What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 23, 2009

Jack Kelly Sunday

The message to be taken from this week's column by Jack Kelly: By making false accusations of racism, it's the DEMOCRATS who are playing the race card.

We'll see.

First Jack trots out some by-now well known Gallup poll numbers:
A Gallup poll released Aug. 14 indicated that in all 50 states, there are more self-identified conservatives than there are self-identified liberals. The conservative advantage ranges from plus-34 percentage points in Alabama to plus-1 in Vermont and Massachussetts, and is 10 percentage points or more in 40 states.

A plurality of voters in 21 states consider themselves moderates. It was the significant shift of moderates to the Democratic Party in 2006 and 2008 that gave Barack Obama the presidency and Democrats their handsome majorities in the House and Senate.
Let's take a look at Gallup's numbers if only to flesh out Jack's "Dems are doomed" position. Here's the beginning of the report from Gallup:
The strength of "conservative" over "liberal" in the realm of political labels is vividly apparent in Gallup's state-level data, where a significantly higher percentage of Americans in most states -- even some solidly Democratic ones -- call themselves conservative rather than liberal.
Somehow I'm thinking, though, that this is a bit of a cheat. If the ONLY options were "liberal" and "conservative" then they'd have something but down the page we read:
Because the percentage of moderates varies by state -- from 43% in Hawaii and Rhode Island down to 32% in Alabama -- the percentage identifying themselves as "conservative" does not by itself provide a complete picture of the relative strength of conservatism across states. [emphasis added.]
"Moderates" being neither liberal nor conservative. By just comparing two of the three you don't really get a clear picture. Where do the moderates stand? How do they vote? If the size of the moderates in each state was the same across the states and they all thought the same, then (again) Gallup would have something. But without that data it's difficult to tell.

Gallup hints at something here:
When considered with party identification, these ideology findings highlight the role that political moderates currently play in joining with liberals to give the Democratic Party its numerical advantage. [emphasis added.]
So let's look at Gallup's data on party affiliation. This is from June of 2009:
Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004. The 21% calling themselves liberal is in line with findings throughout this decade, but is up from the 1990s.
So this hasn't changed much in 15 or so years. HOWEVER when we look deeper at party affiliation we find:
There is an important distinction in the respective ideological compositions of the Republican and Democratic Parties. While a solid majority of Republicans are on the same page -- 73% call themselves conservative -- Democrats are more of a mixture. The major division among Democrats is between self-defined moderates (40%) and liberals (38%). However, an additional 22% of Democrats consider themselves conservative, much higher than the 3% of Republicans identifying as liberal.
Thus far in 2009, Gallup has found an average of 36% of Americans considering themselves Democratic, 28% Republican, and 37% independent. When independents are pressed to say which party they lean toward, 51% of Americans identify as Democrats, 39% as Republicans, and only 9% as pure independents.
If anything, the data shows that while the GOP is the (mostly) conservative party, the Democratic Party is the conservative to moderate to liberal party. Which do you think looks more like America? (Rhetorical question - no need to answer that.)

Not really Jack's fault for not fleshing this out. That's not his job in this column. His job is to spin and skew on race in contemporary American politics.

But let's move into Jack's big charge:
Many liberals have responded to rising concerns about massive deficits and government-run health care by calling those who express concern racists.
His first example:
After a town hall meeting at which most in attendance angrily opposed the health-care bill, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., told MSNBC: "The last time I had to confront something like this was when I voted for the civil rights bill. At that time, we had a lot of Ku Klux Klan folks and white supremacists and folks in white sheets and other things running around and causing trouble."
Look carefully. Dingell didn't actually call the protesters racists - just that the vehemence of the protest matched the vehemence of the racists opposing the civil rights bill (and that's a lot). But what happened at that meeting anyway? Here's something from the Detroit Free Press:
As Dingell opened the forum, Mike Sola of Milan interrupted the congressman as he pushed his son, Scott, in a wheelchair, to the podium. He said proposed changes wouldn’t help Scott and called Dingell a fraud.
Actually, according to the blog Michigan Liberal:
He proceeded to scream (literally scream) at Rep. Dingell, telling him that, under this new legislation, his son with cerebral palsy would be euthanized. Although Rep. Dingell assured him that this was certainly not the case, the man became more and more incensed, egged on by the crowd behind him. Dingell staffers were finally forced to move forward to ensure the man did not threaten Rep. Dingell.

As he became more and more threatening, the Romulus police finally intervened and escorted him out of the room.
They have photos to back it up, by the way. None of Milan's charges, of course, are true. But he had to learn them from someplace. Any guesses where (here's a hint: the conservative media)

More from the Detroit Free Press:
The interruptions continued with virtually every question Dingell answered. Many Dingell supporters pleaded, "Let him speak," even as others yelled louder and shouted more.
While the blog Right Michigan complains about Democrats padding the meeting, the Detroit Free Press reported:
Scott Hagerstrom, the Michigan director for Americans for Prosperity -- a group opposing President Barack Obama's health care initiative -- said that after he learned about it, he sent an e-mail alerting 18,000 members in southeast Michigan
18,000 is a lot of people. That must be a huge mailing list. Americans for Properity, by the way, is a 501(c)(4) group. According to DeSmogBlog:
AFP, and its former incarnation the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, are the third largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family of Foundations, which is run by the ultra-conservative oil baron Charles G. Koch. The Koch Family of Foundations has been a major funding source for many of the think tanks that are in the business of delaying action on climate change issues.
Can't really say what happened in Michigan is grass-roots then.

There was one protest poster equating President Obama to Adolf Hitler. We'll see more Nazi connections later.

The point of the protests is not to protest or otherwise make your voices heard. It's to make sure no discussion takes place. It's metaphorically speaking burning down the marketplace of ideas because you don't like the ideas found there and then claiming that the flames are a valid form of protest.

Want a chuckle? Take a look see at the Detroit Free Press story again. One protester was quoted as saying:
The government wants to control my body, my health care decisions and the doctors I see.
And who said that?
Christine Wofford, 56, of Canton, who distributed literature from the Liberty Council, a Lynchburg, Va., religious civil rights law firm.
The profoundly pro-life Liberty Counsel. Not too bright, I would say. Like Michelle Bachman.

So what's next? This:
"I have seen this kind of hate before," Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., told The Huffington Post. "I have seen snarling dogs going after people who were trying to peacefully assemble. I have seen the eyes of people who were being spat upon. This is all about activity trying to deny the establishment of a civil right."
Here's the piece in the Huffington Post. What does Clyburn use as evidence? Take a look:
Clyburn, a veteran of the civil rights movement, said he was particularly appalled by the use of the Swastika symbol at some of these town hall events. Noting that one had been painted on the office of Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), an African-American, Clyburn insisted that was proof enough that some of the protests were racially motivated.

"There is no question in my mind," he said.

Hmm. More Nazi imagery - swastika graffiti. Funny, Jack doesn't mention Congressman Scott.

TPM does:
Scott showed a letter similar to one received by Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), showing the President Obam-as-Joker picture with the message, "Death to all Marxists! Foreign and Domestic!" The letter contained a message for Scott, who is black: "To: NIGGA DAVID SCOTT / You were / You are / And / You shall forever be a nigga!" It added, "The Ethiopian cannot make himself white."

Another letter said that Scott will go down in defeat at the next election, "and any of your colored constituents ain't gonna stop it. The folks are not going to stand for socialized medicine, even though most negroes refuse to stand on their own two feet."

Take a look:

No racism here, nope none at all. Accusations of racism are FALSE, Jack says. FALSE!

It's the DEMOCRATS who are desperately making the false charge, Jack says. Playing the race card for no reason.

Yea, right.


Scott said...

Americans For Prosperity is a Grassroots organization with over 700,000 members nationwide. We do not pay our grassroots. We connect them and educate them on free market and economic liberty issues. It is up to them whether to attend a meeting. Not sure how anyone that belongs to non-partisan organization is somehow not able to be grassroots is surprising to me.

Scott Hagerstrom
State Director - Michigan
Americans For Prosperity

Dave said...

Notice how Mr. Hagerstrom totally dances around the fact that his "organization" is funded in large part by a small group of right-wing sugar daddies like the Koch family?

Clyde Wynant said...

Indeed. Grassroots organizations, but their very definition, are not funded or backed by the invisible hand of massively wealthy corporatists.

And, excuse me for being petty, but I think Mr. H should learn to write a complete, cogent and grammatically correct sentence or two. It might serve him well later in life.