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Rick Snyder Knew. Rick Snyder Didn’t Care.

[ 114 ] March 1, 2016 |

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The latest revelation that should be shocking but isn’t:

Gov. Rick Snyder could have declared a state of emergency in Flint months earlier than he did, according to an e-mail sent to the governor’s office from a Michigan State Police emergency expert and released by the Snyder administration over the weekend.

Snyder acknowledged lead poisoning of Flint’s drinking water around Oct. 1, but faced strong criticism for not declaring a state of emergency in Flint and Genesee County until more than three months later, on Jan. 5.

Snyder officials have repeatedly said Snyder couldn’t take the action until local officials declared an emergency, and Genesee County did not take that action until Jan. 4.

But in a Nov. 13 e-mail, Capt. Chris Kelenske of the MSP, who is the deputy state director of emergency management and Homeland Security, told an official in Snyder’s office: “As you know, the Governor can declare at any time for any reason.”

And it’s even worse than this:

Emails obtained by the Detroit News reveal that top aides to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder were issuing warnings over the water quality in Flint as far back as October 2014—a year before the city switched out its own contaminated water supply and reconnected to Detroit’s.

The emails in question were sent by Valerie Brader, then the governor’s environmental policy adviser, and Mike Gadola, then his chief counsel. The governor himself was not a recipient, but his closest advisers were, including his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, and communications director. Snyder staffers told the News they did not take their concerns directly to the governor until October 2015, when the water supply was switched.

How convenient!

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Neither a Slate Pitch nor a Hot Take

[ 288 ] February 29, 2016 |

Please allow me to present, the Glue Snort.

Why Liberals Should Vote for Marco Rubio
Democrats must do everything they can to prevent Donald Trump’s nomination—like supporting the one man with a chance to beat him.

Or perhaps the Meth Hit?

Marco Rubio would be a terrible president.

Agreed, bye-bye.

Still, if I lived in any of the nine Super Tuesday states that allow non-Republicans to vote in their GOP presidential primary, I would cross over—forfeiting my chance to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders—and vote for Rubio. Other liberals should do the same. Those who can should write him checks. Whatever it takes to stop the nomination of Donald Trump.

There are three arguments against what I’m proposing.

1. It’s stupid.
2. It’s really stupid.
3. If the author doesn’t know it’s stupid, it’s because he’s high.

The third argument against liberals supporting Rubio is that America will benefit if Trump destroys the Republican Party. If the GOP splits, or loses massively this fall, then perhaps moderates will regain influence and the Republican Party—or whatever supplants it—will stop denying climate change, stop refusing to vote on judges, and stop pushing the United States to the brink of financial default. Maybe as a result of Trump, the party’s “fever may break.”

I understand the argument’s allure, but it’s reckless. Although it’s highly likely Trump would lose a general election, there are no guarantees. Hillary Clinton could be indicted. Terrorists could strike two days before Americans head out to vote. If nothing else, the course of the presidential race so far should instill a healthy modesty in anyone inclined to make blanket assertions about what will happen in six months.

We just don’t know what may happen! There are too many unknown knowns! We must have the possibly electable Sen. Rubio positioned to be our fall-back president rather than the impossibly electable T-Rump in case something happens because the future is unpredictable!! Also, lines people. LINES.

But we do know this: Once Trump is nominated, America will have crossed a line.

Le gasp! This line, is it in … the sand???

A man who does not respect constitutional limits and who preys upon vulnerable minorities will lead one of the two major parties. The consequences, though hard to measure, could be profound.

Or, we could think back to the last time a Republican was in the White House.

Sometimes even a morally corrupt status quo is better than what follows. A Trump nomination would represent a leap into a terrifying political unknown.

OMG, more unknowns! What can we do??

Liberals should try to forestall it by backing Marco Rubio. And if we fail, we should implore conservatives to help stop Trump by backing Hillary Clinton.

Seriously, WTF?

Although the polarization in American politics today is vast, there are still norms that both decent liberals and decent conservatives cherish, and do not wish to see smashed. Across the ideological divide, it’s time to close ranks.

For some of us, it is time to check into rehab.

Ben Carson vows to stay in the race as long as people keep sending him money

[ 72 ] February 29, 2016 |

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Whoever wrote this line in the op-ed that appeared under Carson’s name at Fox News has a rather impish sense of humor:

The commoditization of the electorate is precisely what drove me into this race.

And he will not surrender his dream until the bank account of the last sucker mark American voter who is still willing to send him money has been drained to the greatest extent possible:

That’s why I’ve vowed to continue our campaign as long as we have revenue and support, until the people have decided.

The last clause of that sentence is just sort of dangling there, but again the guiding principle is clear enough.

He Speaks!

[ 85 ] February 29, 2016 |

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I don’t know to what extent this was prompted by Scalia’s permanent absence, but this happened today:

Breaking a decade-long silence, Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday asked several questions from the Supreme Court bench. He spoke just weeks after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose empty seat next to Justice Thomas’s remains draped in black.

It was hard to escape the conclusion that the absence of the voluble Justice Scalia, who had dominated Supreme Court arguments, somehow liberated Justice Thomas and allowed him to resume participating in the court’s most public activity.

The questions came in a minor case on domestic violence convictions and gun rights. Justice Thomas, according to the few reporters in the courtroom, asked a question about whether such convictions suspend a constitutional right.

Longtime readers (if any) will remember that I think far too much has been made of Thomas’s silence during oral arguments, and it’s neither here nor there in terms of his abilities as a justice, but there you go.

With Notably Rare Exceptions, Donald Trump’s Message Will Appeal to African-Americans

[ 229 ] February 29, 2016 |

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Suburban warrior Joel Kotkin peers into the soul of black America and sees False Consciousness:

One key factor may be African Americans, whose self-interests were submerged in service to President Obama.

Yes, that must be it. African-Americans being tied to the Democrat Plantation is clearly a phenomenon unique to Obama being the party’s presidential candidate. Now, in 2004, African-Americans actually understood their self-interest! And they divided their vote 93%-7% for J…sorry, I can’t read the rest, there’s an inkblot on my screen.

Trump could appeal to them with his tough stand on immigration. Nearly 70 percent of African Americans, according to a Zogby poll, think overall immigration levels are too high. If Clinton tacks too closely to the open-borders stance embraced by both the Democratic and Republican establishments, Trump may be able to slice off some of this most-solid segment of the blue electorate.

Sure. Remember when same-sex marriage was the issue was going to get African-Americans to start voting Republican? This is exactly as likely.

And now, the unwitting punchline, from Mr. Glenn Reynolds:

Yeah, though he might want to be a little quicker to condemn white supremacists if he wants to pick up the black vote.

Heh. Indeed!

Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?

[ 98 ] February 29, 2016 |

Count me among those who think the T-Rump/Ruborg slap fight is a vast improvement on the way Repubs usually attempt humor.

p.s. Root. For. Injuries.

Never Forget the Classics!

[ 91 ] February 29, 2016 |

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Mike Huckabee defends the Donald’s refusal to condemn David Duke with a golden oldie:

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Huckabee was immediately asked if he would disavow Duke and the KKK. The former presidential candidate did so firmly.

“David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan are absolutely abominable. I don’t know anybody that I know, anybody that I’ve ever known, supports them,” he said. “And look, I think there’s an incredible just overwhelming fascination I’ve been watching this morning. But look, let me ask you this: Do you think Hillary Clinton is going to have to answer for her relationship with Sen. Robert Byrd who was an actual member of the KKK? Look, I’m not trying to defend, maybe, the inartful way…”

Yes, to be Scrupulously Fair, it’s impossible to hold up well under such brutally tough questioning as “do you disavow the support of the KKK?” And will they even ask Hillary Clinton about George Wallace being a member of the Democrat Party? Trump/Da Nooge ’16!

In addition, for Joe Scarborough to start pretending to be a harsh critic of Trump’s racist demogagugery after propping him up for months is really appalling. (And Scarborough doesn’t have tenure with America’s Liberal Network (TM) while Melissa Harris-Perry gets pushed out because of ratings.)

From the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Calhoun to the Party of Don Rickles

[ 96 ] February 29, 2016 |

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In fairness, they’re still also the party of Calhoun.

Apologies for the comparison to the relatively subtle humour of Mr. Rickles.

Make America Great Again, If You Know What I Mean

[ 275 ] February 28, 2016 |

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Ted Cruz’s last, best, only hope to get an endorsement from a colleague has ended:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), whose hard-line conservative stances on immigration and trade have made him a favorite of the party’s base, endorsed Donald Trump’s White House bid during a joint appearance here in his home state Sunday.

“Politicians have promised for 30 years to fix illegal immigration. Have they done it? Donald Trump will do it,” Sessions said at the Madison City Schools Stadium, where thousands gathered to hear Trump speak. “I’ve told Donald Trump this isn’t a campaign, this is a movement.”

Some relevant background:

Sessions was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. The year before his nomination to federal court, he had unsuccessfully prosecuted three civil rights workers–including Albert Turner, a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr.–on a tenuous case of voter fraud. The three had been working in the “Black Belt” counties of Alabama, which, after years of voting white, had begun to swing toward black candidates as voter registration drives brought in more black voters. Sessions’s focus on these counties to the exclusion of others caused an uproar among civil rights leaders, especially after hours of interrogating black absentee voters produced only 14 allegedly tampered ballots out of more than 1.7 million cast in the state in the 1984 election. The activists, known as the Marion Three, were acquitted in four hours and became a cause c?l?bre. Civil rights groups charged that Sessions had been looking for voter fraud in the black community and overlooking the same violations among whites, at least partly to help reelect his friend Senator Denton.

On its own, the case might not have been enough to stain Sessions with the taint of racism, but there was more. Senate Democrats tracked down a career Justice Department employee named J. Gerald Hebert, who testified, albeit reluctantly, that in a conversation between the two men Sessions had labeled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” Hebert said Sessions had claimed these groups “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” In his confirmation hearings, Sessions sealed his own fate by saying such groups could be construed as “un-American” when “they involve themselves in promoting un-American positions” in foreign policy. Hebert testified that the young lawyer tended to “pop off” on such topics regularly, noting that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases. Sessions acknowledged making many of the statements attributed to him but claimed that most of the time he had been joking, saying he was sometimes “loose with [his] tongue.” He further admitted to calling the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a “piece of intrusive legislation,” a phrase he stood behind even in his confirmation hearings.

It got worse. Another damaging witness–a black former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama named Thomas Figures–testified that, during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he “used to think they [the Klan] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers.” Sessions claimed the comment was clearly said in jest. Figures didn’t see it that way. Sessions, he said, had called him “boy” and, after overhearing him chastise a secretary, warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Figures echoed Hebert’s claims, saying he too had heard Sessions call various civil rights organizations, including the National Council of Churches and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, “un-American.” Sessions denied the accusations but again admitted to frequently joking in an off-color sort of way. In his defense, he said he was not a racist, pointing out that his children went to integrated schools and that he had shared a hotel room with a black attorney several times.

Also relevant:

Donald Trump on Sunday morning refused to condemn actions taken and comments made by the Ku Klux Klan and one of its former leaders, claiming he needed to do “more research” before taking a position.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Trump was asked by Jake Tapper to respond to recent comments made by white supremacist David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke and other white supremacist groups have supported Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Fiji

[ 16 ] February 28, 2016 |
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By Hpeterswald – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36987818

HMAS Canberra is on her way to Fiji:

Canberra is headed to Fiji in the wake of Cyclone Winston, which has reportedly killed dozens, done tremendous property and infrastructure damage, and left up to 30,000 homeless. The United Nations has suggested that Winston is the most devastating cyclone ever to hit the island.

How Sanders Lost South Carolina, And Why He Won’t Win the Nomination

[ 515 ] February 28, 2016 |

Some excellent reporting by Hunter Walker:

African-American voters carried Clinton to an overwhelming victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in the state’s Democratic presidential primary. African-Americans typically make up the majority of South Carolina’s Democratic electorate and, according to CNN’s exit polling, Clinton won with the support of 84 percent of the state’s black community.

[…]

Sanders, on the other hand, struggled to gain traction with black voters in South Carolina, hampered by the very thing that has lifted him elsewhere: his position as an outsider and newcomer on the state’s political scene. Attempts at outreach came late and were described by some local African-American leaders as ham-fisted.

[…]

A source told Yahoo News that an influential member of the state Legislature received several direct appeals from Clinton asking for an endorsement. They were taken aback when the Sanders campaign reached out and the call came from the senator’s wife rather than Sanders himself.

Darby, the vice president of the NAACP’s Charleston branch, said he’s seen a “clumsiness” in Sanders’ “approach to the leadership” in South Carolina’s black community.

“Let me put this very carefully,” Darby began, “Sometimes my good and well-meaning liberal brothers and sisters get the feeling that they know what’s good for black folk. … They don’t try to reach out. They don’t try to check in and affirm, ‘Do you really think that this is good for you too? What do you think of our plans? … I’ve picked up little whiffs of that in the Sanders campaign, and I don’t think it’s served them well. … You have to meet people on their terms.”

Darby said the only contacts he received from the Sanders campaign came from people who were “white” and “out of state.”

“Nobody really local reached out to me. These were folks that were brought … into South Carolina from the campaign. … This was not African-American outreach. This was white outreach,” Darby said.

[…]

Dot Scott, the president of the NAACP’s Charleston branch, was similarly critical of Sanders’ team. Scott, who admitted being family friends with Clinton’s South Carolina state director, said she only had one contact with the Sanders campaign, and it went “sour.”

Like many South Carolinians, Scott has received calls at home from phone bankers. She said one of these entreaties from the Sanders campaign led her to go off on a 10-minute tirade and demand an apology.

“One of my experiences that I think I won’t forget for a long time is a call that I got from the Sanders campaign. This person that called asked me was I voting for Sen. Sanders. I said no. I was voting for Secretary Clinton. The phone went silent for a little bit,” Scott recounted. “You could hear this person struggling to come up with what they’re going to say next. … They call that a real pregnant pause, nine months’ worth of pregnant pause. And he finally came back and he says to me, ‘You know, Senator Sanders is for welfare.’”

This did not provoke a positive reaction from Scott.

“I lost it. So you’re going to assume either from my voice or from my selection that the most important thing that Sen. Sanders is going to be working on that would interest me is more welfare?” Scott said. “I went on to read him the riot act. Listen, I’m not only a college graduate; I’ve got a masters. My daughter is a college graduate. I have never had one ounce of welfare before. I ain’t never lived in public housing. None of those things.”

According to Scott, the Sanders supporter who called her “didn’t know what to say.”

“By the time he hung up, it was ten minutes later,” she said. “I got one of the managers to call me back and apologize.”

Scott made it clear she does not believe that is something “Sanders would tell them to say” and added that the call probably came from a volunteer or low-ranking staffer. Still, she said it is the only contact she has had with the Sanders campaign, while Clinton’s team has made much more substantive outreach.

I think this all speaks for itself. In addition to its obvious intellectual limitations, “class not race” is not a viable means of securing the Democratic nomination in 2016.

‘Who is Daniel Holtzclaw?’ a postmortem

[ 80 ] February 28, 2016 |

Lemieux has already shared Deadspin’s take down of SB Nation’s 12K word paean to a serial rapist, but Deadspin’s pm is equally worth a read.

Not only is it a fine piece of writing that provides insight into how journalism happens, it answers such questions as was the story actually edited before it saw daylight? (A lot). Was anyone canned for this massive clusterfuck? (Yes.) And what SB Nation editorial director Spencer Hall meant when he called the story’s publishing a “complete break down of the editorial process.” (See the Tweet and read on.)

To review, here’s what reporter Jeff Arnold said he set out to do:

I hoped to present a more fully-rounded portrait of Mr. Holtzclaw than had appeared in the press. I hoped to explore the question of what had happened to this once-promising young man.

Where promising = played college football, apparently.

I and my editor at SB Nation hoped to find possible answers as to what could have led to him to become a convicted rapist and sexual predator.

Actually, the sexual predator part came before the conviction. But at any rate, if one sets one’s expectations to “Beneficiary of patriarchal society enabling and protecting same,” then that’s exactly what Arnold did.

Of course Arnold’s statement came a few days after the story ran. On Feb. 15, two days before it ran, the finished piece reached senior editor Elena Bergeron. Bergeron is neither white, nor a man, but she is a journalist and also a professional who took time from her busy day to try to save these cretins from themselves. Or at least SB Nation Longform from the cretins.

… Bergeron held a conference call with Floyd and Stout. Bergeron said the tone was, from the very beginning, off. She repeated that there hadn’t been enough journalistic due diligence, and that the stark reality of the situation—that the subject of the story was a man who had recently been convicted of using his station to rape and prey on 13 black women—was never met head on. If nothing else, given SB Nation’s partnership with the national anti-sexual assault organization It’s On Us, the very language used regarding the sexual assault was inconsistent with their new editorial standards. Stout, though, disregarded Bergeron’s objections, and the intense conversation devolved into an argument over the phone. When the three hung up, the problem was unresolved, and it was still unresolved on Wednesday morning.

Incidentally, SB Nation Longform editor Glenn Stout sent the final story out on Feb. 11, but for reasons one can speculate upon, did not include Bergeron in that email. She received it from another editor two days before it ran. So “complete breakdown of the editorial process” isn’t strictly correct, since one editor did stand athwart the train wreck and cry “Stop!” Once she saw the story.

Do I think this sort of thing will happen again? Of course I do, because even people who “get it” still don’t get it.

Among other things, this story serves as an example of why diversity in the newsroom is so important. It isn’t because diversity is charity, or because giving opportunities to people other than white men is a Christlike thing to do, but because everyone has blind spots, and everyone fucks up.

Except the “blind spots” that resulted in WDH? form the basis for this society, so sprinkling diversity angels around the newsroom to keep the fellas from “fucking up” is like squirting hydrogen peroxide into a stage 3 bedsore.

Bergeron was there, and the best-suited to work on the story alongside Arnold and Stout—not just because she’s the only person of color and the only woman among SBNation.com’s top layer of editors, but because she’s capable and experienced.
Not only did Stout never enlist her to cover his and Arnold’s blindspots, though, but when she did so anyway, he disregarded her, and was empowered to do so.

The idea that Bergeron ought to have been called in to help Arnold write this piece is equal parts aggravating and ick-making.

If one acknowledges that a reporter has blindspots so huge that he forgets Reporting 101, that reporter doesn’t need a nanny, that reporter needs to not write the story.

And in retrospect we see that his blindspots (and apparently Stout’s) would have meant that a black woman would have had to work with a couple of creepy clods – one of them her supervisor – who had difficulty seeing the black women and girls Holtzclaw attacked as victims, or even humans.

Um. Even though I’m going to assume that her normal job duties include close supervision of freelancers, I don’t know what to say to this other than NO. That’s a rotten, bad, no good idea that reeks of misogynoir.

However, I do agree that Bergeron is capable and experienced.

She is so capable and experienced that in less that 24 hours she was able to detect, collate and explain the flaws in Arnold’s reporting that everyone else, including Stout, missed during an intensive two month writing and editing process.

The thing to do with someone like Bergeron is not to have her work alongside anyone, especially anyone like Arnold. It is to put her in charge of the shop.

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