance of their position.

Suppose you really believe that, is Major Danby Harry Reid? Are any of us? What in the fuck does Danby think the role of the Netroots is? Obviously, he sees HIS role as EXPLAINING to us poor simpletons how “Washington works.” There is a lot of that going around at Daily Kos these days.

No, Major Danby, we are NOT Harry Reid. We are the Left flank of the Democratic Party. And when the Left flank of the Party dedicates itself to rationalizing capitulation (whatever its merits in a specific instance for the people doing the capitulating) then you become nothing but an enabling arm of the Beltway Dems.

This is not new with Danby, but never has he stated it so starkly. Pathetic.

The Despicable David Brooks

Yep. He did. And he says Kevin Drum agrees with him. Oh, Brooks starts by the standard unsourced argument that Ronald Reagan really did not mean to send a message to white Southerners on civil rights when he gave a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi where defense of “states rights” figured prominently. He calls those of us, including his colleague Bob Herbert, purveyors of a “heinous conspiracy theory.”  But the truth is Brooks has been a pernicious, mendacious apologist for the GOP throughout his career and this is no different.

Brooks provides NO evidence to buttress his claims. Indeed the version he provides buttresses the argument that the Philadelphia speech was in fact an exercise in dogwhistle politics in the Deep South:

Lou Cannon of The Washington Post reported at the time that this schedule reflected a shift in Republican strategy. Some inside the campaign wanted to move away from the Southern strategy used by Nixon, believing there were more votes available in the northern suburbs and among working-class urban voters.

But there was another event going on that week, the Neshoba County Fair, seven miles southwest of Philadelphia. The Neshoba County Fair was a major political rallying spot in Mississippi (Michael Dukakis would campaign there in 1988). Mississippi was a state that Republican strategists hoped to pick up. They’d recently done well in the upper South, but they still lagged in the Deep South, where racial tensions had been strongest. Jimmy Carter had carried Mississippi in 1976 by 14,000 votes.

So the decision was made to go to Neshoba. Exactly who made the decision is unclear. The campaign was famously disorganized, and Cannon reported: “The Reagan campaign’s hand had been forced to some degree by local announcement that he would go to the fair.” Reagan’s pollster Richard Wirthlin urged him not to go, but Reagan angrily countered that once the commitment had been made, he couldn’t back out.

Well, that settles it no? Sheesh. Brooks ACCEPTS that Nixon ran a Southern Strategy, ACCEPTS that the Reagan campaign was looking to make inroads in the Deep South against the Southerner Carter and even accepts that:

You can look back on this history in many ways. It’s callous, at least, to use the phrase “states’ rights” in any context in Philadelphia. Reagan could have done something wonderful if he’d mentioned civil rights at the fair. He didn’t. And it’s obviously true that race played a role in the G.O.P.’s ascent.

So this is the “evidence” that absolves the Reagan campaign? This is what allows a man with a history of mendacity to slur people like his colleague Herbert as “heinous?” Oh and what of the evidence that Brooks ignores? Like this:

Ronald Reagan on the subject of welfare. He cited a Chicago “Welfare Queen” who had ripped off $150,000 from the government, using 80 aliases, 30 addresses, a dozen social security cards, and four fictional dead husbands. The country was outraged; Reagan dutifully promised to roll back welfare; and ever since, the “Welfare Queen” driving her “Welfare Cadillac” has become permanently lodged in American political folklore.

Unfortunately, like most great conservative anecdotes, it wasn't really true. The media searched for this welfare cheat in the hopes of interviewing her, and discovered that she didn't even exist.

As a bit of class warfare, however, it was brilliant. . . .

Except in was not class warfare only. It was mainly RACE warfare.

And this:

Ronald Reagan was key to the South's transition to Republican politics. Goldwater got the ball rolling, but Reagan was at his side from the very beginning. During the 1964 campaign, Reagan gave speeches in support of Goldwater and spoke out for what he called individual rights — read that also as states' rights. Reagan also and portrayed any opposition as support for totalitarianism — read that as communism.

In 1976, Reagan sought the Republican nomination against the incumbent President Gerald Ford. Reagan's campaign was on the ropes until the primaries hit the Southern states, where he won his first key victory in North Carolina. Throughout the South that spring and summer, Reagan portrayed himself as Goldwater's heir while criticizing Ford as a captive of Eastern establishment Republicans fixated on forced integration.

. . . After he defeated President Carter, a native Southerner, Reagan led an administration that seemed to cater to Southerners still angry over the passage of the Civil Rights Act after 16 years. The Reagan team condemned busing for school integration, opposed affirmative action and even threatened to veto a proposed extension of the Voting Rights Act (the sequel to the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed a year later and focused on election participation). President Reagan also tried to allow Bob Jones University, a segregated Southern school, to reclaim federal tax credits that had long been denied to racially discriminatory institutions.

Of course this is just a sample of what Reagan said and did on race issues throughout his political career. But Brooks would have it that the Phildelphia, Mississippi speech was NOT intended to be consistent with Reagan's entire political history. It was just an accidental bit of “callousness.”

David Brooks has been a mendacious and despicable charcter in our political discourse for many years now. But this column today sinks him to a new low.

House Dems Propose Iraq Funding With Timetables

Speaker Pelosi today announced:

House Democrats said Thursday they would send President Bush $50 billion for combat operations on the condition that he begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. The proposal, similar to one Bush vetoed earlier this year, would identify a goal of ending combat entirely by December 2008. It would require that troops spend as much time at home as they do in combat, as well as effectively ban harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding.

In a private caucus meeting, Pelosi told rank-and-file Democrats that the bill was their best shot at challenging Bush on the war. And if Bush rejected it, she said, she did not intend on sending him another war spending bill for the rest of the year.

“This is not a blank check for the president,” she said later at a Capitol Hill news conference. “This is providing funding for the troops limited to a particular purpose, for a short time frame.

As always, we know Bush will veto.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Bush would veto any bill that sets an “artificial timeline” for troop withdrawals.

As always, I applaud the Speaker’s STATED stance today.

As always, the important point here is that the House Dems MUST stick to their guns and tell the President – of he vetoes then he is abandoning the troops in the field. I repeat, the President of the United States will be ABANDONING AMERICAN TROOPS IN THE FIELD!

President Bush is proposing to stab the troops in the back by vetoing funding for them.

A disgraceful man. The worst President in history.

Dodd Leads On FISA Telco Amnesty

Against the odds, Senator Chris Dodd has led the fight against FISA telco immunity.

The first step is to make sure retroactive immunity doesn’t make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee — where it will be considered shortly.

If we can get it stripped there, it will have to be offered as an amendment to the overall bill where it will be a lot easier to get 41 votes against retroactive immunity than 41 to sustain my filibuster if necessary

This is a vitally important issue, as the Dodd campaign demonstrates in this video of the whistleblower Marc Klein, who told the story of the telco’s failure to respect the privacy of its customers that the law (the Communication Storage Act) requires.

My name is Mark Klein. I used to be an AT&T technician for 22 years.

[Former AT&T Technician Mark Klein Speaks Out on Retroactive Immunity and Domestic Surveillance]

“What I figured out when I got there is that they were copying everything flowing across the internet cables, the major internet links between AT&T’s network and other companies’ networks.”

“It struck me at the time that this was a massively unconstitutional, illegal operation.”

“It affects not only AT&T’s customers, but everybody because these links went to places link Sprint, Qwest, a whole bunch of other companies.”

“And so they’re basically tapping into the entire internet.”

[But isn’t the government only monitoring suspected terrorists and not ordinary Americans?]

“To perform what they say they want to do, which is look at international traffic, none of this makes any sense. These installations only make sense if they’re doing a huge, massive domestic dragnet on everybody in the United States.”

[Shouldn’t the telecoms trust that the Bush administration’s requests are legal?]

“These companies know very well what’s legal and illegal. They’ve been dealing with this for decades. And it’s a fact that Qwest refused the NSA’s approaches because they didn’t have, they weren’t shown any legal justification for it. And they did the right thing and said, “no.” “

“What I’m here for is it looked like a few weeks ago that the Senate bill which passed the Intelligence Committee would give immunity to the telecom companies and that would probably put an end to the lawsuits.”

[The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently reviewing retroactive immunity]

“So I came here to lobby against giving immunity to the telecom companies. Let the court cases proceed and Congress should not interfere in that.”

Tell the Senate to oppose telecom immunity

Chris Dodd, leading on the issues now and demonstrating the leadership we will need from our next President.

Now call the Judiciary Committee Senators now. Use this. Chris Dodd will pay for your call.

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