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Harriet McBryde Johnson

[ 0 ] June 5, 2008 |


From my privileged position, her writing had more impact than her activism and legal work, although for the world the latter two probably made a greater impact. A civil rights hero has left us. Links to her online writings are conveniently rounded up by Kay Olson at Amptoons. If you’re unfamiliar with her and her writing, I order you to immediately read Unspeakable Conversations.

…Update Nice bio here. Opening line:

She attended self-contained special-education classes until age 13, when she was invited to leave because she was campaigning to get the teacher fired.

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Air Force Brass Nuked

[ 0 ] June 5, 2008 |

As is being reported everywhere,Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne have been asked to resign. The proximate cause appears to have been the mishandling of nuclear weapons last year, but it’s fair to say that’s only the tip of the iceberg; SecDef Gates has been extremely critical of the Air Force, both regarding its performance in Iraq and Afghanistan and its public relations strategy in the United States. It’ll be no secret to the readers of this blog that I believe the problems with the Air Force run too deep to be solved with firings like this; the reason that the Air Force is having difficulty figuring out its roles in the Middle East, its public relations strategy, and its force structure is that it’s an organization without a coherent 21st century mission. It doesn’t help, of course, that the Air Force brass decided to try to seize greater slices of the bureaucratic and procurement pie just as it reached the height of organizational incoherence…

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The Effects of History Stopped In 1964

[ 11 ] June 5, 2008 |

Shorter Tom Maguire: All institutionalized racism ended immediately after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, because these changes to formal law both ended racism and erased the ongoing impacts of past racism. So it’s crazy to think that any person of color born in the United States after 1970 could suffer from any disadvantage based on their race!

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[ 39 ] June 5, 2008 |

It’s hard to get much worse than getting swept at home by an Angels team without Guerrero (and not pitching Lackey). But I’m sure McLaren and company can find a way!

In other news, this has been building since several commenters argued last year that it was logically impossible for him to have allowed a run in Game 2 without the bugs, but Sweet Jeebus am I already sick of Greatest Pitching Prospect In Known World History Joba Chamberlain and the ceaseless hype surrounding him. If Saint Derek of Pasta Diving goes on the DL I think he can slide into the Most Irritating Yankee role right away.

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[ 22 ] June 5, 2008 |

Clinton to drop out and endorse Obama on Friday. I am, once again, inclined to a more charitable view than Matt expresses here. I have been very critical of several aspects of Clinton’s campaign, although this was for specific acts (particularly the negative comparison of Obama and McCain and the increasingly farcical Michigan/Florida demagoguery) as opposed to staying in per se. But I really don’t think that it will be a serious problem in the general, and endorsing the candidate three days after defeat (especially given that many runner-up candidates have declined to do so, although why Clinton-to-Denver advocates bring up 1968 and 1980 as positive precedents I can’t tell you) is well within the range of acceptable behavior. Claims that Clinton was out to sabotage the party to set up a run for 2012 or some such have always been silly, and I think this should end that unproductive debate.

So let’s congratulate Clinton for her valiant and historic campaign, rejoice in Obama’s remarkable victory, and hope that the latter ends up in the White House.

…Farber declares Clean Slate Day.

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Presidential Statement of the Day

[ 7 ] June 5, 2008 |

Benjamin Harrison, remarking on the Johnstown Flood, 4 June 1889:

It would be wholly superfluous for me to attempt to set before you more impressively than the newspapers have already done the horrors attending the calamity which has fallen upon the city of Johnstown and the neighboring hamlets in a large section of Pennsylvania situated on the Susquehanna River. The grim pencil of Doré would be inadequate to portray the distress and horrors of this visitation. In such meetings as we have to-day here in the national capital and other like gatherings that are taking place in all the cities of this land, we have the only relief to the distress and darkness of the picture. When such calamitous visitations fall upon any section of our country we can only put about the dark picture the golden border of love and charity. It is in such fires as this that the brotherhood of men is welded. And where more appropriately than here at the national capital can we give expression to that sympathy and brotherhood which is now so strongly appealed to by the distress of large bodies of our fellow-citizens?

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[ 25 ] June 4, 2008 |

So I turned this gem up while doing some research this afternoon:

He and his aides have outlined a quick and successful overthrow of Hussein and rebuilding of a democratic Iraq that spreads peace through the Middle East. Establishing unchallenged world dominance for the United States, it cows the leaders of Iran, North Korea and al Qaeda. In this view, the domestic economy would soar, and help Bush and his party in 2004 to a victory that would realign the country’s political allegiances.

One reason for Bush’s confidence under pressure is the unshakeable belief of his advisers that this scenario is likely. Bush’s serenity “comes from the conviction he’s on the right course,” said Richard Perle, an influential conservative who leads a Pentagon advisory board. “He knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows where he’s going.”

Another member of that panel, former Reagan administration official Kenneth Adelman, says the Iraq war “will transform the region towards peace and decency.” Adelman believes Bush shares the view. “The only thing I’ve heard from him is, ‘Imagine if we didn’t do something like this,'” he said.


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Doesn’t Take Bernanke to See…

The other day I posted about banks’ decisions to stop providing loans to college students at “non-elite” universities and college. I suggested that it is decisions like these that help economic and racial inequality persist.

Turns out, Ben Bernanke agrees with me.

So common sense even a Bush appointee can’t ignore it.

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Method Acting

[ 46 ] June 4, 2008 |

Wolcott, reflecting on the advice of Hannity/K-Lo that McCain “find his voice” by modeling his public demeanor after Bernie and Mittens, who delivered, I dunno, the awesomest concession speeches ever(?), or something:

So let me see if I have this right. The way for John McCain to inspire conservatives is to echo the concession speeches of two guys he beat, charging into battle to the faint distant trumpets of a valedictory address? He should meet the historical moment by acting as if he’s halfway out the door, ready to leave? I don’t know, conducting your presidential campaign as a Victor Borge farewell tour doesn’t seem to me to be the smartest way to go, but then I don’t have the keen stereoscopic mind of Sean Hannity, whose blatant partisanship did so much for Rudy Giuliani’s candidacy.

Not having television, I read McCain’s speech last night and found it to be a fairly clever, if completely disingenuous, effort to restate the case that he’s Teh Maverick. His smarmy pitch for Hillary supporters, for example, really needs to be mashed up with his unashamed chuckling upon being asked how to “beat the bitch” by that 234-year-old New Hampshire voter. In any case, for once I agreed with McCain’s apologists, who’ve been reduced to insisting that the speech “read well.”

Then I remembered that the words on the page had most likely come by way of the kazoo that resides in John McCain’s throat, and I felt much better about the whole thing. Now having watched the video, of course, I agree that it amounts to one of the great horror shows in recent political history. It might very well recede into oblivion, or it might eventually proved to be a synecdochical moment in the campaign, condensing his essential weirdness into a few lime green minutes. Either way, I’m looking forward to the debates in the same way I look forward to throwing old pumpkins off the roof of my house a few weeks after Halloween.

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There There?

[ 6 ] June 4, 2008 |

K.A. Geier makes the case about the Purdum article. I guess that an article that focused very tightly on his financial affairs could have been more useful, but I guess I had heard about most of the conflict-of-interest implications and didn’t really see anything new. But YMMV.

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Against Roe Reductionism

[ 14 ] June 4, 2008 |

I can sort of understand why Roe takes center stage in debates over judicial nomination, although it obscures a lot of important questions and impacts of the court. But people explaining why Obama is infinitely preferable to McCain really shouldn’t begin and end with Roe. Even focusing solely on women’s rights, four more years of a Republicans in the White House will have many more bad consequences.

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No There There

[ 1 ] June 4, 2008 |

It’s been a bad week for airline/gym reading. First, the New York that seemed (foolishly in retrospect) like the best option in the gym’s magazine rack when I forgot to put reading material in my bag featured the lengthy Phillip Weiss article sharing with us the news that middle-aged men sometimes feel sexual desire for younger women…even if they’re married! Then there was the New York Times magazine cover story, which let us in on such remarkable facts as that young people will sometimes stop dating one person and start dating another, dating co-workers can create some measure of tension, and sharing things about other people on your blog can upset said individual.

I would like to say that Todd Purdum’s Clinton story is less vacuous. But if so the distinction is marginal, and it’s (really) if anything more annoying. The pattern is established early. After some nice guilt-by-association innuendos about some of Clinton’s associates (you’ll be shocked to learn that some wealthy men have fathered children out of wedlock and dated considerably younger women), we get the only graf you need to read:

In fairness, it should be said that Clinton’s entourage that weekend also included his daughter, Chelsea, and her boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky, and no one who was there has adduced the slightest evidence that Clinton’s behavior was anything other than proper. Nor, indeed, is there any proof of post-presidential sexual indiscretions on Clinton’s part, despite a steady stream of tabloid speculation and Internet intimations that the Big Dog might be up to his old tricks. On any given visit to London, for example, Clinton is as apt to dine with Tony Blair or Kevin Spacey as with anyone who might raise an eyebrow.

So, in other words, he’s got nothing. But does that stop him from making the implication again? Not when you’re dealing with the Clenis:

Less amusingly, in the run-up to the 1996 re-election campaign, when Clinton took one of his many fund-raising trips to California, I teasingly asked his press secretary, Mike McCurry, whether the president intended to go jogging with Eleanor Mondale, the daughter of the former vice president—as he had on a previous trip—after he was spotted with her (and Barbra Streisand) in the wee hours of the morning. The next day, as we boarded the plane at Andrews Air Force Base en route to Los Angeles, McCurry, whose effectiveness as Clinton’s spokesman was aided by the fact that he never fell in love with him, sidled up to me and told me that he had passed my question on to the president, and that Clinton had responded, in vivid terms he knew I could not print, that I should not confuse exercise with extracurricular activity.

I dunno, it seems to me the Clinton, er, has a point here. And while I grant that I’m no expert in arranging adulterous liaisons, it strikes me that jogging with someone in public probably isn’t the ideal method.

Anyway, this not-quite-an-accusation shtick becomes intolerable pretty quickly. So unless you’re in the market for some reasonable-but-trite observations about Clinton’s slightly rusty political compass and some questions about the financing of Clinton’s post-presidential activities that the article does little to illuminate, I’d give the article a pass. It does serve as a reminder, though, that however problematic some of their recent behavior has been, when it comes to the press they have an entirely legitimate grievance.

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