Nope, no racism on display at all

Jonathan Chait wrote a long piece for New York magazine the other day which came to what I thought was an odd conclusion: race is a subtext for Republican opposition to everything President Obama has tried to do, but it’s not the principal reason for it. In fact, Chait says,

It may be true that, at the level of electoral campaign messaging, conservatism and white racial resentment are functionally identical. It would follow that any conservative argument is an appeal to white racism. That is, indeed, the all-but-explicit conclusion of the ubiquitous Atwater Rosetta-stone confession: Republican politics is fundamentally racist, and even its use of the most abstract economic appeal is a sinister, coded missive.

Impressive though the historical, sociological, and psychological evidence undergirding this analysis may be, it also happens to be completely insane. Whatever Lee Atwater said, or meant to say, advocating tax cuts is not in any meaningful sense racist.

Oh, I don’t know. Look at who benefits from the kind of tax cuts Republicans always push: rich white people.

Jamelle Bouie, however, has written a much more serious rebuttal to Chait than my single sentence there. He looks at the same paragraph I quote up there and comes to a more apposite conclusion:

What’s odd about the argument is that Chait clearly shows the extent to which conservatism–even if it isn’t “racist”–works to entrench racial inequality through “colorblindness” and pointed opposition to the activist state. But rather than take that to its conclusion, he asks us to look away: “Impressive though the historical, sociological, and psychological evidence undergirding this analysis may be, it also happens to be completely insane. Whatever Lee Atwater said, or meant to say, advocating tax cuts is not in any meaningful sense racist.”

Read the whole thing.

Dental trauma

I had to go see the periodontist today. His office and my regular dentist’s office have a good racket going. I’m supposed to see each of them every six months, and they’ve worked between them to ensure that I go no more than three months without seeing one or the other of them.

Anyway, the hygienist nattered at me about gum recession, saying fluoride would help, but our water doesn’t have it. The loonies have managed to persuade our legislators that we’ll all die if our water is fluoridated. So I have several teeth whose gums are receding down to root level. Thanks, loonies!

She painted all my teeth with a fluoride goo and told me that the mouthwash I’ve been using isn’t the right one for flouride — I need Listerine’s Total Care product, not the Cool Mint antiseptic stuff I’ve been using. She also made me wonder about Crest toothpaste, which I’ve been using for as long as I’ve been brushing my teeth. I checked. The variety I use has fluoride.

Then I drove home, turned around and took Mom down to the corner to pick up her new glasses.

I hope y’all had a quieter Monday than that.

I got it!

Figuring out bidding strategy at eBay took me a few days. I opened my bid on this 19-year-old instrument on about the second day it had been listed, meaning there were five more days for someone to outbid me, and that’s what happened. But I noticed with other items that bids kept coming till the last possible moment before the auction closed, so I kept an eye on it. Today it got to the point where there were fifteen minutes left on the clock and the highest bid was still well within my range, so I put in a new maximum bid. I beat the other bidders by about $1.50; apparently they hadn’t set maximum bids which would automatically be incremented if new bids were placed.

Now I have to get a book which will show and tell me how to play dulcimer.


Thank you, Houston Chronicle!

We could not get the answer to this jumble in the March 28 edition of our paper, and we inadvertently tossed the 3/29 edition which had the answer. Worse, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser doesn’t put its crosswords or other puzzles online. They appear in print only.


If the syndicator of the puzzle, Tribune Media Services, has an archive function on the game’s website I couldn’t find it.

Fortunately for me, the Houston Chronicle does put its jumble online with an archive, so I found the damned answer. It was driving us crazy.

Why Arizona’s politics seem insane

Someone has finally attempted to explain to us non-residents of the 48th state just how and why it has shifted so far to the right politically that it has nearly shot itself in the foot economically several times over the past few years.

In a weird way, it was good intentions that did it, says James Oliphant at National Journal. How so?

The clean-elections law was supposed to minimize the influence of big business and outside groups. Term limits were intended to rein in so-called professional politicians.

The trouble with the clean elections plan was that it forbade candidates from accepting any private money at all and compensated for that by lowering the bar for getting public money to $1,000 made up of 200 $5 contributions. As you can imagine, a whole lot of people decided they were perfectly competent to run for the state Legislature.

The measure benefited fringe candidates who had a harder time raising money through traditional means like PACs and corporate money—and it gave them enough support to survive against a better-funded challenger, particularly in GOP primaries.

As to term limits, they forced long-time legislators out and made room for the fringe people who now had a way in because of the public financing.

And what a fringe it has been! It’s given the state SB 1070, the “show your papers” law of 2010, and more recently SB 1062, the bill which would have exempted any business from laws against discrimination if it felt its right to exercise its religion was burdened by those laws.

The whole thing is fascinating, particularly for those of us who have lived in that beautiful place and have been asking ourselves “what the hell is going on there these days?”

They’re only dollars searching for good homes


Click to enlarge

Justice Roberts is either bought and paid for by billionaire donors to the Republican party or horribly naive. I don’t think he’s naive.

Here’s Dahlia Lithwick:

Really, it’s weird. The man takes the Metro to work, and yet he handily dismisses what every human American knows to be true: That if dollars are speech, and billions are more speech, then billionaires who spend money don’t do so for the mere joy of making themselves heard, but because it offers them a return on their investment. We. All. Know. This. So how can the chief justice blithely assume the following:

Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner “influence over or access to” elected officials or political parties.

And since the chief can find no evidence of silky burlap sacks lying around with the Koch brothers’ monogram on them, it must follow that there is no corruption—or appearance of corruption—afoot.

Like I said, I don’t believe he’s that naive.

Oversubscribed after all

The news that the Affordable Care Act, despite its early malfunctions, still managed to acquire 7 million “customers” has predictably driven the Republicans even further round the bend about it than before. I have no sympathy. They never offered an alternative, they have repeatedly voted to repeal it, and they refused to work with Democrats in Congress when it was being written. They are the most worthless excuse for a political party I’ve seen since, well, never.

As Jonathan Chait says pithily, the train did not wreck.

Will that finally settle the Republicans’ hash? Not hardly. They’re going to continue to screech about it for months to come.

To be sure, the critics are clinging desperately to scraps of hope. Some of the customers haven’t paid their first premium yet! (True, but most of them have no reason to pay before their first bill is due.) Most of the sign-ups were already insured! (No, that’s a measure that includes off-exchange sign-ups, which include lots of rollovers from the pre-Obamacare market. States that ask have found 80 to 90 percent of new exchange customers were previously uninsured.)

What it boils down to is differing philosophies of government: Democrats want to help people, Republicans want to help themselves.

The buyer was a nitwit

A while back I bought a pound of Italian sausage for use on pizzas. I’d bought it before, of course, but the difference this time was that I bought it ground rather than in links. Then I put the whole package in the freezer without thinking about how annoying it was going to be to break off just the amount of sausage required for one pizza.

Seeing that at 4:00pm caused me to change my menu plans for the evening. I am not in the mood to try to break up a pound of Italian sausage. We’ll have hot dogs and canned chili instead.

New instrument search

Who has the scoop on mountain dulcimers? I feel like learning a new instrument, and dulcimers have a nice sound, are fairly inexpensive and look pretty easy to learn.

I have one friend on Facebook who plays the instrument. I figure I’ll be surprised if anyone else I know does, but it would be an amusing surprise.

Addendum: Here’s a rather famous singer performing one of her early songs on a mountain dulcimer.