Sunday, September 28, 2008

Affirmative Action, GOP Style

Over the years, I've had discussions and arguments with conservative friends about affirmative action (AA). There is no question that AA helped to multiply the ranks of the black middle class; it also provided many deserving and qualified individuals with opportunities to shine. Yet, cynical implementation of AA programs have led, I believe, to the current sense of disdain toward those programs (and the beneficiaries of those programs). Personally, I believe (like BHO) that we should look to economic AA, in order to help increase the opportunities of the strivers in the lowest economic echelons. But that is not the point of this particular post.

I find it extremely funny that conservatives, who rail the loudest against the "deleterious" effects of AA on the beneficiaries (and concomitantly the society), seem to be in full support of AA when the beneficiary supports their point of view. Clarence Thomas was the classic example. No thinking person really believed President George H. W. Bush when he noted that Thomas was "the most qualified" person for the SCOTUS. Bush simply replaced a black Supreme Court Justice with one who met his ideological test (hardly a sufficient qualification in my mind). Conservatives came to the defense of Thomas and contorted their own positions to make themselves believe that indeed he was the most qualified person to replace Thurgood Marshall. It was comic theatre during those hearings.

Sarah Palin has usurped Thomas' position as my classic example. When she was selected, I waited to see how she would turn out. Palin was such an obscure figure that it was possible that she, in fact, might have had the chops to handle the job. I was over her, by the conclusion of her speech at the RNC convention. I knew that she was selected primarily for her gender, but I did not fully understand until later how woefully, woefully, unqualified she was.

It was fascinating to watch conservatives contorting themselves to make it so that Palin was more qualified than either BHO or Biden. It was fun to watch the building crescendo of evidence that made it clear that Palin was not even in the same league as some political staffers on the Hill. A few folks in the intellectual conservative community have come to that conclusion as well (Kathleen Parker, George Will, and David Brooks come to mind). Yet, the rank and file within the GOP see Palin as someone who is "just like them." What happened to the standard of "the best and the brightest?" Isn't that what AA allegedly attacks?

The bottom line is that AA is only a negative when the beneficiary is not a conservative, when one examines this issue from the GOP perspective. I want conservatives in the world to provide me with some ideological clarity. Either AA is wrong in all cases (as many conservatives claim), or there are exceptions that should be honored (as many conservative practice to satisfy their ends). Which one is it?

As for me, Palin, like Thomas before her, is precisely the example of bad AA that conservatives complain about. Seems to me that there needs to be some cleaning of house.

Well That Didn't Take Long

As the country sits on the precipice of financial disaster, and people in Washington and on Wall Street are trying to explain what has happened, there is a slow growing chorus rising from the right that is beginning to parrot the idea that the true source of the financial meltdown was the effort to help minorities and the lower classes become homeowners. Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann made this claim amid the hearings that took place on the Hill last week (the article erroneously identified the hearing as having taken place in the Senate. It was actually in a House Financial Services Committee hearing where Rep. Bachmann made her comment). As is discussed in the link, the Congressional Black Caucus (through Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison) is asking the House Republican leadership for clarification on this issue.

This is an age old tactic used by those who see the progress of the African American community as a problem, simply because government has played a role. These "conservatives" (note that I did not identify a political party) generally see any governmental assistance to help provide a more even playing field for African Americans as "handouts." These folks pretend that "the market" will do its job, and provide African Americans (who traditionally have been red lined out of the marketplace) with the tools they need to move forward. This argument is absolutely ahistorical and specious. The historical record is clear that if left to its own devices, the market would have ignored the African American desire to secure the American dream of home ownership. It took governmental intervention and oversight to help actualize that component of the dream.

That someone actually would have the gall to dismiss the millions of people who joined in the game of "Flip that House," and suggest that it was because financial institutions made a modest attempt to reach out to minorities and the working and lower classes that we are now experiencing this financial crisis is outrageous. I know people who jumped into the real estate game with the hopes of a quick turnaround. Most of them did well. Many tried to get me into the game. But my guess is that most of the working and lower class and minorities that bought homes intended to live in them, not flip them. And unfortunately, too many of them may be on the brink of losing their homes, because of predatory lenders who sought a larger profit at expense of the ill informed.

I am tired of those who have unfettered faith in the marketplace. It is flawed. It is biased toward those who already fall into the category of the "haves." And quietly, I am happy to see those true fat cats panic. Unfortunately, it's the rest of us who have to foot their bills. And the last time I checked most of those players, most of those perpetrators of this financial crime, are white guys. So Rep. Bachmann, and those who support her perspective on this issue, can kiss my ass.

UPDATE: Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic adds his perspective on this issue. Check it out here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lord Have Mercy

Not too long ago, I pondered whether the Bunkers of the world would ever feel comfortable with the Huxtables of the world. Well now these two gentlemen from Tennessee, have put together a product, "Obama Waffles," that might help the Bunkers of the world come to a decision. Please check out the article and video here. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the product apparently is selling briskly at the Values Voter Summit, where "Christians" have come to gather here in my city.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I've a very good friend (BMD) and great buddies (the GHF crew) who live in Galveston. Within the last two years, I've been there about six times (I was just there in late February for work). I have been glued to I have said a prayer that my favorite little slice of Texas will survive this threat.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Wonder...

I remember when this 10,000 Maniacs song came out, and it seems to fit the situation for a certain young woman whose very personal situation was splashed before the world.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

America Love, The Double Standard.

10:58 pm -- I just finished reading McCain's speech (he is speaking currently), and in the text, he mentions about developing a love for his country during his capture in Vietnam. Why was Michelle Obama held to a different standard? At least she was proud the whole time; she just became really proud later.

Like We Didn't Know...

...that's what they were thinking. GOP Congresswoman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia just had to get it off of his chest: the Obamas are...wait for it...UPPITY. I am sure he felt more than comfortable putting that out in the street, since there are only thirty-six black delegates or alternates in the Xcel Center this week. Who there would contradict him? Hell, the "Commander in Chief" of the Alaska National Guard essentially said the same thing in the main last night.