“I forgot he was black tonight for an hour”

In commentary following Barack Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address last night, MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews said “You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”

It’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around racial prejudice that blind and entrenched. If I were black I think I’d be righteously pissed off — and yet, Matthews and his fans undoubtedly think of themselves as the enlightened ones who are leading the rest of us troglodytes to the sunny uplands of universal brotherhood.

Mr. Matthews, I have news for you: some of us actually manage to forget that Obama is black for weeks at a time — that is, until we’re reminded of it by a self-righteous, pompous, race-obsessed idiot like you.

Why does this man still have a job this morning? Why is there not a universal howling for his blood from bien pensants everywhere?

Oh, right. I forgot the rules. Only Republicans get that treatment.

146 thoughts on ““I forgot he was black tonight for an hour”

  1. I am surprised that he actually said that, and seems to have gotten away with it.

    ESR, what is it with the brain transplant candidates lately? It seems like everywhere I look, there is some brain damaged caricature of a human being spouting some complete nonsense or other and/or causing major damage in some way or another . . .

    sigh

    Better go back to my computer & information security studies, this people stuff is for the birds

  2. Matthews says he was trying to say Obama has moved us beyond race.

    1. This does not seem to be a good way to make that point.
    2. I’ll believe it’s true when Democrats/liberals/blacks stop playing the race card on Republicans/conservatives/non-blacks.
    3. Since, for example, lots of folks were playing the race card against Alito today on Althouse’s site, I don’t expect to change my mind soon.

    Yours,
    Tom

  3. >Matthews says he was trying to say Obama has moved us beyond race.

    Yeah, right. The only way the line makes sense is if Obama’s blackness is at the forefront of Matthews’s mind every time Matthews thinks about Obama. Tingles running up his leg and all.

    If I needed a reason to be glad I’m not Chris Matthews, that would be enough of one.

  4. And I forgot Matthews was relevant. Isn’t he the “thrill up my leg” dope?

  5. Every time I hear a news report about racism, I think “are we still talking about that?” Seriously, as a country haven’t we already moved past racism the same way we’ve moved past women’s suffrage?

    When I was in grade school (during the 1970′s) we occasionally had to endure racial sensitivity classes. No doubt a few hours per year of such lessons were mandated by some equality law. The problem was that it never would have occurred to me to be racist if not for the classes. Where I lived the few black kids in class were a bit unusual but no more so than say the few red-headed kids were unusual. And It never would have occurred to me to discriminate based on hair color any more than skin color.

    UNTIL the ridiculous racial-sensitivity classes introduced me to the concept of racism.

  6. Eric, got a YouTube clip of that comment to share? While I think the attitude it displays is horrid, the only way you make a dog (or public figure) from making future messes is by rubbing their noses in the mess they made.

  7. Mr. Matthews, I have news for you: some of us actually manage to forget that Obama is black for weeks at a time — that is, until we’re reminded of it by a self-righteous, pompous, race-obsessed idiot like you.

    Indeed. Obama spoke today in Tampa and the local news crews were on the ground with their cameras trained on the throngs of people that were waiting in line to see him speak down at USF and there were people there wearing shirts with slogans like “The Dream Realized” and I’m thinking, “What’s the big deal? I don’t remember this kind of support for other presidents in the past?” Finally I saw this post and realized what’s the big deal: most of the supporters wearing these shirts were African American. Obama’s black. Duh. It just didn’t occur to me.

  8. Eric, got a YouTube clip of that comment to share? While I think the attitude it displays is horrid, the only way you make a dog (or public figure) from making future messes is by rubbing their noses in the mess they made.

    Pssssst: YouTube was bought by Google, whom, I’ve heard, has very good search technology.

  9. Rather than being another libelous blogger on the internet you could surprise us all and provide context. From: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100128/ap_en_tv/us_tv_matthews_obama

    The MSNBC commentator said it was noteworthy to him that a black president was addressing a room of mostly white people and how it didn’t seem to be an issue. He said he saw it in the context of growing up at a time racial divisions were ever-present.

  10. Bob,

    I already referred to the context. Thanks for the supporting link. And the quote. You have improved this thread, except for your own miserable word choice of libelous. As I said, Matthews chose a poor sentence to make that point. His sentence seemed, in fact, to make the opposite point, as Eric noted. His clarification added clarity, but is not persuasive for the other reasons I mentioned.

    Yours,
    Tom

  11. >The MSNBC commentator said it was noteworthy to him that a black president was addressing a room of mostly white people and how it didn’t seem to be an issue.

    You just don’t get it, do you? It wouldn’t have been an issue for me, or anybody else who isn’t as unhealthily race-obsessed as Chris Matthews, in 1990. Or even 1970. Self-congratulation and prejudice are two sides of the same coin; the proper attitude to Obama’s race is utter indifference. And, at that, if you require an effort of will to achieve indifference (I don’t) you’re still part of the problem.

  12. >His clarification added clarity, but is not persuasive for the other reasons I mentioned.

    Self-congratulation and prejudice are both signs of attachment to racist categories. Matthews’s “clarification” flips from one to the other, unconvincingly.

  13. …most of the supporters wearing these shirts were African American…

    …and like New Orleans….like Haiti….I hear the very same echoes of infantilization…the very same visions of an intellectually eviscerated horde….the very same evidence of a brutally betrayed and cynically raped people exhibiting a ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ allegiance to the ‘liberal/progressive’ sociopaths that have destroyed their future.

    If they ever wake up and realize how evil their ‘champions’ actually are, I will not stand in the way of the righteous black lynch mob that descends upon such ‘liberal’ vermin.

  14. Just think how absurd this would really have become if Chris Matthews was actually coherent. I have yet to hear a sentence come out of him that did not require extensive explaining by others who do not trip over their tongue while talking.

    I think, in fact, his idiocy prevented a far worse catastrophe, at least in this case; I was actually waiting for him to allude to M.C. Hammer in an evangelical context.

    Matthews should stick to what he does best, silently processing oxygen.

  15. The most striking thing about this is how the Left is falling all over itself to excuse a racist comment by one of its darlings, just like it did for Harry Reid. In their minds, only conservatives can be racist.

    Bah. Just more hypocrisy from the Left.

  16. It’s easy to forget Obama is black because he’s a lightskinned man with no Negro dialect.

  17. You know you’re inflicting indignities on sacred cows when you get spuriously accused of two torts within eight hours.

  18. I keep forgetting that we’re supposed to be mindful of how black he is.

    Of course I grew up in a rich neighborhood and learned about hip-hop from an Asian kid…

  19. You know you’re inflicting indignities on sacred cows when you get spuriously accused of two torts within eight hours.

    :) You know, I’ve always been of the opinion that if you don’t like what I have to say, go read something else. There’s a sea of other content out there on teh intartubes and I’m just one guy you’re perfectly free to ignore.

  20. > and there were people there wearing shirts with slogans like “The Dream Realized” and I’m thinking, “What’s the big deal? I don’t remember this kind of support for other presidents in the past?”

    I’ve read that there was a similar feeling of support for JFK among the Catholic community, back when he was elected President. That’s the nearest analogy I can think of.

  21. If we’re going to look at this through a racial prism, the thing I find mildly amusing is that we have two black men in high office, one of whom wrote a partial dissent to Citizens United saying it didn’t go far enough, and the other who blasted the decision in his SOTU address and called for it to be undone.

    Of course, that the two are both black is pure trivia.

  22. Deep Lurker,

    The Greek American community was solidly behind Dukakis. The percentages were similar to black support of Obama, I’ve heard. Of course he wasn’t actually elected….

    Yours,
    Tom

  23. “If they ever wake up and realize how evil their ‘champions’ actually are, I will not stand in the way of the righteous black lynch mob that descends upon such ‘liberal’ vermin.”

    Would it be racist of me to offer a discount on the rope?

    ESR says: The tar, feathers, and railroad ties will be on me.

  24. esr:

    It’s supposed to be a fence rail. Unless you plan to put the lynchees out of their misery in a creosote fire.

  25. Jay Maynard said:
    > Bah. Just more hypocrisy from the Left.

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical. It’s the same old condescension from the usual suspects. The Left (especially the “New Left” – or is it the “new New Left” now?) has sanctified race as the most important human quality, from which all other qualities and perspectives are derived.

    Political leaders and their flunkies in academia and the arts bark self-destructive memes in Black American ears from the moment they are born. Progressives have been trying to re-sculpt Black America into a political bloc since the Reconstruction, and the Democrats have been been literally tossing tiny, ineffective bribes their way since the fall of the Segregation and the Solid (Democratic) South. In the meantime, they mythologize and celebrate the persistent cycle of poverty among metropolitan Blacks, watching from a safe surburban distance as majority Black and Hispanic public schools spiral into a Hell of unaccountable, bulletproof Teacher’s Unions, lowered achievment standards and the diminishing returns that these things breed. Instead of more rigorous math, science and reading programs, Black students (and indeed, even their White counterparts trapped in similar circumstances) are fed a hodgepodge of socio-political hoo-ha that imprints, among other things, that they should never look up to white people (particularly, white men) as role models, that white “culture” is undesirable and oppressive by nature and that the most important thing about their identity is the dot on the form that they fill in for “race/ethnicity.”

    Add to this stew a “progressive” recipe for social revolution that vilifies the traditional roles of men in family life as a relic of “the oppressive hegemony”, and you yourself have a nightmare world. Generations of kids being raised on the dole in single parent homes, in neighborhoods where the only available models of entrepreneurship and work ethics are guys running drugs and prostitutes in the streets, the ghosts of Black separatists like Malcolm X and various Black politicians who sell them straight down the river to the public service unions and the crooks.

    The only hypocrisy about this situation is that Liberals do all this while simultaneously claiming some perpetual right to their vote. Not all Blacks fall for this routine, but it’s important to understand that the ones who most often do, do so because of the cycle of poverty and a culture that insists it can only be broken by less law enforcement, sub-standard educations, small handouts and the sort of “racial-pride” that doomed to twist into narcissism and self-segregation. Blacks who’ve escaped this Hell of Lowered Expectations tend to be more informed, skeptical and selective when it comes to politics. Both my mother-in-law and my wife are good examples of this. They scoff at jackasses like Matthews and his ilk (insomuch as they are exposed to them… my M.I.L is more likely to pick up a Barron’s than an New York Times). But they are still in the minority, especially here in NYC, where the likes of Charles Barron, Charlie Rangel and Al Sharpton are cannonized as saints, and where a huge portion of the chattering class falls in line somewhere to the left of Bella Abzug.

  26. There’s an elephant…well, a “donkey” in the room that no one wants to talk about.

    Specifically, that “donkey” is the implied threat of black violence.

    People like Matthews aren’t out there screaming “racist” because they want white people to feel guilty. They’re screaming “racist” because they desperately hope that some black thugs jump at the bait and attack the “teabaggers” in order to clamp down on dissent.

    And, BTW, the term “teabagger” has the same purpose. By using a term referring to homosexual activity, they intend to emasculate the Tea Partiers, and convince said thugs that they’ll be easy pickings. It isn’t just blacks that this is intended to incite, either; it’s the entire left-wing underclass that members of the overclass like Matthews are hoping to use as their weapons against the common people.

    Unfortunately, the dirty little secret is that it works. Not so much at suppressing Tea Partiers, perhaps, but at establishing the far left as the “alpha males” in society. At a very deep level, most people think of Republicans as wimpy rich guys who can’t fight (which is usually true), and of Democrats as tough guys from the mean streets who will beat you up if you don’t get in line (which is true only of the underclass elements; unfortunately, the Matthewses get a free ride in this regard).

    How can Tea Party types fight back? Honestly, they first need to realize that when the Democrats say “fight,” they mean it literally. Not a fair fight, either; SEIU types generally pick out the weakest of the herd. Republicans and Tea Partiers really need to be aware of their surroundings–including surfing left-wing sites ahead of time in order to find out their plans–and they need to be ready to fight back with overwhelming force. And, yes, that includes having at least some of the people present carrying firearms and being ready to use them.

  27. I was just in the US although I live in another country, where there is less of this whole race shenanigans, and my take on it was that the US is the most racist country I know. No other country needs to assert its lack of racism through affirmative action and similar, they just aren’t. This whole fixation with race really shows that no-one in the US has progressed beyond what we went through in the first half of the 20th century.

  28. >At a very deep level, most people think of Republicans as wimpy rich guys who can’t fight (which is usually true), and of Democrats as tough guys from the mean streets who will beat you up if you don’t get in line (which is true only of the underclass elements; unfortunately, the Matthewses get a free ride in this regard).

    Huh? Not in my universe. Bearing in mind that I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat: my stereotype of J. Random Democrat is a brie-nibbling urban white NPR listener who couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag. OTOH, my stereotype of a Republican is a rural conservative you’d best not mess with if you want to keep a whole skin. I think I’m far from alone in this.

  29. Eric, I think the “Republicans” you’re talking about are often right-leaning independents. I agree totally about the Democrats; I was referring to their image, not their reality.

    Having said that, blacks do make up a significant minority of the Democrats, and are almost all of that party. No one thinks of them as wimpy; their stereotype is that of an inner-city thug. People like Matthews are all too willing to use that image to scare suburban whites in order to get them to shut up.

  30. I might add that those pathetic white trash types who try to imitate black voices and mannerism are trying to capitalize on the “thug” image–very unsuccessfully.

  31. esr said:
    > my stereotype of J. Random Democrat is a brie-nibbling urban
    > white NPR listener who > couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag.
    > OTOH, my stereotype of a Republican is a rural conservative you’d
    > best not mess with if you want to keep a whole skin.

    Yeah, I’m not sure where Ken gets that equation either. Sounds like it’s from another dimension, actually. The actual stereotype breaks down this way, as far as I know:

    Republican = John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jimbo “Gunrack” BarFightsOlot.
    Democrat = Barbara Streisand, Al Franken and Bryce “Veggie Burrito” Peacenlover

    The only steroetypes that marginally fit Ken’s description are John Q. Banker and Sven “Molatov Cocktail” G8-Protester, which are more fringe affiliates of the party psychographics.

  32. > Eric, I think the “Republicans” you’re talking about are often right-leaning independents.

    I don’t think so. I think he’s talking about the Red-as-Hellfire Sunbelt Republicans and Military families. That’s the crowd national Republicans save their juiciest red meat for at rallies.

    ESR says: That’s exactly correct.

  33. I actually was thinking of the “John Q. Banker” and “Sven ‘Molotov Cocktail’ G8-Protester” types, pretty much exactly.

    Let me reword it a bit: People think Republicans are either (a) John Q. Banker types, who won’t fight because they might have to unbutton their top button; or else (b) Chuck Norris types, who are tough as nails but are gentlemanly family men who most likely wouldn’t hit you even if you insulted them. (Although I suspect Mr. Norris would give you a dressing down that would make you wish he’d just broken your neck).

    I don’t think of “Jimbo Gunrack” types as Republican; in fact, it is only within the last generation that they’ve joined that party. Traditionally they were very conservative Democrats.

    As for Al Franken…yeah, he strikes me as a wimp–but he does like to physically attack people, and unfortunately the Republicans he attacks are usually even wimpier than he is (or else unfortunate enough to be facing in the opposite direction). Yeah, he’s a chickenshit bully–but most people can’t tell the difference between a bully and a tough guy.

  34. > or else (b) Chuck Norris types, who are tough as nails but are gentlemanly family men who most likely wouldn’t hit you even if you insulted them.

    I wouldn’t necessarily lay that bet. Perhaps a mild insult would be brushed off, but an insult to honor or integrity (or worse, an ill-conceived sucker punch) would likely result in Sven G8′s head getting unceremonious corkscrewed so far up his behind that he have a wonderful view of that morning’s breakfast.

    Jimbo “Gunrack” (to use the Left’s own odius stereotype) was certainly a conservative Democrat in the Segregationist South, but shortly thereafter fell in line with his white ethnic cousins, Jack McCatholic and Joe Hardworkio. But of course, I didn’t list everyone. The sunbelters, for example – the ranchers, cowboys and homesteaders that lionized Reagan – were almost born to be tough-guy Republicans. Don’t mess with Texas.

  35. By the way, Ken, I’m not impressed with this whole “Matthews et al are trying to foment black violence” theory. Frankly, I think it’s hogwash.

    In any case, whatever elements of organized black violence exist usually focus their efforts inward, as could be seen my neighbor Newark’s mayoral election of several years ago, between Cory Booker and Sharpe James. When he wasn’t busy vilifying Booker as a “White Republican” (he was neither) James was organizing violent gangs to intimidate and beat up anyone who dared put a “Booker” sign in their window. But as far as Black Panther Partiers, 5 Percenters and the like, they aren’t liable to do any grunt work for some cable TV chump… they have their own twisted agendas.

  36. >The sunbelters, for example – the ranchers, cowboys and homesteaders that lionized Reagan – were almost born to be tough-guy Republicans. Don’t mess with Texas.

    Don’t mess with Texas, indeed. One of the early milestones on my journey away from my centrist-Democrat teens — before I was a libertarian — was discovering that I felt more sympathy with the people you call “sunbelters” than the prissy, cant-ridden Ivy-League types in what was nominally my peer group. So many of the bright people around me used their formidable intelligence to imprison themselves in a straightjacket of what wouldn’t be called “political correctness” until a decade later; I found I had more respect for people who, while they might be 20 points below my peers on the IQ scale, at least seemed to be in contact with reality.

  37. “…my take on it was that the US is the most racist country I know. ”

    Then I dare say you don’t know many countries. More racist than Russia? Or even, let’s say, Spain? Only if you apply the pretzel logic above.

    “No other country needs to assert its lack of racism through affirmative action and similar, they just aren’t.”

    No. Instead they do it through suicidal immigration policies under the guise of “multiculturalism.”

  38. @esr

    Just so you know, I wasn’t trying to denigrate the sunbelters. And you’re right. I’ll take integrity and grit over some soft-headed “intellectual” who can quote “The Wretched of the Earth” at will, but can’t even be honest with himself about his motives and prejudices.

    I find it’s worth remembering sometimes what it was like to be a kid, and all the nonsense that fluttered in and out of my head. Growing up in South Philadelphia (in a typical Joe Hardworkio household of traditional Dems who were slowly traveling right), a “Sunbelt Republican” would have seemed less comprehensible to me than an alien from Mars. I had all sorts of screwy ideas about the world as a kid, which is probably the best time to have them. But I have a feeling that if I had actually met one back then, I still would have felt some kind of kinship with him. Unlike a lot of the Leftist bean counters would have us believe, there really are common threads that underrun all of the demographic variables of class, race, sex, yada yada. Rugged individualists from all walks of life tend to recognize their own.

  39. A significant Democrat constituency is what the kids refer to as SWPLs (Stuff White People Like people.) The males in that group are hardly classic alpha male types.

    I bet you don’t see many Republican men wearing their babies in a sling at Whole Foods.

  40. Ken said:
    > As for Al Franken…yeah, he strikes me as a wimp–but he does like to physically attack people…

    Ken, I was unaware that Franken physically struck someone. I confess the only reason I included him in my equation (instead of, say, Barney “Fannae” Frank) was to complete my “blank is to blank” analogy agreement, such that both equations trimmed out to:

    “Party affiliation = Entertainer, Entertainer-turned-Politican, Grotesque Stereotypical Shorthand”

    Perhaps my brain is just wired that way. I recall having done very well in that segment of the SATs :)

    Regardless of whatever sissy slap Franken threw, Dems are more broadly viewed as the “Party of Sissypants,” as national polls always affirm when it comes to questions of National Security and Law Enforcement. It is also more broadly correct in the sense that Arnold Schwarzenegger could rip Franken’s head off and roll it like a bowling ball.

  41. > These days, there’s a violent rightwing fringe in the US. Afaik, there’s nothing comparable on the left.

    Really? None? Not even FALN, FARC, ARA, ELF or the BPP (or NBPP…or whatever they are calling themselves these days) qualify for you? You should have been here for the Republican National Convention in ’04, Nancy. Throw a rock and you would have hit a violent leftwing fringester.

    Oh wait… they were the ones throwing the rocks.

  42. Chris Matthews has been pretty roundly derided for this on the left, who don’t like him one bit (his nickname on sites like DemocraticUnderground and Daily Kos is “tweety”, and that’s not a friendly nickname). I think the deal with the “bien pensans” isn’t that they won’t attack anyone who isn’t a republican; it’s that they won’t attack *their own*.

  43. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    >>> These days, there’s a violent rightwing fringe in the US. Afaik, there’s nothing comparable on the left.

    Really Nancy? Who exactly are you talking about? The people on the right are actually nicer. The Tea Party protesters are emblematic of this. They protest, but it is not violent.

    The left wing loons are the ones who are violent. This is why conservative writers like Ann Coulter and David Horowitz require bodyguards when they go to speak on a college campus. Or witness the SEIU goons beating people up.

    There is a persistent myth of violent right wingers put out by the left. For example, many people seem to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was some kind of right winger, when the truth is he was a communist. He shot President Kennedy because he saw him as a strong anti-communist.

    Sometimes I honestly regret this a little. I think if those of us on the right went out and beat up some liberals, like when they mindlessly accuse of us racism, they would respect us more.

    A guy like Keith Olbermann would benefit from taking a beating.

  44. From Wikipedia: FALN doesn’t seem to have done anything violent for decades. IS FARC active in the US? ARA doesn’t seem to be violent. ELF qualifies, barely, but only because I was careless enough to say “violent” when I meant “murderous”. The BPP isn’t current. It looks as though the NBPP would like to be violent, but hasn’t done much.

  45. > From Wikipedia…

    Heh heh. I love all these Wiki-professors we have these days. Warms the cockles.

    Look, Nancy. I just listed some groups off the top of my head. Your rough estimations that “ARA doesn’t seem to be violent”, that burning down property doesn’t qualify as “violent”, and that the Roeder incident qualifies as a “group” are somehwhat laughable. And acting as though “anti-abortion” is an existential absolute of “The Right” rather than a hammered-on political plank is disingenuous at best.

    Here’s a stubborn fact: Most extremist political groups of any stripe are rather quickly wrapped up in the U.S., due to our (relatively) forceful and competent law enforcement logistics (intel and strategy, on the other hand, are another, mostly sad story).

    Here’s another stubborn fact: The vast majority of so-called “right wing extremist organizations” aren’t even remotely “right wing.” I have run afoul, for instance, of simpletons who claimed that the Aryan Nation is a “right wing” group. Of course, this is not remotely true. Even the slightest glance at their “politics” (such as they claim) shows them to be a rather prototypical Leftist bunch – rather ironically the intellectual brothers of the collectivist Black Panther Party (or even, on a microcosmic scale, the M.O.V.E. organization of my Philly youth.) But rather non-ironically, they are the hapless inheritors of the precise National Socialist movement they claim spiritual allegiance to.

    In any case, you won’t see an Aryan Brother or Neo-Nazi praising free markets and meritocracy any time soon. Some of them *might* pay some lip service to “small government”, but it’s only because they want the F.B.I. out of their wazoos. What they want is the same collectivist, Marxist statism that La Raza wants… they just believe that “they” should be the ones getting the juiciest cut of the Income Redistribution Pie. Trying to lump these crypto-commies in with the ever ominous “Right” has been a Leftist project I’ve watched with interest for many years now. But, the tactic never *really* works, for those with a few brain cells still rattling around.

  46. >Just so you know, I wasn’t trying to denigrate the sunbelters.

    Yes, I understood that.

  47. >This article lists that and other killings from the far right done within the past couple of years.

    The factuality of the rest of the article is called into pretty severe question by its description of the Smithsonian killer as a “right-winger”. IIRC his rants read like a weird cross between left populism and racist nativism – I remember thinking they reminded me of the version of Naziism pushed by the Stroesser Brothers before Hitler achieved sole control of the party.

    Yes, yes, I know, the mainstream media thinks the Nazis were “right-wing”, too. You, at least, have enough of a grasp of history to know better. I think.

  48. If I was a cartoonist I’d be doing pictures of George Bush in a tanning salon. Big-eared guy with a crew cut in a suit, same job, same big problems.

    I voted for Obama because he’s black. First black president is a big deal.( I know you young people don’t always remember, and I’m really okay with that). Bigger deal than liberal (Rino) Rep versus liberal (afrocommunist) Dem? Sure.

  49. esr said:
    > The factuality of the rest of the article is called into pretty severe question by its description of the Smithsonian killer as a “right-winger”.

    Well, I didn’t click on her link (and wouldn’t ever; Googling of keywords and subsequent link-littering doth not an argument make.)

    But, I’d be willing to bet a substantial wad that whatever she is pointing to is merely a list of lone psychos who’s rants include broadly paranoid and racialist motives… and who therefore must be touchstones for generalized “right wing” movements.

    Have I got the frequency, Kenneth?

  50. JB Said:
    > I bet you don’t see many Republican men wearing their babies in a sling at Whole Foods.

    Not directed strictly at you, but can we please stop the association of where people shop or what they buy with the quality of their ideas? Nothing irritated me more than the obsession last election than the obsession with the “latte-drinking liberal elite”. If the way somebody gets their caffeine intake is that important to you, please don’t vote. Quite frankly, I’d rather deal with someone who drinks weak coffee and has strong ideas, than who drinks strong coffee and who’s ideas are third-rate. And yes, this goes for the type of mustard the president puts on his hotdogs. I don’t care, and the fact that it ever merited discussion other than “I’ll have to try that some time” goes to show you how little we are willing to put into analyzing ideas.

  51. >Not directed strictly at you, but can we please stop the association of where people shop or what they buy with the quality of their ideas?

    Quality? Nah, that’s not what people here are going at with cracks about Whole Foods, brie-nibbling, and latte. Food choices are an indicator of lifestyle, which correlates with political orientation. And I’m not handwaving when I say this; one of the best-established facts of political geography is that in the U.S., majority party affiliation is very well predicted by population density, which is also well correlated with the availability of ethnic food, “health” food, and (yes) specialty coffee.

    The resulting jokes may be a bit irritating to outliers like you and me who have bicoastal-liberal/urban food tastes without the politics that stereotypically goes with them, but the stereotypes are well grounded in reality nevertheless. Thus, there’s just no point in getting irritated about them.

  52. The democrats have always been the party of racists. Let’s not forget that the KKK started out as the terrorist wing of the democratic party during the union occupation. LBJ figured out how to bring the economic progress that blacks were making to a screeching halt, with his “war on poverty” debacle that created a permanent dependent voting bloc.

  53. The democrats have always been the party of racists. Let’s not forget that the KKK started out as the terrorist wing of the democratic party during the union occupation. LBJ figured out how to bring the economic progress that blacks were making to a screeching halt, with his “war on poverty” debacle that created a permanent dependent voting bloc.

    Even if what you said about LBJ were true, it would not be due to deliberate racism on his part. Both he and Kennedy got racism and segregation off the Democratic party platform. The result was a disaffected voting bloc of Southern white racists, feeling abandoned by the Democrats, that Nixon’s political strategists helped him scoop up (with coded talk about “states’ rights” and that sort of thing). This is the “Southern strategy”, and that voting bloc has been solidly Republican ever since.

    This is why the GOP is (rightly) associated with racism today, and is probably a better account for why blacks vote Democrat than your wishful-thinking theory of Democrats keeping ‘em poor and dependent.

  54. …a better account for why blacks vote Democrat than your wishful-thinking theory of Democrats keeping ‘em poor and dependent.

    While I generally disagree with much of these kinds of argument surrounding the histories of both parties (as they have both experienced profound shifts over time), your statement above is nonsense.

    I will bet the rent against the vast, vast, majority of blacks, when interviewed, having any idea of such history. They vote the way they do because of grotesque, cynical racial demagoguery and the promise of shiny trinkets perpetually kept dangling out of reach…and the gubmint schools keep ‘em dumb enough to unblinkingly ignore the obvious consequences that plague them.

  55. Jeff Read said
    > Even if what you said about LBJ were true, it would not be due to deliberate racism on his part.
    > Both he and Kennedy got racism and segregation off the Democratic party platform.

    This is about as fatuous a read of the mid-60′s political climate as I have ever heard, and I’ve heard plenty. The Solid Democratic South was raw with anger over the notion that Republicans (and their Northern, mostly patrician Democratic allies) would deign to interfere in their Separate-But-Equal Multicultural Utopia. How soon people forget that it was only via a GOP putsch that that Congress was able to override theDemocratic filibuster of the Civil Rights Act. LBJ signed what was essentially a Republican legislative victory for human dignity. Of course, to history’s whitewashers, LBJ’s hancock is given disproportionate weight.

    > The result was a disaffected voting bloc of Southern white racists, feeling abandoned by the Democrats,
    > that Nixon’s political strategists helped him scoop up (with coded talk about “states’ rights” and that sort of thing).
    > This is the “Southern strategy”, and that voting bloc has been solidly Republican ever since.

    Well, this stunner is both factually incorrect and historically incoherent. The party now known as the “GOP” has always been the party of liberation and racial blindness, dating back to their intellectual heritage among the founding fathers. Aside from a fatally misguided moment in the aftermath of the Civil War, where Republicans employed aggressive affirmative action to install black politicans at the levers of Southern power, the Republicans have always maintained racial blindness as a core plank of their ideology.

    The party now known the Democrats – again reaching all the way back to their Jeffersonian past – has always maintained the view that racial distinctions can and should be codified into law. From “3/5ths” to Jim Crow to Segregation to Identity Politics to Affirmative Action to Hate Crime Legislation, Democrats have been (and I suspect, will always be) the party where “race matters.” The thread might not be bluntly obvious, because of the always shifting constituencies, alliances and blocs that we’ve all been discussing here. But the historical narrative is long and commanding.

    Mean Jeff Read would have you believe that a single, decadal political strategy that supposedly targeted disenfranchised “white racists” has overturned two hundred years of the history of a party who even now has a Black man as it’s national leader. He is wrong. The parties did not “flip-flop on race in the 70′s. Democrats continued to believe that the law should recognize race. Republicans continued to believe that law should NOT recognize race. Party on, everyone.

  56. > “Mean Jeff Read”

    I meant “Meanwhile, Jeff Read.” I don’t know whether he is “mean” or not. :)

    (I just know that he is yet another Wikipedia professor who is out of his depth.)

  57. Jeff Read says:
    >>> Even if what you said about LBJ were true, it would not be due to deliberate racism on his part. Both he and Kennedy got racism and segregation off the Democratic party platform. The result was a disaffected voting bloc of Southern white racists, feeling abandoned by the Democrats, that Nixon’s political strategists helped him scoop up (with coded talk about “states’ rights” and that sort of thing). This is the “Southern strategy”, and that voting bloc has been solidly Republican ever since.

    This is why the GOP is (rightly) associated with racism today, and is probably a better account for why blacks vote Democrat than your wishful-thinking theory of Democrats keeping ‘em poor and dependent.

    Jeff, democrats do keep blacks poor and dependant. They have been voting overwhelmingly for you guys for over 40 years, and look what it has got them. Look at places like Detroit.

    The democrats have a more racist background than republicans. They were the party of the confederacy. Don’t forget that honest Abe was a republican. That’s right folks: the democrats were the pro-slavery party. In some ways they still are. And the KKK were all democrats when it was founded. More republicans than democrats voted for the civil rights act.

    Another reason blacks keep voting dem is that those who dare think different are said to be “not really black.” Look at the shameful way Clarence Thomas was treated. The dems like Joe Biden had no compunction about smearing him with racist stereotypes.

    Saying that blacks must be liberal to be authentic is just like saying they like eating chicken and watermelon.

  58. That’s the kind of argument I consider absurd, Darren. The “democrat” and “republican” banners still exist to this day, but all they ever have been is a collection of people promoting their values at any given point in time.

    It is as nonsensical to deride democrats as being ‘the racist party’ as it is to deride whites as generally racist, due to the past thoughts, words and deeds of long-dead people.

    The republicans of Abe’s era were hardly smoking cigars and swilling brandy with the negroes. North and South were both generally racist in the sense that they didn’t tend to view blacks as equals. The Klan was born in the North. There was plenty of abolitionist sentiment in the South.

    To view racism along a North/South or Democrat/Republican divide is simply wrong. The whole slavery/racism issue was complex and didn’t conform to such simplistic attempts to propagandize it.

    There may well be actual racists among the ranks of D’s & R’s (and certain aspects of the democrat platform do indeed smack of that old-school racism)…..but what is most startlingly obvious to me is the cynical and arguably sociopathic manner the dems champion the ‘black cause’ with such predictably catastrophic results.

  59. > The republicans of Abe’s era were hardly smoking cigars and swilling brandy with the negroes.

    That’s incorrect, Dan. Many of them actually were doing exactly that. In fact many of them were doing that long before slavery had been abolished in the south. Cosmopolitanism had a long and healthy tradition in New England before the reconstruction and its various compromises.

    > The Klan was born in the North.

    That’s also incorrect. I’m not sure what gave you that idea. The entire governing principle at the center of the Klan derives from a paramilitary revival of the Confederate army, for the purpose of resisting northern Republican reconstruction efforts. None of this is in dispute, by anyone on this planet… or even on Jeff Read’s planet, I’d imagine.

  60. You’re right jrok, I was confused….I had to refer back to my sources….it wasn’t the ‘birth’ of the Klan I was thinking of (which was in TN, and largely to combat the Union League after the war) but the two revivals in the 20′s and late 40′s/50′s that saw Klan activity spread all the way up to Michigan.

    However, you paint a far rosier picture of the position of blacks in Northern society than I think is creditable.

    Either way, the idea that racism respected party lines or the mason-dixon line is absurd.

  61. By the way, I am *not* a Republican.

    I admire some of their doctrines and vote for Repubs in many elections. Hell, like most New Yorkers over the past twenty years, I almost automatically pull for the Republican brand in general elections; a phenomenon that Thomas Frank might consider exploring in his next book (“What’s the Matter with New York City?”)

    But I have gradually lost faith in the GOP as a cohesive national party. This is not because they threw in with Read’s and Lebovitz’s imaginary “white racists,” but rather because they amalgamated the post-modern Christian Fundamentalists into their tent a generation ago.

    I have nothing against Christians, even of the Fundie stripe. But when the Republicans (mostly) agreed to plant their flag on Anti-Abortion soil, they alienated a broad swathe of people who otherwise agreed with their world-view, and allowed the Leftists to convert them into a horde of zombie enemies. I am personally troubled by abortion (particularly in the sort of Marxist statement it seems to make on the value of individual human life), but it is such a murky and fraught issue that I am willing to accept differing arguments from honest people.

    It was a devil’s deal: hammer on the anti-abortion plank, and earn the trust of a voting bloc that had already been alienated by the Democrats’ godless agitprop. Repubs were able to cram more voters in the tent, true. But they also missed a big opportunity to draw in large numbers right thinking American Dreamers in the process.

    The Dems never had much of a chance with me, but the Repubs always did. They have squandered their latest chance in this past decade, by spending like drunken donkeys and gumming onto piddling wedge issues like Gay Marriage. Gay Marriage? Who cares!

    Remember kids: “Independent” means never having to say you’re sorry.

  62. “I will bet the rent against the vast, vast, majority of blacks, when interviewed, having any idea of such history. They vote the way they do because of grotesque, cynical racial demagoguery and the promise of shiny trinkets perpetually kept dangling out of reach…and the gubmint schools keep ‘em dumb enough to unblinkingly ignore the obvious consequences that plague them.”

    Maybe the more parsimonious explanation is that blacks accurately self-assess their ability to compete with whites and N.E. Asians for cognitively demanding jobs (along the continuum from fireman to college professor) and vote for the A.A./”equal outcome” agenda out of self interest? Certainly not all, but many/most?

  63. > Maybe the more parsimonious explanation is that blacks accurately
    > self-assess their ability to compete with whites and N.E. Asians for
    > cognitively demanding jobs (along the continuum from fireman to college professor)

    “Parsimonious” is an accurate term for this sort of logic, insomuch as it’s stingier than a Mormon at a strip club.

    I’ll assume that the “fireman” thing is a reference to Ricci. Yeah, it was a disgusting, disgraceful and un-American scam they tried to pull off in Connecticut. It didn’t work, but I don’t think it had anything to do with “blacks accurately self-assess(ing)” their ability to do or not do anything. This is just the stnadard runoff from the mighty river of Litigation that’s been roaring through our country for a couple of generations now. Branding motives on a racial group because of the actions of a few specious “activists” is missing the trees through the forest. Individuals count, but activist groups make headlines.

  64. I myself am a conservative first, before being a member of any party. That is because the idea of limited government, and respecting the constitution and bill of rights has a very strong, gut level appeal.

    I usually vote for the R’s, but have been as disgusted with them in recent years as anybody. W was too much of a big spender for my taste, and I was disappointed that he signed campaign finance reform into law.

    Thank God that turd was recently overturned by the court, or at least most of it.

    And now Obama is doing the spending but with zeros on the end compared to Bush.

    I fear for the country.

  65. The party now known as the “GOP” has always been the party of liberation and racial blindness, dating back to their intellectual heritage among the founding fathers

    Well, not exactly. The Republican Party was founded as an anti-slavery party, but the motivation wasn’t so much egalitarian as it was to protect white laborers from competition with slave labor. John Brown wasn’t really a typical Republican. Not long after the Republicans were formed though, they were taken over by the remnants of the Whigs, and morphed from the “anti-slavery party” into the “federal supremacy at all costs” party.

    As for liberation and racial blindness, if you read what Lincoln had to say about blacks, you would be hard-pressed to conclude that he cared about their welfare. He just wanted them the hell out of the country so that the slavery issue would be eliminated once and for all. It was quite a shock to me to find out that during the war, blacks escaping from the south across Union lines weren’t freed, they were captured and held as confiscated property.

  66. Even if what you said about LBJ were true, it would not be due to deliberate racism on his part.

    Not all racists are malicious. LBJ is an example of the kind of racist who actually believes he can help the poor, benighted people whom he holds in contempt, by increasing the amount of government interference in their lives. He was wrong, of course.

  67. Some Guy Says:
    > Well, not exactly. The Republican Party was founded as an anti-slavery
    > party, but the motivation wasn’t so much egalitarian as it was to protect
    > white laborers from competition with slave labor.

    When did I use the word “egalitarian”? I mean, frankly, they *were* that, but I didn’t describe them that way. Like our parties today, they had many factions that were roughly agreeable on the issue slavery from many viewpoints, and often held these viewpoints simultaneously. Alexander Hamiliton, for instance, thought that slavery was a moral crime AND that the agrarian monopoly of the South was an obstacle to economic growth and liberty. While some of the lurking Bolsheviks on this blog might be awestruck at the notion that the anti-slavers were both morally correct abolitionists AND anti-trust free marketeers, for many of us of the connection between the two ideals is strong and obvious.

    > As for liberation and racial blindness, if you read what Lincoln had
    > to say about blacks, you would be hard-pressed to conclude that
    > he cared about their welfare.

    I’ve read lots of things Lincoln had to say about Blacks, many of them contradictory. But in the end, it does not matter what one man thought and wrote privately about race. And it hardly matters what thoughts he expressed publicly during his campaign, which we know was fraught. After all, he was trying to win election in a country where many of the richest, most powerful people were slavers, from slave states. He wasn’t running to be president of the “free” half of the country. Douglas famously branded him a “flip-flopper” on slavery, charging that he expressed different ideas to different audiences. Sounds like a typical politician to me.

    But the Emancipation Proclamation was the most important political contribution he made as both the chosen head of his party and the president of one half of a country at war with the other. And it’s not so much “John Brown” I was thinking of, but guys like Speed, Sumner, Fessenden, Chase, (Thaddeus) Stevens and the like. You know. Republicans.

  68. By the way, I’ve always thought that John Brown’s role in the era of abolition was artificially enlarged and romanticized. The Union’s Republican generals (often to Lincoln’s chagrin) proved far more effective liberators, regularly freeing black plantation slaves, arming them and incorporating them into their ranks. Of course, there were pragmatic reasons for this, but pragmatism doesn’t preclude morality. Sometimes it serenely intersects with it. I believe this was the case with Fremont (another Republican), who Lincoln feared would scuttle the war effort in the border states with his revolutionary zeal, liberating every black slave he laid eyes on.

  69. ESR,

    “one of the best-established facts of political geography is that in the U.S., majority party affiliation is very well predicted by population density”

    Yeah, over here too. But what is the explanation for that? I think the usual common wisdom about the rural areas preserving more of the traditional values vs. the cities being more trendy and more interestend in any new idea and fashion is at some level wrong. When a friend of mine visited the Silicon Valley he told me that those very programmers who work in the most technologically progressive research centers of the world prefer to live in quite rural-like surroundings in and around San José, so people whose profession is all about chasing the newest of the new don’t automatically hate the rural lifestyle. And there are many examples of young people in rural areas basically just copying the lifestyle of the cities. So I think this explanation doesn’t quite hold water.

    Could there be, instead of this explanation, a direct causation between population density and basic philosophical-political views? Low density means people are scarcer, therefore people (individuals) are valued higher, hence one possible cause for Libertarian-leaning views. Also they to disturb each other less, therefore they can be in many things more tolerant – another possible cause for Libertarian-leaning views. OTOH if individuals are more valuable then the quality, including the moral quality such as virtue etc. of individuals is more important, which can lead to Social Conservative views.

    High density could mean one individual is relatively worthless, therefore he can be seen as an exploitable, taxable resource, which can lead to Big Gov’t views. People disturb each other a lot – hence the desire for more control – same thing. OTOH exactly because people tend to disturb each other a lot, people are grateful if someone at least doesn’t disturb them, no matter what he does in his individual sphere, hence the Socially Liberal views.

    I know you expect me to generate some falsifiable predictions, so be it: even those areas of low pop. density which are completely newly built (suburbia or suchlike) and consist of urban people who where raised in and later moved out of the cities, thus, no possible genuinely old rural traditions can be preserved at such places because there were none of them to begin with, with be on the average more right-leaning than the nearby densely populated areas, even when the numbers are controlled for family income or net worth.

  70. > Branding motives on a racial group because of the actions of a few specious “activists” is missing the trees through the forest. Individuals count, but activist groups make headlines.

    Not so fast.

    The activist groups are seen as representative because the folks who they are claiming to represent mostly go along with those claims.

    Sharpton at al can raise a crowd. More to the point, Sharpton et al are defended.

    It’s not unlike the tendency in some communities to say “not another black man in jail” when the “man” in question is charged with killing other blacks. It’s also related to the “snitches are bad” ethic.

    This has consequences – it’s reasonable for other people to respond “if that’s what they want, there’s no point in trying to provide something else”.

  71. > Not so fast.

    Okay, more slowly, then.

    Individuals. Matter.

    Activists and their allies in the legacy mass mediums have long pushed the image of a monolithic black acceptance of the progressives’ “administrative state.” The rise of the internet is proving this illusion to be hollow, as conservative and libertarian BlackAmerica is beginning to find its voice online.

    This is a great development, actually! Black Americans like Clarence Thomas have proven to be ferocious archenemies of the forces driving Americans into bureaucratic bondage. And as far as rhetorical allies go, you couldn’t ask for better ones, since slavery and segregation prove rich a pool of symbolism for what has been happening over the past 70 years (and, in some ways, since Teddy Roosevelt). We are all sliding down into Huxley’s worst nightmare, and we need all the friends we can find. Declaring that all Black Americans (or even all Black New Yorkers) worship Sharpton isn’t only untrue, it’s not helpful. Most lies aren’t.

  72. >Remember kids: “Independent” means never having to say you’re sorry.

    Taking part in the voting at all means you are endorsing whoever wins.

  73. > > Not so fast.

    > Okay, more slowly, then.

    Snark and cluelessness isn’t a good combination.

    > Individuals. Matter.

    No one said otherwise.

    > Activists and their allies in the legacy mass mediums have long pushed the image of a monolithic black acceptance of the progressives’ “administrative state.”

    And they’re correct. No one, including the activists and their allies, have ever claimed 100%. In fact, they’ve even acknowledged the existence of exceptions by creating various mechanisms for marginalizing said exceptions.

    That doesn’t change the fact that they are exceptions. While the Black community does quibble over abortion and gay rights, it votes for Dems in overwhelming numbers. Significant numbers show up when the activists whistle while almost no one shows up for the exceptions. They don’t cross the activists and their allies. They don’t support alternatives and they do object when the exceptions claim general support.

    Yes, there are exceptions. And the number of exceptions may be growing. And the Black community is ill-served by these activists and their allies.

    However, none of that changes the fact that the vast majority does consent to being represented by the activists and their allies.

  74. JROK: “in the aftermath of the Civil War… Republicans employed aggressive affirmative action to install black politicans at the levers of Southern power…”

    This is not correct. No “affirmative action” was required. Republicans pushed through the 15th Amendment, enfranchising blacks. There were (and still are) areas in the South that are majority black. This meant black control of many local governments. Black votes also controlled some state governments. SC was majority black in 1860; FL, MS, and LA were 50%, and many adult white men were killed in the War. No black governors were elected, but black legislators were, and black votes put white Republican “Carpetbaggers” and “Scalawags” in power.

    The white-supremacist “Redeemers” were determined to regain power from Republicans and disfranchise blacks so that no blacks could ever have authority over whites.

    Sadly, the flagrant corruption of the Reconstruction governments (which was aggressively publicized by the Redeemers and their northern Democrat allies) persuaded most Americans that blacks weren’t ready for citizenship. (The corruption of the Redeemer governments was nearly as bad, and some of the worst “Carpetbaggers” and “Scalawags” were welcomed if they embraced white supremacy.) Teddy Roosevelt said as much in a private letter in 1910 or so. Thus Republicans tacitly consented to black disfranchisement in the Jim Crow era. Even in the 1920s, when Republicans were as dominant as they have ever been, nothing was done to challenge lynch law or the Klan. The armed forces and Federal government remained segregated.

    Some Guy: “if you read what Lincoln had to say about blacks…”

    I agree with [Senator] Douglas [the black man] is not my
    equal in many respects—certainly not in color,
    perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But
    in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of
    anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my
    equal and the equal of [Senator] Douglas, and the equal
    of every living man.

    That was what Lincoln said in the Second Debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858. Yes, Lincoln supported “colonization” of free blacks somewhere else – because he thought they couldn’t get a fair shake anywhere in the U.S.

    Andy Freeman: The rabble-rousing “Reverends” usually keep quiet when the perp killed another black, or when a black officer shoots him. There have been a number of examples in Chicago.

    jrok: At the start of the War, Lincoln had to make it absolutely clear that he was fighting to uphold the Union, and _not_ to Do Anything about slavery. The former was constitutional, supported by nearly all northerners and most border-state men. The latter would have been viewed as unconstitutional usurpation that provoked and justified secession. In 1861, Fremont issued a proclamation emancipating the slaves of all rebels in Missouri. Lincoln was warned that if he didn’t repudiate Fremont’s action, Kentucky (still “neutral”) was “gone over the mill dam”. Lincoln had said he hoped to have God on his side, but he _had_ to have Kentucky. He gave Fremont a chance to back down, then revoked the proclamation himself… and Kentucky stayed in the Union.

    BTW, another politician-general, Ben Butler, came up with the idea that slaves who escaped to Union lines were “contraband of war” and thus de facto free. Butler was an ex-Democrat who had tried to get Jeff Davis the 1860 nomination! But he was highly adaptable.

  75. > Snark and cluelessness isn’t a good combination.

    Oh I sure do agree with that!

    For instance, when you flip along some vague nonsense like:

    > Sharpton at al can raise a crowd. More to the point, Sharpton et al are defended.

    I’ve lived in New York City for almost twenty years. Lots of people here can “raise a crowd.” However I’ve noticed we tend to have a different idea about what constitutes “a crowd” here than in other parts of the country. Sharpton draws news cameras like dogs draw fleas, but minus some ridiculous “hot button incident,” the vast majority of New Yorkers, black and white, tune him out the other 364 days of the year. He’s got a small loyal flock that slobbers all over him, sure, and he maybe attracts a few more after a “controversial” cop shooting, but that’s about it. This is evinced by the fact Sharpton would rather run for president than for mayor of New York City. Frankly, Al had a better shot at prez. The average New Yorker thinks he’s sort of a joke these days. You can only cry wolf so many times before you get handwaved.

    In fact, here in New York City – the hearth of “brie-nibbing, latte-sippin’ NPR listeners – we haven’t elected a Democratic mayor in more than 16 years. King Bloomberg, who originally ran under the Republican brand, then under the Independent one, recently beat a black Democratic comptroller to win an unprecedented third term, less than a year after Obama was swept into office. Giuliani himself probably could have run for a third term, if he decided to press for a change in the law like Bloomberg did. No mayor has won in New York City without a substantial portion of the Black vote since the 1950′s. Blacks largely vote Democratic because its the only option offered to them, not because they agree with everything the party does and says.

  76. Rich Rostrom:
    > In 1861, Fremont issued a proclamation emancipating the slaves of all
    > rebels in Missouri. Lincoln was warned that if he didn’t repudiate Fremont’s
    >action, Kentucky (still “neutral”) was “gone over the mill dam”. Lincoln had
    >said he hoped to have God on his side, but he _had_ to have Kentucky.
    >He gave Fremont a chance to back down, then revoked the proclamation
    > himself… and Kentucky stayed in the Union.”

    I don’t see how this is any different then when I said: “The Union’s Republican generals (often to Lincoln’s chagrin) proved far more effective liberators, regularly freeing black plantation slaves, arming them and incorporating them into their ranks….. I believe this was the case with Fremont (another Republican), who Lincoln feared would scuttle the war effort in the border states with his revolutionary zeal, liberating every black slave he laid eyes on.” It sounds the same to me, so I guess we are in agreement, unless I’m missing something.

    > This is not correct. No “affirmative action” was required.

    Well, I beg to (slightly) differ. While it is true that the 15th amendment played a large role in the actual election of these black legislators, the Republican (Union) engaged in many forms of what could be described as “affirmative action” to achieve that desired end. This was done in two major ways, to my recollection:

    1) Under martial law, anyone associated with the former Confederate political or military regime was disqualified for office. This had the effect of “plowing the field” in many districts, where the strongest potential candidates were excluded.

    2) The development of the Freedmen’s Bureau, which functioned as a welfare conduit and free law service for freed blacks, and buttressed by broader resettlement plans that gave tracts of land to black citizens.

  77. > anyone associated with the former Confederate political or military regime was disqualified for office.

    And when I say this, I mean they were also stripped of the right to vote, not just to run. And the Union military was also an impediment to white constituencies self organizing in new districts, which probably should have happened. Actually, the Reconstruction was full of failed experiments that *should have* laid out a proper mine map for future reconstructions. It did, in some ways. West Germany and Japan were far more fruitful reconstructions then was the American South.

  78. In fact, here in New York City – the hearth of “brie-nibbing, latte-sippin’ NPR listeners – we haven’t elected a Democratic mayor in more than 16 years.

    Bloomberg is a liberal Democrat, whose only reason for switching his registration to R in 2001 was that the D primary was crowded and he’d be unlikely to win, while on the R side he had no real competition so he could save his money for the general election. The same considerations have kept him using the R label in the next two elections. But none of that makes him less a Democrat. He’s not just a RINO but a DIABLO (Democrat In All But Label Only). And Bill Thompson was the first Democrat I’ve voted for in 25 years.

  79. > King Bloomberg, who originally ran under the Republican brand, then under the Independent one…

    Emphasis on “brand.” But, no, Bloomberg is not a DIABLO. Get real.

  80. > I’ve always thought that John Brown’s role in the era of abolition was artificially enlarged and romanticized.

    He was a very poor strategist, and his attack at Harper’s Ferry was not very effective, but the story was blown up and used by propagandists on both sides of the slavery issue. On one side, he was reviled as a dangerous radical who could incite the slaves to rise up and take revenge, and on the other side, he was praised as a martyr.

  81. But, no, Bloomberg is not a DIABLO. Get real.

    I think I am real enough. He may not be a Ruth Messinger or Freddie Ferrer, but how distinguishable is he from a Mark Green or an Andrew Cuomo?

  82. Millhouse, Bloomberg still occasionally manages to torment and frustrate people like Randi Weingarten and Sheldon Silver. He has acted as a last line of defense of the Giuliani reforms. For instance, Mark Green certainly would have yielded back control of schools by now, would have melted on charters, would have defanged the police, etc. Blomberg isn’t exactly the reincarnation of Reagan, but then again neither is “Scott Brown.” Sometimes, you take what you can get.

  83. Thank God that turd was recently overturned by the court, or at least most of it.

    Can you please tell me what exactly is conservative about corporations being able to buy laws favorable to their interests? Or how exactly this constitutes free speech?

  84. >Or how exactly this constitutes free speech?

    The (libertarian) principle is that the government shouldn’t be able to suppress political speech or activity on any grounds, including the grounds of being emitted by specified forms of organization. I wish the decision had gone further and struck down all restrictions on donations, and I’d like to see the “hate-speech” laws scrapped for the same reason.

    Otherwise it’s “liberty for me but not for me”, and on issues like this I constantly bear Thomas Paine’s quote in mind: “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

  85. > Can you please tell me what exactly is conservative about corporations being able to buy laws favorable to their interests? Or how exactly this constitutes free speech?

    Not just corporations, Jeff. Corporations and Labor Unions. Although, I assume certain folks wouldn’t know this if they constrained their reading to the above the fold editorials of the NYT: “Supreme Court Blocks Ban on Corporate Political Spending.” Well, okay.

    Again, the heart of this issue is freedom of speech. Hollywood, for instance – that cauldron of unbiased stimulating debate – regularly peppers audiences with bald political propaganda, nominally funded by “corporations”… or does a film studio constitute some form of church? In the specific case, “Hillary: the Movie”, the filmmakers approached a subject that the same Disney corporate suits who funded Michael Moore wouldn’t have touched with a hundred foot pole. They had to go elsewhere for funding, and there’s no conceivable reason that they should be limited in who they could ask.

    Neither do I think should Moore and his ilk be denied the ability to fund their screeds directly through Labor Unions, although, unless the folks at Big Hollywood decide to rise up in a bloody coup, he probably doesn’t have a need to do so. Big Labor will certainly fund their own projects, getting their message out there. I’m okay with that too. That’s what free speech is all about. The repeal of the Act certainly helps individual producers to get their “speech” out in the marketplace of ideas, since they can go to likeminded institutions and allies without fear of Speech Police mandarins scrutinizing their works into oblivion.

    Think of it like this, Read: If Holly will fund Stone’s “Bush” without the Speech Police blinking, but the same film funded by the AFL-CIO would get tossed into lawsuit hell, that is a vandalism of the First Amendment. Similarly, if a network of small banks wanted to invest some money in a movie called “Obama” that excoriated him over a proposed excise tax but couldn’t do it because they constituted a “corporation”, that would also be vandalism. Speech is speech. This law was always bad, and a pure illusion in the sense that it supposedly “protected us from special interests.”

  86. By the way, any decision that’s praised by both the AFL-CIO and the NRA should light a fire in people’s minds of all political stripes (except for brainless progressive ideologues, who desperately want the final nails of the Adminstrative State to be pounded into the coffin). This wasn’t only a damn good “it’s about time” decision, but as Clarence Thomas wrote in his partial dissent, it did not go nearly far enough in ripping out the heart and guts of the monster. That dissent was so good, I forgot he was Black for an hour.

  87. esr Says:
    > I wish the decision had gone further and struck down all
    > restrictions on donations,

    I’d go even further and simply scrap the FEC entirely. I think the restrictions on donations are bad enough, but even worse are the so called “sunshine laws” that require publication of the names and addresses of donors. How very nice that the government publishes lists of the enemies of politicians that they can then use to oppress and punish those who campaigned against them. The most recent, clear example, was the people in California who were significantly sanctioned and even lost jobs because of their support for Proposition 8. In this case it was private action rather than government action, nonetheless this is not as uncommon as you might think. Oh, and BTW, I say this as someone who opposed proposition 8. Like Eric said, to defend the most pernicious of speech is to defend one’s own right to speak. One defends the moats and outer walls so that one does not have to defend the King’s bedroom.

    Of course any politician who wishes to refuse anonymous donations or donations from big corporations is entirely at liberty to do so. They can even make a campaign promise out of it, and rail against their opponent for not doing so if they think it is so important.

  88. > Can you please tell me what exactly is conservative about corporations being able to buy laws favorable to their interests? Or how exactly this constitutes free speech?

    The NYT is a corporation. So is GE and Home Depot. Which of them should be allowed to say whatever they want about a candidate?

    Note that GE (currently) owns NBC so if you’ answered “NYT but not GE or Home Depot”, you’ve got a problem. If you answered “NYT and GE but not Home Depot” you’ve got a different problem.

    Do you really want to go with “none of the above”?

  89. > In fact, here in New York City – the hearth of “brie-nibbing, latte-sippin’ NPR listeners – we haven’t elected a Democratic mayor in more than 16 years.

    While true, that’s not relevant to whether the Black community on the whole consents to be represented by “community activists”.

  90. > While true, that’s not relevant to whether the Black community on the whole consents to be represented by “community activists”.

    I regularly run into blacks who roll their eyes at Sharpton and his ilk. Many are outright embarrassed by these people. Eric Adams and his merry band aside, most black police officers think guys like Sharpton and Barron are noxious turds. Party affiliation does not necessarily translate to foaming radicalism, just as opinions that people will cop to on camera does not necessarily correspond to what they actually believe.

    I recall this phenomenon back when I was living in the Bronx in the late 90′s, up 188th street. This was when Sharpton and his employees were ranting about Rudy’s “police state.” Of course, many black small businessman and working class blacks were quietly (and, in some memorable cases, loudly) cheering Rudy on. The installation of the mobile police headquarters at the plaza on the Grand Concourse and Fordham road was a huge boon to the neghborhood, transforming a once barren crime-plagued wasteland into a bustling jobs market, with both large corporate interests and small businesses willing to play their hand. The officers almost immediately ingratiated themselves with the locals, often stopping by to chat with the cashiers and the local merchants who felt safer than they had in years. The broad happiness with the new strategy was palpable. If anything, many residents felt the change had come much too late.

    Of course, if all you knew of this situation was a camera closeup of Reverend Al, surrounded with a couple hundred of his rented flock, you wouldn’t have known any of that. You’d think all Black New Yorkers thought like him. Not hardly true.

  91. Can you please tell me what exactly is conservative about corporations being able to buy laws favorable to their interests?

    Campaign contributions do not buy laws. Neither do political advertisements. It’s very conservative and also very democratic to have large organizations buy political ads to influence the electorate. It means they are lobbying the voters – the people who are supposed to have the power. Your method of trying to suppress corporate influence merely means the influence is in the shadows or via the well known phenomenon of regulatory capture. Let them lobby me and other voters. We are well aquainted with the ways advertisers spin.

    I’m glad to know you are against free speech, a free press, an informed electorate and democracy, Jeff. Do you prefer a hereditary aristocracy? Mandarins? A politboro? What’s your favorite method of having a small elite improve control things?

    Yours,
    Tom

  92. Strike through does not work for me, sigh.

    What’s your favorite method of having a small elite (strike)improve(/strike) control things.

  93. The NYT is a corporation. So is GE and Home Depot. Which of them should be allowed to say whatever they want about a candidate?

    Speech is one thing, and should be protected.

    The situation which existed in the late nineties, and which the Supreme Court recently reinstated, where corps basically 0wn Congressmen by granting or withholding political funds based on how they vote on key policies favorable to the corps, is quite another. And consider well that the corps have already pushed through plenty of anti-libertarian legislation (e.g., the DMCA) in precisely this way.

  94. The situation which existed in the late nineties, and which the Supreme Court recently reinstated, where corps basically 0wn Congressmen by granting or withholding political funds based on how they vote on key policies favorable to the corps, is quite another. And consider well that the corps have already pushed through plenty of anti-libertarian legislation (e.g., the DMCA) in precisely this way.

    Not buying it. You are claiming that McCain-Feingold, the premier incumbent protection act, prevents legislation from being favorable to corporations? Did you follow the recent health insurance reform debacle at all?

    Yours,
    Tom

  95. > where corps basically 0wn Congressmen by granting or withholding political funds based on how they vote on key policies favorable to the corps, is quite another.

    It does not appear that you understand the actual language of the law. Tom DeGisi is correct. This peelbakc is about direct lobbying (i.e. to the people, rather than to Capitol Hill). This is not allowing corporations and unions to directly fund political causes in their own interests.

    Again, the law was ludicrous in it’s design and evolution, parsing out which industries’ speech it would stifle into neat little groups. Hollywood was given free reign to act as an obvious propaganda organ of the Left, while other monetray interests were told “we don’t care if you think our latest tax or unelected regulatory body is destructive and wrong. Shut up and take it, or we will sue the living shit out of you!” Totally nuts.

  96. > to directly fund political causes in their own interests.

    Political “candidates,” I mean. Of course, they are free to spend money to sponsor issues that are in their interest. All of this is covered in the Bill of Rights. The point was not to only disinterested parties speak about the issues important to them. That doesn’t even make any sense!

  97. Jeff Read says:

    >>> Thank God that turd was recently overturned by the court, or at least most of it.

    Can you please tell me what exactly is conservative about corporations being able to buy laws favorable to their interests? Or how exactly this constitutes free speech?

    Well Jeff it is conservative in the sense that it abides by what the first amendment says, rather than seeing it as a “living” document that can mean whatever you want to make up.

    Jeff, the NY Times and the Washington Post are corporations, so are labor unions, so is NPR. Should they have their speech regulated too? It seems to me the burden of proof is on you to show why it should be limited, for GE, for Microsoft, for anybody.

    Money is speech, because it costs money to get in newspapers and tv ads. Corporations should be free to get in as much as anyone else. Competing interests will balance each other out. Laws like this function as an incumbent protection act, and nothing more. It makes it harder for the challengers.

    Why do “corporations” freak people out so much? It is just a group of people working together for a common cause. They are not the boogieman.

  98. I have a certain sympathy for Jeff’s argument. Who can argue that corporations using their financial leverage to unduly influence politicians is anything less than a bad thing. However, when it comes to politics, we are rarely asked to choose between good and bad, almost always we are asked to choose between “really bad”, and “appallingly bad”. This is why political arguments are usually so fruitless. It is easy to point out all the bad in “really bad”, and if you do it loud and long enough, you forget all the bad in “appallingly bad.”

    There is an underlying acknowledgment of this in Jeff’s position. Specifically, there is the acknowledgment that politicians can readily be bought, and convinced, merely by threats of campaign support or lack thereof, to change their fundamental beliefs. Which is to say, politicians are bad, disreputable people unworthy of the people’s trust. If that is the case, one wonders why Jeff also tends to be an advocate for bigger government, which is to say, putting more control of our lives into the hands of people who, evidently, he believes are rather unreliable, disreputable people.

    I don’t actually believe that the cause effect between corporate donations and votes is quite as one way as I have just described, politicians attract donors who share their beliefs anyways, but, it seems to me that the problem is not that politicians are being bought, but that they can be bought. (And as a libertarian, I would also say, the real problem is that they can offer enough value to the purchaser that it is worthwhile buying them at all.)

    To put it another way, I think Jeff is beating the wrong piñata.

  99. >If that is the case, one wonders why Jeff also tends to be an advocate for bigger government, which is to say, putting more control of our lives into the hands of people who, evidently, he believes are rather unreliable, disreputable people.

    Ahh, the contradiction at the heart of “antiestablishment” leftism. “The government is a corrupt tool of special interests! Let us give it more power!”

    This pair of beliefs, held together, is objectively insane even in its own terms of reference. So realizing was one of my clues that left politics as we’ve come to know it is not a belief system that arose and evolved organically, but artificial – a memetic weapon shaped and aimed for purposes its believers are not allowed to fully understand.

  100. >Who can argue that corporations using their financial leverage to unduly influence politicians is anything less than a bad thing.

    Sure, when you stick the word unduly in there. Take it out and I can argue all day. But I want corporations to use their financial leverage to influence politicians. For example I give money to the NRA and the KSRA (among other organizations), both corporations, in the hope it will influence politicians. When I was a liberal I gave money to Public Citizen (among other organizations), a corporation, in the hope it would influence politicians. How else are people supposed to get together to massively influence politicians other than by getting together en masse?

    I work for a corporation. I hope it is using its financial leverage to influence politicians, mainly to protect itself from regulation influenced by our competitors. I wish it would not use its financial leverage to influence politicians to create regulations that benefit it and disadvantage our competitors, our suppliers and our customers, but I can wish in one hand…. You know the saying. Political actions which effect my employer can harm tens of thousands of employees, millions of stock and bond holders and millions of customers. It’s in all these people’s interest if my employer works to protect them from harm, which is also in my employer’s interest. Why should it be muzzled?

    IMHO America would certainly benefit more if Ralph Nader had been muzzled his entire life rather than my employer being muzzled. Could that be because I so completely disagree with Ralph Nader? Why yes it could. Which leads me, but apparently not Jeff, to conclude that the best thing would be to actively work against all attempts to muzzle either my employer or Ralph Nader. Even though I contend Ralph is unjustly using student fees to influence public policy in ways they disagree with and Jeff may contend my employer is unjustly using customer fees to influence public policy in ways they disagree with we are better off if both can speak.

    Yours,
    Tom

  101. Tom DeGisi:
    > How else are people supposed to get together to massively
    > influence politicians other than by getting together en masse?

    It’s possible for large groups of people to self organize outside of a cohesive paper corporation. In fact, that appears to be at least partially what happened in Massachusetts recently.

    Not that this is an argument against corporations exercising their rights to free political speech. Just a happy parallel.

    esr:
    > Ahh, the contradiction at the heart of “antiestablishment” leftism.
    > “The government is a corrupt tool of special interests! Let us give
    > it more power!”

    I think part of it is the sort of knee jerk reaction that has been grafted onto the word “corporation.” A lot of this is an entertainment meme: Evil Corporations make for easy screen villains. No need for expensive effects and monster makeup. Throw a couple of white guys in suits, give them an ominous sounding name like “WorldCo” or “Axis Inc” and you’ve got yourself a movie.

    Hell, I’ve been a controlling member of a C-corp and a few LLCs in the past. I don’t remember kicking any puppies.

  102. jrok Says:
    >Speech is speech. This law was always bad, and a pure illusion in the sense that it supposedly “protected us from special interests.”

    (Nailed it perfectly.)

    Lawrence Lessig (of Creative Commons fame, and “code is law”), somebody who I usually think of as “getting it”, has been spamming me about the Supreme Court decision for the past week thru his Change Congress organization (which I signed up for ages ago). Based on his emails I thought the new decision opened the door for corporations to donate directly to politicians, but I’m figuring out it did nothing of the sort? Why is he going ape-s*** over this decision?

  103. Tom DeGisi Says:
    > Sure, when you stick the word unduly in there.

    “Unduly” because they have a lot more money than most people, and influence is directly proportional to money. However, I would reassert my core point here: the problem is not the influence, but what that influence buys. The power to use government to offer unfair advantage to one over another. If Google advocates for net neutrality, they do not do so for the good of all, but to give them a competitive advantage. If Verizon advocates for their right to load balance their network, they do so for the same reasons. This is at the heart of it. Of course, it isn’t much different that Tom DeGisi advocating for a $5,000 tax credit for all people with the given name “Tom”. The problem is that governments have the ability to pass something so patently unfair.

    To put it another way, the tail shouldn’t wag the dog.

  104. >> “Unduly” because they have a lot more money than most people, and influence is directly proportional to money.

    How does that make it “unduly”? Esr, for example, has a lot more hacker-skill than most people, yet I wouldn’t say that he has “unduly” influenced the development of open-source software.

    I think it comes down to the (false) intuition that “economic coercion” is on the same (im)moral plane as fraud or physical coercion.

    Again, my recast version of the old joke:

    MAN: Will you sleep with me for a million dollars?

    WOMAN: Are you trying to set up that old chestnut?

    MAN: No, it’s a serious offer. [Shows briefcase full of money.] I’m very rich, you’re very beautiful, and I’m willing to pay you a million dollars for a night of glorious sex.

    WOMAN: Rape! Rape! Rape!

    MAN: What?

    WOMAN: Rape! You’re using your million dollars to force me to have sex with you!

    MAN: What? All you have to do is say ‘No.’

    WOMAN: You don’t understand, ’cause you’re rich. It’s a million dollars! It’s an offer I can’t refuse! It’s economic coercion being used to force me to have sex with you. Rape! Rape! Rape!

  105. Deep Lurker Says:
    > I think it comes down to the (false) intuition that “economic coercion”
    > is on the same (im)moral plane as fraud or physical coercion.

    Lame humor aside, you miss a core point. The very essence of government is coercion. So influence over government is influence over the tools of coercion. So your comparison is not valid.

    If I give a local thug $10,000 to bust up your store because I don’t like the competition, you would presumably consider that coercive. If I give a local politician $10,000 in campaign contributions, get him elected, and the quid pro quo is changes in zoning laws that shut down your store, isn’t that also coercion? Once again the core point is that it is not the giving of $1,000 that matters, it is the fact that some politician has the ability to use zoning laws in such a pernicious manner.

  106. jrok: “I don’t see how this is any different…”, “liberating every black slave he laid eyes on…”

    Fremont’s proclamation only applied to the slaves of rebels: the slaves of “loyal” Missourians would not be affected. And it was never actually executed. Fremont issued the proclamation; Lincoln waited a week, then revoked it. No slaves were freed.

    “freeing black plantation slaves, arming them and incorporating them into their ranks…”

    This first happened in early 1863 in South Carolina, after the Emancipation Proclamation was in force: the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, who were recruited from escaped slaves. It should be noted that even then, Union authorities were passive, mustering in only those blacks who reached their lines and volunteered. It should also be noted that nearly all white officers thought enlisting blacks in the Army was a mistake or simply improper. This was especially true of the “West Point professionals”, and most senior Union generals were pre-war officers. There was no mass arming of liberated slaves by Union forces.

  107. Jeff Read: “Can you please tell me what exactly is conservative about corporations being able to buy laws favorable to their interests? ”

    Can you please tell me how a corporation “buys laws” by spending money on political speech to influence public opinion?

    I know how rent-seeking corporations get their goodies from Congress: by flooding DC with lobbyists.

    “Buying” and “selling” are transactions between two parties who agree on a price: exchanges of money for goods or services.

    What is the price of a law, and who does one buy it from?

    Money can be used to try to create political influence, but it is not a wrench or a hammer that has fixed effects. Many well-funded political campaigns have failed.

  108. # Rich Rostrom Says:
    > Money can be used to try to create political influence, but it is not
    > a wrench or a hammer that has fixed effects.

    Does advertising work? It is not a wrench or a hammer either. It is not a fixed price for a fixed result. It is the creation of influence, recognition, comfort, information. But clearly it works to achieve its effects. How do we know it works? Because wise and prudent corporations continue to send their dollars in that direction. How do we know that money in politics works for benefit the purchasers? Same reason.

    > Many well-funded political campaigns have failed.

    So have many well funded software projects. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t buy software projects, or that software projects are not often effective in achieving the goals of the people who purchase them.

    Once again, the problem is not the influence of money in politics, the problem is the influence of politics on our lives.

    Where I live (and I suppose where you live) there is an election going on. All over the street are signs advertising the candidates’ names. These signs say nothing about the candidates views or plans. Just their names, and occasionally party affiliation. Given that just the comfortable feeling of familiarity of a name is sufficient to get the population to vote for you, would you not agree that such capricious decision making power should not be allowed to decide anything important?

    Back to my earlier point, if money can buy a politician’s principles so readily, then surely we want these people, so devoid of principles and decency, to have as little effect on our lives as possible?

    God forbid we allow them to decide who can fund election campaigns! God forbid we give them a list of contributors to their political opponents so that they can bring their retribution on us all more readily! God forbid we allow the suczzy, dubious characters who populate our government to control who gets into government! Do we have a 95% re-election rate because the people so love politicians? I think not. I think there might be a different reason. Don’t you?

  109. Rich Rostrom:
    > Fremont’s proclamation only applied to the slaves of rebels:
    > the slaves of “loyal” Missourians would not be affected.

    Well, this is true and NOT true. But rather than launch into an explanation of why, I thought it might be more interesting to quote Harper’s Weekly editorial parsing of Fremont’s declaration at the time it happened (as it is similar to my own):

    (Harper’s Weekly, September 14, 1861.)
    “But its moral effect must be signal. It is a solemn warning to the inhabitants of the rebel States, that wherever the armies of the United States are resisted in the interests of slavery, the cause of the resistance will be removed. It is a pregnant hint that the rebels who have falsely accused us of being abolitionists may, if they choose, make their accusation true. It is a notification to Kentucky, which seems to be on the eve of explosion, that open treason will necessarily involve the extirpation of slavery. This rebellion has more than once recalled the old adage, ” Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first render mad :” we shall now see how far the madness extends. The cost of rebellion is abolition. Those who choose may purchase.”

  110. Deep Lurker Says:
    How does that make it “unduly”? Esr, for example, has a lot more hacker-skill than most people, yet I wouldn’t say that he has “unduly” influenced the development of open-source software.

    The Open Source community is specifically built around a meritocracy. That is, those with the skills make the rules. Ergo an abundance of hacker-skill is intended to be an influence.

    Now while there is certainly an argument that America is built around the Golden Rule (i.e. He who has the gold makes the rules), “government of the people, by the people and for the people” would argue that that is an unintended effect (at least in my head, YMMV). This “unintended” influence is thus classifiable as “undue”.

    The two examples are not equivalent.

  111. Rostrom:
    > Fremont’s proclamation only applied to the slaves of rebels:
    > the slaves of “loyal” Missourians would not be affected.

    >> Well, this is true and NOT true.

    By the way, the way in which it is NOT true, is in the notion that Fremont’s original proclamation was for “only the slaves of rebels.” That’s not accurate. The original proclamation (before Lincoln reigned him in) was to declare martial law and declare all Missouri slaves free. It was only after Lincoln applied the thumbscrews that Fremot relented and confined his scope to the federal Confiscation Act. That’s a big correction.

  112. I understand the logic that “money == speech”.

    However…

    A corporation is a legal entity. To the best of my knowledge and belief, that legal entity is not eligible to vote in the election. Its members may vote their conscience. Its members may express their opposition or support of a candidate.

    But the corporation, not having the franchise, should not be able to make a contribution to an election, even on ‘behalf’ of its members.

    This also applies to unions.

    I have no objection to the corporation handing out a bonus equal to the maximum personal contribution to every employee on October 1st, with an endorsement of a specific candidate. Any laws regulating this should make sure that all personal contributions are anonymous, or sealed for 20 years…but I do not think that any entity which is not legally allowed to vote in the election should be allowed to influence the election.

    Sadly, I suspect that ideal is unenforceable.

  113. Well Ken newspapers are not allowed to vote either. Neither is NPR. That is because these entities enjoy the legal fiction that they are persons, but are not really persons.

    But papers and radio stations can have a big impact on our elections, by their normal functioning. And the rest of the corporations should be legally enjoined from responding to any of this? Why?

    So what if corporations can buy ads on tv, radio, and the internet. This is a needed corrective to the efforts of people like George Soros and Media Matters.

    People like you would have foundations and media matters pushing our nation to the hard left, with profit making corporations unable to respond. This is hardly fair.

    Let corps buy ads. If they are BS, people will not believe them.

  114. Ken Burnside Says:
    Sadly, I suspect that ideal is unenforceable.

    From what i’ve read that is the major thrust of at least one of the dissenting opinions.

    http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf , p124

    Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings,and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind.

    A related question for the floor.

    What would the requirements/regulations (both current and libertarian ideal) regarding conflict of interest be. E.g. contributions to politicians responsible for overseeing government contracts from a company that is bidding/has received one of those government contracts.

    (I’m assuming a libertarian ideal would involve government contracts but if not then either a) substitute a suitably similar scenario whereby taxpayer money is being given to a corporation for something and the person responsible for deciding which corp its awarded to is getting contributions (or “friendly advertising”) from the recipient or b) briefly explain why it’s impossible :) )

  115. So … Let me get this straight … A good libertarian should oppose restrictions on political donations by limited liability corporations because such restrictions restrict the “speech” of such corporations?

    Doesn’t this risk radically marginalising individuals (natural persons) whose ability to buy influence is in every practical sense limited?

  116. >Doesn’t this risk radically marginalising individuals (natural persons) whose ability to buy influence is in every practical sense limited?

    It’s not possible to avoid that outcome however you regulate. The incentives are such that money will find its way from corporations to the politicians they want to buy; all regulation can do is make the path more devious, requiring that the cash be funneled through PACs, contribution bundlers, and corporate-funded advocacy organizations.

    Campaign finance “reform” is a sort of kabuki theater in which we’re all supposed to pretend this isn’t so. Its effect is to privilege large corporations that can afford to fund full-time lobbyists and set up PACs over small corporations who can’t, and to create a parasite class of bagmen and fixers who specialize in end-running the regulations.

    The only way to reduce and neutralize corporate lobbying is to change the incentives — that is, to make buying politicians a less effective way of making a profit than selling things to customers. History suggests that a hundredfold reduction in the size and reach of government might accomplish this, but no less drastic measure is likely to.

  117. >I’d go even further and simply scrap the FEC entirely.

    There is a legitimate purpose to the FEC, and that is to police elections to detect and prosecute instances of fraud or voter intimidation. I’m not sure it needs to be its own agency, though. A department within the FBI would probably suffice.

  118. > good libertarian should oppose restrictions on political donations by limited liability corporations because such restrictions restrict the “speech” of such corporations?

    No, we should oppose these restrictions because they infringe on the rights of the people who own or otherwise participate in these organizations.

  119. Ken Burnside Says:
    > But the corporation, not having the franchise, should
    > not be able to make a contribution to an election,

    Why should only people who can vote be allowed to contribute? Surely people who are affected by the vote should be allowed to comment too? In a sense, the corporation’s lack of franchise is more reason, not less, that corporations should try to influence an election, since they don’t have a vote to do so, and the results can have dramatic effects on their livelihoods.

  120. JonB Says:
    > What would the requirements/regulations (both current
    > and libertarian ideal) regarding conflict of interest be.

    None are necessary. Simply make the whole process entirely public. Allow the press to examine the bid process to see if the award is being made sub optimally, and raise holy hell if that is the case. No more Haliburton no-bid contracts. If Senator So and So gets a kick back from company A, who deserves to win the bid anyway, does it really matter?

  121. Jessica Boxer Says:
    > and raise holy hell if that is the case.

    Of course it is not just necessary to rely on the press to make this examination on the fairness of the bid. Loosing bidders would be quite effective at raising holy hell too.

  122. Ken Burnside Says:
    > A corporation is a legal entity.
    > But the corporation, not having the franchise, should not be able
    > to make a contribution to an election, even on ‘behalf’ of its members.

    On the contrary, because a corporation is merely a legal entity, i.e. a creation of our minds, when a corporation makes a contribution what is really happening is the stockholders and/or officers are making a contribution.

    Those stockholders and/or officers are people who have a right to vote, and right to free speech, and a right to make political contributions.

  123. The only way to reduce and neutralize corporate lobbying is to change the incentives — that is, to make buying politicians a less effective way of making a profit than selling things to customers. History suggests that a hundredfold reduction in the size and reach of government might accomplish this, but no less drastic measure is likely to.

    This is, I think, the crux of the modern minarchist and anarchist libertarian argument. The real question is: How do we, the people, make this happen? The size and reach of government has grown exponentially since FDR, and it shows no signs of stopping. Neither of the two major political parties are really for downsizing the size and reach of government (though the Republicans love to pay lip service to the idea without any real action at all.)

    It isn’t likely to happen as a result of the elections process or as a result of any other political process; time has shown that. What is the answer? Will it come to “2nd American Revolution” as some on the political fringes might suggest?

  124. “…What is the answer? Will it come to “2nd American Revolution” as some on the political fringes might suggest?

    I favor the insights of Etienne de la Boetie

  125. > What is the answer? Will it come to “2nd American Revolution” as
    > some on the political fringes might suggest?

    Perhaps more of a slow and bloodless coup. The real problem is the creeping regulatory state. How many unlected czars and autonomous agencies do we have running around right now? It’s downright labyrinthine. This is what some critics of the decision miss when they talk darkly about “corporate influence.” Frankly, there’s no influence right now. Of any kind! Who among us can influence the EPA? Franklyu, at least businesses are somewhat beholden to us. In the arena of a free marketplace, they *must* listen to us, lest we get peeled off by one of their competitors. “The customer always comes first,” isn’t a slogan. It’s an immutable law of business. If you don’t serve your customers, you will lose them.

    Is Obama’s “Green Jobs Czar” as beholden to my wishes as the CEO of Wal-Mart? Will the FCC act to redress my greviences as easily as Time Warner Cable? No. The simple reason is, they don’t have to.

  126. I just left a comment on OB, http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/02/coordination-is-hard.html#comments :

    Almost all government activity is bad, because it probably won’t much benefit those who are its supposed beneficiaries, and will probably cause harm to most. The government’s main beneficiaries now are the government employee unions. About the only thing that could improve the situation is to disallow anyone who accepts substantial funds from the government (employees and welfare recipients) from voting; and there is no way that’s going to happen.

    There is no way, I think, for a new revolution to work. The big problem, besides the gov’t employee unions, is the “benefit corrupted majority” (I don’t remember exactly where that wording is from). The nation is too big for the really pretty small number of people who really care to make much difference – there are too many actively opposed to ANY downsizing of government. All we can do is live as well as we can as long as we can. You might find one of Robert Ringer’s early books, “How You Can Find Happiness During the Collapse of Western Civilization”, interesting.

    The real joker is the future of technological development. It might offset the collapse somewhat, or it might hurry it along, but if there is a large jump in ability later in the collapse, it might even make a Hanson/Bostrom/Yudkowsky type existential risk scenario likely.

  127. >Who among us can influence the EPA?

    Anyone who writes a persuasive letter to an EPA official. Anyone who comments during the time for public comments. Any congressperson. Any corporation who can get a former employee to work for the EPA. Any spouse, friend, golfing buddy or favorite writer of an EPA bureaucrat, etc. There are lots of ways to influence the EPA, and they are very similar to many of the ways we influence Congress.

    Yours,
    Tom

  128. Tom DeGisi Says:
    > Anyone who writes a persuasive letter to an EPA official.
    > Anyone who comments during the time for public comments.

    Right, and what will we be asking of them? In almost all cases the request is essentially “please leave me and my stuff alone.” I find it quite disturbing that one has to genuflect, and kiss the ring of some petty bureaucrat in the hopes that they might condescend not to destroy your business or your substance.

    One of the complaints against King George in the Declaration of Independence was this:

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

    How ironic that the government that Jefferson took so great a role in founding would take this complaint and make it trivial in the face of the Plagues of Egypt his political descendants have sent our way.

  129. > Anyone who writes a persuasive letter to an EPA official.
    > …Anyone who comments during the time for public comments.
    > …Any spouse, friend, golfing buddy or favorite writer of an EPA bureaucrat, etc.

    You’re kidding right?

    > Any corporation who can get a former employee to work for the EPA.

    But then we’re back to shady, behind the scenes corporate influence fronted by an unaccountable regulatory body? If any corporate influence is “undue” it’s that. Daylight wouldn’t solve everything, but it would be helpful.

    Even more helpful would be defang the EPA by subjecting its leadership to direct election by the people who it’s decisions will broadly effect. That would be “all of us.” Squirreling them away behind the executive hasn’t worked. They’ve become consistently bigger and more sprawling.

  130. Anyone who writes a persuasive letter to an EPA official. Anyone who comments during the time for public comments.

    *Hollow laugh* No, the EPA, for the most part, will not listen to you unless you already have great political influence (read: money and connections). And why should they? Do voters get to decide who gets to be an EPA official? Is the EPA really accountable to the public, or are they mostly beholden to their political allies and corporate lobbyists? The bottom line is that unless the EPA can be somehow directly held accountable to the public, they won’t do anything for the benefit of the public unless it also benefits them or one of their buddies.

    Any congressperson. Any corporation who can get a former employee to work for the EPA. Any spouse, friend, golfing buddy or favorite writer of an EPA bureaucrat, etc. There are lots of ways to influence the EPA, and they are very similar to many of the ways we influence Congress.

    Shady backroom deals! Now that — that will aways work so long as there is something in it for the bureaucrat or his political allies.

    I’ve been reading Atlas Shrugged lately. It’s probably rotting my brain. :)

  131. > You’re kidding right?

    No. I’m sure we influenced our Congressman (Dennis Moore, D-KS) with all our letters about health care and bailouts. First, we influenced him to become more defensive. Then we influenced him not to run again. I’m not at all sure we changed *any* of his votes. There is influence and there is *enough* influence. Sometimes you are influencing a bureaucrat who does not care, particularly when circumstances force him to make an arbitrary decision. He would probably be easier to influence. Sometimes you will present an idea or fact the bureaucrat had never heard/thought of, and he will like it and you are in. Whims are fickle.

    I don’t generally disagree with either of you about influencing (for example) the EPA. However, if the EPA got millions of hand-written letters against a particular regulation, I bet they would truly be influenced, if only to find out why the public suddenly was that interested.

    If you’ve been reading Atlas Shrugged lately, you’ve probably been noticing how prescient (sp?) it sounds. Spooky.

    Yours,
    Tom

  132. Y’know I remember Senator Mccain talking about campaign finance reform.

    Talking about how we were going to “get the money out of politics.”

    I cannot help but smile a little to myself at the innocent, almost childlike naivety this represents.

    Anyone with any sense realizes that this is a utopian snare, a delusion; they are confusing real life with ideals and dreams. In utopia, money would not have an effect on politics, but of course we don’t live in utopia.

    As another poster pointed out, you are never going to get the money out of politics, and any attempt to try will just lead to more problems.

    The best thing to do would be to just let candidates take as much as they want, from anyone they wish, but require them to disclose it. This could then become a campaign issue.

    Sometimes the best rule is no rule at all.

  133. I don’t generally disagree with either of you about influencing (for example) the EPA. However, if the EPA got millions of hand-written letters against a particular regulation, I bet they would truly be influenced, if only to find out why the public suddenly was that interested.

    Perhaps. For the vast majority of issues out there, apathy is the rule; relatively few issues get any major attention, so you’re right about that. But once the public does take an interest, the special interests are all over the media working to convince the public what the “right” side of the issue is. It’s all about “divide and conquer” — stir up some controversy, get lots of people down on the various sides of the issue, so when everyone argues about it, no one will notice that in the end, the government still sided with whatever special interest groups.

    If you’ve been reading Atlas Shrugged lately, you’ve probably been noticing how prescient (sp?) it sounds. Spooky.

    Indeed. It’s almost hard to believe that the novel was originally published more than 50 years ago. The dystopian future depicted in the novel seems so much like today. It’s unreal.

  134. I find it a little interesting that all of us intractable racists here drifted off the topic so quickly and effortlessly. It’s a fairly good reminder that “race” is a political cudgel; something honed by the Left to divert and distract, rather than a serious issue in itself.

    I thought blogger “anotherblackconservative” summed the Matthews situation nicely:

    “Obama has been president for a little over a year; you would think that Chris Matthews would have gotten over the fact that Obama is black by now. Most of us are more concerned with the direction Obama is taking the nation to still be noticing what color he is. Yet here is Matthews yammering on about how post racial the speech was. Never mind that there was nothing remotely related to race in the speech.

    Matthew’s statement again reminds me of that subtle bigotry in the left. Biden, Reid and now Matthews’ statement all seem to suggest that it is some major feat for black people to be articulate and competent. Matthews’ statement is also probably a tell tale sign that Obama’s color had a lot to do with Matthews’ decision to vote for him.”

    Yep. Pay no mind to the man behind the curtain, or the den of bureaucrats mugging you senseless. Look over there! Black President!!

  135. Ahh, the contradiction at the heart of “antiestablishment” leftism. “The government is a corrupt tool of special interests! Let us give it more power!” This pair of beliefs, held together, is objectively insane even in its own terms of reference.

    Consider this slight variation: “The government is dominated and oppressed by special interests! Let us give it more power, so that it can achieve its full potential for good!”

    Although this is no less absurd, it’s not self-contradictory, and it fits the victim/oppressor model frequently used by the left. So I would regard this as more likely to be the core principle of anti-corporate, pro-government leftism.

  136. > However, if the EPA got millions of hand-written letters
    > against a particular regulation, I bet they would truly be
    > influenced, if only to find out why the public suddenly
    > was that interested.

    Tom, I’m not so sure. The EPA has been shown to ignore even it’s own internal memos, and punishing the heretics who write them. It seems almost impossible to enact cultural in a corporation that answers to no shareholders. Frankly, I’m not even sure how much influence the executive has over these regulatory bodies, apart from setting the head rat free.

    Could Congress simply “defund” them? Yeah, I guess. But there’s a lot switchboards between us, congressional majorities and regulatory policymakers. This is an area in which our two party system will always generically fail. Not enough people know and care about what a body like the EPA is doing on a daily basis, let alone how it effects their futures. The EPA would always be rescued via compromise.

    Hell, Homeland Security is an apparatus large masses of people actually *claim* to care about, and look at the ruddy mess that thing is? Does anyone think for a moment that if Napolitano was subjected to general election she’d have a job right now? Hell, I’d take a “vote of no confidence” on the House floor. Janet From Another Planet may invulnerable to us, but the rats in Congress aren’t! They would suffer some serious wrath at the polls.

  137. >Tom, I’m not so sure. The EPA has been shown to ignore even it’s own internal memos, and punishing the heretics who write them. It seems almost impossible to enact cultural in a corporation that answers to no shareholders. Frankly, I’m not even sure how much influence the executive has over these regulatory bodies, apart from setting the head rat free.
    >
    >Could Congress simply “defund” them? Yeah, I guess. But there’s a lot switchboards between us, congressional majorities and regulatory policymakers. This is an area in which our two party system will always generically fail. Not enough people know and care about what a body like the EPA is doing on a daily basis, let alone how it effects their futures. The EPA would always be rescued via compromise.
    >
    > Hell, Homeland Security is an apparatus large masses of people actually *claim* to care about, and look at the ruddy mess that thing is? Does anyone think for a moment that if Napolitano was subjected to general election she’d have a job right now? Hell, I’d take a “vote of no confidence” on the House floor. Janet From Another Planet may invulnerable to us, but the rats in Congress aren’t! They would suffer some serious wrath at the polls.

    Hmmm. Many states, like mine, Kansas, and many counties, like mine, elect the heads of various bureaucracies, for example: Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Board of Education, Insurance Commissioner, District Attorney, Sherrif and County Clerk. In my case people who work for the Secretary of State and the District Attorney serve at will. The head guy can fire someone anytime. Don’t know about the others.

    I suspect such an organization makes these bureaucracies more responsive.

    Constitutional Thought Experiment: Amend the constitution so that any civilian bureaucrat in charge of more than 1000 civil servants, including contractors, must be elected via a nation wide election, and any civilian bureaucrat in charge of more than 20 but less than 1001 civil servants, including contractors, must serve as an at will employee of an elected official.

    I’m not sure how to handle badly behaving leaves on the tree, but this is a start.

    Your thoughts?

    Yours,
    Tom

  138. Tom DeGisi Says:
    Constitutional Thought Experiment: Amend the constitution so that any civilian bureaucrat in charge of more than 1000 civil servants, including contractors, must be elected via a nation wide election, and any civilian bureaucrat in charge of more than 20 but less than 1001 civil servants, including contractors, must serve as an at will employee of an elected official.

    I’d suggest more “Jurisdictional” rather than nation-wide. A bureaucrat that only deals with New York shouldn’t be kept in office by his Boston friends.

    Also i’d suggest that specifying a number would be unwise for something constitutional in nature.

  139. Yes, jurisdictional is better. But I like numbers as bright lines. If we use a phrase like Cabinet-level or reasonable it isn’t as bright line. I’m in favor of a maximum population for a Congressional district as well – not a percentage, a hard number. Something low, like 70K or less. I know Congress would be huge and a bit unwieldy. That’s a feature.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  140. What I find astonishing is Pelosi’s attempt to simply explain away and dismiss the misconduct as a “non-event”…Rangel should not only lose his chairmanship, but his seat as well. Our representatives need to show some wisdom, not a total lack therof.

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