Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent 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.

  • What Liberals Hate About The MSM

    This is an interesting debate. What you have below are four people--two, presumably from each side. I think Harold Ford gamely defended Obama's budget. Dee-Dee Meyers, not so much. I'm not even sure that that's why she was there. Also there's David Gregory. His job is to be critical of Obama and I have no problem with that. But because of the other parts of the panel, you end up with a three against one dynamic, with Dee-Dee Meyers kinda giving color commentary. Moreover, even our one is barely a one--whereas Scarborough and Murphy would call themselves conservatives in a minute, Ford has never thought of himself as a liberal.

    My beef is simple--We need actual liberals to represent the liberal perspective. I think part of the problem may be that our most effective defenders are no long in the MSM, but here online. You can pull yours truly out of that convo. On budgetary policy, I would have gotten stomped by Murphy and Scarborough, and I've got the sense to know it. But give me Ezra, or Matt. Give me someone from the Obsidian Wings crew. We have people who know this stuff. God bless Krugman, but we have a deeper bench than that.

  • Ann Coulter's Racist Jab At Bobby Jindal

    Courtesy of Larison, here's Ann Coulter:

    Wasn't Bobby great in "Slumdog Millionaire"?

    I'm sure someone will pop up and claim that Coulter was making a joke. But it's an awful joke. There's no punchline. There's nothing, except, all Indians look alike to me. This isn't Jeff Ross telling black jokes, at the Emmitt Smith Roast in front of a bunch of black people. This is Coulter slurring one of about five visible minorities in her party, to an audience filled with people who probably have never had dinner with an Indian-American.

    I understand that many conservatives hate Coulter. I also think that there's nothing particularly conservative about that slur. But sometimes you see this shit, and when partnered with Michael Steele's crack, you have to believe that a significant portion of the GOP enjoys being the Party Of Macacca. How else can we read this? It's like these guys are stuck on Dice Clay in 86. And every year, fewer and fewer people are laughing. But they keep making the same old cracks.

  • Denying Unemployment Benies

    I think people are laboring under the impression that this is a hand-out to people who don't work. In fact to qualify for unemployment, you have been working and thus have paid money into the very system that you're petitioning for help. It's true that you don't want to create an incentive for people to simply sit home. But there's something sick about attempting to deny unemployment insurance to people who've spent their working lives being taxed for that very insurance:


    For people like Henry Kight, 59, of Austin, Tex., the possibility that the money might be turned down is a deeply personal issue.

    Mr. Kight, who worked for more than three decades as an engineering technician, discovered in September that because of complex state rules, he was not eligible for unemployment insurance after losing a job at a major electronics manufacturer he had landed at the beginning of the year.

    Unable to draw jobless benefits, he and his wife have taken on thousands of dollars in credit-card debt to help make ends meet...

    Mr. Kight and other unemployed workers said they were incensed to learn they were living in one of a handful of states -- many of them among the poorest in the nation -- that might not provide the expanded benefits...

    In Mr. Kight's case, he was unemployed for the second half of 2007, after losing an earlier job he had at a different electronics manufacturer in a downsizing. As a result, when he applied for unemployment benefits, he did not have enough immediate work history to qualify.

    "I have worked for so many years, a total of probably 30 years, contributing to the support system that helps people when they get in a tough spot like I'm in," Mr. Kight said. "I haven't needed it too much in the past, but I sure could use it right now."

    I don't have the knowledge of economics to really go at this, but it's striking to me that it is the poorest states in the union, that are doing their best to deprive their citizens of federal dollars. What a scene.

  • More On The Limits Of Umbrage

    Jelani on Obama and cartoons:

    I don't think that we can or should rally the troops around Obama every time a cartoonist goes off his meds and his editor trips over the boundary between edge and outrage. The reality is that all Presidents are subject to unfair criticism -- though Obama is the first for whom that criticism has taken on a racial hue. Carter and Clinton were both ridiculed as backwater hicks (how often did we see references to Clinton's libido paired with images of his down-home roots?)

    Reagan's advancing years brought with them a harvest of Alzheimer's jokes: Did you hear that Ronnie announced he has Alzheimer's... Again? Lincoln was ridiculed in Northern newspapers and depicted as (irony of ironies) part Negro and Andrew Jackson's wife was assailed as a bigamist in the newspapers of the day...

    ...All of us, but especially we black folk, are going to have to develop thicker skin and a shrewder sense of when we go Al Sharpton on some fool and when we offer the empty-heads only the tinny echo of their own isolated voices.

    As a commenter said in an earlier thread, we need to stop stepping over dollars to pick up nickels.


  • Billy Dee Williams says, "White People, You May Laugh--But Not That Hard."

    From commenter Jhodi:

    But I'm still uneasy about one basic point. Can white people giggle at Steele or should we be biting our tongues?

    Heh--If you have to ask, than probably not. Any twangs of guilt likely come from laughing at something else, besides the joke.

    All kidding and blog titles aside, you can laugh as much as the rest of us. I don't actually believe it's that hard to detect racism. Even if it is, I'm not sure how much I care. I'm quite sure some of the best jokes in the Steele thread, come from people who don't look like me. Besides, who could ever forget this number. Blacks and Jews FTW.

  • The Adult Presidency

    One way that Republicans (and some liberals) have worked to diminish Obama's victory, is by asserting that Obama is, himself, a conservative. We heard this in the talk about Obama's cabinet coming from the "right wing of the Democratic Party." For conservatives, the upshot of "no difference between Bush and Obama" is obvious. It allows them to argue that conservative principles didn't actually lose, and Obama doesn't really represent change. Here it is on full and brazen display courtesy of John Ashcroft, discussing the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri:

    John Ashcroft, who was Attorney General when Marri was designated an enemy combatant, makes no such apologies. Interviewed just before the Inauguration, he defended what he described as a "sound decision" to "maximize the national interest," and predicted that, in the end, President Obama's approach to handling terror suspects would closely mirror his own: "How will he be different? The main difference is going to be that he spells his name 'O-b-a-m-a,' not 'B-u-s-h.'"

    That was cute. But here are the facts:

    The Justice Department, in an abrupt change in policy from the Bush administration, is preparing to bring terrorism-related charges against a man identified as an operative of Al Qaeda who has been held in a military brig for more than five years, government officials said Thursday.

    The charges would move the case of the only enemy combatant to be held on American soil, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, into a civilian criminal court. The Bush administration had argued that he could be held indefinitely without being charged.

    Yeah. Obama is Bush. Nothing's changed. Nothing at all.

  • Notes From CPAC

    Courtesy of the American Scene. Tucker Carlson calls for the professionalization of conservative media--and is booed for it. Too bad. He's basically right.

    I'm an unabashed lefty. But I understand the difference between my liberal beliefs, and the tools I need to do my job. Being pro-choice is a statement of who I am, and is part of my world-view. But a writer confusing his belief system with the trade of reporting and word herding, is a soldier confusing his flag for his sidearm.
     

  • Distinguished Officials for Proper Ebonics

    Michael Steele's message to America:

    We know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad.

    Michele Bachman, professional fool, on Michael Steele:

    "Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,"

    This. Must. Stop.

     I'm here to announce the formation of DOPE (Distinguished Officials for Proper Ebonics) whose sole mission will be to prevent such abominable phrases as "You be da man." We have sat quietly by, during the era "Oh no she din't" and "Women, be shopping." We have endured the apostasy of Stuart Scott. ("Holla at a player if you see him in the streets!"). We can no longer be silent. The war is on.

  • NFL Free Agency Begins

    What? You thought the NFL threads would die? Har! Lapdogs, all of you!

    Baltimore, a source close to several of their players said, was more likely to sign and retain Ray Lewis and let fellow linebacker Bart Scott walk. One of those two linebackers entered Thursday evening highly likely to go to the Jets, and the source said that appeared to be Scott. Retaining Lewis would be a leadership coup for the Ravens, but the deals on both men are not done. The source also cautioned that the situation could change in Friday negotiations, though he said it's likely, in particular, that Scott will end up in the Big Apple. If the Jets do sign Scott, expect a deal for five or six years, at about $8 million per season.

    I find that interesting, given that Scott is younger. I'm just glad the Cowboys won't be going after Lewis. I love Ray. But that wouldn't have ended well.

    UPDATE: Link fixt. And Haynesworth goes to the Skins.

  • Sensitive thugs, ya'll all need hugs

    Sorry, I love that line. Anyway, dig Santelli asserting that he can call you out, but you can't call him out. Also  Notice his man's attempts to change the subject...

  • Michael Steele's Unwarranted, Unprovoked Attack On Ebonics

    You'd think I of, all people, would be sympathetic to Michael Steele's effort to bring some slanguage to the GOP. You know how I do--if at least a third of my readers, at any given time, aren't headed to google then I'm doing something wrong. I've got no problem with speaking in native tongues to foreigners. My beef is simple--From citing ancient rappers, to shouting out "urban-suburban hip-hop settings," Michael Steele is abusing the language I love. The last straw is below where Steele tells Neil Cavuto, "I'm always open for everything, baby."

    Dear Michael. For the black in all of us. Please stop now. Talk like a regular human being and stop trying to teach the dun language. You are not prepared.

  • I Keep Seeing These Obama vs. The CBC Stories

    But there's never any real meat to them:

    Yet Obama maintained a distant relationship with the caucus when he was its only Senate member from 2004-08. That dynamic was on display early in the Democratic presidential primary, when many senior caucus members initially backed Hillary Rodham Clinton even as Obama quickly became viable as a candidate.

    Really? CBC members actually acting like politicians is evidence of "distance?" A quick note of recall:

    As America prepares for a string of primaries and caucuses to determine who will be its next Democratic and Republican nominees for president, the majority of the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus who have chosen to endorse in the race is split 15-15 between CBC member Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

    I can't see why that would have been shocking. Put differently, how many members of the CBC would have supported Jesse Jackson Jr. or Harold Ford, had they been running against Clinton? What is the specific evidence of this distance between Obama and the CBC? Look I have my issues with the Caucus (especially over backing Bobby Rush in the Burris flap), but where is the story here? Where is the actual beef?

  • Red Eyed

    Not a particularly smart idea to fly into L.A. and then back out on the same day. I feel like I'm walking in mud. Anyway, some good entertainment for a fraked up day. Sorry we're getting started so late boys and girls. Will try got keep it moving.

  • A journey back in time

    With great respect for Megan, and much love, I think it's worth revisiting our debate from a few months back. You can read our banter, here, here and here. I stand by this essential argument:

    You don't say. Obama was the next Kennedy. Then he became the next McGovern. Or was that the next Stevenson? Now he's the next FDR. And Jindal is the next him--because he's, you know, swarthy. The thing about Obama that people, apparently, still don't get is that thus far he has proved himself a damn good politician. He is not simply the eloquent black dude who won--although he's that too. He's the dude who reinvented campaign fundraising, who pioneered the use of social networking, who won Virginia and North Carolina, who ended 50 plus 1.

    Put simply: Hazy appeals to precedent are teh lamesauce. Jindal may well recover, and may well ultimately be the man. But it won't be because he was the next anything. It'll be because he's found what works for Bobby.

  • That Exe File

    The tech guys are on it. More info as soon as I get something definite. Avoid that 3rd Bass video, for now.

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