Thursday, July 10, 2014

You Know They’re Thinking It

The cat’s out of the bag.

In Waukesha, Wisconsin today, a group of business leaders held a press conference to press Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The event was part of a so-called National Day of Action for Immigration Reform – coordinated by various groups including the US Chamber of Commerce and Mike Bloomberg’s Partnership for a new economy. But things got kinda of weird when a local developer named Dagoberto Ibarra got up to make an impassioned speech which ended with him say “”I’m not seeing anybody doing anything. This is the most useless Congress in the last eight years, because a n—-r is in charge.”

Presumably the climate of fun for all came to a rather screeching halt with Ibarra’s invocation of the N-word.

Ibarra first denied making the statement, which seems kind of hard since he apparently said it at a news conference. He then apologized and said he “was making a reference to what Republicans say.”

Like it’s a big secret.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Quote of the Day

Convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza says African Americans are better off because of slavery.

Did America owe something to the slaves whose labor had been stolen? [Yes, but] that debt . . . is best discharged through memory, because the slaves are dead and their descendants are better off as a consequence of their ancestors being hauled from Africa to America.

Oh, I’m sure they’re grateful.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Defending Racism

Now that the United States Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the Washington football team’s trademark registrations because “they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” and President Obama once said that he thought the team should change its name, of course the Orcosphere has determined that the dictator has spoken.

It puts the right wing in their comfort zone to be defending the God-given right of white corporate America to be racist, especially if Barack Obama thinks otherwise.  It’s what they’re really good at.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Whites Of His Eyes

North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis keeps the minority outreach juggernaut going.

State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-NC), the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, said that the “traditional” voting bloc of his home state wasn’t growing like minority populations in an interview he did in 2012.

In that interview with the Carolina Business Review, Tillis, who is running to defeat incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), was asked what he thought of Hispanics not supporting Republicans.

“When you see all of these things that have transpired, what do you think about?” Carolina Business Review host Chris William asked Tillis.

In response, Tillis said that the answer had more to do with “demographics of the country.”

“If you take a look, you mentioned the Hispanic population — the African American population, there’s a number of things that our party stands for that they embrace,” Tillis said. He went on to say that Republican need to do a better job reaching out to minority voters. Tillis then said that unlike the Hispanic or black populations, which have been growing, the “traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable.”

[...]

Tillis was referring to North Carolinians who have been in the state for a few generations, according to the state lawmaker’s campaign.

“”Traditional” North Carolinians refers to North Carolinians who have been here for a few generations,” Tillis campaign Communications Director Daniel Keylin told TPM. “A lot of the state’s recent population growth is from people who move from other states to live, work, and settle down in North Carolina. Thom Tillis for example.”

So that means there were only white people in North Carolina until Barack Obama ran for president, and they only joined the Confederacy so they could get free Groupons.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Post-Racial America Update

According to conservatives, electing Barack Obama ended racism in America, so anyone who points out that there are still racists in America is, in fact, racist themselves.

For example:

Two black workers in a Tennessee cotton factory just filed a federal complaint against a domineering white supervisor who called them “monkeys” and was recorded lamenting racial integration while telling them the water fountain and microwave were for whites only. Happy 2014!

The men, who worked at the Atkinson Cotton Warehouse in Memphis, shared their story—and their secret recordings—with WREG-TV.

Obviously the workers are the ones who are the racists.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday Reading

“Stop and Frisk on Steroids” — Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic on the shameful practice in a Miami suburb.

Last year, police in Miami Gardens, Florida briefly made headlines after surveillance video captured their harassment of a black clerk at a convenience store. They stopped and questioned the man, Earl Sampson, a ludicrous 258 times. On 62 occasions, they arrested him for trespassing at his place of employment, a pattern of abuse that confounded his employer, the store’s owner. After the Miami Heraldexposed this story, it made national headlines at numerous journalistic outlets, then quickly faded into obscurity at the end of one news cycle. The scope of the abuse taking place in the police department remained unknown. The vast majority of outlets that covered the story cared too little to follow up.

Now evidence of staggering citywide abuse has come to light.

After a 6-month investigation, the TV network Fusion has documented a racist, illegal policing strategy that a local public defender calls “stop and frisk on steroids.” One Miami Gardens police officer reports that his supervisor ordered him to stop all black males between the ages of 15 and 30. Just 110,754 people live in Miami Gardens, yet going back to 2008, police have stopped and questioned 56,922 people who were not arrested. There were 99,980 total stops that did not lead to arrests, and 250 individuals were stopped more than 20 times.

Fusion also documented multiple instances of police officers falsifying official field reports, claiming to stop and question people who were actually already in county jail.

This is stellar investigative journalism.

Denzel Flowers, who is 20, has been stopped by police 27 times and arrested 4 times, but has never been convicted of anything.

While teenage, twenty-something and thirty-something black males were subjected to the most intense police harassment, Fusion also found that even some of the youngest and oldest residents in the city were deemed “suspicious” by police:

Fusion’s analysis of more than 30,000 pages of field contact reports, shows how aggressive and far-reaching the police actions were. Some residents were stopped, questioned and written up multiple times within minutes of each other, by different officers. Children were stopped by police in playgrounds. Senior citizens were stopped and questioned near their retirement home, including a 99-year-old man deemed to be “suspicious.” Officers even wrote a report identifying a five-year-old child as a “suspicious person.”

A 99-year-old man!

One imagines that the septuagenarian crime rate in Miami Gardens is quite low, Florida or not. Yet police there conducted 982 stops of individuals aged 70 and above.

[...]

This is the reality of anti-racism in American public discourse. Maximum outrage and urgent demands to do something are marshaled against offensive words. A Princeton student who critiqued the concept of white privilege in the school newspaper made national headlines and inspired numerous essays picking apart his logic. But public employees with guns harassing, intimidating, and humiliating innocent black children, because they’re black, every day in their neighborhood? Fusion published that story Thursday morning and almost no one noticed.

One Angry Father v. The N.R.A. — Kate McDonough in Salon on the man who may blunt the gun lobby.

Richard Martinez’s son Christopher was among the six college students murdered this weekend in Isla Vista, California. It’s impossible to fathom the grief that Martinez must be experiencing right now, and the simple fact that he is upright and mobile is an act of tremendous courage. Which is precisely what makes everything else that he has done in the days since he lost his son all the more astounding.

From his first public statement — a blistering and emotional indictment of “craven” politicians who refuse to act on even moderate gun reform — to the tribute to Christopher he delivered Tuesday before a crowd of thousands, Martinez has been willing to show his raw and devastating grief to the world. He has made himself the gnarled and anguished face of our broken system — the lives that it takes and the lives that it ruins. His vulnerability and righteous, focused anger is unlike anything we’ve seen in response to a mass shooting.

And it should scare the shit out of the National Rifle Association, the gun lobby and the cowardly politicians who use these deadly weapons as literal and figurative political props.

It isn’t just the force of Martinez’s emotions or political conviction that make him powerful. He is currently shouldering the unimaginable grief of being yet another parent who has lost yet another child in yet another mass shooting. He has seen this happen before, he knows the political script that’s already playing out. He has listened as gun apologists — time and again — urge the nation not to “politicize” a national tragedy out of respect for the families, and then watched them turn on these same families in order to protect our deadly — and immensely profitable — culture of guns. And he’s using it. All of it.

Days after 26 people were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut, Wayne LaPierre denounced gun reform advocates for “exploit[ing] the tragedy for political gain.” Months later, Sarah Palin echoed the sentiment. ”Leaders are in it for themselves, not for the American people,” she told a crowd that summer, before effectively declaring how proud she was that her son Trig would grow up in a country where men like Elliot Rodger and Adam Lanza can buy guns and hoard ammunition without authorities batting an eyelash.

Martinez may be the single most powerful force we have against this kind of slithering political cowardice. He’s already familiar with the political dirty tricks and knows where the conversation will eventually turn — that the pro-gun crowd is going to come out hard against him, just as they have turned on other parents and survivors. “Right now, there hasn’t been much blowback from the other side,” Martinez noted during a Tuesday interview with MSNBC. “But I anticipate that once my grieving period is over, the gloves will come off. I don’t think it’s going to be easy. They are going to try to do to me the same thing that they’ve done to all of these people. But I have a message for them: My son is dead. There is nothing you could do to me that is worse than that.”

I can’t imagine a more direct rebuttal to the LaPierres and the Palins in this country.

Losing Streak — Jeffry Toobin in The New Yorker introduces us to the lawyer defending bans on marriage equality.

You think you’ve got a tough job? Try opposing same-sex marriage in the federal courts these days. That’s what Austin Nimocks does for a living (among other things). Nimocks is senior counsel for a conservative public-interest group called the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is devoted to protecting religious liberty. In recent years, the organization has been a principal legal defender of what it calls “traditional marriage.” Things have not been going so well lately.

Since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last June, in United States v. Windsor, fourteen courts have considered challenges to same-sex-marriage bans and related laws—and all fourteen have ruled in favor of marriage equality. Two weeks ago, the Washington Post did a summary of the first thirteen. Then a federal court in Pennsylvania joined the list. (It’s hard to keep up!) To summarize: same-sex marriage is now legal in nineteen states, which contain roughly forty-four per cent of the U.S. population. Judges in eleven other states have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, but those decisions are stayed pending appeals.

All of this does not discourage Nimocks, who just published a report about the state of the law on marriage around the country, and a brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage should be reinstated. “We don’t worry too much about what the district courts say,” he told me. “All that matters is how the Supreme Court comes out in the end.”

[...]

The heart of Nimocks’s argument comes down to a single word: children. Over and over again in his sixty-page brief, he asserts that the government has a legitimate interest in favoring traditional marriage because only a man and a woman can produce children. “Marriage laws have been, and continue to be, about the pragmatic business of serving society’s child-centered purposes, like connecting children to their mother and father, and avoiding the negative outcomes often experienced by children raised outside a stable family unit led by their biological parents,” he writes. He attempts to elide the obvious response—that not all opposite-sex couples want or can have children—by saying that Virginia can presume that they will. The purpose of limiting marriage to men and women “is not to ensure that all marital unions produce children. Instead, it is to channel the presumptive procreative potential of man-woman relationships into enduring marital unions so that if any children are born, they are more likely to be raised in stable family units by both their mothers and fathers.” This, then, is Nimocks’s best response to the argument (raised by Justice Elena Kagan at the oral arguments) that marriage is about more than just having children, because lots of married people can’t or don’t have them.

There is a potentially fatal flaw in Nimocks’s child-centered argument. At the oral arguments of the Windsor case, and in the Court’s opinion, one of the Justices also seemed especially interested in children. It was Justice Kennedy, the indispensable swing vote on issues of gay rights. “There are some forty-thousand children in California that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status,” Kennedy said during the arguments related to Windsor’s companion case, on California’s Proposition 8. “The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?” In his opinion in Windsor, Kennedy wrote that the Defense of Marriage Act “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” The laws that Nimocks is defending operate in much the same way—which means that his losing streak may not end when he reaches the Supreme Court.

Doonesbury — Pitch perfect.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Case For Reparations

I was saving this article in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates for Sunday Reading, but it’s too good to save.

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

[...]

No one can know what would come out of such a debate. Perhaps no number can fully capture the multi-century plunder of black people in America. Perhaps the number is so large that it can’t be imagined, let alone calculated and dispensed. But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.

Please read the whole thing.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Reading

Sixty Years Later — From The New Yorker, Lee C. Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, on the legacy and the future of integration in American

So here we are, sixty years after Brown, and fourteen years away from Justice O’Connor’s wishful ending point: popular referenda have become a favored shortcut to terminate affirmative-action programs; we have a constricted and decontextualized manner of discussing race and diversity in higher education; there is a leaderless public debate about these issues; and primary and secondary education is growing more segregated.

This is a bleak and tragic picture, and it should be a reminder that we urgently need a more serious, realistic, and open discussion about race in the United States today. Along with it, we need a new movement like the one that led to Brown—before it is too late, and the issue vanishes beneath another cycle of inattention.

This movement, we know from past experience, can be led from the middle of the political spectrum. During the Grutter lawsuit, as the University of Michigan faced wide public skepticism and I struggled to enlist effective allies, it was former President Gerald Ford, a proud Michigan alumni, who responded to my request that he write about affirmative action, and who first stood up for our case. Ford appealed to the common decency of most Americans from his own personal experience. Writing in the Times, Ford recalled an incident from his days as a college football player, when his close friend Willis Ward, one of the best players on the Michigan squad, withdrew himself from a game at Georgia Tech after the opposing team “reputedly wanted [him] dropped from our roster because he was black.” Ford continued: “I have often wondered how different the world might have been in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s—how much more humane and just—if my generation had experienced a more representative sampling of the American family.” President Ford then quoted his Democratic predecessor, Lyndon Johnson: “To be black in a white society is not to stand on level and equal ground. While the races may stand side by side, whites stand on history’s mountain and blacks stand in history’s hollow. Until we overcome that history, we cannot overcome unequal opportunity.”

Together, Johnson and Ford understood what a current majority of our Supreme Court does not. And, in their different ways, they communicated to the American people what a university president cannot.

The nation’s struggle with race may be tiring, but it is not behind us. We need voices from all walks of American life to be raised, urging us to stand together on higher ground, to avoid regressing back to an era of more segregated and more unequal education.

The Long Twilight of Democracy — Andrew O’Hehir in Salon on the decline of what we think of as democracy.

The aura of democratic legitimacy is fading fast in an era when financial and political capital are increasingly consolidated in a few thousand people, a fact we already knew but whose implications French insta-celebrity Thomas Piketty and the political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page (of the “oligarchy study”) have forcefully driven home. Libertarian thinker Bryan Caplan sees the same pattern, as Michael Lind recently wrote in Salon, but thinks it’s a good thing. In America, democracy offers the choice between one political party that has embraced a combination of corporate bootlicking, poorly veiled racism, anti-government paranoia and a wholesale rejection of science, and another whose cosmopolitan veneer sits atop secret drone warfare, Wall Street cronyism and the all-seeing Panopticon of high-tech surveillance. You don’t have to conclude that noted climate-change expert Marco Rubio and Establishment mega-hawk Hillary Clinton are interchangeable or identical to conclude that it isn’t much of a choice.

Most critiques of democracy as it currently exists, certainly those from the liberal left, assume that democracy can and should be fixed and that it’s just a matter of switching off the cat videos and doing the work. They remain inside the conceptual and ideological frame mentioned above, the idea that democracy is the only legitimate expression of politics. This has the force of religious doctrine, and in fact is far stronger than any religious doctrines to be found in the Western world. Our democracy may be stunted or corrupted or deformed by bad forces of money and power, these arguments go, but it self-evidently remains the ideal form of government, and it is our responsibility to redeem it. If only we can build a third party around Ralph Nader (that went well!), if only we can ring enough doorbells for Dennis Kucinich, if only we can persuade Elizabeth Warren to run against Hillary – you’ve heard all this before. There are many versions of this strategy, some more plausible than others, but they all rest on the faith that the promised land of real democracy is out there somewhere beyond the horizon, waiting for us to reach it.

As the Italian political scientist Mario Tronti has noted, this faith in a golden future, with its implicit apology for the current state of affairs, may sound oddly familiar to those whose cultural memories extend back to the Cold War. It’s exactly what defenders of the Soviet “experiment” said over and over. Yes, “actually existing socialism” had its limitations, most of which resulted from imperialist meddling and ideological backwardness, but one day our grandchildren, or their grandchildren, would finish the task of building a communist society. That was hogwash, Tronti says, and so is the insistence that we should judge democracy based on some imaginary potential rather than what it is in practice. “This theoretical-practical knot that is democracy,” he writes, “can now be judged by its results.” What we see around us “should not be read as a ‘false’ democracy in the face of which there is or should be a ‘true’ democracy, but as the coming-true of the ideal, or conceptual, form of democracy.”

In other words, we have to consider the possibility that the current state of American politics, with its bizarre combination of poisoned, polarized and artificially overheated debate along with total paralysis on every substantive issue and widespread apathy and discontent, is what we get after 200-odd years.

Second Verse, Same as the First — Frank Rich in New York magazine: The Republicans go after the Clintons again, which only makes them stronger.

The Democrats will publicly scold the Republicans for recycling yesterday’s garbage. But in private they should pray that Priebus and his camp will bring it on—the old Clinton sex scandals and, better still, some new ones, real or fantasized, the more women the better. The received wisdom that sex scandals threaten a Hillary run is preposterous. It’s the reverse that’s true. The right’s inability to stanch its verbal diarrhea on the subject of female sexuality—whether provoked by rape, contraception, abortion, “traditional marriage,” gay marriage, gay parenting, or pop culture—did as much as anything to defeat Mitt Romney, his “binders full of women” notwithstanding, in 2012. (He lost women voters to Obama by 11 percentage points.) And that obsession with sex can defeat the GOP again. Todd Akin, the avatar of “legitimate rape,” may be gone, but many of the same political players will be in place in 2016 as in 2012—more than a few of them alumni of the Clinton sexcapades of the 1990s. No matter how much Republican leaders talk of reining in their sexist language (though not their policies) to counter charges that the GOP conducts a war on women, they just can’t help themselves. Whether or not there’s a war on women in 2016, there will be a rancorous and tasteless war on one woman. And it is guaranteed to backfire, drowning out fair G-rated questions about the Clintons’ dealings just as Monica and other “bimbo eruptions” drowned out such now-forgotten Clinton scandals as Filegate and Castle Grande.

To appreciate how inexorably the Clintons will seduce the GOP into another orgy of self-destruction, it helps to recall the tone of the insanity the couple induced among their opponents the first time around. That recent past has been obscured in the American memory by the rise in Bill Clinton’s stature and, most of all, by the subsequent detour of right-wing ire to a new hate object in the White House, an actual black president as opposed to merely an honorary one. In addition, many Americans who will vote in 2016 are too young to have grasped or witnessed the Clinton craziness firsthand. (Some first-time 2016 voters weren’t yet born when the Lewinsky story broke in early 1998.) They may be startled to discover what they missed. Only a novelist could capture the mood back then, as Philip Roth did in The Human Stain: “In the Congress, in the press, and on the networks, the righteous grandstanding creeps, crazy to blame, deplore, and punish, were everywhere out moralizing to beat the band … all of them eager to enact the astringent rituals of purification that would excise the erection from the executive branch, thereby making things cozy and safe enough for Senator Lieberman’s ten-year-old daughter to watch TV with her embarrassed daddy again. No, if you haven’t lived through 1998, you don’t know what sanctimony is … It was the summer when a president’s penis was on everyone’s mind.”

Doonesbury — dynasty dynamics.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday Reading

More Elegant Racists, Please — Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic on the style and substance of racism.

The problem with Cliven Bundy isn’t that he is a racist but that he is an oafish racist. He invokes the crudest stereotypes, like cotton picking. This makes white people feel bad. The elegant racist knows how to injure non-white people while never summoning the specter of white guilt. Elegant racism requires plausible deniability, as when Reagan just happened to stumble into the Neshoba County fair and mention state’s rights. Oafish racism leaves no escape hatch, as when Trent Lott praised Strom Thurmond’s singularly segregationist candidacy.

Elegant racism is invisible, supple, and enduring. It disguises itself in the national vocabulary, avoids epithets and didacticism. Grace is the singular marker of elegant racism. One should never underestimate the touch needed to, say, injure the voting rights of black people without ever saying their names. Elegant racism lives at the border of white shame. Elegant racism was the poll tax. Elegant racism is voter-ID laws.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” John Roberts elegantly wrote. Liberals have yet to come up with a credible retort. That is because the theories of John Roberts are prettier than the theories of most liberals. But more, it is because liberals do not understand that America has never discriminated on the basis of race (which does not exist) but on the basis of racism (which most certainly does.)

Ideologies of hatred have never required coherent definitions of the hated. Islamophobes kill Sikhs as easily as they kill Muslims. Stalin needed no consistent definition of “Kulaks” to launch a war of Dekulakization. “I decide who is a Jew,” Karl Lueger said. Slaveholders decided who was a nigger and who wasn’t. The decision was arbitrary. The effects are not. Ahistorical liberals—like most Americans—still believe that race invented racism, when in fact the reverse is true. The hallmark of elegant racism is the acceptance of mainstream consensus, and exploitation of all its intellectual fault lines.

Upping the Ante — John Nichols in The Nation on how Seattle leads the way on minimum wage.

Seattle and the state of Washington have histories of recognizing the need to raise wages so that working people will not face the reality of putting in a forty-hour week while remaining stuck in poverty. The current minimum wage for Washington workers is $9.32 an hour, the highest state rate in the nation. But the basic premises of the debate were jolted last fall by the election to the city council of Sawant, an Occupy activist and Socialist Alternative candidate who made advocacy for a $15 wage central to her bid. At the same time, voters in the nearby city of Sea-Tac backed a $15-an-hour proposal.

The Seattle election results shook that city and the nation into a new way of thinking about the minimum-wage debate. The Fight for $15 movement of fast-food workers, which Sawant and others credit for laying the groundwork for wage-hike campaigns in Seattle and cities across the country, has been strengthened by the fact that its proposals were being embraced by voters and policymakers. Activists nationwide are ramping up demands for wage hikes that will address poverty and income inequality. And instead of proposing only incremental changes that might be grudgingly accepted by business interests and conservative politicians, progressive Democrats have begun to notice the polling data that shows broad support for major wage increases.

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama embraced a proposal by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and California Congressman George Miller for a $10.10 hourly wage, and that popular position has become a baseline standard for progressives seeking state and federal posts in the 2014 election cycle.

But in expensive cities like Seattle, $10.10 an hour can still be a poverty wage. So, according to The Seattle Times, “Murray’s plan calls for the city’s minimum wage to climb to $15 an hour, phased in over three to seven years depending on the size of business and whether workers receive tips or benefits in addition to salary. After that, the wage would be tied to the Consumer Price Index, with estimates showing it rising above $18 an hour by 2025.”

[...]

And don’t think that this is just a Seattle thing. Fast-food workers and their allies across the country will be rallying in coming weeks for a $15 wage, and there are campaigns in communities and states across the country for wage-hike resolutions and referendums. What was once a debate about the minimum wage is becoming a debate about a living wage.

Back to Benghazi! — David Corn in Mother Jones on the GOP’s obsession.

The current outbreak of Benghazi Fever shows how strong the virus is—and that it is apparently immune to basic remedy.

On Friday, the Republicans went full Benghazi. House Speaker John Boehner announced he was setting up a special House committee to investigate the attack—that is, the Obama White House’s response to it. Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chair of the House government oversight committee, subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify before his committee on May 21 about the State Department’s handling of GOP congressional inquiries about Benghazi. (Apparently, Issa is now probing a supposed cover-up of the original supposed cover-up.)

This week, Issa, Fox News, and other Benghazi-ists rushed to the ramparts once again, when a White House email was released showing that a top Obama aide had suggested that an administration spokeswoman defend the president’s policy regarding the Arab Spring and the Muslim world following a series of anti-American attacks that included the September 11, 2012, assault on the US diplomatic facility in Benghazi. As part of the interagency effort then underway to prep then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice for appearances on several Sunday morning talk shows—the exercise that produced the Benghazi talking points Republicans have been howling about ever since—Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, wrote that one goal for Rice was to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

A-ha! cried the Benghazi truthers. Here’s proof that the White House schemed to convince the public that the tragic attack—which claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans—was merely the result of protests spurred by an anti-Islam video made by some American wacko, not the doing of Al Qaeda or its allies. President Obama and his comrades, the Benghazi truthers insist, wanted to cover up the politically inconvenient fact that Al Qaeda-ish terrorism was responsible for the killing of four Americans, since acknowledgment of this would have tainted the counter-terrorism credentials of Obama, the Bin Laden slayer, and decreased his chances of reelection.

But as we know now, the CIA and the State Department took the lead in fashioning the talking points. A year ago, the release of internal White House emails about the drafting of the talking points clearly showed there had been no White House effort to shape the narrative in a devious manner. (It appeared the CIA and the State Department were more concerned about their own bureaucratic imperatives.) And the new email from Rhodes is pretty standard stuff, indicating a White House desire to justify its policy on the Arab Spring in the face of troubling events. Rhodes was encouraging Rice to present the case that the anti-video protests that had occurred in various places in the Muslim world were sort of a one-off event, not an indication that the overall Obama approach toward the region was misguided. Note that Rhodes referred to “protests,” plural, when making this point. That week there had been violent anti-video uprisings in Egypt, Yemen, and Sudan, not just Libya. So all the fuss about the Rhodes email—which quickly passed through membrane between Fox News and the rest of the media, receiving airtime on CNN, ABC News, and elsewhere—is smoke, not fire.

[...]

For Obama’s political foes, the Benghazi narrative—that is, their reality-challenged version of it—offers too much benefit to be abandoned. It serves three fundamental desires of the right. The get-Obama crusaders have long wanted to show that the president is just another weak-on-defense Democrat, to demonstrate that he is not a real American worthy of being president, and to uncover an explosive scandal that eviscerates Obama’s presidency and provides cause for impeachment. Benghazi, in their feverish minds, has had the potential to do all of this. It is a candy store for many conservatives—no matter that the bins are empty. They will not—cannot—let it go. Nor can they simply focus on the real issues of what went wrong that dreadful night and what must be done to prevent another such disaster. They are love-sick for Benghazi. And for that, there is no cure.

Doonesbury — Clickbait.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The First Step

I never bought all that talk last year about the Republicans trying to re-brand and reach out to minorities and women, so it’s not much of a surprise that the big mouths in the party such as Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, and Donald Trump would either stand by Donald Sterling and the racism attributed to him or blame the victims.  (Mr. Trump says Mr. Sterling was “set up” by a “bad girlfriend.”  He speaks from experience.)

So it basically comes down to the question of how can you fix a problem when you refuse to admit that you have one in the first place?

Yes, I know that’s Step 1 in the A.A. rubric.  They still have eleven more to go.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sterling Example

I was waiting to see if there was any chance that the recording of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist rants were altered or faked; unlike the evidence of deadbeat rancher Cliven Bundy’s insight into our social fabric, Mr. Sterling was not standing in front of a crowd holding a microphone when he told his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, not to bring any more black people to the games.

Now there’s more evidence that not only did he say it, he went on to bemoan how ungrateful those people are that they have a job due to his beneficence: they’d all be on welfare if it wasn’t for him.

V: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.

DS: Well then, if you don’t feel—don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.

V: Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?

DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?

It turns out that Mr. Sterling has a long record of racial animus, including being sued for refusing to rent property to blacks.

Amazingly, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP was planning to give him a lifetime achievement award at a ceremony on May 15.  They have since thought better of it.

It is some kind of karma that in the last two weeks we have seen two examples that exemplify the most common forms of racism in America.  First with Cliven Bundy we have the anti-government sovereign citizen militia type that claims to hate any form of government while taking advantage of the services that very government provides.  These are the kind of people who refuse to pay taxes based on some conspiracy theory about secret overlords and the U.N., and just for grins they throw in with the neo-Nazis and skinheads.

Then there’s the more comparatively genteel types like Donald Sterling who amass vast fortunes by exploiting the people he despises, be they black or poor.  He hates big government and paying taxes, but he doesn’t pick up a rifle; he hires someone else to do his taxes and bank his money in the Caymans.  His racism is based not on some whack-job conspiracy theory of eugenics and bell-curves; it’s purely exploitative: I got mine, screw you.  But in the end, the only difference between Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy is wardrobe.

I suspect there are just as many Donald Sterlings in America as there are Cliven Bundys.  Despite the denials from the enablers at a certain conservative cable news channel, neither of them are outliers.  They are just the ones who happened to get caught on an open microphone.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

You Lie Down With Dogs…

The spokesman for the RNC has his tail all puffed up because the GOP is being linked to deadbeat rancher/racist Cliven Bundy.

RNC communications director Sean Spicer denounced the comments from the rancher who became something of a conservative hero earlier this month during a standoff with the federal government over gazing [sic] fees. Bundy’s star came crashing down on Thursday after the New York Times published quotes in which he wondered aloud whether blacks would be better off as slaves.

But Spicer also used the opportunity to criticize the media for injecting GOP politics into the story. He did not acknowledge, however, that several high profile Republicans, including possible 2016 presidential contenders, had praised the rancher before the racist comments became public.

“I think the comments that Mr. Bundy made with respect to race and other things were inappropriate and wrong, 100 percent out of line and not part of the discourse we need to have,” Spicer said. “But that being said, what I find fascinating as the chief spokesman for the Republican Party is that when a guy has a problem with cattle grazing and has a discussion about the size of the federal government and the overreach of the federal government, makes a comment every reporter calls the Republican National Committee asking for comment.”

That’s because the GOP has been latching on to people who rant about the size of the federal government and the overreach of the federal government for the last thirty years, you big dumb pink thing.  Your bought-and-paid-for cable news channel has put more coverage on Cliven Bundy than CNN has on the lost Malaysian jet, and Sean Hannity — perhaps you’ve heard of him — practically moved to Nevada to spoon the guy.

Josh Marshall:

…as the Simpsons once cartoonicly opined about Fox News: The GOP is not racist. But it sure is popular with racists. In fact, I think this is one of those cases where the story is best understood through the prism of the seminal 2005 oped in The Onion entitled “Why do all these homosexuals keep sucking my cock?

Why indeed? Why does this keeping happening?

It’s sort of like a really bad run of luck in which people spring up who espouse a lot of Republican positions, quickly get endorsed and trumpeted by a lot of Republican politicians and then suddenly turn out to be, well … really racist.

Indeed, why do all these homosexuals …

Now, let me be clear: this isn’t the GOP isn’t racist but … hell, wink, wink, yeah it’s pretty racist. It’s not. But a substantial number of its core supporters have views that are most generously described as retrograde on racial matters and simply not remotely suitable for public airing. And like any political party that seriously constrains its freedom of action on a whole variety of issues which touch on race – which is to say, about half of everything.

The GOP needs a good flea dip.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Out of Touch

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor didn’t mince words when she dissented from the 6-2 ruling upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions.  She read it from the bench and there’s no doubt that she was directing her words at the Chief Justice.

In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter. [Emphasis added]

The Chief took note:

The dissent states that “[t]he way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race.” … But it is not “out of touch with reality” to conclude that racial preferences may themselves have the debilitating effect of reinforcing precisely that doubt, and—if so—that the preferences do more harm than good. To disagree with the dissent’s views on the costs and benefits of racial preferences is not to “wish away, rather than confront” racial inequality. People can disagree in good faith on this issue, but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.

A little touchy, are we?

There would be no need in this country for affirmative action if there hadn’t been 300 years of racial discrimination and majority-enforced segregation at nearly every level of government and education.  It wasn’t wiped out by two laws and court rulings fifty years ago; it is still rampant and insidious today.  Just because the white patriarchs who never felt the sting or stigma of racial discrimination think affirmative action isn’t necessary any more doesn’t make it so.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Reading

The Easy Part — Jonathan Chait in New York explains implementing Obamacare was the easy part.

For all the Sturm und Drang, implementing a successful health-care reform was not actually very hard, for the simple reason that the United States started with the worst-designed health-care system in the industrialized world. When you spend far more on health care than any country, and you’re also the only advanced democracy that denies people access to medical care, it’s incredibly easy to design a better system.

Obamacare has two basic goals. One is to reduce the explosive rate of medical inflation, and the other is to give all citizens access to medical care. Medical inflation is indeed falling much faster than anybody expected four years ago, to its lowest level in half a century. And affordable health insurance is now available — insurance companies can’t use medical underwriting to exclude or charge prohibitive rates to people who need medical care, and people with low incomes get subsidized. It would be great if lots of people took up the coverage, but the simple availability of it is the main goal.

The health-care system still has lots of problems, beginning with the 5 million poor Americans cruelly denied health care by red state Republicans. Compared to an ideal blue-sky health-care system, we still fall short. What’s beyond question is that Obamacare has effected a revolutionary improvement by its own standards.

If it’s so easy to massively improve health care, why didn’t it happen before? Because passing a health-care reform through Congress is incredibly hard. The system’s waste created an enormous class of beneficiaries with a vested interest in the status quo. And the insecurity of private insurance made Americans terrified of change (which was necessarily complex).

And this is what conservatives have never understood. They act as if reforming health care is a mere matter of drawing up a health-care plan on paper and rounding up the votes, something they could do anytime they really feel like getting around to it, rather than a Herculean political task. They further convinced themselves that administering the new law would prove devilish if not impossible. They had it backwards.

The triumphs of Obamacare were designing a plan that could acceptably compensate the losers and generating the resources to cover the uninsured without alienating those with insurance. Designing and passing Obamacare was a project requiring real policy and political genius. Implementing it was easy.

Segregation Is Still With Us — Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic.

A few weeks ago I wrote skeptically of the jaunty uplifting narrative that sees white supremacy’s inevitable defeat. One reason I was so skeptical was because I’d been reading the reporting of Nikole Hannah-Jones. If you haven’t read her coverage on housing segregation you should. And then you should read her piece from this month’s magazine on the return of segregation in America’s schools:

Schools in the South, once the most segregated in the country, had by the 1970s become the most integrated, typically as a result of federal court orders. But since 2000, judges have released hundreds of school districts, from Mississippi to Virginia, from court-enforced integration, and many of these districts have followed the same path as Tuscaloosa’s—back toward segregation. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades. Nationally, the achievement gap between black and white students, which greatly narrowed during the era in which schools grew more integrated, widened as they became less so.

In recent years, a new term, apartheid schools—meaning schools whose white population is 1 percent or less, schools like Central—has entered the scholarly lexicon. While most of these schools are in the Northeast and Midwest, some 12 percent of black students in the South now attend such schools—a figure likely to rise as court oversight continues to wane. In 1972, due to strong federal enforcement, only about 25 percent of black students in the South attended schools in which at least nine out of 10 students were racial minorities. In districts released from desegregation orders between 1990 and 2011, 53 percent of black students now attend such schools, according to an analysis by ProPublica.

Hannah-Jones profiles the schools in Tuscaloosa where business leaders are alarmed to see their school system becoming more and more black, as white parents choose to send their kids to private (nearly) all-white academies or heavily white schools outside the city. It’s worth noting that the school at the center of Hannah-Jones’ reporting—Central High School—was not a bad school. On the contrary, it was renowned for its football team as well its debate team.

But this did very little to slow the flight of white parents out of the district. (This is beyond the scope of Hannah-Jones’s story, but I’d be very interested to hear more about the history of housing policy in the town.) Faced with the prospect of losing all, or most of their white families, Tuscaloosa effectively resegregated its schools.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a political solution here. It’s fairly clear that integration simply isn’t much of a priority to white people, and sometimes not even to black people. And Tuscaloosa is not alone. I suspect if you polled most white people in these towns they would honestly say that racism is awful, and many (if not most) would be sincere. At the same time they would generally be lukewarm to the idea of having to “do something” in order to end white supremacy.

Taking Nutsery Seriously — Elias Isquith in Salon on what Cliven Bundy tells us about democracy.

Needless to say, the prospect of responding to this melodramatic and messianic crankery with ridicule is extremely tempting. And when you consider the fact that the Nevada Constitution, which Bundy claims to hold sacred and well above its federal counterpart, explicitly demands its adherents recognize the supreme authority of the federal government, that temptation becomes more seductive still. But while it’d be fun to respond to the Bundy set by cracking jokes about black helicopters and Agenda 21, it’d be a mistake to dismiss the Cliven crew’s success thus far entirely. There’s a reason they’ve gotten so much attention and spurred so much enthusiasm, especially on the right. Their prescriptions are wrong, but in their limited way, they’ve recognized the disease.

That disease is a growing sense of distrust of the government, which according to Gallup is reaching levels unseen in nearly 20 years. Americans have always been famously suspicious of government, of course, but even for America, having eight out of 10 people say they rarely or never trust the end-result of the democratic system is bad. And one of the reasons this intensifying mistrust is so worrisome is that it’s so obviously justified. Indeed, anyone who’s lived through the past 15 years of American politics — with the secret spying, the secret incarcerations, the secret torture, the secret drone strikes, and the secret indifference to the economic fortunes of the 99 percent — and still trusts their government wouldn’t just be naïve. They’d be a fool.

Two developments this week offer a useful glimpse of how the cynicism animating Bundy-styled populism is supported by a thin rail of truth. One involves Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary, Harvard president, and presidential economic advisor who in so many ways embodies Washington, D.C., as it functions in the modern era. The other features a major new report from two academics — one from Princeton, the other from Northwestern — who tried to figure out who, exactly, calls the shots in the U.S. and whose policy wishes are listened to by the White House and Congress. Put both stories together, and you begin to see where today’s pervasive anti-government sentiment is coming from.

Doonesbury — Bought and paid for.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Couple of White Guys Sitting Around Talking

The two whitest men on TV accuse President Obama and Eric Holder of playing the race card.

Fox News political analyst Brit Hume said that Holder and President Obama have “benefited politically enormously from the fact that they are African-American.”

“To those two men, race has been both a shield and a sword that they have used effectively to defend themselves, and to attack others,” Hume said.

Fox News contributor George Will said that liberals haven’t had any new ideas in a few decades, so they accuse people of being racist.

“Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s syndrome these days. Just constantly saying the word ‘racism’ and ‘racist,’” he said. “There’s a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn’t had a new idea since the 1960s — except Obamacare — and the country doesn’t like it. Foreign policy is a shambles, from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad.”

“So, what do you do? You say, ‘Anyone who criticizes us is a racist,” Will continued.

It’s just hilarious to hear these two men — both of whose views on race relations are problematic at best — get their tails all puffed up about both the president and the attorney general pointing out the obvious.  Republicans in and out of the government and on TV have gotten away with race-baiting and borderline slurs and then, in typical bully/coward fashion, acted as if they were the wounded party.

It’s also hilarious to see Mr. Will go off on all the problems that the country faces and lay them at the feet of Mr. Obama, as if the economic recovery from the the unmitigated disaster spawned by Wall Street and hindered by the Republicans was all his doing.  Project much, Mr. Will?

And yes, if you have to tell people you’re not a racist, chances are pretty good that you are.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Reading

Supreme Being — Ta-Nehisi Coates on why progressives misunderstand the role of white supremacy in America’s history and present.

​Arguing that poor black people are not “holding up their end of the bargain,” or that they are in need of moral instruction is an old and dubious tradition in America. There is a conservative and a liberal rendition of this tradition. The conservative version eliminates white supremacy as a factor and leaves the question of the culture’s origin ominously unanswered. This version can never be regarded seriously. Life is short. Black life is shorter.

On y va.

The liberal version of the cultural argument points to “a tangle of pathologies” haunting black America born of oppression. This argument—which Barack Obama embraces—is more sincere, honest, and seductive. Chait helpfully summarizes:

The argument is that structural conditions shape culture, and culture, in turn, can take on a life of its own independent of the forces that created it. It would be bizarre to imagine that centuries of slavery, followed by systematic terrorism, segregation, discrimination, a legacy wealth gap, and so on did not leave a cultural residue that itself became an impediment to success.

The “structural conditions” Chait outlines above can be summed up under the phrase “white supremacy.” I have spent the past two days searching for an era when black culture could be said to be “independent” of white supremacy. I have not found one. Certainly the antebellum period, when one third of all enslaved black people found themselves on the auction block, is not such an era. And surely we would not consider postbellum America, when freedpeople were regularly subjected to terrorism, to be such an era….

Beyond Hobby Lobby — Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones takes a look at what the implications of the Supreme Court case concerning Obamacare vs. corporate religious freedom could mean for other interpretations of the law and Constitution.

…Of course, the case isn’t just about Hobby Lobby. The Supreme Court is using it to address dozens of similar lawsuits by other companies that, unlike Hobby Lobby, object to all forms of contraception. But the inconvenient set of facts here are just one reason why the case hasn’t garnered a lot of support outside the evangelical community. Many religious people are uneasy with the idea of corporations being equated with a spiritual institution. At a recent forum on the case sponsored by the American Constitution Society, the Mormon legal scholar Frederick Gedicks, from Brigham Young University, said he was offended by the notion that selling glue and crepe paper was equivalent to his religious practice. “I’m a religious person, and I think my tradition is a little different from an arts and craft store,” he said.

Women’s groups fear a ruling that would gut the ACA’s contraceptive mandate. The business community, meanwhile, doesn’t want to see the court rule that a corporation is no different from its owners because it would open up CEOs and board members to lawsuits that corporate law now protects them from, upending a century’s worth of established legal precedent.

No one seems to really have a sense of how the court might rule. On one side, court watchers have speculated that with six Catholics on the bench, Hobby Lobby has a decent shot of prevailing. But then again, one of those Catholics, Chief Justice John Roberts, is also sensitive to the interests of corporate America. He seems unlikely to do anything that might disrupt the orderly conduct of business in this country and make the US Chamber of Commerce unhappy, as a victory for Hobby Lobby could. Scalia is an ardent abortion foe, but his view of Native American peyote users might incline him to find for the government.

Finding a reasonable way out of this case won’t be easy. The litany of bad outcomes has some legal scholars rooting for what might be called “the Lederman solution“—a punt. Georgetown law professor Martin Lederman has suggested that the lower courts have misread the contraceptive-mandate cases by assuming firms such as Hobby Lobby have only two choices: provide birth control coverage or pay huge fines to avoid violating their religious beliefs. He argues that while the ACA requires individuals to purchase health insurance, it doesn’t require employers to provide it. If companies choose to do so then the insurance companies must cover contraception without co-pays. Hobby Lobby and the other companies currently suing the Obama administration can resolve their problems by simply jettisoning their health insurance plans and letting their employees purchase coverage through the exchanges.

An employer that drops its health plan would have to pay a tax to help subsidize its employees’ coverage obtained through the exchange or Medicaid, but this option is actually far cheaper than providing health insurance. And if a company doesn’t even have to provide insurance, much less a plan that covers contraception, Hobby Lobby doesn’t have much of a case that the ACA burdens its free exercise of religion…..

Mark Twain, Stand-Up Comic — In an excerpt from The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature, Ben Tarnoff tells how Samuel L. Clemens, the writer that defined American literature, became Mark Twain.

…On the evening of October 2, 1866, the Academy of Music swelled to capacity. From the footlights to the family circle, the house was packed. “It is perhaps fortunate that the King of Hawaii did not arrive in time to attend,” cracked a journalist, “for unless he had gone early he must have been turned away.” The fashionable men and women of “the regular opera ‘set’ ” turned out in full. The wife of the current California governor, Mrs. Frederick Low, sat in a box. Even Harte came to show his support. He arrived with “a big claque,” an observer later recalled, almost certainly with Stoddard in tow.

At eight o’clock, the crowd started stomping its feet. When Twain appeared in the wings, they broke into thunderous applause. He ambled forward with a lurching, graceless gait, his hands thrust in his pockets. “I was in the middle of the stage,” he recalled, “staring at a sea of faces, bewildered by the fierce glare of the lights, and quaking in every limb with a terror that seemed like to take my life away.” For several moments he stood silently staring, as the energy in the house ripened to an unbearable pitch. Then the words came: slow and deliberate, quirky and crude—the voice of the frontier, drawing its listeners under.

For seventy-five minutes, they laughed, clapped, and cheered. A “brilliant success,” raved the next day’s Evening Bulletin. Twain met the demands of a “serious” lecture by covering the islands’ economy, politics, history—yet he deftly interwove these with a current of comic tension that kept his audience on a hair trigger, primed to ignite at any moment. An absurdity might slip discreetly into the stream of his story, and then another, sparking laughter that rose and crested just as he suddenly shifted gears, delivering a passage of such heartfelt eloquence that the house fell solemn and silent. This was more than humor: it was “word painting,” said a reporter, a tapestry of anecdotes and images recorded by Twain’s all-seeing eye. He didn’t just make people laugh. As with “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” he brought a faraway place to life.

Ever since Twain first began writing, he had tried to give his words the flavor of living speech. Dashes, italics, phonetically transcribed dialect—these were meant to make readers hear a speaker’s special vibrations, the glottal tics of different tongues. Onstage, he could do this directly, breaking free of the filter that confined his written voice. He could feel out his audience, refine his rhythms. Unlike the spiritualists, suffragists, and fake scientists then sweeping lyceum halls across the country, he didn’t declaim in the usual authoritative style. He took a more intimate tone. He wanted to connect. He gazed at people’s faces. He played with his hair, kneaded his hands. He looked nervous, and dressed carelessly. He wasn’t a smooth performer, and this was the key to his peculiar charm. He didn’t hold himself apart; he talked plainly, unpretentiously. He brought people inside the joke. He made them feel like he belonged to them.

Doonesbury — Speak to me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pounce

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus defended Rep. Paul Ryan’s comments about inner city culture.

When asked about Ryan’s comments by the host of CNN’s “State of the Union,” Candy Crowley, Priebus did not directly address whether Ryan’s comments were appropriate, but defended the congressman’s efforts in general.

“Paul said he thought it was inarticulate, but quite frankly Democrats are lying in wait as well to pounce on whatever might be off tone,” he said when asked about Ryan’s claims.

There’s a simple solution to this problem: stop saying racist shit, okay?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ryan’s Derp

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is trying to tell us he was misunderstood when he called men in the inner city lazy and averse to work.

The House Budget Committee chairman told Crew of 42′s Lauren Victoria Burke on Wednesday that his comments, made earlier in the day on Bill Bennett’s “Morning In America,” were taken out of context.

“It was a long talk and he asked about the culture and I just went off of that,” Ryan told Burke. “This has nothing to do whatsoever with race. It never even occurred to me. This has nothing to do with race whatsoever.”

“This isn’t a race based comment it’s a breakdown of families, it’s rural poverty in rural areas, and talking about where poverty exists — there are no jobs and we have a breakdown of the family,” he explained, repeating “This has nothing to do with race.”

Yeah, except when he made the comment earlier he cited the work of Charles Murray as proof of his statement.  Murray has a history of claiming that black people are genetically inferior to other races, most notably in his 1994 book The Bell CurveSo it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that what Mr. Ryan said was about race.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

More Minority Outreach

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on the causes of poverty:

We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.

Gee, I wonder who he’s whistling to when he says “inner cities”?

It’s as if there’s some plan by all the black men to gather in the urban areas of America and decide not to work because they don’t want to provide for their families even though there are tons of great jobs with lots of pay and perks just waiting for them.  But no, they’d much rather get harassed by the police, shot up by gangs, and sit back and let society crap all over them because they’re born lazy.

What a remarkable insight from a white guy from rural Wisconsin.