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.
Four days before her death, Monica Quan had news for her team. Quan, an assistant coach at Cal State Fullerton, held up her hand to show off an engagement ring. The players screamed and huddled around her for a closer look, head coach Marcia Foster recalled. Quan was as happy as her basketball players, and later said she wished she had recorded the moment. She loved to have pictures taken with her friends. She wanted a big wedding, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a public safety officer at USC, was trying to work extra hours to make it possible....
The couple was talking about who would be in the wedding party. They had yet to pick a date and a location when they were found Feb. 3, shortly after the Super Bowl, shot to death in their car in the parking structure of their Irvine condominium complex. They had multiple gunshot wounds. There were no signs of a robbery, and investigators ruled out a murder-suicide.
The next day, Quan's father got a call from a close friend of the family. Randal Quan, a former captain with the Los Angeles Police Department, and Wayne Caffey, a detective with the Southeast Division, had known one another for almost 25 years. Caffey recalled their conversation."We lost her," Quan said. "She's gone." The two men were overwhelmed by the senselessness of the slayings. We don't know anything, Quan said; we don't know what happened. He would later learn that his daughter and her fiance were probably killed by a former LAPD officer who had been fired in 2009; Randal Quan had represented Christopher Jordan Dorner at his termination hearing.What was once incomprehensible -- the deaths of these two young people -- was now considered a revenge killing. The reasons were spelled out in an 11,000-word post police found on a Facebook page that they believe belonged to Dorner, 33, who is now a fugitive."I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own," Dorner supposedly wrote. "I'm terminating yours."
There is something about this drone debate, though, that is driving me nuts. And that is the charge, mostly by Republicans, that if you feel any different about the drone program under President Obama than you would have under President George W. Bush, you are an utter, hopeless hypocrite. Let me ask you a question. How would you feel about a Madeleine Albright panel on women and body image? Okay, now how do you feel about a Larry Flynt panel on women and body image? How do you feel about your kid in Dr. Ruth's sex-ed class versus Todd Akin's? Do you feel different about Warren Buffett setting standards for financial ethics versus Bernie Madoff? Of course you do, because you're normal. But according to the Republican logic used during this drone debate, if you feel any different about the Madeleine Albright and Larry Flynt panels, you are a hypocrite.
Later, when I spoke to American officials, they seemed genuinely perplexed. They didn't deny that a large number of civilians had been killed. They felt bad about it. But the aerial surveillance, they said, had clearly showed that a training camp for militants was operating there. "It was a terrible outcome," an American official told me. "Nobody wanted that."None of the above is intended as an attack on Brennan, who has spent the past four years as President Obama's counterterrorism advisor. He has a hard job. He is almost always forced to act on the basis of incomplete information. His job is to keep Americans safe, and he's done that. Al Qaeda's leadership, particularly in the tribal areas of Pakistan, has been decimated. Operating in Yemen, where vast tracts of the country lie beyond anyone's control, cannot be easy.
Hobbes is trying to make an argument about statecraft, and is arguing (implicitly, at least) that you cannot learn from historical example. Instead of studying great leaders and great nations of the past or in the present - such as Machiavelli for instance constantly does - one should look inward, and try to deduct the nature of man from a reflection upon one's own nature. He is, one could say, an anti-historical thinker, and this is him articulating why he is so.And this is more or less what Hobbes does in Leviathan. Instead of studying former, stable states, he makes an argument about the nature of man, the nature of passions and the nature of language - and from that basis, he constructs an argument regarding the kind of political organization which is necessary to create a politically stable state.
"The game is a safe game, the equipment is better. I don't buy all these guys coming back with these concussions. I'm not buying all that. Half these guys are trying to make money off the deal. That's real talk. That's really how it is. I wish they'd be honest and tell the truth because it's keeping kids away from our game."
No more Fox News contributor Dick Morris. His contract to spout republic-damaging nonsense on Fox airwaves has expired, and the network isn't renewing it. Taken together with the news that Sarah Palin will no longer be contributing, the Morris development is strong evidence that Fox News has glimpsed the underside of allowing charlatans to brand its coverage. Palin was a roboto-contributor, who responded to everything with a little crack on the lamestream media and a reference President Obama's socialist heart.As for Morris's misdeeds, well, everyone knows what they are. That's because Fox News presented them so prominently in the run-up to last year's presidential election. In his prime-time, pre-election appearances, Morris was among the few pundits who wouldn't hedge his bets; who wouldn't triangulate his way through the polling numbers; who wouldn't rummage through scenario after scenario in his analysis. No, Dick Morris was predicting a Mitt Romney landslide. Fox News fell for it, and surely millions of Americans did as well.
When your life is besieged, the music is therapy, vicarious mastery in a world where you control virtually nothing, least of all the fate of your body. I had a friend in middle school who would play Rakim every morning because he knew there was a good chance that he would be jumped en route to or from school by the various crews that roamed the area. But, in his mind, the mask of rap machismo made him too many for them."Good Kid" is narrative told from behind the mask. Fantasies of rage and lust are present, but fear pervades Lamar's world. He pitches himself not as "Compton's Most Wanted" but as "Compton's Human Sacrifice." He loves the city, even as he acknowledges that the city is trying to kill him. "If Pirus and Crips all got along," he says, "They'd probably gun me down by the end of this song...."I must confess my bias. I grew up in Baltimore during a time when the city was in the thrall of crack and Saturday night specials. I've spent most of my life in neighborhoods suffering their disproportionate share of gun violence. In each of these places it was not simply the deaths that have stood out to me, but the way that death corrupted the most ordinary of rituals. On an average day in middle school, fully a third of my brain was obsessed with personal safety. I feared the block 10 times more than any pop quiz. My favorite show in those days was "The Wonder Years." When Kevin Arnold went to visit his lost-found love Winnie Cooper, he simply hopped on his bike. In Baltimore, calling upon our Winnie Coopers meant gathering an entire crew. There was safety in numbers. Alone, we were targets.
When officials conclude that "capture is infeasible," the memo continues, "the intrusion of any Fourth Amendment interests would be outweighed by .... the interest in protecting the lives of Americans." But of course, the question of whether American lives are, in fact, imminently threatened by a particular suspect is precisely the determination that the administration claims the right to make on its own--without an opportunity for an independent judge to examine the factual basis for the claim. "There exists no appropriate judicial forum to evaluate these constitutional considerations," the Justice Department insists.This "trust us" argument is precisely the one the Supreme Court rejected in the 2004 Hamdi, where the Court upheld the Bush administration's power to detain enemy combatants, on the grounds that it had been authorized by Congress, but only after insisting that suspects could challenge the factual basis for their detention before a neutral decision maker. The Obama administration repeatedly invokes the Hamdi case to justify targeted assassinations, which have been specifically prohibited by Congress, and then omits the Supreme Court's requirement that independent judges need to have the last word on whether or not suspects are, in fact, as dangerous as the administration claims.
Much in the white paper rests on the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, passed by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to pursue al-Qaida. Like the Bush administration before it, the Obama administration white paper rejects any geographical restriction on where it can launch its drone strikes and commando raids. But the Bush administration actually stopped short of declaring that it had the authority to kill American citizens.Eugene R. Fidell, president emeritus of the National Institute of Military Justice and a Yale Law School military legal scholar, disputes that the AUMF is a proper legal basis for extrajudicial killings globally of U.S. citizens."It is not a general declaration of war on every Islamic extremist in the world," Fidell said of the AUMF. "There are limits."He added that the Authorization for Use of Military Force was not a "global warrant" to go after every terrorist, and that Congress must change the law to comport with the Obama administration's legal theory for it to stick.
ADAMSON: ... It's an American citizen that is being targeted without due process, without trial. And, he's underage. He's a minor.GIBBS: I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don't think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.
A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be "senior operational leaders" of al-Qaida or "an associated force" -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration's most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.
The Obama administration claims that the secret judgment of a single "well-informed high level administration official" meets the demands of due process and is sufficient justification to kill an American citizen suspected of working with terrorists. That procedure is entirely secret. Thus it's impossible to know which rules the administration has established to protect due process and to determine how closely those rules are followed. The government needs the approval of a judge to detain a suspected terrorist. To kill one, it need only give itself permission.
For the past few weeks we've talked about what a broken contract means for black America. As such, these images really hit me hard. I can't think of any better way to capture what we mean than to see children excluded from a world sheerly by dint of skin color. Again, it is worth consider what message the society was attempting to send black people.
The images were taken by Gordon Parks in 1956 in an attempt to depict Jim Crow America. The sad fact is that in the North, similar messages were being sent out. From Gordon Parks' Wikipedia page -- "When Parks was eleven years old, three white boys threw him into the Marmaton River, knowing he couldn't swim."
All nominees are warned not to allow their hearings to turn combative, but a source close to Hagel suggests that the staffers prepping Hagel were particularly adamant on this score. "They expected [Jim] Inhofe, [John] McCain and especially [Ted] Cruz to come after him, and they said, 'Be a tank--don't rise and attack back.'" An aide involved in the Hagel preparations says that's overblown, but acknowledges that it was made clear that as a nominee, Hagel could not allow himself to be drawn into the kind of feisty exchange that Hillary Clinton had with Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson during last month's hearings on Benghazi. This was considered particularly important in winning over those relatively moderate Senate Republicans like Tennessee's Lamar Alexander and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who administration aides believe like Hagel personally, and can be convinced to vote for him, or at least to oppose a Republican filibuster.
"As moral, religious and law-abiding citizens, we feel that we are unprejudiced and undiscriminating in our wish to keep our community a closed community ... to protect our own."
"We favor racial integration, but only at such time the negro shows he is ready for it."
As was the case in every Levittown, by Levitt's orders, not a single resident was black. It was not for a shortage of potential black buyers. Black housing demand far exceeded supply. In metropolitan Philadelphia, between 1946 and 1953, only 347 of 120,000 new homes built were open to blacks. Racial exclusion had perverse economic effects: It created a vast gap between supply and demand. As a result, blacks paid more for housing on average than did whites. In nearly every northern city, black newcomers crammed into old and run-down housing, mainly in dense central neighborhoods left behind by upwardly mobile whites.
No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist. He has too much to do.
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