LOL. Clemens trying to come off as credible
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.
An article cataloging all the folks who've died in the name of science. Amongst the hits:
ARCHIMEDES 287 B.C.-212 B.C.
The greatest mathematician of ancient Greece, and perhaps of all time, Archimedes perfected a method for calculating the areas and volumes of curved figures, deduced the approximate value of pi, devised the first general theory of levers ("Give me a firm place to stand on and I will move the Earth."), invented the water-screw and solved the dilemma of relative density while reportedly soaking in his bathtub.
In 212 B.C., Romans invaded the Greek city-state of Syracuse, home to Archimedes. Reports vary about what exactly happened, but the most common account describes a Roman soldier coming upon Archimedes drawing geometric symbols in the sand. The soldier demanded Archimedes cease and follow him. Intent upon his work, Archimedes refused. The soldier killed him.
"Do not disturb my circles," Archimedes reportedly cried with his last breath.
Whatever you think of him, the boy is sharp. I saw him last night on MSNBC being very deferrential to Obama. I'll try and dig up that clip. Then he pivoted and took on Julian Bond and the NAACP for arguing, foolishly, that the delegates from Florida and Michigan should be counted. Shartpon made the credible argument that changing the rules--as Clinton is arguing for--basically constitutes a civil rights issue. Anyway here is some follow-up from my old friend from back in Washington, Jake Tapper.
Holler at em Tapp:
Yesterday, Clinton's side of the argument got a boost when NAACP chairman Julian Bond wrote to DNC chair Howard Dean to express "great concern at the prospect that million of voters in Michigan and Florida could ultimately have their votes completely discounted." Not seating the Michigan and Florida delegations would remind Americans of the "sordid history of racially discriminatory primaries," Bond said.
This morning, Rev. Al Sharpton sided with Obama, writing to Dean to express the opposite sentiment.
"I firmly believe that changing the rules now, and seating delegates from Florida and Michigan at this point would not only violate the Democratic party's rules of fairness, but also would be a grave injustice," Sharpton wrote. "Changing the rules in the middle of a presidential contest is patently unfair both to the candidates (including Senator Edwards) and to Democratic voters everywhere."
Sharpton said that Bond's argument of disenfranchisement "should have been made many months ago before the decision was made to strip these states of their delegates, and, once the decision was made, it should have been vigorously objected to and contested by those who felt it disenfranchised voters. To raise that claim now smacks of politics in its form most raw and undercuts the moral authority behind such an argument."
Shock of all shocks, I think Sharpton is basically right. Bond should have made this argument months ago, not mid-contest. Furthermore, I think it's quite savvy of Sharpton as it puts him on the winning side. He's always been good about navigating the shifting political terrain,
One of the great things about Obama's campaign is how everytime folks say he can't crack certain groups of voters (Latinos, poor people, white people, black people Samoans, etc.) he cracks them. The only group that he hasn't cracked is white women. Somewhere down south, there's an old-school-"Would you want a nigra marryin yer daughter?"-segregationist who's laughing. For now, we've gotta settle for Dan Balz breakin it down.
In honor of Barack Obama's bashing of Billary last night, I present this ancient classic. So what if it exposes me as an old school gaming nerd. You know how I do. But don't worry, no talk about how Barack WTFPWNED Billary last night.
Seriously, if you don't get it, you don't get it. Okay, if you don't get it, Wikipedia it.
Sorta. I mean really are we surprised? All the old institutionalists who long ago turned away from the ideals of the movement for naked power. The marriage between the old civil rights bosses to the Clintons always was more about power--a declawed power by the way--then about ideals. People should be really careful about acting like the NAACP has some sort of claim on the views of black folks. People really need to check on how much good civil rights boss John Lewis's support of Hill did for her in Georgia. Last I checked, Lewis and his crew delivered, as one pundit put it, "Barry Goldwater numbers" to the Clintons. These guys are, frankly, out of touch.
So you guys know I have a dog in this fight, Jelani being my homeboy, fellow Bison and all. At any rate, all that aside, I think I can say that, without prejudice, he is also the wrong cat to get into verbal fisticuffs with. Here he is taking it to Jack White, who took it to him over the weekend.
After reading your hypertensive response to my article, I could not help but wonder if the straw man would press assault charges. Having read your work on previous occasions, I will admit to being a bit surprised by that you took the tone of a feuding rapper at my suggestion that there should be electoral consequences for the recent campaign behavior of the Clintons.
The issue at hand being, if Hillary wins, should black folks defect to McCain. Jelani actually offers up some fairly interesting historical context:
You might do well to recall that African Americans faced a similar predicament in 1932 when we realized that the relationship with the Republican Party, to which we had been emotionally tethered since Emancipation, had reached a point of diminishing returns. In voting for Roosevelt in that election, African Americans were literally supporting the party of white slaveholders and their segregationist descendants, but did so with the strategic belief that the GOP could no longer be allowed to take black votes for granted. They ended up altering the entire trajectory of the Democratic Party.
History has – or certainly should have – taught us the difference between social policy and social affinity. In the 1928 Democratic Convention, token black delegates were literally segregated from their white counterparts. (They did, however, allow a black preacher to pray for them.) Eight years later, the Democrat Franklin Roosevelt had appointed William Hastie as a federal judge, given Mary McLeod Bethune an executive position within the administration and made Robert F. Weaver an advisor for housing matters.
Think we'll get a Round 3?
I guess. The Times with its second non-story in a week. First we had front-pager which concluded that Obama actually wasn't that big of a druggie, and that forbidden fruit only played a "bit" part in Obama's life. Really? Given that he gave drugs a little over a page in a 400-plus page memoir, would lead me to believe they were a huge issue. The second piece attempts to detail how Obama navigated the shoals of race in a pursuit of black, white, and increasingly, Latino voters. An interesting story on the face of it, no? Except that the reporter just phoned a bunch of Obama people, and came away with almost no new information. Amazing. Either hit him or don't, please.
Hehe. Sorta. Truthfully, this should have been funnier. But it'll do.
Fascinating analysis of Obama's supporters and detractors over at Kos. The Essence:
Percentage of naturalized citizens, e.g. immigrants. Surprisingly, I did not find that Obama performed worse in states with large Latino populations. Keep in mind that the difference in Obama's vote share with white voters and Latinos is no longer all that great; he's getting about 45% of the former, and 35% of the latter, and even these differences can be explained by the other variables in my model (for example, a relatively small percentage of Latino voters have college degrees). However, I did find that Obama performed slightly worse in states with a higher percentage of foreign-born, but now naturalized citizens. This distinction is important, because neither the Latino population nor the Asian population are monolithic. New Mexico, for example, has a huge number of Hispanics, but most of them have been here for generations. This helps to explain how Obama could virtually tie Hillary in New Mexico, in spite of its population being more than 40% Hispanic. New Jersey, on the other hand, has a rapidly-growing Latino population, and it consists mostly of recent immigrants. So it is one's immigration experience, and not one's race, that appears to account for Hillary's stronger support with Hispanic and Asian voters. A zero-gen Hispanic voter is somewhat more likely to vote for Hillary -- and perhaps that is intuitive, because many of them either came to this country or became citizens when Bill Clinton was in power. However, I would guess that native-born Hispanics vote for Obama at nearly the same rates as white voters do, accounting for their other demographic characteristics.
A lot of the other conclusions are less surprising. Still, the detail with which they're rendered is a welcome respite from all McAnalysis on the cable news shows.
This is a week and some change ago. It's out in Cali. I finally unearthed the video of this. I saw it live on CSPAN. Michelle's speech was awesome. And as much I try to not be starstruck, I gotta say, I found Maria Shriver's piece impressive. That may only speak to my prejudices though, who knows? Anyway, here's the video.
Matt Yglesias takes it to Mark Penn and his tortured argument for Clinton as the candidate who can motivate turnout.
Whenever I stumble across one of these "Africa is so terrible!" stories (and really there is no other kind) there's always a graff that suggests that the requisite African country had once bee a place of progress, until the latest disaster struck. The graff always leaves me thinking, "Uhm, why are you only telling me about the progress now that it's over?" Witness Jeffrey Gettleman's piece in today's times:
The well-established middle class here is thought to be one of the most important factors that separate Kenya from other African countries that have been consumed by ethnic conflict. Millions of Kenyans identify as much with what they do or where they went to college as who their ancestors are. They have overcome ethnic differences, dating between groups and sometimes intermarrying, living in mixed neighborhoods, and sending their children to the best schools they can afford, regardless of who else goes there.
The fighting that rages in the countryside, where men with mud-smeared faces and makeshift weapons are hunting down people of other ethnicities, seems as foreign to many of these white-collar Kenyans as it might to people living thousands of miles away.
Gettleman is a stud, no doubt. His Iraq coverage (see here, here and here) was colorful, and had a way of going beyond insurgent XX kills civilian YY. Indeed, even in his Kenya piece, he manages to render his subjects as, well, actual humans as opposed to just nameless victims of some amorphous tragedy. The trouble, though, is that the news media cares about Africa mainly as the subject of a disaster narrative. But if you never cover the progress, you never have a sense of something lost. I have to say, I've read very little of the Kenya coverage--and I should read more. But you get so dumbed-down by the sense Africa is, was, and will always be hell. You can't feel any sense of the arc. It's interesting that I basically have the same complaint about black people here--we're only interesting as a problem.
Jack White takes on Jelani Cobb over at theroot. The Essence:
The last thing black people need is to take your advice to emulate right-wing extremists like Anne Coulter, who claims she hates McCain so much she'd rather vote for Clinton. Even thinking about following that course is a self-destructive diversion. We've already wasted enough time this year on a Negrofied version of the medieval debate over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin: how many of us can buck-and-wing on the bi-racial chromosomes of Barack Obama? Now that we've finally got that settled and have thrown in behind the brother, there is absolutely no rationale for unearthing the age-old questions about our relationship with the Democratic Party. Way too much is at stake.
You know, I I think Jack makes some good points, when he gets down to it. I mean this is the debate--how far are you willing to go to get that respect? Like I said, I can't vote for McCain. But I won't vote for Hillary either. There must be something that you're willing to stand for. That said, it's the sort of issue on which reasonable people can differ. I just think Jack got too personal, especially here:
Your column on The Root ranks as the most ridiculous political idea any Negro has put forth my since my brother-in-law decided to support Clarence Thomas on the grounds that, after all, he's a brother. So ridiculous, Dr. Cobb, that at first, I thought you were kidding… and I still hope that you were. But on the odd chance that you were serious—or that some people let themselves be swayed by your cockamamie idea—I thought I'd better inject some common sense back into the discussion.
See it's one thing to disagree, but to act like not voting for Billary is merit-less, is weak. Black folks are the most loyal voting bloc in the country. Jelani is arguing that if that loyalty is to continue, we need to be assured that we won't be Sista Souljahed. Like I said, the other side has a point--but Jack is being condescending and dismissive with his desire to "inject some common sense back into the discussion." Argue on the point, but don't act like your point is the only argument, and that anyone who disagrees must be a victim of brain trauma
Over at Booker Rising, there's a discussion going on about the Jena 6 and the fact that these fools keep getting into trouble. This is what happens when you lead with emotion and not logic. Not saying that the DA down there was right, but there are many, many, many people more worthy of our sympathy. There are too many REAL victims railroaded by the system. Let's leave the sensationalism out of the struggle.
This is an interview on NPR with Randall Kennedy. Don't know what I think of the interview. Kennedy is obviously quite sharp, but something about this doesn't smell right. I mean who are the people--and I mean in large numbers--who make the argument that various black folks are sell-outs. It's funny because the segment starts off with a critique of black people of not displaying sufficient race loyalty. I guess. Meanwhile the negro is coming off two dominating performances among black voters. I'm not sure what else people would want. In the face of those numbers it's weak to keep trotting out the occasional quote from Sharpton or Jesse as evidence of the main feeling among black America.
Anyway the tone of the whole thing bothered me. Where are the books on how this country, post-9/11, has very liberally accused lefties of "not being patriotic?" Isn't that just Americanese for selling-out? Hell, John McCain is catching hell right now for allegedly selling out conservatives. Meanwhile Mitt Romney gave a speech today in which he basically argued that Dems would sell out the country to terrorists. I'm sorry, but in the face of those sort of charges--the "I'm not meeting you on the playground" politics of black folks seems minimal.
It's just more proof that when white people do something, it's just normal human behavior. When black folks do it, it's the end of the world, like, "How dare you be a flawed human being??!!" At the end of the conversation I felt like I was just listening to a bunch of people who were just socially awkward, and were using the "not black enough" canard as a sub. Anyway, listen for yourself.
Sorry, but there really is no other way around this. Schumer, if you will remember, was the Senator who really tipped the balance in favor of Mukasey, at a point when he made it clear that he had, at best, a very legalistic defintion of torture. I believe the phrase was something like, "If waterboarding is torture, then it's illegal." But he wouldn't accept that it was in fact torture. Anyway let's get to the essence:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey is back on the Hill today, testifying to the House Judiciary Committee. Paul Kiel is covering it at TPMmuckraker.
So far, he's dropped two big bombshells. DOJ will not be investigating:
(1) whether the waterboarding, now admitted to by the White House, was a crime; or
(2) whether the Administration's warrantless wiretapping was illegal.
His rationale? Both programs had been signed off on in advance as legal by the Justice Department.
Who--after nearly a decade of Bush/Cheney--can act surprised by any of this? Schumer's decision was motivated by the same-old compromise/triangulation/weak-on-security school of thought that put us in Iraq from jump. I am so tired of this. If Hillary wins, expect her to campaign on this same weak mess--and get promptly trounced by McCain, a dude who knows the difference between being a real thug, and playing the role of a fake, scared thug. Real gangsters don't triangulate. They liquidate.
This is really cool to see. The interviewer took it to this dude, getting him past the vaguery of "Change" and "Yes we can." And he came with it. Not to often you see a darkheart like me get inspired by the intrepid youth. Enjoy.
"I saw the joint slipping last night for them when Obama was trouncing their asses in Idaho. Ain't nothing up there but white supremacists, farmers, miltia groups, and Phil Jackson. And they lost to a brother with a part arab name."
LOL. My good friend, the indominatible Brian Gilmore sent me that last night. Hilarious.
Stud essayist/historian and friend of the room Jelani Cobb makes the case. The essence:
Apparently none of the high-profile black leaders who are backing Hillary Clinton have been able to prohibit the kind of cynical race hustling that marked the South Carolina primary. (This recalls the old saying that the problem is not that black leaders so often sell out, but that their asking price is so pitifully low.)
But in the wake of the Sister Souljah episode (not to mention Bill Clinton's stiff-arming of his black nominee for the Justice Department (Lani Guinier) and his short-lived Surgeon General (Jocelyn Elders) it must appear that there is nothing the black community won't forgive you for provided you show up at one of our churches and hum a spiritual every so often. As a matter of principle, no candidate, no matter how deep their alleged ties to the black community, should be allowed to race-bait a black politician and still receive the majority of our vote.
I can't vote for McCain. I just can't. But I probably won't vote for Billary either. I don't know how, in conscious, you support a race-baiter. There is also another problem. Should Billary win, the Democratic congressional ticket in red and purple areas, where Dems made gains in '06, will be hurt. Remember this?
Across Missouri, I heard similar fears. At a breakfast fund-raiser for McCaskill in Kansas City, Katheryn J. Shields, a Democrat who is the chief executive of Jackson County, which encompasses Kansas City, said of Hillary Clinton, “She’s great.” But when asked if Clinton should be the Party’s nominee, Shields said, “That would be a hard one.” The outgoing executive director of the Greene County Democrats, Nora Walcott, was more direct. Though she said she was to the left in the Party, she feared that Clinton’s liberal credentials would alienate Missouri voters. “You’ve got to tell the people in Washington not to nominate Hillary,” she told me. “It would do so much damage to the Missouri Democratic Party.” Clinton’s obvious shifts to the center frustrate Walcott on two counts, she said: “I disagree with the way she’s going to the right, but my biggest problem with it is that it’s not working. People don’t believe she’s a moderate.”
This was written pre-06, when Dems were plotting on Congress. I think the whol "it isn't working" is the biggest problem with Clinton. People outside the party just don't buy what she's selling. But that quote--"You've got to tell the people in Washington not to nominate Hillary--is going to haunt us if she wins.
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Pardon my French
As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s…