McCain-Palin: The Perils Of Promoting The Past As Prologue?

John McCain’s decision to attach the imagery of Bill Ayers to Barack Obama is reckless. By casting this election as a continuation of the ideological conflict that characterized the unrest during the era of the Weathermen, John McCain may well be fomenting the reemergence of radicalism.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

It seems to me that a significant question will emerge in the aftermath of the 2008 election. The crux of that question has been framed by the inflammatory rhetoric of the McCain-Palin campaign in recent days. In its effort to sway voters and win this election, the McCain campaign has chosen to ignite animosities that will undoubtedly linger beyond November 4th…animosities that have the potential to unleash the very kind of violence that typified the groups and individuals the McCain campaign has attempted to link with Barack Obama.

At the core of the conflicts that marred the sixties and

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Daniel DiRito |

Following Specter, Two More Republicans to Leave the GOP?

It’s just a rumor at the moment, fueled by the abuse the Republican Party is showering on two of its biggest names, Michael Steele and Jon Huntsman. But this rumor will grow. Huntsman evidently isn’t conservative enough, and the RNC doesn’t want to trust Steele with its money. So why wouldn’t they defect to the Democratic Party?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The GOP rank and file has been generally celebrating Arlen Specter’s departure from the party for the Democratic Party. Arlen gave them gravitas, seniority, and a big name. Sure, Specter was reviled by the Republicans for being too liberal, and he was reviled by the Democrats for selling out on principled issues like the US Attorney scandal, the NSA wiretapping scandal, and the Torture Regime of the Bush Administration. So Specter isn’t well-liked except by his moderate constituents in PA. But surely the calls of “Swine Flew” when Specter left the now extremist Republican Party are a bit whacked out. But that’s OK. That attitude will result in a couple other defections, and I’ve got some bold predictions about a couple Republicans who just might get fed up with the GOP and take off.

The first of my predictions is a supposed rising star in the GOP. Even though Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is young and hip and rich, the GOP doesn’t seem to appreciate his electability. Wait, let me make sure I’ve got that right. Huntsman, a Mormon, isn’t conservative enough. At least that’s what they think in Grand Rapids, MI. You see, Jon Huntsman supports civil unions for gay citizens in this country. Not gay marriage, mind you, but civil unions. And the Republicans in Grand Rapids, dominated by the extremists on the religious wing of the party, think Huntsman is a not sufficiently a supporter of traditional marriage. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s appearance at a Michigan county Republican Party event was scrapped this week after the county chairwoman said that hosting the moderate Utah governor would mean abandoning the party’s conservative principles.

Kent County Republican Party Chairwoman Joanne Voorhees abruptly canceled the party fundraiser scheduled for Saturday.

“The voters want and expect us to stand on principle and return to our roots. Unfortunately, by holding an event with Governor Huntsman, we would be doing the exact opposite,” Voorhees wrote in an e-mail quoted in The Grand Rapids Press .

Voorhees did not specify which issues she felt were contrary to the party’s principles and did not return messages left at the party headquarters and on her cell phone.

The group Campaign for Michigan Families praised the cancellation, attributing it to Huntsman’s support of civil unions, and urged the Oakland and Kalamazoo county parties, where Huntsman is also scheduled to speak this weekend, to do the same.

Now I’ve not heard from Huntsman that he might actually leave the Republican Party, but getting disinvited to an event is pretty big stuff. And Huntsman certainly doesn’t seem all that excited by Republican prospects in the next couple years.

Asked last week about the future of the GOP, Huntsman said “I don’t know where the party is moving. The party isn’t going anywhere.”

Well, Huntsman isn’t going much of anywhere, either, and especially not to Grand Rapids, MI. It may behoove Huntsman, who isn’t conservative enough for the extremist Republicans in Michigan, to think about joining a more inclusive political party, such as the Democrats. And he’s not the only big name Republican to be abused by his own party this week.

Michael Steele? The Republicans have been pretending Michael Steele is the GOP Chair for some time now, while taking turns kissing Rush Limbaugh’s ring. (Is ring kissing a sexual act on the order of teabagging?) Even though the RNC elected Michael Steele to the pretend position of RNC Chair, they don’t seem to quite trust him. You see, the Chair has control over spending some of that hundreds of millions of dollars the Republicans raise yearly. The members of the NC have decided they don’t want Michael Steele to have his paws on all that money. Really, they elect a black man as pretend RNC Chair, and now they want to make sure he doesn’t have the power to spend RNC funds. Let’s just say they never took that power away from any of their previous white pretend RNC Chairs. From the Washington Times:

A battle over control of the party’s purse strings has erupted at the troubled Republican National Committee, with defenders of Chairman Michael S. Steele accusing dissident RNC members of trying to “embarrass and neuter” the party’s new leader.

Randy Pullen, the RNC’s elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman’s power to dole out money.

The powers include new controls on awarding contracts and spending money on outside legal and other services.

I’m simply amazed at the audacity of these folks. Michael Steele as the face of the Republican Party is about the only sign left of any diversity in the GOP. They’ve lost the Latino vote, the African American vote, the gay vote, the oyuht vote and the woman vote. It appears now that the middle aged white men who actually run the GOP are not about to let a black man spend their money. My goodness but there’s tons of room for a few tasteless jokes here, but I’m not going to go there. Nope, not a little bit.

I will say that Michale Steele and Jon Huntsman should look to Arlen Specter as an example. Were they to convert themselves to Democrats, as Specter has done, these guys could . . . be ridiculed openly by the GOP? But, wait, they’re already being ridiculed openly by members of the GOP. OK, ok, I’m not seeing much advantage of these two moving to the Democratic Party, but they sure are being abused by their own, and while the Democratic Party could always use another Governor and more influence in Utah, I’m not sure what we would do with Micheal Steele. Maybe we could put him in charge or redecorating or something?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Gun Nut Poplawski Feared Zionists

The story of the Pittsburgh cop killer Richard Poplawski get more sordid today. Seems he was all worried about conspiracy theories that featured Zionist control of the known universe. Screws loose, for sure, and ripe for the revolution talk by Republicans Bachman, Turner Diaries and Beck. SPLC working overtime today, for sure.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I suppose this was inevitable, and must be driving some mass hysteria over at Stormfront. (No, I will not link to that hate group, but their immediate speculation on the crime centered on whether the guy was one of “them.”) Newspapers are reporting that Richard Poplawski was not only upset with the whackjobbery notion that Barack Obama was going to take his guns, but also at the notion that Zionist controlled the world. Alas, that mention is a mere aside in this story from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Within minutes, all three officers were fatally shot by the subject of the domestic call, later identified as Richard “Pop” Poplawski, 22. A dishonorably charged Marine, he adhered to a number of right-wing conspiracy theories and expressed fears of a “Zionist nation” revoking his right to own guns.

There’s a blogger here who has some interesting insight. And here’s a transcript from an interview with Poplawski’s best friend Eddie Perkovic, who has a MySpace page with explicit ravings about Zionist conspiracies. The transcript is linked from an OpEdNews diary, but the interview is on WPXI:

Q What can you tell us about him?

Eddie: Umm. he was a pretty straightforward guy. he was never on any drugs he never did anything out of line he wasn’t involved in any gangs, any militias, he just believed in his right to bear arms; he believed that hard economic times were, you know, gonna put forth a, you know, gun bans. That sort of thing. ..he uh, he basically believed in what our forefathers had put before us and thought that it was being distorted by the, you know, zionist control of the government, and he didn’t believe in that. Uh Also, I don’t think that the way he went about solving it was the right way to do it though.

Reporter: And did he have a lot of, I take it he had a lot of guns? He collected guns and things like that?

Eddie: he only had about 4 firearms

Q. How do you know him?

Eddie: I’ve been best friends with him since I was born.

I wouldn’t impute to Poplawski the motives Eddie Perkovic imputes to him, necessarily, but this is beginning to look particularly ugly with dashes of gunnuttery mixed with ladles of bigotry and whackjobbiness. That’s a stew worked, as I noted last night, by the Republican Pundits Gone Wild like Glenn Beck and his partner in crime, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

By the way, is Wayne LaPierre French? I’m thinking his name in itself should wave a red flag as to whether he should be allowed to have a gun.

Sunday, April 5th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Gay French Monkey Blogging

Is it appropriate to give a new baby a stuffed monkey if that baby is African American, given the historic derogatory connections between African Americans and Monkeys? Well, my boy is teasing his monkey. And I’m unsure of the whole political correctness thing.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Oh, it was amazing when my wife adopted Jack. He is indeed a bundle of joy, and easily the cutest baby in all of puppetland. But it was odd the gifts people got Jack. You see, my wife and I are committed liberals, at least as concerns social issues. And we were a bit stunned that Jack got not one, not two, but three stuffed monkeys as gifts. Hey, our liberal sensibilities told us that monkeys are often used as derogatory symbols for African Americans, and Jack is very much African American. So it set us thinking, to say the least.

Still, the stuffed monkeys were very cute, as you can see below. One of them has a beret on his head, thus making him French, and he’s a stylin’ sort of French monkey. We call him the gay french monkey. Jack is beginning, at ten weeks of age, to cuddle up to this gay french monkey, though from the picture here he seems to be teasing that monkey unmercifully.


I suppose I think that my liberal sensibilities may be on overdrive, wondering as I do whether we should bring stuffed monkeys into Jack’s life. Still, they’re just stuffed animals, right, and Curious George is a bit of a childhood hero, isn’t he? Again, I am conflicted, and I could use all the advice you can muster.

Oh, and I know he is cute as can be, though I don’t mind reading it in comments.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Race,racism

GOP Racism and Fake Apologies, Feb 5th Edition

We likely have an incident like this every day, but Carol Carter’s nonapology apology is significant. The Party that seems proud of Michael Steele, first Black RNC Chair, has lots of racism in its membership, and one member, in the GOP hierarchy, thinks it is a shame her racism accidently became public. It’s the media’s fault, of course.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Had to make that the Feb. 5th edtion because I know there will be some GOP racism tomorrow, or the next tomorrow after that. They just can’t help the feelings of their membership, and that membership listens far too much to Rush to understand what can be said in public. Well, or even private. That’s what got Florida State Committeewoman Carol Carter in trouble, an email she thought was private. It included some racist ugliness, which she evidently didn’t have a problem with, unless it got out in public. Here’s her email fromt he story in the St. Petersburg Times:

From: Carol Carter

Friday, January 30, 9:30 AM

Subject: FW: Amazing!

I’m confused

How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, DC in 1 day in sub zero temps when 200,000 couldn’t get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice?

Carol Carter

I’m stunned. This woman is considered a leader among Republicans in her state and she doesn’t understand that a racist joke is innappropriate even in private? Does she not get the notion that to cover your ass you keep that stuff off of the internet entirely? Yes, she is both racist and incompetent. Which makes her . . . a Republican? I love her unrepentent apology better:

From: Carol Carter

January 30, 5:54 PM

Subject: Earlier e-mail

I have been asked to send this apology for my earlier e-mail. I am sorry that it was received in a negative manner. I do hope that we are going to be allowed to keep our sense of humor.

As you can now see, it went to very few people. I did add Todd Marks in this apology, as he is in the mix now. I am also sorry to learn that some of these persons are not real team players. There really was no reason for this to go beyond those that I e-mailed (8 people). This was not an e-mail blast as I do not have that capability.


First, there’s no real apology here. She notes immediately she was forced to write what she couches as an apology, but it is clear that what she’s really sorry for is that a private email ended up embarrassing her publicly, and she’s also sorry that some people can’t take a racist joke. I am hard on Republicans, and it is clear that Carol Carter is another example of a Republican who just doesn’t get it. They’re already the white person party, and in this country we’re accepting and valuing diversity more and more each day. People like Carol Carter are going to make the Republicans a permanent losing party if the GOP doesn’t watch out, despite having Michael Steele as RNC Chair.

Thursday, February 5th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Non-Racists Indicted for Burning Black Church on Election Day

The indictments came down in the Massachusetts arson attack on a black church, an attack that happened the night Barack Obama was elected President. But neighbors and family are insisting the young perps are not racist. I suppose it is all an accident or something.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I know that headline seems odd, so let’s start from the beginning. That might better help you understand. Benjamin Haskell, Michael Jacques, And Thomas Gleason were indicted a couple days ago for setting fire to an African American church on election night in Springfield, MA. The indictment came from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and while one might wonder why the indictment didn’t happen sooner, it is somewhat comforting that this indictment has now gone forward. Here’s the report from the DOJ press release:

Benjamin Haskell, 22, Michael Jacques, 24, and Thomas Gleason, 21, all of Springfield, Mass., were arrested early this morning on a civil rights violation, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker; U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Glenn N. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Boston Field Division; Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Boston Field Office; Colonel Mark Delaney, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; William Bennett, Hampden County District Attorney; and Commissioner William J. Fitchet of the Springfield Police Department.

“Today’s arrests demonstrate the Department of Justice’s unwavering commitment to enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws,” Becker said. “Racial violence tears at the fabric of our great nation and will not be tolerated.”

In documents unsealed today, the government alleged that in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 2008, Haskel, Jacques and Gleason engaged in a conspiracy to burn and succeeded at burning the Macedonia Church of God in Christ’s building, a newly constructed building where religious services were to be held for a predominantly African American congregation. The building was 75 percent completed at the time of the fire, which destroyed the entire structure, leaving only the metal superstructure and a small portion of the front corner intact. Investigators determined the fire to be incendiary in nature and caused by an unknown quantity of gasoline applied to the exterior and interior of the building.

Haskel, Jacques and Gleason have been arrested and charged in a complaint with conspiring to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate the parishioners of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in the free exercise or enjoyment of their rights as secured in the Constitution and laws of the United States.

“We will not tolerate those who victimize others,” said U.S. Attorney Sullivan. “Racism has devastating effects on individuals, and stifles the quality of life in the community. I am angered and saddened that the neighborhood has endured such cruel acts by those living in the same community.”

“This crime has caused a great deal of physical and emotional harm. It is a crime against our entire community. All of us have been injured. All of us are hurt, but we are also resolved to hold those responsible accountable,” said District Attorney Bennett.

Non-Racists? Did I really write that in the headline up there? In the usual news piece where a local paper, this time the aptly named Springfield Republican, interviews the neighbors and friends of the lowly perps, several of those interviewed testify that Haskell, Jacques and Gleason are not racists. Here’s a bit of that testimony, from the Springfield Republican:

In the week since a collection of federal, state, and city law enforcement officers arrested Gleason, Haskell, and Jacques, relatives and friends expressed shock and dismay that the young men could be involved.

Michael McDonald, Haskell’s father, said vehemently that his son is innocent.

“He is a good kid, and he didn’t do it,” McDonald said. “Come on. He was not raised like that.”

The authorities are portraying the incident as “a racist thing,” McDonald said. His son, he added, “has black friends and listens to rap music.”

Gleason’s father, Thomas A. Gleason, also disputed that his son could commit a hate crime based on either race or religion.

“As far as we are concerned, he is innocent,” he said. “He was home when this happened, as far as I know.”

The elder Gleason said he raised his son as a Christian.

“He doesn’t have an enemy in the world, as far as I know. He has a heart the size of Texas.”

He noted that, along with Cullins, three of his son’s eight friends who attended a Wednesday detention hearing are black.

“A heart the size of Texas,” eh? Is there an implication there that there is no racism in Texas, or that these boys, raised as Christians couldn’t possibly be racists? I suppose the father of Thomas Gleason thinks there was a case of mistaken identity or something. Or that it was all an accident caused when his son was carrying a can of gasoline through the church, like he was taking a shortcut or something back to his car. Yeah, that’s it! Heck, if it was a church with white members Thomas Gleason would have accidently torched it as well, I suppose.

No, we are not yet in a post-racial world, folks.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Barack, the Magic Negro is Above All That

Another manufactured controversy today, this one because a stupid Republican, running to head the GOP, gave out a CD tinged with racism to the RNC committee members, likely thinking because the CD was on Limbaugh it was acceptable. These guys aren’t ready to run a hot dog stand, much less the country. Obama does the right thing in standing tall.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

By now we’ve all heard the controversy. Chip Saltsman, former campaign manager for Mike Huckabee and current candidate for RNC Chair, made the tasteless move of slipping a CD into the goodie bags for RNC Members, and on it is a song called “Barack the Magic Negro.” As TPM describes it, the song is a parody with the songwriter, Paul Shanklin, singing it as if he is Al Sharpton. I suppose one can imagine all sorts of blackface and such. Here’s the lyrics from when the song was first controversially run on the Limbaugh show about a year and a half ago, from Media Matters (and here’s the Youtube of the song):

SHANKLIN (Sharpton impersonator):

Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.
The L.A. Times, they called him that
–Cause he’s not authentic like me.

Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper
Said he makes guilty whites feel good

They’ll vote for him, and not for me
–Cause he’s not from the hood.
See, real black men, like Snoop Dog,
Or me, or Farrakhan
Have talked the talk, and walked the walk.
Not come in late and won!

[refrain] Oh, Barack the Magic Negro, lives in D.C.
The L.A. Times, they called him that
–Cause he’s black, but not authentically.

Oh, Barack the Magic Negro, lives in D.C.
The L.A. Times, they called him that
–Cause he’s black, but not authentically.

Some say Barack’s “articulate”
And bright and new and “clean.”
The media sure loves this guy,
A white interloper’s dream!
But, when you vote for president,
Watch out, and don’t be fooled!
Don’t vote the Magic Negro in –
–Cause – ’cause I won’t have nothing after all these years of sacrifice
And I won’t get justice. This is about justice. This isn’t about me, it’s about justice.
It’s about buffet. I don’t have no buffet and there won’t be any church contributions,
And there’ll be no cash in the collection plate.
There ain’t gonna be no cash money, no walkin’ around money, no phoning money.
Now, Barack going to come in here and –

You know, the American people, and probably even a few Republicans about now, are beginning to detest this sort of ugly attack politics. These ugly politics tinged with racism permeated the last election cycle, and look where it got them – they lost ground in the Seante and the House, and they lost the Presidency to a black man with the middle name of “Hussein.” Sure, the incompetence of George Bush had something to do with those losses, but I’m thinking Americans are finally tired of the same old same old politics of destruction. I say let them still do it without too, too much squawking. Every time Republicans resort to anything remotely like racism, they’re going to bolster the racist base they can count on, and alienate the majority of Americans. We should take Mr. Obama’s lead on this one, and here’s what he said in 2007 when the controversy first reared its ugly head, from Tabloid Edition:

Mr Obama’s campaign team described the song as dumb. Mr Obama, who could become the first black president, said he had not heard the song but had heard about it. He played down the row, saying that he did not take himself so seriously that he became offended by every comment made about him.

There are people in this country who will condemn Saltsman and Limbaugh and anyone who chooses to associate with this ugliness. Hey, I’m not here to defend either Al Sharpton or Barack Obama. I’m here to note that Barack Obama’s response in 2007 will be followed with the same response now to this ugliness, with class and calmness that in contrast to the whiney ugniness of the Republicans will win Obama two or three more points at the polls.

It is still up in the air whether the Republicans will ever learn that civility is the new way to win campaigns.

Friday, December 26th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Bobby Jindal and the GOP Love of “Post-Racial”

Bobby Jindal is the darling of the Republican Party, especially the extremists on the religious right. They see him as competent, as socially conservative and as an example to themselves that they are beyond race. The GOP hasn’™t adequately parsed its difficulties with race, and some of their members might see Jindal as Apu of the Simpsons.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I was talking with my friend Jeff the other day. He’™s a Pastor of a mainstream denomination church in a conservative part of California. I made a comment like. . . ‘œIt isn’™t that all Republicans are racist, of course,’ formulating thoughts as I went along. Then Jeff finished the statement quite well ‘” ‘œit’™s just that for so many white people for whom race is an issue, they’™re Republican.’ I think you might be able to say the same about the issue of immigration, too, that the anti-immigration nativists tend to be Republicans, and many of them are so because they see white people becoming the minority in this country. All that said, it seems to me the Republican Party has a hugely complicated problem with race in its ranks. So the powers that be in the GOP end up presenting us with Bobby Jindal.

Everyone, though seems a bit coy about Jindal on the subject of race. The news media often talks about Barack Obama as a black man, or as an African American. The Washington Post this morning, in a profile piece of Jindal, calls him ‘œnonwhite.’ (Time’™s profile of a few years ago refers not to race but to Jindal’™s ‘œethinicity’) They catalog Jindal’™s supporters, who include Grover Norquist among the fiscal hawks of the GOP, and Tony Perkins from the social conservative wing of the GOP, all the while touting Jindal’™s bona fides for governance in Louisiana and also his extremist social conservative stances:

The record is still evolving, like the rest of him. But social conservatives like what they have heard about the public and private Jindal: his steadfast opposition to abortion without exceptions; his disapproval of embryonic stem cell research; his and his wife Supriya’™s decision in 1997 to enter into a Louisiana covenant marriage that prohibits no-fault divorce in the state; and his decision in June to sign into law the Louisiana Science Education Act, a bill heartily supported by creationists that permits public school teachers to educate students about both the theory of ‘œscientific design’ and criticisms of Darwinian evolutionary concepts.

He voted with his caucus in Congress 97% of the time and gets a 100% pro-life voter rating from the National Right to Life Committee, and also a 100% rating from the NRA, and 0% on lgbt issues from the Human Rights Campaign. (Wikipedia) It is pretty clear that Bobby Jindal has worked hard to appeal to the extremist religious wing of the GOP on those issues, but it just might be that those issues are the real Bobby Jindal. It just may be that Bobby believes that the life of a woman is not as important and the life of the child she is carrying. Certainly Jindal’™s religious record reflects the kind of zeal on often sees in converts (he is converted to Catholocism from the Hindu beliefs of his parents). What’™s that? Jindal wrote an article on witnessing spiritual possession? That demon over on the left is the illustration that goes with the Jindal article about exorcism in the Oxford Review. I think it can be safely said that Bobby Jindall has made himself in the Christian conservative ranks.

But has Jindal unmade his ethnicity enough? Sure, Bobby renamed himself at the ripe old age of four after Bobby Brady on the Brady Bunch. How cute. But in India, where they are very proud of Jindal, they insist he is still Piyush, with all the ethic baggage that carries with it. They claim Jindal uses ‘œPiyush’ on all official documents, for instance. So he’™s not hiding his race. No. Not at all. And the Republicans who love Bobby Jindal, they’™re sure not counting on their constiuency to be ‘œpost-racial,’ are they? Not so fast, not so fast.

I suppose that’™s the issue that niggles at me. In today’™s Washington Post, Krissah Williams Thompson notes that she’™s not post-racial, that the campaign trail this year wasn’™t ‘œpost-racial,’ even on the Democratic side, and that even the Barack Obama campaign does not give credit to this ‘œpost-racial’ notion:

In his speeches, Obama has never defined the kind of unity he seeks. It was commentators who dubbed his campaign a post-racial one and who have now declared that we live in a post-racial America. As Obama puts together his Cabinet, blogs and message boards are going crazy with discussions of whether he should be expected to appoint a team that’™s more racially diverse than were those of his recent predecessors. Others argue that his ‘œpost-racial’ campaign should not succumb to such quotas.

What the president-elect said about race eight months ago in a speech in Philadelphia, which he called ‘œA More Perfect Union,’ was much more complex than any cliched notion of unity. He described the country as being at a racial stalemate. ‘œContrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle,’ Obama said.

Cassandra Butts, a senior Obama adviser who is African American, told the Wall Street Journal in the closing days of the campaign that she doesn’™t consider Obama ‘œa post-racial’ politician. ‘œWhen people say that, they seem to suggest that we are beyond the issue of race, that issues of race don’™t matter,’ she said. ‘œI don’™t think that is necessarily the case. I don’™t think Barack considers himself post-racial in that way. He will tell you he thinks race does matter.’

I agree. For me, the goal has never been negating race through colorblindness ‘” to do so would take a healthy discussion of existing racial disparities off the table. My aim is not for us to be post-racial but to embrace our cultural heritages while refusing to be confined by them.

That last bit is the part I think Bobby Jindal and the Republicans are ignoring. This isn’™t about colorblindness. Color in our society has some pretty shameful connotations, certainly, but we can also celebrate color. I need not reflect on chains and on fire hoses when I think of black, but can also think of Odunde, of beauty. It isn’™t our job to ignore racial difference, but to value it. ‘œPost-racial,’ then, is a bit of a bunch of crap if one thinks of it as ‘œbeyond’ racial distinction. And that appears to me to be how Bobby Jindall has packaged himself, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Jindal is no longer Piyush, for instance, but Bobby. He is no longer a worshiper of those strange Hindu Gods, but is a very conservative Catholic in the Rick Santorum mold. He talks in a folksy bayou lilt, and never seems to refer to his racial background or ethnicity. I’™m thinking that’™s not what won people over for Obama, and it isn’™t any kind of reflection of what we’™ve got going on in this country today as far as race relations are concerned. there were many, many people on the right for whom race played a vital role in their not voting for Barack Obama. At least some of those Republicans are going to see through the Jindal disquise and see him as Piyush, the dark-skinned man who has a very white wife.

What is interesting, I suppose, is the standard evaluation that racism as a factor in voting is more prevalent in the South. The Republicans must be thinking that Jindal won in Louisiana, so race must not be a handicap for him, and besides, his name is ‘œBobby.’ If that’™s how they’™re thinking, my gut tells me they have it wrong, that they haven’™t adequately guaged the racism that lurks within their own party structure. I’™m thinking Bobby Jindal as GOP nominee for President in 2012 is a train wreck waiting to happen, that a whole bunch of the Republican rank and file are not going to see Jindal the good politician but Jindal the convenience store owner who is married to a white woman, and they just might reject that image. Were I Jindal, I’™d try 2016. The man is instead giving speeches in Iowa. Still, he’™s not a stupid man, so maybe he’™ll avoid testing the Republican constiuency until they mature just a bit more.

Sunday, November 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

The 2008 Wake – Waiting For The Sea To Change

Many elections are bittersweet. 2008 was no exception. While celebrating Obama’s historic election, California voters were dashing the dreams of LGBT children throughout the world. Today, they doubt voters will ever grant an LGBT candidate the same defining moment of acceptance.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

When we’re young, life is immeasurable and expansive. As we leave the coddled confines of our childhood, it is the equivalent of the snail emerging from its protective shell to explore all that exists in the grand garden of life…eager and idealistic…hopeful to a fault in the absence of unforeseen obstacles and disappointments…unaware of the protective nature of the domicile we depart.

My journey began in 1976 as I graduated from The Abbey School. Two years prior to my graduation, I made a decision I recall announcing in our kitchen to my mom, “I won’t be the valedictorian of my class…that’s not what’s important to me…but I’m going to win the Sullivan Award”. I can’t even say exactly how she reacted though I believe it was part surprise and part puzzlement at such a specific pronouncement. Once she absorbed my statement, she observed that grades weren’t everything and, by and large, left it at that.

The Sullivan Award was given at graduation to the high school student who contributed the most to student life during their four years of attendance. While an esoteric achievement, it fully symbolized my sense of community and my unyielding belief in the promise of humanity. On a warm summer day in front of the towering monastery…as a member of the esteemed 50th graduating class…in the centennial year of Colorado’s statehood and the bicentennial year of this nations existence…I received the Sullivan Award…and all was well in my idyllic world. My dreams had come true.

In a few short months, while attending college, I cast my first vote for Jimmy Carter and life was my oyster. Much to my dismay, little else would measure up for many years to come. Aware of my homosexuality, but determined to suppress it, I decided to quit college after three years and return home to work with my dad and his brother.

On the surface, the decision had the appearance of a considered choice, but in retrospect, it was motivated by my fear that should I remain in college, the opportunities to pursue my orientation would overwhelm my hesitations and preclude the remainder of my smoldering dreams…not the least of which was the political arena and the fanciful notion that the presidency was within the realm of possibilities.

In hindsight, my actions had little to do with choice and everything to do with being a Catholic raised in a small community where the thought of being gay struck my psyche as nothing more than a perceived and fully unacceptable pathology…the kind that not only precludes one from social acceptability…but most certainly eliminates any fanciful ideas of the presidency.

Yes, the little boy of five (who vividly remembered every detail of the assassination of John Kennedy…including the faces of those he encountered as he entered Safeway with is father after having heard the news on the radio)…and the boy of 10 (who watched every speech and every primary in the candidacy of Robert Kennedy…including anxiously getting up early in the morning to see if he had finally been declared the winner of the California primary…only to realize he was dead)…and the teenage boy (who watched the Watergate hearings with an intensity reserved for a member of the prosecution…up to and including the moment when Richard Nixon…the antithesis of his idealism…finally boarded a helicopter and released the presidency from the egregious grip of corruption)…had by the age of 21 found himself feeling as if fate had stripped him of his dreams.

Four years later, following countless hours of contemplation and with the realization that I had now lived a lie for a quarter of a century…I met a man and fell in love. Soon after, I allowed myself to accept my sexuality, announced it to my family, and on the spur of the moment…on a summer afternoon…with my relationship with my family in ruins and all that remained of my seemingly shattered life hastily tossed in a pickup truck…I moved to Denver.

Ever the idealist, abundantly na–¯ve, and convinced that acceptance…or at least some simulation thereof…would undoubtedly come by affiliating with other homosexuals…I jumped headfirst into being gay. Unfortunately, doing so while attaching oneself to a lover is apt to end up being little more than an act of misguided transference. Should one be unlucky enough to choose, in haste, the wrong partner or the wrong affiliations, the process of separating oneself and completing the task of attaining a sound and self-sufficient identity can appear to be an insurmountable struggle.

In retrospect, it’s terribly saddening that gays…during the coming out process…the moment they most need support…are often required to summon a strength they most likely lack in order to accept and understand the rejection they encounter from those they love. Toss in the abject scorn that much of society heaps upon homosexuals and you have a rather rancid recipe unlikely to bake an ebullient and unencumbered identity.


Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

All the Albatrosses of John McCain, and One with Lipstick

McCain has carried a big burden, about fifteen albatrosses, in this election, and boy is his neck tired. It was going to be tough winning against the Bush legacy, but McCain tied some of these albatrtosses around his own neck, including the one with the lipstick. Your task is to decide which is the biggest albatross that plagues him.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

John McCain surely knew this election would hold challenges for him. He already had George Bush hanging around his neck, as did all the Republicans running for the nomination this year. But the big problem with this election is that John McCain had several other albatrosses hanging around his neck by this last week of the campaign, some of which he hung there himself. Now it may be too early to write a history of why McCain lost, if he does indeed lose this election, but we can certainly count the bird that have weighed him down. One place to go birdwatching is at the polls.

The NYTimes/CBS poll, for instance, shows evangelical Christians supporting McCain, but not as much as they supported Bush, and not with nearly so much fervor. The big albatross here, though, is Christian groups coming out and supporting Barack Obama, even to the point of forming a 527 group and running commercials supportive of Obama. Looks like even the nomination of Palin as Veep didn’™t help.

Speaking of Sarah Palin, she’™s an albatross in lipstick. That same NY Times/CBS poll shows Sarah Palin’™s waning popularity is dragging McCain down by the neck. HEre’™s a bit of the analysis from the New York Times:

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

And in a possible indication that the choice of Ms. Palin has hurt Mr. McCain’™s image, voters said they had much more confidence in Mr. Obama to pick qualified people for his administration than they did in Mr. McCain.

That’™s a whole bunch of people who won’™t vote for McCain because of the most important choice any candidate makes during his campaign, the choice of a running mate. That’™s gotta be a heavy albatross, you betcha. Of course, Palin is a stand-in for the Radical Right Wing Christian Cleric albatross, and they’™re evidently conceding this election. Of course, they style themselves as ‘œsocial conservatives,’ whack jobs that they are, and they’™ve scheduled a pow wow next week to exorcize the demons they have brought to the election. Or maybe they’™ll just whine a lot. Oh, I shouldn’™t say anything. the meeting is supposed to be SECRET!

Here’™s an interesting albatross in the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll, where Obama is surging. Seems even the most faithful of McCain demographics, those men who idolize war heroes, are moving towards Obama slowly but surely. And both the white vote and the conservative vote are headed to the Senator from Illinois as well. Here’™s a taste of the Reuters analysis:

Obama held steady or expanded his edge among several crucial blocs of swing voters, leading by 19 points among independents, 10 points among women, 9 points among Catholics and 7 points among voters above the age 65.

Obama also moved ahead of McCain, an Arizona senator, by 5 points among men. McCain still leads by 8 points among white voters but only earns the support of about 30 percent of Hispanics, a fast-growing group that gave President George W. Bush more than 40 percent of their vote in 2004.

The poll also found Obama was doing a better job of reaching across ideological lines, earning the support of nearly 20 percent of self-described conservatives. McCain wins about 10 percent of liberals.

I must say it is awfully fun tracking all the troubles, albatrosses, that have hampered McCain’™s clear sailing. Of course, there’™s more than the Palin selection that’™s his fault. He courted the Radical Right Wing Christian Clerics, after all, he displayed ignorance of economic policy, then an almost spastic need to pander to every voter group in the country. McCain’™s already angry demeanor was only emphasized by the constant negatives against Barack Obama. Every time an ad ran saying something about ‘œconsorting with terrorists,’ with some ominous announcer, it ended with McCain saying he approved of the message. Holy crap! Isn’™t he the one who helped add that ‘œI approve this message’ bit? His own campaign finance laws, of course, are another set of albatrosses.

It’™s hard to calculate all the other self-inflicted burdens McCain has placed around his own neck. There was the cancellation of the first day of the GOP Convention, the ‘œsuspending the campaign’ stunt, the poor debate performances by both Palin and McCain, the blatant racism among his supporters, some of them, which is turning off independents. The tarnished Republican brand? That goes without saying. But it’™s your turn.

What’™s the biggest of these problems McCain has draped himself with? Could it be that the biggest problem is that he’™s running against a man of genuine stature and leadership in Barack Obama? I’™d like to think so.

Friday, October 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |
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