Crazy Clarence Thomas Interview

While avoiding working I came across this crazy Clarence Thomas interview from 1987 with the libertarian Reason magazine. At the time Thomas was President Reagan’s appointment to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. A few years later he went on to Supreme Court as a Bush I appointment, and the only current black Supreme Court justice.

Reason: Say I’m a private employer and I’m a racist, and no matter how qualified a black candidate is I don’t look at him. Isn’t it my right to hire whom I choose? Should the state force me to hire somebody?

Thomas: I guess theoretically, you’re right.

Reason: Well it’s clearly immoral to do that, but should it be illegal?

Thomas:  I’m torn.

Now the full context does make it better. But to me it shows to things: 1) How far anti-government libertarians can carry their reasoning, and 2) How far racial politics/rhetoric has shifted in a liberal direction. Imagine if this happened in 2016?

Maybe the negative interpretation of this is that aggressive liberal anti-racism has just driven these type conversations underground .

Low Expectations

“What about Clinton’s attempt to connect then Senator Obama to Reverend Wright. Was it a wrongful (racial) smear campaign?”

Jack seems to miss the fact that Obama denounced Reverend Wright as early as March in 2008, but it was a continuing theme throughout the Clinton campaign well after his denunciation. To further explain how this was racial (Jack seems hesitant to use the word although he would use sexist for Clinton) Clinton “used guilt by association to further “other” Obama as un-American and downright scary to white people.” This makes perfect sense when realizing Clinton attempted to unfairly tie a black politician, who is considered to be “deracialized” , to a black nationalist movement.

And on the term superpreadtor, a key point of my original piece, Let us as Marco Rubio says dispel with this notion that it was not racist. When considering crime rates in the black communities it’s intuitive to realize black juveniles were painted with the same brush as black men. Although juvenile crime was on a steep decline, vicious stereotypes of black youth remained. From Northwestern Law professor Steven A. Drizin:

“Inescapably, superpredator dread had a racial component. What the doomsayers focused on, in the main, were young male African-Americans.”

Denying the racial aspect of the term is exactly why people like Bill Clinton “almost want to apologize” for saying to Black Lives Matter protesters they don’t care about black lives taken by black on black crime.

Jack claims that “No, “the strangle hold [sic] the Democratic Party has on the black vote, party capture” does not force black voters to vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders.” He misunderstands how party capture plays into the hands of the Clinton brand, the brand I described before. Black Political Professor Vincent Hutchins articulates how establishment loyalty fuses with brand loyalty as it relates to party capture:

“Because of sharp racial divisions in the South—sharper than they are in the Midwest—blacks have a firm recognition that the Democratic Party is identified with their group,… Blacks in the South may have a harder time supporting an avowed socialist from Vermont, who only recently embraced the Democratic Party, in part because their identification with the Party brand historically has reigned supreme.”

In this Vice video (12:40), a black man says that “if she[Hillary Clinton] ever get in the chair, Bill gonna be back in the white house, so Bill gonna be pushing buttons from behind.” Interestingly black men such as my father also have said this regarding a Hillary Clinton administration. Some may object to this line of thinking, assuming it is sexist, but it is not unreasonable to surmise that many people, especially men, think that Bill will be running the show behind the scenes. This is what I mean by the Clinton brand. Hillary benefits from her last name.

(Update: Hillary Clinton has said  “My husband, who I’m going to put in charge of revitalizing the economy, ’cause you know he knows how to do it,” This comment proves that the Clintons are a package deal, the premise of my argument that they are brand by their name. The comment is also a sobering revelation in regard to Jack’s claims in Party Capture? Try Again.

 

To reiterate from my original post, the Clintons are the establishment Democrats, who were popular during times of conservative dominance. Jack cleverly cites polling data on African-Americans’ overall job approval rating of the Clinton administration. This however, misses the mastery of racial pandering aspect. Bill Clinton “As president, when it came to black people, Bill Clinton was a magician. He could conjure from his political top hat racial rabbits that pleased the black crowd and made them go “ahh.”

The most prolific black female writer in contemporary times, Toni Morrison, critically examines the black affinity for Bill Clinton in her famous New Yorker essay:

“Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

Read further to hear a scholarly black voice on the “first black president” phenomena.(Warning: this article darkly contrasts with what Jack implies)

When evaluating Bill Clinton, I juxtapose playing the saxophone in Aresnio Hall, with maintaining the 100 to 1 crack cocaine ratio, even after reading official reports that showed it was the most heinous racial disparity in the criminal justice system. I look at how one can simultaneously compete for white votes, while at the same time ensuring the black vote is secure.

My colleague cites poll data of the general rating of Clinton by black people, but does not go into any depth about polls specifically regarding racial remarks, and polls that present said remarks for the several African-Americans who did not hear them. As I have said before, it is undeniable that the Clinton name rings bells in the black community. I never once denied this support as Jack misleadingly claims, but just like the black politicians whose comments display objections to the Clintons’ remarks, I reasonably believe if more black people heard these comments they would agree with me, and a whole host of black political commentators.

The closest data we do have on Hillary Clinton specifically during 2008 shows her favorability among black people dropped 26 points, and unfavorability rose 26 points:

This is a much better indicator of how we(black people) felt about her campaign, than the job approval rating of her husband.

Jack misunderstands black autonomy. Even if he could prove with 100% certainty that  “(even other most black people) legitimately disagree.”with me, it does not necessarily reflect poorly on my black judgement. Disagreeing with the majority, the monolith that the black community is portrayed as, is exactly what white liberals like Jack don’t comprehend, as I said in my original article.

Jack claims that for the majority of black people “But to ignore their support when the issue at hand is racism? That’s a rather glaring omission.”  Black leaders such as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, and W.E.B. Dubois had different opinions on race than the majority of black people at the time, and we all know how misguided they were in their fights against white supremacy.

 

 

 

 

Party Capture? Try Again

Party capture is an important, interesting idea. But party capture has nothing to do with a primary between two Democrats. To explain black support for Hillary Clinton, Elijah wanders down a road that now all but denies black autonomy.  No, “the strangle hold [sic] the Democratic Party has on the black vote, party capture” does not force black voters to vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders.

What can explain it? Maybe people can look at the same set of facts and reach different conclusions than Elijah! In an attempt to connect Hillary Clinton to her husband’s presidency, Elijah uses a critique only applicable to the latter. 

*

The more appropriate application of party capture to President Bill Clinton’s administration has a lot of intuitive logic.  It’s certainly possible that Africans Americans thought Clinton was a “faux liberal” who thought it was acceptable to throw his “most loyal constituents [African Americans] under the bus” but still voted for him as the “lesser of two evils.” But it’s not backed up by the polling data:

Clinton Approval

 

This is not to say that the idea of party capture is totally wrong. Certainly President Clinton did not do a perfect job serving African American interests. But perhaps his black constituents realized some compromise was necessary and still approved. But a president that constantly threw black people “under the bus” and merely represented “the lesser of two evils” would not leave office with a nearly 90% approval rating among African Americans.

To explore the party capture thesis further, it seems likely that if the U.S was a multi-party parliamentary democracy, there would be an independent African American party with interests somewhat divergent than other left of center parties. However, it’s hard to see how this would dramatically alter political outcomes.

Ultimately, African Americans are a minority of the electorate. The best an independent African American-centric party could do would be to participate in a coalition government. In such a coalition majority government, the party would be forced to make the same kind of compromises with white parties that today’s coalitional Democratic Party makes within itself.

*

On to the rest of Elijah’s accusations. I make no claim that “most black people saw no race issues with the Clinton’s [since] black people voted for them.” The Clintons are by no means perfect and on occasion did use race negatively. But Elijah context free selective reading of the record makes the Clinton’s look 100 times worse than reality. That’s why black support for the Clinton’s remains as high as ever.

A couple examples illustrate the point. Take Hillary Clinton’s super-predator comments. Was this a prominent part of the 1996 campaign? Did Clinton go around the country calling for the incarceration of “super-predator” in an appeal for racist white votes? No. She said it in one speech, literally in the same breath mentioning the need for community policing. No one remembered it until Buzzfeed unearthed a video last summer.

Furthermore, while super-predator theory is now discredited, at the time it was a legitimate academic theory propagated by an academic at Princeton University, himself a liberal Democrat.

What about Clinton’s attempt to connect then Senator Obama to Reverend Wright. Was it a wrongful smear campaign? Yes. But to here Elijah tell it, Wright was a perfectly good person “deemed radical by white society.” Not really. Wright was a crazy racist, narcissist, and anti-Semite did everything he could to do everything he could to sabotage Obama’s campaign. Obama rightly denounced him.

No one can stand up to this context free examination of their entire lives. Take this quote from Senator Sanders.

“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy, a woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused. A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously,”

Without context it appears gratuitously offensive. While it’s still pretty offensive with context, it’s an introduction to a vaguely feminist essay that is now 40 years old. It’s not a surprise that many women support Sanders despite it. Amazingly I accept that some people support Senator Sanders free from chains of party capture, leftist media, or superficial “pandering.”

 

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

“When arguing that Clinton played fast and loose with race, you have to grapple with the fact that most African Americans support her. But this essential fact is either ignored or, to be charitable, “creatively” explained.”

In an attempt to defend the Clintons against black scrutiny, Jack relies on the fact that the Clintons receive a majority of the black vote. But this is precisely what Africana studies classes critique. He fails to address the concept of electoral capture, which was central to “Race and Political Context: The “First Black President” Reconsidered”  I invite Mr. Landry to challenge the claim that the Clintons used race in negative ways. When I described the “New Democrats”, I proved that it was the agenda for Democrats to distance themselves from minorities. Jack was predictably surprised when I “even claims that Bill Clinton even mastered the art of pandering to both black and white people in the same election!” Instead of addressing how Bill Clinton, a “New Democrat” was ” a centrist candidate more attuned than his immediate predecessors to the concerns and values of the white, middle-class voters who had deserted the party in its losing presidential campaigns in the 1980s.” or how  “attacking the liberal fundamentalists, the DLC is signaling to swing voters in the white, middle class that Democrats are not exclusively black, feminist, gay,and liberal.”, Jack recites the dogma of the “New Democrats”. That dogma is, be content and complacent. Don’t worry about the tone or rhetoric of politics.

Party capture is real, and it is quite sad that some subscribe to  “faux liberalism which leads one to conclude that throwing your most loyal constituents under the bus is acceptable”  And current positives don’t change the past. Being appointed to a senior position by a black president doesn’t mean you didn’t try to associate said president with Hamas. Having Jesse Jackson’s support doesn’t change the fact that he said to Mr. Clinton he could have “with one stroke of your veto pen, to correct the most grievous racial injustice built into our legal system.”, regarding his signing of the 100 to 1 crack cocaine ratio bill. Black scholars such as Michelle Alexander understand that yes, black voters voted overwhelmingly for Democrats, for the Clintons, but that by no means is proof that black scrutiny of them was absent. What is absent from my colleague’s analysis however, is electoral capture, the “New Democrats”,  and the racial rhetoric of politicians. He forgets that some voters of all races actually perceive the Democratic Party as the lesser of two evils. For the black voters that understand how the black community was slighted by the Clintons but vote for them regardless, it can be said that they “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” That sin, which is still prevalent in GOP rhetoric regarding immigration(Mr. Trump), is playing with race for political gains. In no way did I imply that the Clintons concocted a racist plan to destroy black people, but I did emphasize the racial-ethical dilemma of a New York Times article that “concludes that the Democratic Party’s association with blacks would be a major liability in elections.” Why doesn’t my colleague discuss this dilemma, or discuss if there even was such a dilemma?

Jack makes the bold claim that most black people saw no race issues with the Clintons, by relying on the fact that black people voted for them. But where does that bring us? Not far when considering the strangle hold the Democratic Party has on the black vote, party capture. Here is what “Omissions”  omits: a substantive debunking of what is taught in Africana studies classes, a comprehensive analysis of the complex relationship between Democrats and the black community, and discussion about racial ethics.

To be fair, there is one thing that is not omitted. A double standard. The author appears to be very attuned to how the subtle elements of sexism against Hillary operate, but conveniently, these same mental faculties shut down when it comes to racism. It’s odd how Jack thinks “it’s rather obvious that it’s far easier for a male politician to be authentic and likable”, but has no idea how tying the first black president to the Nation of Islam affects authenticity. Hopefully Brother Malcolm can rise from his grave to cover the wounds that this faux liberalism is bleeding from.

 

Omissions

There are a lot of heated claims about the Clinton’s record on race this primary. While these claims suffer a shortage of facts and context, perhaps more importantly they fail to grapple or acknowledge that some people (even other most black people) legitimately disagree.

People are going to disagree about politics. Some of them are going to be misinformed, and others are going to persuaded by superficial appeals. But certainly it’s also true that sometimes people look at the same set of facts and reach different conclusions. That essential truth is being denied.

When arguing that Clinton played fast and loose with race, you have to grapple with the fact that most African Americans support her. But this essential fact is either ignored or, to be charitable, “creatively” explained.

Why do black voters support Clinton? According to Michelle Alexander, it’s all the corporate media: “If anyone doubts that the mainstream media fails to tell the truth about our political system (and its true winners and losers), the spectacle of large majorities of black folks supporting Hillary Clinton in the primary races ought to be proof enough.”

Elijah generally ignores the issue of black support for Clinton or attributes it to racial pandering. He even claims that Bill Clinton even mastered the art of pandering to both black and white people in the same election! According to him, it would seem that only Asians and Hispanics were actually voting on the merits.

Elijah argues that Clinton’s campaign against Obama “disturbing racial undertones” and “used his blackness against him.” But he ignores that this same Clinton was subsequently named by the same President Obama to perhaps the most important position in his cabinet. And in the 2016 campaign, Obama has all but endorsed Clinton.

Of course you can disagree with the President and most black voters about the merits of voting for Clinton and the tone of her 2008 campaign. But to ignore their support when the issue at hand is racism? That’s a rather glaring omission.

Interestingly, the prefered candidate for the writers of these takes shares an inability to grapple with those that disagree. Perhaps Bernie Sanders most radical idea is that, without corporate media, the Republican party would barely exist! From Vox:

“If we had a media in this country that was really prepared to look at what the Republicans actually stood for rather than quoting every absurd remark of Donald Trump,” [Sanders] said, then support for the GOP would entirely collapse. “this is a fringe party. It is a fringe party. Maybe they get 5, 10 percent of the vote.”

In his autobiography, Sanders writes that “one of the greatest crises in American society is that the ownership of the media is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands” which contributes to the dynamics he deplores.

This idea is so gratuitously wrong that it merits no rebuttal.  If you trying to change minds, (or even have a political revolution!) you can’t ignore or deny that others legitimately disagree.

 

Liberal Amnesia in the “Post-Racial” Age of Obama

In my post “Race and Political Context: The “First Black President” Reconsidered”, I ended with an allusion to Hillary Clinton’s use of race. My colleague Jack has an interesting post on Hillary Clinton, authenticity, and double standards, but I would like to substantiate those perceptions of pandering in this post. Although Jack seems to sarcastically dismiss “mastering the art of racial pandering”, Bill did in fact master the art of racial pandering. He actually mastered the art of racially pandering to the white vote, as I have described in “Race and Political Context.” Hillary Clinton also made a series of questionable comments during her campaign against the man who would become the first black president, despite claiming that “Neither race nor gender should be a part of this campaign.”

Barack Obama faced an unprecedented challenge in 2008, daring to think he would be the black man in the White House. The black community also began to believe in the “first black president” dream, after witnessing Obama maintain leads in the primaries of majority white states. Hillary Clinton sought to end that dream, abruptly snapping black voters out of their daze to let them know the first woman was on her way to the oval office. In the original post that started this discussion of black politics, Jack correctly notes that black voters ditched Clinton for Obama as evidenced by the South Carolina primary. Several black politicians expressed displeasure early on with the way Clinton handled race. In response to a comment Clinton made about how “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done,” prominent Congressional Black Caucus member Jim Clyburn reminded her that “We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics. It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone’s motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those. That bothered me a great deal.”

 

 

As the Democratic primary dragged on, Clinton became more desperate. Her veiled racial attacks underscore her desperation. Bernie Sanders has been called on to drop out of the 2016 primary because his attacks help Republicans, but Hillary Clinton gleefully joined Republicans in a racial smear campaign against Obama. The infamous Jeremiah Wright controversy was Obama’s race test of his 2008 campaign. Reverend Wright was a fiery black preacher deemed radical by white society. After it was revealed that Obama attended Wright’s sermons, Hillary Clinton, in a strikingly similar fashion as her husband did with the Sistah Souljah incident, attempted to paint a dark picture of a black man. In her own words:

“It is clear that, as leaders, we have a choice who we associate with and who we apparently give some kind of seal of approval to. And I think that it wasn’t only the specific remarks but some of the relationships with Reverend Farrakhan, with giving the church bulletin over to the leader of Hamas, to put a message in.”

Disregarding the fact that she should have condemned attacks that tied Obama to Wright which implied Obama was a “black radical”, Clinton went a step further by suggesting Obama had associations with the provocative Nation of Islam, and a terrorist group. This quote becomes more disheartening when considering the fact that the moderator gave her a chance to skip the question. Additionally, it is almost unimaginable that Democrats, in the racial climate of 2016, would say nothing on the racial attacks on Obama, asserting he was secretly a Muslim, not born in the United States, a communist, a Marxist, or a black president that would “hook his people up.”

 The most telling point in Clinton’s campaign however, was her electability argument. No, I’m not referring to how a candidate is a socialist, or communist, or Marxist, or being compared to Hitler because he hates minorities. I’m referring to race. After failing to condemn those in her campaign that said Obama wouldn’t win because he is black, Hillary Clinton began making the case herself. Regarding a report by the Associated Press, Clinton said it:

 “…found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me. …There’s a pattern emerging here,”

As the Clinton Camp doubled down on this, media publications such as the New York Times, which endorsed Clinton in 2008, were taken aback by the negative tone of the Clinton Campaign. The NYT Editorial Board put it politely:

“But we believe just as strongly that Mrs. Clinton will be making a terrible mistake — for herself, her party and for the nation — if she continues to press her candidacy through negative campaigning with disturbing racial undertones.”

The race-electability argument is a potentially racist argument to make. Firstly, by saying or even implying as Clinton did throughout her campaign, that white voters may not elect a black man, the scenario becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is similar to the idea of “your vote doesn’t really count” and then resulting in a situation with low or possibly no voter turnout. If people believe that a candidate can’t win because of their race, then they will not vote for the candidate because of their race. Also, if Bernie Sanders even in the slightest bit suggested that Clinton wouldn’t win because her gender is an election liability, Clinton and the “liberal media” would give Sanders a stern castigation.

 

Finally, while I don’t think the racial undertones in it are clear, Clinton’s widely criticized “3 a.m” ad has been examined by academics who study race and are acutely aware of its’ underpinnings. These scholars have some intriguing analyses of the ad.

There is much more to be said about how the Clintons fiddled with blackness in 2008. (See sources below) Through my analysis, I have demonstrated the role blackness played, or how Hillary played blackness rather, in the 2008 primaries. After all the racial drama on display in the 2008 election season, Secretary Clinton carefully strung the racial strings the Republicans played, in a shrewd way. Isn’t it quite interesting how Hillary Clinton saw Obama’s blackness as a weakness, attempted to use it against him, and then clings to him as a defense throughout the 2016 Democratic debates? Clinton said in a democratic debate that “…the kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans” How ironic that Clinton sounded similar to Republicans in 2008, acting as a political opportunist willing to use race as a wedge issue. White liberal commentators can be tone deaf to blackness in some ways. Perceptions of Hillary Clinton as inauthentic are in fact related to sexism. However, black complaints about pandering are not unjustified; when I reminded Jack and my audience that “Blackness is like a tree branch that extends to the heart and mind, with a powerfully vivid memory and heightened sensitivity at the root” we as black people always look at the past.

 

Additional sources:

http://theweek.com/articles/567774/hillary-clinton-needs-address-racist-undertones-2008-campaign

(Jermiah Wright) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/26/us/politics/26wright.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-rucker/can-black-people-trust-hillary_b_9312004.html

http://www.thenation.com/article/racial-politics-clinton-style/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-dunn/hillarys-hypocrisy-clinging-to-obama-after-her-racist-dog-whistles-in-2008_b_9011244.html

Nukes

Image there was energy technology that produced no carbon emissions and could produce energy on a large scale. Some claim that the search for such a source is wishful thinking, but what if it was here already?

This “incredible” energy source, nuclear power, is the topic of a provocative Eduardo Porter column today. He claims that nuclear power is the “only technology with an established track record of generating electricity at scale while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases.” Why don’t we invest more in this crucial resource? Well, it’s science denying liberals, according to Porter.

Liberals are more opposed to nuclear power than conservatives, mostly on the basis of largely unfounded claims about nuclear’s lack of safety.

In a choice between coal and nuclear power, nuclear is certainly more attractive. It’s safer and produces less emissions. (Not almost zero, but less) However, the lack of investment in nuclear isn’t because of liberal fear, but the enormous cost of building nuclear power plants.

For various reasons, the true price of nuclear power is controversial, but it’s certainly higher than coal, oil, or natural gas. More troublesome is that the price isn’t going down. If anything, it’s actually rising.  

Liberals certainly aren’t blocking a climate change panacea, but that does not mean misplaced safety concerns aren’t damaging. Part of the reason more nuclear plants aren’t being built is precisely because of the regulatory and political climate that threatens to turn against nuclear.

Nuclear plants are very long term investments. Even if they get the approval to be built in the current adverse political climate, it’s not a guarantee that the politics won’t shift 10 or 20 years down the road and force a plant to shut down. The political risk makes financing nuclear power much more expensive and lowers the incentive for R&D that could bend the cost curve down.