Raw Thought

by Aaron Swartz

Blame the Terrorist Black Muslims

As John McCain sinks in the polls, it’s been amazing to watch one of America’s two major parties adopt wholesale an insane racist conspiracy theory and to watch the mainstream media lap it up. Back when Republicans were insisting that the Clintons ran an underground drug-smuggling ring and murdering their political opponents, you at least had to send away for the video. Now it’s broadcast 24-hours-a-day on CNN and Fox.

The claims, outlined in this seizure-inducing Web ad (since deleted from McCain’s site), are basically that Barack Obama, left-wing terrorists, and inner-city blacks have teamed up to cause the mortgage meltdown and commit voter fraud to ensure Obama wins the election. Yes, in an era when huge banks are failing left and right and the Republican is down 14 points in the polls, Republicans are convinced that poor African-Americans must be responsible. If only!

It’s all blatant lies, of course, but it’s really been incredible to watch the Republicans be forced into such lunacy. And, of course, it’s undoubtedly setting the stage for more repression and violence against powerless blacks. And ACORN, one of the few organizations that actually helps these communities, is just being shredded by the media because of these false allegations. Of course, it’s also a cover for ongoing attempts at voter intimidation and other sleazy tactics to steal the election.

There’s a lot of confusion about what happened, so let me explain it simply: as the dot-com bubble was bursting, Alan Greenspan looked for a new place to park all that cash. And the answer was houses. It was a dot-com bubble repeat in slow-motion. Prices rose and rose, people started withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity from their house, “experts” on CNBC (like David Lereah) said that housing prices would always go up, brokers started issuing mortgages to everyone with a pulse, everyone began buying and flipping homes.

The mortgages were sold to upstream firms, among them Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which conservatives had insisted on privatizing to let the market’s magic work. The upstream firms packaged them into securities to sell to the big pile of money and then all bought insurance on each other to ensure that if one failed the whole thing would come crashing down. (Conservatives refused to regulate the insurance market — the government isn’t smarter than these big banks, they said.)

Fail it did, as soon as the housing bubble burst and housing prices returned to their normal levels. This meant the new mortgages weren’t worth paying back, meaning the mortgage-backed securities were worthless, meaning it was time to collect on the insurance, meaning the whole system came crashing down. And thus, the bailout.

You can see why conservatives might prefer to blame it all on blacks.

These tactics infuriate me. I don’t know how to stop them, but I will do my small part by donating to ACORN. I hope you’ll join me.

You should follow me on twitter here.

October 15, 2008


I don’t know about you but one of the main things I warn my imaginary children they must never do is engage in the nefarious practice of “bullying banks”. Shudder.

posted by Thomas David Baker on October 15, 2008 #

Thanks. Donated.

posted by Ben on October 15, 2008 #

You are totally right about “socialist” being a code word for “scary black person”, among other things. (It’s amazing to watch people call Obama socialist without a trace of irony while we’re rapidly approaching 1 trillion dollars of risk-socialization in the financial sector).

However, I’m not sure that the MSM is lapping this up. I don’t watch TV but there is certainly nothing on cnn.com that I can find that gives any credibility to these accusations. Sure, NRO and the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page might out in left field, but what else is new?

posted by mark on October 15, 2008 #

Oh, wait wait wait! Even the WSJ Op-Ed page is sort of agreeing with you! Look: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122402888900234543.html

I’m having a hard time with anybody still pushing the idea that there is a right-wing media conspiracy in this country.

posted by Mark on October 15, 2008 #

Yes, it’s true! There’s one left-wing writer who gets a national op-ed spot once a week in this country. I guess that makes up for all the conservatives with their own television shows, newspapers, radio networks, etc.

posted by Aaron Swartz on October 15, 2008 #

As for CNN, http://www.google.com/search?q=site:cnn.com+acorn is a good place to start:

this growing controversy. … TUCKER: The workers doing the voter registration were from ACORN … Thousands of voter registration forms faked, officials say … ACORN — already faces allegations of filing fraudulent voter registrations … Barack Obama responded Tuesday to the McCain campaign’s efforts to link him to embattled community organizing group ACORN. …. ACORN has been in a voter registration drive for months but now near the end of the … ACORN strikes back at McCain … A new McCain Web ad ties Obama to ACORN — and suggests the group was … Obama’s relationship with ACORN … The Missouri governor said Obama’s ties to ACORN went a long way back, … We can’t allow leftist groups like ACORN to steal this election. … … That is the reason ACORN, a far-left leaning consortium of community activism, decided this election cycle to aggressively register voters … Senator Obama has the responsibility to rein in ACORN’s efforts … “Given the extensive relationship between Barack … The response challenging Obama to control ACORN is the latest in a …

posted by Aaron Swartz on October 15, 2008 #

Rachel Maddow. …actually a bunch of coverage has gotten momentarily better, but it’s not for the right reason. they’re just swinging the other way because they got yelled at, which is why most of them swung right.

the press isn’t part of the vast right wing conspiracy, it just got pushed around by it because it’s got no balls. At least back when it was openly partisan and openly corrupt it pushed back a little. maybe i’m being more critical than you. maybe being dragged around by the nose by whoever is pulling hard enough is worse than being corrupt yourself.

the sad thing is that until it grows a pair, it’s just going to get pushed around whichever direction again. the right is just better at pushing- helps to be more corrupt. of course if you want to be really corrupt it helps to have being corrupt as a valid part of your ideology.

does it show i’m pissed? i know they are failing everyone else, but these are supposed to be my people, for fuck’s sake.

i mixed pushing and pulling. naughty writer. too tired to fix.

posted by q on October 16, 2008 #

look, MSM doesn’t serve the republicans. it doesn’t serve the democrats. it doesn’t even serve we, the people. it serves it’s own interests and the interests of it’s advertisers. and i don’t know if you’ve noticed, but every left-wing blog accuses the MSM of being right-wing nutjobs, and every right-wing blog accuses the MSM of being left-wing wackos. that’s election season for ya.

also, conservatives do like deregulation. they do believe that the government isn’t a whole lot smarter than the “market”, whatever that is. and to be honest with you, since the democrats have been in control of congress i haven’t seen a significant uptick in the common-sense ratings for the country’s leadership. have you? i know you’ll blame it on bush, but seriously, how far does the executive branch’s power REALLY extend? when obama is president i’m guessing we’ll be reminded of just how limited the office really is.

and i AM tired of people referring to Obama as a “socialist” as if that made him a lesser candidate. i mean, the current administration has a lot of the same tendencies, and few are calling it “socialist”.

as for ACORN and the mortgage mess: i think you’re bias is showing just a wee bit. yes, conservatives called for deregulation. but liberals called for more housing for lower-income people. as if home-ownership is a right bestowed at birth. so fannie mae is persuaded during the Clinton administration to start handing out loans to, as you put it, “anyone with a pulse”.

everyone involved here is to blame. ACORN and fannie mae and the like for assuming that housing is a natural right like the right to free speech, every republicrat in washington who pushed for deregulation and/or subprime lending (to further feed the “homeownership as a right” notion), the people who took the loans for not being wise with their money, the sharks and bureaucrats who worry more about the short-term bottom line than long term diversification and sustainability, and the investors that pushed for such insanity. and, of course, the MSM for being generally reactionary and just trying to sell eyeballs.

i hope at least a few people learn through this that assumptions make an ass of all of us.

posted by nic on October 16, 2008 #

sorry, that should be “your bias”, not “you’re bias”.

i blame the islamo-fascist-left-wing-loan-shark-socialist-black-male-ayers-linked politicians for my mistake. because that’s rational.

posted by nic on October 16, 2008 #

every left-wing blog accuses the MSM of being right-wing nutjobs, and every right-wing blog accuses the MSM of being left-wing wackos. that’s election season for ya.

That’s like saying “every scientist says evolution is true and every fundamentalist christian says it’s false. that’s religion for ya.”

liberals called for more housing for lower-income people.

So? The problem is the housing bubble; lower-income people certainly didn’t cause that.

posted by Aaron Swartz on October 16, 2008 #

The key factor in making this a global credit crisis (as opposed to a mere mess) seems to be frankly shady financial risk-modeling combined with “leverage” supposedly a factor of THIRTY (i.e. dealing with amounts THIRTY TIMES reserves). It’s pretty amazing from a mathematical point of view.

Accusing poor minorities of responsibility for that is so laughable as to show how little accuracy matters compared to racist demagoguery.

posted by Seth Finkelstein on October 17, 2008 #

Actually, Nic’s post is fairly balanced compared to the main blog post.

“That’s like saying “every scientist says evolution is true and every fundamentalist christian says it’s false. that’s religion for ya.”

Crappy analogous thinking that doesn’t hold. Your analogy assumes that there is a verifiable truth as to what political thought holds sway in the media. Me thinks you have confirmation bias, much like nic alluded too (even Chomsky says that much of the media is liberal in ‘Understanding Power’. Chomsky!).

This blog post is also racist BTW. It assumes that poor = black. CAUSE ALL BLACKS ARE POOR AMIRITE?

The majority of the poor in the USA are white. Learn your demographics. Some of you seemed to have confused racial/earning inequality median with a universalised concept (That black wage medians are less than whites, which is true, therefore it must follow that blacks must overall be poorer than whites in aggregate, which is false).

posted by haha on October 22, 2008 #

“haha” -

a) whether or not there is a “verifiable truth as to what political thought holds sway in the media” is something that can be discussed. There are plenty of data. For instance: you could easily take a sample of newspapers editorials over some time & count up who is “blamed” for the subprime crisis.

b) The fact that the majority of poor in the US are white is meaningless: the majority of people in the US are still white. I am not sure what the rest of your comment means. If by “poorer” you mean “less wealthy” (that is, having less accumulated capital), well, black/white wealth inequality is even worse than black/white income inequality.

posted by erik on October 22, 2008 #

I don’t think it’s fair to accuse Fox (much less CNN) of “broadcasting an insane racist conspiracy theory 24 hours a day”. McCain has seen quite a bit of push-back from “mainstream” pundits and news analysts in the past few weeks, even some who were in the tank for him a few months/years ago. Several prominent conservatives have argued that he is running a despicable race-baiting campaign, including most recently Colin Powell (though stated less bluntly), and there has been widespread media coverage of this trend, including on CNN, Fox, etc.

To be sure, the attacks on ACORN are unfounded, politically motivated bullshit, and it is very disappointing that MSNBC, CNN, etc. don’t clearly explain that ACORN is the only one wronged by these “fraudulent” voter registrations, and that the electoral process is not, in fact, in any danger—the only cost here is the (comparatively tiny) extra processing election officials need to do to verify a bunch of extra voter registrations (tiny because that the vast majority of registrations are legit and the “fraudulent” ones don’t cost more to process than legitimate ones, I’d assume)—but the “MSM” hasn’t really been spinning the story the way the McCain camp would like it to.

posted by Jacob Rus on October 23, 2008 #

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