The broad social structure of white supremacy is not a part of the working conservative definition of racism. Conservatives see racism as a series of discrete acts of overt oppression. After slavery had disappeared, but before legal segregation had, conservatives considered it preposterous to claim that blacks suffered any systematic disadvantage in American life. (For an lengthy but fascinating expression of the conservative view, watch William F. Buckley in 1965 sneering his way through a debate over race relations with James Baldwin.)
Today, conservatives retroactively agree that legal segregation may have been unfair, but now things run on an even footing. Republicans, by a 60-40 margin, now believe discrimination against whites has grown to be a larger problem than discrimination against minorities. In fact, in nearly every way it can be measured, traditional white-on-black racism persists. Jamelle Bouie lists a few of them: Experiments show candidates with white-sounding names are vastly more likely to get callbacks than candidates with black-sounding names with equally impressive résumés; realtors show fewer homes to prospective nonwhite home buyers than to white buyers of equal financial standing; the criminal justice system imposes large racial disparities for the same criminal behavior; and on and on.
None of these experiments are known, or would even sound plausible, to avid followers of conservative news sources, where “racism” is encountered primarily as a politically motivated slander against conservatives by liberals. Again, it bears repeating that most conservatives find Klan-style white supremacy foreign, and usually completely unacceptable. The racial fissures of the Obama era do not look like 1957 Little Rock. Undisguised racism, while numerically frequent — it’s a big country — has largely remained confined to the political margins. Tea party activists have suppressed openly bigoted signs at their rallies, National Review fired two blatantly white-supremacist writers, a Republican precinct chair had to resign after boasting that a restrictive voting law would target “lazy blacks.”
Instead, the racial battlegrounds of the Obama era have settled on a series of more ambiguous controversies. Conservatives have made endless jokes based on the strange premise that Obama is unable to express coherent thoughts unless reading from a teleprompter, defined health-care reform as “reparations,” imagined a Reagan-era program to subsidize telephone use for the indigent is actually “Obamaphones,” or complained when black entertainers or athletes socialize with the First Family. The accusations of racism that follow merely confirm to conservatives that black-on-white racism is a canard, that the balance of oppression has turned against them.
The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which functions as a sort of law firm for the president and provides him and executive branch agencies with authoritative legal advice, formally weighed in on the platinum coin option sometime since Obama took office, according to OLC's recent response to HuffPost's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. While the letter acknowledged the existence of memos on the platinum coin option, OLC officials determined they were "not appropriate for discretionary release."
HuffPost submitted the FOIA request when there was increased speculation about the use of the platinum coin option ahead of the debt ceiling crisis this fall.
Conservatives are refusing to fund the government if that funding includes the money intended for the Affordable Care Act. So Obamacare might lead the GOP to force an unnecessary and unpopular government shutdown — one that even most members of their party don't support.
And after the government-funding deadline, of course, comes the debt ceiling. There, Republican leadership is arguing that the deal should be a year of debt-ceiling increase for a year of Obamacare delay. The Obama administration obviously won't go for that — in fact, they say they won't negotiate over the debt ceiling at all — so GOP leaders will need to find a way out of that promise.
But what if they can't manage that legislative two-step? What if they actually cause a debt ceiling breach, and take the blame for the resulting economic chaos, and the permanently higher borrowing costs?
The GOP's strategy for ending Obamacare has gone from "repeal-and-replace" to "shutdown-and-default." That's a disaster for their party — and the leadership knows it. Obamacare has begun working politically for the Democrats, but not in a way that anybody ever expected.
After months of agonizing about how to deal with the effects of government spending cuts, senior F.B.I. officials in Washington have decided how they will reduce the bureau’s spending: they will shut down its headquarters and offices across the country for roughly 10 weekdays over the next year.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s plans mean that on those days, the bureau will have only a skeleton crew on hand, which raises questions about how effectively it can respond to crime.
While the shutdown conjures images of the recent movie “The Purge,” in which the government allows people to commit crimes like murder and rape for 12 hours once a year, F.B.I. officials said they would have plans for agents to return to work if there was a terrorist attack or a crime like a kidnapping.
Besides the short-term effect on morale, response time and focus on the mission, this will degrade the capabilities of the bureau in the long term as well. I think the long-term impact is not being considered by those having this budget debate in Congress. Mistakes will be made down the road because of these cuts, and they will be able to be traced back to these cuts.
Griffin promised to call the governor after meeting with constituents in the parking lot of Stroud's Country Diner in Mayflower earlier in the day. There, several residents who have complained of persistent health problems since spill urged the Republican congressman to help them get better assessment and treatment.
"We have all been sick," said Linda Lynch, whose home is some 300 yards from the rupture site. "I feel like we're all like dogs chasing our tails around here. And we are sick of it. ... We need help."
Griffin told her he'd call the governor and convey their wishes. "I'll do whatever," Griffin says. "I know [the governor] cares. And he has some resources with the department of health that my office does not have."
Beebe's spokesman Matt DeCample confirmed later in the afternoon that Griffin called and spoke with the governor's chief of staff, Morril Harriman, about exploring a further response from the health department. DeCample said the governor's office would be discussing the matter with the health department.
Residents' suggestions to Griffin included a mobile clinic where they could see a specialist in chemical exposure-related illnesses, and an independent community health assessment to determine how widely people in Mayflower were affected by the spill, in which 210,000 gallons of heavy crude burst out of ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline.
People from 22 houses in the path of the running oil were under mandatory evacuation after the spill. Meanwhile dozens and perhaps hundreds of other residents were likely exposed to known carcinogens that aerosolized and circulated in the air around the spill.
The Unified Command of local, state, federal and ExxonMobil representatives determined that the levels of those chemicals were too low to warrant further evacuations. But residents have complained that they suffered immediate symptoms — such as headaches, blurred vision, diarrhea, nausea and dizziness — that for some have persisted during the clean-up.
"There's no way to clearly identify the total effect on the community without assessing that community, and that has not been done," Emily Harris, a volunteer with the Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group, told Griffin.
She posted a detailed proposal on just how to do that on the Facebook event page for the meeting Monday morning, which was one of Griffin's "Sweet Tea with Tim" confabs with constituents. About 50 people showed up, mostly to grill Griffin on Obamacare, immigration reform and defense spending. Under a small canopy in the brutally hot parking lot, staffers served sweet and unsweet tea in plastic cups.
Among those in attendance was Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson, the head of Unified Command. Asked how he thought the response to the spill might have improved upon, he was at a loss. "I'm not sure that if we had to do it again that we could do it as well," he said.
Griffin did mix it up a bit with Hendrix College Young Democrat Robert Taylor, who tried to challenge the Congressman on a House vote that affected oil sands taxes. "If you want to get in an argument," Griffin said, "just set up a meeting in my office." Taylor and two fellow Hendrix Young Democrats walked away and returned with protest posters — "Tim Griffin Brought To You By ExxonMobil" — and, standing a respectful distance from the scrum, held signs and sipped their tea under the midday sun.
The member is Rodney Alexander of Louisiana.
“Rather than producing tangible solutions to better this nation, partisan posturing has created a legislative standstill. Unfortunately, I do not foresee this environment to change anytime soon. I have decided not to seek reelection, so that another may put forth ideas on how to break through the gridlock and bring about positive change for our country.”
... Alexander’s retirement — or, more accurately, his explanation for why he’s leaving — raises the possibility that we could have a number of other House members follow his lead, people sitting in safe seats who decide it is simply better to do anything else rather than serve in Congress.
We could think of a few Alexander is welcome to take with him.
Jonathan Martin writes in the New York Times today about the latest Republican attack strategy against Hillary Rodham Clinton's potential presidential candidacy:
In summary: She's a washed-up old lady.
I'm guessing a lot of old ladies won't like that much. They are known to vote.
Stuart Stevens, the top strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, declared to an audience of reporters at a breakfast last month that electing Hillary Rodham Clinton would be like going back in time. “She’s been around since the ’70s,” he said.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking in Chicago this month, has not yet said whether she will run for president again in 2016.
At a conservative conference earlier in the year, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, ridiculed the 2016 Democratic field as “a rerun of ‘The Golden Girls,’ ” referring to Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 70.
And Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, seizing on the Fleetwood Mac song that became a Clinton family anthem, quipped to an audience in Washington, “If you want to keep thinking about tomorrow, maybe it’s time to put somebody new in.”
The 2016 election may be far off, but one theme is becoming clear: Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton’s age.
Hillary Clinton will turn 69 in October 2016.
Just by way of reminder for Republicans worried about washed-up political figures: Remember the patron saint of their political party? Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 as president a month before his 70th birthday. He'd been out of political office for six years at that time. He'd been defeated in a previous effort to win the Republican nomination four years earlier (and also in 1968). Who you calling washed up?
Josh Duggar — the eldest child of Michelle and Jim Bob — announced last night on Twitter that he's taken a job as the Executive Director of FRC Action, the Family Research Council's lobbying arm. Duggar, 25, moved to D.C. with his growing family in May.
Current "alerts" on the FRC Action website: Abolish the IRS! Soldier punished for serving Chik-fil-A in support of DOMA! Horrors of the late-term abortion industry! FCC seeks to allow nudity on the TV! You get the picture.
Meanwhile, some blogs are already asking: how comfortable will Americans — via TLC's reality show TV cameras — be while following Josh around as he helps spread the good word for an organization that's been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center?
Arkansas's Republican congressmen today voted against a motion by Iraq war veteran Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois that would have added language to the National Defense Appropriation Act to give victims of sexual abuse more options in bringing their abusers to trial.
The bill would have let a victim choose either the Office of Chief Prosecutor in her service branch or the commander in her chain of command to determine whether a case goes to trial. Several other Democratic congresswomen spoke in favor of Duckworth's motion. The motion failed 225-194, with only two Republicans supporting the measure.
The appropriation, which passed 315-108, did include measures to protect victims of sexual abuse, including requiring a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for servicemen convicted of rape or assault in a military court, dismissal of certain officers and dishonorable discharges for enlisted and noncommissioned personnel. The bill also strips military commanders of the power to overturn convictions in rape and sexual assault cases.
Reps. Tom Cotton, Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack voted in favor of the appropriation bill.
Less than an hour after this morning's post on the contract for Planned Parenthood to hire outreach guides for the healthcare exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act — in which Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford expressed confidence that approval would come if the contract was "perfected" to define a "clear scope of work" — Rep. David Meeks tweeted in response: "unacceptable." Meeks followed up:
I will continue to oppose ANY taxpayer funds going to Planned Parenthood. #arleg #prolife
— StateRep David Meeks (@DavidMeeks) June 13, 2013
Of course, Planned Parenthood wouldn't be getting a dime for the organization, they will simply be an entity that hires people to be guides (UPDATE: to be clear, a small percentage of the funding is allocated for the administrative costs of hiring the guides; my point is that the money is not going to the regular services of the entities). The guides will be licensed and trained, and paid $12 an hour to do outreach and education to let people know they're eligible for health insurance and help them sign up.
The guides have nothing to do with abortion. But if there is an opportunity to demagogue Planned Parenthood, Meeks will take it.
The Senate voted 82-15 to proceed with debate on the immigration reform bill crafted by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight." The vote doesn't mean that the bill necessarily has enough support to pass.
Sen. Mark Pryor voted yea and Sen. John Boozman was one of 15 Republicans to vote nay. Pryor will be a closely watched vote going forward. Without support from conservative Democrats like Pryor, the effort is likely sunk — but unfortunately for reform proponents, he is likely preoccupied with trying to position himself for a tough re-election campaign in 2014.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz If Mark Pander looks any more pitiful he's going to wind up on the…
>>I think about a lot of things, Paul. If you have listened, or cared to…
Re: Norma's suggestions: While they are excellent ideas, one must be pragmatic about the likelihood…
A&E Feature / To-Do List / In Brief / Movie Reviews / Music Reviews / Theater Reviews / A&E News / Art Notes / Graham Gordy / Books / Media / Dining Reviews / Dining Guide / What's Cookin' / Calendar / The Televisionist / Movie Listings / Gallery Listings