Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale

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Voter Fraud & Wisconsin

“You constantly hear about voter fraud… but you don’t see huge amounts of vote fraud out there.” –Eric Holder (who doesn’t see huge amounts of executive integrity, either)

Romney campaign misleads Wisconsin voters with American flags. We’re on to you!

One of my favorite parts about being a reasonably well-liked Ivy League alumnus is that among many of my friends I am something of a token ambassador from conservative America. Military brats are a rare species in the liberal academies of the Northeast—even more so than those of us who regard sequestration, liberal antipathy to drones, or the College serving fried chicken and fake cornbread for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with polite horror—and folks who say “y’all” or prefer sweet tea and chivalry without irony blend as naturally as Eric Cantor in Manhattan. (By the way, when snow accumulates in the Northeast, one is actually expected to venture outside and function with uninterrupted normalcy. Yes, their cruel efficiency never sleeps.)

One of the many duties of a token conservative is to apologize to indignant liberals for all the alleged craziness of my fellow travelers in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Put another way, I am encouraged to remain up to speed on the latest left-wing talking points, dog whistles, and accusations of perhaps criminal extremism. The latest incident deals, as does so much of the drama in this cycle, with Wisconsin. Specifically, perennial hack-that-cries-wolf social justice chronicle Think Progress found what it presented as evidence of the Romney campaign training poll watchers to mislead voters, the “story” commenced the rounds on leftist blogs, and I got called to give account. So here it is.

Progress Senior Reporter Scott Keyes of Ohio leads with the case of ex-felon voters:

CLAIM: Any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” isn’t eligible to vote. (Page 5)

FACT: Once a person who has been convicted of a felony completes his or her sentence, including probation and fines, that person is eligible to vote.

The “probation and fines” point is key here, as it means paroled convicts who are ineligible to vote might show up to polls claiming otherwise. But conveniently enough, Wisconsin law requires that ex-felons receive notice, in writing, of their restored franchise when such point arises. This written confirmation is perfectly presentable to any poll worker, and there is no evidence of the Romney campaign instructing observers to confiscate, ignore, or otherwise reject these letters.

After quibbling over the semantics of an exhaustive list of acceptable proofs of residency, Mr. Keyes continues his case with alleged conspiracy to curb curbside voting for the disabled:

CLAIM: “If a handicapped voter is unable to come into the polls to vote, an assistant can deliver the ballot to the voter if the CEI verifies the elector’s proof of residency.” (Page 10)

FACT: Under Wisconsin law, the CEI (Chief Election Inspector) does not have to verify proof of residency so long as the voter is registered.

A more accurate description of the actual policy is:

Curbside voting is available if a voter cannot enter the polling place due to disability on Election Day. Photo ID must be provided. Proof of residence must be provided if you are not registered. Two poll workers will bring a ballot to the individual needing assistance, and conduct voting at their vehicle, or at the polling place entrance.

As you can see, the point about the CEI is misleading. The identifying information must be verified, and then poll workers will assist.

This brings us to the last “fact-check” against the Romney operation:

CLAIM: “Election Observers should not assist [voters].” (Page 10)

FACT: A voter can ask for assistance from anyone, including a poll watcher, so long as the voter initiates the request and does not engage in electioneering.

I hope you’ll forgive the effrontery of noting that the campaign never says observers “cannot” assist voters, only that they should not do so. Given the whole do “not engage in electioneering” bit, it would follow that internal advice would aim to shield the campaign’s observers from charges of voter tampering. As the campaign notes, voting assistants must leave all their personal information alongside the assisted voter, and it is not unreasonable to expect that any kindness rendered by its affiliates would later be held against an interested campaign.

To be sure, politics is messy and sometimes people engage in dubiously scandalous or illegal behavior. Just recently, an Obama campaign staffer in Texas was caught trying to help someone vote twice. Elsewhere in the Old Confederacy, the Florida Democratic Party is under investigation for voter fraud and three Arkansas Democrats were arrested for it. Perhaps Keyes’s article is just another salvo in the eternal battle of accusations between pots and kettles.

At any rate, I wouldn’t extrapolate from any of this that the Obama campaign and allied Democrats are trying to steal the election (though I’m sure others will and are), unless I find really compelling evidence of a deliberate, systemic hostility to the integrity of the voting process.

Remember your ID at the polls!

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Right Quick: Stronger than Frankenstorm

When I was born to a young soldier and his high-school sweetheart in the spring of 1989, the motto of the U.S. Army was, “Be All You Can Be.” It became something of a slogan for us young brats who dreamed of bright futures in a newly peaceful world. The Cold War was over, the economy was booming, bipartisanship was yielding results, and the 90s were a time of hortatory promise for American youth. All these years later, the motto is now “Army Strong”, and the American ethos it defends is one of resilience and spirited innovation in defiance of all forces of division. Amid ongoing war, recession, and profound uncertainty—as we yearn for the real and imagined glory of earlier times—we find our comfort in the Old Guard of Freedom, in the quiet dignity and faithful strength of those who defend a comfort we take as our inheritance.

We can merrily fret over storms at sea, with tempestuous cocktails and welcome reprieve from leaving the house, because soldiers remain at their posts, ever vigilant, come whatever darkness may. There is such pleasant insouciance in knowing that, of all possible fears, our greatest concern is not random terror, deranged tyrants, or martial crises, foreign or domestic, but a Category 1 hurricane. Our lady of wrath will certainly leave her mark, and there will  be brokenness to mend when she leaves. But Sandy, too, shall pass.

Thank you, fighting men and women of America, for leaving us to problems that we can be prepared for at home with batteries, whistles, and moist towelettes.

Some good-looking bayonets.

Stay safe.


The Drones of Fall

“War is not nice.” –Barbara Bush

Drones don’t kill people; we have people for that!

There’s been much ado about the purported moral hazards of drones. Much of it has come from the Left, but there have been some conservative reservations. As you may recall, I addressed liberal compunctions on this topic not too long ago, reminding the Left of its moral and political complicity in the Obama status quo. But on this occasion, we’re going to discuss the practical validity of drones in our defense strategy.

For this second discussion we thank my friend Leah Libresco over at Unequally Yoked. In detailing her key political qualms with this election, Libresco described the morality of the use of drones as follows:

“We are endorsing an indiscriminate, terrifying way to prosecute a war that is above all inhumane because it leaves the humans in each side of it in isolation.  Death from above robs the killer and their target of the mutual recognition and love that is their natural relationship.  It’s not only murder, it’s murder that fosters a lie.”

The crux of this argument—an essentially Catholic rendering of familiar secular reservations—is the conviction that deploying troops into the path of harm is a moral requirement of war. In other words, it is wrong to deny an enemy combatant the opportunity—which Libresco calls love and other liberals deem “due process”—to face down his would-be killer. To put it more charitably, opponents of drones seem to believe that such remote targeting results, perhaps inevitably, in greater civilian casualties than conventional troop deployment would cause, and these greater casualties are exacerbating ill will toward the U.S. and our allies.

To clarify something up front, this issue is not about whether you’re for or against the war in Afghanistan or what you think about the 2014 withdrawal date favored by both President Obama and Governor Romney. This discussion is about the moral and practical realities of war. The primary question here is how to minimize collateral damage and protect our allies while successfully fulfilling goals and eliminating enemies.

In the last several years, the Taliban and their terror networks have aggressively increased killing sprees throughout the country. For the sake of undermining the civilian government & attacking NATO troops—to the end of repressively commandeering the country—terrorists are willfully injuring and killing thousands of innocent people. For NATO, a shift in strategy from troop deployment to drones allows for, among other things, less danger to civilians who would be harmed through the kind of broad targeting of troops that produces heavy civilian casualties. In short and against the reigning criticisms, drones allow for less—not “no”—combat among innocents.

According to the United Nations, civilian death from terrorist attacks has sharply increased since 2006, whereas casualties from coalition forces declined. Any nonzero number of innocent dead is a vicious tragedy, and many would argue that the current numbers could and should be lower. I’m not disagreeing with that analysis. But as it stands, civilian deaths from pro-government forces are believed—by the U.N.—to be at their lowest levels in half a decade. By contrast, terrorists murdered more civilians in 2011—nearly six times as many killed by American allies—than in the last six years. This comes even as casualties from aerial attacks, which do account for the bulk of deaths, are down.

Are there problems with U.S. drone policy? Absolutely. But given the numerical trends in casualties and the reality of a protracted war, drone critics must do more than enumerate flaws. The opposition ought to promote and defend a better way to defeat our enemies and keep our allies safe.

I commend our military leaders for continuing to defend us from enemies we may never see, even as the chattering classes drone.

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This Nation, Me

“One thing I think Americans should be proud of… this nation, me, my administration stood with them” –Barack Obama

“L’Etat c’est a moi” –Louis XIV

Because the nature of our military’s changed, we use fewer ships and don’t  spell-check.

The final presidential puerile squabbling fest debate of the cycle has come and gone—thank goodness—and we’re left to puzzle out an understanding of where we are to go from here. For starters, liberals are already crying foul over Romney seeming too presidential to be painted a raging extremist. You would think they’d be happy to find a Republican keeping his enemy close agreeing with Obama. Speaking of, what are the proposals, visions, and opportunities represented by the Leader of the Free World?

First off, this was a foreign policy debate, and it was supposed to highlight the strengths of the incumbent who killed bin Laden. Yet for all the talk of Barack Obama’s purported victory, the president left many questions unanswered and many potential voters uncomfortable. President Obama has opposed any attempts to defuse sequestration, but Debate Obama vowed that the sequestration cuts would (since backtracked to “should”) not happen. How exactly will you prevent those cuts, Mr. President? By shifting them elsewhere, as the Republicans (and the Secretary of Defense) have asked along? By raising taxes on small businesses during a recession? You would be forgiven any wariness of the president’s sincerity on the matter, as he continues to defy his legal requirement to disclose how sequestration cuts would be implemented.

The other inconvenient budgetary situation is that of ending the war in Afghanistan, which both candidates have pledged to do by 2014. Once Twice again, Obama promoted economic benefits:

“You know, one of the challenges over the last decade is we’ve done experiments in nation building in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. And we’ve neglected, for example, developing our own economy, our own energy sectors, our own education system. And it’s very hard for us to project leadership around the world when we’re not doing what we need to do here.

But what I think the American people recognize is after a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation-building here at home. And what we can now do is free up some resources to, for example, put Americans back to work”

I’m glad we can all agree that the incumbent president, whoever that is, should have been “nation-building here at home” by “developing our own economy” to “put Americans back to work”. Moving along, concluding the war in Afghanistan will eliminate only a fraction of the $1.2-trillion deficit. (Remember when it was supposed to be $520 million?) This will certainly mean less debt, but there will be no savings to put elsewhere. Obama can choose to restore the deficit by borrowing towards different spending, but if that is his intention, why hasn’t he said and defended it? Is he hoping the American people won’t notice?

On the subject of defense budgeting and strategy, what was the point of comparing Navy ships to “horses and bayonets” in jocular derision of valid concerns about defense policy? Does Obama believe ships are obsolescent in a modern Navy? Given that “aircraft carriers” and “nuclear submarines” are also ships, does it follow that the president believes we should have fewer of them? Is this where he intends to direct those undisclosed sequestration cuts? Whatever the answers, this clever gimmick allowed Obama to shrewdly avoid Romney’s actual point: due to defense budget cuts, the Pentagon has abandoned its “two-war strategy” and is reducing our ability to wage war. Why is it that the president seems so unwilling to defend this decision?

Regarding war direction and authority, Obama defended his actions in Syria by citing Muammar Gaddafi’s many crimes. The assessment is accurate, and we notice how much the exercise recalls George W. Bush’s indictment of Saddam Hussein’s violent record (notwithstanding the discredited 9/11 association). Am I saying Obama’s deployment of force in Libya is akin to the initiation of the Iraq War? No, of course not. President Bush sought and received congressional authorization for his invasions; President Obama never bothered and, when pressed, denied the need. This begs us to ask: what is the Obama Doctrine for the engagement of American martial power? What limits, if any, ought the executive to acknowledge on his authority to commit acts of war?

It is by no means clear what a second Obama term would hold for our military and our national budget. But the gist of it seems to be that the president is committed to three proposals: 1) cut the defense budget & downsize the military, 2) maintain a deficit to finance more government spending, and 3) don’t answer too many questions about 1 and 2. It’s almost like this president feels entitled to rule the country as he sees fit, without the burden of oversight or popular approval.

Can we afford four more years of this governance?

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Bonfire of the Principles

“And, of course, 2012 offers nothing like the ecstasy of taking part in a historical advance: the reëlection of the first African-American President does not inspire the same level of communal pride. But the reëlection of a President who has been progressive, competent, rational, decent, and, at times, visionary is a serious matter.” –The New Yorker

The Left’s takeaway from the second presidential debate.

What are the signs of a campaign coming unhinged?

We’re nearing the home stretch, the last debate is tonight, and our collective nerves shriek at the yawning chasm of weeks between now and that first Tuesday of Standard Time. A song of desperation has reverberated through the partisan games since the waning days of summer. Back then, the prominent notes were “tax returns”, “Voter I.D.”, and, of course, “fear of a black president”. The tax returns served as a foil to the Buffet Rule fantasy in which the Left pretended that our fiscal problems can be solved by revenue. The voter I.D. reporting served as a coordinated exercise in willful miscarriage of reality—it takes obdurate aplomb to call racist a position favored by 65% of blacks and 64% of Hispanics. That discussion also conveniently fed into the tritely disingenuous narrative of conservative bigotry, which has fueled much sententious verbosity throughout the race.

Even beyond the predictable amalgamation of deceit and blame regarding the Obama record, the debate season has seen new heights—or lows—of rabid opposition as the Left circles the wagons. Mitt Romney details a methodology to alleviate a paucity of women in the workplace, and he is met with derision from the very people who presumably want more efforts to support women in the workplace. At the risk of stating the obvious, going out of your way to find qualified candidates from groups underrepresented in the work environment is the spirit of affirmative action. Since when were liberals opposed to that?

Romney goes on to implicate communal dysfunction in trends of social decay, including gun violence, and suggest that mitigating these evils would reduce that violence and dysfunction:

“What I believe is we have to do as the president mentioned towards the end of his remarks there, which is to make enormous efforts to enforce the gun laws that we have and to change the culture of violence we have. And you ask, how are we going to do that? And there are a number of things. He mentioned good schools. I totally agree…and I believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll — we’ll give people the — the hope and opportunity they deserve, and perhaps less violence from that.

But let me mention another thing, and that is parents. We need moms and dads helping raise kids. Wherever possible, the — the benefit of having two parents in the home — and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that’s a great idea because if there’s a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically.”

Liberals pounced. A firestorm of commentary accused the governor of going off the rails for blaming gun violence on “sluts” and single parents (they even threw in parenthetical racism for good measure). What seemed to be lost in most of this fury—beyond the proven correlation between broken homes and crime—was the substance of President Obama’s own comments, which immediately preceded Romney’s:

“But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced, but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence…And so what can we do to intervene to make sure that young people have opportunity, that our schools are working, that if there’s violence on the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can catch it before it gets out of control?

And so what I want is a — is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.”

In other words, the president has the same kind of general communal prescriptions for reducing gun violence as Governor Romney. Obama even wants faith groups involved! Moreover, then-Senator Obama made a variation of this same pitch to the NAACP back in July 2008. So what’s the principled objection to any of this from the Left?

That’s actually a question. I haven’t a clue.

It would seem the allies of Obama are running on the last sputtering fumes of Hope, throwing every stick, stone, and word they can find at a rising opposition. From embarrassing Big Bird to ridiculing affirmative action to pretending they’re not enabling the perpetuation of Bush-era security policy, to imagining the economy isn’t a liability, the Left is flailing for a lifeline, and Candy Crawley is nowhere in sight. After this last debate, will Team Obama cling to comically ancillary disputes and awkward wording, or will they have answers for why we should entrust the president with another four years of American time?

I guess we’ll see.

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The Ethnic Strategy, Part 3: Forward

This post is part of a series on racism and identity politics in America. Find the full series hereFind The Daily Caller adaptation here.

“ Hope ever tells us tomorrow will be better. ” –Tibullus

Courtesy of "Our new era of identity politics" at

I came, I divided, I conquered.

In 2007, then-Senator Obama addressed a black audience in Virginia with a decidedly uncharacteristic accent. Whether you would describe the affected patois as “Southern” or “African American Vernacular”, you might wonder how it arose in a man raised by white Midwesterners in the multicultural milieus of the Pacific. In this peculiar vernacular, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois forcefully implicates racism in the government’s disappointing response to Hurricane Katrina, including some opposition to a Stafford Act waiver. Cue shock and indignation on the Right; eye-rolling and dismissal on the Left—everybody accuses everybody of race-baiting. Not that any of this is new.

To the annoyance of conservatives, Obama condemned opposition to the Stafford Act waiver for New Orleans while himself voting—as part of a superminority—for the situation he lambasted. I’ll grant that he prioritized ending the Iraq War over relief for New Orleans families, but 80 of his Senate colleagues chose to vote for that relief. More to the point, the effort did not want for funding. More money was spent rebuilding New Orleans than for Hurricane Andrew—one of the costliest storms in history—and 9/11 combined. If anything, the city is expected to become safer, more sustainable, and economically stronger than it was before Katrina.

So why all the fuss over government racism—which Obama has since disavowed? I don’t believe for a second that the president is a racist. Like me, he grew up well-supported in an ethnically diverse world, and he went on to enjoy international friends and interracial romances. Thus, this cynical 2007 episode would read as yet another chapter in the amusing political history of Sudden Onset Southernism but for the subsequent events of the 2008 Democratic primary.

Obama needed to win South Carolina in order to capitalize on momentum from Iowa. Hillary Clinton had been substantially more popular among black voters, who comprise a lion’s share of the Democratic electorate, and Obama needed a strategy to secure them and white liberals. Thus, succored by a gleefully tendentious national media (led by MSNBC and the New York Times), Obama and his allies began to discover racism everywhere. From Hillary’s praise of civil rights legislation to Bill’s electoral comparison that didn’t upset Jesse Jackson to the willfully misrepresented “fairy tale” comment about opposition to the Iraq War, the friends of Obama ensured that any remarks critical of him were inexorably tied to racism. Thereafter, the senator from Illinois began to lock up the black vote from South Carolina onward. But the campaign was far from over.

Not satisfied with merely slandering the Clintons, Obama’s network targeted Hillary’s black supporters in a concerted effort to “pester, intimidate, [and] question [their] blackness”. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri was pointedly accused, by a sitting U.S. Congressman, of conspiring to obstruct history by preventing the election of the first black president; others, including Trenton’s first black mayor Doug Palmer, were publicly threatened with primary challenges for standing by their beliefs. So deep were the primary scars on a campaign whose top officials were black women, that when John McCain’s campaign later criticized the future president for playing the race card, the Clintons and their diverse supporters—who were campaigning for the Democratic ticket—were silent.

As has assuredly never been mentioned before, the racism charges only ever stick when wielded against Obama’s opponents. So when Geraldine Ferraro said that Obama benefited from being a black man—instead of a white man or a woman of any color—at a time when the country would celebrate this, she faced ongoing derision, and the Obama camp demanded she step down from the Clinton campaign. By contrast, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted that Obama would benefit from being a “light-skinned” black man “with no Negro dialect” at a time when the country would celebrate this, the president quickly forgave him, and the media followed suit.

Given all this, it is hardly surprising that the rise of the Tea Party and the resurgence of economic conservatism have been doggedly plagued by persistent charges of social antagonism. Saddled with the weight of corporate bailouts, failed stimulus, imploding entitlements, and exploding deficits, the American people have demanded change, and the Left—from the administration to the media—has cried racism. Now that President Obama is in danger of losing reelection, the media is once again promulgating stories of Republican racism. These incidents are certainly despicable. And it should go without saying that they are no more representative of the GOP than liberal shenanigans are of the Democratic Party. But instead, we’re to the point where a conservative can’t even be indignant over attacks on his father without being derided for racial privilege, even as the president dismisses Mitt Romney as an alien.

I’m not interested in squabbling over the fringe agendas of extremists and the gaffe-prone in either party’s coalition. Nor do I care to suffer ostensibly serious people sifting endlessly through otherwise reasonable statements for hints of coded bigotry. Like most Americans, I want leadership that will right this ship of state and put us firmly on the course of progress and recovery. Indeed, the President beckons us to move Forward, and that sounds like a wonderful idea.

I hope he looks forward to retirement. I hope, someday, my generation will, too.

Read the rest of the series here. Read The Daily Caller adaptation here.


The Ethnic Strategy, Part 2: Identity Politics in the Age of Obama

This post is part of a series on racism and identity politics in America. Find the full series here. Find The Daily Caller adaptation here.

“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them” –Elie Wiesel

“It is undeniably the case that racist Americans are almost entirely in one political coalition and not the other.”

If the Republican Party isn’t racist and doesn’t rely on the racism of its constituents for electoral success or philosophical direction, then how do we explain the chasm of opinion and perspective between Left and Right?

The GOP has historically been the party of classical liberalism based in individual liberty—the bedrock of modern American conservatism. As such, themes like self-reliance, economic freedom, and equality before the law have been integral to Republican philosophy since the days of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In the past, these principles manifested in opposition to slavery and bigotry. More recently, they serve to check the engineering hands of an expansive welfare state and to ensure that government programs don’t become a hand down to ruin. The Republican Party is, as Lincoln put it, “for both the man and the dollar”, and its focus is on securing a robust economy.

By contrast, you may have noticed that the 2012 Democratic National Convention placed something of a premium on social issues. References to abortion, contraception, gay marriage, and immigration permeated the show as the Democratic Party wanted to remind and impress upon you that the Republicans are on the wrong side of history, demographics, and the uncanny valley of humanrobot relations. By extension, you are to understand that proposals from the evil, benighted Right to resolve our national fiscal troubles cannot possibly be good for anybody who isn’t rich, white, male, and heterosexual.

As such, a recurring theme on the Left is that any attempts to reform or criticize welfare are to be dismissed as “dog whistles” for racist conservatives (but somehow are only heard by liberals). Yet, whatever one thinks about the rhetorical criticisms of welfare, the bipartisan Clinton-Republican reform of 1996 transformed a disastrous policy into an approach that saw minority poverty reach superlatively low levels in the 00s. In fact, blacks and Hispanics were less impoverished in 2010 and 2011, despite the Great Recession, than in pre-reform 1995. (By comparison, overall poverty in the Obama years reached the highest levels in twenty years.) This development is particularly incredible given that America has seen the highest black unemployment in decades—roughly double white unemployment—under Barack Obama’s governance.

Yet we are told the reformers are racist.

Even education reform gets racially coded. In the wake of the Tea Party Revolution of 2010, the Washington Post ran a widely circulated article by Stephanie McCrummen entitled, “Republican school board in N.C. backed by tea party abolishes integration policy”. Most of the first two pages extol diversity, inclusivity, and affordability in “one of the nation’s most celebrated integration efforts.” Meanwhile, the “new majority-Republican school board backed by national tea party conservatives” gets juxtaposed with “a 21st-century case for segregation” and an obligatory mention of Brown v. Board. (Did I mention this is in Dixie? You know, where minorities are miserable and oppressed.)

Accepting that diversity is valuable and progress is not painless, the benefits of the program were dubious at best—schools were increasingly overcrowded, most black and Latino students were not proficient in reading or math, and only 54% of poor kids were graduating. As a biracial mother of two Wake County students put it, “right now, it’s as if the best we can do is dilute these kids out so they don’t cause problems. It sickens me.”

Even the Republicans-abolish-integration article inadvertently makes a case for what Paul Fitts, a Republican candidate for Wake County Commissioner, would describe as achievement-oriented schools grounded in communal involvement. Namely, qualified poor and/or minority students were underenrolled in advanced math classes under the previous “integration” policy. The kicker: school officials say they’ve known about this problem for years, but many parents were left in the dark. In other words, sending kids to faraway schools stifles parental involvement and allows ongoing systemic problems to fester under the negligent eyes of self-interested bureaucrats.

But lest you think McCrummen was building to a more balanced analysis, her article ends shortly after ruminating on “irony in the possible balkanization of the county’s schools at a time when society is becoming more interconnected than ever.” Thus she joins the good company of liberal media that reflexively deride conservative concern for actual problems as racism.

Of course, the discussion of dog whistles and identity politics extends far beyond welfare and education reform:

“The virtually white, wildly enthusiastic throng that lined Reagan’s motorcade route waved Confederate and American flags. Reagan didn’t disappoint them. He punched all the familiar code attack themes, big government, liberals, welfare, and law and order. He punctuated his blast with the ringing declaration, “I believe in states’ rights.” […]

Romney and Ryan can’t openly espouse states’ rights as Reagan did. But they update the code themes by lambasting Democrats, wasteful big government, runaway deficit spending on entitlement programs, and their full blown assaults on so-called Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security programs, and labor unions.” [My emphasis]

I cannot fathom how we are supposed to have a productive conversation when just about every legitimate issue on the table is declared criminally unsubtle “code” for the resurrection of Jim Crow. But it’s a truism now that racism is an exclusively conservative phenomenon. Hence, Joe Biden telling a black audience in the South that Republicans will “put y’all back in chains” is definitely not race-baiting. However, Mitt Romney responding to this charge—and the president’s allies claiming Romney is a felon who caused  a woman to die of cancer—by saying, “Take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago,” is tantamount to “niggerization”. But an ad portraying a black man punching out white women has no racist or sexist undertones whatsoever, as the ad’s target is a Republican.

President Obama ascended to office on a wave of uproarious optimism, heralding a syncretic revolution of reconciliation and growth. There was much soaring rhetoric about a post-racial America where our leaders would be statesmen and our politics would be unitive, ennobling, and transparent. We were told there was plenty of Hope—An infinite amount!—and it was all for us. Yet here we are, bitterly mucking through the dregs of old antagonisms, as the president’s allies conquer an empire of division with an army of lies.

Welcome to the Promise of the Age of Obama. Feel free to move forward and vote for change.

Read the rest of the series hereFind The Daily Caller adaptation here.


Right in the Main

“And the suggestion that anybody in my team…would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president. That’s not what I do as commander-in-chief.” –Barack Obama

“Be obscure clearly.” –E.B. White

I can’t be biased. I’m from CNN!

It must be nice to have the media so comfortably on your side that a debate moderator can authoritatively throw you a disingenuous lifeline and the supposedly undecided room around you erupts in inappropriate applause. But what do I know? I’m just a guy who thinks that our leaders should have a basic level of integrity when dealing with matters of life and death and that the media should serve as a check on power rather than the twelfth man on a certain candidate’s home turf.

It’s certainly true that the President used the word “terror” in his initial remarks in the Rose Garden, following the murder of Ambassador Stevens and his staff. What is odd is that neither he nor his administration was subsequently willing to label the attack as such for well over a week afterward. And even after several top officials had referred to the operation as terrorism, the president was still hedging on the term with talk show hosts—the same ones that trumped meeting with key allies—and going on about a YouTube video. The salient issue here isn’t terminology or devious political posturing, but that the Obama Administration actively misled the American people about a terrorist attack. For this reason, CNN debate moderator Candy Crowley called Romney’s criticism to that effect, “right in the main”.

The administration realized early on that YouTube protests had nothing to do with the “meticulously executed” attack. Yet despite knowing there weren’t even protests at the consulate, the White House clung to the story of the video triggering the assault. What a flustered Mitt Romney aimed to convey at Hofstra is that the President of the United States failed to protect American lives and then pretended that somebody else made that failure happen. From the U.N. remarks to the taxpayer-financed ads on a different continent, the administration put on a grand tour of deception to occlude any public reckoning with the reality of a disaster. Now that his chickens have come home to roost, Obama purports to be even “more concerned about [the] safety and security” of our diplomats than their own families, with the cool expectation that we will forgive the demonstrable want of a record to that effect.

President Obama is by no means a bad person; I genuinely believe he means all those anodyne reassurances he offers so eloquently. But when the chips were down, and that 3 a.m. call demanded leadership, this Commander-in-Chief was weighed in the balance and found wanting—in Vegas. Thus the U.S. has lost its first ambassador in the line of duty since the grim days of Jimmy Carter.

Remember that the next time this president declares, “We can’t afford to go back to failed policies.”


The Ethnic Strategy, Part 1: Racism & American History

“Nixon, for political reasons, wooed the white South…but he did not…exchange civil rights for white Southern votes.” –Dean Kotlowski

Look at all those racists pandering to minorities by supporting a black man apologizing for racism! The scoundrels.

Given that we have a black president, and some of his supporters conveniently discovered that criticizing him is tantamount to racism, it’s hardly surprising that I’m responding to an article—in a mainstream publication, no less—entitled “Is the Republican Party Racist?

Why is it that the Left is so obsessed with the spectacle of Republican racism? Is it unease with a dark racial history, from the social tensions and racial violence in the North to the governmental Jim Crow activism of Progressive Democrats in the Wilson Administration? Is it the compulsion to rationalize the atrophic effects of welfare and other leftist policy on black families, or that minorities are more likely to have jobs, live in better-off neighborhoods and attend better-performing schools in the Sun Belt than the Frost Belt? Or does this obsession spring from simple, unbridled contempt for the dissidents who give the lie to the Left’s hallowed illusions? Whatever the reasons, the accusation is worth addressing head-on.

So let’s talk about history.

The tale of Republicans and Democrats swapping philosophies or constituencies immediately after the Civil Rights Movement is, to paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, more mythology than fact. Ike captured four states from the former Confederacy (six, if you include bellwether Missouri and reliably conservative Oklahoma) in 1952—before Rosa Parks, Brown v. Board, or the Southern Strategy. The 1952 GOP platform for Eisenhower-Nixon included a Civil Rights plank that condemned “bigots who inject class, racial and religious prejudice into public and political matters”; opposed “discrimination against race, religion or national origin”; and supported federal “action toward the elimination of” lynching, poll taxes, and segregation in D.C. In 1953, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10479, creating the President’s Committee on Government Contracts, to enforce equal employment opportunity against discrimination within the federal government. He won half of Dixie in 1956.

For all the talk of Richard Nixon’s racist strategy (some of which was probably warranted), the 1968 Republican platform specifically mentions “the black community, the Mexican-American, the American Indian [who] suffer disproportionately” in inner cities (this being the era of “white flight”) and then goes on to list proposals for cleaning up those cities. (All of which may have contributed to his losing much of the then-recalcitrant Deep South to Wallace.) Granted, none of this helped him win the black or Hispanic vote in the face of the Democratic Party championing civil rights legislation (overwhelming Republican support, notwithstanding) and having put Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court. But it’s worth remembering that the only black U.S. senator at the time was a Republican.

In office, President Nixon’s conservative approach to integration brought the percentage of Southern blacks in all-black schools down from 70% to 18%, as he strengthened anti-discriminatory laws, increased funding for civil rights enforcement, and developed minority business initiatives. (I should note that some liberals are curiously inclined to see this as some sort of closet progressivism in the Nixon Administration, but that’s another discussion.) Perhaps most noticeably, Nixon enacted “the most far-reaching federal expansion of affirmative action” in 1969 and 1970. Thus he won Dixie, and most of the country, in 1972.

On the subject of racial antagonisms and regional realignments, Democrat Jimmy “the time for racial discrimination is over” Carter nearly swept the South in 1976 (he narrowly lost Virginia), while losing most of New England and the bulk of the West en route to a narrow victory overall. Likewise, Republican presidents weren’t shut out in the Northeast and California until 1992. Presumably, all those yankees weren’t just palling around with racists until Bill Clinton (and another bad economy) came along with his charming liberal drawl.

To be sure, there was plenty of active racism in the South (and elsewhere in America) in the 60s and 70s, and varying degrees of subtle racism persisted afterward. Moreover, there are racist Republicans today, some of whom get elected to public office. There are also racist Democrats today. Some of them get elected to public office. But the question here is whether racial dynamics meaningfully define Republican policy or electoral success.

As ingrained as the racial narrative may be in certain quarters, the evidence admits of greater nuance. At the risk of inviting neo-Confederate aspersions, let’s consider economics (which usually factor so strongly in liberal worldviews):

[T]he shift in the South from Democratic to Republican was overwhelmingly a question not of race but of economic growth. In the postwar era, they note, the South transformed itself from a backward region to an engine of the national economy, giving rise to a sizable new wealthy suburban class. This class, not surprisingly, began to vote for the party that best represented its economic interests: the G.O.P. Working-class whites, however — and here’s the surprise — even those in areas with large black populations, stayed loyal to the Democrats. (This was true until the 90s, when the nation as a whole turned rightward in Congressional voting. [My emphasis])

The two scholars support their claim with an extensive survey of election returns and voter surveys. To give just one example: in the 50s, among Southerners in the low-income tercile, 43 percent voted for Republican Presidential candidates, while in the high-income tercile, 53 percent voted Republican; by the 80s, those figures were 51 percent and 77 percent, respectively. Wealthy Southerners shifted rightward in droves but poorer ones didn’t.

To be sure, Shafer says, many whites in the South aggressively opposed liberal Democrats on race issues. “But when folks went to the polling booths,” he says, “they didn’t shoot off their own toes. They voted by their economic preferences, not racial preferences.”

Racists, just like everyone else, vote their interests. If Woodrow Wilson could find time in his Progressive agenda of segregating the federal government to wage a Great War, promote human rights, and launch the precursors to the U.N., then presumably more modern racists can walk and chew gum. Thus it is unsurprising that racists do not, in fact, strongly favor any one party. There may be reason to suspect negative impressions of minorities might correlate somewhat with Republican voting habits (we will ignore, for simplicity’s sake, the question of racial friction from and between minorities), but that is a far cry from demonstrating the persistence of a “Grand Racist Party” that owes its electoral success and philosophical direction to ethnic antagonisms.

What does all this mean for more recent and current politics, from welfare reform to the rise of the Tea Party to conservative opposition to President Barack Obama? We’ll get into that in Part Two. Stay tuned.

This post is part of a series on racism and identity politics in America. Find the full series hereFind The Daily Caller adaptation here.


Do Not Ask What Good He Does

“Or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says, America does best when the middle class does best?” –Barack Obama

What recession? I’m too cool to be unpopular.

It’s been a great weekend for those of us who want to see the kind of change in Washington that will finally move this country forward. Governor Romney, in good gentlemanly fashion, indicted the failures of a petty incumbent in debate, earned a double-digit boost in the polls, and delivered a major foreign policy address that solidifies his foreign and domestic image as compellingly presidential. As a delectable bit of dessert, President Obama was caught shamelessly lying dealing in mistruths about Romney’s tax reform plan; it turns out Obama’s cited source reached exactly the opposite conclusion Obama imputed to him. Well that’s awkward.

There are four weeks to go before the final tally of the next four years, and the president’s people are already well invested in an aggressive campaign to paint the governor as a plutocratic, extremist, flip-flopper incapable of serious conviction. (If that sounds incoherent to you, it’s probably a combination of jet lag and altitude sickness from raising your brow too quickly.) Now, the Obama campaign has produced a nifty tool on its website to demonstrate all the ways the president’s policies have allegedly helped the American people. It’s broken down by state, so I’ll focus on the two that relate to me: my native Florida and my adoptive Virginia.

Health Care

This entire section touts the purported benefits of a costly new entitlement that presumes “young adults” (aged 23-26) are better served by prolonged dependence on their parents than by a functioning economy that allows them to get good jobs—which would provide healthcare beyond age 26. Speaking of costs, Obama brags that 3.9 million women in Virginia and Florida will no longer have to expend $9 to $33 per month because of a bill that cuts $716 billion from Medicare, leaving it bankrupt in twelve years. But lest you think all benefits will disappear under Romney, Republicans have put forth ideas to replace ObamaCare with law that increases the affordability and quality of health care while shoring up Medicare for the foreseeable future. A better and more honest approach, reached with the understanding that everything has a cost, will be better for everyone, including women, now and for generations to come.


Glaring by curious omission are any numbers on increased solar power. It’s almost like the administration wants to pretend Solyndra didn’t happen, or maybe they’re wondering whether the government makes for a good venture capitalist, after all. They do talk a big game on natural gas and crude oil production—409.4% and 3.4% increase in each in Florida; 14.6% and 42.9% in Virginia. But the devil is always in the highly-selective details, as the president plays fast and loose with numbers and intentions:

“In classic fashion, he’s using a technicality to skirt the facts and keep the myth of energy scarcity alive,” the IER email said.  “The reality is that the U.S. has enough recoverable oil for the next 200 years, despite only having 2 percent of the world’s current proven oil reserves.” (Emphasis added.) … What the president leaves out, said the IER, is technically recoverable oil, oil we know about but cannot access due to government regulations…oil production on federal lands declined in fiscal year 2011 from fiscal year 2010 by 11 percent, and natural gas production on federal lands dropped by 6 percent during the same timeframe. In contrast, oil production on private and state lands accounted for the entire increase

You would be forgiven for wondering whether the president is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Is he committed to a full slate of American energy production to help secure our independence from foreign oil, or does he intend to limit domestic oil and national gas capabilities to boost alternative fuels? I would imagine the latter plan is conceivably defensible but for the administration’s not defending it.


Obama is thrilled to inform you that over 333,000 private-sector jobs have been created in Virginia and Florida alone in the last two years. What he would like you to ignore is that job-creation is perilously slow, most of the recent new jobs are in government, and the purchasing power of the middle class is declining. He also neglects to mention that the unemployment rate in Florida is unchanged at 8.8%, and the defense cuts in sequestration would devastate Virginia. But if you ignore all that pesky reality, which has a well-known conservative bias, Obama has probably done some good on the job front.

Taxes & Small Business

I wonder why the campaign omits the time frame over which these tax savings purportedly occurred, or any details whatsoever about them. I can understand why they don’t want to talk about their proposed recession tax increases on the small businesses that employ millions of people. I can also understand why they would avoid the entire discussion of how Obama’s own advisers favor a tax reform plan inconveniently similar to Mitt “Inverse Robin Hood” Romney’s much maligned proposal. But I cannot understand why an administration so indignant over imagined perceived lacks of specificity wouldn’t offer any clarity of its own.

So where do your tax numbers come from, Mr. President, and why do you keep lying about misunderstanding Mitt Romney’s tax proposal?


I gather we’re supposed to be thrilled that 800,000 Floridians and Virginians received nearly $4K in Pell Grants—an increase of well over 60% in each state. In all our jubilation over all these students purportedly affording college, we might almost overlook the fact that Pell Grant receipt is based on economic need. More people are receiving them because more families are going under. It’s certainly good that American students still have opportunities despite the government’s economic failures, but this situation is hardly a credit to the administration. It would be akin to your doctor demanding praise for treating an infection you only contracted because he botched an operation in the first place.

As for the question of student loans, let it suffice to say that the issue won’t affect the vast majority of student debt by terribly much. There’s also the inconvenient matter of how to pay for it. But don’t expect the Obama campaign to clarify that point.


At the risk of restating the obvious, this latest ploy by the Obama campaign amounts to little more than a tendentious fit of hope not worth the faded Obama poster you could print it on. The president can’t run on his record, so he’s resorting to the tried and true legerdemain of pretending his rhetoric counts for truth. If he were a magician, I’d remind him that we discovered that trick ages ago. As he is the president, I’ll instead suggest that his campaign start assuming the American people have better discernment than a drug-addled hate-child of Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen.

You may not think you built this bed, Mr. President, but you will lie in it. The American people will see to that.