Labor Day Open Thread

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The President  opened the fall campaign in his customary way today with a barn burning speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Continuing the piecemeal approach of incremental change that our political system allows, President Obama announced a plan for $50 billion of infrastructure investment.  The plan is weighted heavily toward roads, bridges,  high speed rail, smart investments and limited job creation.  Shrewdly, he performed the obligatory ass kissing of organized labor to create enthusiasm and excitement for the Democratic ticket in the fall. Moreover, he sold his plan with the customary feel good rhetoric and American Dream cliches.

Obama’s scathing criticism of the failed policies and right-wing propaganda of the Republicans was what some voters needed to hear.  Too bad white voters are not listening to reason this year.  Republicans understand the power of fear and are using it to their advantage, Democrats should be taking Republicans faces off for their hypocrisy, lies, and distortions on every front.  Fear about the future of Social Security is particularly potent, unfortunately, Obama has no credibility on that issue.

Lastly, the President gave what amounted to a middle class call to arms in this address but  he’s done precious little to address the foreclosure crisis that is decimating the middle class–particularly the black and brown middle class. We’ll see if it works. What is on your mind today?

Of blue collars and rednecks

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I have a confession to make. I am exhausted. Sadly, I’m too spent to muster any enthusiasm or energy to witness any of the history happening around me first hand. Nevertheless, it is happening and it has meaning that many too dependent on the misbegotten impressions of the establishment press corps fail to discern.

Hillary Clinton’s trail of crocodile tears into the bosom of blue collar, redneck America has been an interesting fall from the imperial heights from which this campaign began. Getting down and dirty with America’s great unwashed hoards was only supposed to be an indignity reserved for Iowa and New Hampshire before the coronation. Conventional wisdom told us that anything more would be unnecessary because it was obviously Hillary’s turn. Her claim to the throne as America’s Queen, ironclad.

Supposedly, the worldly celebrity sophisticates from Chappaqua now revel in having to come down from their $109 million dollar mountaintop to rub shoulders with ordinary farmers and shift workers, and enjoy being forced to engage in a morally bankrupt blood sport to deny Barack Obama the White House in order to preserve Hillary Clinton’s post 2008 Presidential viability. I don’t believe a word, baby.

As Hillary’s designated “Ambassador to rural America,” Bill Clinton has put on a good show of feigned sympathy and cornpone compassion for the plight of rural North Carolina’s put upon Jessecrats. “Who and what are Jessecrats,” you ask. To put it simply, they are rural white Democrats who rationalized Jesse Helms fealty to Segregation and White Supremacy as character.

During a stint as a security guard in a grocery store, a Jessecrat I’ll call Mr. Earl told me to my face that he respected and voted for Jesse Helms because he didn’t change what he believed. Mr. Earl shook my hand firmly and was a courtly, portly, older gentleman and native of the small town I live in now. Mr. Earl and Senator Helms personify the rural, closed social network and reactionary Bible belt values that I regard as commonplace and intuitively understand. In many ways, I am his younger black equivalent.

Anyhoo, Bill’s Hillbilly’s for Hillary road show shtick is damn interesting in what it reveals about the campaign and our politics. Race, as I’ve discussed umpteen times in the past, is undeniably a factor in this campaign. Moreover, it is the real reason for Bill’s bogus tour of rural seduction.

According to an account in the Dunn Daily Record about an appearance in Lillington, NC, a Harnett county town just a stonestrow from my home, “The political rhetoric got started before the former president even took the stage in Lillington, with former Sen. Robert Morgan introducing President Clinton, praising him and criticizing the current occupant of the White House, President George W. Bush. “He presided over the country when we had one of the largest budget surpluses in our history,” Sen. Morgan said of President Clinton. “The best I can tell he is the only president that has ever been in Harnett County, and I am proud to introduce him.”



The president said he was glad to have the opportunity to see Sen. Morgan again. “Bob Morgan has been a friend of mine for a lot of years and I am proud to be here with him today,” President Clinton said.
I am sure that it would please you to know that Senator Morgan was the campaign manager for the last candidate for Governor of North Carolina to run on an avowedly segregationist platform.

Yes, children, the candidate’s name was I. Beverly Lake Sr. A law professor, lawyer and state supreme court justice. He participated in oral argument against Brown v. Board of Education as North Carolina’s Assistant Attorney General. By 1960, he was the unquestioned leader of the state’s segregationists and he became a candidate for Governor.

As he describes in an oral history interview, “Those men whom I taught, not only in that class but in all the others before it, those men became the nucleus of my political campaign when I ran for Governor in 1960 and again in 1964.” Robert Morgan was one of those men.

Judge Lake’s boys became the most powerful men in North Carolina. CEOs of corporations, state supreme court judges, federal judges, and members of congress, they were a closed fraternity and were undeniably influential members of the white power structure. This is the network, which the Clintons turn to put them over. It is also the network that controls Democratic politics in North Carolina and it’s the reason for Democratic dominance over the Governor’s mansion for 24 of the last 32 years.

Bill and Hillary are intimately acquainted with closed Good Ole Boy and Girl networks of power, having benefited from the one that controls Arkansas. When she first arrived in Arkansas, Bill arranged for Hillary to be given a teaching position in the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville School of Law, where he also taught. After his election as Arkansas Attorney General, Clinton biographer Roger Morris, author of Partners in Power, recalls how Bill called up Herbert Rule III, a partner in the Rose law firm and Clinton fundraiser.

Morris quoted Rule “I got the word from Bill Clinton that she was coming and I tracked her down,” Rule said later. At the time the firm had few women or even Ivy League law credentials, and Rose rarely recruited from law school faculties or legal aid clinics. “Hillary was just a law professor, that’s all,” remarked one partner. But the firm saw her obvious value, offering the twenty-nine-year-old attorney a salary just under $25,000—far higher than the pay in Arkansas for teaching or public interest law and well more than Clinton himself would make as attorney general.”

“…The decision had been made when she decided to marry, to go with his career as the engine for her own ambition and power,” said someone who had known them since Yale. “By the time Rose came across with the offer, she was going to do whatever was best for Bill, whatever would get them to the top—and I mean all the way to the top—as fast as possible.”

“…Both sides recognized the mutual compact in Rose’s employing the wife of an attorney general and politician on the rise…For the firm she was a natural hireling. Formed before statehood and named for a founder of the American Bar Association, Rose had numbered among its partners judges and state supreme court justices, mayors, legislators, a US Senator, and , above all, the intimates of those in power, figures who exerted their force more discreetly, without potentially awkward public visibility, without accountability. It was a matter of appearance and reality in an Arkansas when the two were frequently not the same.”

“For a century and a half Rose represented and wielded the influence of the most powerful forces in the state—in land, timber, retailing, insurance, investment banking, agriculture, financial services—and, with governments at all levels, virtually the entire enveloping grid of political privilege and consequent private profit from the Ozarks to the Delta.

“What Arkansas was the Rose Law Firm had been well paid to make it—and to protect and maintain the result. The discreet firm’s own fortunes were inseparable from the economic and social system it served. Beyond any considerations of gender, resume, or name, Hillary Rodham’s presence on the letterhead was in a long tradition.”

Operating as a preserve of racial exclusivity is apparently a long tradition as well because not even one of the current crop of 30 plus attorneys practicing law as associates or partners with Rose Law, a firm Hillary Rodham Clinton served as a partner and had a say in running, is African American.

For Billary to attempt masquerading as champions of the working class is funnier than Larry Craig explaining his wide stance. For the record, Bill and Hillary Clinton got to where they are by servicing the needs of white corporate power. Period. Anybody who says anything different is crazier than Brittney Spears.

It’s funny how the questionable associations of the Clintons are not being placed under the same microscope as Barack Obama’s. Associations like these could be ferreted out, discussed and disseminated widely by the media and Obama’s post-racial campaign. But, then, it wouldn’t be post-racial if he obsessed over the corporate and segregationist allies of Bill and Hillary. And it would reveal that the deliberate lies about race and power told in the supposedly post-racial 21st century are essentially the same as the ones told in the twentieth.

Speaking of the past, Bill and Hill’s rustic pander fest is reminiscent of another road show that has been lost down the memory hole. It’s Lurleen Wallace’s 1966 campaign for Governor of Alabama. Lurleen Wallace, long term readers of this blog will recall, was the wife of Alabama’s term-limited segregationist Governor, George Wallace. She ran to continue her husband’s hold on power.

I ran across a beautifully written article in the Saturday Evening Post detailing the campaign, “A huge WALLACE FOR GOVERNOR sign hung behind speakers stand. It did not make a point of the fact that it was Mrs. Wallace who was the candidate. Along the sidewalls faded banners bore George Wallace’s old cry of defiance—STAND UP FOR ALABAMA. At the doors Wallace aides held out baskets into which the faithful dropped dollar bills. An elderly minister offered a long and fervent prayer. At the end of it he paused and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to present to you the First Lady of the State of Alabama.”

“Mrs. Wallace stood up and calmly began to read her little speech, “As you know,” she said, “I am a candidate for governor of Alabama. I am happy to offer to you a continuance of the honesty and efficiency so much in evidence during the administration of my husband,” In the back of the hall a man leaning against the wall muttered to a companion, “That’s enough of her—let’s get on to George,” Wallace could not possibly have heard this remark, but his political antenna were responding to the mood of the audience.

“He sensed its impatience. He rose and moved to his wife’s side, “My election,” she was saying, “will enable my husband to carry on his program for Alabama—we want to continue to serve you together.” This is the central argument of Hillary’s campaign and nothing symbolized it more than when they jointly eulogized Coretta Scott King from the pulpit.

“… He [Wallace] then went on to tell them that in his travels around the country he had not found any people anywhere who were “more intelligent or more cultured or more refined than the people of Alabama.” This is what I hear when I hear Bill and Hill tell folks that they matter more than the caucus states and when I hear tell of their shifting rationales for counting Michigan and Florida, contrary to the rules, and their proposed use of the so-called Nuclear Option to seat their people.

Bill seems to be consciously channeling Wallace as he panders his way through the country’s rural areas. Ecohoing Wallace’s infamous 1963 Inaugural, shortly before he stood in the schoolhouse door of the University of Alabama, can’t you just imagine Bill saying, “Today I have stood, where some segregationist once stood, and took an oath to my wife, the woman who single-handedly kept my presidency alive. It is very appropriate then, that from this Cradle of the Confederacy, this very Heart of the Great Anglo-Saxon Southland, that today we sound the drum for freedom in the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of Obama tyranny and I say Hillary today, Hillary tomorrow, Hillary forever.

Majority of voters don’t buy Obama’s denounciation

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Hat Tip: Rasmusen Reports

 

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 30% of the nation’s Likely Voters believe Barack Obama denounced his former Pastor, Jeremiah Wright, because he was outraged. Most—58%–say he denounced the Pastor for political convenience. The survey was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday night. Obama made his statements about Wright on Tuesday.

 

Wright held a mini-media tour last weekend capped by a press conference at the National Press Club on Monday. Only 33% of voters believe that Obama was surprised by the views Wright expressed at Monday’s press conference. Fifty-two percent (52%) say he was not surprised.

 

Fifty-six percent (56%) say it’s at least somewhat likely that Obama “shares some of Pastor Wright’s controversial views about the United States.” That figure includes 26% who say it’s Very Likely Obama holds such views. At the other end of the spectrum 24% say it’s Not Very Likely that Obama shares such views. Just 11% say it’s Not at All Likely.

 

Just 7% of the nation’s voters agree with Wright’s views of the United States. African-American voters, by a 64% to 12% margin, disagree with Wright. Eighty-one percent (81%) of all voters are following the story somewhat or very closely.

 

Nine percent (9%) of voters have a favorable opinion of Wright. Eight-one percent (81%) have an unfavorable view. That includes 62% with a Very Unfavorable opinion. As you would expect, there are strong partisan differences on these questions. Generally, Democrats are divided while Republicans take a less charitable view of Obama.

 

Seventy-four percent (74%) of Republicans believe it’s somewhat or very likely that Obama shares some of Wright’s views. That assessment is shared by 48% of Democrats and 49% of those not affiliated with either major party.

 

Democrats are evenly divided as to whether or not Obama was surprised by Wright’s comments on Monday. Republicans overwhelmingly reject that notion. Just 36% of Democrats believe outrage was the motivation for Obama to denounce his former Pastor. That view is shared by 38% of unaffiliated voters and 16% of Republicans.