Charles Kamasaki from the National Council of La Raza makes a point near and dear to my heart: “we have a racial paradigm in this country that is largely built either on slavery or on immigration and when you have a population that is of many colors and comes from many different places . . . it’s very difficult to fit that population into a traditional paradigm.”
Ironically, this had come to my mind just minutes before when Kamasaki asked the audience if any Hispanics in the house could raise their/our hands. I’m never 100 percent certain how to answer questions like that. According to the racial paradigm, I think I’m supposed to raise my hand. But at the same time, I have white skin, I’m a fourth-generation American, and my knowledge of Spanish is limited to a summer semester I took at NYU years ago.
Arguably the panel I’m watching now, “Race and Politics in America: Where Are We in 2008?” with Richard Thompson Ford, Shelby Steele, Charles Kamasaki, and Ta-Nehisi Coates suffers from the opposite problem from the “Who Speaks for Islam?” panel — all four participants are nonwhite. Surely white people have something to say about this. On the other hand, maybe you can actually get a broader range of views on an all-black panel, I have a hard time imagining a white person saying what Shelby Steele just said.
Says on a panel “white Americans have made more moral progress in the last forty years than any people in the history of the human conditions.” I think this is the sort of thing that gets you invited back to tony gatherings at scenic resorts.
Largely as a result of “dissatisfaction with the course of the war under President Bush and with the treatment of veterans returning home,” Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is collecting more in military contributions than is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The AP reports, “Among people who have donated at least $200 to a presidential campaign this election cycle, Obama has collected more than $327,000 from those identifying themselves as military personnel, while McCain has collected $224,000.” Even many wealthy donors who contributed to Bush in 2004 have been reluctant to donate to McCain because of his Iraq policies.
CNN’s Larry King Live offered a cavalcade of oil, coal, and nuclear industry apologists last night, telling watchers that “all of us” are to blame for high gas prices, oil companies are “heroes,” and that we should convert coal to gasoline, drill for oil in the North Pole, and build more nuclear plants. Not once was global warming mentioned, or how the policies advocated by the guests would lead us on a path to climate catastrophe.
Chevron’s CEO, David O’Reilly, sat with King throughout the show, defending his company’s record profits and deflecting questions about how much he personally makes. When asked by King if he feels any guilt for Chevron’s $18 billion profit last year, O’Reilly blamed “all of us” for being “too complacent about energy.” O’Reilly also pushed for lifting the offshore drilling moratorium, saying drilling in protected areas “can be done safely” but “will take some time.” He continued:
But, the reality is it can be done. It’s urgent enough that if we don’t start today, my kids and my grandkids will suffer because of it.
Unlike the O’Reilly clan, most “kids and grandkids” today do not have oil executives for grandparents to pass down their obscene profits — in the past five years, O’Reilly has pulled in $82.51 million. It’s certainly possible that the O’Reilly inheritance might “suffer” a bit if Chevron’s oil lust is kept in check.
I think these oil companies are heroes. Think what it takes to bring this stuff to us, across an ocean, refine it into three types of gasoline, put it in trucks that cost 100,000 dollars each, ship that to gasoline stations that have to have this expensive equipment so we don’t blow ourselves up pumping our own gas.
O’Reilly’s response? “That’s nice to hear someone on our side.”
Stossel wasn’t the only one. In opposition to O’Reilly’s promotion of offshore drilling, Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) advocated drilling in his state of Montana. Larry King’s listeners also heard from Nancy Pfotenhauer, a McCain spokeswoman who repeated her claim — despite all evidence — that “Senator McCain’s plan has provisions to immediately offer some relief.” She somehow failed to mention that she is also a career hack for Koch Industries, the $90 billion right-wing pollution-industry giant. King joined in the fun by asking when Chevron would start drilling for oil in the North Pole — seemingly anxious for when global warming will have eliminated the ice that has been there since the dawn of the human race.
UPDATE:Media Matters reports that NBC and MSNBC have aired multiple reports on offshore drilling — including segments reported live from a Chevron oil rig — without explaining “environmental concerns” or disclosing GE’s drilling connection.
Appearing on MSNBC today, Nancy Pfotenhauer, senior adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), touted McCain’s national security credentials, citing his support of increasing troops in Iraq while the war was unpopular. Pfotenhauer claimed that even President Bush did not support the idea:
When Senator McCain challenged the current strategy on the ground in Iraq, and was pushing for the surge, alongside Gen. Petraeus, this was incredibly unpopular here in Washington. It was particularly unpopular with President Bush. And he did it because that’s what he felt was right on the ground and he put the interests of the country first.
Furthermore, at the time, 68 percent of Americans opposed Bush’s call for a surge. Despite the military and public clearly rejecting the plan, Bush expressed little doubt about the surge and ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq.
Pfotenhauer’s claim that the surge was “particularly unpopular” with Bush is particularly laughable.
Several commenters and Scott Lemieux have convinced me that contrary to what I said here it wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment to impose some kind of supermajority requirement on Supreme Court decisions.
UPDATE: Of course at the end of the day this would need to be litigated. In principle, the Court could vote 5-4 to strike the law down which would create awesome legal paradoxes.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is traveling to Colombia today, but he won’t be accompanied by one of his top aides. Charlie Black, who has extensive lobbying ties to Colombia, isn’t traveling with McCain this week. Asked yesterday about Black’s absence, McCain claimed he was just rotating his aides:
“I have Mark Salter along,” McCain said, pointing to senior aide Mark Salter. “These guys generally rotate. It’s too much to take in large doses. It’s just rotation.”
Black has been a controversial figure on the McCain campaign due to his lobbying background. Recently, he caused an uproar when he suggested that McCain would gain “a big advantage” politically from a terrorist attack against America.
To add to what Atrios says here while I of course think people should keep whatever problems they may have with Barack Obama in perspective, it’s probably actually helpful to his political ambitions to have him be criticized from the left. According to the silly conventions that govern our political debate, if you’re not to some extent provoking vocal criticism from your base, there’s considered to be something wrong with you.