Friday, July 11, 2008

How To Finance A Neo-Nazi Site: Work For A School For Black Kids

Chloe Black when she was Mrs. David Duke
[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]
Heidi Beirich at the SPLC’s Hatewatch has a remarkable story about how an online outfit like the leading white supremacist website, Stormfront, run by the notorious Don Black, has been able to keep afloat all these years. Turn out that it’s largely through the employment of Black’s wife — herself a longtime white supremacist (being also David Duke’s ex) — by a company that runs a charter school dedicated to educating underprivileged black children — for which she’s doing the publicity:
There is no evidence that Emilia Fanjul, who married decades ago into what the Palm Beach Post has described as the country’s best-known and wealthiest Cuban-American family, or other family members had any inkling as to Chloe Black’s background.
Black, who lives in West Palm Beach just a few miles from the Fanjuls’ Palm Beach mansion, also works as an “executive assistant” in the executive suite of Florida Crystals, where the Fanjul family’s sugar conglomerate is headquartered. …

The irony of Chloe Black doing public relations work for a school explicitly aimed at lifting black and Latino children out of poverty is hard to miss. While less visible in the white supremacist world than either of her husbands, Black has a strong movement history of her own. She met Duke at a college meeting of the White Youth Alliance in the 1970s, and, after marrying him, became vice president of his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. She long held the copyright to African Atto, a weird 1973 booklet that instructs blacks on how to kill whites — and which was written, as was revealed by enterprising reporters, by Duke, who then claimed he was using it to compile a list of “radical blacks.” Although Chloe divorced Duke in 1984, four years later she married Don Black — a man who had only recently emerged from prison after serving time for plotting to invade a black-run Caribbean island.
Moreover, it seems that Black is largely operating off of his wife’s income:
But Don Black — who lives and operates Stormfront out of a house owned entirely by Chloe and valued at about half a million dollars — is apparently unemployed, although he claims to do some Internet consulting work. He solicits contributions to the Stormfront site, but says he draws no salary from the operation and has, according to an official Stormfront posting, “financed much of Stormfront’s growth out of pocket, personally.” The website is believed to be at least partly supported by the salary that Florida Crystals pays Chloe Black.
Those of you paying attention may recall that Black was the leader of the gang of neo-Nazi thugs who intimidated and threatened Jesse Jackson until he was forced off a stage during the 2000 Florida post-election brouhaha. He also raised eyebrows by donating to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and posing for pictures with Paul.

It’s always a bit of a mystery how the racist right manages to fund itself. Sometimes it’s through the largesse of right-wing sugar daddies. And, apparently, it’s also through right-wing sugar mommas.

Immigration And The November Vote: A Key Play For Democrats


[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

 A new study by ImmigrationO8 about Latinos and the November elections confirms what we’ve been saying here for awhile: Immigration is a winning issue for Democrats if they know how to handle it right, and a losing issue for Republican bigotry-mongers.

Most of all, it’s an important opportunity: Progressives can establish that they can solve seemingly intractable policy problems by taking a pragmatic and humane approach, contradistinct from the Republican scapegoating approach that only makes the problem worse.

In introducing the study yesterday at a conference call [audio here], Frank Sharry of America’s voice put it best:
Immigration is an issue that works for Democrats who lean into it rather than for Republicans who demagogue it.
Polling maven Celinda Lake joined Sharry on the call, and offered advice to Democrats based on what her group found whenever immigration became a campaign issue: "It’s an issue you cannot duck and hide from," she said. Candidates are successful, she said, when they engage voters in what it means to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

The study itself also debunked a lot of the myths about the election that are commonly bandied about among the pundit class, most of which fit into the "Americans aren’t eager to end the war" insofar as they have any grounding in reality. For instance, the notion that Latinos are unsure about Obama and like McCain. Bzzzzt! Likewise, ixnay on the "Clinton’s Latino supporters voted against Obama"ay.

But this is particularly worth remembering:

Anti-Immigrant Politics Push Latinos Away From the GOP

As with most Americans, Latinos view the Republican Party as being on the "wrong side" of key issues such as immigration, health care, the war, and the economy. In addition, the Republican Party’s embrace of harsh anti-immigrant campaign tactics and policies has clearly undermined its ability to attract and retain Latino voters.
George W. Bush received approximately 40% support from Latinos in 2004. This number could become the high-water mark of Latino support for a Republican presidential candidate unless the GOP undergoes a major realignment on their immigration stance.

Since 2004, Republican opposition to immigration reform legislation and support of harsh, anti-immigrant policies has pushed Latinos into the Democratic fold.
  • Partisan Gap Grows: 57% of Hispanic registered voters "now call themselves Democrats or say they lean to the Democratic Party, while 23 percent align with the Republican Party-a 34 percentage point gap in partisan affiliation among Latinos. In July, 2006, the same gap was just 21 percent. In 1999, it had been 33 percent." [Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics and the 2008 Election: A Swing Vote?, 12/6/07]
  • Nearly Half of Latino Voters Say Democrats Are More Supportive of Latinos than Republicans. By a 44% to 8% margin, Latinos say the Democratic Party has more concern for them than the GOP [Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics and the 2008 Election: A Swing Vote?, 12/6/07]
  • Nearly Half of Latino Voters Believe Democrats Do a Better Job Handling Illegal Immigration. By 41% to 14% margin, Latino voters say the Democrats are doing the better job of dealing with illegal immigration than the Republicans. Approximately 26% say neither Party is better, nor 12% say they don’t know. [Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics and the 2008 Election: A Swing Vote?, 12/6/07]
When Democratic congressional candidates hit the hustings this summer — and presidential candidates too — immigration will finally give them a chance to show they can run against right-wing "conventional wisdom" and win. Most of all, the issue will give them the chance to stand up to the right, to stand for something important, and to speak good common sense — the kind that voters appreciate.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Standing at the Nexus of Change

-- by Sara

OpenLeft invited several feminist and womanist bloggers to participate in a round-robin of guest posts on the meaning of Hillary's success -- and failure -- as a primary candidate, and what implications its has for progressives. The first piece by Melissa McEwen is here. This is the cross-post of the second piece, which is from me.

What did Hillary's campaign -- and, ultimately, her failure -- mean for progressives? My offering is a meditation in four parts.

Hillary was quite possibly the last great feminist heroine we'll see from a passing generation -- that early 1945-1955 cohort of Boomer women -- that produced a historically singular crop of them. And that, in the end, was both her glory and her curse.

The women my age and older who found so much inspiration in her campaign have been down forty years of hard road together, breaking the first rough trails of modern feminism every dogged step of the way. They took quantities of crap that younger women cannot imagine; and won battles that utterly transformed the world for those of us who followed.

But pioneer life is hard, and the grim truth is that you don't always find the paradise you set out for when you were young and full of energy. And the journey changes you, sometimes in ways you could not have forseen and would not have chosen.

I've walked enough of this trail myself to be hauling plenty of baggage of my own. I viscerally understand the feeling that we have earned our place at the table, and we're owed this last piece of validation -- a president who speaks for us -- before we exit stage left. And while I was never a Hillary partisan, I shared the excitement so many of us of a certain age felt at the possibility that this time, the last glass ceiling was finally within rock-throwing range.

But what we learned from Hillary's campaign is not how far we've come, but -- after all we've survived -- just how far we still have left to go. That's a sad thing to realize this far down the road. And, ironically, black America is probably feeling pretty much the same way about the uglier moments of Obama's campaign. We stopped having national conversations on race and gender somewhere in the early Reagan years; but the rampant sexism and racism of this campaign -- too much of it coming from clueless white men and women in the media, who are clearly still trading in horrific sterotypes of both women and African-Americans in power -- reminded us that we didn't stop having them because anything got resolved. We stopped because people were tired, worn out, and had yelled themselves hoarse and deaf, and wanted to go home and raise their kids and think about something else for a while.

Well, that while's over. And we're left confronting the fact that -- goddamit! -- most of that work is still undone, and we're going to get to spend our final decades having those conversations all over again.

Let's be clear on this: the whole blacks-versus-women frame was a false one from the get go. You could hardly design something more exquisitely calculated to split the party along its most crucial faultline than that breathless "Blacks or Women? Who Gets To Make History?" narrative that dominated the political season for six straight months. It was set up to absolutely guarantee that one of the party's two most important constituencies would inevitably end up with hurt feelings, and might even withhold support as a result.

And damned if it didn't work. Ugly things got said all around that left everybody with bad blood --- let's please be grownups and admit that it wasn't just one side, and nobody gets to be the Bigger Victim here -- and played hell with party unity. I'm sure Karl Rove is happier than Chris Matthews sucking down ribs at a John McCain barbecue about all this; but we need to take note of what happened here and make sure we don't let ourselves be played this way again.

We would have done well to understand that frame earlier, question it harder, and search out its proponents more carefully. Patching things up is going to take a long time. Worse: it's going to slow us down at a time when we need to moving faster and more cohesively than we ever have.

One of the most common things I heard from Hillary's female supporters was: "It's our turn." As someone who takes a very long view of history -- and who likes to believe that its recurring past patterns sometimes tell us interesting things about the likely future -- I'm not inclined to agree.

For 150 years, women's rights advances have pretty reliably followed African-American rights gains by about 10-15 years -- and were almost always precipitated by them. The original suffragist movement was a direct outgrowth of the abolitionist movement; and most of its early founders were members of both. The feminist revolution of the 1970s likewise grew directly out of the civil rights struggles of the late 1950s and early 60s.

And there's a logic to this. White men, as holders of privilege, seem to be more easily persuaded to share it with other Penis-Americans than they do with women. (And even then, they extend it to men of color on very limited terms, inviting them into the game only after they've thoroughly rigged it to look fair, while guaranteeing that they'll continue to win.) In the years that follow, these guys invariably find their own wives and daughters coming to them, arguing that if black men can vote/go to college/own property/whatever, then how can they continue to withhold those same privileges from the women they love so dearly?

It's a reasonable enough argument (despite the strongly racist and classist overtones that are too often part of these negotiatons), so white women soon get their own version of the goodies, too, typically within half a generation of African-American men. And then the conversation stops. Black men and white women are all at the party now, so then...uh...that's everybody, right?

This repeating dynamic is why so many women of color see feminism as a white women's movement; and why brown, yellow, and red men don't always feel solidarity with the struggles of their black brothers. The sisters are all in it together, arm-in-arm -- right up until the white girls get theirs. And then then their attention always somehow gets diverted to other things, and the black and brown women are left to figure out the rest on their own. Likewise, Latino, Native American, and Asian men often get their rights as a sort of accidental afterthought, usually long after white women have come to take them for granted. And so it goes.

Not a particularly inspiring or attractive picture -- but it's the way this stuff has always gone down in America, and I'm not seeing any compelling reasons this time around should be any different. Given this history, it makes sense to me that we'd elect a black president first, and then a woman sometime in the decade or two that followed. Once America extends a privilege or right to black men, it becomes much easier for white women to step forward and claim it as well. And while it's not the news a lot of Hillary supporters want to hear -- and cold comfort indeed if you're not a white woman or a black man -- Obama's nomination is likely a positive sign that if you're white and female, your turn really is coming, and soon.

The real conflict that defined the choice between Hillary and Obama wasn't about melanin content or X chromosome status. It was about a generational hand-off of power -- a demographic shift that Obama saw coming, and Hillary did not.

This long primary exposed the crucial fact that the torch is, at long last, really being passed to a new generation of Americans. As of this year, for the first time, Generation X and the upcoming Millennial voters form a rising political tide that's big enough to swamp the Boomers in the voting pool. (For more about this trend, see Millennial Makeover
by Murray Winograd and Michael Hais.) This is likely to be a new and unwelcome experience for the Boomers, who by sheer dint of numbers have dominated every election since the bulk of them started voting in 1968.

Bring on the flamethrowers, but I'm going to say it out loud: Most of America under 50 is sick to tears of the way Boomers -- both left and right -- do politics. They're fed up with that confrontational eat-shit Nixonland political style that's defined everything for 40 years. It's rigid and polarizing and hostile to compromise, and the country is suffering mightily because it's paralyzed us so thoroughly. Hell, even the GOPpers are over it: they're reaching back to a Silent generation candidate rather than put up another Boomer. (If anyone uses the word "Vietnam" between now and November, violence may ensue. In fact: I'll quite cheerfully hurl the first brick myself.)

Obama, standing on the cusp of Gen X himself, looked at the numbers; and he carefully crafted his campaign to appeal to this emerging group, who see far more clearly what's not getting done, and don't have a lot of patience with anyone who seems likely to let their personal pursuit of power get in the way of getting the country back on track. They're done with Nixon, Reagan, Bushes, and yes, both Clintons, too.

What Hillary was offering by way of contrast was "experience" -- that is, more of the Boomer same -- in a change election where many voters considered experience with the old politics a significant negative. Going forward, the progressive movement needs to mark this lesson well, and a start to seriously address the demographic shift that's now in progress. Hillary showed us the hard way that the time of talking about the past is over. From now on, we need to stay relentlessly focused on looking ahead.

These younger generations are going to do politics in a very different way. Where we Boomers tended to be rugged indvidualists who stood outside the system, questioned authority relentlessly, and demanded that things change to suit us, these younger voters like to form up teams, get inside a system, take it over, and remake it from the inside out to suit them. They're not afraid of rules and structure; and they don't have a lot of patience with people they see as tantrum-throwers, or those who'd rather stand outside and offer critiques than get involved and do something constructive. These are important cultural differences that could lead to some serious miscommunication if we're not careful.

They're also very comfortable with authority -- a trait that tends to make Boomers extremely uncomfortable, until we realize that they learned it at our very own knees. As parents, teachers, and coaches, we worked very hard to be honest, credible, trustworthy authorities for the generations that followed us. Their alarmingly eager willingness to put their trust in leaders is, ironically, an impressive measure of how well we succeeded.

The hard part is going to be trusting them in return. If the old guard tries to hold on too tightly, or puts up too much resistance to their changing agenda, we risk alienating them, squandering our own hard-won authority, and perhaps turning these young voters off of progressive politics for life. It's not an overstatement to say that how we treat them in this election, and the next one, will very likely determine the fate of American progressivism for the next 40 years. This generation is the most naturally progressive one we've seen in our lifetimes -- but that won't last if we handle the hand-off badly.

What we need to take away from Hillary's candidacy is the strong understanding that something is shifting in the progressive universe; and that what lies ahead is going to be a sharp left turn from the four decades past. The legacy of this year's primary will include freshly renewed conversations on the meaning of race and gender; a radical shift in the way Americans approach change; and the arrival of the vast new wave of reinforcements who are going to take the movement some very different directions. Hillary's success -- and failure -- came about at the nexus point of all those shifts, at once foreshadowing a tantalizingly different future and at the same time putting a final exclamation point on the politics of an era now passed.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

About Republicans and Race

The scene at a rally for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.
[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]
So it seems that Jonah Goldberg is upset at those nasty liberals again — this time for having the audacity to say that racism, embodied in the tenure of the recently deceased Jesse Helms, is a significant cog in the Republican Party machinery.

I think I see another book in the works: "Liberal Racism: In Which I Continue To Project The Right’s Own Worst Propensities Onto My Opponents." Or something like that. At least, that’s what happened the last time he got on one of these jags.

He’s already off to a great start:
For the last several years preening liberals have argued that conservatism and "Dixiecrat-ism" are symbiotic, if not one and the same. These liberals, in the words of Bill Voegeli:
"… believe—or avail themselves of the political advantages of professing to believe—that the essence of conservatism is and always has been Dixiecrat-ism. This is not a point of antiquarian interest; the clear implication is that everything that conservatism has accomplished and stood for since 1965—Reagan, the tax revolt, law-and-order, deregulation, the fight against affirmative action, the critique of the welfare state…everything—is the poisoned fruit of the poisoned tree."
This is akin to what Goldberg did in Liberal Fascism: create three big fat strawmen and then oooh and aaah as they go up in flames. The first is a "modern liberal" who is a caricature with only a vague resemblance to anything any known or representative liberal actually is like. The second is a liberal’s description of conservatism that similarly has only a superficial resemblance to what any serious liberal actually says. And the third is a version of conservatism that is so narrow and self-serving that it effectively obliterates a substantial portion of the Americans who, historically, have actually been considered "conservatives" at the time.

You can see this as he trundles onward:
The line peddled by Paul Krugman and countless others, that the GOP majorities and victories of the last thirty years are all the poisoned fruit of the poisoned tree of Dixie is simply untrue. Whatever Helms’ personal druthers, his political maneuvering room was constrained by the fact that the GOP is not a racist party.

… Now, a word about the South. I’m no expert, but the story of the South’s sloughing off of racism and its movement into the GOP fold, is one of the most egregiously under-told and distorted tales of modern political history. (John O’Sullivan points to one aspect of it here.) The bigotry aimed at the South never ceases to amaze me. Indeed, it is astounding to me how the left tells us we need to understand the nuance of, say, the Jihadi mind in all of its shades of gray, but when it comes to the voting habits of law-abiding white North Carolinians all you need to know is that if a white hand pulls a lever for a Republican politician, that hand must be attached to a racist, and that racism guided the hand to vote for a Republican. The South is a complicated place. Racism was certainly its central shortcoming, but it was hardly its only feature. That so many people can only see the racism, even as its half-life accelerates, says more about their myopia than it does about the region it casts its gaze on.
So, a brief reality check: Goldberg does not cite any liberals who actually say that "the essence of conservatism is and always has been Dixiecrat-ism" because, frankly, there aren’t very many of them.

Most liberals and other critics of the American right take a much more nuanced and realistic view — essentially, that not every conservative is a racist, but rather that every actively practicing racist is a conservative; and that this is the case in today’s context not just because racists always have been conservatives, but because the conservative movement has made constant accommodations and appeals to them.

This has been so for a long time, but has become even more self-evident as the Republican Party became the party of the Dixiecrats. The Southern Strategy (note that Goldberg evades any mention of this whatsoever) not only was designed to provide wink-and-nudge acknowledgment to racists that the GOP was on their side but to blunt the advancement of minority interests.

Functionally, this not only pulled the GOP farther to the right, but it also had the effect of continuing to empower racists and enable them to translate their beliefs into law. Indeed, the GOP at one time was not a racist party. But as it reached for power, it empowered and recruited racist elements to the extent that it became functionally racist. It was not a mere coincidence that David Duke was attracted to the GOP. It may have couched policy choices in non-racist terms throughout, but in adamantly defending white privilege and attacking programs to help minorities, it undertook the agenda of racists. Goldberg can deny that this is distinct from actual racism all he likes, but in the real world it becomes a distinction without a difference.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the racist and non-racist elements of conservatism, but that also implies that they are not identical; rather, what’s clear is that the GOP has pandered to racists as a means to obtaining electoral strength enough to win power, and the racists have accepted the muting of their old-fashioned bigotry in exchange for gaining political power. Were it not for the ministrations of the GOP to their withering corpse of an ideology, white supremacy would have vanished from the political scene many years ago.

Moreover, the argument that racism is dying on the vine in the South is absurd and laughable on its face, because the legacy and influence of racism remains pervasive there and not only persists, but does so precisely because the GOP has given it power foothold within its own ranks. The most painfully obvious example of this is the continuing outsize influence of the neo-Confederate movement within the party: This movement, as I’ve discussed at length previously, is not merely arch-conservative but positively radical; it not only defends the Confederacy and slavery and denounces Lincoln, but it argues for outright secession. Sean Wilentz has written at some length about it, among others.

And then there has been the more recent surge in racist nativism emanating from Republican ranks, particularly from the more "arch conservative" faction of the party. One suspects that Goldberg would simply like to define them away as not being "real conservatives" (that was how he handled the matter in his book), but rest assured they would do the same to him. To the rest of us, well, if it walks like a Klansman …

Of course, "libertarian" Republicans like Goldberg are in steadfast denial about the significance of these strains, but the heat of those denials can’t dissipate the ongoing hard reality.

The overarching narrative that Goldberg is trying to construct here is the same one he deployed in Liberal Fascism, to wit, one in which conservatism is narrowly and conveniently redefined to include only the libertarian/free-market component while denying that other components — particularly the racist, anti-gay, and generally xenophobic blocs — don’t really represent conservatism.

This, put nicely, is a gargantuan pile of horseshit. Conservatism as we have known it in America is not just Russell Kirk and William Buckley but also John J. Calhoun, Theodore Bilbo, and Strom Thurmond. There are indeed libertarian and anti-centralized-government strands to conservatism, but there have also always been reactionary, bellicose, jingoistic and simply racist strands to it as well; the Southern Strategy, in fact, had the effect of wrapping those strands together and bringing them to real political power.

This was embodied in Jesse Helms, an unrepentant racist and homophobe whose Bircherite worldview poisoned the nation’s political climate for three decades and more. A lot of people have reminisced about Helms this week, but my favorite Helms story — because it illustrates his core nature, as well as that of his fellow conservatives, brilliantly — comes from a Sept. 12, 1995 Reuters news report:
Helms (R-N.C.) seemed somewhat shocked when the caller from Alabama said, "Mr. Helms, I know this might not be politically correct to say these days, but I think you should get a Nobel Peace Prize for everything you’ve done to help keep down the niggers."

"Oh, dear," guest host Robert Novak said.

"Whoops," said Helms. "Well, thank you, I think."

"That was the bad word," Novak said. "That was politically incorrect. We really don’t condone that kind of language, do we?"

"No. No," said Helms, a vocal opponent of affirmative action.

Helms went to say the slur is not part of his lexicon.

"My father didn’t condone it when I was a little boy," the 73-year-old senator said. "One of the worst spankings I ever got was when I used that word, and I don’t think I’ve ever used it since."
What was noteworthy about both Novak’s and Helms’ responses, of course, was that they were flustered over the use of "the n-word". Neither bothered to even address, let alone repudiate, the content of the man’s remarks — you know, the part about "keeping the niggers down." Indeed, Helms seemed to thank him for them.

There may have been much more to Jesse Helms — but his bigoted approach to race revealed a narrow, pinched, and mean-spirited mind dedicated ultimately to primitive racial nationalism and willing to inflict injustice and harm on those he considered his lessers, and that manifested itself in a broad array of policy choices. And that, in the end, is exactly what we can say about the Republican Party, too.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Now You Can Be A Minuteman From The Comfort Of Your Couch!

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Now here’s some exciting news:
"Couch Patrol" Launches Monday

Operation Virtual Vigilance Ready to Go

After a delay to allow correction of technical difficulties having to do with camera scheduling , a system of border cameras controlled over the Internet that Fox News labeled the "couch patrol" last April, will begin full-scale operation this Monday, July 8, according to American Border Patrol.

Originally conceived by ABP in September of 2005, the border camera system, now called Operation Virtual Vigilance, can be controlled over the Internet, including pan-and-tilt and camera controls (zoom, etc.). At present ABP operates two systems, both on its ranch in Southeastern Arizona. One camera is stationary and the other, with its solar power, can be moved from place to place. More systems are to be added to the network in the near future.

Color and thermal cameras are used.
And when they’re not busy watching the border — or maybe when the endless monotony of the uninterrupted desert landscape gets to be too fucking boring to watch (which will be after about 10 minutes at most) — hey, they can play that shooter video game where you pick off the Mexican border crossers.

Actually, this probably is good news. These people will represent one hell of lot less danger both to themselves as well as other people by just staying on their couches. Really.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

‘That’s Some Catch, That Catch-22.’ ‘It’s The Best There Is’

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Imagine being stuck in a Kafkaesque nightmare like the one my pal Eric Ward faces:
I’m African-American and my family moved to California almost a hundred years ago after a lynching took place outside their hometown in Kentucky.

I’m also undocumented, or in the current anti-immigrant vernacular, “illegal.” I don’t have the necessary documents to prove my identity. Therefore, within four years, I won’t be able to vote, have access to social services, or receive state identification to travel.
How did this happen? Well, it all began when Ward — who has a visual disability, so he does not carry a driver’s license — lost his passport and Social Security card in an airport mishap. To replace them, he found he needed a copy of his birth certificate. After much wrangling, he finally obtained it.

But that was just the beginning:
A few days later I headed to the Social Security Administration to obtain a replacement social security card. But when I got there, the Social Security Administration said I needed more than just a copy of my birth certificate. They said I also needed a passport, driver’s license, or state identification card to prove my identity.

But since I went to the Social Security Administration to obtain a new copy of my social security card so I could get a new passport, the Social Security Administration didn’t know what to do with me. So, they told me to head across town to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office to get my social security card. But when I arrived, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office said I needed my social security card to obtain any official document to prove my identity.

Now I’m stuck in a Catch-22 and I’m not alone in this predicament. Almost nine percent of African Americans (18 or older) are unable to document their citizenship. * Roughly 2 million African Americans, eleven million native born citizens, and nearly twice as many low income Americans than citizens with higher incomes don’t have a social security card, driver’s licenses, passport, birth certificate or proof of naturalization. *
As Swati Pandi at the LA Times blog observes, this all boils down to a simple formula: "Want to prove who you are? Get a birth certificate. Want to get a birth certificate? Prove who you are."

It’s not just African Americans who are being swept up in this hysteria, and it isn’t just this misbegotten measure that is victimizing ordinary American citizens. You can also include Native Americans and senior citizens among those whose status as voting citizens is now considered dubious:
Bernice Todd’s Choctaw family roots are sunk deep in the soil of Oklahoma, a state whose very name is Choctaw for "red people." But in the middle of a debilitating battle with cancer, Todd, a 39-year-old who cleans homes at a trailer park and baby-sits for a living, lost her state Medicaid health care coverage because, although she’s a Native American, she could not prove she is a U.S. citizen.

While Todd’s case is rich in irony, she is one of tens of thousands of Americans who are falling victim to a new federal rule—aimed at keeping illegal immigrants off the Medicaid rolls—requiring that recipients prove their citizenship and identity with documents many don’t have.
… States have always been required to check a Medicaid applicant’s eligibility, which includes citizenship. But a July 2006 rule, enforced by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), now demands specific documents as proof, such as a passport or a birth certificate, driver’s license or military record. States face fines if they don’t comply.
The rule, which neither CMS nor the Bush administration requested, was adopted by the Republican-dominated Congress in 2005 despite the fact that there was no evidence that undocumented immigrants were falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to get Medicaid.

"This rule was the answer to a problem that really doesn’t exist," says Donna Cohen Ross, an analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, a nonpartisan research organization.
That pretty much describes the nativist approach to immigration in general. And in the process of fixing something by making it worse, they’re conveniently disenfranchising thousands, perhaps millions, of American citizens, stripping them of their rights as citizens.

I happen to be one of those old-fashioned curmudgeons who believes that citizenship is a sacred part of how a democratic republic functions, and that taking away those rights is not what government should be in the business of doing. But maybe that’s just me.

Hulk Smash Evil Muslim Brown People! Rarrgh!

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Here’s Ted Stevens, via CelticDiva and Progressive Alaska, talking about Mark Steyn’s travesty of a book America Alone:
Read the book America Alone. A lot of people complain about that book … look at the demographic concepts of that book and just think about what’s going on in the world and decide whether we want to become Italy or we want to become … France, in terms of our society and how it’s impacted by those who are really against us.
Ah yes. This was the book in which you could read the following passage:
Why did Bosnia collapse into the worst slaughter in Europe since World War Two? In the thirty years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 percent to 31 percent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 percent to 44 percent. In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography — except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out — as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ‘em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.
As I said at the time:
I don’t see how it’s possible to interpret this excerpt — given that Steyn is also contending that these demographics are inevitable throughout Europe, and he offers no solution that would accommodate or assimilate Muslims — as anything other than outright advocacy of genocide and the Bosnian model of "ethnic cleansing" for the rest of Europe. Hitchens, rather typically, softens it by noting that Steyn is saying "that Serbo-fascist ethnic cleansing can appear more rational in retrospect than it did at the time."
And Senator Intertoobs thinks he’s just friggin’ brilliant. And no doubt, within the Village, he’s considered a serious person.

All I can say is: Go Mark Begich.

[H/t to Matt Browner Hamlin.]