The left, the race card, and Herman Cain
by Jeff Jacoby
THE DAY AFTER Herman Cain's dazzling victory in the Florida straw poll, I commented to a Republican neighbor -- and where I live, there aren't many of those -- that with Cain as a GOP rock star, liberals who have been so ready to smear President Obama's critics as racist would have to come up with a new shtick.
What was I thinking? Racial McCarthyism has been a staple of left-wing political rhetoric for years, but it went into overdrive with the rise of Barack Obama. Former president Jimmy Carter, for example, claimed that much of the backlash to the president's policies was explained by "the fact that he is a black man." Janeane Garofalo, the movie actress and liberal activist, called Tea Party protesters "racist rednecks" with one motivation: "This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up." Obama himself has sometimes played the race card; as a candidate in 2008 he predicted that Republicans would "try to make you afraid of me" by focusing on his color: "He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"
Of course such accusations are grotesque canards. But cynics and partisan ideologues have never been terribly squeamish about trafficking in ugly innuendoes to win votes, especially when a complacent media lets them get away with it. Still, you might have thought that surging Republican support for a proud black entrepreneur -- an up-from-segregation business star who summarizes his identity as "ABC: American first, black second, and conservative third" -- would make it tough even for cynics and ideologues to keep singing from the same racial hymnal.
Not a chance. "Herman Cain is probably well-liked by some of the Republicans because it hides the racist elements of the Republican Party, conservative movement, and tea party movement," Garofalo theorized in a recent a TV appearance. "Cain provides this great opportunity so [Republicans] can say, 'Look, this is not a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay movement. Look, we have a black man.'"
In other words, if Republicans or conservatives oppose a public figure who happens to be black, it's because they're racists. And if they support a public figure who happens to be black? That's also because they're racists.
Needless to say, there is no point arguing with such "logic." If Garofalo discovered that Tea Partiers are inordinately fond of applesauce, she would presumably attribute that to racism as well. It would almost be funny, except that there is nothing funny about racial calumny.
Four years ago, the emergence of the Democratic Party's first charismatic, credible black presidential candidate was regarded across the political spectrum as something to celebrate. Even Republicans who strongly opposed Obama because of his positions and outlook -- even John McCain! -- rejoiced in what Obama's success said about America's capacity for self-redemption.
Shouldn't the emergence of Herman Cain -- potentially the GOP's first charismatic, credible black presidential candidate -- evoke similar feelings? Especially if you think the Republican Party has a poor racial record, shouldn't you be encouraged that so many Republicans are excited about Cain? (As a matter of brute historical fact, it was the Democratic Party, not the GOP, that used to be the racist stronghold of American politics. But that's a separate column.)
Whatever his political prospects, Cain's story is exhilarating. Born into poverty in the Jim Crow South, where his mother was a maid and his father a janitor and chauffeur, Cain rose to become a mathematician in the US Navy, a successful business executive, the chairman of a federal reserve bank, and now a Republican star. Liberals should rejoice in his success, even if they disagree with his politics.
Yet on AlterNet, a prominent left-wing website, Cain is jeered as a "black garbage pail kid," a "monkey in the window," and a minstrel performer playing to "white conservative masters." Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist who polled for the Obama campaign, blasts Cain as "racist and bigoted" for saying that many black voters have been "brainwashed" into rejecting conservatism. In a new memoir, Cain writes of being slurred as an "Oreo" and an "Uncle Tom" because he is an unabashed Republican conservative.
Love Cain or loathe him, it should be possible to talk about his candidacy without resorting to racial pejoratives. Like Lester Maddox's axe handle, the political race card ought to be by now nothing but an ugly memory -- something no decent voter, activist, or candidate would dream of brandishing.
More From the Culture of Narcissism
I wouldn’t think it would be worthwhile to draw attention to the Occupy Wall Street “movement,” or its list of demands that wouldn’t pass muster in an average kindergarten class. But if America’s president and vice president choose to talk about it, and give it credibility, then it’s news.
According to VP Joe Biden, demands such as free college, pay independent of work, a $20 minimum wage (why not $100 or $1000?), and a nation with open borders have legitimacy and “a lot in common with the tea party movement.”
President Obama sees these demonstrations against corporate America as reasonable protest toward “the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this situation to begin with.”
This should provide perspective to what our most fundamental problem is today. We have an endangered species in America whose loss threatens our future. That species is called the American adult.
Can someone please explain to our vice president the difference between a screaming infant not getting what he wants, when he wants it and an adult who understands personal responsibility, humility, work and service to others?
A functioning free society requires citizens who are adults capable of overseeing and administering a government which enforce laws that protect life and property.
Once government simply becomes a playpen for those who believe they run the universe and make its basic laws, and that the rest of us must submit to their hallucinations about what is just, we wind up where we are today.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that, according to the latest census data, 48.5 percent of American families now are on the receiving end of some sort of government program, the highest percentage in our history. To provide some perspective, this figure was 10 percent in the 1920’s and a little over 30 percent in 1980.
During the 1960’s, a watershed decade when the infantile culture of narcissism began to subsume free adult culture in America, more government programs were born than in any other period. By 1980, four of these programs of the 1960’s – food stamps, Pell grants, Medicare, and Medicaid – accounted for 164 billion dollars in annual spending. Today these four programs swallow almost an additional trillion dollars.
In all our history, there is only one instance of major reform of a government spending program and that was the welfare reform that was passed in 1996.
These government programs are pure monopolies driven by political power, not efficiency or whether they are serving the real needs of citizens. They don’t change, they only grow.
This contrasts with America’s corporations, who Wall Street protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge, and America’s president and vice president, would like us to believe control everything.
But if big corporations did control everything, they would, like government programs, never change or lose power. But large firms regularly come and go, because, in contrast to government programs, they only remain powerful as long as they are serving consumers.
Of today’s list of 30 major corporations that constitute the Dow Jones Industrial Average firms, only 8 of them were on the list in 1980. The 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average firms have changed 45 times since the average was started 115 years ago.
No, Mr. Biden. Occupy Wall Street has nothing in common with the Tea Party Movement. The Tea Party Movement is protest against abuse of political power and the increasing marginalization and disrespect for truths, such a protection of life, liberty, and property, that define American freedom.
Occupy Wall Street is about lust for political power, about defining what others should have, and redistributing and spending what belongs to some else.
The Real Problem with Solyndra
Sifting through the Administration-Solyndra emails it is clear that President Obama’s taxpayer investment in Solyndra was not random. Bureaucrats and political appointees spent significant time evaluating the company and debating the merits of the soon-to-be-wasted taxpayer guarantee. And that is exactly the problem!
Thanks to the diligence of various House committees, we now have an inside look at the decision-making process and ongoing conversations related to the Solyndra loan guarantee. Much of the reporting has focused on the political motivations behind the boondoggle, but the real focus should be on the email threads that are more suited for a private corporation than the Executive Branch of the United States.
Vice President Joe Biden’s then-chief of staff Ronald Klain emailed, “Putting my oId private equity hat on, I would say that these guys [Solyndra] are no different than a lot of stage two companies: they are burning capital, perhaps a bit fast, and are dependent on a break or two to be viable outside of the 18 - 24 month window.”
Mr. Klain’s analysis may be fine in the private equity world – you take calculated risks with private money expressly for that purpose. But in government, that is not the case. Americans do not work so their government can take risks, calculated or otherwise, with their tax dollars and discuss burn rates and business development stages.
Another email took a deep dive into Solyndra’s economics: “While debt coverage is robust under stress conditions, the project cash balance goes to $62,000.00 in September 2011.” The email went on to discuss “working capital,” a “funding shortfall” and a “negative cash balance.”
Taken in isolation, you would be tempted to think the email was from an investment advisor. Of course, any investment advisor worth his salt would warn you to stay far away from a company is such a downward spiral.
Matt Rogers, a senior advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, seemed to understand the dire warnings. About the future of the Solyndra, he emailed, it “needs more capital to keep going long-term, which is why they are planning to tap the public markets.”
In email after email, we can find the same thing, bureaucrats and political appointees “putting on hats” and analyzing a private company’s economic viability to determine if they should invest taxpayer money into that company.
This is not the government our founders intended, nor the one we learned in civics class. Rather, this governing style is more suited for a bad Hollywood movie depicting incompetent crony capitalism in a country on the decline.
Ironically, the absurdity of the entire “green jobs” investment scheme was pointed out in an email to Larry Summers, who was the director of the National Economic Council. The snippet is a bit long, but instructive:
The allocation of spending to clean energy is haphazard; the government is just not well equipped to decide which companies should get the money and how much. That is, after all, what my industry does, and there are lots of mechanisms in place to see that it is done right. One of our solar companies with revenues of less than $100 million (and not yet profitable) received a government loan of $580 million; while that is good for us, I can't imagine it's a good way for the governement (SIC) to use taxpayer money (I'd prefer my opinion about that specific company be between us). Every administration seems to feel like it knows better than the private markets how to allocate capital, and I've just never seen that be true.
That email was from Brad Jones, the founding partner of Redpoint Ventures, and the company he referenced was Solyndra. Amusingly, in subsequent emails, Mr. Summers appeared to agree with him, emailing, “I relate well to your view that gov is a crappy vc [venture capitalist] and if u were closer to it you'd feel more strongly."
Another blacked out email warned that the Energy Department’s “‘system’ for monitoring loans is quite problematic…and does not seem to be a program priority.” So, not only were bureaucrats and political appointees acting like investors with our money, they knew they were doing a “crappy” job of it all.
Americans understand that Solyndra is just the most tangible symptom of a much deeper problem. The Washington Establishment’s faith in the power and expertise of government knows no limits. When given nearly unchecked power and money, bureaucrats and political appointees will use taxpayer money however they please, even if they recognize they do it poorly.
Right now, it is Solyndra. But until we get our government out of the daily ins-and-outs of the private sector, we can expect similar boondoggles.
Insurance is the cause — not the cure: "Insurance providing full coverage for every ailment and every medical procedure is the main reason why the cost of healthcare is spiraling out of control. Obamacare will only add to the rising costs by mandating that everyone have full coverage benefits. When everyone has full coverage without exclusions the costs can only go up."
Obama, the soaring sofa: "Cliches are an inexhaustible subject. I’ll always have more to say about them. It’s interesting to watch them come and go -- preferably go. Take 'soaring rhetoric.' (Please!) I don’t know who started that, but once somebody did, it became the phrase almost universally employed in speaking of Candidate Obama’s speeches. I could never understand this phenomenon. His speeches sounded to me like nothing but a tissue of ... well, cliches. And not very good cliches."
The thief of Caracas: "No nation dominated by the politics of socialism has long endured. After an initial frenzy of pillage and theft the inhabitants slide into an inevitable condition of apathy, poverty, and despair. There is no incentive to produce, no private property, no competition, no reason to get ahead of the next fellow. All fruits of effort beyond the minimal are quickly confiscated for consumption by others. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is once again proving the point."
Important new evidence on regime uncertainty: "The idea of regime uncertainty had sound economic theory and substantial empirical evidence to support it from the beginning, and a great deal of additional evidence has accumulated over the past three years. Yet critics have continued to dismiss it either as Republican bunk bought and paid for by Obama-hating billionaires or as a sort of 'just so' story concocted by flaky think-tank nobodies, such as yours truly. Now, however, the research reported by Baker, Bloom, and Davis knocks the ball firmly back into the critics’ court."
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)