June 29 2003
Ted Kennedy either has a very bad memory or he's partially deluded.
Exhibit A is an
excerpt from his op-ed in today's Washington Post:
Reagan nominated Robert Bork, and the Senate, after carefully
considering and debating his qualifications, defeated him."
anyone forget, the following intemperate remarks were delivered
on the floor of the United States Senate in October 1987 by Kennedy
Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into
back-alley abortions, blacks would have to sit at segregated
lunch counters, rogue police would break down citizen's doors
in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about
evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim
of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be
shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary
is often the only protector of the individual rights that are
the heart of our democracy."
guess in Kennedy's blindly partisan mind this is what passes for
"careful consideration and debate" of a nominee's record.
THE SCOTUS ZONE: More predictable criticism of conservative
court members across the op-ed pages this morning.
Dowd, fresh from her shameful
racial slap-down of Clarence Thomas last week, makes an equally
pathetic effort taking on Anthony Scalia in today's
so Old School, he's Old Testament, misty over the era when military
institutes did not have to accept women, when elite schools
did not have to make special efforts with blacks, when a gay
couple in their own bedroom could be clapped in irons, when
women were packed off to Our Lady of Perpetual Abstinence Home
for Unwed Mothers.
eternal principles, like helping a son of the establishment
dispense with the messiness of a presidential vote count. (His
wife met him at the door after Bush v. Gore with a chilled martini.)
an American archetype, or Archie type. Full of blustery rants
against modernity and nostalgia for "the way Glenn Miller played,
songs that made the hit parade . . . girls were girls and men
were men." Antonin Scalia is Archie Bunker in a high-backed
chair. Like Archie, Nino is the last one to realize that his
intolerance is risibly out-of-date.
If you prefer
a more grown-up, intelligent critique of Scalia minus the vacuous
pop-culture references, you can find it in David
Broder's column today.
Over in Newsday,
Payne isn't satisfied with just deriding Clarence Thomas as
a "fool", he goes the full nine bigoted yards, calling
both Justice Thomas and Colin Powell ungrateful affirmative action
disease of Thomas' is all too common, especially among blacks
reared in the apartheid South. In Thomas' case, he got into
Yale Law School on the waxen wings of affirmative action. As
he ascended, these wings melted and with them went the secret
of his flight. Denial, however, is a pencil with a weak eraser.
So the crossed-up Thomas lives with the knowledge that he has
benefited personally from the selfsame affirmative action he
is so dead-set on wiping from the face of the republic.
quest of Thomas' is also all too uncommon. Colin Powell benefited
immensely from affirmative action. Yet according to Clifford
Alexander, the secretary of the U.S. Army who fast-tracked him,
the minted general did nothing to advance affirmative actions
in the military.
are excluded both as an individual and as a member of their
group. When they achieve, however, some, like Thomas, sever
the group umbilical.
is so condescending toward African-Americans it's staggering.
By calling affirmative action "the secret" of Thomas's
"flight" Payne is implicitly stating that Thomas simply
couldn't have gotten to where is without the "waxen wings"
of affirmative action. Indeed, by this logic no African-American,
regardless of how talented or hardworking they might be, can achieve
in America without the help of affirmative action. This is patently
untrue and it's an affront to every African-American in the country
who has achieved any level of success.
not least, those who are interested can find some effusive praise
for Sandra Day O'Connor here
- T. Bevan 9:34
June 27 2003
STROM & THE NY TIMES: Former Senator Strom Thurmond
passed away last night at the age of 100, leaving behind a
monumental political legacy as the longest serving member of the
Senate (48 years). Obviously, Thurmond's segregationist past is
well documented, as is the fact that he renounced those views
at close to a hundred headlines this morning written about the
Thurmond story in papers across the country. Every single headline
either made no mention of Thurmond's segregationist past or accurately
described Thurmond in the head or subhead as a "former"
or "ex" segregationist. Every paper except one, that
Thurmond, Foe of Integration, Dies at 100 - Adam Clymer,
misleading is this? The purposeful omission of the word "former"
or "ex" in the headline imparts to readers of the "Paper
of Record" that Thurmond was actively against racial integration
up until the day he died.
I'm no huge
fan of Strom Thurmond, but to me the bias here is stunning. Can
you imagine the NY Times giving the same misleading treatment
to a Democrat:
Byrd, KKK Member, Dies at ...."
say, Thurmond's opposition to integration was a defining component
of his public career. Fine. I'm not saying the NY Times should
whitewash Thurmond's record on the issue, only that they accurately
represent it in the headline.
fairly confident the editors at The Times wouldn't approve such
an obviously derogatory headline for just anybody, even if it
did describe a defining component of their public career:
Clinton, 2nd President Impeached in History of United States,
wouldn't happen. Not at The Times, not at the NY Post, and not
on Fox News. It wouldn't happen because it's biased and inappropriate
as part of a headline, and any self-respecting news organization
would know that. - T.
Bevan 8:34 am
June 26 2003
O'CONNOR'S MESS: On Tuesday Mike
Kinsley took Sandra Day O'Connor to task for her muddled logic
v. Bollinger. Today Richard
Cohen finishes the job, eviscerating O'Connor's opinion and
deriding her attempt to reconcile racial discrimination with the
the irrational, O'Connor declared what amounts to a racial emergency.
She has to do that to get around the Constitution's equal protection
clause, which provides that no state shall "deny to any person
within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." O'Connor
takes the clause very seriously. She cites a previous Supreme
Court decision (Adarand Constructors v. Peņa) that says, "Government
may treat people differently because of their race only for
the most compelling reasons." Fortunately for her, she has found
one: minority underrepresentation.
form or another, O'Connor uses the term repeatedly. But she
never defines it. Like pornography, she knows it when she sees
it. Underrepresentation would not be, say, 14.5 percent of the
law school class -- the actual figure of minority students enrolled
-- but it would be, say, 4 percent of the class, the predicated
percentage if there were no affirmative action program. That
calamity enables her to suspend the Constitution.
on a roll:
make up less than 2 percent of the population. Should they make
up 2 percent of the law school class or, by frightening extension,
2 percent of op-ed page columnists? What about Asians, those
inscrutable overachievers? In fact, what is meant by underrepresentation
in the first place? Blacks make up about 12.5 percent of the
population. Nationwide, they account for 12 percent of undergraduates
and 9 percent of graduate students. This is hardly a racial
critique calls to mind these two stories (Part
II) that appeared recently in the Chicago Tribune. The articles
favorably recount the history of "Project 500," an emergency
affirmative action program put in place at the University of Illinois
just after Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination.
500" was the first of its kind. In the summer of 1968 recruiters
from the University of Illinois scoured poor black neighborhoods
in Chicago and other parts of the country, enrolling 500 new African
American students for the coming academic year.
affirmative action program tripled the number of African-Americans
attending the University in a single year, raising black representation
from 1% (223 students out of a total enrollment of 22,017) to
through 1986, African-American representation at the U of I averaged
around 4%. During the years 1987-1989, African-American enrollment
at the school nearly doubled. But from 1990 through 2002, African-American
student representation at the University of Illinois has been
remarkably ("conspicuously" is a better word )constant
at 7%, fluctuating less than .5% in twelve years.
me back to O'Connor's logic. Thirty-five years ago, a much more
credible argument could be made for radical, extra-Constitutional
measures like "Project 500" to address racial disparities
in our society.
admissions officers set phony and arbitrary numbers - in violation
of the 14th Amendment - not as much to address disparities in
education but to propagate the tenets of multiculturalism and
the value of "diversity." At the University of Illinois,
they've obviously set the arbitrary bar at 7%. But proponents
of racial discrimination/affirmative action would like to see
that number (and the number of all other racial/ethnic minorities)
exactly match the representation of African-American in the overall
to say disparities don't exist in education, income, opportunities
and the like. But there are many other ways of addressing these
issues that don't violate the supreme and sacred law of the land.
Reforming the public education system would be a good place to
start, like giving kids and parents choices and control over their
education from the very start. If we spent some time fixing the
root of the problem, affirmative action in college admissions
wouldn't be an issue - and we wouldn't have to endure the tortured
logic of Sandra Day O'Connor.
We get some really smart, insightful emails every day from people
around the country. We try to respond to everyone, but it's extraordinarily
difficult to keep up. So to anyone out there who's sent us an
email and haven't heard back, please accept our apologies and
know that we did take time to read what you wrote.
To give you
an idea of what I mean, I've taken the liberty of posting a few
examples here. I'll be updating the
page periodically with reader comments regarding the blog so feel
free to get things off your chest by sending
me an email. - T.
Bevan 8:41 am
June 25 2003
DRIVE: For those who are interested, we've posted
a brief wrap up of our first ever fund drive. Thanks again
to all who contributed.
Not much time for blogging this morning, but I did come across
some incredibly over the top language in a couple of columns that
I thought I'd bring to your attention:
it is not a bad thing in the abstract for O'Connor to proclaim
we can kill affirmative action 25 years from now. The only thing
that can bring her words to life is an assault on white bonus
points just as deadly as the one just concluded on black and
brown bonus points. Anything less will ensure that our system
of racial caste will endure." - Derrick
Z. Jackson, Boston Globe
A caste system
Derrick? It's some kind of caste system where the most respected
man (Colin Powell), the most revered athlete (Michael Jordan),
and the one of the most fabulously wealthy women (Oprah Winfrey)
in the country are all African-Americans. Black wealth and entrepreneurship
in America are at an all time high and expanding at an unprecedented
rate, yet Derrick looks at the country and sees only oppression
in this political climate of racial amnesia compounded by hostility
to progressive and enlightened views of race, the court's
split decision in the University of Michigan cases may be a
greater victory than it appears with the law school, and not
as great a defeat as it seems at the undergraduate level."
Eric Dyson, Philadelphia Inquirer
to know just how Professor Dyson can rationalize describing racial
discrimination as enshrined by affirmative action as a "progressive
and enlightened view of race." Surely he wouldn't describe
other examples of discriminatory public policy, such as Jim Crow,
in such a way.
But the grand
prize, of course, goes to the
inimitable Maureen Dowd, whose effort this morning to psychoanalyze
and demonize Clarence Thomas serve only to expose her own mentally
debilitating case of elitist, liberal white guilt. It's inconceivable
to Dowd that Thomas (or any other African-American or minority,
for that matter) could honestly believe that racial quotas are
discriminatory, divisive, and ultimately deleterious to minority
It's a circular
logic with no escape: every minority in the country has benefited
in some way during their lives from affirmative action therefore
they can never, ever voice opposition to the policy without being
branded a sellout and hypocrite. - T.
Bevan 8:36 am
June 24 2003
THE DEAN JUGGERNAUT: Is this the peak for Howard Dean,
or just the beginning of a Dean juggernaut?
Dean garnered a full plate of media attention with his official
announcement for President. This comes on the heels of his
wobbly turn on
Meet the Press on Sunday, which even the New York Times called
of a debacle." At this point in the game, however, any
press is good press and I don't suspect it will dampen enthusiasm
for Dean among the base.
forget, today MoveOn.org
starts its Internet primary which is all but assured to be
a victory for Dean. If Dean can top 50% in the online primary,
MoveOn's PAC will endorse his candidacy and help him raise millions
of dollars and recruit volunteers around the country for his campaign.
Now for the
bad news. A new Research
2000 poll out this morning shows Dean trailing Kerry by 9
points in New Hampshire. This poll shows no movement from the
last poll taken in NH (Kerry +10) and confirms Dean
continues to lose ground against Kerry in New Hampshire (Kerry
+5 points in April, +7 points in May) despite all of the media
attention he's been receiving.
to all the press reports of Dean being a darling in Iowa, the
latest poll still has him way off the pace. So far, the only
thing Dr. Dean has done is win
a straw poll in Wisconsin with 300 people participating.
the question: if the primaries were held today, would a third
place finish in Iowa and a second place finish in New Hampshire
provide enough fuel to propel Dean's candidacy forward? Probably
not. Dean's going to have to do better if he wants to emerge as
a force to be reckoned with rather than just a lingering nuisance
to the front-runners.
I'll let the lawyers over at Powerline
and Volokh chew over the details
of the Supreme
Court's decision yesterday.
From my perspective,
it's disappointing our society has to continue to endure racial
discrimination as a legally sanctioned component of public policy
for the foreseeable future. However, I do think there's an underlying
tone in the decision that can be seen as another baby step toward
a colorblind meritocracy.
cling to the idea of singling out different races, classes, sexes,
religions, etc. and assigning them different values in the name
of engineering a properly calibrated level of "diversity"
may be rejoicing today, but I suspect they probably understand
the days of such policies are numbered. - T.
Bevan 7:52 am
June 23 2003
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Yesterday here in Chicago 7
of the 9 Democrat Presidential hopefuls took the stage at
Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition meeting before a mostly
African-American audience of about 1,200 people.
Supreme Court possibly set to rule as early as today on the University
of Michigan case, affirmative action was a central topic of discussion.
Candidates obliged the crowd by taking shots at President Bush
that ranged from the absurd:
administration's idea of diversity is to have a whole bunch
of oil executives from different companies running this country"
- John Kerry
to the truly
I'm president, we'll have executive orders to overcome any wrong
thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day" - Richard
the breathtaking arrogance of this statement. The same people
who think Bush and Ashcroft spend every day cleaning their jackboots
with the Constitution jump up and applaud Gephardt for his "strong
commitment to diversity." Go figure.
SPECULATION: Two interesting articles on the upcoming battle
over Supreme Court nominations:
Greenburg from The
Chicago Tribune reports there are whispers the first retirement
on the Court could be Justice Stevens. As the most liberal member
of the Court, Stevens' retirement would create a "death cage
match" if Bush tried to replace him with a conservative.
LA Times has a front page story detailing conservative opposition
to the possible nomination of Al Gonzales to the Court. Objections
are based upon Gonzales' record on the Texas Supreme Court where
he voted against requiring parental consent for abortion. Gary
Bauer offers the operative quote:
any conservative would be deeply concerned by a Gonzales nomination,
particularly if he were to replace the chief justice."
Put the two
pieces together and you get the following possible outcomes: Stevens
retires and Bush nominates Gonzales, liberals go berserk and conservatives
line up behind the President. Rehnquist or O'Connor retire and
Bush nominates Gonzales, conservatives oppose the nomination (though
not unanimously) and liberals........do what exactly? Support
Gonzales as the first Latino to the court and a relative moderate?
Don't count on it, but it would certainly make for the most interesting
BUDGETS: USA Today's article
today exploring the cause for individual state budget crises
around the country is a must read. In a nutshell, however, the
conclusion is pretty darn simple:
financial problems racking many state governments this year
have less to do with the weak national economy than with the
ability of governors and legislators to manage money wisely.
National Governors Association says states are suffering their
worst economic crisis since World War II. But for many states,
the analysis shows, the fault is largely their own.
actually come as news to some people, especially those who've
bought into the convenient story line pushed by the national media,
governors currently presiding over cash-strapped states, and the
crop of Dem presidential candidates that budget crunches around
the country are solely the fault of the Bush administration.
argued before, the cash shortages aren't the result of some devious
plan by President Bush to shred the "social safety net",
they are the logical consequence of states gobbling up the windfall
of tax revenues created by the economic prosperity of the 90's
and spending like drunken sailors.
California, there is hardly a better example of fiscal mismanagement
than here in Illinois. Massive spending increases on public works
projects, education, etc. (under a Republican governor, no less)
expanded to consume bulging state treasury receipts during the
90's but now don't have enough money left to support them. - T.
Bevan 8:25 am