November 22, 2006


The new black power in Congress (Lynne Varner, 11/22/06, Seattle Times)

As part of the power sweep in Congress, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., ascends to majority whip, only the second black ever to hold that post, and Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., becomes chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, the panel responsible for tax and health-care policy. Then there's Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who will sit at the helm of the Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., presiding over the House Committee on Homeland Security.

You could hardly ask for a better theme with which to lure Latino voters to the GOP--and Indians, Out of India, En Masse and on the Way Up: Population Influx Vastly Outpaces Other Groups (Cecilia Kang, November 22, 2006, Washington Post)
Poonam Kapani Khosla steered her clients into the $1.3 million Chantilly model home, skipping trophy features like the Sub-Zero refrigerator. All talk was about having enough space to accommodate dozens of family members for dinners and extra bedrooms for the stream of relatives arriving from India to settle in the United States.

The real estate agent grasped the transformation occurring in the Washington region. The once-small Indian immigrant population, which for decades expanded at a slow but steady rate, has ballooned over the past decade. Immigrants from India are settling here faster than any group except Salvadorans. [...]

Backed by these growing numbers, Indians have been seeking a bigger voice in politics and business, through groups like the Indian American Leadership Initiative, which aims to put more Indian Americans into elective office, and TiE-DC, a networking club that helps connect Indian executives in the region with new businesses, funding and deals.

Hidden behind the $87,369 median income for Washington area Indian households -- higher than the median income for whites, other Asians, blacks and Hispanics, according to new Census Bureau figures -- there are some problems. Hundreds of thousands of South Asians are in this country illegally, largely by overstaying tourist or student visas, said Deepa Iyer, executive director of South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow, a District-based advocacy group.

...maybe even Jews, Blackballed: The Congressional Black Caucus' petty politics (Conor Clarke, 11/22/06, TNR Online)
Mel Watt is, and should be, a fairly happy man. On November 7, the North Carolina representative and chair of the all-Democratic Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) witnessed election returns that will, come January, make the 43-member caucus more powerful than it has been at any point in its 37-year existence. On November 8, Watt fired off a press release that made zero effort to contain the glee. "A Brand New Day for the American People," it declared, before going on to detail the various leadership and committee spoils his caucus would reap. It was, newspapers soon agreed, a pretty impressive treasure heap: five major committee chairs, 17 subcommittee chairs, and a whip spot to boot. But it's more than just big numbers. "It's historic," says CBC spokeswoman Myra Dandridge.

Well, so was the Rubik's Cube. But historic is not the same as desirable, and the question to be asked of the CBC's rise isn't whether it's unprecedented; it's whether it will actually lead to positive change. That's a harder one to answer: On one hand, it's true that the CBC's agenda--headlined by a bread-and-butter push to close disparities in health care, education, and employment--will be good for black Americans (and, as I wrote two weeks ago, good for keeping them in the Democratic Party). Then again, except for an interest in something called "equity in foreign policy," the agenda isn't so different from the party's boilerplate populist line: Good luck finding a Pelosi Democrat who supports healthcare inequality. But more worrying is that, over the last few years, the CBC has seemed less concerned with pursuing the interests of black Americans than with protecting the interests of black congressmen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 22, 2006 8:13 AM

The challenge for the Democrats will be to mark a course for the racial spoils system of so-called "afffirmative action," the gravemen of which is to create for persons of African and mixed African descent the kind of patronage they would have enjoyed if they had come over on the Mayflower.

Now as the Mayflower people are taking care of themselves very well, thank you, the new quota system comes about to the detriment of more recent immigrants. The spoils cannot be extended to them: there is just not enough to go around.

The countermeasure should be to exploit the natural fissure between the would-be favored minority and other minorities. This should be rerlatively easy. Americans of East Asian and South Asian descent are already the big losers. Moreover, the ideological justification for the system has always included the notion that it was to have been temporary, that at some point in time, the artificial privilege would run out.

Such point in time is rapidly approaching, and the holders of racial benefices must look about for fomulae to establish their privilege in perpetuity. It turns out that that a kind of law of felial regression obtains in matters of social mobility, so the contradiction is irrepressible.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 22, 2006 8:59 AM

The CBC will be even more marginalized under a Democratic majority because Pelosi cannot afford to give more than a 30-second listen to them.

With the CBC, the issue of reparations is always on the edge, and with a majority in Congress, someone (academics from Harvard or Penn, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, etc.) is bound to bring it up. And Nancy knows a 40 seat loss will follow.

If Steele had won in MD, it would have been interesting to watch the CBC try to deny him membership (as was threatened somewhere).

What will the CBC do when Condi or JC Watts is elected V-P?

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 22, 2006 8:49 PM