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Conservatives and the Concept of Consent: A Permanently Estranged Relationship

[ 249 ] April 28, 2014 |

Rod Dreher, ladies and gentlemen:

If her account is true, then yes, it was rape. But come on: what do you expect from a culture that brings together college-age men and women, and puts almost all of them in co-ed dorms? What do you expect from a culture that values casual hook-up sex … until suddenly, it doesn’t? Believe me, I’m

not excusing what this guy allegedly did. If that were my daughter, I would be raising hell with the school (and if that were my son, I would be raising hell with him). But it does seem clear to me that college kids want to live in an environment in which they are free to engage in consequences-free sex with no interference from Mommy and Daddy (= the college administration), except when something goes wrong, in which case they rage at Mommy and Daddy for not protecting them from themselves. And Mommy and Daddy, like nice liberals who desperately want to be liked, and to be progressive, dither and wring their hands and try to pretend that what’s happening isn’t happening, that the decadent way their sons and daughters live isn’t as bad as all that. (Come to think of it, Swarthmore alumnus Jonathan Franzen wrote a novel that’s sort of about this kind of thing.)

So, Dreher’s logic: either women cannot consent to sex without permission from “Mommy and Daddy” or their representatives, or they cannot expect any legal protection when they get sexually assaulted. There is no third option. Also, apparently people are sexually assaulted “by themselves.” I don’t even know what to say about this kind of thing anymore — it’s just an irredeemably twisted worldview. (On a side

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point, I wasn’t a big fan of Freedom, but Dreher’s interpretation of it is just bizarre; he seems to have confused Franzen’s book with Tom Wolfe’s interminable account of the 1979 Cardinals, I Am Ted Simmons.)

Donald Sterling, The Most Influential “Democrat” On Civil Rights Since Robert Byrd

[ 131 ] April 28, 2014 |

Tomasky has a good piece on the the attempt to portray Donald Sterling as a hardcore Democrat, a line of reasoning with no actual basis.

There is an additional problem here, which is that even if Sterling actually was a Democrat it wouldn’t prove what the conservatives using the poetic-justice-as-fairness argument seem to think that it does. I support the organized campaign against Sterling’s remarks not because I thought he was a Republican but because his comments were racist. I think it’s perfectly fine to not only criticize people like Sterling when they make bigoted remarks, and also to question whether they should maintain particular position of powers and privilege. (And while Sterling owns the team, being permitted to own an NBA franchise is very much an exclusive privilege; ask Mark Cuban about whether having the resources guarantees you the ability to purchase a major league franchise.) Conservatives have spent the last month, conversely, arguing that the much milder criticism of directed against Robert Eich constituted fascism and/or McCarthyism. If they

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don’t believe that Sterling should be similarly insulated from criticism because they think (however erroneously) that he’s a Democrat, this just makes the conservatives who don’t defend Sterling as they defend Eich risibily incoherent hypocrites coming and going. Myself, I think it’s outrageous that the NBA has been winking at Sterling for so long, and I will maintain this position no matter who he donated money to.

…Charlie Pierce with a great point more McCarthyism:

That said, let us look beyond recent events and point out that the NBA has tolerated this guy for years, despite the fact that, even if he had been Francis of Assisi, he still has been the worst owner in the modern history of professional sports. Nobody else is close. Since 1981, when he bought the team, Sterling’s Clippers have compiled not merely the worst winning percentage in the NBA, but the worst winning percentage in all four major American sports, and that includes several teams that didn’t even exist when Sterling first graced the Association with his presence. It allowed him to run this franchise into the ground a number of times. It allowed him to hang Baylor, one of the league’s founding superstars, out to dry. And it allowed him to reap the benefits now that his team is the only one in Los Angeles that is in the NBA playoffs.

In fact, not only can it be said that the NBA tolerated this clown, it can be argued that the league actively empowered him. After all, the sainted David Stern was a lot harder on rap music and on clothing than he ever was on Sterling.

“The dress code is, to me, a continuation of things,” Stern told the Boston Globe in 2005. “It’s a small thing that contributes to a sense of professionalism.”

UPDATE the second: Sterling is a registered Republican. Man, the wingnutosphere steps on more rakes than Sideshow Bob.

“Welfare Queens of the Purple Sage”

[ 58 ] April 28, 2014 |

Great work by Krugman here:

For at the heart of the standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom, which for too much of the

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right has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for others.

Start with the narrow issue of land use. For historical reasons, the federal government owns a lot of land in the West; some of that land is open to ranching, mining and so on. Like any landowner, the Bureau of Land Management charges fees for the use of its property. The only difference from private ownership is that by all accounts the government charges too little — that is, it doesn’t collect as much money as it could, and in many cases doesn’t even charge enough to cover the costs that these private activities impose. In effect, the government is using its ownership of land to subsidize ranchers and mining companies at taxpayers’ expense.

It’s true that some of the people profiting from implicit taxpayer subsidies manage, all the same, to convince themselves and others that they are rugged individualists. But they’re actually welfare queens of the purple sage.

And this in turn means that treating Mr. Bundy as some kind of libertarian hero is, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy. Suppose he had been grazing his cattle on land belonging to one of his neighbors, and had refused to pay for the privilege. That would clearly have been theft — and brandishing guns when someone tried to stop the theft would have turned it into armed robbery. The fact that in this case the public owns the land shouldn’t make any difference.

Admittedly, Bundy isn’t getting the money from the secret T-Bones and Cadillacs program, so his welfare doesn’t count.

Donald Sterling: Same As He Ever Was

[ 122 ] April 27, 2014 |

Since the worst owner in sports is

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likely to become the next conservative martyr,* it’s worth remembering that his racism is longstanding and unambiguous.

*For conservative bloggers out there, a suggested template. “Criticizing Donald Sterling violates his inalienable natural rights. His remarks were taken out of context. Suggesting that he be deprived of his inalienable right to own an NBA franchise without sanction is worse than lynching and slavery put together. Far worse than that, actually, since lynching and slavery weren’t actually that bad.” You’re welcome!

…person who is wrong about everything Bill Kristol wonders why people are upset about Sterling’s extensive history of racism “two or three sentences.”

…UPDATE: More on the “but registered Republican Donald Sterling is a Dimmy-crat!” silliness here.

MLK Was Sarah Palin

[ 127 ] April 25, 2014 |

You know Teddy Bear Martin Luther King, who never said anything that a contemporary Republican would disagree with and whose primary policy lesson was to oppose the affirmative action programs he actually supported? Well, I take you one step further: the MLK whose dream was that nobody should be able to criticize crackpots when, by pure coincidence, they turn out to be massive racists:

We don’t have freedom to say what we want. If I call — if I say negro or black boy or slave, I’m not — if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be offended, then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done then yet. They should be able to — I should be able to say those things and they shouldn’t offend anybody.

Indeed, this idea was central MLK’s philosophy. But the lie-beral media has suppressed the truth, just like they don’t want you to know about the 3rd Section of the 15th Amendment, “nothing in this amendment shall be interpreted as conflicting with the doctrine established by the Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford.”

UPDATE: So many coincidences!

Be Exploited By the People You Know!

[ 101 ] April 25, 2014 |

Ahead of today’s vote at Northwestern, the actions of proponents of the NCAA’s indefensible status quo were predictable:

The president emeritus publicly said that a vote for the union could mean the end of Division I sports at Northwestern. A former quarterback visited the team to encourage players to vote no. Coach Pat Fitzgerald, a former football star who is revered on campus, has framed a vote for the union as a personal betrayal.

“Understand that by voting to have a union, you would be transferring your trust from those you know — me, your coaches and the administrators here — to what you don’t know — a third party who may or may not have the team’s best interests in mind,” Fitzgerald wrote to the team in an email.

And don’t kid yourself: the people and organizations reaping huge amounts of money off of your unpaid, physically taxing labor, and yet impose extraordinary rules that prevent you from even being compensated by third parties, totally have only your interests at heart.

In an entirely unrelated note, Pat Fitzgerald is currently working under a 10 year contract paying him nearly $2 million a year. Oddly, the Noble Ideals of Amateurism do not forbid him from being paid for endorsements.

“Grave Indifference”

[ 144 ] April 25, 2014 |

Rape culture at Swarthmore College:

Sendrow is a 23-year-old brunette from Princeton, New Jersey. Her mother is from Mexico; her dad is a Jewish guy from the Bronx. She graduated last spring and works in health care in Washington, D.C. If 3,000 smiling Facebook photos are a good barometer, her four years at Swarthmore seem to have passed by untroubled. But in the midwinter of 2013, Sendrow says, she was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months. They’d now decided — mutually, she thought — just to be friends. When he ended up falling asleep on her bed, she changed into pajamas and climbed in next to him. Soon, he was putting his arm around her and taking off her clothes. “I basically said, ‘No, I don’t want to have sex with you.’ And then he said, ‘Okay, that’s fine’ and stopped,” Sendrow told me. “And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.”

A month and a half went by before Sendrow paid a visit to Tom Elverson, a drug and alcohol counselor at the school who also served as a liaison to its fraternities. A former frat brother at Swarthmore, he was jolly and bushy-mustached, a human mascot hired a decade earlier to smooth over alumni displeasure at the elimination of the football team, which his father had coached when Elverson was a student. When Sendrow told him she had been raped, he was incredulous. He told her the student was “such a good guy,” she says, and that she must be mistaken. Sendrow left his office in tears. She was so discouraged about going back to the administration that it wasn’t until several months later that she told a dean about the incident. Shortly thereafter, both students graduated, and Sendrow says she was never told the outcome of any investigation. (Elverson, whose position was eliminated by the school last summer, emailed me that he would answer the “great questions” I raised, but never wrote back.)


“Sally,” a 2012 graduate, said she was at a party in the fall of her freshman year when a fellow student cornered her, pushed her against a wall, and began to kiss her, before being pulled off by a mutual friend. Later that night, Sally awoke to find the same student had entered her room and climbed on top of her. She managed to push him off. When she told associate dean Myrt Westphal she wanted to pursue charges through the College Judiciary Committee (CJC), she says, Westphal asked her to say “harassment” rather than “assault,” and questioned whether she really wanted to “pit her two friends against each other.” Discouraged, Sally declined to pursue judiciary action. (Westphal, who retired last spring, declined to comment.)

Similar stories are legion. Jean Strout, a 2010 graduate now studying at Harvard Law School, says that after she was pinned to the ground by a naked, drunk rugby player, she spoke to a male administrator by phone, who told her it sounded like a “misunderstanding” and that she should ask the offender for an apology.

A recent graduate who now practices law in New York City says that when she told an administrator she had been raped, the

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administrator said, “You don’t sound as if you were raped,” and, noticing the cross hanging around her neck, asked if she wanted to see a priest. She declined to pursue the case.

Another student, according to the Title IX complaint, was raped in her dorm room by a friend of a friend with alcohol on his breath. Before he left the room, he looked at her, smiled, and told her, “It’s your word against mine.” After she recounted the incident in a long email to a member of the administration, her complaint says, school officials never got in touch with her or did any investigation.

As spokeswomen for fellow victims, Hope Brinn and Mia Ferguson often underemphasized their own stories, but they too joined the complaints. Ferguson says she was raped her freshman year in a dorm room by someone she considered a friend. After keeping it bottled up for a semester, she told two resident advisers who were required to report what she told them. They proceeded to tell no one. Hope Brinn says a male student burst into her room while she was naked and refused to leave, after having harassed her via text message. According to her Title IX complaint, when she reported the incident, an administrator laughed and told her she might consider having him write “knock” on his hand as a reminder before he goes out. (Brinn has also spoken about a separate incident of sexual assault.)

As Zuylen-Wood observes, The Obama administration has announced that it will seriously investigate all of the schools who are in violation of the Civil Rights Act if they fail to properly investigate sexual assault and harassment complaints. Hopefully it will follow through.

Imagine All the (Non-Rich) People, Eating Expired Baby Food After Obama Raised the Green Lantern

[ 127 ] April 24, 2014 |

Shorter Verbatim Fred Hiatt: “Imagine instead that Obama had embraced the bipartisanship of Simpson-Bowles and tried to steer through Congress a package that made the tax system fairer and solved the nation’s long-term debt problem.

He might have empowered Republicans in Congress — the Roy Blunts and Bob Corkers — who want to work with Democrats and get things done.”

The last line is particularly awesome. As always, I prefer to think of this as a parody of a parody being read by Jeffrey Tambor. Chait makes an obvious point about Pain Caucus Troofers:

Interestingly, the Tax Truthers don’t believe that “leadership” could persuade Republicans to change their position on, say, climate change, or abortion, or financial regulation. The conviction that Obama could talk Republicans into supporting policies they forcefully oppose is limited to the issue that they care about more than any other.

Tax Trutherism sustains itself among elite political and business circles through constant repetition by fellow believers, creating a cocoon, much like the Alex Jones listening audience, where the preposterous becomes mundane. Unfortunately, that cocoon includes large sections of the seat of government of the United States.

I mean, give the Green Lantern Troofers of the left this — they at least think the president could force Congress to do anything.

Norm Ornstein brings some historical perspective.

My Innocence Has Been Permanently Shattered

[ 93 ] April 24, 2014 |

You know, I said this would happen after baseball left Brooklyn and the only fans who have ever cared about a team ever. They didn’t believe me. But, first Barry Bonds broke…well, not “rules” exactly, but something even worse, records that should belong by birthright to boomer icons. The next step was inevitable — actual rule-breaking:

The pictures from Fenway Park Wednesday night were embarrassing for the New York Yankees: pitcher Michael Pineda with pine tar slathered on his neck and manager Joe Girardi, looking as irked and hapless as a man trying to untangle the Christmas lights, losing a wrestling match with a small remote-controlled camera. “Just a bump in the road,” was how Girardi, blinking into the camera lights, tried desperately to close the book on the poor judgment of the man now forever known as Michael Pine-tar. Try telling Tim Leary, Jay Howell or Joel Peralta how these notorious mound busts are nothing but bumps in the road. It’s easier to get a pine tar stain out of a polyester uniform than it is your career resume.

Heavens to besty! A baseball player breaking the rules to get an edge! Michael how could you!

The question now is how long Pineda should be suspended for. Precedent would seem to suggest 10 or 15 games. But remember — there is now photographic evidence that Pineda is guilty of multiple offenses. Clearly, this violation of MLB’s Equal Sovereign Integritude cannot stand; at a minimum, Pineda should get 162 games. During this period, he should be forced to rehab in a training program designed and supervised by Jesus Montero.

Affirmative Action and the Court

[ 31 ] April 24, 2014 |

I have more thoughts about the issues going forward. It seems clear that Sotomayor’s dissent was not just directed at this week’s relatively narrow holding but at the Court’s affirmative action jurisprudence in general. Which, it should always be remembered, is just as indefensible based on the constitutional standards conservatives allegedly adhere to as it is based on progressive ones.

A True Republican Hero

[ 327 ] April 24, 2014 |

Wondering why conservatives are so inclined to admire lawless freeloader Cliven Bundy? Here’s another good reason:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
Continue reading the main story

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Nobody could have etc.

Sotomayor and Equality

[ 127 ] April 23, 2014 |

Yesterday’s affirmative action case is a close question, but Sotomayor’s dissent is perhaps her strongest work yet.

In addition, as Liptak notes, Sotomayor also had an excellent response to Roberts’s smarmy, ahistorical Parents Involved tautology:

We have seen this reasoning before. See Parents Involved, 551 U. S., at 748 (“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race”). It is a sentiment out of touch with reality, one not required by our Constitution, and one that has properly been rejected as “not sufficient” to resolve cases of this nature.

Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process. And although we have made great strides, “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.”

Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society—inequality that cannot be ignored and that has produced stark socioeconomic disparities. See Gratz, 539 U. S., at 298–300 (Ginsburg, J., dissenting) (cataloging the many ways in which “the effects of centuries of law-sanctioned inequality remain painfully evident in our communities and schools,” in areas like employment, poverty, access to health care, housing, consumer transactions, and education); Adarand, 515 U. S., at 273 (Ginsburg, J., dissenting) (recognizing that the “lingering effects” of discrimination, “reflective of a system of racial caste only recently ended, are evident in our workplaces, markets, and neighborhoods”).

And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”

In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter. [Some cites omitted]

Serwer has more.