More Allen Racism

Via Jason Zengerle, this is too good to be true:

Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, [George] Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.
1996, when Governor Allen entered the Washington Hilton Hotel to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations, he strode to a booth at the entrance of the exhibition hall festooned with two large Confederate flags–a booth operated by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), at the time a co-sponsor of CPAC. After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC’s newsletter, the Citizens Informer.
According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum’s point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. “It helped us as much as it helped him,” Baum told me. “We got our bona fides.” And so did Allen.
Descended from the White Citizens’ Councils that battled segregation in the Jim Crow South, the CCC is designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In its “Statement of Principles,” the CCC declares, “We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called “affirmative action” and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.”

Read it all, especially the part where Allen calls the Civil War “a four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights.” Allen didn’t just make contact with this organization; he appointed its members to prominent cabinet positions, including ones dealing with race. The “macaca” incident made this a race. This should make it a victory.

Vizzini Pence

Rep. Pence, I do not think that word means what you think it means:

Mr. Pence argued that tax cuts help the poor by revving the economy. That may eventually prove true, but despite large tax cuts the poverty rate has risen in each of the last four years. “That’s anecdotal,” Mr. Pence said in an interview last fall. Then he offered an anecdote — a story President Reagan told about a pipe fitter pleased to see the rich prosper, “because I’ve never been hired by a poor man.”

Of all the things I never thought I’d see labeled “anecdotal,” Census Bureau poverty stats are pretty high on the list. Via Henry Farrell.

Pretty Fly

Why doesn’t it surprise me that Matt Yglesias’ column about Pluto has a Public Enemy reference in its title? No matter; it’s a good column. Trying to find a consist definition of “planet” is silly, and Matt calls out that dastardly International Astonomical Union for it.

Human Rights Trumps Democracy

I’ve long thought one of the central problems with neoconservatism was its overemphasis of democracy promotion and underemphasis on human rights. This should be the other way around. Democracy promotion is extremely difficult; it’s nearly unachievable through diplomatic pressure (sanctions only secure regimes, and it’s next to impossible to get a government to voluntarily relinquish power) and extremely difficult to achieve through military conquest (see Iraq). Moreover, the right to vote is most important for oppressed peoples in that it allows them to reduce the government’s oppression of them – that is, the benefits from democratization are the same as the benefits from human rights. But human rights are more achievable. Economic pressure and negotiations can lead to better policies, and when military action is needed (for example, in cases of genocide) it’s much easier to secure basic human rights than to topple a regime (compare Kosovo and Iraq). And, of course, human rights, particularly the right to free speech, can create the conditions necessary for democracy to emerge organically.
I was ready to say all this when Shadi Hamid released her twopart article arguing that democracy promotion should be central to a progressive foreign policy. But then Spencer Ackerman went ahead and said it for me. Dammit, Spencer! In the words of Julian Sanchez,

Any journalist or writer can tell you that there are few experiences more apt to provoke the desire to shoot yourself in the face than that of flipping open the latest issue of some national magazine only to realize that some notion you’d been absently tossing around with your friends for six months—or worse, one you’d considered turning into an article before thinking better of it—is the premise of a feature article.

Exactly my feeling right now. But good for Spencer for making this much-needed point.


Ezra makes a good point, as usual. One of the most effective agents for progressivism is a strong union movement, and when the biggest employer in America bans unionization, that’s a problem. The question isn’t whether Wal-Mart is in the wrong; it’s whether criticizing Wal-Mart specifically is effective in rebuilding the labor movement.
I was watching an episode of The Office the other day, wherein the warehouse workers try to form a union. Their boss’ boss (Jan Levinson) informs them that she will shut down the branch before a union forms. I didn’t bat an eye, and neither did anyone in the show. And then I noticed on the Wikipedia page for the show (this is what I do when I don’t have blogs to waste my time) that Wagner Act explicitly bans such intimidation. The problem isn’t even anti-union legislation like the Taft-Hartley Act. It’s the lack of enforcement of those pro-labor laws already on the books. The National Labor Relations Board may periodically castigate Wal-Mart for its anti-union practices, but nothing happens. There is no real punishment, and the ruling comes down years after the fact. The end result is the same as if the NLRB didn’t exist: there’s no unionization. While it would be nice to repeal Taft-Hartley, wonders could be done with greater punishments and swifter enforcement of the Wagner Act and other pro-union laws.

The Emmys

While I’m very glad that The Office won best comedy (I would have rooted for Arrested Development but with Mitchell Hurwitz not wanting to continue there’s no chance of resuscitating it), that The Daily Show won writing and best variety series (though The Colbert Report would have been just as deserving) and that The Girl in the Café won best TV movie, best writing, and best actress (Richard Curtis is my hero), much of the rest of the show consisted of stupid decisions. Let me list the atrocities:

  • Stephen Colbert losing for best performance in a variety series. I mean, seriously. In his own words, “I lost to Barry Manilow! Wolverine I could handle – he has claws for hands!”
  • 24 beating The Sopranos, Grey’s Anatomy, and The West Wing for best drama, Kiefer Sutherland beating Denis Leary for best actor in a drama, and 24 beating Sopranos, Big Love, Six Feet Under, and The West Wing for best directing. Since when do Dick Cheney’s wet dreams win awards?
  • It’s worth repeating: Barry Manilow won an Emmy. His second.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus beating Jane Kaczmarek and Lisa Kudrow for best actress in a comedy. The New Adventures of Old Christine is standard sitcom boilerplate. The Comeback and Malcolm in the Middle – especially Kaczmarek and Kudrow – were genius by comparison.
  • My Name Is Earl beating The Office and Arrested Development for best directing and writing in a comedy. If there’s an award out there for most lowbrow, offensive, and unfunny show on air, Earl would win. It deserves nothing else.
    And I could go on. It’s just horrible. The Bob Newhart bit was funny, however.

  • Little Miss Sunshine

    Sorry for the lack of posts. My computer was busted for a while, but now seems to be working.
    So, I saw Little Miss Sunshine yesterday. It was, by far, the best feature film I’ve seen this year (I would say best film, but An Inconvenient Truth was pretty damn good). It had incredibly clever, and yet theme-inbued writing, artful direction, and some of the best acting I’ve ever seen in a film. Though the characters may seem quirky for the sake of quirky – a Nietzschean wannabe fighter pilot who’s taken a vow of silence, a suicidal Proust scholar, a failed motivational speaker, a heroin-addicted senior citizen – in reality, they’re textured, fascinating, and irresistible. Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, and Paul Dano each deserve the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and it’s a shame a three-way tie isn’t possible. Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear, while not quite as good, are still excellent in their “grace under pressure” roles. And, of course, it’s hilarious. I can’t remember a film I’ve laughed as hard at. So, yeah. Go watch.

    Pitchfork Does the Sixties

    Via Tyler Cowen, Pitchfork has a “best of the 60s” song list up. It’s pointless to nitpick about the particulars of lists like this, but let me say that the choice of “God Only Knows” as #1 is a good one, and that the choice of “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 as #2 is positively inspired. I love that song with a passion, because of its musical brilliance (I have never heard a more intricate and yet coherent song), its emotional firepower, and, let’s face it, its entertainment value (it’s both excellent on the merits and really fun to listen to). I had always thought of myself as a bit of a cheeseball for loving it so. But if Pitchfork likes it, I can use it to burnish my rock-snob credentials.

    A Truly Ethical Werewolf

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf – without a doubt my favorite ethical werewolf – has an awesome article in the American Prospect savaging (werewolf style) Ramesh Ponnuru’s The Party of Death. He takes Ponnuru’s folk moral philosophy seriously, a feat no lesser man could complete, and then proceeds to eviscerate it using a remarkably articulate exposition of the sentience argument. Go read.