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The Donald Sterling Scandal as a Minority Outreach Case Study

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I’m going to take another futile swing at the Eich controversy next week, and talk about why unlike many (most?) here I think there is a substantial and material difference between he and Donald Sterling. But as I was thinking about what I was going to say in that post my mind kept drifting back to what I am about to say in this one, so it seemed worth getting this off my chest first.

So let me say this:

The Donald Sterling scandal has presented the best microcosm I have ever seen to show conservatives why the GOP is repeatedly and successfully painted as bigots by their opposition, why their attempts to court non-white voters continues to fall on deaf ears, and — perhaps — how they might go about successfully reversing this trend for the future.

My guess is that I’ve followed the Sterling debacle more closely than most here.  As regular readers know, I’m a huge NBA fan. (In my list of Things I Love Most in Life, it falls just below family and friends and right above ice cream and Wynton Marsalis.)  And after the career of Michael Jordan, Sterling’s ban probably ranks as the most significantly historic thing that has happened in the League in my entire lifetime.  Hell, it might be on my Mount Rushmore of all historic sports events in my lifetime.  I’m going to assume that there’s no need to go into the precise over-the-top racist comments Sterling made that set his ban in motion (you can see them here if you’re new to this party), so let me instead say again that he needed to be banned from the NBA in order for the league to survive.

2014-nba-allstar-starMore than any other American sport, the NBA is a black/players league.  I say “black” because over 70% of it’s all of its players are African American; indeed, well over 90% of its All-Stars over the past two decades have been black. I say “players” because while football, baseball and hockey build their leagues’ marketing around teams, the NBA has spent the past 30 years gearing all of its marketing around its individual celebrity stars.  If the current NBA owners, general managers, and executives all walked away from their franchises tomorrow, they League would be back up and running with billion-dollar TV revenue contracts within thirty days.  If the current players all walked away from the NBA and their contracts tomorrow and left their spots to those who just miss the cut to making teams right now, the League would be bankrupt in ninety.  So from a moral standpoint, your boss being caught saying what Sterling did about blacks is not that different from Sterling himself saying it.  From a business standpoint, however, it’s a million times worse.

628x471His own players were protesting; his coach was saying on the record that he refused to talk to Sterling.  The League’s two greatest stars of all time, Jordan and Magic Johnson, each said publically they would have nothing to do with Sterling’s team ever again. We now know that the team Sterling’s Clipper were to play the night after the NBA announced its ban — the Golden State Warriors — were planning on walking off the court at tip off that night, had the NBA not brought the hammer down with sufficient force.  It appears that players from every other team were all talking about doing the same in the middle of the playoffs, the NBA’s biggest revenue time of the year.  Clippers fans were preparing to no-show for Clippers game.  The franchise lost every single one of its corporate sponsors, and there was no doubt that would spread to the entire league if they gave Sterling a pass.

The NBA absolutely did the right thing and I believe it deeply wanted to do so, but make no mistake: they had no choice.  Had they not, the league’s very future would have been thrown into jeopardy.

I’ll get back to this point later, but for now it’s worth stopping to note not only the “whys” of Sterling’s ouster, but also the “hows.”

No government body was called in to take charge.  Eric Holder did not sic his Justice Department dogs on Sterling.  Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton did not hold center court in the media to shine a spotlight that the NBA was sweeping under the rug.  While Sterling’s comments — and his far more egregious actions as a slumlord — were a stark and shocking revelation of the how far we still have to go as a country when it comes to race, the NBA’s quick and universal response served as a reminder of how far we have come.  The League’s players, owners, employees, vendors, customers and fans galvanized together almost instantly, adopting the cry “We Are One.”

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five

This is important.

After all, the mechanism behind Sterling’s ban is exactly what conservatives have been claiming to champion whenever racism becomes a public issue.  “The government can’t fix racism,” they are always saying.  “If you leave it to the market, overt racists will go out of business.  People will refuse to buy their product, and quality employees will refuse to work for them.  Business partners they rely on won’t want their own brand tarnished, and will sever those relationships.  Terrible racists simply won’t be able to compete.  Leave it to the customers, employees, and business partners, and leave government out.”  In the case of Donald Sterling’s ban and upcoming forced sale, this is exactly what happened.

This, then, is the backdrop conservative pundits had to work with, less than a week after the anti-government rancher they had championed revealed himself to be (oops!) pro-slavery: A perfect, slow underhand lob of a pitch, right across the plate, begging to be knocked out of the park with declarations of how the Free Market won and defeated racism more completely than the government ever could — just like the GOP always promised it would.  Frank Lutz couldn’t have come up with a better opportunity to reach out to minorities if he’d scripted the entire universe itself.

So, what did they do?

After a brief stint at condemning him when they mistakenly thought he was a registered Democrat, one of two things:  They defended Donald Sterling, or they sat silent as their colleague defended him.

sterling-limbaugh-410The most famous instance of this, of course, is Rush Limbaugh.  Limbaugh has come out with two separate conspiracy theories to explain Sterling’s NBA demise, and it’s telling that each of them revolve around the eeeevil Shylock-ian mechanizations of black men.  The most recent, as reported by our own Elias Isquith over at Slate, is that Sterling was set up by Magic Johnson in an attempt to wrestle control of his franchise. (Limbaugh’s first — and surreally predictable — conspiracy theory claimed that the entire affair was orchestrated by Obama, because of course it was.)

Right behind Limbaugh came the Daily Caller’s Patrick Howley, who immediately took to the air to demand that Magic Johnson’s role in the conspiracy be fully investigated.  Nationally known conservative and one-time executive director of South Carolina’s GOP Todd Kincannon[1] quickly followed and one-upped everyone, by not only sending out a series of tweets defending Sterling and fingering Johnson,

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but also working in a classy AIDS joke at Magic’s expense at the same time:

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While neither Julian Sanchez nor the National Review denied that Sterling was a racist, they did take the time to paint him as the victim.  (The National Review said Sterling’s plight was the same as a young woman whose boyfriend takes secret pictures of her nude, then posts them online after a breakup.  Because why settle for just alienating the African-American vote, when you can also alienate the women’s vote at the same time?)  Fox News, too, appears to now be toying with the Sterling-As-Victim meme. (Natch.)

Now, it should be noted that even though there are other examples scattered throughout the Right-Wing’s media machine (such as here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), Sterling’s defenders fall well short of a majority within that echo chamber.  Also, there was one famous liberal pundit who came out painting Sterling as a victim: HBO talk show host Bill Maher. Given that, conservatives are asking once again: why are they the ones that will walk away from this debacles looking like the bad guys to non-white America?

It’s a good question, and its answer holds the key to the GOP being able to become a viable option for non-white voters in the future: Conservatives — and the GOP — has to do a better job of condemning these things when they occur.

After it came out that Sterling is in fact a Republican, the only conservative voices that were willing to continue talking about the story were those defending him.  I googled for a while looking for writers on Breitbart, Daily Caller, RedState, PJMedia, Fox, the Blaze, and other conservative opinion generators to see who was willing to take on Limbaugh, Howley, Kincannon, or any of the other knuckleheads who are using Sterling’s ban to trade ratings and page hits for the GOP’s national electability, and found nothing.  So while it’s true that the Sterling defenders are a small voice within the media machine, they’re also the only voice.

The irony here is that, as I noted above, conservatives actually had a real opportunity to count Sterling’s ban as a win and begin to court minority voters.  Limbaugh, the Daily Caller, Breitbart, and every other conservative pundit painting Donald Sterling as the real victim should be celebrating his ban as a confirmation of The Market doing what they always promised The Market would do.  Instead, they trip over themselves to declare the terrible, offensive racist as the true casualty of racism.  And those pundits who don’t declare it sit on their hands and let those others define their movement as such.  Conservatives spent all day Saturday reporting, posting, and tweeting away that they believed Donald Sterling was a Democrat, but not one of them will take two seconds today to say that Rush Limbaugh is talking out of his ass or that there’s no place in the South Carolina GOP for people like Todd Kincannon.

That is why conservatives are always so successfully painted as bigots by their opponents.  That is why the stink of Cliven Bundys sticks to them even when they try hard to separate themselves.  That is why they can’t win a state or national election that requires a majority of non-white votes.  That is why, when conservatives actually do throw “Minority Outreach Parties,” nobody shows up.

 

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Say what you will about the institutional racism embedded in the Democratic Party — and there is a lot of it — had a Blue-State operative tweeted what Kincannon did at breakfast he’d have been condemned, chewed up, spit out, and forced to publicly apologize by his party an hour before lunch.  But with conservative pundits, you almost have a sense that since they don’t pay much attention to what goes on in the black community, they assume that the black community never pays attention to whatever offensive statement they or their colleagues make about the black community.

I can already hear conservatives I know objecting, “but when any conservative pundit or politician, big or small, says something racist, liberals shout it out to the world!”  To which I reply: “Well no s**t. So do something about it.  Like maybe: condemn those guys first and loudest.  If that’s a bridge too far, then try baby steps: when other pundits defend terrible racist remarks, call them out on it.”

It’s not rocket science, GOP.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.  If you’re a conservative pundit, blogger or politician, it’s not too late: You can call out Limbaugh, The Daily Caller and everyone else for defending Sterling right now.  And then you can keep doing it, every time something like this happens.  I’ll even let you in on a little secret, GOP: Black people, Hispanics and women?  They actually read things.  They don’t just do whatever the DNC tells them to do.  If you begin to change, you won’t even have to create ridiculous “outreach programs” and TV ads — minorities will notice all on their own. And in time, they’ll even consider listening to your messages of fiscal responsibility and limited government.  Eventually, they’ll even consider voting for you.

But you better believe this, GOP: You need to stand up to this s**t in your own backyard first, or you can kiss the next several national elections goodbye.

 

[1] It’s worth pointing out why Todd Kincannon is a nationally known Republican, because it isn’t his stellar legislative victories (which don’t exist) or his resume highlights as a conservative protester, parliamentarian, or executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party (which do).

Rather, he’s drawn national attention to himself by saying such delightful things such as transgendered people should be put in concentration camps, or that Texas Rep. Wendy Davis must have “gone through a lot of knee pads” to graduate from Harvard.  And what the hey — since we’re on the subject of the GOP being painted as racists, we’ll also point out that he makes Super Bowl commentary like this.

 

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147 thoughts on “The Donald Sterling Scandal as a Minority Outreach Case Study

  1. But if conservatives do this, then white people whold hold (conscious or unconscious) racist attitudes won’t vote Republican.

    Racism, Islamophobia anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-science attitudes, sexism and homophobia are the raison d’etre of the republican party right now. If you’re going to give up those things, you might as well vote for Evan Bayh or Nelson or Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama. You know, someone who could be called a traditional centrist conservative.

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  2. I mean D’s and libertarians can be homophobic, racist, anti-science, or whatever too on rare occasions.

    But the whole point of American conservatism and the R party is to service these ends. You seem shocked by this.

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  3. Yes, if only prominent Republican figures like Mitt Romney and Scott Brown and Mitch McConnell and Reince Priebus had called for Todd Akin to drop out of the race after his mumblemouthing about rape and pregnancy.

    Oh wait, they all did say that?

    Whatever, they’re still a bunch of old white racist rich men.

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    • I’m a bit confused here- what does the Akin case have to do with racism? Although there’s a good deal of overlap between anti-racism and anti-mysogyny, the two are different issues. It is entirely possible for someone to believe that all men are created equal and really mean only men, or for a feminist to entirely discount women of color. Sadly, it’s not even that rare.

      In other words, it’s possible that Mitt Romney, Scott Brown,Mitch McConnell or Reince Priebus could be supportive of women and racist old men. Or the opposite. The two are far from mutually exclusive.

      I’m glad the to see Republicans stand for women- if they continue to do so consistently, they’ll gradually lose their reputation for mysogyny. Tod’s point is that here was a terrific opportunity for them to do the same for African Americans, and they totally whiffed.

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      • “I’m a bit confused here- what does the Akin case have to do with racism? ”

        It doesn’t. It’s just what he posts anytime anyone says anything critical of the GOP.

        Think of it as a catch-all argument that translates as “I know you are but what am I.”

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      • “Tod’s point is that here was a terrific opportunity for them to do the same for African Americans, and they totally whiffed.”

        Tod’s point is “this is how you deal with unacceptable opinions! With fire, and rains of toads, and barbed flails to scourge the sinner! All must join in the stoning, none can stand aside, there is no middle ground! And if the Republicans would only do this, then they’d get more black people to vote for them!”

        And I’m replying that this is demonstrably untrue.

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      • Look, the GOP once got rid of someone for saying something untoward about someone who wasn’t a white male, and black people, Hispanic people, and women still don’t vote for them in droves, therefore it is demonstrably untrue that if Republicans were quicker to distance themselves from racists, they could more easily court the votes of racial minorities and white women. The logic is unassailable.

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  4. Republicans really ought to know that the Left will cheer for them, if they get their heads out of their collective asses. The blogs that provide insightful criticism will get liberal traffic too, even if they aren’t going to agree with them always.

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      • The left has a material investment in the racism of the right. As long as the right is racist, they get a whole lot of allegiance from a whole lot of people without having to do much for it. There’s also a psychological benefit of having a racist right to contrast themselves with.

        Had the Republicans responded to this like Tod suggests, I would expect to hear about how they’re just mad for saying aloud what they only say in code. Maybe shifting the conversation some other way to stick to the narrative.

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      • This seems to be an another right-wing meme/troop. The left needs welfare and racism to keep people voting for it….

        It never seems to occur to the right-wing or libertarian-wing that many people (including non-welfare recipients) can honestly and sincerely believe that the universal healthcare, regulations that promote safety and security, and other welfare state measures are proper, moral, and ethical purposes for civil government to be engaged in.

        Maybe people don’t believe in that mythic need for “rugged individualism” or every person as a yeoman.

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      • Had the Republicans responded to this like Tod suggests, I would expect to hear about how they’re just mad for saying aloud what they only say in code. Maybe shifting the conversation some other way to stick to the narrative.

        Well, that was the funniest thing about Bundy. Near laughed my ass off. But yes, partisans will always spin, it’s a process and there isn’t an end point when it comes to politics.

        I go back to Abdul Jabbar’s point, which is ethical and moral, the wrong was done a long time ago, and this was a disgusting way to make things right. (I worry it reaffirms stereotypes about black women.) It’s not what he said to his mistress that was wrong, however. Normal standards of privacy protected him from behavior that should have been condemned a long time earlier. And he got to buy off his conscience by making donations to the NAACP. I’m glad they took his money, I hope they do good things with it, create a few jobs even, and I agree that Sterling doesn’t deserve an award for assuaging his conscience and trying to buy good will where he’s not owed any.

        But I do wonder if he deserves the consideration of an old person who’s developing dementia; I hope we don’t commit elder abuse on Sterling. And that’s the end of my sympathy.

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      • I have to say, I largely agree with here. Unlike Kim (or Shaz above — or even Saul from a few days ago) I don’t buy into this narrative that the left/bluestate/Dens are “almost entirely free of racism” (or that left racism is “rare,” or whatever descriptor).

        Ta-Nehisi has a great piece today on the difference between ugly racism and (as he calls it) elegant racism that I think is pretty spot on. “Blue” cities are pretty damned steeped in institutional racism, and one of the things the GOP provides for Dems today is the ability to refuse careful self-examination without political consequences. It’s easy not to have to answer to the kind of housing and incarceration issues you yourself are perpetuating (and even creating) when you have Donald Sterlings and Cliven Bundys (or Rush Limbaughs and Todd Kincannons) standing holding up giant signs that say LOOK AT ME I’M A HUGE RACIST!!!!

        I think most white dems believe that minorities love dems and would stick with them forever no matter what. I think the reality is that minorities really hate the GOP, and if the GOP were to ever convince them they could offer a better path to ending white supremacy they would be more than happy to tell the dems to go fish themselves.

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      • I agree that there are plenty of racists in the Democratic Party and among Democratic voters and the TNC article is spot-on. The racism I hear a lot in cities can be whites against minorities but it can also be minority groups making racist and derogatory remarks against other minority groups. Asian people saying racist remarks against Blacks and vice-versa which makes things more complicated.

        Perhaps it is separate from racism but it often seems to gobsmack Republicans that people might honestly believe in the welfare state or that people vote for the Democratic Party for a wide-variety of reasons and not just welfare checks. The GOP seemed rather gobsmacked about this at the end of 2012. Someone at NRO had an article that was all about sincere shock over how the Democratic Party uses welfare as heroin or something like that.

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      • , I’m pretty sure what Delta Devil was saying, and he or she can correct me if I’m wrong of course, was that the left (by which I assume he means the mainstream American political left, i.e. liberals/Democrats/”progressives”) has an investment in the “right‘s” racism, not in society’s racism. The contrast between the “left” and the “right,” on this dimension, allows Democrats to get black and Hispanic votes without doing a whole hell of a lot for black people and Hispanic people, simply because the Democrat’s almost completely blank slate contrasts so starkly with the Republican’s failure-covered record, a record that includes no small amount of overtly racist shit (like, say, voter suppression these days).

        I mean, look at Obama on immigration. What has he done? Deport a whole hell of a lot of people, more than his predecessor in fact. He certainly hasn’t done much to help immigrants from Latin America. But he doesn’t openly vilify immigrants, so hey, he looks better than the opposition. And what have the Democrats at state or federal levels done to increase opportunities for black people? I mean, what have they actively done? Do they have to do anything? No, of course not, because Republicans will shoot themselves in the foot every time an issue connected to race comes up. Every single time.

        The best thing that could possibly happen, on a political level, for members of minority groups in the U.S., is for the Republicans to get their act together so that the two sides have to actually compete for black and Hispanic votes. The Republicans show know signs of joining the game, though, so for the foreseeable future, the Democrats can just sit on their asses knowing that when election time comes, they’ll get 90+% of the black vote and 2/3 to 3/4 of the Hispanic vote, and in combination with white women, win more votes than Republicans nation-wide (hamstrung only by gerrymandering, which again, see Republican feet shooting).

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      • If I get some time and can fit it into a comment I will tell you all about when my oldest boy came home from school and announced that he decided he was Republican. For a while there was a Bush/Cheney ’04 tacked to his wall. It’s practically a lame sitcom plot that writes itself, but might provide some insight into the relationship or lack of relationship between “conservative” blacks and the GOP.

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      • “I know people who relish in the right’s boneheadedness on some of these issues. It’s… odd.”

        odd? don’t you want to win? (whatever winning happens to be for whichever person)

        there is no god but the sports bar. remember that, and all shall be clear.

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      • Chris, Obama actually has done as much as could for immigrants. At least he has done as much as possible that doesn’t involve Congress passing legislation. For instance the DACA program or encourging ICE and DHS to engage in more prosecutorial discretion when it comes with dealing with immigrants. Obama also instituted the I-601A program. This allows immigrants to get their unlawful presence waived while still in the United States and shortens the amount of time they need to wait for an immigrant visa in their own country. Basically you get the visa and waivers approved in the United States, return to your home country and get the actual visa, and come back. It works.

        The real issue with Obama and immigration is anything more concrete is going to require Congressional legislation and that is not going to happen.

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      • Chris,
        Obama’s ensured that fewer Hispanic slaves get murdered for making trouble (through better law enforcement), at the same time that he’s increasing the number of slaves in America (through Obamacare).

        Call it a wash?

        Delta,
        I remember littlegreenfootballs as one of the places that was giving some serious pushback to the Islamophobic Right. Bear in mind, this is six years later. Good acts like that do give you some competitive advantage (particularly when you’re dealing with liberals, who tend to like to hear other sides of matters, even when they disagree).

        Lee,
        Anyone who champions a law that manifestly creates more slaves hasn’t done everything he can for immigrants. And that’s regardless of whether or not you like Obamacare in general.

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      • Chris,
        Obamacare to a large extent is raising the cost of employing people legally. Thus, you’re seeing an increase in illegal employment of all stripes.
        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-20/shadow-economy-shows-joblessness-less-than-meets-u-s-eye.html

        Underground economy has doubled — from 4% to 8% of GDP (starting from around 2008 or so).

        Now, not all of that is outright slavery — a lot of it is entrepreneurs taking money under the table. A lot of it is drugs (and wherever you don’t have a monopsony, it’s silly to call that slavery).

        But you also have the corporations who run on illegal employment, on workers that can be forced to work long hours for little pay (well under our legal minimum) — and workers that can’t leave the job and move to another one.

        And more corporations are moving factories into that category.

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      • Obamacare to a large extent is raising the cost of employing people legally. Thus, you’re seeing an increase in illegal employment of all stripes.

        (starting from around 2008 or so).

        That’s not even a post hoc ergo propter hoc.

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      • Patrick,
        if you don’t like my sources, feel free to disagree with them.
        Obamacare was not the only reason for an increase in the underground economy, but it was visible from a long ways away (note: not that health care has managed to do anything with the long-term visibility, due to the regs being vague and ill-defined until a lot closer to zero-hour)

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      • The best thing that could possibly happen, on a political level, for members of minority groups in the U.S., is for the Republicans to get their act together

        That sentence could basically have ended right there. In fact, you can remove ‘, for members of minority groups in the U.S.’ from that.

        I actually find it incredibly annoying how seriously right-wing nonsense has screwed up the left in this country. 80% of them are running so far to the right they shouldn’t even count as moderates, and all any of them has to do is not do or say stupid things. (The ones that can still get elected, that is. Most can’t, thanks to gerrymandering.)

        The left is the embers of a party. Tiny little flickers somewhere of life, occasionally sparks show up, but they have trouble making it past *the left*. And of course they can’t push the policies past the right, but, dammit, it should be ‘The left has a lot of good ideas and runs into right stupidity, so vote for them.’, not ‘The left doesn’t propose mandatory vaginal ultrasounds, so vote for them.’, which is, incidentally, a bar set *so* impossibly low that it’s astonishing the right appears to have missed it.

        In the war of ideas, it’s like we’re in a footrace, and the left is old and very slow and has been living off fast food…and the right is entering actual corpses. Just sorta tossing them out there at the start, seeing if any of them will roll to the finish line. ‘Winning’ in that scenernio does not actually require new ideas, it just literally requires not being dead and rotting.

        The left needs an actual opposition party. Having an actual opposition party, *even if the left wasn’t currently in charge*, would be better for the left than this nonsense of having to fight the decaying corpse of the right.

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      • In the war of ideas, it’s like we’re in a footrace, and the left is old and very slow and has been living off fast food…and the right is entering actual corpses. Just sorta tossing them out there at the start, seeing if any of them will roll to the finish line.

        Awesome.

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  5. 1. I think the internet has created a decently large (or at least large enough) portion of political ideologists (in both parties) who are addicted to gotcha politics. Research shows that gotcha and outrage bring in more cash and campaign donations than positive news. So something like this is almost too hard to resist.

    2. The Silent Majority theme/meme is a strong one and probably one that it is impossible to break. Nixon and his speech team did conservatives a solid with this phrase. They can always comfort themselves with this belief even when they are in the minority and their ideas are not popular.

    3. Almost all of American politics can be explained by The Paranoid Style in American Politics. The opposition is a shadowy and evil cabal. Your side is the one of Angels.

    4. I’ve been thinking about the future of liberalism and conservatism lately. There are people in the GOP who realize that the current environment does nothing but turn off anyone under 40 from the Republican Party. This is why the head of the Kansas Senate tabled the religious exemption bill. She knew it would destroy the party if it passed and said so. The problem is that the GOP’s death is going to be a very slow one with surges of being in the majority that let them delay the inevitable for a long time. The GOP is almost certain to do pretty well in 2014 for a variety of reasons. None of these reasons show that the public likes GOP ideas but human denial powers are strong and political ideologues are still human. Sasha Issenberg noted in the New Republic that Generation X is much more conservative than the Millennial Generation. I was born inn 1980. This makes me the last year of Gen X or the first year of the Millennial Generation. I have a few theories about why this is true (namely that a good chunk of Gen X was old enough to have warm fuzzies over Reagan).
    Yet this lows the GOP to pick low-hanging fruit and stay on their current path for a long time and kick the reckoning down the road.

    Also despite evidence and research people still think that people grow conservative as they get older, start families, and have kids. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they think the first mortgage will automatically create a new class of anti-gay marriage, anti-choice, church going Republicans.

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      • one of the allegations flying around in this muck is that V. threatened to release the tape as blackmail in response to being sued by Sterling’s wife for a return of marital properties Sterling gave to V. or against allegations of theft (which may be the same property or different property, I’m unclear). I presumes this meant she recorded the tape to blackmail away the law suit or charges.

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    • Okay. That is not what I thought Kim meant by blackmail. There is a seeming tendency in American politics to view everything or almost everything has a Manichean struggle between good and evil. Good is always your side, bad is the opposition. Everything is described in very apocalyptic terminology. If your side is the one that looks bad, you call for a conspiracy.

      Hoffstadter noted that both sides do it but the right seems to be under a never ending lock of it since the post-WWII era.

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      • Saul,
        I find it’s better to ask who isn’t blackmailed, than who is. The DC Madam was a pretty smart cookie, if you know what I mean? And it’s in a lot of folks best interest to have the folks in DC (at least the important ones, no one’s bothered with Bernie) with a few strings attached.

        Not that these strings are used often, mind you. Sticks and carrots — blackmail’s just the final stick.

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    • ” The problem is that the GOP’s death is going to be a very slow one with surges of being in the majority that let them delay the inevitable for a long time. ”

      And they’ve got a lock on a number of state governments, and a much freer hand in voter suppression. That buys a lot of time.

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  6. On Tuesday, on “The Five”, they attempted to talk about the ban but ended up whining about the NAACP and their treatment of black conservatives.

    Is there a place to criticize the NAACP? Sure.
    Is there a place to criticize the NAACP’s LA chapter and their relationship with Sterling? Sure.
    Is there a place to criticize the NAACP’s treatment of black conservatives? Sure.

    Is that place when you are handed a softball as Tod describes? Nope.

    But they can’t help themselves. And that is the problem. They don’t see racism as a problem. At least, not as big as problem as they see a group like the NAACP. So when the pinatas fall, they instinctively whack at the NAACP one. Because they just can’t get over how much they hate the NAACP. And if you hate the NAACP — warts and all — more than you hate someone like Donald Sterling… well, you shouldn’t really wonder why black folk vote in the single digits for your people.

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    • What is the Five?

      I otherwise agree. There seems to be a certain category of man that needs to define masculinity by the lowest common denominator of pseudo-Spartan “toughness”. Said category automatically thinks it is feminine to be liberal and this is bad.

      These guys are cartoons.

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    • They don’t see racism as a problem. At least, not as big as problem as they see a group like the NAACP.

      Aaaaand there’s your problem: you don’t see racism as a problem, you don’t get minority votes. You don’t get minority votes, and therefore minority voices in your party, you don’t see racism as a problem. You don’t see racism as a problem, you don’t get minority votes. You don’t get minority votes, and therefore minority voices in your party, you don’t see racism as a problem. You don’t see racism as a problem…

      And so on.

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      • I don’t even think it’s that. I think if a good conservative put down a decent business in a black part of town, did a bit of community service (tax break!), and had a decent narrative, he could probably get elected. As a Democrat, probably, but still…

        You need to show that you care about black people, and that you know how to help (everyone loves the narrative, I know how to help small businesses because I ran one).

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    • “Is that place when you are handed a softball as Tod describes? Nope.

      But they can’t help themselves. And that is the problem. ”

      That’s the point that Tod almost, but doesn’t get. Given an obvious situation, the GOP and the base didn’t see the problem. That’s not just blowing an opportunity, it’s not seeing a problem in the first place.

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  7. As I said in response to Sam’s post, you are conflating two separate forms of argument when you lump what Julian Sanchez said in with the rest of those fairly boilerplate reactionary responses. Part of the problem lies in the nature of the word victim. We tend to equate being a victim with being not at fault, but it’s not necessarily so. It is possible that Sterling can be the victim of a breach of privacy and at the same time be deserving of everything that resulted from that breach.

    Another fanciful analogy. Let’s say Bob the Bank Robber robs a bank, shooting a teller and two customers in the process, and flees the scene. The police are pursuing, but Bob is about to elude them and escape justice when he crosses the street at a green light and is struck by a drunk driver. It would be a purely factual statement and a correct statement to say that Bob is the victim of a drunk driver, while at the same time we might all think that Bob got exactly what he deserves. To express concern, however, about drunk driving in this context is wholly understandable. In this instance, drunk driving may have done the world a favor, but more often than not it doesn’t.

    In the larger point, you are correct. Many contemporary conservatives only seem to care about classical liberal values in so far as they protect straight, white, Christian Americans. And that is a huge issue with the the contemporary conservative movement. However, someone like Sanchez ought to have enough credibility on the record that you should recognize that he is coming from a different place. Again, the classical liberal/libertarian argument for maximizing privacy and tolerance of intolerable views is not the same as the reactionary/conservative argument for protecting the traditional against the encroachment of the other. If you want to offer a valid criticism against the former, fine, but you should note the difference.

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    • In a world where rapes are recorded and posted online, kvetching about this small breach of privacy seems… almost like missing the point. But, in the event that Sanchez has made as big a deal about abuse of privacy in regards to rape as he does in this situation, I will grant that we ought to consider him as beating the same old dead horse, rather than actively supporting racism.

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    • Sterling is certainly a victim of a breach of privacy. Not all the info is in, but it seems pretty likely, anyway.

      That is a conversation to be had. I don’t know that it’s the conversation that needs to be had right now, and certainly it’s… like… the least cogent example of a breach of privacy given the context and the million other examples you could bring to the table.

      So when the tongue clucking comes out about the breach of privacy, it’s kinda hard *not* to see it as an attempt at distraction, even if it isn’t. I’ll give J.S. credit for being consistent on privacy, but… bad timing.

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      • The facts of how the recording was made would be interesting.

        She offers to get him more juice, so I assume they were in the same room together, that it wasn’t a phone recording.

        I’ve read that she frequently recorded things for him because he was having trouble with his memory, truth or truthiness undetermined. But if that’s the case, unless she’d signed some sort of contract protecting his privacy, I would have to know CA law to determine if it constituted anything beyond a perceived ethical breech. At some point here, her role as a potential whistleblower might merit examination.

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      • “Sterling is certainly a victim of a breach of privacy. Not all the info is in, but it seems pretty likely, anyway.”

        This is actually an old story – the wife, mistress or business partner wanted some ‘leverage’. It’s just far easier now.

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    • Mostly what says right above, but I’ll add this:

      If Julian’s #1 take away from this whole thing is that we should mind our own bee’s wax, then sure, I give him points for consistency. But I think that *having* that be your #1 take away makes it as likely a candidate for my point as the other things I posted. They all kind of fall into the same category when we’re talking minority outreach: the “Why can’t they just see that my own perspective is so much more better for them than their own” perspective.

      And, ya know, you can run with that as the way to appeal to minorities if you want. Good luck.

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      • Am I reading this correctly, that your argument against Sanchez is that he isn’t prioritizing correctly and that he isn’t making the “right” points?

        If so, then I guess we are just at a fundamental disagreement. There is always an excuse to downplay individual rights. A commitment to a liberal society is hard, precisely because, there is always something ostensibly more important at stake.

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      • Am I reading this correctly, that your argument against Sanchez is that he isn’t prioritizing correctly and that he isn’t making the “right” points?”

        No. This post was not intended to be a ranking of what issues should be important to you or to Julian.

        The point of this post — and frankly I can’t believe I could have made it any more clear; it was stated over an over through the essay, it was how it was described in the teaser bulb, it was stated unambiguously in the *title* — was why the right is becoming an caressingly all-white affair and what steps it needs to take in order to become nationally viable in a future that needs non-white votes.

        As for the rest, I don’t know what to say. If a post on the right’s inability to attract and hang onto non-white voters is of no interest to you, then my post will have little interest.

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      • I think you’re mistaking Tod’s post as an observation about what is or is not important.

        I don’t read the post that way. He’s writing about optics, the GOP, and minority outreach. In that context, the breach of privacy isn’t really relevant as anything but a distraction and indeed from the perspective of minority outreach it appears to be exactly backwards.

        That doesn’t mean that privacy isn’t important.

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      • perhaps there’s a nuance missing, I’m not sure how to properly weave the snag I see back into the tapestry, but privacy — Sterling’s privacy — allowed him to get away with racism. It’s not until that veil is ripped away that there’s the tools to hand to address that racism. So while removing that veil might have been wrong, it also revealed a wrong of long standing.

        In context of minority voters, I’d imagine there’s some desire for more veil ripping before support is offered. And I think this frightens conservatives, hence the empty conference room pictured in the OP. The medicine tastes bad.

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      • “was why the right is becoming an caressingly all-white affair and what steps it needs to take in order to become nationally viable in a future that needs non-white votes.”

        Well, I think Sanchez is only a creature of ‘the right’ insofar as he doesn’t subscribe to any of the left of center economic agenda. I also don’t think he has much interest in making the right or libertarianism less of an all-white affair – he doesn’t have much interest in making it *more* of an all-white affair either. He’s simply not, in my experience, in the business of political coalition building, except for getting subscribers to his own pet (not to diminish them) issues, the foremost of which is privacy. (and has been for the near decade I’ve been reading his work)

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  8. Jim Geraghty made almost this exact same point.

    If the Righty world’s primary or loudest response to Sterling is to say, “well, what about Harry Reid’s ‘negro’ comments, huh? Or how about Robert Byrd? You’re all just a bunch of hypocrites!” then some African-Americans may conclude that Republicans are more upset about the hypocrisy of the Left on race than actual racism. They may even be right.

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  9. The GOP punditocracy and wave after wave of GOP candidates remain in thrall to Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment. This may have been a good thing for the party overall in 1980.

    It’s not 1980 anymore.

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    • Again, the gotcha politics which is about trying to get people to your side without offering them anything. Also ideology as the enemy., I am amazed at how many people just can’t adbide by the minimum wage existing even if it is popular. Everyone seems to think that every hill is a hill to die on.

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    • Wow, that’s a terrible article.

      “Despite more than doubling real per-pupil expenditures since the early 1970s”

      Okay, new rule.

      If you write an article regarding some fiscal something, and you use exactly one measure to show what you want to show, you get hit with a stick. Two and you get hit with a newspaper. Three or more and maybe, just maybe you might have something to talk about.

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    • I know it’s impossible for the left to be racist, but when minority parents ask for vouchers or charter schools because their local schools are failing, and the left tells them that’s not really what they need or want, then Tod’s reference to the “‘Why can’t they just see that my own perspective is so much more better for them than their own’ perspective” seems relevant. And maybe it’s conceivable how somebody could inadvertantly mistake that for racism.

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      • If public high schools in the inner city were of the same quality as in the exurbs and suburbs, those parents wouldn’t be asking for voucher or charter schools.The problem isn’t public schools, it’s decades upon decades of misappropriation of public funds thanks to the f’d up way we fund schools in this country. For some reason, the public schools get better the more white well-off people are around, just like suddenly, police and fire response times get better once areas of the city gentrify. Should we voucherize police in the inner city as well?

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      • If public high schools in the inner city were of the same quality as in the exurbs and suburbs, those parents wouldn’t be asking for voucher or charter schools.

        Of course there are parents in the exurbs and suburbs who do prefer to send their kids to private schools. I’m not sure whether you don’t know that, or whether you ignore it for rhetorical convenience, or whether you think minority parents would think differently than white parents.

        The problem isn’t public schools, it’s decades upon decades of misappropriation of public funds thanks to the f’d up way we fund schools in this country. For some reason, the public schools get better the more white well-off people are around,

        Yes, but what’s your real priority, public schools or good education for minority kids? Because as long as vouchers and charter schools are a political reality and better low-income public schools aren’t, you’re effectively holding minority kids’ education hostage until you get the solution you want. I support better public schools, too, but I think you’re wicked to do so. I’m not using “wicked” lightly, because you are both substituting your white middle class judgement for that of the low-income minority parents and making the substantive education of their kids secondary to the method by which it is delivered.

        Should we voucherize police in the inner city as well?

        No bad argument is complete without an obvious strawman.

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      • Actually, there’s plenty of evidence to show that the only thing charter schools and vouchers do is send public money to private origanizations who profit. Most of the “success stories” of various charter and voucher programs could’ve been just as successful in public schools.

        But, I’m not going to get into an argument over this. I’m a social democrat. I don’t believe we should be profitizing and privatizing the common good simply because there are areas of policy that aren’t working well.

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      • Actually, there’s plenty of evidence to show that the only thing charter schools and vouchers do is send public money to private origanizations who profit.

        “the only thing.” That is, of course, utter nonsense.

        Most of the “success stories” of various charter and voucher programs could’ve been just as successful in public schools.

        Settign aside the fact that you just rebutted your previous claim, yes, “could.” But weren’t. So by all means let’s not allow success to happen where it has, but not allow it and keep hoping that eventually it happens where we want it to.

        And all those kids in the meantime who get the lousy education while they’re waiting for us to make those success stories happen in the classroom? That’s solely the conservatives’ fault right? You social dems don’t bear any guilt at all just because you’re holding little kids hostage to your preferred forms.

        I’m a social democrat. I don’t believe we should be profitizing and privatizing the common good simply because there are areas of policy that aren’t working well.

        Thank you for so clearly supporting my claim that you care more about the form of education than the substantive outcome.

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      • James,
        fire your overlords. then we’ll talk.
        I don’t particularly appreciate stalking horses.

        Jesse,
        Hyperbole much? There are good charter schools, where schoolteachers are parents, and put all their heart and soul into making an awesome place to go to school.

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      • James,
        Kochs and their ilk. Folks more interested in not paying taxes than having an educated populace. I know that’s not your intent — I trust your motivations. Sadly, it’s real easy to see how one can get to a system where the only children taught well are in British-style public schools (just keep on cutting the vouchers — if the Republicans can cut the VA to the bone– and beyond, I’m pretty sure they can cut funding for poor children).

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      • James,
        on this issue, they’re the ones influencing the politicians through monetary donations, and influencing the public through sheer propaganda.

        If you can design a system of charters — or other more flexible schooling, and manage to keep the blatant embezzlers (ask for cite, if needed) and the people who aren’t genuinely interested in better education from convincing the “better” folks that the poor are either Unhelpable or Being Helped Too Much, I’m seriously game.

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      • they’re the ones influencing the politicians through monetary donations, and influencing the public through sheer propaganda.

        I’m not a politician, so you are claiming that I only support vouchers and/or charters because I’ve been propagandized by the Kochs?

        Is that your claim?

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  10. Not to downplay any of the racist aspects, but couldn’t some of the Republican and movement conservative reaction be credited to their knee-jerk “defend the employer” mindset? It hasn’t been that long since one of their own, speaking to the House Republican retreat, and explaining that the vast majority of the adults in the US want to be employees with a good job, not the employer, and that it might be good to think about policies that worked for employees as well as employers, got a very chilly reception indeed. Some of the attitude was summed up awfully well in the Sterling rant: “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?”

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    • “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?”

      Employees. Wives. Blacks. Minorities. Latinos. Non-Christians. WE give them everything, and they have the gall to whine.

      Not sure there’s a whole lot of difference there, actually. That’s the 47%, you know? The same behavioral habit reflected in several directions.

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      • “Not to downplay any of the racist aspects, but couldn’t some of the Republican and movement conservative reaction be credited to their knee-jerk “defend the employer” mindset? ”

        It all blends together. The master-servant relation ideal, the husband ruling wife relation ideal and the ideal of government being for the purpose of rewarding whites and punishing non-whites (and dissident believers) are all the same thing. Some may emphasize some aspects, but in the end it’s a unity. Read Corey Robin sometime.

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    • Not to downplay any of the racist aspects, but couldn’t some of the Republican and movement conservative reaction be credited to their knee-jerk “defend the employer” mindset?

      I suspect that played a roll, also. Not just “defend the employer”, but the actual possibility of NBA players just walking off. Aka, a strike. *plays dramatic chord*

      And there’s Tod Kelly’s possibility, of knee-jerk defense of anyone the left doesn’t like.

      It really was a stupid trifecta: Democrats are criticizing an old rich white guy. They say he was being racist. His employees have threatened to walk off.

      And they leap in saying ‘I’ll save you!’

      They forgot to actually check, at any point, whether this guy was *at all* sympathetic. Or whether what he said was so *clearly* racist that there’s no way to pretend he wasn’t, and in fact everyone already *knew* he was openly racist. Or whether the ’employees’ were, in fact, fricking famous basketball players that people love.

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  11. In Sam’s thread, Mark Thompson asked:

    Here’s a question – isn’t the freedom of association also bigger than the first amendment? And wasn’t Sterling directly attempting to interfere with his mistress’ freedom of association rather than simply expressing disapproval of it?

    I’d add a second question, based on the First Amendment: wouldn’t that suggest that V. might also have a right under the 1st to release the speech?

    (And I intentionally posted that question here, not on Sam’s thread, where I’ve met some interesting new people.)

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    • It seems noteworthy that most of the people making an issue of Sterling’s privacy rights are the sorts of people who tend to think privacy rights were just made up out of thin air.

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      • It seems to me you should be able recognize and point out that people are making specious arguments without dismissing the argument

        And it seems that the best way to demonstrate that an argument is specious is by addressing the argument rather than the habits, hobbies, and lifestyles of the person giving it.

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      • To be perfectly clear, I think the privacy issue is a real one (though recent reports indicate Sterling consented to the recording and/or they were released by a third party, not V. herself). If Mr. Sterling’s rights were violated, he should have every opportunity to seek appropriate recourse against the guilty party(s). However, I understand that the NBA is not bound by the same rules/laws that a court of law might be.

        That said, it seems curious — noteworthy, as I originally said — that there seems to be a large overlap between people who are championing privacy rights in this situation but whom in other situations question whether privacy rights even exist. It would be less noteworthy if their position was, say, “Hey… you people over there who always crow about privacy rights… what now?” But that isn’t what I’ve seen. What I’ve seen is a steadfast defense of privacy rights as sacrosanct. Which is a departure from the previous position many of these people have had. The extent to which this represents a disingenuous to their argument, it makes me less willing to engage them in the conversation because I don’t have particular interest in engaging people making disingenuous arguments because it is politically advantageous. Especially if they are motivated by some latent racist leanings.

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      • The hypocrisy conversation again?

        It seems perfectly acceptable to point out hypocrisy, particularly in a dialogue, since it speaks directly to the seriousness and good faith of your interlocutor(s). Nothing about doing so defeats their arguments, but it doesn’t seem like it was intended to in this case.

        I mean, it’s pretty easy to say something like, “I think the privacy issue is an important one, but I’m pretty sure that you’re not serious about it, since until this moment you were denying the very existence of a right to privacy.”

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      • Perhaps I should frame it this way:

        As someone who believes strongly in privacy rights, I do not see many of the people championing Sterling’s privacy rights as new allies in this fight. I do not consider the fight over given that the “other side” seems to have come around on this particular issue.

        I also haven’t seen anyone argue that Sterling doesn’t have privacy rights.

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      • Well, I’m fixing to get on a plane.

        I just see this as one of the camel’s noses where, eventually, people will be fired for stuff that they do outside of the workplace. Not just billionaires either. Not even just millionaires. Like, regular workers. Fired for stuff that they say in their own homes.

        Let’s bust out some Mencken:
        “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”

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      • Who are these people denying the existence of a right to privacy who have now suddenly embraced it? (Are they the new people in the other thread?)

        Is there a group of pro-lifers that have just been bussed in to hold signs or something?

        Edit: okay. It’s 9:30. I really have to go.

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      • @kazzy’s hypocrisy argument might be valid in the context of Tod’s post. If the people claiming “privacy rights!” don’t really value privacy rights, then there must be something else motivating the argument.

        So, whether the argument is right or wrong, the hypocrisy and duplicity is still (potentially) there. So, if there is reason to believe the defenders might be a tad racist, that their supposed defence of Sterling is shown to be insincere, then they might just be hiding their true, ugly (possibly racist) feelings. I think this touches on the idea of outreach.

        (Note: this doesn’t negate the “privacy rights!” argument; it just gets at the matter at hand.)

        That being said, I don’t know who Kazzy is talking about specifically, so I don’t know whether any claims of hypocrisy are valid. In the OP, Tod namechecks Julian Sanchez, who is a pretty staunch defender of privacy rights in other realms, so I wouldn’t think it’d apply to him.

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      • It’s also worth mentioning that these ‘rights’ are something only *twelve-states* have.

        Requiring all parties to get consent for recording is not some bedrock principle of the US, and in actual fact appears to be more an *anti*-right, something that is more often than not used to keep people from revealing harm done to them or other people. It keeps people from recording law enforcement abuses, it keeps people from recording sexual harassment, it keeps people from recording extortion, etc, etc. There is very little actual benefit to it, all it does is make it harder to prove wrongdoing.(1)

        And, in an purely logical sense, there’s no reason to allow people to *repeat* conversations that happen in private (And no one suggesting we bar that.) and not let them *record* said conversation. Recording a conversation is actually *better* for society, it results in less falsehoods.

        All-party consent laws are just *stupid*.

        I’m not saying this is a valid reason to break the law, but this isn’t an issue of ‘rights’.

        1) And people who are going to record people to *commit* wrongdoing, like commit blackmail with it or forge someone’s voice or whatever, *already don’t follow the law*.

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  12. Jaybird

    “Well, I’m fixing to get on a plane.

    I just see this as one of the camel’s noses where, eventually, people will be fired for stuff that they do outside of the workplace. Not just billionaires either. Not even just millionaires. Like, regular workers. Fired for stuff that they say in their own homes.”

    Which the right supports – ‘at will employment’, ‘right to work’. The right very, very rarely has a problem with an employer firing an employee for any reason except for advocating right-wing political or right-wing religious views. I can’t think of a situation where a person was fired for liberal/leftist political or religious views, and the right gave a flying rat’s pattootie (generally they cheer).

    In addition, as has been pointed out, what happened is that Sterling had certain franchise rights, which probably came with certain contractual obligations. That franchise was withdrawn.

    Heck, as Tod pointed out in the original post this was about as free market as we see in today’s society.

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    • The right very, very rarely has a problem with an employer firing an employee for any reason except for advocating right-wing political or right-wing religious views. I can’t think of a situation where a person was fired for liberal/leftist political or religious views, and the right gave a flying rat’s pattootie (generally they cheer).

      Heh.

      I just see this as one of the camel’s noses where, eventually, people will be fired for stuff that they do outside of the workplace.

      People are fired for stuff they do outside the workplace every single day. People have been fired for things they do outside the workplace for quite some time now.

      Or, in an attempt to be amusing: “the camel’s nose is already on the way out of the tent and his butthole is right in our faces.”

      If you support right to work or at will employment, you support that, implicitly… because you cannot stop each instantiation of injustice in this space with opprobrium (at least, I don’t think you can).

      On the flip side, if you support workplace protection laws you have to admit up front that you’re trying to protect some people and not others, by definition, because the law is not a fine grained tool. Plus, you still can’t stop each instantiation of injustice in this space with the law, either (at least… no, I’ll stick with the absolutism wording on that one).

      So.

      Now what?

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  13. It’s always amusing to watch the GOP react to situations like this because they almost always assume the only people who could possibly be offended by racism are those it’s directed again. White or Asian or Hispanic people couldn’t possibly be offended by it, oh Good Flying Spaghetti Monster no!

    Ditto with the birth control stuff in 2012. Whoever came up with the talking point that it’s really Democrats who are anti-women because they assume women are passive victims of their libidos apparently doesn’t realize that many (I’m willing to say most) married women also use birth control. Because after all it’s only immature 20-somethings who date too many guys, right?

    Stupid is a pan-demographic deal-breaker for most people.

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  14. The media find it too easy to focus our attention on a jerk like this and too hard to create some kind of image or handle for the real elephant of evil in the room in this culture–corporations and their power.

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