Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday cheap shots: Baseless Rhetoric

Image via the Toms River Patch.
Now we know what the price of Christie's Trump endorsement was: cash (via WNYC).
At a rally of about a thousand people at the armory in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Thursday, Governor Chris Christie introduced the guest of honor, saying: "Let me bring you the next President of the United States, Donald Trump!"
But this was no ordinary political Trump rally. Tickets cost $200 a person, and the money was used to pay off Christie’s debt left over from his presidential campaign.
WNYC's Matt Katz says that with about 1,000 people attending the rally, that went a long way toward wiping out Christie's $250,000 debt. And that wasn't all. 
"Before the event, Trump did a roundtable fundraiser that cost between $20,000 and $25,000 a person, There were about 18 people there," Katz said. "That money was actually used to pay off Bridgegate lawyers that the state Republican party had hired after they got hit with subpoenas more than two years ago. There’s a half-million dollars owed to those Bridgegate attorneys. And now, thanks to Trump — who six months ago campaigned against Christie by saying he knew about Bridgegate — that debt is mostly paid off."
And what Trump gets out of it is a representative of the "conservative establishment" he can victimize in public, to his (pained) face:
“I’m not eating Oreos anymore—neither is Chris!” said Trump, pointing to Christie. “You’re not eating Oreos anymore. No more Oreos. For either of us, Chris.”
(The reference was to the factoid about Nabisco moving Oreo production to Mexico, which is by the way not a fact: Nabisco moved 600 out of 1200 jobs in its Chicago plant to Mexico, but Oreos won't be made in Mexico: they come from Fair Lawn, N.J., Richmond, Va., and Portland, Ore.)

Drawing by E.H. Shepherd, via Amy Storms.
Eeyore Caucus

And speaking of baseless rhetoric,

What is a woke bank (usage here doesn't seem to go with the definition, or else it's not a bad thing), and why is Dr. deBoer having such a hard time fighting off despair?

Well, between 2004 and 2009 Wells Fargo Bank made a practice of selling subprime mortgage loans to African American and Latino applicants while giving better rates to similarly qualified white customers, and then foreclosed on hundreds or thousands of homes bought with such mortgage, which was a pretty slimy, racist, and not least illegal activity.

And then they got busted by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (then headed by Thomas E. Perez, now the labor secretary) and ended up in 2012 paying a settlement of $175 million, in the second largest fair housing settlement in the department's history up to that point, including $125 million in restitution to some 30,000 affected borrowers all over the country and $50 million in down-payment assistance to home buyers in Baltimore and seven other localities, as a measure to help turn around neighborhood blight by encouraging sales. They had also stopped making subprime loans with independent brokers in 2007, and dropped out of subprime loans entirely in 2008.

Nobody went to jail, though there's no offense in the case for which jail is an available punishment, so it doesn't seem right to complain (another ongoing case, not from the Civil Rights Division, has one of those against Wells Fargo, for a different group of bad loans from 2001 to 2005, of submitting false data).

What deBoer is in unconquerable despair over is the fact that the United States Black Chambers, a national chamber-of-commerce organization, is holding its annual School of Chamber and Business Management in Washington this week, and on Wednesday the young black entrepreneurs (paying $200 to attend the conference) had a luncheon with DeRay Mckesson on a panel discussion of the theme "From Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter, the Movement Continues". And the luncheon was sponsored by Wells Fargo. That's it.

I wouldn't say the lunch was so much "about two vital radical black leftist movements" in history as about the movement in general today, and the question (not one I've thought about at all myself, ever, tbh) of how black chambers of commerce can fit into it:
The work of the Black Panthers nearly 50 years ago, and recent efforts of Black Lives Matter activists both make demands to address police brutality. These organizations have successfully re-imagined the parameters of what is possible when pushing a platform that includes action for immediate police reform. At its height the Black Panther Party went beyond protests and demands by forming various social service programs including; serving meals to low-income children, operating free health clinics, and building education programs in inner-city neighborhoods. These efforts were not top-down charities, but horizontally run community initiatives. Both organizations serve the purpose of bringing community members together to brainstorm and collaborate on how to better our lives, but it’s crucial to discuss the role of Black Chambers in this new movement and how we can galvanize our communities to fight for economic rights and full employment, helping to push the envelope for economic development in Black neighborhoods across the country. 
I really can't say I have any problem with that, and find it difficult to understand how anybody would. I'm not so opposed to capitalism that I believe black people shouldn't own businesses—on the contrary!—and I don't see why black business owners shouldn't feel they have a role to play in the struggle—they do! You might think there's a variant of the eye-of-the-needle question in here, or you might think of it as a neoliberal yawn, but I honestly don't. You might well feel a little irritated with Wells Fargo, or suspicious of its commitment to the black community (if I were the black community, I'd take whatever they feel like offering, though, without a qualm), or you might not. You might have a beef with Mckesson, as Kevin D. Williamson of the National Review does:
DeRay Mckesson is a fool and a miscreant, one of the sanctimonious and self-aggrandizing activists making a career out of the Black Lives Matter protests, and he has announced that he is running for mayor of Baltimore, the troubled city from which he originally hails.

Let’s hope he wins [apparently in the expectation that he will "heighten the contradictions" and help bring on the reactionary revolution:] if the education of DeRay Mckesson turns out to be as deliciously brutal and pitiless as expected, then it also presents an opportunity to educate, to some extent, a generation of silly and ignorant young activists in aching need of a swift kick in the ass from reality.
(While I'm up, Kevin, why would your need of a swift kick be "aching"? Or the kick when it comes be "deliciously brutal"? Are you some kind of pervert or just a bad writer?) But I'm pretty sure deBoer has no wish to associate himself with that kind of gratuitous and reactionary racist venom.

And if you had some weird reason for wanting to mount an attack on Mckesson without sounding like a racist, which wouldn't be easy, maybe you could try accusing him of taking blood money from Wells Fargo, the way some odd people have seemed to accuse him of doing from Yale University—

—but I think it would be an awful stretch, and deBoer clearly says, not at all defensively, well maybe a little defensively, that he is not up to anything like that anyway:

But a case of Wells Fargo "invoking the Panthers"? (I seriously doubt Wells Fargo ordered the panelists, "We want you to discuss the Black Panthers"; they just came up with some money. USBC and the panelists were capable of coming up with the concept and the topic without being pushed.) And despair, Freddie?

This is not fighting off despair, this is relentlessly stalking it. Freddie is jonesing so hard for despair there's literally nothing he won't do to get some more.

Update: On the adjective "woke", meaning more or less "awakened to the injustice that has historically been meted out to persons of color and non cis-male gender", Freddie is actually in love with it, and he and his followers use it a lot, in a sarcastic way, to condemn enterprises and persons who pay too much attention to "intersectional" issues and too little to the problems faced by proletarians under the brutality of the late capitalist order, such as recently doctorated white professors of rhetoric who are kind of sad and misunderstood sometimes.

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