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.
Washington, D.C., has always been two cities. Washington spills out of downtown Metro stations at 8 A.M.; D.C. huddles on crowded buses at 6 A.M. On Sundays, when Washington goes to brunch, D.C. is in church. Washington clinks glasses in bars like Local 16 in its leisure time, while D.C. sweats out its perm at dance clubs like Love or DC Star. Washington has health-insurance benefits, but D.C. is paying out of pocket. Washington just closed on a condo; D.C. is in foreclosure. Washington is making money. D.C. never recovered from the 2001 recession.
I think that much as claims about the economic vibrancy of the DC area are rightly tempered by the observations that conditions are much worse for the city's working class residents than for affluent professionals, claims about the city being "a city divided" need to be tempered by the reality that these divisions exist all over the place.The five percentage point increase in the unemployment rate for black residents in the city is bad. But nationwide African-American unemployment hit a low of 7.7% in August of 2007, rising to 10.7% in August 2008, 15% in August 2009, 16.2% in August 2010, and all the way up to 16.7% in August 2011. In other words, the nationwide increase in black unemployment was larger than the DC-specific increase in black unemployment. Similarly, while for DC the Hispanic unemployment rate may have "nearly doubled," nationwide it hit a low of 5.1% in March 2007, much more than doubled to 13.2% by November 2010, and has slowly oozed downward to 11.3% today.
Yglesias' analysis is missing an obvious data point: Namely for DC to be pretty much the same as the rest of the country in terms of racial disparities and unemployment ratios, white people in DC would have to have be similarly "slightly better off" than their counterparts nationally when it comes to unemployment. Except they're not. They're MUCH better off.In 2009 in DC white unemployment went up to 4.1 percent from 3 percent, while nationally white unemployment peaked in 2009 at about 8.3 percent. Now THAT's "insulated from the recession." There's a reason for this--more than 80 percent of white residents in the District have college degrees, compared to 30 percent of whites nationally. That's pretty much how it goes in general--if you have a college degree you're more likely to have kept your job or found a new one.
Manning underwent more neck surgery Thursday, his third procedure in 19 months, and his return this season is uncertain. Losing Manning for any stretch of time is something the Colts would love to avoid, and it's certain to throw the race for the AFC South wide open.Manning hasn't missed a game in 14 NFL seasons, with 227 consecutive starts, including the postseason. "Rehabilitation from such surgery is typically an involved process," the team said in a statement, calling the procedure "uneventful."The Colts said there would be "no estimation of a return date at this time. We will keep Peyton on the active roster until we have a clear picture of his recovery process." Team owner Jim Irsay tweeted that the 35-year-old Manning would be out "awhile."
By November 1861, the early enthusiasm of the Civil War had faded into a grim appreciation of the magnitude of the struggle. The poet and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe joined a party inspecting the condition of Union troops near Washington D.C. To overcome the tedium of the carriage ride back to the city, Howe and her colleagues sang army songs, including "John Brown's Body."One member of the party, Reverend James Clarke, liked the melody but found the lyrics to be distinctly un-elevated. The published version ran "We'll hang old Jeff Davis from a sour apple tree," but the marching men sometimes preferred, "We'll feed Jeff Davis sour apples 'til he gets the diarhee." Might Howe, the Reverend wondered, craft something more fitting? The next day, Howe awoke to the gray light of early morning.As she lay in bed, lines of poetry formed themselves in her mind. When the last verse was arranged, she rose and scribbled down the words with an old stump of a pen while barely looking at the paper. She fell back asleep, feeling that "something of importance had happened to me." The editor of the Atlantic Monthly, James T. Fields, paid Howe five dollars to publish the poem, and gave it a title: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
The devastating report came in July. Two longtime government lawyers who were asked by the governor to investigate charges that answers had been changed on state standardized tests found that students had sometimes simply been given correct answers. In other cases, they said, staff members erased wrong ones and filled in the right ones. One school held weekend pizza parties to fix tests.No criminal charges have been filed, but the district is scrambling to respond to two sweeping grand jury subpoenas. It will turn over at least 20 hard drives of information containing communication among school lawyers, board members and staff members, along with scanned records dating back to the 1990s, said Keith Bromery, spokesman for the district.The report asserted that Dr. Hall, while not tied directly to cheating or the direct target of a subpoena, had to know about it or should have. She tried to contain damaging information, it said, and did not do enough to investigate allegations, especially after 2005 when "clear and significant" warnings were raised.And she was, investigators and people who worked closely with her said, more interested in adoration than achievement. Some said they believed they would be ostracized if they did not deliver the results Dr. Hall wanted.
This is my hand, and this is the speculum.
Answers are provided in a film within the film, an unspooling of memory-tape: It's 1965 again, and Rachel (now played by Jessica Chastain), Stephan (Martin Csokas), and David (Sam Worthington) make their initial rendezvous in East Berlin--young, energetic, unclouded by remorse. The war criminal Vogel has been located, and it is their mission to bring him back across the Iron Curtain and to justice.This central sequence is the beating heart of the film: The callow agents, full of fear and ambition and longings they cannot quite name, crammed together in a dilapidated apartment, taking turns at the piano and at ju-jitsu practice. The boil of hormones is palpable, and before long a kiss--and more than a kiss--intended for one man is stolen by the other.And then there is Vogel, now a gynecologist, whom Rachel visits repeatedly in the guise of a patient--a profoundly unsettling variation on the female spy who offers her body for her country. Vogel's gentle introduction to each session, "This is my hand, and this is the speculum," may at last have displaced the "Is it safe?" of Christian Szell--another Mengele stand-in--as the most discomfiting sentence ever uttered by doctor to patient onscreen.
But as the exchanges intensified, one of the candidates, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, chastised the moderators of the debate, from NBC and Politico, and said they were trying to stoke divisions among Republicans in a way he said would help Mr. Obama.
After graduating from West Point, Grant married the daughter of an affluent Missouri slaveholder and, after an undistinguished and often drunken army career, left to farm unsuccessfully on a rocky piece of Missouri timber that his father-in-law gave him. (Appropriately, Grant named it "Hardscrabble.") Grant was even more ambivalent about slavery than his father -- enough to free the only slave he ever owned (given to him by his wife's father), but he was not sufficiently opposed to it to deter him from hiring slave field hands or sell his wife's domestic servants. Or to drive him from the Democratic Party, or even from the slave states. Or to remain largely politically uninformed. Eventually, Grant's poor head for business and ineptitude at farming forced him, debt-ridden, to seek refuge in Galena, in extreme northern Illinois, where he clerked in his father's store only months before the war began.There, the nation's ambition found him despite his best efforts. A veteran of the Mexican War (which he had opposed), Grant was the only man in town with military training, much less experience. He was soon beset by prominent Galenans, mostly Republicans who did not know the shut-mouthed Grant's politics, to lead its men into battle. He was unwilling to accept a volunteer commission, especially a subordinate one, and organized a company of volunteers and led them to the state capital, Springfield, where he helped to organize and train the thousands of men arriving daily.Unsatisfied with the volunteers, Grant appealed to Nathaniel Lyon in St. Louis (where he witnessed the fallout from the Camp Jackson affair) as well as George B. McClellan in Cincinnati for a commission in the Regular Army. When none came, he accepted the colonelcy of the 21st Illinois Volunteers, and soon marched them westward to Missouri, already plagued by warfare.
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s -- a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).
"Here's my expectation," he said, moments after comparing the Republican negotiating strategy to terrorists who shoot hostages, "and I'll take John Boehner at his word. Nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen.... Once John Boehner is sworn in as speaker, then he's going to have responsibilities to govern. You can't just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower."
"I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting," he said. "Most of us didn't think that. What we did learn is this -- it's a hostage that's worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done."
By the 1830s, 1840s, there were over 100 men in Charleston, South Carolina alone, making their livings full-time as slave traders. Their ads were in the newspapers every day. Many of them owned their own shops and their own -- in effect -- jails where they housed people. Other cities became major ports or places of deportation, for the domestic slave trade. Richmond, Virginia, for example, became a huge slave-trading center by the 1840s and 1850s. It had two -- depending on when you look -- to three dozen major full-time slave traders.One of the richest was a man named Hector Davis. Hector Davis owned a two-story slave auction house and jail on 14th and Franklin Streets, just two blocks down the hill from Thomas Jefferson's glorious capitol building of the State of Virginia. Just two blocks down the hill from that great equestrian statue of George Washington, the Founder, you could find a huge slave jail owned by Hector Davis. Hector Davis kept tremendous records, he kept account books, huge account books. And one of those account books ended up in the Chicago Historical Society after the Civil War because it was confiscated by an Illinois regiment that took it home.And I worked with that account book, because one of the two slaves I write about in this new book called A Slave No More -- I publish their two narratives -- was indeed a young 14-year-old teenager, sold out of North Carolina -- from Snow Hill, North Carolina, he was sold in 1860 to Hector Davis in Richmond. Hector Davis purchased him for $900.00. For about six months Wallace Turnage worked in Hector Davis's slave auction house helping organize the auctions every day. And one day, Wallace was told, "Today, boy, you're in the auction."And he was sold for $1000.00 to an Alabama cotton planter who came up to Richmond twice a year to buy slaves. And 72 hours by train he found himself on a huge cotton plantation, near Pickensville, Alabama, on the -- in west central Alabama, on the Mississippi border, at 14-years-old...I calculated in Hector Davis's account book that the biggest week he had -- and he had some big weeks -- but he had a week in 1859 where he made a cool, approximately, $120,000.00 in profit, just from selling slaves.I mean, the equivalent of a healthy teenage male slave, if you could sell him for $1000.00 in 1860 -- it's about the same price of a good Toyota Camry today... For slave children -- one other little point about this, so we can get a sense of this system that is now about to be justified and defended -- for slave children, between 1820 and 1860, living in the Upper South or the Eastern Seaboard, they had approximately a thirty percent chance of being sold outright away from their parents before they were ten.
Perhaps the oddest feature of the liberal indictment of Obama is its conclusion that Obama should have focused all his political capital on economic recovery. "He could likely have passed many small follow-up stimulative laws in 2009," Jon Walker of the popular blog Firedoglake wrote last month. "Instead, he pivoted away from the economic crisis because he wrongly ignored those who warned the crisis was going to get worse."It's worth recalling that several weeks before Obama proposed an $800 billion stimulus, House Democrats had floated a $500 billion stimulus. (Oddly, this never resulted in liberals portraying Nancy Pelosi as a congenitally timid right-wing enabler.) At the time, Obama's $800 billion stimulus was seen by Congress, pundits and business leaders -- that is to say, just about everybody who mattered -- as mind-bogglingly large. News reports invariably described it as "huge," "massive" or other terms suggesting it was unrealistically large, even kind of pornographic. The favored cliché used to describe the reaction in Congress was "sticker shock." Compounding the problem, Obama proposed his stimulus shortly after the Congressional Budget Office predicted deficits topping a trillion dollars.Even before Obama took office, and for months afterward, "everybody who mattered" insisted that the crisis required Obama to scale back the domestic initiatives he campaigned on, especially health care reform, but also cap-and-trade, financial regulation and so on. Colin Powell, a reliable barometer of elite opinion, warned in July of 2009: "I think one of the cautions that has to be given to the president -- and I've talked to some of his people about this -- is that you can't have so many things on the table that you can't absorb it all. And we can't pay for it all."Rather than deploy every ounce of his leverage to force moderate Republicans, whose votes he needed, to swallow a larger stimulus than they wanted, Obama clearly husbanded some of his political capital. Why? Because in the position of choosing between the agenda he came into office hoping to enact and the short-term imperative of economic rescue, he picked the former. At the time, this was the course liberals wanted and centrists opposed.
For while Mr. Obama got more or less what he asked for, he almost certainly didn't ask for enough. We're probably facing the worst slump since the Great Depression. The Congressional Budget Office, not usually given to hyperbole, predicts that over the next three years there will be a $2.9 trillion gap between what the economy could produce and what it will actually produce.And $800 billion, while it sounds like a lot of money, isn't nearly enough to bridge that chasm. Officially, the administration insists that the plan is adequate to the economy's need. But few economists agree. And it's widely believed that political considerations led to a plan that was weaker and contains more tax cuts than it should have -- that Mr. Obama compromised in advance in the hope of gaining broad bipartisan support. We've just seen how well that worked.
What do we mean when we use that phrase 'slave society'? Essentially, it means any society where slave labor -- where the definition of labor, where the definition of the relationship between ownership and labor -- is defined by slavery. By a cradle to grave -- and some would've even said a cradle to grave and beyond -- human bondage. Where slavery affected everything about society. Where whites and blacks, in this case -- in America in a racialized slavery system -- grew up, were socialized by, married, reared children, worked, invested in, and conceived of the idea of property, and honed their most basic habits and values under the influence of a system that said it was just to own people as property.The other slave societies in human history -- and you can get up a real debate over this, especially among Africanists, Brazilianists, Asianists and others, and it's why slavery is such a hot field in international history -- but the other great slave societies in history where the whole social structure of those societies was rooted in slavery, were Ancient Greece and Rome; certainly Brazil by the eighteenth and nineteenth century; the whole of Caribbean -- the Great West Indies sugar-producing empires of the French, the British, the Dutch, the Spanish, and a few others -- and the American South.
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