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Archive for July 14th, 2010

During her honeymoon speech at the Republican National Convention in 2008, Sarah Palin echoed a jab at Barack Obama that had been lurking around in Republican circles for most of that year. Earlier at the convention, Rudy Giuliani famously brought it up through his gigantically-toothy grin and childish giggling. But it was Sarah Palin who would get most of the credit for it.

I’m referring here to the emphasis on President Obama’s service as an urban community organizer. Clearly, this was a Southern Strategy-style racial dog whistle — a way of underscoring the president’s ethnicity, his race and his association with scary inner-city black people.

It’s worth mentioning again the Lee Atwater quote regarding the functional language of the Southern Strategy. Suffice to say, Atwater made it perfectly clear that Republican political tactics included (and still do) exploiting race — winning white votes by demonizing blacks. And the way to play this game in the modern age was to use code language. Dog whistles, because overt racial language would too easily “back fire.”

At the time, Atwater suggested the exploitation of issues like tax cuts or states rights with the implication that the Republican Party supported the preservation of white dominance. (Not surprisingly, tax cuts and states rights dominate the 2010 political discourse.) And the demagoguing of issues like welfare, affirmative action or Medicaid would underscore, to predisposed white voters, the fallacious notion of lazy black freeloaders horking white jobs and white tax dollars and not contributing anything to society other than crime.

And there was Sarah Palin in her prime time debut mocking the president’s early career as a community organizer — the implication being that the president was a product of black culture and not “real Americans.” Combine this with the ongoing emphasis on the president’s “spread the wealth around” remark to Joe the Plummer — the Republicans very obviously playing the “welfare queen” dog whistle here. And we all remember how Sarah Palin went “rogue” and fueled the Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim-terrorist myth (part of early Birther lore) by repeatedly telling her rabid white audiences that the president “palled around with terrorists.”

Sarah Palin is and was a Southern Strategist.

(more…)

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Crooks & Liars- By Heather Wednesday Jul 14, 2010 9:00am

Rachel Maddow reviews the case against six New Orleans police officers who are now finally facing federal charges for shooting unarmed citizens on the Danziger Brige in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It’s really sad that it has taken this long for the Justice Department to finally be doing something with this case. It’s long overdue. TPM has more.

DOJ Charges Six NOPD Officers Involved In Danziger Bridge Shooting:

The Justice Department has charged four New Orleans police officers with opening fire on unarmed civilians in the days after Hurricane Katrina, killing two and wounding four. The DOJ has also charged them, and two other officers, with conspiracy relating to the resulting cover-up.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the charges in an afternoon press conference today, five years after the shootings on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans.

Four police officers — Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso — are being charged with civil rights violations in connection with the shootings. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

The two others, Archie Kaufman and Gerard Dugue, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kaufman and Dugue were the investigators in the original case, and are accused of falsifying reports and false prosecution.

Five other police officers and one civilian have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the cover-up. The four accused of the shooting had been charged with murder in connection with the incident, but the case was thrown out in 2008.

On Sept. 4, 2005, seven NOPD officers, including the four charged today in the shootings, rode to the Danziger Bridge after getting reports of officers under fire. There, they encountered a family on their way to the supermarket for supplies. For unknown reasons, the officers allegedly opened fire, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding others.

The officers then allegedly drove to the other side of the bridge, where they found another group of people and again opened fire. Ronald Madison, 40, who was mentally disabled, was shot in the back and killed.

Faulcon is the one who allegedly shot Madison, according to the indictment. Bowen is accused of kicking Madison as he lay on the ground dying.

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