September 5, 2008

What is a "community organizer"?

Barack Obama has taken umbrage at Sarah Palin's lack of respect for the sacred profession of community organizer. To help explain what that widely-lauded but little understood job entails, here are excerpts from the classic 1970 work of sociology:

Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers
by Tom Wolfe

Going downtown to mau-mau the bureaucrats got to be the routine practice in San Francisco. The poverty program encouraged you to go in for mau-mauing. They wouldn't have known what to do without it. The bureaucrats at City Hall and in the Office of Economic Opportunity talked "ghetto" all the time, but they didn't know any more about what was going on in the Western Addition, Hunters Point, Potrero Hill, the Mission, Chinatown, or south of Market Street than they did about Zanzibar. They didn't know where to look. They didn't even know who to ask. So what could they do? Well ... they used the Ethnic Catering Service ... right ... They sat back and waited for you to come rolling in with your certified angry militants, your guaranteed frustrated ghetto youth, looking like a bunch of wild men. Then you had your test confrontation. If you were outrageous enough, if you could shake up the bureaucrats so bad that their eyes froze into iceballs and their mouths twisted up into smiles of sheer physical panic, into shit-eating grins, so to speak--then they knew you were the real goods. They knew you were the right studs to give the poverty grants and community organizing jobs to. Otherwise they wouldn't know. ...

It got to be an American custom, like talk shows, Face the Nation, marriage counseling, marathon encounters, or zoning hearings. ...

The poverty office was on the first floor and had a big anteroom; only it's almost bare, nothing in it but a lot of wooden chairs. It looks like a union hall minus the spittoons, or one of those lobbies where they swear in new citizens. It's like they want to impress the poor that they don't have leather-top desks ... All our money goes to you ...

So the young aces from the Mission come trooping in, and they want to see the head man. The word comes out that the No. 1 man is out of town, bu the No. 2 man is coming out to talk to the people.

This man comes out , and he has that sloppy Irish look like Ed McMahon on TV, only with a longer nose. ...

"Have a seat, gentlemen," he says, and he motions toward the wooden chairs.

But he doesn't have to open his mouth. All you have to do is look at him and you get the picture. The man's a lifer. He's stone civil service. He has it all down from the wheatcolor Hush Puppies to the wash'n'dry semi-tab-collar shortsleeves white shirt. Those wheatcolor Hush Puppies must be like some kind of fraternal garb among the civil-service employees, because they all wear them. They cost about $4.99, and the second time you move your toes, the seams split and the tops come away from the soles. But they all wear them. The man's shirt looks like he bought it at the August end-of-summer sale at the White Front. ...

He pulls up one of the wooden chairs and sits down on it. Only he sits down on it backwards, straddling the seat and hooking his arms and his chin over the back of the chair, like the head foreman in the bunkhouse. It's like saying, "We don't stand on ceremony around here. This is a shirtsleeve operation."

"I'm sorry that Mr. Johnson isn't here today," he says, "but he's not in the city. He's back in Washington meeting some important project deadlines. He's very concerned, and he would want to meet with you people if he were here, but right now I know you'll understand that the most important thing he can do for you is to push these projects through in Washington."

The man keeps his arms and his head hung over the back of his chair, but he swings his hands up in the air from time to time to emphasize a point, first one hand and then the other. It looks like he's giving wig-wag signals to the typing pool. The way he hangs himself over the back of the chair--that keeps up the funky shirtsleeve-operation number. And throwing his hands around--that's dynamic ... It says, "We're hacking our way through the red tape just as fast as we can."

"Now I'm here to try to answer any questions I can," he says, "but you have to understand that I'm only speaking as an individual, and so naturally none of my comments are binding, but I'll answer any questions I can, and if I can't answer them, I'll do what I can to get the answers for you."

And then it dawns on you, and you wonder why it took so long for you to realize it. This man is the flak catcher. His job is to catch the flak for the No. 1 man. He's like the professional mourners you can hire in Chinatown. They have certified wailers, professional mourners, in Chinatown, and when your loved one dies, you can hire the professional mourners to wail at the funeral and show what a great loss to the community the departed is. In the same way this lifer is ready to catch whatever flak you're sending up. It doesn't matter what bureau they put him in. It's all the same. Poverty, Japanese imports, valley fever, tomato-crop parity, partial disability, home loans, second-probate accounting, the Interstate 90 detour change order, lockouts, secondary boycotts, G.I. alimony, the Pakistani quota, cinch mites, the Tularemic Loa loa, veterans' dental benefits, workmen's compensation, suspended excise rebates--whatever you're angry about, it doesn't matter, he's there to catch the flak. He's a lifer. ...

One of the Chicanos starts it off by asking the straight question, which is about how many summer jobs the Mission groups are going to get. This is the opening phase, the straight-face phase, in the art of mau-mauing.

"Well," says the Flak Catcher--and he gives it a twist of the head and a fling of the hand and the ingratiating smile--"It's hard for me to answer that the way I'd like to answer it, and the way I know you'd like for me to answer it, because that's precisely what we're working on back in Washington. But I can tell you this. At this point I see no reason why our project allocation should be any less, if all we're looking at is the urban-factor numbers for this area, because that should remain the same. Of course, if there's been any substantial pre-funding, in Washington, for the fixed-asset part of our program, like Head Start or the community health centers, that could alter the picture. But we're very hopeful, and as soon as we have the figures, I can tell you that you people will be the first to know." ...

So one of the bloods says, "Man, why do you sit there shining us with this bureaucratic rhetoric, when you said yourself that ain't nothing you say that means a goddam thing?"

Ba-ram-ba-ram-ba-ram-ba-ram--a bunch of the aces start banging on the floor in unison. It sounds like they have sledge hammers.

"Ha-unnnnh," says the Flak Catcher. It is one of those laughs that starts out as a laugh but ends up like he got hit in the stomach halfway through. It's the first assault on his dignity. So he breaks into his shit-eating grin, which is always phase two. Why do so many bureaucrats, deans, preachers, college presidents, try to smile when the mau-mauing starts? It's fatal, this smiling. When some bad dude is challenging your manhood, your smile just proves that he is right and you are chickenshit--unless you are a bad man yourself with so much heart that you can make that smile say, "Just keep on talking, sucker, because I'm gonna count to ten and then squash you."

"Well," says the Flak Catcher, I can't promise you jobs if the jobs aren't available yet"--and then he looks up as if for the first time he is really focusing on the thirty-five ghetto hot dogs he is now facing, by way of sizing up the threat, now that the shit has started. The blacks and the Chicanos he has no doubt seen before, or people just like them, but then he takes in the Filipinos. There are about eight of them, and they are all wearing the Day-Glo yellow and hot-green sweaters and lemon-colored pants and Italian-style socks. But it's the headgear that does the trick. They've all got on Rap Brown shades and Russian Cossack hats made of frosted-gray Dynel. They look bad.

Then the man takes in the Samoans, and they look worse. There's about ten of them, but they fill up half the room. They've got on Island shirts with designs in streaks and blooms of red, only it's a really raw shade of red, like that red they paint the floor with in the tool and dye works. They're glaring at him out of those big dark wide brown faces. The monsters have tight curly hair, but it grows in long strands, and they comb it back flat, in long curly strands, with a Duke pomade job. They've got huge feet, and they're wearing sandals. The straps on the sandals look like there were made from the reins on the Budweiser draft horses. But what really gets the Flak Catcher, besides the sheer size of the brutes, is their Tiki canes. These are like Polynesian scepters. They're the size of sawed-off pool cues, only they're carved all over in Polynesian Tiki Village designs. When they wrap their fists around these sticks, every knuckle on their hands pops out the size of a walnut. Anything they hear that they like, like the part about the "bureaucratic rhetoric," they bang on the floor in unison with the ends of the Tiki sticks--ba-ram-ba-ram-ba-ram-ba-ram--although some of them press one end of the stick onto the sole of their sandal between their first two toes and raise their foot up and down wih the stick to cushion the blow on the floor. They don't want to scuff up the Tiki cane. ...

Of course, the next day nobody shows up at the poverty office to make sure the sucker makes the telephone call. Some how it always seems to happen that way. Nobody ever follows it up. You can get everything together once, for the demonstration, for the confrontation, to go downtown and mau-mau, for the fun, for the big show, for the beano, for the main event, to see the people bury some gray cat's nuts and make him crawl and whine and sink in his own terrible grin. But nobody ever follows it up. You just sleep it off until somebody tells you there's going to be another big show.

And then later on you think about it and you say, "What really happened that day? Well, another flak catcher lost his manhood, that's what happened." Hmmmmmm ... like maybe the bureaucracy isn't so dumb after all ... All they did was sacrifice one flak catcher and they've got hundreds, thousands ... They've got replaceable parts. They threw this sacrifice to you, and you went away pleased with yourself. And even the Flak Catcher himself wasn't losing much. He wasn't losing his manhood. He gave that up a long time ago, the day he became a lifer ... Just who is fucking over who ... You did your number and he did his number, and they didn't even have to stop the music ... The band played on ... Still--did you see the look on his face? That sucker--

When black people first started using the confrontation tactic, they made a secret discovery. There was an extra dividend to this tactic. There was a creamy dessert. It wasn't just that you registered your protest and showed the white man that you meant business and weakened his resolve to keep up the walls of oppression. It wasn't just that you got poverty money and influence. There was something sweet that happened right there on the spot. You made the white man quake. You brought fear into his face.

Black people began to realize for the first time that the white man, particularly the educated white man, the leadership, had a deep dark Tarzan mumbo jungle voodoo fear of the black man's masculinity. This was a revelation. For two hundred years, wherever black people lived, north or south, mothers had been raising their sons to be meek, to be mild, to check their manhood at the front door in all things that had to do with white people, for fear of incurring the wrath of the Man. The Man was the white man. He was the only man. And now, when you got him up close and growled, this all-powerful superior animal turned out to be terrified. You could read it in his face. He had the same fear in his face as some good-doing boy who has just moved onto the block and is hiding behind his mama and the moving man and the sofa while the bad dudes on the block size him up.

So for the black man mau-mauing was a beautiful trip. It not only stood to bring you certain practical gains like money and power. It also energized your batteries. It recharged your masculinity. You no longer had to play it cool and go in for pseudo-ignorant malingering and put your head into that Ofay Pig Latin catacomb code style of protest. Mau-mauing brought you respect in its cash forms: namely, fear and envy. ...

Brothers from down the hall like Dudley got down to the heart of the poverty program very rapidly. It took them no time at all to see that the poverty program's big projects, like manpower training, in which you would get some job counseling and some training so you would be able to apply for a job in the bank or on the assembly line--everybody with a brain in his head knew that this was the usual bureaucratic shuck. Eventually the government's own statistics bore out the truth of this conclusion. The ghetto youth who completed the manpower training didn't get any more jobs or earn any more money than the people who never took any such training at all. Everybody but the most hopeless lames knew that the only job you wanted out of the poverty program was a job in the program itself. Get on the payroll, that was the idea. Never mind getting some job counseling. You be the job counselor. You be the "neighborhood organizer." As a job counselor or a neighborhood organizer you stood to make six or seven hundred dollars a month, and you were still your own man. Like if you were a "neighborhood organizer," all you had to do was go out and get the names and addresses of people in the ghetto who wanted to relate to the services of the poverty center. That was a very flexible arrangement. You were still on the street, and you got paid for it. You could still run with the same buddies you always ran with. There was nobody looking over your shoulder. ... It was true that middle-class people who happened to live in the target areas got the top jobs, but there was still room for street types.

That was one reason why Summer Jobs was such a big deal. That was what the whole session between the Samoans and the Flak Catcher was over, summer jobs. The jobs themselves were nothing. They were supposed to be for teenagers from poor families. It was an O.E.O. program, and you got $1.35 an hour and ended up as a file clerk or stock-room boy in some federal office or some foundation--hell, they didn't even need one half the people they already had working for them, and so all you learned was how to make work, fake work, and malinger out by the Xerox machine. It is true that you learned those skills from experts in the field, but it was a depressing field to be in.

Nevertheless, there was some fierce ma-mauing that went on over summer jobs, especially in 1969, when the O.E.O. started cutting back funds and the squeeze was on. Half of it was sheer status. There were supposed to be strict impartial guidelines determining who got the summer jobs--but the plain fact was that half the jobs were handed out organization by organization, according to how heavy your organization was. If you could get twenty summer jobs for your organization got five, then you were four times the aces they were .. no lie ... But there were so many groups out mau-mauing, it was hard to make yourself heard over the uproar.

Buy Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers here

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

63 comments:

albertosaurus said...

Ah, memories!

In San Francisco in 1970 I was a young public social worker. As it happened I had Somoans. Funny I never saw Tom Wolfe.

He got a lot of it right. He missed a couple nuances.

The Samoans had the top floor of the Mission Rebels building. I had their leader Tulifau Mauga on my case load. He wanted to be a "community organizer". I had to tell him that that train had left the station. In the mid sixties the OEO had recruited gang leaders in the various ethic ghettos and paid them for being criminal leaders. Alas, even the feds weren't so stupid as to allow such a program that to long continue. The gang leaders were heart-broken.

It was like the pig farmer in Churhill Canada who built his pig pens on the Polar Bear migration route. The bears ate all the pigs the first year, of course, putting him out of business. But they kept returning each year with a wistful look in their eyes hoping for the return of the pig program.

I used to try to sell Tulifau on entering some kind of apprenticeship job program but he was only interested in being a "community organizer". I tried to tell him that those days were over. He looked wistfull.

simon said...

"Why do so many bureaucrats, deans, preachers, college presidents, try to smile when the mau-mauing starts? It's fatal, this smiling. When some bad dude is challenging your manhood, your smile just proves that he is right and you are chickenshit"

I tend to give 'em a look that says "I'm slightly disappointed in you. You're better than that". Shame is a great thing.
If that doesn't work, stone-face is good.

Blode said...

Damn, I wish I could talk like Tom Wolfe writes and get away with it. Thank god for pseudonyms.

George said...

Forty years later and it has only got worse...

testing99 said...

That sort of thing is only sustainable as long as there's "extra" money floating around. Come a recession, and people tired of paying off minorities (economically cleansed out of city centers) not to riot, and there will be a different kind of scene:

Various cops milling around. Formal announcement: program is closed. Money spent on various downtown yuppie stuff, more police, etc.

It's also a self-evident trap. It might be ego boosting to intimidate some staffer (now likely to be some Black woman or white gay man or various Asian minority). But those habits are not going to be of much use in anything other than thuggery.

Skip G. said...

Good old Tom...He is the Herodotus of our times.
His image should be on Mount Rushmore.

halfbreed said...

I've said it on this blog before, but it bears repeating: Tom Wolfe is our greatest living writer (he may be better than any of the dead ones as well). He's been fearless and clever for forty years now, which is a good thing because if he were trying to start a writing career now he's never get published by our PC publishing industry. He basically got grandfathered in, so to speak.

Having said that, I'm not sure that those excerpts are all that relevant to Obama. He's not the intimidating, wild, big black buck whom Wolfe describes so well in that book. He was always skinny, somewhat soft-looking, and half-white at that. He probably had to try hard to fit in in the communities he was "organizing". Which brings me to another point: exactly where did he get that accent of his? When you listen to him talk, his very carefully modulated voice is civilized enough to not frighten the white electorate, yet it has a slight overlay of a black/Southern accent, just enough to make him seem genuinely black. And the accent always seems to thicken just a touch when he's talking to a black audience. Hmm. So did he get that accent from his Kenyan father? Or was it from his white Kansan mother? His white Kansan grandparents? His Indonesian schoolchums? Or is that the way the students spoke at Punahou?

No, I'm afraid that like everything else about him, his accent has been very carefully and deliberately constructed.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Wolfe is amazingly observant, so that he looks prescient. Seeing the obvious is so difficult.

Bill said...

It's ironic that in San Francisco a bunch of sissies who like to wear dresses and makeup on Friday nights outmau-maued the big tough bloods in the long-run.

ben g said...

Agitating for the removal of asbestos != agitating for free summer jobs. If you think asbestos is a minor issue, or one that shouldn't be handled by government, that's all good and fine but it's a separate point from the analogy being made.

Maybe Obama did do something comparable to what is being described here but I'm yet to hear from Steve any specifics that line up that way.

ziel said...

agitating for the removal of asbestos != agitating for free summer jobs.

That could be one reason why he lost his first race for state legistlature.

ziel said...

Ben G - from Byron York's in depth look into Obama's work as a communtiy organizer:
There were plans for after-school programs, and job retraining for adults. But if you ask Obama's fellow organizers what his most significant accomplishments were, they point to two ventures: the expansion of a city summer-job program for South Side teenagers and the removal of asbestos from one of the area's oldest housing projects. Those, they say, were his biggest victories.

This is pretty much backed up by this straight news article from the Southtown Star.

airtommy said...

Steve seems to have changed his opinion on community organizers as the political and racial roles have switched. Just a few months ago he wrote admiringly :

"Tulane students have organized their own ambulance service to take sick members of the Tulane community to the Tulane Medical Center downtown."

Anonymous said...

Which brings me to another point: exactly where did he get that accent of his? When you listen to him talk, his very carefully modulated voice is civilized enough to not frighten the white electorate, yet it has a slight overlay of a black/Southern accent, just enough to make him seem genuinely black. And the accent always seems to thicken just a touch when he's talking to a black audience.

...I'm afraid that like everything else about him, his accent has been very carefully and deliberately constructed.

Thanks for putting my thoughts into words perfectly. That phony accent is starting to get on my nerves.

robert61 said...

@Halfbreed: Obama's ability to modulate his accent is a skill born of living in varying milieux. He uses it to his advantage, but he's not necessarily all that cynical in doing so.

I grew up in several US cities with distinctive regional accents and have spent most of my adult life abroad. If I'm trying to be friendly, I automatically lapse into a dialect/sociolect that's shifted in the direction of the person or people I'm talking to. The process is unconscious. Indeed, if I have been drinking, I have to careful not to overdo it.

I'm sure the hyper self-conscious Obama is aware of his shifts, but I'd guess they arise more from a feeling about how to connect with the audience than from low cunning.

mnuez said...

Robert's got it right. Having lived among internationals at one point, I can say that quite a few people have varying accents, depending on whom they're speaking with. I personally in fact occasionally find myself speaking in some sort of Southern drawl, depending on where I am or my mood.

I mention this simply as a matter of interest relating to accents as well as to defend the rights of people to change their accent at will without being accused of being a devious manipulator, I can't comment on Obama personally of course.

Anonymous said...

I am a 30 years old white man and I find the idea of racial intimidation ridiculous on its face.

I don't know if it's just me (I live in a diverse area) or my upbringing in the PC 90s. But, I do not have that gut fear of minorities that older people clearly have and/or did have.

Does anyone think there's a generational shift?

ben g said...

summer jobs for South Side teenagers

what's objectionable about the mau-mau'ers in wolfe's story is that the "organizers" are the ones interested in the free summer jobs for themselves, even though those jobs are supposed to be for poor teenagers.

Anonymous said...

Modulating accent isn't anything new amongst pols.

Tony Blair did it all of the time. He donned a working class accent when talking to the "working class", a "cool Brit" accent when talking to the pop/celebrity crowd, intoned his "Vicar of Albion" voice when preaching to us; and then there were the accents reserved for the French and Italians.

I'll wager he currently adopts a sort of "Jewish" London accent when talking to the Israelis.

Anonymous said...

airtommy,

There is a significant difference between the two. The Tulane students organized private resources towards charitable ends. The "community organizer" is just a tax eater.

--Senor Doug

RobertHume said...

Here's a letter from the New Yorker that asserts that Obama has just updated these tactics:

September 8, 2008

Reference: Kelefa Sanneh’s “What He Knows for Sure”

At Selma, Martin Luther King, Jr., made a transition from nonviolence as a philosophy to nonviolence as a tactic. What Smiley, Glenn Loury, and others need to understand is that Obama is asking African-Americans to make a similar transition in the twenty-first century. He is not asking us to give up our righteous anger; he’s simply asking us to consider the possibility that our anger may be the primary barrier to our progress. It is no longer to our advantage to scare white people. On the streets of Chicago, Obama learned a basic lesson of the black South: you tell white folks only what you want them to know and you make it sound like what they want to hear.

Robert Hinton

Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
New York University

RobertHume said...

And to continue from the New Yorker letter ...

The implication is that those non-blacks who think that Obama is on their side are mistaken; he is just trying to find the way to best advance those of his own race; including those in Africa.

And we have to remember that all is doomed to failure, for most blacks, because of their lower IQ. But this failure will be blamed on European, or Asian prejudice, because differences in IQ cannot be acknowledged.

Until the differences are acknowledged the "anger" cited by the letter writer will continue.

Lucius Vorenus said...

robert61: I'm sure the hyper self-conscious Obama is aware of his shifts, but I'd guess they arise more from a feeling about how to connect with the audience than from low cunning.

How does "a feeling about how to connect with the audience" differ from "low cunning"?

Or is this like Philly Guy in the sarah-palin-fertility-goddess thread where we're gonna be treated to a theory of "high cunning" -vs- "low cunning"?

Dan said...

airtommy,
there is a significant difference between people who organize to help themselves, and people who organize to get money from others.

Ian said...

> It's ironic that in San Francisco
> a bunch of sissies who like to
> wear dresses and makeup on Friday
> nights outmau-maued the big tough
> bloods in the long-run.

As a twenty-year resident of the City by the Bay, it bugs me when people take a stereotyped view of how they imagine it to be.

1. The big tough bloods still have plenty of clout, on the streets if not in the city government

2. On weekend nights, to my eyes, the gay men of the city are generally more partial to designer leisurewear or black leather than "dresses and makeup"

> if you ask Obama's fellow
> organizers what his most
> significant accomplishments were,

I read somewhere, don't have the time to look it up where, that nothing Obama did as an "organizer" had much lasting impact (i.e. it brought no lasting "change", nor, for that matter, "hope" (or even any "chope", wich is the two combined)).

It does seem, in general, like BHO hasn't really accomplished much in his life except (1.) build up his own name brand, and (2.) defeat Hilary (which was, to be fair, quite a feat - but for which he got a huge amount of help from many of the most intelligent and ambitious elements of the Democratic party ...)

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV9rW25bT5o

Guess who likes Ron Paul and Mitt Romney as much as we do... Sarah Palin! Seriously, she sounds like us in the above video.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

yeah, airtommy, that's exactly the same kind of community organizing.

Grape Nuts cereal is neither grapes nor nuts. Christian Science is neither Christian nor science. Just because people are getting organized, and it's in a community somewhere, doesn't make them Community Organizers.

paul k. said...

Blogger "Iowahawk" gives a useful rundown on the many important activities that fill a community organizer's day:

1. Reach out and work with communities in various ways.

2. Liaison with, and for, community agencies for service within affected areas.

3. Fight to make a difference.

4. Raise awareness.

5. Deal with community issues.

6. Raise awareness in the community of how we are making differences about undealt-with issues.

7. When necessary, refer inquiries to outreach
coordinators.

8. Help coordination agency administrators identify and address outreach opportunities.

9. Model timetables and conceptualize benchmarks.

10. Issue guidelines for poster contests and interpretive dance festivals.

11. Gather voter registrations, win valuable prizes.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin comes from the top welfare state in America, and when she was there she wholeheartedly participated in the leeching process. She supported the Bridge To Nowhere, and sought earmarks aggressively.

She's now running on the slogan "Country First", yet when she was in Alaska she wanted to secede from the USA.

Palin oversaw the hiring of Steven Silver, who was both the chief of staff to Ted Stevens and one of Jack Abramoff's prime lobbyists. So, she's deeply connected to two of the most corrupt Republicans of this decade.

Mark said...

Blogger "Iowahawk" gives a useful rundown on the many important activities that fill a community organizer's day...

One funny dude. In fact I have to wonder why Steve has yet to link to Iowahawk's epic satire, The Idiossey - full of allusions iStever's could appreciate.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Iowahawk, be sure not to miss this one.

Anonymous said...

Obama has very likely picked up his accent from being around his wife and her family and from being around his various Chicago friends. Not that surprising. I'll be voting for him come November.

Anonymous said...

Obama may have indeed been a community organizer, but he's a Harvard-educated lawyer who has taught constitutional law. Palin is definitely an accomplished woman, surpassing Obama in executive experience, but I seriously doubt that she is as smart or as intellectually sophisticated as he. Being President isn't just being CEO of a company of a country called America, it requires a base of knowledge in history, economics, foreign affairs, world culture etc. Palin does indeed remind me of W, a person who beat the better-educated, more experienced, more qualified Gore primarily because for "not being a toff". This man's man that everyone wanted to have a beer with simply didn't have the intellectual foundation to be president and his mental vacuum was easily filled by Cheney's neocon garbage. Look, the Ivy League educated lawyers, technocrats and media types that blue collar conservatives and their sympathizers love to hate may be snobby, annoyingly hip, reverse racist, low-reproducing and (the cardinal sin) lack the testosterone-soaked machismo of men like Palin's husband but they have the education, skills, respect for scholarship and the measured temperament required to be effective leaders. I am not saying that people who lack those qualities are worthless or that they can't succeed in other fields but we have to have high standards for the president and focus on the best qualifications for the job. Aren't we all glad, after all, that the Whitehouse was saved from the sissified Gore by the manly GWB?

big bill said...

Oh man! This whole thing gives me a flashback to a week ago in the Winnetka papers.

Rev. James Meeks, one of Obama's old friends and supporters (like Kwame Kilpatrick) was out shaking down New Trier High school. Bussed in 100o black kids in his church busses as protection.

The Winnetka folks freaked out like white flakcatchers everywhere, as this article from the Winnetka paper shows:

http://www.pioneerlocal.com/winnetka/news/1117277,wn-meeks-082108-s1.article

It is almost painful the way they grovel and fold. And the Stockholm Syndrome bits, when some of the white folks start talking about how they need to "understand" Meeks and his scruffy band, are truly pathetic.

Now what they SHOULD have done was round up some folks from a rural white school to show up at the sametime and demand thatthe yget in before Meeks' juvenile delinquents get in, since rural white school get thousands of dollars less than Meeks ALREADY does.

halfbreed said...

"Obama has very likely picked up his accent from being around his wife and her family and from being around his various Chicago friends. Not that surprising. I'll be voting for him come November."

I guess you're saying that he has picked up his accent the same way Madonna picked up her British accent -- from her husband, his relatives, and friends in England. Yeah, I guess it's not phony at all.

David Davenport said...

I don't know if it's just me (I live in a diverse area) or my upbringing in the PC 90s. But, I do not have that gut fear of minorities that older people clearly have and/or did have.


Fool or liar?

Svigor said...

I don't know if it's just me (I live in a diverse area)

Define "diverse" (my guess: no ordinary blacks) and we can tell you if it's just you or not.

I'm a bit too large, mean, and (nowadays) fit to be intimidated by ordinary black males, but it makes sense for the gated community ("diverse"?) types.

Anonymous said...

Has Obama spent the past 20 years taking off his clothes on MTV to get attention?

Anonymous said...

anonymous writes:
"Obama may have indeed been a community organizer, but he's a Harvard-educated lawyer who has taught constitutional law. Palin is definitely an accomplished woman, surpassing Obama in executive experience, but I seriously doubt that she is as smart or as intellectually sophisticated as he."

I seriously doubt you're too smart either, comparing the VP
pick of one party against the
POTUS pick of the other. Get your face out of that bong dude and compare apples to apples! Obama
is an affirmative action
candidate, probably wouldn't have
been Harvard educated without
that black magic, and doesn't
strike me as all that smart
either. Actually, none of them do, but Palin is the most
interesting.

anony-mouse said...

"Guess who likes Ron Paul and Mitt Romney as much as we do-Sarah Palin"

1/ Saw the video and the only candidate Palin mentioned herself was Romney-it was the interviewer who brought up Paul, and Palin praise only his independence.

2/ Do Romney and Paul have much in common? I'm sure Romney has lots of those paper fiat Federal Reserve notes in his pocket.

3/ In the GOP congressional primary Palin supported her Lt-Gov over the Paul supported Don Young.

testing99 said...

Airtommy -- you are confusing self-help "benevolent societies" with community organizing. The latter agitates for handouts from cities, states, and the Feds.

The former creates a mutual aid society. Pre-Desegregation New Orleans, was FULL of benevolent societies, that provided life insurance, medical insurance (and care), funeral service, education, unemployment insurance, and legal assistance, plus some things I haven't thought of quite likely. All available for a very small weekly stipend.

While New Orleans was always a rough, tough, violent place, it was far safer, peaceable, civilized, and capable of producing musical genius among the Black population under the mutual aid societies than the government handouts parceled out according to who can agitate and intimidate greater.

But then the benevolent societies were the mark of a basically healthy, and mature society, and the community organizers profound weakness.

Anon -- you simply have not been subject to intimidation. There is a huge difference in being a white guy among Black Yuppie Lawyers, and the 77th Street Crips. Chris Rock, Barack Obama, and Jessie Jackson all have written or spoken about how they are afraid of black youth and relieved when they see white youth. Chris Rock knows they are there to ask for his autograph, that Black youth instead might seek to rob and kill him. That's a tragic loss of human capital ... because this was not always so.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: I seriously doubt that she is as smart or as intellectually sophisticated

Oh good grief - what's the difference between "smarts" and "intellectual sophistication"?

Is that like the difference between "high cunning" and "low cunning"?

How do you file gaffes such as "57 states" and "breathlyzers for asthmatics" and "Nittaly Lions" - in the smarty pants category or the sophistry category?

You people are nuts if you think that Obambi is anything other than a grossly underqualified quota hire who is in way, way, way over his head.

In fact, the more I see of the guy, the more I'm inclined to agree with Jack Cashill. [Rush Limbaugh has been dropping hints that he doesn't buy the Obama story, either.]

If he wins, be prepared for government of, by, and for George Soros.

Anonymous: Palin does indeed remind me of W, a person who beat the better-educated, more experienced, more qualified Gore primarily because for "not being a toff".

Dubya has a bachelor's from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.

Gore is a buffoon with the IQ of a paperweight.

For goodness's sake, the poor guy believes in ManBearPig.

testing99 said...

Palin is not W. W is a very lazy, blue blood aristocrat who pretends to be Texan Redneck. But never worked hard a day in his life. Bush is LAZY.

Palin is a very ambitious hardworking (and my what hard work) Western Frontier woman who has internalized the lessons of Frontier Alaska: do lots of things, save money/resources, and don't waste anything. Because life there is hard, there is no easy trip to the store, repair place, or doctor. Money is tight -- but independence, not being a wage slave as in Office Space, makes this deeply attractive.

In some ways (minus the lawyer aspect) she's Andrew Jackson. [Well, minus the rage against the British and the high-and-mighty.] But frontier entrepreneur with various "scandals" attached to her marriage etc? Straight out of Old Hickory.

To be President requires ... well above all toughness and good judge of competence and character. No potential President can predict just exactly WHAT crisis will crop up. Yellowstone could blow up creating a massive internal relief crisis. Or Iran could announce nuclear status and demand the Danish cartoonists be extradited for execution "or else." Or something else. In Jan 1977 the Shah looked invincible. Only toughness and good judgement of character can serve a President. It's a true generalist position, proved by the varied backgrounds and character of the great Presidents: Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, TR, FDR, Ike, and Reagan.

Anon you are basically asking for Davos Man. As Steve pointed out, that did not work out so well in Georgia. Technocrats (like Carter) do not respond to crises or ruthless men very well. They are weak in will and ability to improvise.

TGGP said...

More from Wolfe.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it.............I actually agree with Testing99 on Palin.

Billy Chav said...

I might vote for Palin, but the problem is I can't. She's not running for president. Four years of McCain seems like a guarantee of hell on earth. He is a complete idiot in economics, I mean he doesn't have a clue. He doesn't even have enough of a clue to pick economic advisors who do have a clue. His position on Georgia is cynical or moronic or both, and his alleged foreign policy expertise just doesn't exist. On top of that, he looks like a Sleestak from Land of the Lost.

If he wins, I hope he dies quick--and I say this as a hater of fundamentalists. I'd rather have a non-corrupt fundie leading me than a tired old reptile like McCain.

airtommy said...

The "community organizer" is just a tax eater.

"Tax eater" was Palin's job as mayor of that tiny village and governor of Alaska. Her job was to shake down oil corporations and the federal goverment for handouts to her community.

you are confusing self-help "benevolent societies" with community organizing. The latter agitates for handouts from cities, states, and the Feds.

Palin agitated for handouts both big and small.

Anonymous said...

Does Palin know the difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites? Does she have an even superficial understanding of the war-torn history of the Middle East? What about economics? Has she ever heard of Milton Friedman? What about the history of diplomacy and foreign affairs, and the evolution of the two parties? How about the intricacies of the Constitution? How will she restore the civil liberties that the scumbag Cheney and his underlings shredded when she is ignorant of it?

Character and toughness are indeed important, and liberals in general make too much of academic credentials. Timid intellectuals typically do not make good leaders. And maybe I'm wrong about her knowledge base. But she herself said she hadn't had time to think about Iraq enough to form an opinion. That isn't a statement from a person who's mentally involved in the biggest political issue of our day, and fundamentally incurious.

She will indeed get "up to speed" if McCain gets elected, but her ignorance will cause her to believe everything her neocon advisors tell her. Also remember that she will have to form relationships with heads of state and represent Americans to diplomats who care about such things. You may think that America doesn't need sissy foreigners, but as our currency plummets and our military becomes threadbare we will need to reach out to our allies and display more than small town toughness.

America and American political life is far more complex than the world of Andrew Jackson. A deep knowledge of history might help her understand that, but she won't have time to basically go back to college while she's learning how to be VP. Now she may crafty enough to see through the navigate the treacherous waters of DC politics, but if all she has is country vigor her chances of seeing through the backstabbing flatterers who'll be looking to tear her down from day 1 are not good.

Thankfully she is a harder-worker than Bush, but can she be an effecvtive presidenr if need be?

Truth said...

"Obama is an affirmative action
candidate, probably wouldn't have
been Harvard educated without
that black magic, and doesn't
strike me as all that smart
either....

"You people are nuts if you think that Obambi is anything other than a grossly underqualified quota hire who is in way, way, way over his head."

Ah, the dreaded 'afirmative action', and 'quota' blasts (sigh) once again! How incredibly dull. Of course you are pooh-poohing the academic record of a Magana Cum Laude law graduate of the generally accepted, world's greatest university in favor of that of a man who graduated 894th in his class at Navy WITH A FATHER AND A GRANDFATHER WHO WERE ADMIRALS! A man who's post college record includes a show-off incident which caused the death of 135 of his shipmates and the loss of 17 planes, 5 lost planes and who's greatest accomplishment is getting captured and then squealing like a stuck pig.

If Obama is in over his head (and he is) McCain is at the bottom of the atlantic with leg shackles on.

Anonymous said...

Our present political system, with the ruthlessness of the media and the great cost of running a campaign, means that Presidential candidates will have to subject themselves and their families to Big Brother-like surveillance and will have to spend half their time fund raising for the better of two years. And remember they had to be politicians before hand. In shallow, money-obsessed America who cares about public service? The smartest, most capable people realize that they can make more money and get more respect in other fields. Thus we have the dregs in our present candidates.

Anonymous said...

"I guess you're saying that he has picked up his accent the same way Madonna picked up her British accent -- from her husband, his relatives, and friends in England. Yeah, I guess it's not phony at all."

No, I'm sure there's a certain element of calculation involved. If he wanted to fit in with and seem trustworthy to certain groups, he would have needed a certain kind of accent. I don't know if anyone ever took him aside and said, "Here are some tapes of black preachers. Here's Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Here's a voice coach. You've got to sound like them to have a voice in politics. If someone didn't, he's smart enough to have picked it up on his own. But when you live with and among people with a certain accent, you do tend to pick it up yourself unconsciously, particularly if you have an ear for languages. In Obama's case, it might be a combination of both. He chose to marry a black woman from Chicago, to join a black affiliated church, and to immerse himself in this community. He's assumed an accent that fits with his life choices.

I don't necessarily like everything about him, but I prefer his campaign platform to McCain's.

airtommy said...

her ignorance will cause her to believe everything her neocon advisors tell her

Especially since she's already an Evangelical wingnut rather than an actual Christian.

Anonymous said...

truth writes:
"Ah, the dreaded 'afirmative action', and 'quota' blasts (sigh) once again! How incredibly dull. Of course you are pooh-poohing the academic record of a Magana Cum Laude law graduate of the generally accepted, world's greatest university in favor of that of a man who graduated 894th in his class at Navy WITH A FATHER AND A GRANDFATHER WHO WERE ADMIRALS!"

No, perhaps you should try reading
what was written. No comparison
with McCain was made by the first anon, except later to say that
none of the candidates appears very bright.

If Obama is anything other than an
affirmative action boy, why
doesn't his stellar record show
it? What did he do as the first
poster boy black editor of the Harvard Law review? What is his
record of achievement afterwards?

It's obvious that Obama floated
to where he is on account of being
Halfrican, and on having some
skill as a sly manipulator, but
his decisions, when he makes them
appear flaky.

There's no doubt that McCain stinks too, so I guess we truly
do get to choose our poison this
year!

Anonymous said...

"A man who's post college record includes a show-off incident which caused the death of 135 of his shipmates and the loss of 17 planes, 5 lost planes"

Show off incident? I am pretty sure you are referring to the missile accident on that carrier, was it not from another plane that was shot into McCain's plane. Hardly his fault or indeed the result of anyone showing off, it was just bad drills on someone's part.

James Kabala said...

Davenport et al.: There's a big difference between rational analysis of crime rates and "deep dark Tarzan mumbo jungle voodoo fear of the black man's masculinity." A prudent person will take into account the former, but I, like our anonymous friend, do not and have never felt the latter. That's not because I'm so great and courageous - I would probably feel quite afraid of any larger person who made a move to physically attack me or walked into my office with a cohort of thuggish friends (particularly in the days before metal detectors), but not because of his race.

Daniel Larison has a rosier view of community organizers: http://www.amconmag.com/larison/2008/09/06/continuity-2 (Being undecided on the subject myself, I also posted a link to Sailer's piece there.)

Martin said...

"Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin comes from the top welfare state in America, and when she was there she wholeheartedly participated in the leeching process. She supported the Bridge To Nowhere, and sought earmarks aggressively."

It wasn't a bridge to nowhere. It was a bridge to the airport. Airport - not nowhere.

"She's now running on the slogan "Country First", yet when she was in Alaska she wanted to secede from the USA."

I don't think that's true. And, anyway, so? I'd love to have a secessionist as President. (of course, she isn't running for President)

Truth said...

"If Obama is anything other than an
affirmative action boy, why
doesn't his stellar record show
it?"

Does every 'underachiever' from Harvard get there through A-A? Even the white ones?

"Hardly his fault or indeed the result of anyone showing off, it was just bad drills on someone's part."

Not according to his shipmates or Navy investigators.

http://rockcreekfreepress.tumblr.
com/post/35321150/navy-releases-
mccains-records

It is widely believed that the fire was started when McCain "wet started" his his jet, which from what I discern from my limited knowledge of aeronautics is a show off technique which deliberately causes a large flame to shoot from the back of a jet. It is said that 135 sailors died as a result, and if this is true, just think about it; our next president has probably killed more white men than any black man who's ever lived.

"It wasn't a bridge to nowhere. It was a bridge to the airport. Airport - not nowhere."

The airport is serviced by a ferry which runs to the island every half hour year round, and every 15 minutes, all day long, during May-September tourist season.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Gravina_Island_Bridge

Martin said...

"Truth said...

The airport is serviced by a ferry which runs to the island every half hour year round, and every 15 minutes, all day long, during May-September tourist season."

Okay, so there was absolutely no point in building the Golden Gate Bridge, as there was already a ferry that ran from San Francisco to Marin.

By the way, I'm not defending this particular piece of pork, I'm just saying there was at least some reason for it.

headache said...

Hey Martin,
Arguing with "The Truth" is like banging your head against a brick wall. He always has something to retort, no matter how silly. The thing to realise is that its all about Obama. "Truth" just badly wants Obama to become prez. so he'll whittle off any nonsense just to tie you up. They must have hundreds of these Dem bots out there.

rast said...

I'm getting awfully tired of the relentless shilling for Kang and Kodos by their bots "Truth" and "testing99" (formerly "Evil Neocon"). Funny though, they never seem to attack each other directly.

Bill said...

Ian said...

As a twenty-year resident of the City by the Bay, it bugs me when people take a stereotyped view of how they imagine it to be.

1. The big tough bloods still have plenty of clout, on the streets if not in the city government

2. On weekend nights, to my eyes, the gay men of the city are generally more partial to designer leisurewear or black leather than "dresses and makeup"


Yeah, I was being a bit facetious. But you have to admit that the brothers have been, for the most part, driven out of town.

As for teasing gays about the drag thing -- I can't help it. My dad used to live in an apartment above a gay bar that had drag shows every Friday evening (which is when I'd visit him). Hard to forget those tall, rawboned "ladies" with bulging calves and adam's apples.

As far as who has clout on the street, you know that's the SFPD. I'd rather tangle with some hood than those guys.

Truth said...

"Okay, so there was absolutely no point in building the Golden Gate Bridge, as there was already a ferry that ran from San Francisco to Marin."

Somehow, I think there may be 15-20 more people daily making the San Francisco-Marin trip.

"Funny though, they never seem to attack each other directly."

Yup, and you never see Superman and Clark Kent together in the same place, I think you're on to something BuddyBoy!

none of the above said...

Of course, the issue isn't being intimidated by blacks, but rather by black thugs. And the operative thing here is that:

a. Thugs are intimidating to most people, because most of us aren't all that great at violence. This is not racial at all--the Hells Angels, MS13, and the Russian Mafia are all full of genuinely intimidating folks. Back when they were notable concerns in the US, the Irish and Jewish mafias were no doubt also full of dangerous, intimidating guys.

b. It was politically and socially really hard to deal with black/brown thugs in that time and place, because of the surrounding history--particularly the times the cops had beat hell out of peaceful protesters.

As a short-term strategy for making black and brown thugs better off or for keeping the lid on riots, this was probably workable, especially since the only people really inconvenienced were disposable flak catchers and distant unknowing taxpayers. As a long-term strategy for helping black and brown non-thugs integrate into the market economy around them, it was a nightmarish disaster, on a par with the Great Leap Forward.

Unfortunately, programs and projects run on their own internal logic, all the way from the voters who usually don't know quite what they're voting for to the congressmen who aren't too sure what they're doing (and have bad reasons for doing it) to the bureaucrats and judges who run the programs, all the way down to the thugs who found a non-sustainable way to both get a few quick bucks and have fun intimidating people.