Category Archives: politics

The Racism directed at Barack Obama has a rational basis.

Exhibit A:

Most people are spinning this as some sort of horror story about the dark underbelly of America.  What you see in the video above, however, is what the Soviets would have called “Reactionaries”.

This is a problem that I have had to think about long and hard.  It has made my support for Obama at times wax and wane.  The “Change” trope, as tired and worn as it may be, is still what symbolizes this election, and the forces arrayed against each other fall into two camps: for change, and against change.  This may seem like a bit of a non-sequitur but the point does bear mentioning.  John McCain has been reluctantly coopted by the (mostly) conservative forces that are vehemently against the “changes” (substantial or not) that Obama proposes.

The reason McCain will lose this election is that he thinks he must also hop on the ‘change’ bandwagon in order to win.  It’s no surprise that of recent he has abandoned the theme of ‘change’ and has instead tried to focus everyone’s attention on the sorts of change that Obama seeks to bring about.

And these changes are not minor.  The racism and bigotry that has infected this election cycle is not purely on account of Obama’s blackness as such; instead it is about demographic and ideological shifts that are remaking the face of the United States.

Until this election, the common retort of green party members that the Democrat and Republican parties were really the same was actually for the most part true.  The mass of society was mostly white, vaguely well-off, and for the most part ideologically similar (in favor of American intervention, against taxation, against Communism, etc.).  Main differences appeared over fringe issues such as how to deal with certain problems, rather than what the problems actually are.

John McCain and Barack Obama, for all of their rhetoric, are split along an easy-to-grasp, but still quite profound ideological line.  McCain stands for the old meritocracy (that was so happily bought into by most white people, because it quite frankly to be egalitarian towards people of the same race).  Obama stands for the revolution (if one could ever occur here).  Obama wants to institute far-sweeping changes that are at heart changes to the way that America functions both in governance and society.

Again, people look to these two leaders and wonder what their stances on issues will be; but the real reason that values matter (and will be harped upon by McCain and Palin) is because that is exactly what Obama promises to bring to Washington: a new set of guidelines.  Obama’s is a campaign of change not on the level of policy but on ideological fundament.

Obama pitches himself as a great leveler (hence the Messianic imagery); the cries of “communist” and “terrorist” are not so far from home for this reason.  Osama Bin Laden stands for hardline Islamic ideology.  Islam is only confusing if you refuse to understand it.  But the religion itself exists on a very simple premise: people are equal.  You cannot depict Allah and Muhammad because that would put Muhammad higher up than any other devout worshipper.  Islam’s appeal in southeast Asia is for the very reason that it advocates radical equality.  The link between Obama and Osama is not one of semantic drift: it is grounded in an intuition (that is not so far from the truth) that Obama wants to bring radical equality to our nations’ highest office.

The news media and liberal blogs are keen to paint the racist demogoguery surrounding Palin rallies as simply one instance of human irrationality–artifacts, they say, of a troubled past.  Really, these bigoted outcries are grounded in a very real insecurity that most white,  middle-class Americans feel about Obama, because he is the anathema of a structured (read: vaguely, if merit-based, aristocratic) American society.


Did Ayers write Obama’s Memoir?

This article in The American Thinker points out the similarities between Obama’s and Ayers’ prose and style.  I’m not one to believe a scientific analysis will yield trustworthy results when you’re conducting this sort of investigation.  

Obama has put himself into an interesting situation by staying mum about his association with Ayers.  His problem is now one of disclosure: if he had come clean about Ayers writing his memoir, then he would surely be on better ground than if it is somehow proved that Ayers wrote Dreams of my Father, against Obama’s assertions to the contrary.  

I don’t think that there will be any conclusive answer before the election is held, but I’m interested to see how this pans out.  If the Right manages to raise enough fuss about this issue, we may see Obama let on a little bit more about his relationship with an ignominious public personality (Why hasn’t Ayers spoken up yet?).

In any case, this whole business would only amount to a serious challenge to Obama if McCain drops Palin as his running-mate.  Sane Americans (no matter their feelings about the Weather Underground) find the prospect of her behind the controls unpalatable.  As for the masses of my fellow-man who I cannot speak for but will determine this election: An American would rather be dead than poor.  We can safely conclude that this maxim will bring the Democrats into power.

Thoughtful read for today:

In the course of my education I’ve found that I spend most of my time reading the work of dead or aging authors; I think that the English major may be the only opportunity to read modern works, but this is probably the chief reason for not pursuing an English major in the first place.

In any case, in an effort to jump-start my own writing, I’m posting a speech titled “Is Democracy for Export?” by Jacques Barzun, given at the Carnegie Society dinner in 1981 or thereabouts.  Works that are hundreds of years old often carry more pertinence today than they did in their contemporary era (I’ve heard this is the case with Chateaubriand and others).  This speech is brilliant in that it is couched in the terminology of the Cold War yet succeeds in transcending the issues of the time to provide some insightful words about American Democracy’s place in the world.

Is Democracy for Export – PDF

The mid-week read

Gerald Early has written an eloquent and thought-provoking piece in the Chronicle about Barack Obama’s election hopes in the context of American racial history.  He presents the first coherent argument about the end of racism that does not give any thanks to White culture while also unceremoniously dumping the age-old and endlessly-harped-upon Black position as-victim.  I think his most interesting thought is

Many of us black professionals, members of the black elite, keep the embers of our victimization burning for opportunistic reasons: to lev-erage white patronage, to maintain our own sense of identity and tradition. In some respects, this narrative has something of the power in its endurance that original sin does for Christians. In fact, our narrative of victimization is America’s original sin, or what we want to serve as the country’s original sin, which may be why we refuse to give it up.

It’s a piece well worth reading if you are interested in the cultural and political themes that this election draws upon but only seem to get passing reference in the news media.

Bailout politics.

This video is well worth watching.  Does anyone have a refutation?  If it’s true, this is a sad day to be a Democrat:

EDIT: refutation

To Sarah Palin, ‘Counsel’ = ‘Force’

Q: If a 15-year-old girl is raped by her 40-year-old father, do you think that she should not be allowed to have an abortion?

Here’s my counsel: Be careful on this one, Sarah!  They’re out to get you!  Talk about how Dinosaurs and Humans coexisted 5999 years ago, or something!  Anything but say you believe in the sallow-fruits of incest and coertion!

A: I’d counsel her to choose life.

Well, I suppose you could have done worse, like, say, pulling out a 30-06 and shooting Katie Couric in the head with it.  From an Airplane you used to chase her to the point of exhaustion.

the Debates: McCain is the beta male?

Here’s a great analysis of what McCain’s avoidance of direct eye contact with Barack Obama says about their relationship.  Summary: animal scholars believe that in many mammalian social situations eye contact is considered a challenge, so typically weaker and subservient males avoid eye contact with the stronger, alpha males in a pack.

I’d like to think that this analysis is a good corrolary for the entire debate, but I think the result was pretty mediocre, with neither side achieving a real victory; not that debates have any real statistical effect on a president’s approval ratings.  I’d like to know the explanation behind this, but the graphs on CNN that showed audience approval rating bear this out.  Each political affiliation’s line (Democrat, Independent, Republican) would react more or less exactly to when their candidate was talking.  The independents seemed to be a little less loyal to any particular candidate, but really, most people have already decided on who they are going to vote for.