- Created on 10 May 2013
For someone who seems to revel in being silent during the Supreme Court’s traditionally lively oral arguments – when a public display of his professional competence would be appropriate – Clarence Thomas’s out-of-court comments are extraordinarily revealing. They show a man whose exalted position has brought him no inner peace, a man who continues to see himself as being victimized by this or that person or cabal.
Last week, it came to light that during an early-April interview with C-SPAN, Thomas tried to diminish President Obama’s achievements. Asked about Obama’s being the nation’s first Black president, Thomas said, “I always knew that it would have to be a Black president who was approved by the elites and the media because anybody that they didn’t agree with, they would take apart.”
He went on to say “that will happen with virtually, you pick your person, any Black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a Black person will be picked apart. You can pick anybody, don’t pick me, pick anyone who has decided not to go along with it. There’s a price to pay. So I always assumed it would be somebody the media had to agree with.”
Thomas didn’t identify which “elites” and which “media” he was referring to.
But presumably the latter doesn’t include Fox News or the Wall Street Journal and other conservative-leaning newspapers and publications nor the innumerable conservative pundits and talk-show jockeys that have been hammering Obama since he won the Democratic nomination in 2008.
And presumably the elites don’t include the long-list of wealthy conservative elites who’ve spent millions upon millions opposing the president’s initiatives and his re-election. But then, Clarence Thomas has never been one to let facts undermine his raging self-pity.
We’ve seen this facet of Thomas’s character ever since he used that ugly phrase, “high tech lynching,” during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings. That phrase came from a man who had become a conservative favorite by asserting that Black liberals always unjustifiably blamed racism for Black Americans’ troubles.
We later learned by his own words that that self-pity had long been a part of his character, when he revealed that all through college and law school he never voluntarily spoke up in class because he felt classmates would make fun of his deep Southern accent.
One need not have gone to an elite college and law school, as Thomas did, nor be a psychiatrist, to have immediately considered that Thomas neither got over his embarrassment about his accent nor sought out a language specialist to help him get rid of it precisely because he wanted to hold onto it – the better to feed his seeing himself as a victim.
In fact, Thomas’s attempt to diminish the president just underscores what they have – and don’t have – in common.
Both men are products of elite colleges and law schools. But while Thomas hid behind a self-perceived “defect,” Barack Obama took an active role in the life of the institutions he attended. At Harvard, he sought and won membership on the law review, and then, the approval of the review’s members to be their president.
Clarence Thomas drew no job offers from law firms when he graduated in 1974. He’s claimed this was the result of the “taint” of affirmative action. But numerous articles over the years have shown that Thomas’s Black Yale Law peers have a decidedly different view of their experience.
One such article, in The American Lawyer, of June 2, 2008, “Did Affirmative Action Really Hinder Clarence Thomas?,” available on the web site Law.com, should be required reading. It found “in interviews with a dozen African-American lawyers who attended Yale in the same years” that they described their Yale experience “in largely positive – even glowing – terms.”
The most striking contrast between Clarence Thomas and Barack Obama, of course, is what they’ve done after law school.
Thomas, taken up by then-Senator John Danforth, a Missouri Republican, shortly after graduation, has been a government appointee his entire adult career – while declaring that Blacks as a group are too dependent on the government. With, at best, minimal qualifications he was appointed to the two most prestigious positions in the federal judiciary, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and less than two years later, the Supreme Court.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, spurned lucrative offers from law firms and potential federal court clerkships, to become a community organizer in Chicago. There, he began his career of standing for elective office at the local, statewide, and national level. His galvanic speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention instantly made him a future presidential contender. He won the presidency twice in the toughest kind of combat outside of actual warfare by out-thinking and out-organizing his Republican opposition to garner the approval of millions of voters.
Personal and professional jealousy is always unseemly – the more so in a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York Ciry. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.
- Created on 08 May 2013
Congresswoman Karen Bass, U.S. Representative for California’s 33rd Congressional District, and founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, has vowed to crack down on the student loan debt crisis, saying that just because borrowers use loans to get an education doesn’t mean they should be saddled with a lifetime of debt.
“Last month marked the one year anniversary of student loan debt crossing the $1 trillion mark — making it second only to mortgage debt. Americans now owe more in student loan debt then credit card or automobile debt with the past 10 years showing a staggering 511 percent increase.
“Many have tried to down play these facts or flat out deny there is a student loan debt crisis. They argue borrowers should take personal responsibility for what they owe and not look for a bail out from the government.
“Borrowers should bear responsibility for their loan obligations but it’s just wrong to say there isn’t a crisis or to somehow suggest that because these Americans chose to get a good education they should be saddled with a lifetime of debt.”
Rep. Bass has introduced a bill that would forgive federal loan debt of up to $45,000, provided the borrower has made payments consistently. She’s also enlisted the help of celebrity financial guru Suze Orman, who supports the proposed legislation.
Bass's editorial begins below:
If I've heard it once I've heard it a thousand times from my Republican colleagues: we have to stop passing debt onto the backs of future generations. There's plenty of room to debate how best to achieve that goal but not enough attention is being given to the crushing debt being placed on the backs of future generations from student loans.
Last month marked the one year anniversary of student loan debt crossing the $1 trillion mark -- making it second only to mortgage debt. Americans now owe more in student loan debt then credit card or automobile debt with the past 10 years showing a staggering 511 percent increase.
Many have tried to down play these facts or flat out deny there is a student loan debt crisis. They argue borrowers should take personal responsibility for what they owe and not look for a bail out from the government.
Borrowers should bear responsibility for their loan obligations but it's just wrong to say there isn't a crisis or to somehow suggest that because these Americans chose to get a good education they should be saddled with a lifetime of debt.
Ask any student loan borrower struggling to land their first job or who is underpaid in their current job and they will tell you the hardships they face making their student loan payments each month -- living proof that the crisis is real.
If their pleas aren't enough then perhaps a recent report from The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will help to quiet the skeptics. The report pointed out many young borrowers are refraining from making purchases that could benefit the broader economy such as homes or automobiles because paying down student loans will likely claim huge amounts of their income.
Given that the majority of the debt is owed by borrowers over the age of 30, delaying these big purchases to pay back increasing student loan costs can have long term impacts that undermine our economic growth.
Still not convinced? Perhaps the Department of Education's claim that over 13 percent of borrowers will default on their student loans within three years of entering repayment might change your mind.
If I still haven't gotten your attention then let's talk about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finding that there are now more than $8.1 billion in defaulted private student loans and even more in delinquency. A survey from the bureau found that thousands of students didn't understand the full cost of their loans or the risks they assumed when they took out those loans to pay for college.
Still don't believe? How about a recent TransUnion credit report study which noted that more than half of student loans are in deferred status with deferred loans representing almost 45 percent of all student loan balances.
Read more at Rep. Bass’ official website.
- Created on 07 May 2013
Last week, I had to make one of the most difficult announcements of my life—I told my family that I liked women, err, love women. Not knowing how my mother would react, I was relieved when she looked at me and said, “Boy, I knew that all along.”
My brothers and sisters all said that my coming out of the shadows and announcing that I am heterosexual would not change how they felt about me and that they would stand with me when all the media requests began to come in for me to be interviewed.
I knew I was heterosexual and liked women ever since I was a small child, but I have always been afraid to come out publically because I was taught that some things are to be kept private and discussed on a need to know basis.
Now that I have come out of the closet, I hope I can get special laws passed that will allow me to walk up to women in the workplace, as well as total strangers, and let them know that I am heterosexual.
Now that I no longer have to keep my sexual preference to myself, I feel so relieved of the burden I have been carrying throughout my life.
Now that I have come out of the shadows and can be who I really am, I hope that I can become a member of the homosexual church choir that my friend belongs to, despite the stipulation that open heterosexuals are not allowed to join. If I keep my heterosexually hidden and no one finds out, I could possibly join the choir.
But why should I have to hide who I am? That is not fair and it’s discriminatory. My homosexual friends want to force the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) to change its policy of not admitting homosexuals, atheists, or agnostics into the scouts; but not one of my homosexual friends are willing to join with me to fight my being excluded from their choir simply because I have publically come out as heterosexual. Anyone who doesn’t accept me for being heterosexual, must be heterophobic, a bigot, and hateful.
As a businessman, I am involved with several chambers of commerces; so now that I am out of the closet, I wanted to join and have my business certified by The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) so I could become more marketable to corporate America.
According to their website: “The NGLCC certifies lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender-owned businesses as Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) and works to provide opportunities for LGBTBEs to build relationships and gain exposure within corporate procurement processes. Certification through the NGLCC Supplier Diversity Initiative (SDI) offers the opportunity for LGBT-owned businesses to make connections with America’s top corporations and each other.
By becoming certified, LGBTBEs enhance their business visibility with corporations seeking to do business with LGBT suppliers. Corporate partners can search for certified LGBTBEs through our exclusive LGBT supplier database as well as meet face-to-face with potential suppliers at NGLCC SDI matchmaking and networking events, which are held across the country throughout the year…”
I was told that I had to be homosexual in order to join. Again, per their website, the criteria for membership is: “Is your business at least 51% owned, operated, managed, and controlled by an LGBT person, or persons who are either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, exercise independence from any non-LGBT business enterprise, have its principal place of business (headquarters) in the United States, have been formed as a legal entity in the United States?”
What I find interesting is they wouldn’t tell me on the phone nor is it indicated on their website how they prove that you are homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered.
So, let me make sure I understand, they want the Boy Scouts of America to be forced to accept homosexual kids and adults; but yet, because I have come out as openly heterosexual, I can’t be certified by them as an LGBT business.
This is discrimination to the highest heavens. I am considering a lawsuit against them because I think the federal courts should force them to accept me and my lifestyle choices (despite them being a private organization). I have a right to join their organization. America should stand with me in my pursuit of chamber equality.
My God, this is the 21st century and yet a heterosexual still can’t join a homosexual group. I am hoping that I to, like Jason Collins (the homosexual NBA player), will get a call from President Obama. I to, hope that I can get saturated news coverage for a whole two days. I to hope Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton, and Michelle Obama will give me a shout out on twitter.
I am brave and courageous for admitting that I like women and I think that all Americans who believe in equality should join with me for my civil rights. Where is the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the Congressional Black Caucus?
Do I not deserve dignity as much as homosexuals? I have lived my life in the shadows for far too long. Can you imagine living your whole life privately as a heterosexual? Just think of the trauma I have faced walking down the street and people not knowing if I were heterosexual or homosexual? No one should have to live their life like that. We are Americans and we are better than that.
So, I am asking Congress to launch an investigation to find out why no one is paying any attention to my coming out of the closet, why no media outlets are covering my declaration of my heterosexuality, and why homosexual groups refuse to allow me to join their organizations. How can we be the leader of the free world, but yet not give rights to heterosexuals? Our founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223
- Created on 08 May 2013
Although many networks continue to pretend that people on both sides of the political aisle are equally nasty toward each other in the name of
patronization balance, leave it to the National Rifle Association to blow such silly folklore to smithereens. This week, the Rev. Al Sharpton took shots at what he dubbed “The Right-Wing Horror P
- Created on 07 May 2013
The Obama administration is preparing for an expansion of U.S. military involvement into areas from which it should keep its nose clear: Syria and Mali. The news reports are unsettling even as there are attempts by the administration to assure the U.S. public that all is well and that there is no intention for a grand military intervention.
In both cases we are witnessing civil wars unfold. In the case of Syria, it is not only a civil war—that began as peaceful protests—but there has been the active involvement of outside powers, including the states around the Arabian/Persian Gulf such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran. The brutality being committed by both sides has been widely reported and there remains a grave danger that this conflict will spill over into Lebanon, and perhaps Iraq.
In the case of Mali, an internal ethnic conflict exploded with a combination of a military coup ousting the country’s recognized leadership, along with the active intervention of Muslim jihadists from Algeria and other countries armed to the teeth with weapons that were let loose when the Qaddafi regime collapsed in Libya. This was compounded by the intervention of French forces to stop the advance of the jihadists.
The Obama administration is suggesting that they will more than likely provide military assistance to the armed opposition in Syria despite the fact that the armed opposition is a mixed bag that includes Al Qaeda elements, and similar such forces. While it is absolutely the case that the armed opposition are not exclusively jihadists, it is the case that this is a situation that can get very much out of control and is in need of political solution.
Much the same can be said about Mali where the underlying issues are not the jihadists but the combination of the military regime in Bamako and the ethnic conflicts in the country which include, but are not limited to, the demands of the Tuareg population in the north of the country. In the case of Mali, the Obama administration has announced that it will deploy military advisors but not combat troops.
Isn’t that how the Vietnam War started?
Each time that the U.S.A. places its nose into the internal affairs of sovereign countries it not only further destabilizes the situation, but ends up becoming bloodied, with the average soldier and tax payer paying the price. U.S. military involvement in Syria and Mali will simply not help. Should U.S. military assistance bolster the Syrian armed opposition, for instance, this will not guarantee stability, particularly since foreign involvement in civil wars regularly produces an unstable outcome which largely depends on foreigners to sustain. In Mali, U.S. military assistance will not, by itself, resolve both the question of political democracy or ethnic contradictions. That will necessitate political/diplomatic engagement along with significant economic assistance.
The default position for U.S. administrations seems to be, move to military intervention in order to ensure that there are governments that are compatible with the interests of Washington, D.C. This is always justified in the name of human rights and stability, regardless of the actual nature of the political force(s) we happen to be supporting at the time.
And now we hear it once again.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him at www.billfletcherjr.com.