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Jumping the racism shark with Obama

Finally, somebody who's not an unperson or an enemy of the people noticed how the Obama campaign is manipulating the toxic charge of racism. Kudos to Kevin Drum for speaking out:

[T]he current attempts to tar Hillary as a racist have gone way, way over the top. They're revolting. Back before the South Carolina primary, the Clinton campaign and its surrogates really did seem to be making a few too many racially charged comments for it to be just a coincidence (though even then some of the accusations were bogus), but after South Carolina it pretty much stopped. I can't say whether it stopped for reasons of politics or reasons of principle, but it stopped.

But the accusations of racism haven't. They've just gotten more ridiculous. Last week a commenter at Daily Kos claimed that the Clinton campaign had concocted an ad that deliberately darkened Obama's face (to make him scarier) and changed the image's aspect ratio (to make his nose broader). They hadn't. After a 60 Minutes appearance, Hillary got slammed for supposedly implying the Obama might be a Muslim. As Eric Boehlert points out, this is patently absurd. Then, a couple of days ago, a legion of bloggers started locking onto the inane meme that talk of Obama as Hillary's VP was like asking him to "ride in the back of the bus." Finally, today, Orlando Patterson, in an apparent attempt to make parody obsolete, writes that when he saw Hillary's "3 am" ad, "I couldn't help but think of D. W. Griffith's 'Birth of a Nation,' the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society." Hell, even I fell for the racism meme a couple of weeks ago, getting suckered into passing along a Drudge slander about Hillary's campaign supposedly circulating a photo of Obama in "Muslim" garb.

Hey, look at that. An honorable retraction, and I mean that completely without irony. Few and far between these days, as the Obama 527 that used to be Daily Kos circles the bowl on its way toward freeperdom.*

Of course, now that the ______ ers have spread the racist toxin far and wide, it's going to be hard to clean it all up, if indeed it's even possible. Or that they want to.

Because, as Davidon points out, Obama's now pushing the ____ er smear that the Clintons are racist all by his eloquent self:

[OBAMA] When in the midst of a campaign you decide to throw the kitchen sink at your opponent because you’re behind,” he said, “and your campaign starts leaking photographs of me when I’m traveling overseas wearing the native clothes of those folks to make people afraid...

Four hard questions for you, Kevin:

You say that the story about Hillary's campaign circulating a photo of Obama in "Muslim" garb is a "Drudge slander" that you got "suckered" into.

But Obama says it's true on the stump in MS.

1. Who's right? You, or Obama?

2. If Obama is repeating a Drudge smear, what does that say about his judgement?

3. Now that we've talked about racism, when can we talk about misogyny?

4. What will it take to make you rethink your support for Obama?

NOTE * Hey, I wish Kos would straighten out the issues he's got with his brand (assuming he thinks his brand even has issues). But being silent about such things isn't the way to move him forward to a solution, unfortunately. The process is called feedback.

No votes yet


myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

When I first heard Russert’s debate question about Farrakhan I thought it was ridiculous and unfair.

But then when Obama started reusing the “hoodwinked” and “bamboozled” lines from the Malcolm X movie, it clicked.

He’s been accused of plagiarism for using those lines. Now he’s using them again. In front of predominantly black audiences.

The movie was a portrayal of a member of the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan’s group. Most young people have no memory of Malcom X, they are only familiar with the movie.

He’s dogwhistling.

Here's the part of the movie Obama keeps riffing from:

"I’m gonna tell you like it really is. Every election year these politicians are sent up here to pacify us! They’re sent here and setup here by the White Man!

This is what they do!

They send drugs in Harlem down here to pacify us!

They send alcohol down here to pacify us!

They send prostitution down here to pacify us!

Why you can’t even get drugs in Harlem without the White Man’s permission!

You can’t get prostitution in Harlem without the White Man’s permission!

You can’t get gambling in Harlem without the White Man’s permission!

Every time you break the seal on that liquor bottle, that’s a Government seal you’re breaking!

Oh, I say and I say it again, ya been had!

Ya been took!

Ya been hoodwinked!


Led astray!

Run amok!"

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

(Note to self: sign up for Obama detox program stat)

In addition to falsely charging racism in an outrageously* absurd fashion--even by national staff--the Obama camp has also explicitly race-baited itself.

In Nevada, a UNITE-HERE a pro-Obama union ran an absolutely heinous ad in Spanish calling Senator Clinton "shameless" (a most foul charge in Latino culture, especially when applied to a woman), accusing her of attempting to disenfranchise Latino voters, and one who doesn't "respect" Latinos ("nuestra gente" in Spanish universally refers to Latinos as a people, rather than a generic group). Mind you, this was mere days after the Las Vegas debate in which Obama, after having been confronted with the SC memo, vowed to not engage in racialized politics: "It is my responsibility to make sure that we're setting a clear tone in our campaign, and I take that responsibility very seriously." So how did they react to calls by Clinton and Edwards to denounce the ad? The Obama camp refused to.

Where's the outrage? Hell, where's the attention? If we're going to blast Geraldine Ferraro, someone who herself stated that she got the VP slot in '84 due to gender, then let's, at least, apply these standards of "concern" over any "pattern" equally. Only when caught by Russert did Obama ever apologize. Every other incident listed in my comment has never resulted in Obama apologizing, let alone firing anyone.

And yes, I agree, the damage seems here to stay; it does feel like the political equivalent of the Exxon Valdez.

Note: In addition to race, Obama has run an ugly** campaign.

*Click on on the video, "Bill Clinton rebukes media," for the full exchange.
**A must-link to counter any "Barack is good, Hillary is evil"-type person in your life.

OxyCon's picture
Submitted by OxyCon on

Obama is cribbing the following lines from that anti-White screed:

"That's what they do"
"They try to bamboozle you"
"Hoodwink ya"
"They try to hoodwink ya"

Also, don't you just love how Mr. Hope and Unity is trying to win this election by trying to destroy the most successful Democratic President in the past 40 years, and his wife, by branding them as racists?

This is why I've said before, I will never, under any circumstance, vote for Obama. For me he has committed an unforgivable sin by using the most despicable tactics imaginable in order to destroy President and Hillary Clinton.
The reason I have even gotten involved in politics was because I got sick and tired of watching the Repubs bash President Clintons brains in night after night. I sure as hell am not going to vote for some shallow, ambitious nobody who does it. I don't care if that makes the Obamatons angry. I could care less.

Submitted by lambert on

Shit, it's a movie.

But yes, trying to render the Clinton's toxic with charges of racism makes them useless in the general. Sure, Hillary threw an elbow with the 3AM ad, but it's standard stuff. The racism and the Hillary Hatred is a unique combination, I think. Except, I hasten to add, among the Republicans to whom it appeals...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

Got a link on it? I hope the Spanish version? That's definitely the last nail in the coffin that it's Obama's overzealous supporters who are doing the misogyny thing, so that would be good to set the record straight on.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

kc's picture
Submitted by kc on

--It seems that charges of racism emerge from his campaign, and these dog whistles after he has lost an important primary (New Hampshire, now Ohio and Texas). Not sure if this is totally accurate, but could this be his campaign's way of generating media attention/sympathy before another contest?

--What really bothers me is that BO is destroying the Clinton's reputation with some, and no doubt, making the secret service work harder.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I can only speak from experience.* Even though I was born here, my parents are both Latin immigrants and I spent my adolescence in Chile. "Sinverguenza" (without shame) is a deep insult--especially to a woman (think: loose morals). I hardly know anyone, either from Latin America or recently immigrated (i.e. those most likely to speak Spanish and understand its cultural translation; those targeted by this ad), who doesn't consider it the way I described.**

It is not simply "shameless." Latino culture is firmly rooted in honor--respect and dignity. Virtues (and vices) carry much more weight with us (e.g., respect, cowardice). Women and girls are especially, if not uniquely, held to "moral" standards, as it not only affects them but also their family's sense of honor. Thus, the insult is on par with fighting words: if anyone called my sister "una sinverguenza" it would be like someone punching my father and I in the face. And my family is not that conservative; we're well within the mainstream. Considering most NV Latin naturalized citizens are Mexican, their national culture is certainly no more liberal than ours.

If the Obama camp didn't know, they should've.

*For the life of me, I'm can't find links that show its cultural underpinnings.
**There is another Corrente reader, a Colombiano (Charles Lemos?), who considered the equivalent to be "fucking whore."

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

This advertisement ran in Las Vegas and Reno a couple of days before the Nevada caucuses, and raised quite a stir on several accounts. One was that it was paid for by a 527 Pac fronting for the UNITE HERE labor union, when Obama had been slamming Edwards for not repudiating 527 support. Second, it used insulting language to attack Clinton, after Obama had joined Clinton and Edwards in a pledge to keep the tone civil.

Worst of all, by far, was the language itself. My Hispanic friends here, middle-aged, Catholic, conservative Democrats (voted for Ahnold, some things do not compute) were scandalized. It is gutter language, the kind you would never use in polite company and certainly not language that should be directed to someone of Senator Clinton’s social status. As Davidson says, these are fighting words.

The ad text in Spanish, from UNITE HERE per Politico:

Hillary Clinton no respeta a nuestra gente los partidarios de Hillary Clinton fueron a corte para evitar que la gente que trabaja pueda votar este sábado, eso es vergonzoso. Los partidarios de Hillary Clinton quieren evitar que la gente que trabaja el sábado pueda votar en sus lugares de empleo. ¡Imperdonable! Hillary Clinton no tiene vergüenza.

Hillary Clinton no debería permitir que sus amigos ataquen el derecho de nuestra gente de votar este sábado. Es imperdonable! No hay respeto el senador Barack Obama esta defendiendo nuestro derecho de votar.

El senador Barack Obama quiere nuestros votos, el respeta nuestros votos, nuestra comunidad y a nuestra gente. El lema de la campaña de Barrack Obama es “sí se puede, si se puede”. Vote por un presidente que nos respeta y respeta nuestro derecho de votar. Obama para presidente. Si se puede.

Pagada por UNITE HERE. [Énfasis añadido]

And in English:

Hillary Clinton does not respect our people. Hillary Clinton supporters went to court to prevent working people to vote this Saturday — that is an embarrassment.

Hillary Clinton supporters want to prevent people from voting in their workplace on Saturday. This is unforgivable. Hillary Clinton is shameless. Hillary Clinton should not allow her friends to attack our people’s right to vote this Saturday. This is unforgivable; there’s no respect

Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote. Sen. Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people.

Sen. Obama’s campaign slogan is ”Yes We Can”. Vote for a president that respects us, and that respects our right to vote. Obama for president, ”Yes We Can”.

Paid for by UNITE HERE Campaign Committee

Which, setting aside the lies, doesn’t sound all that bad – in English. But in Spanish, very bad indeed. The parts in the Spanish text where the cultural distinctions are important are in bold.

”Hillary Clinton respeta a nuestra gente” translates loosely as “Hillary Clinton does not respect our people.” But in Spanish, nuestra gente refers specifically and exclusively to Hispanics. UNITE HERE is a service worker’s union made up of all races, and if the statement referred to the membership it would have been “nuestra unión.” Instead, it was a condemnation based on race alone; it accuses Hillary of being a racist.

This terminology is the worst of it: “eso es vergonzoso” and “no tiene vergüenza.” “Vergonzoso” is translated here as “shameful” and “vergüenza” as shameless, but they are both much more powerful and derogatory. This is shameless as in sluttish or wanton, as bad as it gets when putting down a woman’s character. If an ad like that had run in Latin America or Spain, Bill Clinton would have been justified in physically attacking Obama to avenge his wife’s honor – it’s that bad.

The ad repeatedly accuses Hillary of not “respecting” and this is another term that carries great weight in Latin culture, where personal and community honor are serious business and giving affront can get you sliced and diced in a hurry. Accusing Hillary of being disrespectful as well as shameless paints her in the worst possible light.

Finally, here’s Edwards on the subject:

The radio ad was at one time available on several sites but I can’t find it now. No idea if that’s meaningful.

RedSox04's picture
Submitted by RedSox04 on

I don't know if it's Obama or if it's Axelrod or if it's someone else in his campaign (at some point you just have to say Obama = the actions and decisions of his campaign) but clearly Obama decided at some point around the New Hampshire primary that he was going to paint Hillary Rodham Clinton as a racist.

Now if you're an Obama partisan, you can claim that this was a preemptive attempt to defuse the race card (although his recent actions in replaying that card-- rehashing the discredited report (from Drudge no less) that HRC had sent out this Obama in Somalian dress photo as a racist measure); and in attacking relatively benign Ferraro comments as Hillary racism).

But two observations strike me:

1) The more Obama plays this card, the more he becomes the boy who cried wolf, which will play a little bit to Hillary's favor, but will play hugely in favor of McCain and the GOP, who we can expect would launch clearly racist attacks against Obama (as opposed to these claims that fairly inscrutable and at least arguably benign statements are "racist").

2) I expect you will start seeing a backlash. It may not really take form until the general election, but I think Obama is starting to shape his own narrative as a race baiter here. And while that may get him the Dem nomination, I suspect it will be toxic for his Republican/Indie support (which is, after all, the major reason for his current lead in the primary), who see him as a racially transcendent figure (with centrist/libertarian and appropriately anti-government tendencies).

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

In response to a comment on another blog, I never said Obama was a racist.

I said he was dogwhistling to racists.

But it does beg the question.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

Somebody I know looked into the "shameless" charge and concluded there wasn't anything to it. He talked to several native Spanish speakers who said it wasn't considered an insult except one guy from Mexico who told him that some old people would consider it insulting, but nobody else does.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I absolutely disagree that there's not "anything to it" or it's not an insult. When even English-speaking people can use "shameless" to insult others you can rest assure a more conservative culture would as well. This word is, at the very least, insulting. And not just the elderly think so; even my little nephew knows it's a slam.

Cenobite, are your Spanish-speaking acquaintances American-raised? That could be the source of our differences (even then I'm hard pressed to think they don't consider it derogatory). Since this ad is in Spanish, the intended target would be those who have cultural ties similar to mine.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

In fact it was easy for me to believe it was true given the misogyny firehose that the Obama campaign is using.

What I'm saying is that I have a report from a very reliable source that he tried to back this up and couldn't.

Let's make sure we're right before we run with this, we are the reality-based community after all.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I do worry that Obama's racial politics has the potential to backfire in two ways: 1) if he is the nominee, that having painted Hillary a racist, he will be unable to as successfully complain about what are likely to be truly racist attacks from the GOP in the Fall. I think RedSox04 is right, the more he calls everything racist, even those things that seem not to be, the less power the charge has and the less credibility he will have in employing it in the future, and 2) if Hillary is the nominee, that having falsely painted her as a racist, the African American vote will be depressed in November.

Or perhaps he doesn't care about #2 and sees it as a bonus, either being able to threaten SDs with the potential for low AA turnout if he's not the nominee, or basically force Hillary to put him on the ticket if she's the nominee (and I know he's said he wouldn't be interested, but he's lying).

As for a backlash, I keep waiting for it, but so long as nobody points out the lies, I doubt it will happen. Apparently CNN was running Axelrod's statement that Hillary wasn't standing up against the Muslim smear, but not calling him out on it or at least showing the 60 Minutes piece so viewers could make up their own minds. Given that Axelrod didn't specifically mention 60 Minutes, if I weren't paying such close attention, I wouldn't have known that was what he was referring to.

And those are good questions for Drum. But they're probably useless, he still wants Clinton out even if his candidate of choice is race baiting.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

There's a link in this CBS story on the ad -

It has occurred to me that the perfect Karma for running this ad would be to replace "Hillary Clinton" with "Barack Obama" and run it in Florida where Obama, who was so very concerned about hispanic voting rights in Nevada, is trying to ensure Florida is not represented at the Democratic Convention. Talk Left has great coverage on this issue (

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

I agree with cenobite about the "shameless" charge, which I also checked out with several of my Spanish-speaking friends, two who are Mexican-Americans, and one, an immigrant from El Salvador.

That doesn't mean that the ad wasn't quite nasty and accusatory, but its point, that Hillary Clinton and her campaign are anti-Hispanic, was up front and center. All three of my friends found the text shocking, because all three are admirers of both Clintons. It appears to have had a similar effect on the voters of Nevada.

There is plenty to criticize about the Obama campaign's use of "race" without looking for the kind of pointing out of hidden racism, or the eternal search for the sound of dog whistles, that has become tObama & co's forte.

Lambert is absolutely right to brush aside the issue of using text from Malcolm X. Look, this is the kind of exercise that we are complaining about when done by the Obama campaign.

To characterize references to Malcolm X as simply a reverse racism aimed at white America is silly. The referenced speech was written for the film, although it is true that Malcolm gave speeches that were close in rhetoric and analysis, and the speech itself was screaming a terrible truth. Nor is Malcolm, in real life and in the movie, still conceived of as the other side of white racism; his story and his legacy are much more complex than that.

On the other hand, I don't see why a black candidate can't invoke something about the African-American past in this country without being accused of appealing to racism. Would that Obama was more comfortable doing that, although he is in his first book, "Dreams From My Father."

In fact, I agree with comments made by Paul L in another thread, that the Obama campaign's accusations of racism on the part of the Clintons are part of a desire to inoculate him against charges of being a "race man," i.e, the kind of charge leveled every other day or so, in rightwing discourse, against the likes of Jesse Jackson and every member of the congressional black caucus. And note the campaign's contemptuous attitude to Rev. Jackson; where was the "insult" in comparing the "good" campaign hed waged in South Carolina in the eighties with the good one that Obama had just waged in the same state? Why is the Obama campaign acting as though the wide support for him among African-Americans is somehow an example of racism when pointed out. African-Americans owe no one, no other American, no other American groups, any explanations about their support for Barack Obama; they've spent decades voting for white folks; that large majorities of black voters support a "black" presidential candidate who has not merely put together a credible campaign, but so far, the winning one, requires no explanations that invoke identity politics. So, why is the Obama crew acting as though it does? In order to be able to accuse the Clintons of being racists?

Lambert, what do you make of Kevin's final assertion that Clinton has no way to win and that he wishes she would drop out? Is there something about the nomination process I'm not understanding? I think I'll do a post asking this question so we can start a separate thread on it.

Submitted by lambert on

... it would be nice to have a link to the "Somebody I know...." thing (or equivalent analysis from some third party). I'm no expert in Spanish, and it could almost be that we're getting dogwhistling in Spanish, where the older generation gets it and the younger, American-raised generation doesn't. For pity's sake.


I think the backlash is in the votes. Our famously free press isn't covering it, nor are the Boyz On The Blogs* but it's there. (Could it be a reason why they're always wrong?)


Of course, the real way to use the movie would be to run the "Obama? He's black?" riff, and then point out he's got to go to a movie for his black power rhetoric (or hire Axelrod to hire a consultant who did the same thing). But that's the least of our worries.

Regarding your question on Kevin:

Lambert, what do you make of Kevin’s final assertion that Clinton has no way to win and that he wishes she would drop out?

I think we're seeing all the classic symptoms of cognitive dissonance here. That's why I asked:

1. Who’s right? You, or Obama?

2. If Obama is repeating a Drudge smear, what does that say about his judgement?

4. What will it take to make you rethink your support for Obama?

Because apparently getting "suckered" by Drudge isn't enough. How is that different from George Romney getting "brainwashed" about VietNam back in the day? And Kevin thinks Hillary should drop out because Obama repeats the smears of his own _____ ers? Smears that Kevin himself admits are false? Like you, I'm seeing a logical disconnect.

NOTE * Ritual Eschaton disclaimer.

UPDATE We're seeing two credible (to me, anyhow) groups of people, and one is saying "no tiene vergüenza" is vile, and the other is saying there's nothing there. That argues to me that there is something there -- there aren't any freepers here, just making shit up -- but the exact nature of the something is not clear. I wonder if the audience/membership of the 527 that sponsored it would provide a clue?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

According to Talk Left, Olbermann is preparing an Anti-Clinton special comment apparently calling out her campaign's racism in light of Ferrarro's unfortunate remarks.

If Clinton has no chance at the nomination as Drum suggests, then I don't get all of these attacks on her from the Obaam campaign or its supporters (and, yes, Keith Olbermann is a supporter). Why attack a candidate who can't win?

Joebasic's picture
Submitted by Joebasic on

will become an anti-Hillary commercial used by the GOP against her if she wins the nomination?
After all, as the breathless Obamathon goes on night after night, on MSNBC, with concerned MSNBC hosts, wringing their hands and rubbing their worry beads, fretting on endlessly about how Clinton is hurting the party by daring to attack the Obamessiah. They are deeply concerned, they say, that Hillary is providing ammo for right wing talking points against the Holy One.
Well, what if Hilalry wins?
Can't the same be said in that case?
Thats the problem with pre-selecting a winner.
This thing is far from over.
While Ferraros comments were poorly worded, I think a lot of people got the gist of what she most likely meant to say. People are indeed tired of one of these campaigns playing the race card, and it isn't the Clintons.
Obama seems to also be in an awful hurry to disqualify those Florida and Michigan votes as well.
And finally, I think that a lot of cooler-headed people will resent the tearing down and utter smearing of yet another powerful Democratic woman.
Another Democratic pioneer, indeed the first woman VP candidate, being savaged along with Hillary. Savaged not by republicans, but by Democrats.
There is a backlash building out there, I just hope enough people will wake up in time.
The so-called progressive movement is going to have an awful lot of soul searching to do after this.
Also, I highly reccommend this post:

It is an excellent read.
Recovered DU member

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

To get enough pledged delegates to get over the top? I doubt it, but I don't have the numbers in front of me.

If neither of them can secure the nomination prior to the convention, I don't see why either of them should drop out, and this is just the Obama campaign doing the Haka.

Submitted by lambert on

That's what BTD has been saying for months.

And the "rules are rules" argument is totally specious, because the rules have rules to change the rules.

It's all deeply bogus framing. The delegates are gong to be close, the popular vote is going to be close, and Obama's painted himself into a corner on MI and FL. The superdelegates are going to use their judgment, as the rules and Howard Dean say that they should. Hey, what could go wrong, except for some fo the OFB setting Denver on fire.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

A. Citizen's picture
Submitted by A. Citizen on

....with the notable exception of 'The Boys on the Blogs' are coming to the, sadly, late realization that Obama is a fifth columnist. He is doing his job attacking and weakening the progressive faction of the Democratic Party from within. For those who don't know I will repeat again:

Progressive Punch 'Chips are Down' rating for each:

Obama ranks 41st in the Senate

Clinton 17th

Clinton acts in her capacity as Senator in a far more progressive fashion than Obama ever has.

Now, what has Obama accomplished so far in this primary:

Driven John Edwards from the race.

Portrayed Clinton as a racist.

Is attempting to disenfranchise MI and FL voters.

Split the Democratic Party.


Cui Bono?

Republicans. The ReichWing. 'Conservatives' of every stripe. Obama is wrecking the Democratic Party from the inside and no one can get this fact through the waves of static surrounding the whole issue.

And you notice the careful positioning he's done to forestall the Super Delegates from doing their jobs by calling him on his....

...efforts to wreck the party.

He's also done a great job splitting the blogosphere into factions. Of course Kos, Bowers et. al. did yeoman work in helping that happen.

Ah well, better to sort out the folks with functioning minds from the fan boys now.

Before the real fight begins.

A. Citizen

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

The ad was an attack on Hillary for being anti-Hispanic; that was the message of the radio ad. The up-front message.

Dog whistles are called that because they can't be heard by human ears, only by the enhanced hearing enjoyed by canines. The three people I asked to comment on the ad, by listening to it and then by reading the Spanish text found that the message was clearly an attack on Hillary that they found noxious, but not because of some particularly special meaning in the Spanish. I thought and continue to think that the ad was over the top, way over.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Thanks, cenobite, really needed that one today.

On the off chance that I have overstayed my welcome on this planet, I did a survey of the local hip young Latino community here in NorCal by the simple expedient of walking across the street from my mother's house and talking with the Norteño gang-bangers. (I’ve known them since they were kids, my mother and their grandmother were great friends, they keep their business off the street and they look after my Mom – they tease her, that she’s an honorary gangsta, but the truth is everyone in this town knows they have her back and nobody would dare give her any grief – so we have no problem with them.)

They tell me it is a generational thing, that “No tiene vergüenza” and similar phrasing is commonly used by Hispanic youth, as “bitch” and “ho” get thrown around by other youth these days. Still, they were emphatic that they would never use the phrase to describe someone older, and especially they would not dare to use it in front of their parents – and these guys are in their 30’s. Leah is correct about the dog-whistle, there was no code involved; this was right out in the open, in-your-face rude.

It’s about respect. The gangstas agreed that using it in a radio ad about someone like Clinton was openly disrespectful to her, and that they would never tolerate it being used against their own mother. They speculate that the ad may have been written by someone trying to sound hip, a gangsta wanna-be or someone older trying to sound cool to the younger crowd. Another benefit of the Obama youth movement, degradation of the language; thanks ever so.

As to the 527, they ran a TV ad a couple of days later that was totally clean, and at least according to the news here they had gotten a lot of grief from Hispanic community leaders so maybe they listened. From what I remember, neither Obama's staff nor The One himself ever repudiated the language.

So there it is, on contemporary Hispanic youth slang; I’m old enough to be irrelevant, but still young enough to recognize it. The worst, it would seem, of both worlds.

Submitted by lambert on

... between a hard hit and a foul. I can classify it either way, where "slam" is a hard hit.

But when bringiton says:

The gangstas agreed that using it in a radio ad about someone like Clinton was openly disrespectful to her, and that they would never tolerate it being used against their own mother.

that puts it over the line to "foul" for me. In fact, I share the gang-bangers views in this regard, which is one reason I'm so pissed (which took me a lot longer to figure out than it should have, will Doctor Freud please pick up the white courtesy phone).

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Anglachel (thanks to Corrente for linking to this blogger and giving me someone new to read) has a post expounding on a Shakespear's Sister post regarding how ubiquitous it is in our society to see disembodied female body parts and discussing it in relation to Hillary's campaign. See

The point that struck me with its truth is how much male fury is directed towards women who won't bend to their will. That all of these guys - in the media and on the blogs - are furious that Hillary won't just do what they keep telling her to do and that is driving a lot of the over-the-top hatred. Or as she says it:

If only you bitches would get over yourselves, starting first and foremost with Hillary, and just get used to the idea of the inevitable (Hmm, what sexual situation does that phrase bring to mind?), then we would be happy and you can just put up with it, 'cuz it's better than what McCain will do to you.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

Because that's how it was presented to me.

Anyway, I'm sure your norteno vatos would find me old, too.

Not only do I live in NorCal, but I grew up in Salinas, and Cesar Chavez used to march down my grandparents' street.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

If Ferrarro is being removed from the Clinton campaign (in her limited capacity) than why doesn't Hillary Clinton have the guts to call out Obama for Axelrod's blatant lie, regarding that 60 Minutes "gotcha?" If they want to argue Axelrod was merely expressing an opinion, then wasn't also Ferraro?

Hoping it just goes away won't work; you must challenge it (think: Gore, Kerry and their failings to do so). Clinton needs to counter these latest, brazen lies from Obama and Axelrod themselves--or she's in even more trouble. There's nothing to even check back the Axelrod smear on her FactHub site.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

it's a 20-something speaker, my best guess. Listen to the venom in his voice when he calls out Hillary Clinton by name.
Notice how he never mentions Barack Obama without the respectful title of "the Senator."

It's not just in-your-face rude. It's the act of a conscienceless son of a bitch, and it is the last straw for me.

I won't vote for him. He's an asshole.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

In the spring of 1966 I walked with for a few days, from Modesto to Manteca, on the first UFW march. It was a glorious thing. By the time of the strikes and marches in Salinas I had left the state, so if your grandparents were inconvenienced, cenobite, it was not my doing.

On that march from Delano to Sacramento there was this great huge banner designed by Richard and César Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and everyone took turns carrying it at the head of the column. After it was all over, the banner got rolled up and carried off by one of the marchers; just a leftover that no one thought anything about. The sense was certainly that the march had accomplished something, but no one even thought about it in historic terms until much later.

The banner stayed in his garage all this time, until his widow decided to clean things out four years ago and rediscovered it. She donated it to the SF State University Labor museum, where it’s been restored and put on display. Muy Bueno.

NFWA banner and marchers

¡Viva la Causa!

But I digress. Marching is so passé.

Submitted by lambert on

What's your take on "no tiene vergüenza," besides the tone of the ad?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

RedSox04's picture
Submitted by RedSox04 on

And she was *pissed*. And frankly, so am I.

As someone who's experienced racism, I both: 1) agree with some others, notably Donald from Hawaii on the Washington Monthly comments, that for a nonwhite person to level the charge of racism against a white person, is an extremely serious charge, and for that to occur when there is no legitimate basis for so claiming is the act of a total scumbag (it diminishes actual acts of racism, among other things); and 2) I am just sickened to see all these privileged white male assholes crying on and on about Ferraro's "racism".

That shit ain't racism. It's at worst poorly chosen comments that talk about the role of race (there's a huge difference, unless you're Obama, in which case there is no such thing as race, because he transcends race, except when he's talking about his black Kenyan father and how that makes him the Candidate of Change (TM)).

Furthermore, the fact that the national Obama campaign brought this story to the national press, from some obscure local paper, and tried to tie this into Hillary, once again shows that they are invested in marking Hillary as a racist, regardless of the collateral damage.

Fuck that shit. I will not vote for this asshole. Period.

Submitted by lambert on

Her comment was in the Torrance Daily Breeze, a fucking shopper, or next door to it. Kevin Drum gets this one right:

DOG WHISTLES....Jonathan Cohn says this about Geraldine Ferraro's recent comments to the press:

Ferraro's original statement to Daily Breeze, which suggested that Obama has gotten preferential political treatment because of his race, was a dog-whistle to white voters who resent affirmative action.

Well, sure. Except for one thing. Torrance is a faceless little bedroom community most famous for having a big shopping mall, and the Torrance Daily Breeze is a faceless little local newspaper with a circulation of about 60,000. Nobody outside the South Bay reads it, Ferraro's comment was buried near the end of the original article, California has already voted, and no one in the Obama campaign cared about it. In fact, nobody would ever have noticed her remarks in the first place if Kos hadn't highlighted them three days after they appeared. Ferraro's moment in the national press didn't start until after the blogosphere erupted.

If Ferraro was trying to do some dog whistling, she sure picked an unusually ineffective forum for it.

There's a whole "movement" out there that thrives on cherrypicking quotations from obscure sources and then working itself into a circle-jerking lather, egged on a very prominent website....

Wait, the name of the movement will come to me in a moment...

See also BTD.

NOTE Obama may be an asshole, but he's not a sociopath. We have to vote for him. It's the right thing to do, even though it sucks.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and if you used it about somebody's wife or girlfriend you'd damn well better be ready to get a busted lip, but if you used it about somebody's mother -- or for another example aqui en Tejas, sobre la gobernadora Ann Richards -- you would not be tolerated. Period.
Particularly if the person you were talking to was over 30 when you said this. If you used that snot-nosed tone the ad announcer uses, you might become very familiar indeed with how it feels to be Reginald Denny.

Submitted by lambert on

... this didn't get a lot of attention at the time, but.... Goodness, I wonder why that would be. Back in NV, I still had some foolish idea that the blogosphere was self-correcting, or some such shit. Silly me.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

As my contribution to toning down the level of intra-progressive hostility, I’ve sworn off making public condemnations of people who say they won’t support the Democratic presidential nominee – who ever that turns out to be. Several reasons for restraint:

Some of them are only blowing off steam,
and will do the right thing.

Some of them are trendies, they were
never going to vote Dem anyway.

Some of them are agent provocateurs,
and should be ignored.

It pisses me off past any ability to speak
with even a modicum of civility.

OK, the last one isn’t much of a reason, but I am trying. That will end on August 29, when there will be a Democratic ticket. From that time forward, nothing – repeat nothing – matters as much as defeating Republicans, and of all those races the Presidency matters most.

Both of the Democrats are flawed, each in their own way, but both are head and shoulders, heart and mind, spirit and soul, above any Republican. It is no exaggeration to say that the survival of constitutional democracy in America depends on preventing another Republican presidency.

Anything less than full-on support of the Democratic presidential ticket will gain my full-on wrath, and it won’t be with a zucchini.

Affection and respect, but still; you have been warned.

Submitted by lambert on


vergüenza f 1. (rubor) shame; se me cae la cara de ~ I feel so ashamed; me da ~... I'm ashamed to ...; ¿no te da ~? aren't you ashamed?; pasar ~ to feel embarrassed; ¡qué ~! shame on you!; tener poca ~ to have no shame, to be shameless; pasar ~ ajena to be embarrassed for sb else 2. (pundonor) shyness; perder la ~ to lose one's shyness 3. (persona, acción) timidity; (escándalo) disgrace; sacar a alguien a la ~ (pública) to disgrace sb publicly 4. (cortedad) modesty; (sexual) (sexual) shame; le da ~ al hablar he/she is embarrassed to speak 5. pl ANAT private parts pl

Of course, there are many flavors of Spanish. But still.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Look up "cabrón" and see what it says. Then try it out as a conversation starter with a group of strange men at 1AM in a backstreet bar in Tijuana and see what they think.

In context, it was an unforgivably rude thing to say; that on top of the lies about her being racist.

All that said, the words were spoken by an anonymous announcer without any evidence of prior approval by Obama or his staff. Once the complaints started flowing, the ad buy stopped and was not repeated. Obama didn’t repudiate the ad, but staff said they had been assured it was nothing worth making a fuss over. As this thread has shown, there may be some – inexplicable to me but still – disagreement/uncertainty/ambivalence about it. On balance, the ad probably cost Obama more support than it generated.

I find the ad to be offensive, and condemn it for the several reasons we’ve covered.

However, it will not be for me an overwhelming obstacle to voting for Obama in November should he be the Democratic nominee. Preserving the Supreme Court is more important.

Submitted by lambert on

... both as perceived by others and themselves, it's very hard for me to give that campaign a pass on what they may or may not have been assured of. A graceful apology would have cleared the whole thing up. Perhaps we can extract one now.

And as my sig says...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

I'm just having trouble seeing Obama as some sort of amoral monster, any more than accepting the wingnut or Obama____ arguments that Hillary is one. Both of them are playing for keeps, and both of them are human enough that they will look for whatever out they are handed to avoid being held responsible for any wrongdoing. It happens.

Criticize failings and shortcomings, by all means, and vigorously. Saying that one or the other of these people is so reprehensible that they won't get a vote? Not acceptable to me, because the alternative truly is monstrous.

Understand your sig, lambert; just so.

Stellaaa's picture
Submitted by Stellaaa on

As far as I am concerned when Obama "framed" in the neo Lakoffian, post Rovian, progressive politics kind of way, the Clintons as racist, all gloves were off. In order for Obama to make the inroads that he did in the AA community he had to destroy all the historical credibility of the Clintons. The speeches he gives to AA audiences, JJ Jrs. comments about Katrina and Hillary. Etc. The allegation that the Clinton's campaigned dirty does not even touch the dirtiness of this.

In 2007, Hillary had a 60% lead in the AA community, he had to anihiliate that and make a strong base. This of course from the man that did not mind that Rezko, his friend and supporter, bilked affordable housing in primarily AA neighborhoods and made hundreds of poor AA's lose their home. By the way, Obama has not criticized Rezko for these actions not once, he even continued his relationship and entered the house transaction. Ask any honest to goodness community organizer and see what a dishonorable action this is. Pisses me off when he touts his Community Organizing credentials.

Submitted by lambert on

Stella, the Rezko thing reminds me way too much of Whitewater.

Got any links to what the community organizers are saying about all this? I'd find them a lot more trustworthy than the Federl prosecutors at this point. I do recall Xenophon posted something on gentrification awhile back, but he's a busy guy...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Stellaaa's picture
Submitted by Stellaaa on

I think that aspect is buried. I speak for myself as someone who was involved in the non-profit affordable housing field from its inception and other various Alinsky type community organizing groups. Frankly, to me, and my experience, the fact that he never condemned publicly the loss of the housing units under Rezko's control is vile. I will therefore never trust his credentials as a progressive and someone who speaks as a "Community Organizer".

The corruption case against Rezko has put his destruction of hundreds of affordable housing units in the back burner. The issue is complicated so people glaze over when I try to explain the details.

Obama's role, in the law firm, to me verges on malpractice from what I have seen. His role to do due dilligence on the projects that ultimately failed, for reasons that are obvious, reasons that he should have taken care of in the transaction, makes me angry to no end.

Community Organizers will be terrified of being called racist if they criticize. But I assure you if you go in the ground in Chicago, people know what went on. The City, the law Firms, the developer were all negligent. We cannot afford to lose housing units. It's criminal.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

So I don't think that was the issue as much as just smearing her with a most serious charge, making her damaged goods (all the more). If anything, it was designed to turn off Hillary Clinton's likely voters: white women, who are generally much more sensitive to racism than white men. Also, framing Clinton as a racist or willing to race-bait would serve as legitimate, if not moral, cover for unleashing a tsunami of misogyny--hate--against her (think: Ann Coulter).

This strategy by Obama, I fear, is all part of something similar to extortion used against the superdelegates: if you don't pick me, your party will be damaged.

Lastly, it helps undercut any criticism, especially where he's weakest: experience and know-how.

Submitted by lambert on

I understand both the "on the ground" issue and why people might not be willing to speak out, believe me. But there has to be some independent sourcing somewhere for "the real story" on Rezko. The weeklies? The wayback machine??

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

counsel posits:

Also, framing Clinton as a racist or willing to race-bait would serve as legitimate, if not moral, cover for unleashing a tsunami of misogyny—hate—against her (think: Ann Coulter).

With all due respect, could counsel reconsider the phrasing of this statement? The linking of Ann Coulter and Hillary Clinton, even subliminally, Your Honor, is highly prejudicial and strains credibility, and I submit that such a statement puts the jury pool at risk of contamination.

We all know that misogyny exists, and we all know that both the women mentioned in counsel's statement have wide public followings. Some of the followers love these women and some loathe these women, Your Honor, but I submit it is unfair to conflate these women in the public perception.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I know it's wrong to place them together, but Coulter was the first (white) woman I could think of whom the left feels it's absolutely justified to hurl misogynistic slurs at; mind you, they use slurs and hate speech to denounce her...bigotry! Honestly though, the level of vitriol and misogyny against HRC is on par with that against Ann Coulter--if not worse (Clinton, unlike Coulter, is threatening to take the most powerful office in the world and, thus, all hell has broken loose). Compare the reaction to Coulter's disgusting attack against the Edwards' vs. the reaction to Clinton's benign remarks on MLK/LBJ.

Bigotry is unacceptable. I despise Alberto Gonzalez and Condoleezza Rice, but racist slurs are beyond the pale--and the public understands that. However, all it takes to justify any woman being dehumanized and demonized beyond recognition is for her to simply exist. Gender is the determining factor. Since religion already tells us women and girls are inherently immoral, any persecution of said "people" is, in turn, just. They don't call it a witch hunt for nothing.

And so ends my sermon on the horrors of misogynistic bigotry. Phew.