Well-intentioned ignorance

“Today, [Cliven] Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist,” said Harry Reid because, you know

Reid is partly wrong. Nothing in what Bundy said or how he said it or what he’s said subsequently suggests he’s hateful. He’s not spouting David Duke-isms here. What he is is ignorant. Profoundly and painfully ignorant, of both how life works outside his experience and of our history.

I don’t think anyone can have a complete view of race issues in this country, particularly regarding those of African Americans, without thoroughly studying the Civil War. The issues that led up to it, what happened during, and Reconstruction. It is the single most important event in the history of our people and, in many ways, the questions it raised and the flaws it exposed in us are not resolved to this day. No conversation about the experience of African Americans in this country can happen outside that frame of reference. Even though it’s 150-year-old news. It’s a painful reality, but that debt of human suffering has not yet been paid. Not by half.

If Bundy actually thinks anyone would be better off under slavery, then he’s bought off on the enduring and most popular vision of it perpetrated by fiction like Gone with the Wind. That’s made pretty clear by his suggestion that slaves had a “family life” worth envying by modern African Americans. Absurd. Watch 12 Years a Slave. That’s reality. That’s slavery.

It may be the case that the underlying notion of Bundy’s ridiculous comments (that welfare and state support perpetuate rather than resolve issues of poverty and hopelessness) were made with sincerity and without malice, but the aperture through which he’s seeing the world is fatally flawed. Unfortunately, his opinions regarding welfare are not far removed from a lot of conservatives who are now shunning him. That’s an indictment of the results of two centuries of collective shame. Of thinking we’ve moved past racism because Barack Obama.

“And I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on [the Lewinsky affair].”

OK. First of all…I mean, come on. Really, Rand? You’re going to drag out the stained blue dress after all this time? Gee, can’t imagine why.

Two, dude, I was there. I remember how the media gave Clinton “a pass.” Suggesting he wasn’t anything but absolutely savaged by the press is farcical.

Via

Gay Rights Movement in Uncharted Territory

Reinhardt wrote that government actions that treat people differently based on sexual orientation “are subject to heightened scrutiny,” like actions singling out racial minorities or women. And he concluded that lawyers aren’t free to strike jurors just because they are gay. That differential treatment, he said, violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

That seems so patently obvious to me it’s hard to believe it’s even at issue. Singling out people because they’re gay is like singling out the left-handed or blue-eyed.

Freely speaking

Phil Robertson got kicked off Duck Dynasty (at least for a little while) because of something he said. What he said really isn’t important to this discussion, but A&E felt sufficiently disturbed by it to give him the boot. 

And instantly, everyone lost their shit.

Fox News and their ilk cranked up their industrial-scale outrage machine and cried to the heavens about the sorry nature of “free speech” in our culture. Except there’s nothing in this event that suggests there’s anything at all wrong with the price of speech in America.

Consider…

  • Robertson was asked by GQ what he thought to be sinful and he was able to answer, presumably, from his heart.
  • GQ was able to publish the account (to great effect, undoubtedly).
  • A&E was able to exercise their right to expression by canning Robertson.
  • Due to the massive popularity of Duck Dynasty, Robertson will undoubtedly have the opportunity to return to television (assuming he’s permanently off the show and the show falls apart without him) when another network exercises their right to free expression and picks him and his family up.
  • Fox and the rest of the media nabobs are contributing mightily to the problem of greenhouse gasses by talking this thing into its atomic sub-particles.
  • Several friends I have on Facebook have an opinion on the matter and are not shy about sharing it freely (let alone how the kerfuffle has added to the Twitter firehose of expression).
  • Lastly, remember that our Supreme Court have elevated money to be the equivalent of speech and Robertson is terrifically wealthy meaning he has more potential “speech” at his disposal than likely all the people who will read these words combined (yeah, I don’t get a lot of traffic). Nothing that has happened will materially change his fortunes for very long (if at all).

The First Amendment restricts the government’s ability to stifle speech, not citizens and their corporate counterparts. A&E is freely enjoying their speech now as much as Robertson was in the GQ interview or MSNBC was when they canned Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin (where was the outrage over free speech for Bashir, I wonder?).

“Free speech” isn’t freedom from having to deal with the consequences of what you say. It isn’t carte blanche to say whatever you want wherever you want regardless of your relative visibility in the media. It is not a freedom to be bigoted with no strings attached. It never has been and was not intended as such.

So, as far as I can tell, speech it still free as a bird here in the USA.

Nullify the nullifiers

Welcome to anarchy

Saw this on Facebook this morning. Yeah. Funny stuff.

You’d think folks in Kentucky would remember the last time their elected leaders started picking and choosing which federal laws there were going to obey and which they weren’t.

Lincoln didn’t start fighting the Civil War because he wanted to free the slaves. That’s what happened, eventually, but the reason the war started was because Lincoln knew that nullification was the acid that dissolved democracies. We are a nation of people bound together by laws and the customs by which those laws are made. This can only have meaning and function when we all agree that the laws and customs mean something. A state cannot decide what is or is not Constitutional. A state cannot make laws that nullify those lawfully made by Congress. To allow them to (or to even pretend like they can) is a sickening and dangerous slope that calls into question the very ideal our country is founded upon.

I know. Big words. But it’s true.

This is also the exact reason demands from the Tea Party Republicans in the House to defund or delay or in any way change one whisker of the Affordable Care Act must be totally rejected. They’re not, as was the case in the late 90’s, balking at a budgetary disagreement between the Congress and the president. Those disagreements were germane to that shutdown. What they’re trying to do is nullify the ACA by first shutting most of the government down and then by perhaps breaking the Full Faith and Credit of the United States. 

The process must be followed. Laws are changed all the time by those who win elections. Don’t like the ACA? Get more of your guys in congress than the other party and then get your guy in the White House. That’s how the democratic process works in our country. Over 600,000 Americans died to keep it that way

Vote generic!

From Politico, reporting on a new Public Policy Polling poll:

In a survey of 24 seats, Republicans fall behind in 17 head-to-head matches against “generic Democrat candidates” among registered voters and lag in an additional four districts when respondents are told the Republican candidate supported the shutdown, according to the surveys by Public Policy Polling that were funded by the liberal group, MoveOn.org.

Yeah. Except lots of people will vote for a generic candidate they can make up in their head over a real guy. Most of these representatives don’t even have opponents yet. The vote for them is more than a year away.

On the other hand, PPP is a really top-notch polling outfit, regardless of political leaning and the sponsor of this poll. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to scare a few members into pushing for a clean CR vote and a raising of the debt ceiling. Either way, it’ll be a bonanza for everyone’s fund-raising.

She looks pissed

ANNA REED/STAR TRIBUNE

This is a billboard that recently went up near the Minnesota Fairgrounds (presumably to be seen by the 1.7 million or so people who will attend the fair later this month).

  1. Around about half a million Minnesotans don’t have access to affordable insurance. They have no doctor, let alone their “own.”
  2. Different insurance plans have different networks of doctors. That’s a long-standing fact. If your insurance plan changes, it’s possible your doctor doesn’t accept it (even if your insurance company stays the same). This is not a phenomenon created by The Affordable Care Act or Minnesota’s implementation of its state exchange (MNsure).
  3. If you already have insurance (which most people do), there’s nothing in The Affordable Care Act or MNsure that changes which doctor you can see.

More FUD from the right meant to scare people into paralysis instead of actually addressing the issues we all have to face. Ironically, a single-payer system of health care would result in the widest choice of doctors since competing insurance plans with different networks of providers would presumable be eliminated. But let’s not talk about that.

From the Star-Tribune.