Fighting Bigotry with Porn

Some days stand out, like January 21, 1908 – that was the day that New York City passed the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public. That was vetoed by the mayor, the long-forgotten George McClellan – a small but odd victory for women. On January 21, 1954, the first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, was launched up in Groton. Mamie Eisenhower did the honors and somewhere Jules Verne was smiling. Science fiction became real. On January 21, 1977, Jimmy Carter pardoned nearly all the Vietnam War draft evaders. Those who had left for Canada could come home – but it turned out that some of them liked Canada just fine. Still, the war was over – finally. All was forgiven. January 21, 2008, was that Black Monday on stock markets around the world, a holiday here but we caught up the next day – the Dow dropped five hundred points and the rout was on, a cascade of disasters leading to what looked like worldwide economic collapse. We’re still recovering from that, or trying to. Luckily, January 21, every year, is now National Hug Day – if that helps. It probably doesn’t.

Obviously we’re dealing with an odd day, and January 21, 2010, Citizens United was decided – actually Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010) – where the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, or anyone. Direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties would remain illegal in races for federal office, but indirect contributions were now fine – anyone or any corporation could spend any amount they wanted – billions or more if they liked – to express their political views – as long as they didn’t coordinate any of that with any particular person running for office. It’s a free country, and if you have the money, you should be free to spend it as you like. If you think Obama is an idiot you can buy every open slot every hour on every network to say so, as long as you don’t chat with Romney about it, directly.

This changed things. The dissents were impassioned – all this new money would corrupt politics, as the voices of those without big bucks would get drowned out. The majority, however, held that free speech is free speech – you don’t tell someone to shut up, ever. The idea seemed to the more free speech the better, and the last thing the Court should do is allow Congress to pass all sorts of campaign finance laws that tell certain people they can’t say everything they want to say – also assuming here that corporations have the same rights as people. All parties get to say what they want to say.

The matter of disclosure was left open. The Republicans are still arguing that just who is spending the big money to say nasty things should be a private matter – to protect them from harassment. There are a lot of vengeful nasty folks out there after all. The Democrats argue the opposite – if you have something to say you should take responsibility for what you say and not hide like some sissy. Sure, speak your mind, but deal with the consequences of what you say. If a major corporation spends a few hundred million dollars to excoriate Obama or help in the effort to make laws protecting equal pay for women weaker, or to fund the effort to show that global warming is a total hoax or whatever, shouldn’t they be proud of what they’re doing, announcing it to the world? Why would they pretend otherwise? The Republicans see it differently. That sort of thing could ruin a business, and politics isn’t business, or something. This will take a long time to work out.

In the meantime we now have the SuperPAC – a special kind of Political Action Committee anyone can form, even that Colbert fellow – you can raise unlimited funds to spend on any political cause that tickles your fancy, as long as you’re not directly coordinating with a specific candidate for office. But that’s the problem. Your SuperPAC may have as its intention to drive someone from office, and of course you’ll communicate with the guy you want to replace him – but you have to be careful what you say to each other, or make sure any coordination of effort can be seen as mere innocent coincidence. It’s a bit of a ritual dance – or a farce in the manner of Oscar Wilde or Georges Feydeau, where doors slam and doors open and no one is who they seem.

A SuperPAC is, however, easy to form. Here’s a fully completed and approved form – certified by the Federal Election Committee. In this case of course FightBigotry.com will not use whatever unlimited funds they raise “to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications, to federal candidates or committees.” These folks just want to say a few things. They intend to run an ad, everywhere they can, hammering Barack Obama for “his disturbing, yet crystal-clear pattern of tacitly defending black racism against white folks before and since being elected president.”

Presumably, Romney won’t even want to coordinate with these folks – Glenn Beck kept insisting Obama really just basically hates white folks, and he lost his job at Fox News. Even Roger Ailes has his limits. This is toxic stuff, even if it might help Romney in certain quarters.

Here’s the ad itself – impassioned if a bit crude in its production values, and Ed Kilgore offers an assessment:

Every single human image in this 120-second ad is of African-Americans, with the exception of (a) a white man who is apparently being bullied by a finger-pointing Eric Holder; (b) a white cop who is leading Henry Louis Gates, Jr., to the hoosegow in handcuffs; and (c) white people in a 2008 Obama campaign audience who have (the voiceover suggests) been betrayed and mocked by the black racist president and his black racist administration. You got your Jeremiah Wright. You got your New Black Panther Party thugs. Even Dr. Martin Luther King, who is quoted as championing the anti-racist sentiments Obama and company have betrayed, comes across as loud and threatening.

This is part of the ad’s text:

The Obama administration has injected race into the presidential campaign. Obama Attorney General Eric Holder recently said – with no argument from the president – that their white critics are motivated by race. Implying whites are too stupid to have honest disagreements with the president without being racist is in-and-of-itself racist against whites, reinforcing Mr. Obama’s disturbing pattern of tacitly defending black racism. …

Obama’s attorney general said pursuing the New Black Panthers does a great disservice to whose “who risked all, for my people.” So it’s okay for his people to commit racial crimes? In 2009, President Obama defended his friend Henry Louis Gates after a racist altercation with police, telling a white officer he wouldn’t speak to him but would speak to his mama. Mr. Obama’s response? “The Cambridge police acted stupidly.” …

Mr. President, you ran as the candidate of change. But one thing has not changed – your tacit defense of racism against white folks, despite receiving nearly half the white vote to win the presidency.

Charming, and Josh Israel looks at the man who established this SuperPAC, and it’s certainly not Stephen Colbert:

FightBigotry.com’s founder and treasurer is Stephen Marks, a well-known Republican opposition researcher whose 2008 book Confessions of a Political Hit Man detailed his work in what he called “the dark side of politics.” In 2000, he launched an attack ad under the misleading name “Americans Against Hate,” attempting to tie Al Gore to controversial comments by Rev. Al Sharpton. Another Marks spot in 2004 attempted to link John Kerry to convicted murderer Willie Horton. He was forced to retract a claim in the book about then-Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ), acknowledging that “the information was not accurate.”

Israel adds this:

Beyond the obvious race-baiting, the ad is riddled with factual errors. Holder’s March 2011 statement was criticizing a Congressman for equating an a 2008 New Black Panther Party incident with the much more violent assaults against voting rights advocates in the 1960s – not about “pursuing the New Black Panthers.”

And what this group terms a “racist altercation with police” involved a Harvard University professor being stopped by police for trying to enter his own home. Even conservative Fox News legal analyst and former New Jersey State Judge Andrew Napolitano called it an “improper arrest.”

Oh well, you do what you can, as Ed Kilgore notes:

Now this is just a web ad, but the two questions it raises are whether (a) some rich wingnut might decide it’s exactly what white voters in battleground states need to see and hear, and gets it on the air regardless of what the official GOP says it wants, or (b) it goes viral without any paid broadcasting. In the latter event, Republicans can benefit from whatever racist sentiments it arouses without complicity (unless progressives loudly demand they denounce it); and even in the former event, Mitt Romney, for one, has been known to refuse any blame for nasty ads run by others – even by his own pet SuperPAC.

I sincerely hope this crap gets buried in the slag-heap of ephemeral political communications. But I would not be the farm on it.

Of course he wouldn’t. In Politico, Jonathan Martin explains why – it’s a Southern thing, and down there, and in those places that admire the South, things haven’t changed much:

Any hope that the nation’s first black president would usher in a period of reconciliation in the old Confederacy has crashed on the rocks of a harsh reality: African-Americans overwhelmingly support him and whites make up much of the opposition. Far from being a transformational figure in the South, Obama has instead reinforced the region’s oldest and sturdiest divide.

Martin offers a long and detailed history of that divide, but Steve Kornacki discusses the present:

This has apparently revived the familiar argument over the role race plays in motivating opposition to Obama, with conservatives appalled at the suggestion there’s any link. For instance, the Republican speaker of Alabama’s House, Mike Hubbard, points out to Martin that Condoleezza Rice is popular among his state’s GOP voters, proof, supposedly, that white disgust with Obama is “philosophical, not racial.”

And there’s the matter of Lindsey Graham saying race has nothing to do with anything, as Obama has just been a very disappointing president:

This was the first serious African-American presidential candidate and that was intriguing and quite frankly pleasing to many white independent voters. I think [white independents] bought the message that he was selling and liked the salesman. Fast-forward four years. Now he’s lost the luster. The guy that ran in 2008 is not even recognizable anymore in terms of a bringing-us-together figure and his policy choices have hurt us a great deal.

Kornacki knows bullshit when he sees it:

Neither of these explanations gets to the heart of what’s going on in the South, though. The reality is that Obama came to office as the region was completing a decades-long partisan transformation, from Democratic bastion to Republican redoubt – and it’s impossible to separate race from this evolution. The polarization that Martin describes wasn’t caused by Obama’s presidency, and whatever hopes there were that he would transcend it were badly misguided.

Kornacki says this is the reality of the situation:

It’s been argued that the South’s political roots are conservative and that therefore the Republican Party is the logical home for the region’s voters, at least its white voters. There’s something to this; even before the civil rights movement reached critical mass, there were signs that some white Southerners were reconsidering their inherited loyalty to the Democratic Party (which was a product of the white Southern backlash against Reconstruction, a project led by Northern Republicans).

But it was when Northerners in the Democratic Party finally managed to insert a civil rights plank into their party’s platform in 1948 that the tide really began to turn. And things accelerated in 1964, when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act and Republicans nominated a senator, Barry Goldwater, who had been part of the Southern Democrat-led effort to filibuster the bill. Twenty years earlier, FDR had taken 94 percent of the vote in Mississippi; in the fall of ’64, Goldwater nabbed 87 percent.

Things changed:

At first, white Southerners were only comfortable voting for Republicans at the presidential level. Within their states and local communities, they still controlled the levers of power, so they continued to operate within the Democratic Party, for the most part. But real Republican organizations were sprouting up all over the South, and with each successive election, more white voters trickled the GOP’s way. The demise of Jim Crow laws and the influx of black voters into the Democratic Party hastened this process. But it still took years to shake out, with whites slowly leaving the Democratic fold and Republican candidates steadily making inroads further and further down the ballot.

It’s finally culminated in the dynamic that Martin describes: In the South – and really, the Deep South – race and party identification are essentially synced up. But this was the case before anyone had heard of Obama. In 2004, for instance, George W. Bush won the white vote in Alabama by an 80-19 percent margin over John Kerry. In Mississippi, it was 85-14 percent. It’s true that Obama did worse than this in 2008 – losing 88-10 percent among Alabama whites, and 88-11 in Mississippi – but it’s not like most Southern whites suddenly turned against the Democratic Party because of him.

Stephen Marks may be wasting his money. His attack ad speaks to the converted:

It’s too simplistic to say that Obama’s race has created the deep racial/partisan divide in the South, or even worsened it dramatically. It was already gaping before he came along. And much of the resistance and resentment his presidency has kicked up would likely have greeted a white Democratic president too (probably without the sometimes-overt racial overtones, though). The key here isn’t so much that the current Democratic president is black; it’s that to white Southerners the Democratic Party exists as the party of black Americans and other groups whose interests they see as different from their own.

If the Stephen Marks attack will sway anyone it’ll have to be angry white northerners. There are a few of those – but they say the issue isn’t race. It’s just that there are all these people getting stuff from the government who just don’t deserve that stuff – because they’re lazy shiftless moochers, inferior people, really. And Obama is always sticking up for inferior people, and unlucky people. If these inferior people would only act like white people! Why don’t the good white people get the good stuff? Why does anyone get the good stuff. You get what you work. There should be no good stuff from the government. It’s not fair!

Maybe that new attack ad does have an audience.

But Romney will distance himself from it. There’s always a problem with some of those who support you:

It wasn’t exactly “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country,” but porn star Jenna Jameson has put her spin on the presidential race: “I’m very looking forward to a Republican being back in office. When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office.”

All together now, you Occupy folks: “We told you so!”

Jameson’s “let them eat cake” moment came Thursday in San Francisco while she was “sipping champagne in a VIP room at Gold Club in the city’s South of Market neighborhood,” according to CBS San Francisco. It added that she “made the comments exclusively to a CBS SF staffer who was attending an event marking the 8th anniversary of the gentlemen’s club.”

She’s a colorful character – but what do you do with the endorsement from the self-proclaimed world’s most famous star, especially if you’re a Mormon elder? Do you thank her and edge away? And she may find out about this:

Former Justice Department official Patrick Trueman, who proudly participated in federal pornography prosecutions during their “heyday” in the late 1980s and early 1990s, told The Daily Caller that Mitt Romney’s campaign assured him that Romney would “vigorously” prosecute pornographers if elected president.

Trueman, the president of Morality in Media, contacted the Romney campaign earlier this year about the “untreated pandemic” of Internet pornography. “They got back to us right away,” he said.

Bob Flores, another former Justice Department official who prosecuted pornographers, accompanied Trueman to an hour-long meeting with Romney foreign and legal policy director Alex Wong, Trueman said.

“Wong assured us that Romney is very concerned with this, and that if he’s elected these laws will be enforced,” Trueman told The DC. “They promised to vigorously enforce federal adult obscenity laws.”

Oops. At least she didn’t form a SuperPAC. That may be the name of her next movie – SuperPAC. Her implants are impressive. But she could form a SuperPAC – she does have a ton of money.

Back on January 21, 2010, this whole farce began – the Supreme Court ruled that no one is allowed to limit campaign spending, as long as you pretend it’s something else – wink, wink. What did they expect would happen?

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
This entry was posted in Campaign Finance Law, Citizens United Ruling, Mitt Romney, Obama a Racist, SuperPACs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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