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A rude, vigorous lesson for the T-ball Allstars

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Gimme your cash, bitch so we can shoot up da screet!

Gimme your cash, bitch so we can buy some more heat!

Gimme your cash, ho so we can get out da pen!

Gimme some cash, ho cuz we back in again!

As rap songs go, that’s pretty tame by existing standards, as is the video. The artists call themselves Splack Pack, and the hook is a straight sample from their breakout hit Shake That Ass, Bitch from their album, Big Booty Hits. And there is a bit of controversy. So, is it Phyllis Schlafly and Tipper Gore complaining about the exploitation/glorification of gang culture with its violence and misogyny? That would be a no. This infectious jam is actually a political ad aimed at one Janice Hahn running in a presumably safe Democratic district in Los Angeles.

The tut-tutting is universal and bipartisan. This display is, of course, racist. The fact that it portrays Splack Pack in thoroughly familiar style is immaterial. The fact that it specifically depicts gang members, likewise. Those interested in slippery, troublesome facts may always inquire at that trusted though young institution, Politifact. Those thirsting for a more complete picture, elsewhere. The ad’s creator, Ladd Ehlinger, seeks to make a splash, no doubt for himself as well as his politics and his preferred candidate (Craig Huey R; upset 2nd place in the open “jungle” primary… hey, is that racist?) and so he has. He is denounced as everything but a son of God for his trouble, no doubt well to his liking. Indeed, his footer disclaims any connection to anyone or anything else than his own Turn Right USA pac with the bold assertion that “McCain-Feingold can s**k it”. Complaints that he is “hiding” behind the First Amendment fall flat. This cat isn’t hiding anything from anyone.

But Ehlinger is no pioneer. The alleged precedent of course is the old Willie Horton ad, concocted by Senator Al Gore (D TN) to knock Dukakis out of the primaries. It did not do that but it has had an eerie staying power. The existence of the ad is said to demonstrate rampant racism in the nation though somehow that stink never adheres to Gore. Instead it is that famous hick southerner, Bush the Elder who bears the brunt, having recycled that ad for use in the general. But just who was Willie Horton and what does he have to do with Mike Dukakis? Simple. Horton, like numerous others, was a convict released on a furlough program of Dukakis’ invention whereupon he raped and murdered himself straight back into prison and most sadly, not a noose. To attempt to tar The Duke with this sad tragedy was the height of rudeness. Indeed, if Gore had not already broken the ice in his internecine desperation you can be certain the mush-mouth Bush would never have dared to bring it up. Wouldn’t be prudent and might prove tactically disastrous as he could be certain that without the Gore angle the only reporting on the subject would have presumed Bush’s depravity and airbrushed Dukakis’ culpability.

And in politics, so the saying goes, perception is reality. Since the popular perception consists of nearly nothing but news reports, Bob’s yer uncle. Those who control the news control reality and though we have long known what side the newsies are on, it is nice to have someone say it out loud. That is the First Lady, expressing thanks for the friendly support of the media; something for which thanks are long overdue. True, she says so in the context of their respect of the First Daughters’ privacy but a healthy respect is also accorded to her privacy, the privacy of her husband and indeed the privacy of anyone connected in any regard with the Obamas, extending even to a thick zone of privacy enveloping public statements and official acts. Is this their usual practice? Ask Sarah Palin, you may find her in a petri dish at the business end of a media microscope on any afternoon (if they can find her), along with even her handicapped son and awkward daughters. This while she holds no public office except that she is the mayor of many a fevered nightmare.

A solution to this state of affairs is always a vital aspect of any Republican’s ambitions. Perception may be reality but even then, some reality gets perceived. This is the usual baseline hope that is then leavened with me-tooism on something popular with the grannies and granolas. But the real strategy is always one of not spooking the horses. The media template has been the same since before Goldwater. The “right winger” by which they mean anyone less socialist than Walter Mondale, is inherently a loon. Why, anyone questioning the fiscal soundness of New Deal bulwarks like Social Security or Great Society treasures like Medicare or welfare is plainly deluded, probably a violent racist since he aspires to turn black babies and oldsters of all colors out into the streets. Such is the response to any pragmatic concerns so it is little surprise that principled objections, say on Constitutional or libertarian grounds are so unanimously considered demonic that no one propounding them ever gets out of the gate.

And that “ever” is literal. The hellhound Reagan did not propose to eliminate any of the entitlements that were then burgeoning out of control, just to assert a slightly greater measure of control. This he did, raising the payroll taxes moderately; requiring more stringent administration here and there. Absent these reforms we would have been where we are now twenty years ago. His famous “there you go again” rebuke in debate was used to counter Carter’s claim that Reagan DID in fact want to do away with these slapdash programs. No, no. Reagan was intent on SAVING them from ruination. Whether this was a service to the nation or not was never considered but all reforms from the Right have always spoken this language whatever their intent. They are always saving these programs. The principles that would militate against the entitlement state and its socialist foundation are contested only amongst Republicans; that damned rarely and it is covered as an alien enterprise, like a convention of snake handlers speaking in tongues. When Gingrich denounced the mumbling Bob Dole as nothing but “the tax collector for the welfare state” it was hailed as a genius play, at least tactically. Of course Gingrich never would say that those taxes should not be collected or not disbursed once it was up to him. Just that States should be given more power over the funds. Why they should then have been taken from the States in the first place is eternally unasked.

And now? Oh, its the same as it ever was. Never mind that the costs have spiked far higher and faster than the most wild-eyed critic of yore ever predicted. Never mind that our thirty years of unprecedented growth have come to an instant halt. The pathetic Ryan Plan, even as it is denounced as nothing but the defenestration of widows is defended as the salvation of Lyndon Johnson’s projects. The soap-opera sweet Paul Ryan must have felt sucker punched by his own Willie Horton moment which consisted of that famous ad where he is depicted turfing your struggling grandmother over a cliff! No outrage accompanied this ad. Not at all. The only controversy it has sparked is whether or not Ryan’s plan amounts to “privatization”. Whether privatization amounts to throwing seasoned citizens into the Grand Canyon is taken as inarguable fact. But if this has stiffened Ryan’s spine at all he does not show it. Indeed, outrage of the style ladled over Ehlinger’s ad is not a good look on a Republican as sandals are not a good look on a man. Those who denounce the skimpy outfit (still demure by rap video standards) in the Hahn ad have nothing negative to say about Gina Gershon as Palin in even skimpier attire. I would show you that but apparently Gershon takes her licensing rights most seriously.

No need to pile on McDreamy. It is and always has been the same with all the hapless Republicans. McCain is exemplary. So a-feared was he to be portrayed as racist or otherwise unfair to the infant Messiah he declared even the middle name out of bounds. That is Hussein, by the way, in case you forgot. The term “socialism” was banned as a personal insult beyond the pale. Perhaps he was worried about his own policies with that one but in any case “socialism” and its numerous relatives is a legitimate term of political art with which all Americans are familiar. If it has become a dirty word it has done so through its own honest labor. If “socialist” is out, “Marxist” is an incest-level taboo. This while McCain was derided as a geezer, not merely by anonymous campaign flunkies but by Obama himself who, we hope in ignorance, also mocked McCain’s many disabilities owing to his war wounds.

Now, I come not to defend John Sidney McNasty, of that you may be certain. McCain was rightly, though not forcefully enough, rebuked by the nation. But what has been embraced is tactical McCainism though it is older even than that dinosaur. During the campaign everyone, including McCain, ran forthrightly against Bush on the economy, on foreign policy and on basic decency. Even now Bush is blamed for our woes and in some regards, this is valid. But neither McCain nor Obama, neither then nor now explain just what ACTIONS of the Bushies were so devastating. And why would that be? Well, because they were all for them! Yes, the financial crisis, so-called occurred in the last weeks of Bush’s tenure. His Treasury Secretary came up with the fetid mess injecting YOUR straight cash into the financial industry. Yes, this was devastating. But who was against it? No one. Certainly not Senator Obama. Prior to this the Fannie/Freddie beast was putrifying on the hoof, yes on Bush’s watch. But who was for doing anything about it? That would be Bush and McCain. No Democrat and scarcely any other Republican had an adverse word for those giants, now weighing us down to the mud. Their meager attempts amounted to exactly nothing as did that duos efforts to reform Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security. None of this is secret. It is just unknown because when Bush is blamed no Republican wants to spook the horses. No one wants to admit on the one hand or accuse on the other. And mostly that is because they don’t want to be accused themselves.

How has that worked out? Not so well. The forbearance of the Republicans either to call Obama or his policies “socialist” when they manifestly are has not benefited them in any regard. Nancy Pelosi is now denouncing Republicans as slackers on the debt; malign schemers for political advantage over a mess for which they are “substantially responsible”. And are they not substantially responsible? You notice she doesn’t say “mostly resonsible”, that would be an easily refuted claim that would remind folks that Obama’s debts from one term are larger than all that accumulated from George Washington to George Bush. Yes, the second one. Schumer and Durbin, the twin terrors of the financial world of con-men and non-men publicly declare regret that the Republicans are destroying the American economy so they can re-take the White House! The audacity of these dopes! But they are not as dopey as all that. They know, or think they know, that the Republicans will not answer in kind. They will not answer at all.

If they are right, and history is with them, waste not a tear on a single Republican for his mishandling. If they are not going to fully engage in the verbal combat that politics is and always was they should have stayed on the bench. Really, they should have stayed home, mouth shut, paid the taxes they claim are so outlandish and applied for the benefits for which they are eligible. That would be consistent with their demonstrated principles. Even the national champion T-ball team would be foolish indeed to take the field in the Big Leagues unless they were counting on an ostentatious serving of mercy and patience. If these geniuses were expecting that from the Democrats, god help us all. We need new men. It could be that we can make new men from the available stock but the prospects are not good. McConnell and Boehner are making some appropriate noises. Whether that reveals an evolution to the status of vertebrate is unclear. Boehner’s big golf outing with Public Enemy: The One doesn’t inspire confidence. The silence they have deployed against this week’s accusations of treason and murder, likewise. But they are there, for the time being and if they will not take the hard lessons of recent days to heart the Democrats will arrange more such lessons. And more still. Eventually, perhaps, a star pupil will emerge.



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