Politics postsWednesday November 26, 2014
Candice Dyer's Handy Decoder for Whitespeak, Post-Ferguson
Freelance writer extraordinaire Candice Dyer of Georgia wrote the following today on Facebook about some of her post-Ferguson social media conversations. It seems pretty spot-on:
Having read the same arguments, ad nauseum, over the past couple of days ... here's a handy decoder-translator for whitespeak:
- When you preface a sentence with “I'm not a racist, but ...” That means you're a racist.
- When you say “This is not about race at all” ... That means it's exactly about race.
- When you say “This is all about Sharpton and Jackson playing the race card” ... That means you are the one playing the race card ... as a racist.
- When you say “We still have the best criminal justice system in the world even if it's flawed” ... That means that black people shouldn't complain about it, but you can, when it affects you or your child.
- When you bring up O.J. in this context ... guess what?
- Same goes for any talk of Obama “stirring the pot.”
- Same goes for defaming the dead as a “thug.”
And so on. And so on.
I should add, in all honesty, that my own social media conversations have gone the other way. I came home Monday night to the Twitterverse excoriating Pres. Obama for the “split-screen shot”: he was urging calm while on the other side, smoke, fighting and rioting were going on in the streets of Ferguson. Some said, a bit quickly, that it “defined” his presidency, but I never understood what he should have said or how he should have acted. Should he have not been calm? Should he have urged violence? What he said, and how he acted, seemed proper to me. What he said the next day seemed proper to me, too. He'll get excoriated from the right for that. No winning for the middle in America.
Here's Bob Staake's New Yorker cover for next week:
Election 2014: Voters Tired of Obstructionists in Congress, Vote for More Obstructionists in Congress
Every day I get an email from the New York Times with its various headlines, along with extras. Often they have a quote of the day. This was today's:
QUOTATION OF THE DAY
“All they do is fight between each other and don't get anything done. So we - and I - need something different in there. Everything needs to change.”
-- JOHN MILLER, an independent in Iowa voting in the midterm election.
So it worked. The Republicans obstructed, and the voters, too stupid to realize who to blame, blaming instead the tired, all-encompassing scapegoat of “Washington,” gave us more obstructionists. Or the same ones.
Mr. Miller's quote is from this article: “To Angry Voters, Washington Comes Out the Biggest Loser.” Many of the people interviewed say the same things. Washington just fights, things aren't going well, we need a change. Ergo yesterday.
Was in inevitable? The battleground states tended red, the Dems in office there were swept in in 2008 after eight years of Bush, and now they're being swept out after six year of FOX News propaganda and GOP obstructionism. Not to mention Dems not willing to stand up for what they believe in.
The headline should begin, “To Angry and Stupid Voters ... ”
Quote of the Day
“Politics is about more than mathematics. It is also a matter of will. Polite Georgetown insiders didn’t like to admit this. Sometimes they willfully ignored it—moderates could be as oblivious to evidence that didn’t confirm their biases as any conspiracy-mongering extremist. Rabid partisans beat moderates all the time, precisely by dint of the very passion that sometimes blinds them.”
-- Rick Perlstein in “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan,” writing about the 1976 Republican convention but with a message for any time. Certainly for the 2014 mid-terms.
Washington State Supreme Court Cites Washington State Legislature for Contempt
The Washington state Supreme Court is holding the Legislature in contempt for not making enough progress toward fully funding public education but, for now, is holding off on sanctions.
Here's some background on the contempt charge. Article IX, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution reads: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” The paramount duty. Washington's is one of only two state constitutions to use the word “paramount” in this regard, and the other, Florida, declares it “a paramount duty,” not the paramount duty.
However, the Washington Legislature is still not making it its paramount duty to fund education despite supreme court decisions in 1978 and 2012 to do just that. Two years ago, I interviewed Thomas Ahearne, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the more recent case, McCleary v. State of Washington, who has an amused side when it comes to himself and a combative side when it comes to almost everything else. This case is part of his combative side.
The new today made me read over the piece. I'd forgotten how colorful he is. He has great stories.
More, I seemed to remember a prediction he made about whether or not the Legislature would live up to its paramount duty. This is how the piece ends:
“Our Supreme Court has ordered our Legislature to do something that’s hard, very hard, with their public schools, and we’ll see if they do it promptly or if they drag their feet and stall,” Ahearne says. He smiles but his eyes remain combative. “I have a good guess as to what they’re going to do.”
He sounds more optimistic in the Seattle Times' link above.
Did Jeffrey Toobin Let Ted Cruz Lie About Prop 8?
There was an excellent profile of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) by Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker last month: “The Absolutist.” You should check it out. You get a real sense of Cruz's history (his father fled Cuba before Castro), and why he is the way he is (conservative father and indoctrination into constitutional issues at the Free Enterprise Institute at the age of 12), and why he is formidable (national debate champion, “...on his way to becoming one of the most notable appellate advocates in the country”), and just how young he is (too young to have voted for Reagan).
All of that is good and worthwhile. But then Toobin ends the piece with a Cruz quote:
“Since I became a senator, a year and a half ago, I’ve kept two promises to the people of Texas. I have endeavored to do what I said I was going to do and I have always told the truth. It says something about Washington that those are perceived as radical acts.”
I have always told the truth. Yet earlier in the piece we get this quote from a speech Cruz gave at the 2014 Texas Republican Convention in Ft. Worth:
“Marriage is under assault,” Cruz told the crowd. “It is under assault in a way that is pervasive. We’re seeing marriage under assault in the courts, including, sadly, the Supreme Court of the United States. It struck down the California marriage laws. California had a referendum. They asked the voters of California, ‘Do you want marriage to be a traditional marriage between one man and one woman?’ And the voters of California—those crazy right-wing kooks—said, ‘Yes, now that you mention it, we like marriage to be between one man and one woman!’ Went to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court said, ‘You can’t say that,’ and struck it down. You want to know what judicial activism is? Judicial activism is judges imposing their policy preferences on the words of the Constitution.”
I'm no national debate champion, let alone one of the most notable appellate lawyers in the country, but I know Cruz isn't telling the truth here. Because he knows the U.S. Supreme Court did not “strike down” California marriage laws. Here's what happened.
The voters of California passed Prop 8 by a 52-48% margin. Two years later, the federal district court in San Francisco overturned it, declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional under the due process clause. The state chose not to appeal, but others did: the initiative's proponents, along with Imperial County. After various judicial perambulations, the case wound up before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, which ruled, 5-4, that those who brought the appeal (Prop 8's proponents and Imperial County) did not have legal standing to bring the appeal. Case dismissed.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down California marriage laws? It didn't rule on California marriage laws.
This might seem like semantics to most people but I can guarantee you one of those people would not be “one of the most notable appellate advocates in the country.” Cruz said what he said, fudged the truth of what he said, because he wanted red meat for the Texas crowd to sink its teeth into. He was being a politician. He was being a D.C. insider. He was not telling the truth.
Ted Cruz gave at the 2014 Texas Republican Convention:offering red meat at the expense of truth.