Thursday, May 14, 2009

She better not be offended

So much for ignoring a shit stirrer's shit.
The most confrontational words were aimed not at any other candidate but at Mayor Ray Nagin.

While other candidates talked of finding peace with the administration despite recent, very public dust-ups, Clarkson advocated using the budget, the council's main source of power, to even the scales.

Boulet said that the council "has the power to create a parade. If the mayor wants to be at the head of the parade, he can. If he doesn't, he doesn't...Five votes overrides a veto."

Stephanie Grace wrote that in her Oct. 7, 2007 column (not available online). As I recall the event, Head didn't quite do justice to Boulet -- the ellipsis took the place of some strong words on Boulet's part, if memory serves. Also, Boulet went first and got a very positive response from the crowd. I got the impression that Clarkson saw that the audience wanted a city council that would stand up to the mayor and decided to trump Boulet's emotion with know how. Still, she seem prepared to back up what she said. That part of the reason why I recommended a vote for Boulet or clarkson, and that's why Clarkson's been such a disappointment.

Now, read the Picayune's account of Stacy Head's emails:
In an exchange of messages with Councilwoman Shelley Midura, Head refers to Clarkson as "an ASSS" and "a disaster" and says, "I am so tired of her old time politico bs I can't stand it." Midura replies, "I know -- jackie just literally pays lip service to us, and it ain't workin anymore."

Head's not alone in being tired of Clarkson's "old time politico bs."

I think that this aspect of the email controversy is just silly, but I will be curious to see how Head's comments about a food stamp user will somehow be used as a sign of a racial prejudice. Public comments by politicians about "welfare queens' and others who take advantage are often thinly veiled racial appeals, but Head thought this was a private message, why would anybody feel the need to use "code words' in a private conversation?

I haven't posted much since the email controversy started a couple of months, but I have been tempted to comment on Jarvis DeBerry's columns on the matter (I'm sure that's a surprise). On march 12, Lolis Eric Elie wrote:
Presumably, public officials realize that Louisiana law allows for few exceptions to the documents considered public records. But average citizens -- who might e-mail a public official about criminal activity or a personal issue -- might not realize their correspondence is subject to public records law.

If, for instance, a constituent wrote to his or her council member to complain about the crackhouse next door, the criminals would be able to learn who reported the nuisance.

DeBerry has written several columns about the topic, at least two of those columns ridiculed the thought that council members should expect their emails to be private, but he never says anything about the privacy of residents. Of course, he's never felt the need to reconsider his first column on the subject. He never does. A famous quote, of indeterminate origin comes to mind whenever I read DeBerry.

Of course, it didn't help that Head, Fielkow, and company tended to discuss the matter in legal rather than political or emotional terms. They talked too much about pending legal issues and not enough about the privacy of private residents. They certainly didn't use terms like "crack house," "fear for personal safety" or "private health matters" as much as they should have. Make the legal case in court and make the political case when the a reporter sticks a microphone in your face, right? It would have been so easy to put Tracie Washington on the defensive before it got this far.

She isn't using "code words" to strike a subtle racial tone with an audience of voters, she's making a crude racial joke with her lawyer buddy. I translate it as "I will vote for McCain because of a person in front of me using food stamps" The short-hand implication is the lady in front of Head is black so Head won't vote for the black candidate. I'm sure you've heard people talk like this before.
Yes, that one interpretation. I've also heard complaints about public assistance that have little or nothing to do with racial prejudice, and those generally lead to talk of voting for the conservative.

The Stacy Head is a racist (as opposed to just an unpleasant person) meme reminds me of the Clinton as race-baiter (as opposes to opportunistic bitch) meme which reminded me of the Gore is either a liar or crazy meme. In each case it relied on questionable, sometimes very questionable, and subjective interpretation of statements that individually proved nothing. True, Gore was deliberately misquoted, but the Clintons were deliberately quoted out of context (e.g."fairy tale"). In all three cases, when confronted with the dubiousness of individual charges, the accusers fall back on the sheer volume of dubious charges, forgetting that where there's smoke, there's often deliberately manufactured bullshit.

In the case of both Clinton and Heas, the original charges were absurd, BTW. "Fairy tale" and the questions that a Clinton supporter raised about the mention of cocaine use in Obama's book started it with Clinton. Andrew Sullivan wrote that the latter was an attempt to scare white woman, and, instead of being laughed at, he was welcomed back into the liberal fold. Can anybody honestly imagine that a similar attempt wouldn't have been in any two person race inwhich one of the candidates had admitted to cocaine use? In the case of Head, the whole thing began when she questioned the integrity of the demonstrably dishonest boss of a demonstrably dishonest department.

I've actually started to post on this several times, but if I didn't write such a post very carefully, it would get ripped to shreds. Also, if you say that the charge of racism is thrown around too cavalierly, people tend to call you a racist.
As far as I'm concerned, the sentiment is ugly whether it is racially motivated or not. And I'll admit that I'm only speculating as to race of the "shopper" based on my reading of the comment and how I think it best makes sense. I'll also admit that this degree of dissection of these frivolous statements is unnecessary... but so what? The difference between people like Sullivan deliberately twisting (some but not all of) Clinton's comments in order to generate controversy and us sitting here trying to figure out why Head said what she said is that they're being intentionally dishonest while we're just having a conversation.
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