The following is a post I wrote at Corrente which continues an ongoing bit of flamewar whose context may be a bit mysterious to my usual readership. Corrente's owner decided it was too flamewar-y for the front page his blog, but I meant to say what I meant to say, because it illustrated the point I wanted to make. I believe those with Corrente accounts can still read it, but I intended to put it on the open Internet and here it is. I mean, it has a high snark level, and I can understand why someone may not want to encourage that level on their site.
The overall context is that while I think that Obama was a somewhat bigger campaign risk than Hillary Clinton, I do believe she lost due to a small number of misapprehensions about why the Obama campaign took off the way it did. And that some of these misapprehensions are reflected in the PUMA movement---which I believe to be real, and reflecting a consequential reality---in a different way.
The specific context is a series of posts about the mortgage meltdown which reveals the kinds of poor ideological and political judgement that mars the PUMA movement. However, the owners of the Confluence blog decided to compound the error with a very interesting set of circumlocutions, which I proceed to take down.
Well! You may recall my recent scathing critique of a Confluence post on the mortgage meltdown that I thought was at best buying into tedious old right-wing saws about anti-discriminatory measures. I am flattered to report that, despite her disagreement with me over the admittedly trolly bit at the end, Anglachel has seen fit to cite my post approvingly in one of her own.
Well, this finally provoked the "Conflucian"* response. And it has appeared as a pair of posts by riverdaughter and by dakinikat (who wrote the post I originally objected to). Needless to say, these are awesome circumlocutions from start to finish. For example:
However, it is the case that sometimes reality is reality and people in the news of all races, class, status, color, gender, you name it, do things that make them look bad. This is an unavoidable fact of like. It is also the case that sometimes programs and federal funds that are created for very good purposes are exploited by people who happen to be of all races, class, color, gender, you name it, who *are*, after all, imperfect humans. Greed and bad behavior is not restricted to Republicans. We have seen that some Democrats are quite capable of it.
Amazing. So, astonishingly, all kinds of people are bad. This is what we have discovered. And thus we are invited to ignore the context of what dakinikat actually said in her post. Bad person is bad.
The comments, oh the comments. They could fill and entire blog's worth of deconstruction. Like the blog posts that precede them, they studiously avoid discussing how exactly we got here. For starters.
And as for dakinikat, it is so tempting to quote the "my black friend" she pulls near the end---it would be like shooting a tuna balanced on a wet thimble. Or the appeal to "peer-review" authority, as though peer reviewed journals do not continuously contradict each other even in real science**. But that's not the important bit. The important bit is right at the beginning, where she reasserts the very article that's at issue, the Liebowitz article that buries a very charged set of ideological claims under an ultimately quite irrelevant discussion and analysis of mortgage typology. And she does so not merely apparently oblivious to the objection, but also forgetting why the objection was raised: an claim about the Congressional Black Caucus.
So, as I recall, commenter Valhalla admonished me in the last post that I did not attempt to engage with them. While I felt I had good reason to critique them from Corrente rather than from their comments, I attempted to correct this by posting the following brief but substantive response to dakinikat:
Dakinikat insists on repeating the Liebowitz business, which I made the very focus of my own post to which Anglachel links. Its entire purpose is to do one of three things, and probably all:
* Discredit the idea that mortgage approval discrimination exists against minorities (while ignoring subsequent evidence and argument to the contrary).
* Blame the foolishness of mortgage lenders on *gasp* an anti-racist policy, when it's been amply shown that this is not the case.
* Blame the allegedly impending economic collapse on mortgage qualification liberalisation, deflecting it from the actual cause, which was allowing these segments of the credit apparatus to be overleveraged.
These three things are interconnected by ideology, and they bear a number of ideological fruits. One of these begins with "r". Oh no!
Yes, it is sharp and critical, and yes, it is somewhat snarky. But, unlike nearly anything else on either Confluence response posts or their comments, it addresses the point being made directly. What Liebowitz is saying is basic and well-known glibertarian cant (which is sometimes popular with economist-types). But it is an ideological claim no matter which way his data actually falls out. Because economics doesn't really tell us half us much as it claims to do, about the facts, but it sometimes gives us a language to talk about ideology.
And I happen to believe that the predictable result of this type of glibertarianism is a racist result. I'm sorry if this hurts anyone's feelings.
However, I am known there as a "crazed Obama-loon", and my substantive response was quite predictably deleted, and quickly. And the moderator decided to respond with:
fuck off mandos.
Oh, woe is me. But: at least Valhalla should now know why I didn't try the first time.
So, the point is not that PUMAs are burning crosses on their front lawns, or aren't perfectly nice people who wouldn't go out of their way to give a brown guy a break, or don't have dark pigmentation themselves. It doesn't even mean they have no legitimate complaint, or that their complaints are entirely motivated by nefarious intent. Far from it. It is merely that the PUMA movement, at least as represented by quite a proportion of Confluence regulars, has allowed defensiveness and anger over Obama campaign strategy to severely blunt their political judgement, even so far as misunderstanding the actual tactic the Obama campaign used. And, for that reason, we should hope beyond hope that this poor judgement is not loudly echoed in the wider political sphere.
*They apparently have a web radio show called "Conflucians Say". Uhm. I really couldn't resist, sorry.
**Economics is dressed-up moral argument at best, well before it is science, and the Liebowitz paper at issue is no exception.
What follows is a comment thread that I think is also interesting in itself, but I'm still working out what/how to refer to things for which I've written a response comment.