Sunday, January 25, 2015

Last Call For Identity Theft

And here we have NYT columnist Noam Scheiber's advice to NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio on how to win back nervous white voters.

From the get-go, Mr. de Blasio’s campaign fused two distinct strands of progressivism. The first was economic populism, not least his criticism that Michael R. Bloomberg had placed the interests of Wall Street and the wealthy above those of average New Yorkers.

The second was what some have called “identity group” liberalism, which appealed to black and Latino voters as blacks and Latinos, not on the basis of economic interests they shared with whites. The centerpiece of Mr. de Blasio’s identity-group agenda was his promise to win better treatment for minorities at the hands of the police.

The problem for Mr. de Blasio is that only the first approach has widespread appeal...

If you were to rank issues by their potential to unite whites and minority voters, the most promising would be populist economic issues like raising taxes on the rich. Somewhere in the middle would be an issue like health care, which has large economic benefits for both whites and nonwhites, even if opponents can portray it as a sop to the latter. At the very bottom would be issues with little economic content, but which different racial groups view in radically different ways.

As Nancy LeTourneau notes, this is exactly the kind of thing white progressives often tell politicians when dealing with expanding the Democratic party's big tent: that is the issues of "mainstream" white America must trump that of persons of color.

What Scheiber is basically saying is that if you want to unite whites and minority voters, you have to focus on the issues that are a priority to whites. That's pretty much white supremacy in a nutshell. His big "tell" comes in what he leaves out of that last sentence. The reason racial groups view the issues he places at the bottom differently is because they affect racial groups differently. White people never had to be concerned about "stop-and-frisk" because it almost never happened to a white person. White mothers/fathers, wives, siblings don't spend much time worrying that their son, husband, brother will be harassed/beaten/killed because some police officer jumped to the conclusion that he was a "dangerous black/brown man." But that is exactly how police actions become a priority for voters of color. The fear of what can happen becomes a life-and-death issue for them - as we've seen lately.

She's completely right.

It's easy to say "Hey, deBlasio would get a greater rater of return on his efforts for concentrating on what middle class white New Yorkers want.  They're the ones that swing vote, and they're the ones that matter."  Because deBlasio said that he'd rather do the right thing, he's being punished for it by voters who don't know about and frankly, don't care about issues important to persons of color in the Big Apple.

Therefore, he should stop doing the right thing.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Drunken Moose Lady Assaults Reality

Sarah Palin lost her marbles at the Iowa Tea Party Hoedown Freedom Summit on Saturday, and it was both amazing and depressing to remember that a couple of million votes going the other way would have put this woman one Johnny Volcano heart attack away from leading the country.

As Charles Johnson puts it:

Even by Sarah Palin’s already low standards, this speech is extraordinarily incoherent and scattered. I’ve seen a lot of her speeches (do not pity me, it is my job), and I can’t remember a more garbled, deeply weird performance from Caribou Barbie.

It's a train wreck even for her.  And yet our media treats her as a serious political force in this country instead of a sad, pathetic sideshow.

Look upon this and despair, Tea Party.  This is your face to tens of millions of Americans like myself.

Sunday Long Read: Home Wreckanomics

There's been a lot of evidence that the recovery is finally pushing forward and that America's employment picture has turned around.  But the reality is for black families in America, there's been no recovery, and in fact black wealth and the black middle class have all but vanished in just a few short years.

The recession and tepid recovery have erased two decades of African American wealth gains. Nationally, the net worth of the typical African American family declined by one-third between 2010 and 2013, according to a Washington Post analysis of the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, a drop far greater than that of whites or Hispanics.

The top half of African American families — the core of the middle class — is left with less than half of the typical wealth they possessed in 2007. The wealth of similarly situated whites declined by just 14 percent.

Overall, the survey found, the typical African American family was left with about eight cents for every dollar of wealth held by whites.

Depressing doesn't begin to describe it.  And yet just when black families need help the most, Republicans are doing everything they can to pull the ladder of success out of reach.

Many researchers say the biggest portion of the wealth gap results from the strikingly different experiences blacks and whites typically have with homeownership. Most whites live in largely white neighborhoods, where homes often prove to be a better investment because people of all races want to live there. Predominantly black communities tend to attract a narrower group of mainly black buyers, dampening demand and prices, they say.

In places such as Prince George’s County, where many people chose to live at least in part because of the comfort and familiarity they felt in a majority-black community, that meant their home brought them less wealth than if they had purchased elsewhere, economists say.

Scholars who have studied this dynamic and real estate professionals who have lived it say the price differences go beyond those that might be dictated by the perceived quality of schools, or the public and commercial investment made in particular neighborhoods. The big difference maker, they say, is race.

Race.  Even the upper-middle class black families of Prince George's County are now finding that black neighborhoods will always be worth less than white ones.  But remember, racism is over in America because we have a black president, so we don't need the outdated protections of the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act or college admissions.

And now the Fair Housing Act is before the Supreme Court. with red states and banks looking to strip provisions out of that law as well.  Because racism doesn't exist anymore, you see.  We've got to cut public transportation in black neighborhoods because it's too expensive, cut schools because they're failing, cut lending protections so that they can be served by payday lenders and title loan companies, and Obamacare?  That's got to go too.  Cut this, cut that, gotta cut Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and when we try to fight back at the voting booth, we're told we can't vote because we haven't jumped through the correct hoops, and besides, voting machines are to expensive.  We need to cut those too. 

Not much left to be cut, you know.

Of course, that's the point.

Spy-King The Ball

James Bond has M running the show for him, and if Daily Beast's Shane Harris is right, the US equivalent of M, Frank Archibald, is retiring after the latest CIA/torture turf fight.

The director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, the storied home of the agency’s most secretive intelligence operations, has announced that he plans to retire, The Daily Beast has learned.

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd confirmed that the director announced his retirement “after a long and distinguished career at CIA. We thank him for this profound and lasting contributions to both CIA and to our nation’s security.”

As a practice, the CIA doesn’t identify the head of the clandestine service by name. But Frank Archibald was outed in a Twitter post in 2013, and details of his biography were known to some journalists. Archibald, who was 57 when he took the job that year, reportedly served tours in Pakistan and Africa and also headed the CIA’s Latin America division. The Associated Press reported that Archibald "once ran the covert action that helped remove Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from power."

Archibald’s retirement comes at a transitional moment for the CIA. The agency’s director, John Brennan, is considering major changes to the agency’s structure, including the possible creation of new intelligence centers and doing away with the traditional division of CIA into its analysis group and the clandestine service.

Needless to say, the career spooks aren't too happy with this new plan.

Critics of the reorganization, which hasn’t been formally proposed and, officials have stressed, isn’t a done deal, see it as potentially undermining some of the CIA’s core capabilities in favor of organizing the agency around regions of the world. Some in the National Clandestine Service in particular view a reorganization as a threat to the high-degree of independence it has traditionally enjoyed within the intelligence bureaucracy.

“This would be to their mind the greatest threat to their independence since they were created as the Directorate of Plans back in 1951,” one former official said.

Brennan is slated to make public remarks on Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, where he’ll be interviewed by journalist Charlie Rose. The CIA hasn’t announced what, if any, news Brennan plans to make. But former officials said they’d been anticipating that he might soon unveil more of his thinking about any reorganization.

It's clear that Republicans and the American people are more than happy to keep playing "24" and torturing everyone swarthy in sight in order to stop invisible bomb countdown clocks.  But it looks like Obama has given Brennan his orders to change the agency as a result of that Senate torture report, and Brennan's going to have to deliver.

We'll see how far he gets.  If the nation's top super spy is hanging it up, the changes have to be pretty big.
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