Sunday, October 31, 2021

Bringing The Hate

Bigotry can come from an individual of any ethnic group, from government, business, the public at large, academe, or anywhere. In this case (video below), it comes in a five minute-plus segment edited from a chat on The Root.

The professor of Women and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, regrettably the state university of New Jersey, did get one thing right, remarking "but I do think that all of us can sort of agree that a politics that says, like, "there are superior and inferior human beings just isn't the way to go."  Unfortunately, everything  else she says suggests that she doesn't believe that. Cooper continued

And that's the thing that white people don't trust us to do because are so corrupt, you know their thinking is morally and spiritually bankrupt about power, that they can't let-you know, they can't- they fear viscerally, existentially, that letting go of power because they cannot imagine there's another way to be. It's that you either dominate or are dominated.

Cooper doesn't not specify racists or Republicans or politicians, let alone name names of individuals determined to dominate. Bigots do not. Instead, it is "white people."  They're wealthy, they're poor, they're middle class. The only thing they may in common may be their whiteness.

And that they are- well, "so corrupt," the morally and spiritually bankrupt people of society. Moreover

and it's like, no, that's what white humans did, white human beings thought they're the world here, and we own it. Prior to that, black and brown people had been sailing across oceans, interacting with each other for centuries without subjugation, domination, and colonialism.

That's what the professor would like us to believe. However, history does not agree because, as an historian and former mayor of Ghana's capital city explains

Europeans weren’t going out and capturing Africans. They couldn’t — they got sick and died from illnesses like malaria. Some African ethnic groups went into business, warring with other groups so they could capture prisoners they sold as slaves to the Europeans. Amarteifio says they were organized and intentional about it.

“To pursue slavery successfully, you need a highly organized group because somebody has to go out there — somebody has to locate the victims; somebody has to lead an army there; somebody has to capture them, transport them to the selling centers; all the time, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't revolt,” he said. “And then sell them, and move on.”

Someone often was black, truly an inconvenient truth proving that neither virtue nor vice resides in any one race alone. But aside from excusing the corporate and politically powerful- but I repeat myself- Cooper simply makes things up. She claims

It's not that white people don't know what they have done. They know. They fear there is no other way to be human than the way in which they are human, which is- so you talk to white people and you have a reckoning about it, they say stuff like "It's just human nature. If you all had this power, you would have done the same thing.

"It's just human nature- if you had all this power, you would have done the same thing: said no white person ever.  And again: it's the whole group of "white people," evil knowing what they have done while weak and cowering in fear.

It does no good to point out the obvious- that if any professor (white or otherwise) had made Cooper's arguments in reverse, she would have been promptly fired and probably blacklisted. Aside from whatever protection for hate speech there may be in the contract between the union and the college, Rutgers University is a public institution and the First Amendment of the US Constitution may be applicable. Moreover, cancel culture has gone far enough, and too far. 

Still, Rutgers University, which will retain Brittany Cooper without hesitation, does have a responsibility. It is responsible to declare that these remarks do not represent the college's views and that Ms. Cooper will remain a professor there as long as she fulfills the terms of her contract, and only because she fulfills the terms of her contract. If it does not- and we all know it will not- it will be a de facto endorsement of bigotry at a state university.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Less Than Transformative

Noting the announcement by President Biden of the framework of a $1.75 billion soft infrastructure bill, The Washington Post reported

The architect of the original $3.5 trillion plan, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), similarly encouraged House Democrats to hold off on voting until “clear language” is finalized on the safety net bill with the support of 50 senators. He said he continues to work to advance issues including a more robust expansion of Medicare, but he also described the $1.75 trillion compromise as transformational, saying it is “the kind of legislation [that hasn’t] passed in Congress since the 1960s.”

Thursday’s new framework includes prekindergarten programs that White House aides described as part of the largest one-time education investment[s] since the creation of public high school. The $1.75 trillion plan also includes new aid to help families afford child care and extends tax credits that millions of parents are receiving in the form of monthly checks.

When it comes to health care, the White House plan expands Medicare to cover new hearing benefits. The plan would lengthen the life of tax credits that have helped roughly 9 million Americans afford health insurance purchased on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. And it would provide new tax credits to help roughly 4 million low-income people afford health insurance in a dozen states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

Charlie Peters argues

Liberal carping notwithstanding, these are not small beer to those of us who lived through Bill Clinton’s pitching for school uniforms and Barack Obama’s hiring of Bob Rubin and Timothy Geithner. Neither are they consolation prizes to the millions of families who will see their kids off to pre-K without having to take out a home equity loan, or the millions of people who will be able to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act now in spite of their wingnut governors. Take the win and press on is not a bad strategy. You can get there that way.

I don't know what "take the win" means, especially because as of Friday afternoon, there is no bill but only a framework, and no assurance that even if the tepid bill is enacted as described by the President that the approximately $1.75 billion reconciliation bill will be enacted. Progressives have demanded that the two measures be passed in tandem because if the tepid bipartisan bill is passed and signed first, any reconciliation bill passed afterward is likely to be a shell of its former self.. Once upon a time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed the progressive strategy, as did President Biden.

We now know who holds the cards within the Democratic Party and it's not the left, the Speaker, or even the President.   Upon reaching agreement in July with the budget committee on a bill which could be passed by reconciliation

"The budget committee has come to an agreement. The budget resolution with instructions will be $3.5 trillion," (Senate Majority Leader Chuck) Schumer said, speaking to reporters with Sanders and other members of the panel. "Every major program that President Biden has asked us for is funded in a robust way."

The deal will also include funding for expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing and addressing climate change — key asks from progressives, including Sanders. A Democratic aide familiar with the deal said that the budget resolution will also include language prohibiting taxes from being raised on individuals who make less than $400,000 or small businesses.

It hasn't worked out that way. Medicare will not be expanded to cover dental and vision care- though hearing aids were left in- and the full-scale attack on climate change is looking like a small foray.

Presently, Democrats may have no choice but to "take the win," though if this is the transformative change Joe Biden, Charlie Pierce, and others claim it is, one might legitimately ask what President Obama was doing for eight years (hint: very little). 

However, that "win" looks a lot like progressives being rolled. Consider that when Schumer cited the $3.5 trillion figure, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, one of the two Democratic opponents of the ambitious proposal, already had

previously suggested to ABC News that he was interested in a smaller figure, saying that "if that’s $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion or $2 trillion, whatever that comes out to be over a 10-year period, that’s what I would be voting for."

Manchin at that time, in July, was willing- given a little cajoling, ego enrichment, and maybe a couple of things for West Virginia- to approve a $2 trillion package. Fourteen weeks later, after intense negotiation, progressives and Mr. Build Back Better reportedly have been able to get Manchin up to $1.75 trillion.

Even those of us who never advanced in math class beyond Algebra know that $1.75 trillion is less than $2.00 trillion. Nonetheless Pierce, whose sentiments probably will be echoed along the ideological gamut of Democrats from John Bel Edwards to Ilhan Omar once this process is complete, maintains

It is a radical rethinking of national priorities, and implicit in Sanders’ remarks is the undeniable truth that, if you want this package of proposals improved, and if you want to maintain the momentum for change that it signifies, elect more Democrats to the Senate and watch their smoke.

Electing more Democrats clearly is the best solution. For now, however, that smell wafting through the air is the Democratic left getting smoked.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Historical Nonsense, Unquestioned

Please leave us out of this.

This will fall on deaf ears, especially because the media is frightened to ask questions about religion. Anne Thompson of NBC News interviewed Senior Pastor Ken Peters of Patriot Church, located on the outskirts of Knoxville.  As the video below indicates, Peters remarks

This nation was founded on predominately Christian values by predominately Christian people. We just want to keep that in play. We just want to keep our roots alive and not let this reconstruction- this tearing up of our nation's rots and a new set of values is being pushed on us. It literally is.

Thompson could have asked either about whose values or what values Peter was referring to, about the Christian roots of the nation, or both.  She either asked about only the first or her inquiry about the second was edited out.

That's unfortunate (not surprising) because although a few of the Founding Fathers were orthodox Christians, most wee not. The vast majority were believers in, or affected by, Deism, which

inevitably subverted orthodox Christianity. Persons influenced by the movement had little reason to read the Bible, to pray, to attend church, or to participate in such rites as baptism, Holy Communion, and the laying on of hands (confirmation) by bishops. With the notable exceptions of Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison, Deism seems to have had little effect on women....

But Deistic thought was immensely popular in colleges from the middle of the 18th into the 19th century. Thus, it influenced many educated (as well as uneducated) males of the Revolutionary generation. Although such men would generally continue their public affiliation with Christianity after college, they might inwardly hold unorthodox religious views. Depending on the extent to which Americans of Christian background were influenced by Deism, their religious beliefs would fall into three categories: non-Christian Deism, Christian Deism, and orthodox Christianity....

If the nation owes much to the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is also indebted to Deism, a movement of reason and equality that influenced the Founding Fathers to embrace liberal political ideals remarkable for their time.

Unfortunately, whatever the interest of Deists in social justice, the U.S. Constitution did not outlaw slavery and by one reckoning, fourteen (14) of the Fathers owned slaves at one time and only seven (7) did not. The former group ran the gamut from George Washington to the relatively unknown Benjamin Rush. 

The claim by Reverend Peters that "this nation was founded on predominately Christian values by predominately Christian people" fails on either one or two grounds.  The preponderance of evidence indicates that most of those people either were not "Christian" as evangelists such as Peters defines them, generally as believers in Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. Alternatively, they were Christians, with the vast majority supportive, or at least accepting, of the ownership of other human beings.

Yet journalists routinely fail to challenge evangelicals to defend their notion of a Christian nation founded on Christian values. While the myth persists and is even reinforced, increasing numbers of young Americans learn that some of the heroes of colonial America owned slaves, un-Christian behavior indulged in primarily by secularists.

Reverend Peters and his ilk, inadvertently or otherwise, further the association of Christianity with the practice of slavery. Those of us who identify as Christians, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox, must begin to denounce this dangerous distortion of American history. I won't hold my breath.


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Money Talks. Teachers Can Take A Hike.

 Mr. Kohary was tweeting of this:


Never said anything about it before is significant additionally because we also have this:



And this: 


In contrast to the obnoxious and offensive act of one individual in Riverside, California, the three war chants- the first two from 2021, the last from 2020- the teams (professional) and programs (college) condone, encourage, and participate in these reprehensible traditions. They persist, and with only minimal protest, not even 1% as great as we were regaled with last summer in the Black Lives Matter movement.  Professional sports teams and Division 1-A football programs make gobs of money; teachers, not quite as much.

The Riverside, California teacher, unnamed as of this moment, has been placed on leave pending investigation. Unless the penalty imposed by the state-employer upon her is extremely minor, her union should fight her punishment. It may be a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, a sad example of cancel culture, or a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee that government will not restrict speech. But whatever it is, celebrating practice of stereotyping tribes indigenous to this continent, practiced by the Atlanta Braves, Florida State Seminoles, and Kansas City Chiefs is hypocrisy of the highest order. 


Monday, October 25, 2021

Spreading Coronavirus, Indiscriminately

If you paid attention to mainstream media, progressives, cable news of the left, right, or center, or to practically an opinion maker, you would have concluded that police nationwide do a great job other than their forays into racism, marked by gross mistreatment of blacks.

However, if you've been reading this blog since, oh, roughly May 25, 2020, you would have observed that I never have been on the "Black Lives Matter" nor the "Blue Lives Matter" bandwagon. Most police officers serve honorably and well while many do not. A majority of those are motivated by factors other than. And so in early September, KTLA in Los Angeles would report that 132 members of law enforcement agencies

are known to have died of COVID-19 in 2021, as of Monday, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. In Florida alone last month, six people affiliated with law enforcement died over a 10-day period.

In the first half of 2021, 71 law enforcement officials in the U.S. died from the virus — a small decrease compared to the 76 who died in the same time period in 2020, per data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Last year, the total figure was 241 — making the virus the the leading cause of law enforcement line-of-duty deaths.

Despite the deaths, police officers and other first responders are among those most hesitant to get the vaccine and their cases continue to grow. No national statistics show the vaccination rate for America’s entire population of first responders but individual police and fire departments across the country report figures far below the national rate of 74% of adults who have had at least one dose.

Police officers and first responders are among those most hesitant to get the vaccine. Police especially are in frequent contact with the public and those who refuse to be vaccinated pose a particular threat to the people they are hired to protect and serve. They may claim to love "USA" but they care little for the people who live here.

By now, there are more police officers vaccinated than those who are not. Congratulations to a profession in which a narrow majority wants to live and not endanger the lives of other Americans ,ones who claim European, Latin American, African, Asian, or tribal heritage.  That should be a reminder that: 1) black lives matter; 2) blue lives matter; 3) human lives matter. If "we're all in this together," all of us can be imperiled by a a degenerate number of men and women in blue.


Friday, October 22, 2021

Prioritizing Identity

The accolades, focused on identity, were plenty on that cool and cloudy day of November 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C. 

Scott Dworkin, co-founder and director of The Democratic Coalition, tweeted "BREAKING: Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has officially won her campaign for Senate in Arizona. Senator-Elect Sinema is the first woman to even serve as a US Senator from AZ." Appearing on the official Twitter account of the Democratic National Committee was "FLIP ALERT: Kyrsten Sinema has won in Arizona. Krysten ran on the issues that matter most to Arizonans- health care, the economy, and equality for all. We couldn't be more thrilled to se this smart, tenacious woman elected to the US Senate."

However, my favorite was from Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay woman to have been elected to the US Senate. She tweeted- honestly- "Congratulations to Kyrsten Sinema on a well-deserved victory. The upper chamber is lucky to have your steady leadership."

You many know where this is going, especially with that "steady leadership" thing.  Politico on Wednesday noted

As they seek to finalize President Joe Biden’s social spending plan by the end of the week, Sinema (D-Ariz.) remains opposed to one of the party's chief goals of raising tax rates on high-income earners and corporations, a long-sought objective since former President Donald Trump signed his 2017 tax cut law.

Now, party leaders are working behind the scenes to target the wealthy and corporate America without crossing what increasingly appears like a red line to Sinema, according to Democratic lawmakers and aides following the bill.

Though Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has advocated raising rates on high-income earners, corporations and capital gains, Sinema has landed to the right of Manchin on tax policy. And Democrats need to choose, quickly, to keep trying to convince Sinema or to craft workarounds that she can accept....

And many Democrats have grown frustrated with how much control Sinema is exerting, and the secretive way she wields it.

“This is a guessing game with Senator Sinema. Yeah, we're all supposed to be on the same team. And that means transparency, communication and collaboration. Without it, it makes this significantly more challenging,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas). “I don't know what the red lines are for one U.S. senator who has an amazing amount of power.”

Now, that is steady leadership, just as ex-president Trump continues to provide non-judgmental, unity-seeking leadership.  The jubilation felt by many Democrats upon the election of a bisexual because she is LGBTQ contrasts sharply with Justice Thurgood Marshall's much greater wisdom of thirty years ago when he was asked about selecting a replacement for him:: "I think the important factor is to pick the best person for the job, not on the basis of race one way or the other. I mean for picking the wrong Negro and saying 'I'm picking him because he's a Negro.'  I'm opposed to that...  I think the important factor is to pick the best person for the job, not on the basis of race one way or the other."



Thursday, October 21, 2021

Race, Race, And More Race

Mention to northeasterners of an advanced age Freddy's Fashion Mart, Crown Heights, and Steve Pagones, and they may know to whom you're referring. Swap out Steve Pagones for Tawana Brawley, and they almost surely will.  Allow Glen Loury to remind us of that day in November, 1987 when

.... a 15-year-old black girl was found lying in a garbage bag, smeared with feces, with various racial slurs and epithets written in charcoal on her body. She said that she’d been raped by six white men and that two were law-enforcement officials. Mr. Sharpton relentlessly championed her cause. And yet, after seven months of examining police and medical records, a grand jury found “overwhelming evidence” that Ms. Brawley had fabricated her entire story.

Yet Mr. Sharpton proceeded to accuse the prosecutor, Steven Pagones, of being one of the perpetrators of the alleged abduction and rape. Mr. Sharpton was successfully sued (along with Ms. Brawley’s lawyers, Anthony H. Maddox Jr. and C. Vernon Mason Sr.) for defamation. The jury in this civil action found Mr. Sharpton liable for making seven defamatory statements about Mr. Pagones, whose life fell apart as a result of the entire episode. Mr. Sharpton refused to pay his share of damages, which was later paid by a number of his supporters, and he has refused to apologize.

To this day, as reported in a fawning profile in March, 2018 unfortunately appearing in The New York Times, Sharpton defiantly defends his actions in this matter, stating "If I had to choose between a 15-year-old black girl and a white legal system that has always done us wrong, I’m going with her."

As a New Jerseyan of a certain age, I recall  being confident that the matter was a hoax, only because it was obviously so. . And now anyone who has a clue would recognize the same Al Sharpton defending racial bias and discrimination. Politico reports

The Rev. Al Sharpton has made calls to at least one member of Congress to convey his concerns that the full axing of the so-called carried interest loophole that’s being discussed for inclusion in the reconciliation bill would hurt Black businesspeople trying to build wealth, four sources tell Daniel.

 — Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), a member of the House Financial Services Committee and chair of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, told POLITICO that Sharpton called her twice in mid-September to ask her whether a carve-out for those businesspeople could be created. Such a carve-out would be unprecedented and of questionable legality. Two sources said Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) has also called Sharpton to hear his views on this issue, and a spokesperson for the congressman said the two spoke “about ways to help Black-owned businesses. Reverend Sharpton’s National Action Network has a chapter in Las Vegas, and he and Congressman Horsford speak often about priorities for the Black community"....

Asked about his stance on this issue, Sharpton said in a brief interview that he “raised a question about whether there could be a carve-out about Black first-generation people who say that it affects their money. … I’m concerned about the unintended consequences.” He said he was not being paid to bring the issue up with lawmakers, calling it a position of his National Action Network, which has worked on advancing civil rights for decades. Sharpton said later that he wanted the businesspeople's concerns to be considered as Congress deliberates the provision. “I’m concerned that Black businesses that I fought for be heard and that their concerns be heard,” he said.

Sharpton evidently is not concerned about small businesses. He's not concerned about even black small businesses.  He's concerned about wealthy black business owners.

Al Sharpton is lobbying against closing the carried interest loophole in the Biden budget - a rule that allows billionaire investors to pay as low as 20% on taxes, lower than their janitors -- and he's saying he's doing it to protect Black businesspeople trying to build wealth.

That's because Al Sharpton has little interest in social justice even less in economic justice.  His passion is race, and he is little more than a race hustler.  Yet he retains credibility among some Democratic politicians as well as a show on MSNBC, which should be disturbing among people who actually do care about social and economic justice.


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Missing The Moment

In a speech at Constitution Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. three months ago, President Biden declared “Help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?”

Well, of course, Republicans do not. And though the righteous indignation may have been real, the determination to do much about it is absent.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer has announced that he will set a procedural vote for the Freedom to Vote Act as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, October 20. However, even with the support of Senators Manchin and Sinema, it will die because of filibuster while Minority Leader McConnell has said no Republicans will vote for it.

The week after Biden's stirring endorsement of the right to vote, Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, the prominent civil rights leader who founded and has led the Poor People's campaign, urged the President  “Go to Texas, and meet with a diverse group of people on the ground to put a face on this issue. Then go to Arizona. Go to West Virginia,” he said. “There ought to be a speech from the well of Congress.”

Certainly, eliminating the "sacred right to vote" is not Joe Biden's preference, but neither is it his priority, nor is eliminating the filibuster, which is preventing Congress from curbing voter suppression.  Peter Nicholas of The Atlantic writes

When I mentioned the alarm coming from activists, the White House official told me that the Biden administration is “pushing full force” to pass voting protections. “It’s fair for activists to continue to push,” the official said. “Every constituency has their issue. If you ask immigration folks, they’ll tell you their issue is a life-or-death issue too.” (Democracy’s preservation would seem more than a pet issue.) In one crucial respect, Biden has been holding back: He has yet to give a full-throated statement that Senate Democrats need to end the filibuster.

The right to vote is not immigration. It's not police reform or child-care subsidies, and it's not building roads and other hard infrastructure. It's the foundation of democracy, without which nothing more will be gained and most of which has been procured will be lost with the imposition of one-party Republican rule.

Action on the Build Back Better agenda, coronaviruses, and supply chain disruptions, which has characterized this presidency, is necessary but not sufficient. Walter Shaub understands:


Sunday, October 17, 2021

More Than A Temper Tantrum

In a piece in The New Republic, Donald Trump's outspoken niece, Mary L. Trump, recognizes the media

are so invested in the horse race that they fail repeatedly to inform Americans what is at stake—specifically, in this case, about the very real dangers facing American democracy—and instead speculate about whether a twice-impeached, two-time popular vote losing wannabe autocrat is going to run again in 2024. And if that is, indeed, the most important question they believe they should be asking, then perhaps they could, at the very least, explain why his doing so would be so dangerous to this country’s survival.

Ms. Trump refers to uncle Donald's statement on Wednesday in which he wrote

If we don't solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented) Republicans will not be voting in '22 or '24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.

Perhaps attributable to Ms. Trump's training as a clinical psychologist, she unfortunately believes that this

most recent threat, delivered via that Wednesday statement, is just another temper tantrum designed to coerce the Republican Party not simply to conduct “audits” in all states but to protect his terribly fragile ego. His compulsion to punish those who fail or refuse to support his delusions overwhelms his ability to think strategically. In order to get Donald to stop holding voters hostage in the next two elections, his party is going to have to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. At this point, it’s a sucker’s bet to assume they won’t at least try in order to assuage him. But trying won’t be enough for their perpetually enabled leader. They’ll have to succeed.

But the former President knows the math. In order to overturn the results of the 2020 election, results would have to be reversed in Pennsylvania and Michigan; or in Pennsylvania and Georgia; or in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada.  It would take more than one state. It's not going to happen, and he knows it.

ABC News' Chief Washington correspondent, though not specifically speculating on Trump's motive, notes the 2020 loser "helped Republicans lose two Georgia Senate seats in January. Now he seems ready to try it again in the midterms."

That's central to understanding the likely reason Trump is trying, by emphasizing "election fraud of 2020,"  to depress the vote in 2022. He knows the presidential election won't be overturned and promises Republicans therefore "will not be voting in '22 or '24."

If Republicans stay home, Democrats would retain control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It's not as if Trump hasn't gone this route before.

In 2016 he successfully targeted blacks, evidently successfully, to discourage them from casting a vote for President that November. He attacked Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the state of American culture and society generally, in his inauguration speech giving it the name "American carnage."  He called the US Senate races in January in Georgia "illegal and invalid," a charge which kept GOP turnout down, which consequently delivered victory to Democrats Warnock and Ossoff.


It's a strategy of discouraging voting, and it's in Trump's interests for Republicans to stay home in November of 2022, also. If Democrats thereby retain control of the House and the Senate, the ex-President would be well positioned in the primary contest and the general election to ridicule Democrats specifically and American government and life generally. 

Harry Truman was famously elected in 1948 by attacking the GOP "do nothing" Congress. But Democratic and Republican presidential candidates alike have profited handsomely from criticizing a congress controlled by the other party. For Donald Trump especially, that would be electoral gold. He is the favorite to win the nomination is 2024 but might need need a Democratic Congress to get elected, delusions and fragile ego aside.

Friday, October 15, 2021


"I do not believe you're an idiot but..."

As we travel down memory lane, recall the moment in a presidential debate early in the cycle when candidate Kamala Harris turned toward candidate Joseph R. Biden and charged

I do not believe you are racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground. But I also believe- and it's personal and it's actually very- it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.

As seen on the video above, the CNN morning duo in May interviewed Edward Isaac-Dovere, author of "Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaign to Defeat Trump" .During the first commercial break after his opponent's attack,, Joe Biden turned to Pete Buttigieg, leaned over and reportedly whispered "that was some f***ing bull****."  Jill Biden told supporters the following week "with what he cares about, what he fights for, what he's committed to, you get up there and call him a racist without basis? 'Go f*** yourself.'"

Perform an acrobatic sex act upon yourself- or join the ticket as vice-presidential candidate. In the interview, Isaac-Dovere noted that Mr. and Mrs. Biden took the attack "very personally." However, contrary to my cynicism, Isaac-Dovere claims

And it lasted for a long time. It lasted through when they were deciding what the running mate process was going to look like. It left a mark and they have gotten over it since, obviously.

Not so obviously, and we have the evidence from an excerpt from the book, in which Isaac-Dovere wrote

A poll from CBS a few weeks later, in the run-up to the second debate, captured that dynamic. Biden was still ahead, but Warren and Harris were given much higher numbers on being stronger and readier to fight.

“My guess,” Biden said at a campaign stop in Dearborn, Michigan, when asked about the poll, “is that to the extent that it occurs, I was probably overly polite in the way I didn’t respond to an attack, ‘You’re not a racist’—which is a nice thing to say, really reassuring.”

"You're not a racist"- which is a nice thing to say, really reassuring.

The context in no way suggests that Biden was being sarcastic. And no one is that stupid. No one hears "you are not a racist" and doesn't realize that the person is saying "you are a racist." The denial would be unnecessary were the speaker not implying the subject of her remark is racist. Isaac-Dovere explains that during a debate preparation session, advisers to Harris 

argued, go right in, starting the shredding with, “I do not believe you are a racist … ” Make Twitter explode. Become the story of the night.

when Harris asked, “Are you sure this is the right thing to do?” Sean Clegg, another outside consultant, backed her up. That was like saying a person wasn’t a child molester.

In selecting a one-time vicious critic as his running mate, it is unlikely that Biden was convinced of Harris' inherent decency. Rather

The debate was just one night in the campaign, but what it revealed about Biden and about Harris—and about how issues of race and identity factored in for Democratic primary voters—had implications that stretched into the running mate selection process, and beyond.

Biden’s fundamental liability remained that he was an old white man running in a party increasingly defined by young people, Black and Latino voters, and women. That boosted Harris.

Harris was at most only marginally, more popular among young people, and there was no fear that Biden would be pummeled by a charge of being "ageist."  And the Delawarean earlier had pledged that he would select a woman. 

Race had become salient with Harris' remarks and represented a land mine for the front-runner Moreover, Biden had no reason to be confident that an individual who had undressed him publicly on that issue would not do so, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, were he to be elected.  That would be political death for a Democratic president.

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer," doesn't mean to reward them profusely, as Biden did by nominating Harris as his running-mate but to remain wary while keeping track of them.  Joe Biden didn't select the California senator as his heir apparent because he decided to let bygones be bygones. Nor was he convinced of her apparent decency or that they would become friends in time.

Instead, he realized that if ever someone were to accuse a President Biden of being racially intolerant or insensitive, it would be Kamala Harris.   The Joe Biden who was thoroughly intimidated decades earlier by Clarence Thomas is still alive and well and living in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Larger Context

The New York Times has reported

The Irish novelist Sally Rooney said on Tuesday that she would not allow the Israeli publishing house that handled her previous novels to publish her most recent book, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” because of her support for Palestinian people and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

In an email, Ms. Rooney said that she was proud to have her first two books, “Normal People” and “Conversations With Friends,” published in Hebrew. “Likewise, it would be an honor for me to have my latest novel translated into Hebrew and available to Hebrew-language readers,” she said. “But for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house.”

Support on Twitter for Rooney's position was impressive, including from one individual maintaining

Sally Rooney did not turn down her work being translated into Hebrew, she turned down allowing an Israeli publisher with ties to the IDF translating her work. Do not let people miss the latter part to smear this as anti-semitic.

Nonetheless, a contrasting sentiment:

Sally Rooney’s novels are available in Chinese and Russian. Doesn’t she care about the Uighurs? Or Putin-defying journalists? To judge Israel by a different standard than the rest of the world is antisemitism.

Fortunately, there is an answer to Franklin's question.   On The New Statesman's article "TheSally Rooney Hebrew row-explained, Emily Tankin asked "what about other countries with human rights abuses, such as China or Saudi Arabia?" Tankin noted

Rooney’s response to this was: “Of course, many states other than Israel are guilty of grievous human rights abuses. This was also true of South Africa during the campaign against apartheid there. In this particular case, I am responding to the call from Palestinian civil society, including all major Palestinian trade unions and writers’ unions.”

Without actually conceding that China or Saudi Arabia is guilty of human rights abuses, Rooney has stated the undeniable: "Many states other than Israel are guilty of grievous human rights abuses." This is analogous to an individual making an insensitive, offensive remark and responding to criticism resisting apology, stating "I apologize to anyone I may have offended."  Rooney deftly avoids accusing any nation, in this case China or Saudi Arabia, of human rights abuses.

But she does name Israel, "responding to the call from Palestinian civil society." She thereby pivots quickly from the notion that any nation other than Israel may abuse human rights, and invokes the apartheid previously practiced by South Africa. She cannot call out China or Saudi Arabia.  Nor Cuba, Libya, Pakistan, Bolivia, Russia, or any other nation abusing its own people.

No, it's only Israel she can name. And she does so by smearing it as an apartheid state, comparing it to the long discredited and overthrown South African regime.

It is impossible to determine whether Rooney is anti-Semitic as opponents of BDS suggest she is an anti-Semitic while supporters of the movement will vigorously defender her against the charge. Additionally, her particular motive is relatively inconsequential. She should not be canceled; her works still should be published if of literary value, and individuals comfortable with the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East should personally disavow her.

Of more importance is the BDS movement itself. Last month, as preparations were being made for the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, law professor, human rights activist and former Canadian politician Irwin Cotler informed us

A global campaign against Israel as an “ethnic cleansing, criminal, and apartheid state” was launched in the immediate aftermath of post-Durban calls for the dismantling of Israel as a “racist apartheid state.” The first UN Human Rights Commission meeting in the aftermath of Durban sought to single out Israel for differential and discriminatory treatment with a majority of all resolutions passed indicting Israel, while the major international human rights violators, such as Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Iran, enjoyed exculpatory immunity. A meeting at the University of Michigan that served as a launching pad for the BDS Movement rejected a resolution “calling for a two-state solution if Israel were to become a democratic state” — problematic in itself — in favor of a resolution “calling for the dismantling of Israel as a racist apartheid state.”

This is about the perseverance of a vulnerable, pro-American and democratic state in the Middle East. It is bigger, far more important than one highly acclaimed, misguided Irish novelist.  


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Silence, A Bad Option

In a statement posted on the White House's website on Mat 25, 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris revealed

Today the President and I met with the family of Mr. George Floyd. Mr. Floyd should be alive today. He should be with his family who continue to show courage, grace, and resilience....

We must address racial injustice wherever it exists. That is the work ahead.

There is someone else who should be with family members, who continue to show courage, grace, and resilience.  That would be 58-year-old Maria Ambrocio, a Bayonne, New Jersey resident who on a visit to New York City

was in Times Square Friday afternoon with friends when police allege Foster plowed into her outside a pizzeria while running away after stealing another woman’s phone moments before.

Ambrocio was pushed. She fell and cracked her skull, and later died.

Sources say Foster took off but was arrested minutes later, adding he was also involved in a home invasion robbery shortly before at a woman’s apartment nearby, as well as a groping incident in Midtown last month.

According to his family in NJ, 26-year-old Jermaine Foster had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since he was a teenager and was devastated when his father died last year of Covid-19. Foster currently was homeless was prescribed medication. (He has been arrested and is charged with burglary, robbery and murder.) In a measured response on Facebook, the Philippine Consulate General in New York wrote in part

Beginning January, we have seen several of our kababayan, most of them senior citizens, violently assaulted by individuals with mental health issues.

We have joined calls for authorities to take the necessary steps, including heightened police visibility, to protect the public after we noted the surge in anti-Asian hate incidents that targeted some of our kababayan. 

We also supported calls for authorities to take the necessary measures to address mental health issues, especially among the homeless.

We reiterate these calls as we mourn our loss but we also ask ourselves: How many more Maria Ambrocios do we have to mourn before the streets would be made safe again?

Ambrocio was an oncology nurse. It is a time when health care professionals across the nation have been lauded and celebrated, when many areas across the nation have been wracked by a major surge of violent crime. and New York City reportedly has been plagued by a rise in anti-Asian incidents.

The Administration should take notice. While President Biden has been consumed by the pandemic, infrastructure, and other problems which demand his attention, the Vice President, whose only significant duty (other than in the month following a presidential election) is to cast a deciding vote in the Senate when the chamber is evenly split, should speak up.

When George Floyd was brutally murdered, Vice President Harris took sides, recognizing "we must address racial injustice wherever it exists." The slaying of Maria Ambrocio highlights the injustice many Asian-Americans believe they suffer in New York City and elsewhere. It's a perfect opportunity for Kamala Harris to find her voice again and emphasize that 58-year old women should not have to fear for their lives or be at the mercy of violent men on the streets of America.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Vaccines For Me, Not For Thee

Last Wednesday, Chris Haye of All In noted of Fox News

Media Matters found that channel pushed claims undermining vaccines 99 of the days in the past six months. And the hosts over there are strenuously opposed to vaccine mandates or requirements, right? They let you know every chance they get.

Hayes' producers then showed video of Carlson maintaining

These demands are so obviously irrational that forcing you to accept them without complaint is the whole point of the exercise. It is a form of sadomasochism. It is dominance and submission. It`s about power. If they can make you take medicine you don`t want or need, they`ve won. You are theirs. You belong to them.

We don't often see tongue in cheek Hayes, but we should more often:

Sadomasochism. Spicy, Tucker. Who would willingly suffer in such submission? It`s why fox news has been celebrating the very brave resistors in other organizations who have resigned from their jobs or gotten fired or placed on some kind of leave rather than get the vaccine or be owned. They brought on nurses and teachers, even an army lieutenant colonel.

He continued

But their newest champion is someone at another cable channel, ESPN. A host there named Sage Steele who is now suspended from being on air partly for appearing on a podcast and going after her employer for mandating vaccines.

Following was video of then-ESPN employee Steele stating

I think to mandate -- I respect everyone`s decision. I really do. but to mandate it, is sick and it`s scary to me in many ways. But I have a job, a job that I love, and frankly a job that I need. But again, I love it. I just -- I`m not surprised it got to this point especially with this Disney, I mean a global company.

Citing Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade and Fox political commentator Clay Travis, Hayes remarked

The irony here again is that none of these people, Clay Travis, Brian Kilmeade, to Tucker Carlson have shown that same bravery to call out their own network and their own employer. The Fox News vaccine requirement is stricter than the one proposed by President Joe Biden and described as tyranny and creeping communism.

Fox is requiring unvaccinated employees to be tested every day. And inside the buildings, I mean just look at this video of the opening of their new D.C. bureau. Everyone is wearing masks and are most likely also vaccinated or getting tested every day because that is what their company is mandating.

Now, Tucker Carlson has been the most vocal anti-vaccination voice in American media. And unless he just does not actually believe any of the stuff he`s saying, and it`s all just a craven cynical act for ratings while he himself is vaxxed and people die needlessly by the thousands, he might just be highlighting all those other people who showed actual courage as he works up his own courage, you know kind of through osmosis to walk out.

Tongue in cheek again, Hayes concluded

Because if you truly believe you are suffering under the sadomasochistic heel of a tyrannical employer, even if they are paying you lots and lots of money, even if you don`t want people to think you`re a total fraud, then you have got to have the guts to call out Fox News or resign in protest. There`s no other option. It`s the only way forward. You can do it, Tucker. I believe in you.

And on both the day before and the day after these comments, Hayes pounded Fox, even recognizing on Tuesday "So, inside Fox News, everyone takes this seriously. They're in on the joke, I guess."

They are in on the joke, and they're in on the hypocrisy.  It's analogous to the right's obsession with forced-birth.  Activists know that if abortion is killing (highly arguable) or even murder (legally and linguistically inaccurate), a woman obtaining an abortion is even more guilty of such a hideous and horrendous act as is her surgeon.

But that doesn't stop them and the politicians also in on the joke from demanding that doctors performing an abortion be prosecuted and women held blameless, perhaps even held up as victims. The Fox personalities and the forced-birth activists both lack the courage of their convictions. They're in on the joke.

They're educated and aware, as are GOP politicians, who also understand the importance of vaccination, but work hard to not let their supporters in on the joke. If politics is the art of manipulation, these guys and gals are the Pablo Picasso of our generation.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Snowflake Culture Strikes Again

Bill Maher was not only accurate and honest, but prescient when on Real Time on September 10 he remarked

When people say to me sometimes "like, boy, you know you go after the left a lot these days," boy, I'm like "because you're embarrassing me, that's why I'm going after the left in a way you never did before because you're inverting things."

Twenty-five days later, The Michigan Daily reported

On Sept. 10, Music, Theatre & Dance freshman Olivia Cook attended her first composition seminar with (Professor Bright) Sheng. This semester, the course focused on analyzing Shakespeare’s works, and the class began with a screening of the 1965 version of “Othello.” Cook told The Daily she quickly realized something seemed strange, and upon further inspection, noticed the onscreen actor Laurence Olivier was in blackface.

 “I was stunned,” Cook said. “In such a school that preaches diversity and making sure that they understand the history of POC (people of color) in America, I was shocked that (Sheng) would show something like this in something that’s supposed to be a safe space.”

It is telling that Cook came to college neither to learn nor to be challenged, but for the comfort of a space space. We learn

The 1965 version of the film has been a topic of controversy since its initial release when The New York Times wrote a 1966 article criticizing Olivier’s use of blackface as well as his stereotypical performance. 

 According to Cook, the students were given no warning or contextualization prior to the viewing.

The context was presenting college students a glimpse of one of the most famous plays by the most celebrated playwright in world history.  However, she was not warned that she might learn something from it.  TMD continues

Sheng sent out an apology on Sept. 10 shortly after the class ended, noting that the casting and portrayal “was racially insensitive and outdated.” A copy of this email has been obtained by The Daily. A planned “Othello” project was then canceled by Sheng.

In an email to The Daily, Evan Chambers, professor of composition, wrote about the importance of properly preparing students for possible instances of racism in film.

“To show the film now, especially without substantial framing, content advisory and a focus on its inherent racism is in itself a racist act, regardless of the professor’s intentions,” Chambers wrote. “We need to acknowledge that as a community.”

If showing- not producing, directing, or acting in- a film presented as it was made is racist, there is little that cannot be construed as racist by those whose feelings are so easily scarred.  Accordingly

Five days after Sheng showed the video, on Sept. 15, Gier sent a department-wide email acknowledging the incident and apologizing for what students experienced.

“Professor Sheng’s actions do not align with our School’s commitment to anti-racist action, diversity, equity and inclusion,” Gier said.

The email also stated the incident had been reported to the Office of Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX.

Free inquiry and free expression are discarded as universities undermine its employees and destroy their credibility with students. The relationship between student and teacher is, well, "inverted," if students are encouraged to condemn professors who make them uncomfortable when presenting a subject honestly.  Excessive sensitivity should not be rewarded.

It gets worse. But if you follow woke culture on college campuses, you knew it would.  Thus

On Sept. 16, Sheng sent out a formal apology to the department. He wrote that after doing more research into the issue, he realized the true extent to which racism impacts American culture, adding that he failed to recognize the racist connotation of blackface makeup.

“In a classroom, I am a teacher representing the university and I should have thought of this more diligently and fundamentally; I apologize that this action was offensive and has made you angry,” Sheng wrote. “It also has made me lost (sic) your trust.”

However, the apology has been another source of controversy among students. Students have taken particular issue with the section of the letter where Sheng lists multiple examples of how he has worked with people of color in the past.

“At the world premiere of my opera The Silver River in South Carolina in 2000, I casted an African American actress (for the leading role), an Asian female dancer and a white baritone for the three main characters,” Sheng wrote.

After a few more examples, Sheng concludes by writing that he has “never thought (of himself as) being discriminating against any race.”

Cook told The Daily she felt the letter was shallow. By listing out all of his contributions to people of color, he failed to understand the gravity of his actions, Cook said.

“He could have taken responsibility for his actions and realized that this was harmful to some of his students that are within his class,” Cook said. “Instead, he tried to make excuses. Instead of just apologizing for it, he tried to downplay the fact that the entire situation happened in the first place.”

Professor Sheng has learned the hard way that unreasonable people will not be reasonable, and too rarely are there adults who will not buckle under to pressure.  And defending oneself (unless arrested while committing a crime) will simply not be tolerated.

After the incident, the composition class was suspended and Sheng stepped down, and reportedly "is still teaching students in his studio, serving other departmental and school-wide duties and working on research projects."

The Michigan Daily touts its "one hundred thirty-one years of editorial freedom." It's only appropriate, then, that it has described a serious blow to academic freedom.

One of Our Own, Or So He Says

So do your thing ,Charles! Stephen A. Smith on Fox News on Wednesday night commented I got to tell you something. As much as people may ha...