Monday, August 18, 2008

A Couple of Blasts From Roland's Thompson Gun

Some older stuff here and a new one, too. Mostly about Obama and McCain and race.

Oh, if yo do not know who Roland was, just follow this link. I just could not help myself.

From Frank Rich's column in yesterday's New York Times comes The Candidate We Still Don’t Know (and it is not Obama):
"So why isn’t Obama romping? The obvious answer — and both the excessively genteel Obama campaign and a too-compliant press bear responsibility for it — is that the public doesn’t know who on earth John McCain is. The most revealing poll this month by far is the Pew Research Center survey finding that 48 percent of Americans feel they’re “hearing too much” about Obama. Pew found that only 26 percent feel that way about McCain, and that nearly 4 in 10 Americans feel they hear too little about him. It’s past time for that pressing educational need to be met.

What is widely known is the skin-deep, out-of-date McCain image. As this fairy tale has it, the hero who survived the Hanoi Hilton has stood up as rebelliously in Washington as he did to his Vietnamese captors. He strenuously opposed the execution of the Iraq war; he slammed the president’s response to Katrina; he fought the “agents of intolerance” of the religious right; he crusaded against the G.O.P. House leader Tom DeLay, the criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff and their coterie of influence-peddlers.

With the exception of McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, every aspect of this profile in courage is inaccurate or defunct.

Then there was E. J. Dionne Jr. writing on race and the Presidential race in EThe Unavoidable Issue :
"There is no doubt that two keys to this election are: How many white and Latino votes will Obama lose because of his race that a white Democrat would have won? And how much will African American turnout grow, given the opportunity to elect our nation's first black president?
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Let's dispose of the canard that there is something wrong with black people voting in overwhelming numbers for a black candidate. Minorities in the United States always turn out in a big way for the candidate who is breaking barriers on their behalf.

The most obvious example is Kennedy, who won roughly 80 percent of the Catholic vote in 1960, about 30 percentage points greater than the Catholic share won four years earlier by Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Proportionately, Kennedy's gain among Catholics was far greater than Obama's likely pickup over John Kerry's 2004 vote among African Americans, judging by the current polls.

More broadly, the race issue is used less overtly now than it used to be. When Democrats were the party of Jim Crow in the post-Civil War period, many in their ranks ran ugly, blatantly racist campaigns. Beginning in 1968 with Richard Nixon's Southern strategy, Republicans have been far more subtle in playing to white reaction on race.

***

Connolly argued that such voters saw the welfare state as turning on them, undermining the values they espoused and denigrating their efforts at self-reliance. They saw mandatory school busing as robbing them of their chance to secure a better education for their children by moving into better school districts. Especially among working-class white men, affirmative action seemed to treat "everyone else . . . either as meritorious or as unjustly closed out from the ranks of the meritorious."

When liberals dismissed such concerns as purely racist, Connolly noted, "These vulnerable constituencies did not need too much political coaxing to bite the hand that had slapped them in the face.
Good stuff, as usual, from Mr. Dionne.

A Mass Transit Mess from The Washington Post caught my eye because of our beloved Governor's obliviousness to mass transit as a solution to our problems:
"FOR THE FIRST time in 28 years, Americans are driving less, a happy development for proponents of public transportation. But as people shift to buses and subways, they are encountering transit systems that are crowded and outdated. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has put forth a plan that would make those problems worse.

Ms. Peters has proposed borrowing money from the Highway Trust Fund's mass transit account to cover a projected $3.1 billion shortfall in highway maintenance and construction. It is unclear, though, whether Ms. Peters could borrow the money without harming mass transit capital projects such as the purchase of subway cars and construction of bus garages. Transportation groups also worry that repaying the money could be difficult if gas tax revenue continues to decline. The proposal is a shortsighted solution that would take money away from mass transit at the wrong time.

The Highway Trust Fund, which helps pay for highway and transit projects across the country, is veering toward bankruptcy. It could be out of money by the end of the year. The problem? High gas prices are causing Americans to drive fewer miles: The total in May was down 3.7 percent compared with the same period last year. This is good for the environment but bad for projects funded by the federal gas tax."


Colbert King wrote a piece on race and the Presidential race under the headline Two Speeches, Two Truths About America:
"It makes you wonder how Independence Day orators 150 years from now will look back upon this Fourth of July.

What will they make of freedom-loving people who, at the dawn of America's fourth century as a nation, question the patriotism of a U.S. senator because he doesn't wear a flag pin in his lapel or because he has a name that doesn't sound like theirs?

What will they say about our professed fidelity to religious freedom when they find out that many of the Americans who thank God for their religious liberty are also ready to turn their backs on a candidate if they think he is a Muslim or Mormon?

Or because he's black?

What, come to think of it, would Frederick Douglass think?"


Getting away from the president-to-be and to the president-that-is' economy, here is something I find kind of scary:
America is lone bright spot as fund managers flee stocks - Telegraph: "The US is emerging as the one bright spot in the global gloom, despite the credit mayhem. A net 7pc of investors are overweight in US equities, clearly betting that most of the bad news is already in Wall Street prices. The figure was negative in May.

With the tailwind of 2pc interest rates and a cheap dollar, America stands to benefit from the 'first-in, first-out' principle. Others have yet to take their full punishment from the cycle.

'The US has now become the country of cheap manufacturing. You've got 20pc wage inflation in emerging markets so FDI (foreign direct investment) is flowing back there,' said Karen Olney, Merrill's chief European equity strategist.

The investor love affair with India, China, and Asian markets over the last nine months has turned sour."
As bad as it is here, we are still better than elsewhere? With a global economy, that has to come back to bite us in the hindquarters.

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