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David Frum on MSNBC:

   Those of us who said there was a deal to be done, that there are a lot of parts of this bill that look familiar, that look like Mitt Romney’s plan, that look like plans Republicans proposed in 1993 and 1994, they look like things that were drafted at the Heritage foundation in 1990 and 1991, we can work with this, there are things we don’t like, [but] President Obama will pay a lot maybe for 20 or 30 Republican votes, let’s deal — that was shut down, we went the radical way, looking for Waterloo, and it looks like we arrived at Waterloo.

   …Some of the Republican leadership like Jim DeMint, I think did play a very hard-line role. Some of our leaders were trapped. They were trapped by voices in the media that revved the Republican base into a frenzy that made dealing impossible. I mean, you can’t negotiate with Adolf Hitler, and if the President is Adolf Hitler, then obviously you can’t negotiate with him. So some of the blame has has got to go to those who said, who got the psychology of the party to a point where a lot of good people, reasonable people were trapped.

   …We are encouraging a mood of radicalism in the party that is not just uncivil, that’s not the problem, the problem is it makes you stupid. It makes you make bad decisions, it leads you to think that President Obama with 53% of the vote is as beatable in 2009 as President Clinton with 42% of the vote in 1993, and that’s obviously not true.

 Frum makes the essential point that reform was inevitable and instead of going for the all or nothing path to derail it, the GOP should have negotiated their way to getting something good out of it. Now, in the search for Obama’s Waterloo, they have created their own because I’m not sure there is any other way to spin it other than Obama won this political battle, despite vigorous and unified GOP opposition. The GOP will get a lot of mileage running on their opposition to the bill in November, but Democrats may be able to make some hay out of passing it despite the opposition of the party of No.

Frum’s other point here is the one I think I really co-sign, namely that the GOP in encouraging a sort of ravening and unmitigated anger at the White House and casting Obama as a Marxist monster, has really limited its own options.  If Obama is a monster, then you have to oppose anything he does (even if it makes sense) and this is the trick bag I think republicans have gotten themselves into somewhat.  With the passage of healthcare reform, the President will now have imposed his socialist, Marxist, communist and evil will upon the country, destroying all our freedoms and the future of our children. How can you work with someone like that? But thats the view of him that the GOP encourages and enhances at every opportunity.  I don’t think it is serving the party’s interests well, nor more importantly, the interests of the American people. Lastly, his exit point is that politics is about getting things done, or it ought to be.  By going for and failing to get, the political win, the GOP have now suffered a permanent policy loss.

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Chris Matthews is a most excellent media cretin. I wish we could forget his career.

President Obama will give his first State of the Union speech tonight at 9 pm Eastern.  I’ll watch, but my expectations are extremely low.  No matter how stirring the oratory is tonight, there is nothing Obama can say this evening that will erase the fact that he has now demonstrated that he is unequal to this moment in history. In fairness, perhaps no one could have been. Two wars, an economy in shambles, a body politic divided, a terrorist enemy at the gates; if ever there was a presidency that would be forged in the crucible of events, this is one, as was that of Obama’s predecessor, George Bush.

Obama has not been equal to his promises. No one in their right mind expected him to do all that he promised in exactly the way that he promised.  But what I think people did expect and had some right to expect was that he would be true to the spirit of his hope and change mantra. Sure, we knew there would be compromises, some deviation and we frankly expected some dissapointment because we expected the pragmatist to straightforwardly tell us “hey, this isn’t doable and here’s why” straightup.

But, as Mort Zuckerman bitterly and very accurately observed, Obama has revealed himself to be more ideological than pragmatic.  What we have learned is that Obama practices small “p” pragmatism.  That his political heart and center are not big enough to fill the space created by his oratory.  He has fallen very short of the heights he called not only us to, but himself.  No amount of inspired oratory tonight or any other night can or will close the gap between the stirring heights of his rhetoric and the prosaic plateau of his deeds.

That gap can only be closed by deeds and decisions more informed, wise and courageous than most that have preceded this moment. Hope and change indeed.  Let us hope that Obama can change.

More of my reaction to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,

I’ve no problem with corporations being granted rights. Rule sets are necessary for the proper operation of these constructs. However, I have a distinct and visceral negative reaction to the idea that a corporation should have equality of stature to humans under the Constitution in frankly any dimension. I think the Court overreaches when it elevates these entities to the same level of humans under the Constitution. Its a slippery slope to say that corporations are “persons” with rights equal to human beings under the Constitution, and I want to know where does it end. If their “speech” is equal to mine, the vote is political “speech”. If they are persons, why not just give them the franchise? All of the rights of individual, flesh and blood human beings under our constitution flow from the fact that we are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights. This cannot be said of corporations. How do we get to conferring these rights onto an artificial, legal construct made by humans? Consider the ways in which corporations are entirely different from humans:

1. A corporation does not understand what is right or wrong.
2. The vast majority of corporations are for purposes of commerce and have only one motive: to make it’s stockholders/owners money.
3. A corporation can not be imprisoned and understands no sense of punishment.
4. A corporation has no lifespan.

I have a problem with a ruling that elevates the “speech’ of such an entity under the constitution to a level equal to that of a human being. The ruling itself references the fact that corporations are derivative constructs, created products of human activity, and cites this fact as a rationale for why their speech should not be restricted, but this is precisely the reason why their “speech” should not be accorded the same merit as that of an individual under the constitution. The rights of humans under the Constitution flow from the fact that we have certain inalienable rights granted by our Creator to us as living souls. Corporations do not qualify on this metric and their “speech’ should not be accorded an equal status to individuals under the constitution.

Hat Tip Booker Rising

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga professor and head of the National Republican African American Caucus, Dr. Howard Hill, responds to RNC chairman Michael Steele’s statement calling for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to resign over his comments about President Obama: “If RNC Chair, Michael Steele is truly concerned with racism, then perhaps he needs to first begin within our own party. There are certainly enough issues with race for him to have his hands full in dealing with this right here within the Republican Party. There also are a few within the GOP leadership, he also may wish to ask to step down.”

She continues her statement: “As a 30-year veteran African American Republican and as the head of the National Republican African American Caucus, I find it offensive to see and hear this kind of meaningless rhetoric. It is simply another way of posturing and playing to partisan unrest….. Many of us (African American Republicans) have tried to sit back and look the other way, but when this kind of silly and meaningless rhetoric is espoused with such callousness and lack of sincerity, you can’t be silent. I don’t like having to speak out against my own party or its leadership. But if we do not, this continues, and it makes it appear that all African American Republicans are a part of this foolishness. Because of this, many of us have bowed out of the GOP political mix.  It also makes it hard to recruit other African Americans into the Republican Party, at a time when the Party needs to attract us.”
 
….So Chairman Steele, we invite you to be fervent in the same commitment you have to challenge Democrats, to also call for a change within the GOP; where what you do actually can have an impact in changing the racial climate in America.”

I don’t think I could have said it much better myself.  This is really serious indictment of Steele’s lack of leadership when it comes to doing something effective to grow the GOP’s relationship with blacks as a political constituency. While he’s busy jumping on the latest political bandwagon in calling for Reid to step down, he is totally silent on Rush’s asinine Haiti comments, or any of his other race baiting rhetoric for that matter.  The guy is forever opening his mouth to gaffe in one way or another, but he can’t seem to wrap his lips around a word or two of pushback when it comes to the party’s funky rhetoric and messaging towards blacks, an issue he knows to be real.  Now, the Reid flap has become the proverbial straw and even black republicans deep within the party are finding this nonsense hard to stomach.

The Tea Party contingent is populist and vocal, but their numbers are not sufficient to elect Palin. She polls badly with independents and many republicans don’t have confidence in her either. She has yet to do anything that indicates to me she has a level of political savvy on the same level as displayed by Obama in the crafting of his successful run.  Taking on this talking head gig only solidifies her as a non serious candidate in my mind. I would not consider any of the paid blowhards of the left or right as potential leaders of the free world. Just not what I think of as Presidential resume builder. She left office to make the money and cash in. I’m okay with that, since her cynical selection by McCain brought her a lot of grief, which although she willingly signed up for, was not entirely deserved. I don’t begrudge her salvaging a career and some wealth from that mess, which is why I encourage you to follow the link below and pick up her best seller at Amazon.

Blacks weigh in on Harry Reid’s racial comments / The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

So Washington is abuzz with the latest piece of red meat for politicians and associated operators to gnaw at, the simultaneously awkwardly phrased, stereotypical yet oddly insightful comments by Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. In their new book, “Game Change,” journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann expose remarks Mr. Reid made in an interview about Barack Obama during the presidential campaign. Mr. Reid is quoted as saying that he believed the nation was ready to elect a “light-skinned” black man “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Race hustler Ward Connerly is one of the voices of outrage from conservatives. it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the spirit of forgiveness is universal—except when it comes to conservatives.”

Conservatives charge there is a double standard, case in point, the experience of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who made remarks praising Strom Thurmond in 2002. Mr. Lott said of the segregationist: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we [Mississippians] voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years either.” Lott was forced to step down in the aftermath.

I’m sorry to break it to you guys, but there is no double standard here at all. In fact, quite to the contrary, I would argue that the condemnation conservatives get for verbal malfunctions like this, at least from the black community, is entirely logical and consistent.  Furthermore, its not complicated and when conservatives behave as though they don’t understand it, it annoys me.

Let me break it down for you.  Why is it that Harry Reid can make a comment like that and largely get a pass from black folks while conservatives get branded with the “Raaciisst” label for similar verbal vomit? Simple:  

Harry Reid belongs to a party that behaves like it gives a damn about black voters!

I wish conservatives would stop behaving as though this is incomprehensible rocket science. I’ve said numerous times before:  the GOP does not consider blacks to be a political constituency necessary or essential to its aspirations for governance and the party, from rank and file to its leadership, behaves accordingly.  I’ve repeated that many times here at the Season, but maybe I’m falling into that pesky “Negro dialect” thing Reid was talking about and its making me hard to understand.  Why don’t I let our illustrious chairman Michael Steele explain it to you:

Q: Why do you think so few nonwhite Americans support the Republican Party right now?
A: “Cause we have offered them nothing! And the impression we’ve created is that we don’t give a damn about them or we just outright don’t like them. And that’s not a healthy thing for a political party. I think the way we’ve talked about immigration, the way we’ve talked about some of the issues that are important to African-Americans, like affirmative action… I mean, you know, having an absolute holier-than-thou attitude about something that’s important to a particular community doesn’t engender confidence in your leadership by that community—or consideration of you for office or other things—because you’ve already given off the vibe that you don’t care.” –GQ Magazine March 2009

So the next time a conservative makes a racial verbal bellyflop and gets tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail while your neighborhood liberal democrat gets a playful slap on the wrist and a pass and you don’t understand, just return here and let our chairman explain it to you.

I’ve blogged before about the racial chip that seems to exist on the shoulders of Michael Steele. You know, the one that manifests itself in the repeated use of “in da hood” slang in what I used to think was a half witted attempt to simultaneously keep it real with blacks and reassure whites that his election to RNC chair makes them hip and with it, but what I now believe is a manifestation of Steele’s anger at the way the GOP dismisses blacks as an unnecessary political constituency for engagement.

It began on the very day of his election, when asked what message he had for the president and he replied “how do you like me now?” It continued through a disappointing early Esquire magazine interview laced with profanity and reached a new low when he came to Indiana for the Young Republican election and encouraged minorities “ya’ll come. I got the fried chicken”.

You’ve heard me on this before: why in God’s name is a sixty something year old grown black man with a law degree from Georgetown finding it so hard to use the Queen’s English on the regular? I’d like to say Steele has eased off this really annoying bad habit, but alas, I cannot.

Steele and company at the RNC just rolled out the new GOP. com website, complete with video of a miniature talking Michael Steele welcoming you in. Among other things, the new site sports a blog written by Steele himself. What does he title it: WHAT UP. Yes, I kid you not.

This frosts my cookies on two fronts: #1. I can’t understand why he feels the need to remind people that he is black in this specific way, i.e., the use of slang and vernacular. It doesn’t contribute to him being better understood or to putting people at ease or anything like that in my view. I’ve concluded that he continues to do this for the psychic benefit of thumbing his blackness in the party’s eye, because he is angry (as he should be) at the way the GOP ignores blacks as a political constituency. This is the sort of passive aggressive way that he expresses that, since I guess he is simply not going to press his party to grow in this area. To be fair, he really can’t.

Its worth noting (and to his credit) that even a stalwart, solid conservative commentator like Ed Morrisey at Hot Air acknowledges this reality, even if he doesn’t acknowledge the scope of the fail. “the GOP has not put out much effort in talking sense to black voters and explaining conservative principles in the context of their lives. They should be focused on effective outreach, not slang-titled blogs that sound more patronizing than welcoming.”

#2. It makes my head want to explode because in addition to using annoying slang like this, its like half the slang. If you gonna title the blog this way, then you need to go all the way and call it “Was Up”, not “What Up”. I mean it sounds like a preppie nerd from an uppercrust private boarding school trying to emulate gangster behavior to say it like that. Just annoying, especially out of the mouth of an over 60, balding black man with a law degree from Georgetown.

After a mountain of justly deserved ridicule, Steele and company have renamed the blog “Change the Game”. Thats better

If you have not learned this lesson yet, learn it now. Cut the signifying Steele. Engage your party on the issue thats bugging you and stop this passive aggressive behavior. If you’re not going to make the party grapple with it and confront it, then just accept it and move on.

Michael Steele was on hand here in Indianapolis for the auspicious election of Audra Shay to the presidency of the young republicans. Besides the funky optics of Audra Shay’s election, after she co-signed the racially inflammatory remarks of Eric Piker, I didn’t think there was anything else particularly remarkable that occurred at the event. I was mistaken.

Michael Steele had the opportunity to speak with bloggers during his visit and was asked a question about achieving greater diversity in the GOP. Watch below for his answer:

This is an EPIC FAIL moment for Steele personally and the GOP as a party in terms of messaging to blacks and minorities in general. Steele has repeatedly been described as an articulate man, and I have no doubt that he has a command of the English language and that is why this is EPIC FAIL material. “Y’all Come”? “I’ve got the fried chicken and potato salad?”.

For the love of God, why does Steele trade in this stereotypical language? If anybody ought to be paying attention to the language they use as they try to create a better relationship between blacks and the GOP, its the RNC Chairman. However, Steele, because he is black, clearly believes he gets a pass to play with these types of stereotypes. Didn’t we just get get treated to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor getting lectured by Cong. Grassely about how his career would be over if he had made a comment akin to her “wise Latina” statement? How is this any different? A white RNC chair would be excoriated for a comment like that, but Steele gets a pass because he’s black? Steele clearly thinks so, because he uses this kind of language frequently.

The other EPIC FAIL here is that there is no plan on diversifying the party. Steele goes into this geriatric spiel about how republicans opposed slavery and if you believe in markets, freedom, blah, blah, blah, the GOP wants you and we don’t care about how you want to live. All of that is really just an elaborate dodge of the question. He articulated no plan and that’s because there isn’t one. All there is is the same old tired rhetoric about how the GOP is really the party that supports black people and minorities in general, doled out with a generous helping of the same old stereotypes straight from the mouth of the RNC Chairman himself. I can hardly blame GOP rank and file folks like Eric Piker, or leadership such as Audry Shay or Councilman Fraggo in California for co-signing and passing on racially inflammatory material; they take their cues from Chairman Steele himself.

On a sadly periodic and almost predictably routine basis, the GOP give me reason to question why I bother to call myself a republican, albeit a reluctant one. Perhaps its simply my way of being contrarian, to provoke a conversation in my one man crusade to talk sense to black folk.

I think conservative principles are better as an underlying ideology for policy making. The GOP however are a sorry set of representatives for those principles. Especially when it comes to the party’s messaging to blacks. Party leadership and rank and file often posit the problem as one of communication, that the GOP message is just not getting properly received. I’m sorry, its more fundamental than that. The GOP , from rank and file to its leadership, seems increasingly, almost inexorably, drawn to political appeals crafted in a ways that are covertly and overtly hostile to blacks and other minorities.

Case in point, the recent election of Audra Shay as the head of the Young Republicans of America (which took place here in Indianapolis). Ms. Shay found her candidacy for the post embroiled in controversy after co-signing the racist comments of her face book friend Eric Piker, who referred to blacks in general as “coons”. When some other folks in her FB circle called out Piker for the reference and her for co-signing it, she banished them from her friends list, but kept Piker and his racial epithets in her circle. Hours later, after booting the people who criticized the racist talk, Piker was still a friend and making comments on her wall about how he was a southern boy and if you were black, the sun better not set on you in a southern town.
A lot of folks are calling Shay a racist. I’ve argued many times that the term has become useless for political discourse as its been so carelessly overused. I’m prepared to eschew tagging Shay with the racist label. In fact, its more instructive if we don’t. Because then the issue becomes more interesting to me, namely that I want to understand Ms. Shay’s behavior. Lets take her explanation at face value, that she was responding to his earlier comment, not the coon thing. At some point though, she saw it. Why did it take other people pointing it out before she said anything? Why did she boot the people who called it out instead of the author? In short, if no one had said anything, she would have been cool with that conversation. Why is that? What made any of it okay? Thats what I want an explanation about. Thats the explanation I want to hear from a person who is now leadership for the young republicans nationwide. Why are GOP rank and file so oblivious and tone deaf to this sort of thing? This incident was not subtle nor nuanced and Shay could not manage the right response.
The other case in point that to me is indicative of the attitude towards blacks within a significant portion of the GOP’s vocal and ascendant far right rank and file is the hot mess of despicable and derogatory commentary aimed at Malia Obama by posters at the blog Free Republic because she wore a shirt with a peace symbol on it during the trip to Russia. My fellow blogger in arms, Shay of Booker Rising took them to task for calling the 11-year-old things like “a typical street whore” and “ghetto street trash” after she wore a peace sign T-shirt in Italy (they also said U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama was doing “monkey chants” when she had a fun moment with Malia)”
The Freepers are decrying the criticism as planted comments from liberals, but thats a joke and its really pathetic of them to make the claim. Free Republic, like Redstate, also practices banning people who don’t share their point of view, a practice that would be defensible to the charge of cowardice but for the fact that both sites will ban you for the mildest of divergence from their particular brand of conservative orthodoxy as evidenced by the continuing string of Redstate refugees washing up on our shores here.

Another sign of the times in this regard is simply the quite casual way in which rank and file conservatives on the right will engage in commentary that is clearly rich with racially inflammatory language and feel as though its perfectly okay and justified I guess by the First Amendment and their general anger over the Obama administration’s outrages. Here’s an example from blogger and Twitter user Conservative Gal:

Pinkelephant_normal ConservativeGal
I received my stimulus package yesterday. It contained watermelon seeds, cornbread mix, & 10 coupons 2 KFC. The directions were in Spanish.
2 days ago from web

I responded to her about this tweet and said I thought it was foul and did not communicate goodwill and that got me hit with some name calling and plain old hostility, which is okay, this is the internet. But this sort of thing is again indicative of my broader point, that the GOP from rank and file on up, has not made a decision that blacks are a political constituency it is actually interested in having be a part of its coalition (or latinos for that matter). Conservative Gal’s response to me when I said this was foul was hostility. She didn’t stop and think about what she had said, whether or not it was cool, whether or not it would be considered racially offensive or inflammatory. Think of it in terms of the concept of Christian witness. If you’re a Christian, you are expected to witness Christ with your life and behavior, such that people who observe you will be drawn to Christ because they see Christ’s principles at work in your life. Well, likewise the GOP needs to consider its political witness. Would a person observing this behavior and rhetoric be drawn to your cause? This comment is a bad witness and worse, it was retweeted like mad all over the place.

Members of the GOP like Conservative Gal would do well to keep this idea of witness in mind. When leadership and rank and file GOP members use or cosign this kind of rhetoric so casually and attack people who call them on it, it communicates nothing but hostility and worse to blacks. I’m NOT saying Conservative Gal is a racist. She may have black friends (hell, even family), she may have nothing but wonderful interactions with blacks that she comes in contact with personally, I don’t know. But this kind of comment she made is not funny. Its not helpful to the cause of political dialogue except among those who think this is funny. It does not help in winning the hearts and minds of blacks and latinos to the GOP and a comment like that causes blacks and latinos to wonder if the members of the GOP care if they come at all (much dap to her on her 8,000+ Twitter followers though, she rocks there).

The GOP’s “witness” to blacks and latinos is consistently really poor (my examples above case in point), enough so that one can reasonably question whether or not they have any true interest in minorities as political constituencies at all.

UPDATE I: Routine and predictable, I swear. Weak GOP political witness in action. Republicans figure the way to win hearts and minds is to talk about the President’s momma? To talk about a Supreme Court Justice’s momma?

There is also a crappy little racial subtext assumption here that poor black women are just waiting for a government program that will finance killing their babies. Can we pick a stereotype for pete’s sake. Either we are sexually promiscuous irresponsible baby killers, or welfare mother baby making economic leeches. This kind of stuff is simply continuing proof that the GOP has no real interest in blacks as a political constituency. Dollars to donuts, you won’t hear a mumbling word from Michael Steele.

UPDATE II: Hat tip Electronic Village. Another conservative official has been busted sending racist e-mails. This time, the culprit is Atwater, CA Councilman Gary Frago, who sent at least half-a-dozen racist, anti-Obama e-mails to Atwater staff and community members:

Some compared Obama to O.J. Simpson while others suggested that “n[*****] rigs” should now be called “presidential solutions.”

Perhaps the most overboard e-mail was sent on Jan. 15. It read: “Breaking News Playboy just offered Sarah Palin $1 million to pose nude in the January issue. Michelle Obama got the same offer from National Geographic.”

Frago admitted sending the e-mails, but showed no regret. “If they’re from me, then I sent them,” he said. “I have no disrespect for the president or anybody, they weren’t meant in any bad way or harm.”

When given an opportunity to explain himself, Frago somehow managed to dig himself a deeper hole by saying: “I don’t see where there’s a story, I’m not the only one that does it. … I didn’t originate them, they came to me and I just passed them on.”