Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Saturday, October 09, 2010 :::

Things that outrage me less than they do a lot of people I've been reading of:
  • Foreign governments are submitting "friend of the court" briefs in the 9th circuit's hearing on the federal challenge to Arizona's controversial immigration law. If Costa Rica were pretending to be Mrs. Rica, a US Citizen living in Tucson who had been repeatedly harassed by cops for her brown skin and Mexican accent, I would have a problem with Costa Rica. If the 9th circuit said, "if Costa Rica opposes the law, it must be unconstitutional," I would have (yet another) problem with the 9th circuit. But courts know that just because a brief is labeled "amicus curiae", that doesn't mean the author is actually a "friend of the court" so much as a self-interested party who believes that he/she/it can add a persuasive argument that is relevant to the case.
  • Lawrence O'Donnell has apologized for a statement that "Michael Steele is dancing as fast as he can trying to charm independent voters and Tea Partiers while never losing sight of his real master and paycheck provider, the Republican National Committee." Steele is black, and the word "master" has a connection to slavery, even if not one that is really raised in this context. I find the outrage unsurprising but misplaced and the apology unnecessary. It is implausible to me that O'Donnell would have used any different words if Steele were white, and I highly doubt that anyone would have thrown a fit; I think he simply didn't consider what Steele's race is. Nor should he have had to. More generally, people (and colleges) should not have to consider race in circumstances where it doesn't matter. They should, if anything, be discouraged from it. I may never write these words again, so savor it now: I want to live in Lawrence O'Donnell's America.
  • On the other side of the political spectrum, Dinesh D'Souza wrote a piece a few months ago holding that Obama's actions can be explained by the anti-colonial mindset that he got from his father. Like most of what I've read from D'Souza in the last few years, I thought he made a fair case that his model has some value, but that he oversells it as a grand unifying theory. Which is roughly Jonah Goldberg's take. I don't know that I've seen outrage, exactly; maybe something closer to ridicule. And I'm not endorsing D'Souza's argument, either. But I think it's a perspective worth considering.
  • Continuing the list, an aid to Jerry Brown called Meg Whitman a "whore". I can't say I don't share any of the outrage over this remark, but it was made in a private setting and with respect to an allegation that she is selling something that, it is widely agreed, shouldn't be for sale. It's definitely overwrought, but it has some of the character of an analogy. And it didn't seem to have much to do with Whitman's sex.

    I'm probably less offended by prostitution than most people, if not less than Andy Levy, who submits that it is an insult to prostitutes to compare politicians to them. I don't think it's an insult to most prostitutes to compare them to Meg Whitman; if Jerry Brown had been called a prostitute, maybe. But in this context, it was more of an overwrought analogy made in private by a staffer than a completely out-of-line slur made by the candidate himself to the media. If, for example, Jerry Brown himself, in a media interview, compared Whitman to Goebbels just because her campaign has an advertising budget, that's something that would warrant outrage.
UPDATE: I had intended to make this clearer than I think I did - the main reason I think some outrage is appropriate in response to the "whore" comment is that, while I think it plausible that Brown's staffer would have made the same comment of a man, I think it more likely that the comment depended on Whitman's sex.

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::: posted by Steven at 12:18 AM

I hadn't heard about the Steele/O'Donnell incident, and as I was reading the quote here, I thought that perhaps it was the "dancing" that got O'Donnell in trouble. I guess that, even when I'm on the alert for racial hypersensitivity, I'm not terribly good at this game.
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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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