SWEET DEMON ALABAMA: Anatomy of our own gong-show!

MONDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2015

Part 1—Let the gong-show begin:
With so many of our gatekeepers gone, the onus of judgment now rests with us the people.

Within the political realm, party leaders no longer meet in smoke-filled rooms to pick our candidates for us. We the people are forced to spot the crazy ones all by ourselves.

Within the realm of journalism, Walter and David are no longer there to keep us from hearing crazy ideas. We have to spot the crazy ideas—and our democratized media is full of “news orgs” which are selling us The Bogus, The False and The Crazy.

Increasingly, the onus of judgment rests with us—and we the people aren’t performing real well. As usual, it’s easiest to see the flaws over there in The Other Tribe, where crazy candidate are being lauded and false claims are rather widespread.

Forget about climate science! Over in The Other Tribe, substantial majorities tell our pollsters that Obama wasn’t born in this country! One of the candidates they increasingly like took the lead in spreading this nonsense, but our mainstream news orgs sidestep this fact.

They don’t want to make that candidate mad. They want him to appear on their programs!

It’s always easy to spot the nonsense which prevails in The Other Tribe. This week, we’re going to examine one of our own tribe’s gong-shows.

We’ll call it “Sweet Demon Alabama.” It helps us see where our own liberal tribe tends to go badly astray.

Our current gong-show hit the New York Times this Saturday in a lengthy news report. It was the featured report on page A12, the first page of the “National” section.

Campbell Robertson’s dateline had him in deepest rural Alabam’. The scribe was about to spread tons of fudge while attempting to keep things technically accurate.

As it turned out, he didn’t even meet that low standard. Robertson started like this:
ROBERTSON (10/10/15): It is about an hour and 10 minutes to Tuscaloosa, the nearest big city to this little knot of houses and churches in the Alabama pines. For the hundreds in this poor county who do not have a car or a friend with the spare time, someone can usually be found who is willing to give a ride. For a fee, of course.

“You want to get to T-town, it’s at least $50,” said William Bankhead, 56, sitting in front of a boarded-up building that was once Panola’s general store. “We’re a long ways from a place.”

As of last week, Tuscaloosa is the nearest location where a person here can get a driver’s license, after the state decided to stop providing services at 31 satellite locations around the state. The fallout from this decision has been widespread: national politicians and civil rights advocates have condemned Alabama for shuttering the locations, many of them in the state’s majority black counties, just a year after requiring that people show photo identification at the polling locations.
So far, Robertson’s various statements can possibly be rated accurate. It all depends on what the meaning of “many” is!

It’s true! Alabama has “decided to stop providing [certain] services at 31 satellite locations around the state.” That said, this is also true:

By our own incomparable count, nine of those shuttered locations are “in the state’s majority black counties.” Is nine counties out of 31 “many?” For our money, Robertson’s thumb was already perhaps a wee tiny bit on the scale.

Robertson made other statements in that passage which were perfectly accurate. It’s true! National politicians have “condemned Alabama for shuttering the locations.”

Also true: Those pols condemned Alabama for shuttering those locations, many of were said to be in the state’s majority black counties, “just a year after requiring that people show photo identification at the polling locations.”

A few paragraphs later, Robertson even quoted one such pol. She was calling the action “Jim Crow.”

As Robertson’s report continued, we were struck by the presence of the slippery types of journalism one often finds in the Times. At several points, Robertson offered extremely slippery accounts of what Alabama officials had said in response to our tribe’s latest high-minded assertions. Some basic information was missing or was clumsily obscured.

Eventually, Robertson made at least one statement we’d have to call flatly wrong, although we still didn’t know that as we read his report.

Our sense of discomfort about this story didn’t start with Robertson’s report. We’d gotten the scent of a tribal gong-show in prior reports of this latest outrage from the Deepest South. But after reading Robertson’s piece, we called the analysts back from their weekend leave and we set them to work.

As we continue this week’s reports, we’re going to show you what the analysts found. As we do, you’ll encounter the anatomy of a pseudo-liberal gong show.

Rachel Maddow was all worked up about this latest outrage, of course. On October 2, she offered a passionate report on the subject.

To watch the entire segment, click here. To peruse the transcript, click this.

Rachel’s passionate report was full of errors and misdirection. It had been cadged from the work of two Alabama columnists in a way which flirted with rules of plagiarism.

It was filled with misleading sleight-of-hand. A few extremely basic facts went completely unmentioned by our passionate tribal leader.

In fairness, we’ll assume that Rachel didn’t know these things. We’ll assume that her staff hadn’t done basic background work—that they had simply accepted the claims they cadged from two hurried local columns.

This weekend, our analysts did the background work. As the week proceeds, we’ll show you what they found.

Alas! With various gatekeepers largely gone, members of The Other Tribe seem to be extremely prone to false and bogus belief. Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.! On its face, that has been the mother of all such beliefs.

That said, alas and alack! Over here in our own flawless tribe, we have our blind spots too. We’re especially probe to passionate mistaken belief in matters involving race—especially race and The Other Tribe.

We love to posture about how deeply we care. Manifestly, we pretty much don’t. People are careful when they care. In this case, our fiery tribal leaders gonged up a tired old show involving an easy old demon.

This kind of conduct isn’t real helpful—but dear lord, it feels so good! We love these gong-shows in our tribe. We'll explore our latest all week.

Tomorrow: The Maddow Show and the New York Times and by golly even Slate!

You have to start with some facts: In matters like these, you have to assemble some basic facts. Today, let’s start with a few basic facts about Alabama’s population.

In the 2010 census, Alabama’s population was 4,779,745. The state was 67.0 percent white, 26.2 percent black.

You have to assemble such basic facts to evaluate what the state has just done. That said, there are other facts you have to know. We’ll discuss such facts all week, unless you just want to tell a story our tribe is inclined to like.

(Fun fact: Robertson reported from Panola, Alabama. Population? 144!)

61 comments:

  1. Wait! President Obama, like the unknown channeler of Beau Biden, slimed Hillary Clinton. On America's most watched news program. On the network of the greatest gatekeeper.

    And what is Bob Somerby going to do about it? Chastise Rachel Maddow for a segment in a show over a week old that was prompted, in part, by a pol dropping the R bomb on poor old beleagured Alabama.

    Bob Somerby got in some pretty good licks against Maddow last week. Why is he continuing the focus on Rachel when he should keep us up to date on the jihad against Hillary Clinton?

    And before anyone says I like Rachel, I don't. But you have to admit he is singling her out. Heck, he didn't even name the offending poltician who invoked the memory of Jim Crow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Somerby covers the media, not politics.
      2. Somerby doesn't support Clinton -- some commenters do.
      3. This post is about media dereliction of duty in service of attracting readers via tribal pandering. The content of that pandering is incidental.

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    2. Always grateful when a Bob Fan explains what Bob doesn't do.

      Delete
    3. Welcome to Bobworld (Fan Division)

      1) CBS and 60 Minutes are not the News Media

      2) Asking Somerby to spend time on the latest events in matter he has devoted much time to means you assume Somerby supports a candidate.

      3) A week of focus on a "gong-show" segment involving an issue in one state exceeds the importance of the War on Clinton/Gore because Somerby must be defended.

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    4. CBS News is part of the news media and 60 minutes represents itself as a news program.

      Somerby has explicitly said he doesn't support Clinton. He likes Sanders.

      It is his blog -- has can talk about whatever he wants.

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    5. "Always grateful when a Bob Fan explains what Bob doesn't do."

      Translation: I am a regular here, trolling. I understand perfectly well what Somerby considers his remit. But, being a troll, I don't give a shit. Being a troll, I consider agreement with Somerby unconscionable, a symptom of hero worship.

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    6. Welcome to Bobworld (Fan Division Revision)

      1) Somerby covers the media is our first excuse except when it is pointed out someone was talking about the media.

      2) If you had asked for an update on the "Stuff happens" front we would have said Somerby doesn't support Bush.

      3) It's his blog and wherever Rachel goes Bob is sure to follow.

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    7. Rachel Maddow sure does seem to hold a lot of power over the content of this blog lately.

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    8. One could certainly make that argument seeing as the story was over 10 days old when Bob Somerby circled back to it.
      You'd think he'd be hungria for new content.

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  2. I strongly oppose Alabama’s decision to close driver’s license offices across the state, especially in counties that have a significant majority of African Americans. Just a few years ago, Alabama passed a law requiring citizens to have a photo ID to vote. Now they’re shutting down places where people get those photo IDs. This is only going to make it harder for people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.

    We’re better than this. We should be encouraging more Americans to vote, not making voting harder....push for automatic voter registration for every American when they turn 18, and a new national standard of at least 20 days of early in-person voting in every state....work with Congress to restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act.

    African Americans fought for the right to vote in the face of unthinkable hatred. They stood up and were beaten down, marched and were turned back. Some were even killed. But in the end, the forces of justice overcame. Alabama should do the right thing. It should reverse this decision. And it should start protecting the franchise for every single voter, no matter the color of their skin.

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    1. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

      The offices were not necessarily closed in order to decrease voter registrations. Jim Crow was done specifically to prevent black voting. You cannot call this Jim Crow if: (1) there is no demonstrable effect on black voting, and (2) it was not done to prevent black voting, regardless of impact.

      I don't know the details Somerby is teasing today, but a town with 114 people (an unknown percentage of whom are black) seems unlikely to have a high demand for driver's license services in a given year. Offices can be closed for a variety of legitimate reasons, including to consolidate staff in areas with greater demand. Having more workers in Tuscaloosa, for example, would permit better service to the large number of black prospective voters who more likely live there.

      Rural inhabitants have always had a hard time getting to cities and buying the things they need. Sears was founded on that need. If they want to vote, they can surely register during the year when they are in the city for some other purpose, even if it is hard to get there. That is the nature of rural life. Expecting urban service-levels in rural areas just because some unknown percentage of people there are black seems unreasonable, independent of whatever statistics Somerby plans to present.

      Those who care strongly about black voters can organize carpools in support of voter registration drives. It would be nice if they didn't have to do that, but it would also be nice if rural people without cars chose to live in urban areas near public transportation. Convenience is not a constitutional right. Whatever convenience previously existed may have been impact by economic necessities having nothing to do with racial attitudes. Calling that Jim Crow is unhelpful and trivializes the real racist actions of the past century.

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    2. Hmmmm, Hillary seems to think this is also racially motivated. Wonder how Bob will disappear that?

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    3. He already has.

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    4. Who cares what Hillary thinks?

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    5. Knowing Somerby, for him the question is:

      How will mass media treat the question of whether this closing of offices is racially motivated?

      Trolls will have different agendas, naturally.

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    6. I wish I knew Somerby like you know Somerby, The Room.

      Do you know him as well as Dowd knows Biden?

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    7. I care what Hillary Clinton thinks. And so did most voters in the primaries in 2008. And while I understand there are bigger issues involved her than one candidate, I am a little disappointed The Howler does not care what 60 Minutes did to her and often overlooks the outrages committed by the Huffington Post.

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    8. Somerby has explicitly said he doesn't support Clinton. He admires Nader.

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    9. 11:54,
      Closing the DMV offices isn't (necessarily) the problem. The voting ID law is. If the state needs the voter ID law, the state goes to everyone and provides them an ID, free of charge.
      Voting is THE sacred right in a representative democracy.

      Anyone who wants to cry about the cost to the state in providing all voters with an ID for free, gets to argue about the need for voter ID laws with it's supporters. The oogedy-boogedy tales will trump the costs.

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    10. Thank you, @2:52. I agree with you.

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    11. You know 11:54, after 2000 years even the Catholic Church gave up Latin.

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    12. Actually, the Catholic Church hasn't been around for 2000 years yet.

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    13. @2:52

      To receive a free Alabama Photo Voter ID card, a voter must show:
      •A photo ID document or a non-photo identity document can be used if it contains your full legal name and date of birth;
      •Documentation showing the voter’s date of birth (can be verified by information in the statewide voter file);
      •Documentation showing the person is a registered voter (can be verified by voter registration information); *
      •Documentation showing the voter’s name and address as reflected in the voter registration record (can be verified by voter registration information).

      Application Form
      http://www.alabamavoterid.com/downloads/ApplicationForFreeALPhotoVoterIdCard.pdf

      Delete
    14. Yup.
      Let the states approach each and every voter and provide the ID.
      I don't see any problem with that. Who would?

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    15. [QUOTE] Actually, the Catholic Church hasn't been around for 2000 years yet. [END QUOTE]

      Depends on who you ask, unless you'd quibble over a decade or two. Pontius Pilate was the prefect of Judea from 26 C.E to 36 C.E. so Peter's mandate came no later than 1979 years ago according to a certain brand of believer.

      [QUOTE]>>> Catholic doctrine teaches that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. It interprets the Confession of Peter as acknowledging Christ’s designation of Apostle Peter and his successors to be the temporal head of his Church.

      Thus, it asserts that the Bishop of Rome has the sole legitimate claim to Petrine authority and the primacy due to the Roman Pontiff. The Catholic Church claims legitimacy for its bishops and priests via the doctrine of apostolic succession and authority of the Pope via the unbroken line of popes, claimed as successors to Simon Peter.

      In 313, the struggles of the Early Church were lessened by the legalisation of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine I....<<<[END QUOTE]

      The exalted role in the Church for some sort of Latin, however, would have come later than that.

      [QUOTE]>>> Every so often I get asked the question of whether Jesus (Yeshua) spoke Hebrew (rather than Aramaic, Greek, or even Latin). After all, there seems to be some Aramaic words in the New Testament, and the text itself is written in Koine Greek.

      First it must be stressed that this is not an "either Hebrew or Aramaic (or Greek)" question. It must be remembered that the region in which Jesus grew up was multicultural and multilingual. Under the Roman empire, many Greek-speaking Gentile lived around Nazareth, especially in the large city of Sepphoris. Jesus was able to speak with the roman centurion (Matt. 8:5-13) and later with Pontius Pilate (John 18:28-38), but since it's unlikely that either of these Gentiles understood Aramaic, the conversation would [most] likely be held using Koine Greek (or perhaps Latin). So it's likely Jesus spoke Greek and even Latin....<<<[END QUOTE]

      According to Wikipedia:

      [QUOTE]>>> Vetus Latina ("Old Latin" in Latin), also known as Vetus Itala ("Old Italian"), Itala ("Italian") and Old Italic, is the collective name given to the biblical texts in Latin that existed before the Vulgate, the late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible that later became the Catholic Church's standard Latin Bible. As the English translation of Vetus Latina is "Old Latin", they are also sometimes referred to as the Old Latin Bible, although they are written in the form of Latin known as Late Latin, not that known as Old Latin. These manuscripts date from the period 200 CE to 380 CE, and are similar in style to the Vulgate. <<<[END QUOTE]

      And then came Vatican II, and the subsequent return of the confusion of tongues.

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    16. My hat is off to @ 11:34. Nobody seemed to notice the opening comment to this little thread was not her/his words.

      Just like nobody noticed the obvious when Maureen Dowd quoted what Joe Biden thought while talking to his dying son.

      Delete
  3. POTUS Obama again cliamed in 60 Minutes interview he hadn't a clue that HRC was using a private server during her tenure at Foggy Bottom.

    Too bad White House staff contradict Obama's claims.

    "e-mails from 2009 show that chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod understood at the time that Clinton used a private e-mail account and server for official business. Indeed, top officials were forced to explicitly ask Clinton aides for her e-mail address"

    “Axelrod wants your emails,” read the subject line of an e-mail from Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills on June 8, 2009.

    Clinton replied from her e-mail account HDR22@clintonemail.com. “Can you send it to him or do you want me to?” she asked. “Does he know I can’t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1) Somerby doesn't cover President Obama or Secretary Clinton. Somerby covers the media.

      2) Somerby doesn't support President Obama or Secretary Clinton. Some commenters do.

      3) This post is about media pandering in service of attracting readers via tribalism resulting in derelicition of duty. The content of that pandering or those duties is incidental.

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    2. Cicero, do you think when Trump gets elected POTUS he can strong arm Congress to enact the death penalty for HRC's private server outrage?

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    3. I hope when Trump gets elected President 11 million people will avail themselves of their 2nd Amendment rights.

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    4. @AC/MA

      To find out how the Trump campagin will wither away just replay how Trump bailed on the USFL

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    5. To find out cicero's shtick de jure, just check out the Media Research Center website.

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    6. @Soapy

      Howler libs spread the manure they lap up at Media Matters/Correct The Record. Keep up the fertilization!

      Delete
    7. cicero,
      I've noticed the Benghazi Committee is spending millions and coming up empty. Is that because they are fiscally conservative and against government waste.
      Just kidding, we know conservatives aren't really for small government or against government waste. It's just schtick, like their fake concern for small businesses. Lucky for them conservative voters are so gullible they can't see through the schtick.

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  4. Fun fact: If you live in a tiny town Bob Somerby may seem to be trivializing the dink squat place you live in but you don't know squadoosh about how much Bob Somerby really cares. Plus he spelled the damn place right, didn't he?

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    Replies
    1. There are advantages and disadvantages to living in a small town. Eventually, we will vote on the internet and this will be a moot point.

      Why can't someone who lives in a small town visit the city to register and then vote via absentee ballot? Why is this such an issue? Do you seriously imagine that people who live in small towns never ever visit the city? That is the only assumption that would make this a valid example of Jim Crow.

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    2. Mine was a fun fact. Yours is a fun forecast.

      Mike Judge is a fun, film-making forecaster. If he is right, eventually you'll be the smartest one around. Assuming you can sleep that long.

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    3. 1:58,
      Screw that. Why can't the state go to the voters and provide them an ID for free? The impetus is on the state to assure a representative election. Don't take my word for it. Take the word of those who support Voter ID laws.

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    4. What government office is ever convenient to use? Spending the money to make such functions convenient is seen as a waste of funds. Why should voting be any different? You haven't demonstrated that this change is going to have a disproportionate effect on black voters. I think that is probably what Somerby is getting at -- when he gets around to giving us stats.

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    5. "You haven't demonstrated that this change is going to have a disproportionate effect on black voters."

      Somerby has never demonstrated the Press Corp War Against Gore had any effect on voters.

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    6. Actually, he has talked about changes in poll numbers and related them to attacks on Gore.

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    7. 3:30,
      And those who support Voter ID laws have shown no problem that will be alleviated by these laws.
      These laws have a disproportionate effect on the poor.
      BTW, the poor have every right to have their vote count in a representative democracy.

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  5. You have to assemble such basic facts to evaluate what the state has just done. In the 1860 census, Alabama’s population was 964,296. The state was 54.3% white, a few of whom owned the other 45.7%.

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    Replies
    1. Closing DMV offices is Jim Crow because...slavery.

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    2. Closing DMV offices, in conjunction with voter ID laws, is Jim Crow.
      Because suppressing the votes of others is a power play for the plutocracy.

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    3. No DMV offices need to be closed because...freedom.

      Besides, everyone knows if the slaves had guns there would have been no slavery. If the Jews had guns there would have been no holocaust. And if the Indians had just had guns.....they wouldn't have been called Indians.

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    4. Over in The Other Tribe, substantial majorities tell our pollsters that Obama wasn’t born in this country!

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    5. No one has yet established that the offices were closed in order to suppress votes.

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    6. @ 3:20

      From March, 2008 interview

      Steve Kroft:
      "You said you’d take Senator Obama at his word that he’s not a Muslim. You don’t believe that he’s a Muslim?”

      HRC:
      “No. No, there is nothing to base that on,....As far as I know."

      Your tribal leader left a lot of wiggle room in her beleif on that subject.


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    7. Blah, blah, blah ...Steve Croft ...blah, blah ....

      Now pay me Brent.

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    8. I'm a long way from being in Hillary Clinton's corner these days but come off it Cicero, not that nonsense again. [LINK]


      KROFT: You don't believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim?

      CLINTON: Of course not. I mean, that's--you know, there is not basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that.

      KROFT: And you said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim.

      CLINTON: Right. Right.

      KROFT: You don't believe that he's a Muslim or implying? Right.

      CLINTON: No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.

      KROFT: It's just scurrilous --

      CLINTON: Look, I have been the target of so many ridiculous rumors. I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time.

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  6. Bob will never find any allegation of racism to be credible.

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    1. That's not true. He doesn't find EVERY allegation of racism credible.

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    2. After all, Bob and his Harvard buddies protested and fixed in 50 years ago.

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    3. @5:42

      Bob's fellow 60's left wing radicals breed their own virulent strain of intolerance. Rampant racism against black conservative men and women is considered acceptable racism libs.

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    4. I think Sanders is a better example of someone whose anti-racism cred has expired.

      Cicero, calling Clarence Thomas an Uncle Tom is racist, in my opinion. Calling him a sexual harassing legal moron with no business on the Supreme Court is not racist, it is legitimate criticism. Don't get me started on Ben Carson.

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    5. @7:01
      You didn't have to supply your quod erat demonstrandum post to substanciate my post, but thanks anyway.


      Good to know your racism has the shelf life equivalent to instant coffee.

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    6. Black conservatives shouldn't be mocked for being black. They should be mocked for being conservative.

      After all we now know...

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    7. Good to know your brain pan has the depth of a teaspoon, cicero.

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    ReplyDelete