Why the Left Needs Racism– James Taranto

April 21, 2010

What do you get when you cross a corny old joke with a network news report? Something like this:

A black guy walks into a tea party, and a white lady says to him, “You know, we don’t get many African-Americans in here.” The black guy replies, “And at these prices, it’s no wonder!”

The joke, at least as we originally heard it, involves a kangaroo and a bartender. The news report, brought to our attention by the fellows at NewsBusters.org, involved NBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell and tea-party activist Darryl Postell. O’Donnell approached Postell at a Washington rally, and hilarity ensued:

O’Donnell: There aren’t a lot of African-American men at these events.

Postell: [laughs] Right.

O’Donnell: Have you ever felt uncomfortable?

Postell: No, no, these are my people, Americans.

Another joke, attributed to our friend Rich Miniter circa 1991, goes as follows: What do you call a black man at a conservative event? Guest speaker. To the New York Times’s Charles Blow, this is no laughing matter. Blow visited a tea party in Dallas last week and didn’t like what he saw:

I had specifically come to this rally because it was supposed to be especially diverse. And, on the stage at least, it was. The speakers included a black doctor who bashed Democrats for crying racism, a Hispanic immigrant who said that she had never received a single government entitlement and a Vietnamese immigrant who said that the Tea Party leader was God. It felt like a bizarre spoof of a 1980s Benetton ad.

The juxtaposition was striking: an abundance of diversity on the stage and a dearth of it in the crowd, with the exception of a few minorities like the young black man who carried a sign that read “Quit calling me a racist.”

Blow was especially put off by Alphonzo Rachel, a black comic who spoofs the president by performing skits as “Zo-bama.” Blow sums up the experience this way: “Thursday night I saw a political minstrel show devised for the entertainment of those on the rim of obliviousness and for those engaged in the subterfuge of intolerance. I was not amused.”

Blogger Conor Friedsdorf notes that there is a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose quality to the Blow approach:

In any context except a Tea Party, the vast majority of liberal writers would praise the act of highlighting the voices of “people of color” even if they aren’t particularly representative of a crowd or corporation or university class. Let it happen at a rally of conservatives, however, and this winds up on the nation’s premier op-ed page. . . .

It’s this kind of piece that causes people on the right to think that on matters of race, they’re damned if they do, and they’re damned if they don’t–if they don’t make efforts to include non-whites they’re unenlightened propagators of privilege, and if they do make those efforts they’re the cynical managers of a minstrel show, but either way, race is used as a cudgel to discredit them in a way that would never be applied to a political movement on the left.

Or, for that matter, to any nonpolitical institution that aspires to become more inclusive. Imagine Kelly O’Donnell questioning a black man in a largely white company or university or country club or suburb the way she interrogated Darryl Postell. She would come off as clueless and prejudiced–as, come to think of it, she does. (Kudos to NBC for airing this revealing though embarrassing footage.)

The political left claims to love racial diversity, but it bitterly opposes such diversity on the political right. This is an obvious matter of political self-interest: Since 1964, blacks have voted overwhelmingly Democratic. If Republicans were able to attract black votes, the result would be catastrophic for the Democratic Party. Even in 2008, the Democrats’ best presidential year since ’64, if the black vote had been evenly split between the parties (and holding the nonblack vote constant), Barack Obama would have gotten about 48% of the vote and John McCain would be president.

To keep blacks voting Democratic, it is necessary for the party and its supporters to keep alive the idea that racism is prevalent in America and to portray the Republican Party (as well as independent challengers to the Democrats, such as the tea-party movement) as racist. The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country and thereby necessitated an intensifying of attacks on the opposition as racist.

These charges of racism are partly based on circular reasoning. Among Blow’s evidence that the tea-party movement is racist is “a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Wednesday [that] found that only 1 percent of Tea Party supporters are black and only 1 percent are Hispanic.” Other polls have put the black proportion as high as 5% (and, as Tom Maguire notes, Blow misreports his own paper’s Hispanic figure, which is actually 3%). But with blacks constituting some 12% of the population, there’s no question that the tea-party movement is whiter than the nation as a whole.

Yet to posit racism as an explanation is to ignore far more obvious and less invidious causes for the disparity. The tea-party movement’s racial composition reflects a pre-existing partisan alignment: The movement arose in opposition to the policies of a Democratic government, and the vast majority of blacks are Democrats, or at least vote for Democrats. Pride in the first black president, a normal and wholesome attitude, reinforces this partisan allegiance.

There’s another factor that might keep blacks away from tea parties: the perception, whether true or not, that the movement is racist–a perception that liberal politicians and commentators have worked tirelessly (and tiresomely) to propagate. Add to this the risk of race-based opprobrium from fellow blacks and even from white liberals for deviating from the way blacks are “supposed” to think. Charles Blow’s nasty descriptions of the blacks at the Dallas tea party reminded us of an Associated Press dispatch we noted April 7:

They’ve been called Oreos, traitors and Uncle Toms, and are used to having to defend their values. Now black conservatives are really taking heat for their involvement in the mostly white tea party movement–and for having the audacity to oppose the policies of the nation’s first black president.

So, there aren’t many African-Americans at the tea parties? At these prices, it’s no wonder!

Heat on Heath
Rep. Heath Shuler is taking some heat back in North Carolina over an incident he apparently had nothing to do with. Last week we noted that the Associated Press, based on a local newspaper report, had cited Shuler as corroborating the claims of three black congressmen that tea-party protesters shouted the “N-word” at them on March 20. Shuler’s press secretary told us that the local reporter had misunderstood and that Shuler did not hear the “N-word,” although he did hear someone call Rep. Barney Frank a “communist faggot.”

The local paper, the Hendersonville Times-News, ran a story Friday titled “Shuler Changes Story on What He Heard at Health Care Protests”:

U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler is distancing himself from comments he made to the Times-News last month, stating he heard racial slurs yelled from a crowd of angry health care protesters outside the U.S. Capitol. . . .

At that time, Shuler told the Times-News he was walking toward the Capitol with [Rep. Emanuel] Cleaver when protesters began yelling racial epithets at Cleaver.

Also on Friday, we received an emailed press release from Robert Danos, chairman of the Henderson County Republican Party:

This story, as far as WNC [western North Carolina] goes, has nothing to do with what did or did not happen on that very heated day outside of the Capitol.

It has everything to do with Heath Shuler’s dishonesty and his need, in this case, to place himself in the middle of a much focused on story.

I have no 1st hand knowledge of what occurred that day.

*The problem is that we now know that neither did Heath Shuler.*

He told the T-N he was there–he was not. Even after the T-N reported his “witness account” in its story on his health care vote, he did nothing to set the record straight until confronted by the AP with the fact that the video and stills show 100% that he was not there.

In doing so he hurts the stories of the African-American Congressmen who say they were assaulted with the n-word, he smears the protestors by indicting them with this vulgar charge without cause, and he shames the voters back home.

All 3 of those parties are owed an immediate and sincere apology.

Here our professional pride compels us to note that we, not the AP, first reported that Shuler disputed the Times-News story–though more on this anon.

In the dispute between Shuler and James Shea, the Times-News reporter, we have no way of knowing who’s right. Politicians have been known to change their stories for expedience’ sake, but reporters have also been known to get things wrong, and to stand behind even demonstrably false stories (cf Rather, Daniel Irvin).

In any case, the original Times-News story was ambiguous:

Shuler was walking with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, an African-American, toward the Capitol building when the crowd starting yelling racial epithets at Cleaver, who was a civil rights activist in the 1970s. They even spat at him.

“It was the most horrible display of protesting I have ever seen in my life,” Shuler said.

Multiple members of Congress reported racial epithets being shouted at African-American members over the weekend.

“It breaks your heart that the way they display their anger is to spit on a member and use that kind of language,” Shuler said.

It was not clear from this what slurs, if any, Shuler heard, which is why we called his office for clarification. Only one specific fact from the original story is in dispute: the statement that Shuler was “walking with Cleaver.” (Though it also seems to us that Shea embellished Cleaver’s account. The Missouri Democrat said that one man, not “the crowd,” spat at him. The evidence suggests that it happened, though Cleaver later said he didn’t know if it was intentional.)

We would, however, like to set the record straight about another reporter’s work. NewsBusters.org gloated late Thursday about what it called a “correction” (actually a follow-up report) by the Associated Press, acknowledging Shuler’s denial of the Times-News report, which the AP’s Jesse Washington had picked up in an April 13 dispatch. According to NewsBusters:

And who did the initial investigation to find out what Heath Shuler actually heard? The AP? Nope. It was James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal. The AP was merely playing catchup on its own story.

In fact, we spoke with Washington on April 8, while he was reporting the story. He told us at the time that he had attempted to contact Shuler’s office for comment but his phone calls had gone unreturned. This should have been mentioned in his story, but that is a minor oversight, not a serious dereliction.

Now, it is true that when we called Shuler’s office on April 14, his press secretary came straight to the phone and readily answered our questions. Our surmise–and this is only a surmise–is that Shuler ducked Washington because he hoped to avoid being drawn into what by then had become a bitter controversy. This hope was in vain, as Washington picked up the Times-News report anyway. But the piling on by the press and the GOP back home illustrates why Shuler might have preferred to stay out of it.

What’s the Matter With Connecticut?
Kate Zernike of the New York Times puzzles over the results of her paper’s tea-party poll:

It makes sense that people would take to the streets to protest government spending and enormous deficits during the Great Recession, when they are feeling economic pain most acutely.

But the Tea Party supporters now taking to the streets aren’t the ones feeling the pain.

In the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, they are better educated and wealthier than the general public. They are just as likely to be employed, and more likely to describe their economic situation as very or fairly good.

Yet they are disproportionately pessimistic about the economy and the nation. A breathtaking 92 percent said the country is on the wrong track.

It’s a twist on the old Thomas Frank “What’s the matter with Kansas?” argument. Frank and Zernike both find it puzzling that people would act contrary to their putative economic self-interest. Frank wonders why the nonrich would oppose liberal politicians, who promise to make them less nonrich; Zernike is mystified by discontent among the well-off. She attributes it to cultural forces of the sort that Frank deplores:

The poll reveals a deep conviction among Tea Party supporters that the country is being run by people who do not share their values, for the benefit of people who are not like them. That is a recurring theme of the previous half-century–conservatives in liberal eras declaring the imperative to “Take America Back.”

“The story they’re telling is that somehow the authentic, real America is being polluted,” said Rick Perlstein, the author of books about the Goldwater and Nixon years.

There may be some truth to this. But couldn’t there be a rational basis for their cultural intuitions? If tea-party activists tend to be people with the wherewithal to put their own lives on the right track, maybe they’re on to something when they say the country is on the wrong one.

Original Article

NYT/CBS Poll- Who are the Tea Partiers?

April 16, 2010

Liberals have taken the “results” of this poll as a way to characterize the Tea Party as being controlled by a bunch of rich people who are just looking out for themselves. They also want to portray them as being on the fringe and not reflective of the way America really thinks.

So, I thought that I would look at the actual poll results itself. Here is a link– http://documents.nytimes.com/new-york-timescbs-news-poll-national-survey-of-tea-party-supporters?ref=politics You can even download the results as a PDF.

I’m not a pollster, but all of the Tea Party responses were marked with TP. All other stats provided were from prior national polls (CBS) to, as liberal pundits on MSNBC would call it, reflect the view of mainstream America.

So, on to question #1 (slight paraphrase), do you approve of the way Obama is doing his job?

  • Tea Party- 7% approve, 88% disapprove
  • However, all of the CBS polls conducted before that, shows that “mainstream America’s” approval of Obama has dropped from 62% down to 50%. But liberals will tell you that America is absolutely thrilled with him as president even though his numbers are dropping.

Questions #2/3 (slight paraphrase), what do you like/dislike about him?

  • 46% of America say that they just like him or they don’t what they like about him. (Hmmm…I thought liberals and progressives were supposed to be educated, and they don’t even know why they like him.)
  • 48% of Tea Partiers have the same opinion. (Maybe the Tea Party does reflect mainstream America?)
  • 46% of America say they just don’t like him or don’t know why.
  • 26% of Tea Partiers have the same opinion. (Maybe they are better educated? Who knew?)

Question #4 (slight paraphrase), is the country going in the right direction? Note: They provided CBS polling data going back to 1991. I am going to focus on the timeframe from 1/2009.

  • Tea Party- 6% right, 92% wrong
  • America- Peaked at 45% (May 2009) in the right direction and has gone down ever since. (Maybe the Tea Party is leading the way…oh, yeah, by educating the public.)

Question #5 (slight paraphrase)- what’s the biggest problem facing the country?

  • Tea Party- 56% Economy, Jobs, and Deficit
  • America- 55% Jobs, Economy, and Deficit (Tea Partiers are such fringe extremists.)

I could go on, but even the most ardent liberal can see the point. The New York Times is clearly pushing their own agenda while polls are supposed to reflect views of the public at large.

If one looks closely at the data, the Tea Party seems to reflect the views of mainstream America. It is progressives (like Obama) who do not reflect the views of mainstream America.

Don’t you just love ‘liberal spin’?

April 14, 2010

This is the title of an article posted on Newsvine.com.

FOX News reporter shocked – shocked! – to find Tea Party rallies a ‘cauldron of conspiracy theories, mistruths, and exaggerations’

Here is a quote from that article as posted by Newsvine writer:

Cristina Corbin of FOX News has spent a few weeks embedded with the Tea Party Express, and writes about how tea party leaders are cringing at what the movement is attracting.

But while organizers have held the tour as a way to stay front-and-center as a political force, the rallies have also attracted the kinds of mistruths, exaggerations and conspiracy theories that make Tea Party leaders cringe. Though the movement is still trying to shore up its credentials as a grassroots power that’s here to stay, the so-called “fringe” and its accompanying antics continue to give critics fodder.

This seems to show that FoxNews.com is changing its tune on the Tea Party. However, the quote shown above comes from Alan Colmes’s website which is named “Liberaland”.

Hmmm…..

Quoting Alan Colmes’s website clearly displays a lack of impartiality. The name of the site is “Liberaland”. Gee! I wonder what he thinks of the Tea Party.

If one were to read the article on Colmes’s site and compare it against the actual article on FoxNews.com, you would see some interesting differences. On Colmes’s site, it is portrayed, using vague generalities, that the Tea Party is controlled by a “fringe” group The actual FoxNews.com article simply describes the “fringe” group with no mention of its influence on the overall Tea Party.

Now, a new question. How many of these “fringe” members of the Tea Party are authentic and how many are plants? Go to the following site- www.crashtheteaparty.org. The purpose of this group is for people (liberals and progressives included) to infiltrate the movement and do whatever it takes to discredit the Tea Party.

Make certain that you click on crash at the bottom of the page and actually look at some of the posts. They are asking for donations, they want to produce spoofs of books written by conservatives to give out at Tea Party rallies, and numerous other examples of ways to discredit the Tea Party.

So, to quote a blatantly liberal website as a source of information against a conservative movement is a waste of time. I wonder if some liberal or progressive would be able to answer my second question.

The Case Against the Tea Party

April 12, 2010

On numerous occasions, the Tea Party has been maligned by critics as un-American, Nazis, Members of the KKK, racists, ignorant, homophobes, and many, many more. The mainstream media has described the movement as a fringe group that is not representative of the majority of Americans.

If this is the case; then can someone explain a few things to me?

Why was the website, CrashTheTeaParty.org, even created if the Tea Party is a fringe group? The mission of this group, and I quote, is:

“To dismantle and demolish the Tea Party by any non-violent means necessary.”

The plan of action, and I quote, is:

“By infiltrating the Tea Party itself…”; “…act on their behalf in ways which exaggerate their least appealing qualities…”; “…disrupt and derail their plans.”

The Democrats/Progressives have also attempted to mischaracterize the Tea Party as a fringe group of racists, homophobes, and various other derogatory terms.

Question: Why did the Congressmen choose to walk through the middle of a crowd of protestors other than to incite them to do something that would discredit the movement? Congressmen have never walked to the Capitol Building in my lifetime. Why this time?

Then there is the issue of the Tea Party candidate in the Nevada Senate campaign to replace Harry Reid. It seems that people thought the Tea Party candidate was a Democratic plant. Then the same candidate is now facing felony charges. Criminal convictions tend to do a bang-up job of discrediting a political candidate; or in this case a political movement.

Hollywood and the media has also joined the fight against the Tea Party. Jeneane Garafolo, in an interview with Keith Olbermann, had this to say about the Tea Party:

For such a fringe group, the Democrats/Progressives seem to be absolutely obsessed with them. Could it be because the Tea Party is now a force to be reckoned with? The Democrats’ opposition to the Tea Party is not on the merits of ideas, but based on the same fear and paranoia which is what they claim created the Tea Party in the first place.

Glenn Beck is the only one? Are you sure?

April 8, 2010

On his show yesterday, Glenn Beck talked about the boycotts by advertisers against him. It seems there are 200+ companies that are supposed to have pulled advertisemnts off of his show; and some are supposed to have pulled ads from Fox News altogether.

So, he’s the only one who’s stirring up the masses inciting them to do various things that are disrespectful to America. Things like waving the flag, peacefully protesting against healthcare reform, and dare I mention the worst of all–contacting your Congressman via e-mail, fax, phone call, or any means possible.

It seems to me that he has been targeted by people who disagree with him, because he seems to be their only focus.

What about Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow–heck, MSNBC in its entirety? There are too many examples to list. What about Anderson Cooper? One example would be when he repeatedly stated, “…they’ve got teabagging” on live TV. What about Katie Couric when she called healthcare opponents “ignorant”? What about Frank Rich of the New York Times who said everyone opposing healthcare is racist? What about Bill Maher who called all Americans “stupid”? What about Andrea Mitchell who said that “Americans don’t know what’s good for them” when talking about healthcare?

These are all statements made by people on television, but there is no outrage about how offensive these statements are. So, to the people boycotting Glenn Beck because he peddles “hate speech” and makes offensive statements, make certain that you also boycott all of these shows as well; because their statements would be considered highly offensive to a large group of people.

If not, shut up and get a thicker skin, because your rhetoric about hate speech is clearly motivated by political ideology and nothing more.

Questioning Progressives?? How Dare I?

April 7, 2010

In an op-ed disguised as an article on the Huffington Post, Robert Creamer, a self-proclaimed progressive, lays out the reasons he thinks that Democrats will be able to maintain control of the government because of health care reform.

I decided to respond to them…

Because it’s passed into law, Democrats are now the ones who will be in a position to demand that Republicans keep their “hands off our health care.” And we can be very specific about provisions that go into effect right away. — OK. Please note that he did not mention any of the specific provisions for starters. By most reports, there are only three effects that will kick in this year– 1) Keep children on parents’ health insurance until age 26; 2) Closing the loophole prescription drug coverage for older Americans, and 3) Not denying children because of pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, the bill that had to be passed quickly will not provide insurance for most of  “the 32 million” until 2014.

Does Congressman Boehner really want to repeal the 35% tax credit that helps small business buy health care for their employees? — What Mr. Creamer forgets to mention is the rest of Section 1421 where it says that the credit would “the lesser” of the costs if 1) all of the employees who were covered by the employer’s group plan or 2) if all of the employees had  enrolled whether or not they actually did. This would also be for the prior tax year. Hmmm….what will happen to the small business who had the misfortune of expanding just prior to the passage of this bill? Simple, the tax credit would be nowhere near enough for the employer to absorb the costs. He also does not mention that the credit will be redcued based on the number of employees and average wages.

Does McConnell really want to repeal the provision that prevents insurance companies from denying benefits to children who have “pre-existing conditions?” — Aaahhh, the morality angle. Stating the obvious is the only thing healthcare supporters can do. Fine! Repeal this monstrosity and pass a simpler bill saying insurance companies can not deny children on the basis of pre-existing conditions. There problem solved without creating a massive new bureaucracy. Man, I think I deserve the Nobel Prize for Medicine for solving such a complex issue.

Does Steele really want to kick all the recent college grads off their parent’s health insurance policies?— No, but do progressives want to create a culture of underachievers? The only way this reform would work is for people to continue to be productive and thereby maintaining the tax base necessary to fund this monster. Where’s the incentive for these young adults? Or could this be a backdoor way to cover their political backsides because the unemployment rate is still high and will probably go higher once this goes into effect.

Does the Republican caucus really oppose closing the “donut hole” of coverage for senior citizen drug benefits — or forcing seniors to send back the 250 check they will get this summer as a down payment on making drugs more affordable?— Again, the morality angle, but in two parts no less. Close the “donut hole”, but do it without reinventing the wheel. (See my point about children and pre-existing conditions.) As for the $250 check, how long does that last? A month, maybe two… Let’s not forget the increased costs for businesses will be passed onto the consumer– in this case, the senior citizen.

Do Republicans want to side with the big insurance companies and eliminate the provision that will limit the amount of our premium dollars that insurance companies can spend on CEO pay, armies of bureaucrats who do nothing but deny claims, TV ads and limousines full of lobbyists?— So, the argument here is that we need the reinvent the entire wheel to reign in runaway insurance companies. Mr. Creamer does not mention that the health insurance industry was a willing participant at the start of this debate over a year ago. However, that was before they were considered the true “evil” behind this problem.

…the bill did not – as the Republicans claimed — cut their Medicare. In fact they will find that it has strengthened their Medicare – that the only thing cut was a subsidy to big private insurers. — OK, the $500 billion cut strengthens Medicare. So, the insurers get less money from the government as reimbursement for covering Medicare patients. Notice the costs of the treatment did not go down, just the reimbursement. So, that means the insurer is losing money on every single Medicare patient. What would happen if the costs of the treatment goes up? That’s right, the insurer would lose even more money. The logical conclusion being that all private insurers would eventually go out of business– leaving only the government. Obama has said that he is an advocate of the single-payer system. Google it!! The video is out there.

He then goes on to belittle the leadership of the Republican Party (McConnell, Boehner, and Steele) as being beholden to big business, Wall Street, the insurance industry, etc. He condemns the accumulation of wealth (especially by a few) as being the root of all evil and that it takes a courageous leader– i.e. Obama– to use the power of the government to level the playing field by taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor.

So, Mr. Creamer, what would be my incentive to be productive if the government will just give it to me because it’s the right thing to do? This whole healthcare debate is not about the morality of the issue. It’s about the economics of the issue which carried out to its logical conclusion would have everyone doing nothing to get something.

Sorry, but I’m not buying.

Robert Gibbs actually said this…

April 7, 2010

“…I think Lincoln who said better to be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Feel free to insert your own joke here.

Is she talking about the Democrats?

April 7, 2010

“Unfortunately, scam artists and criminals may be using the passage of these historic reforms as an opportunity to confuse and defraud the public,” Sebelius wrote in a letter…

Who has the real “One Shining Moment?” Luther or Jennifer

April 6, 2010

A Fan Poll: Who did the better version of “One Shining Moment”– Luther Vandross or Jennifer Hudson?

Numbers Don’t Lie!!

April 2, 2010

You know the old saying…”A picture is worth a thousand words”

This is a graphical comparison between projected Obama budget deficits and actual past deficits. Let your own mind pose the questions.


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