Does anyone care about "segregation?"


Consider the last Dem debate:
For ourselves, we aren't real high on Candidate Harris at this point.

As we noted in real time, we thought her kick-off rally was extremely good. We liked the content of the speech. We thought her performance was excellent.

That said, we thought her initial attack on Candidate Biden seemed like bad faith in a can. Meanwhile, she keeps repeating her bogus claim about the gender wage gap, even after her staff told Politifact that she merely "misspoke" the first time she made the false statement.

That said, whatever! And by the way, does anybody actually care about "segregation" in public schools? Based on the second night of the last Democratic debate, the answer would seem to be no.

Good lord! Jake Tapper kicked a long discussion off with an excellent question. It referred to Harris' attack on Biden from the first Democratic debates, the ones which were held back in June.

Tapper recalled that high-profile attack. His question went exactly like this:
TAPPER (7/31/19): I want to bring in Senator Harris now.

Senator Harris, you have also been quite critical of Vice President Biden's policies on race, specifically on the issues of busing in the 1970s, having benefited from busing when you were a young child. Vice President Biden says that your current position on busing, you're opposed to federally mandated busing, that that position is the same as his position. Is he right?
That was an excellent, even obvious question. In the first Democratic debates, Harris pole-axed Biden for opposing mandated busing back in 1974. But does she support the practice today?

Harris says our current public schools are even more segregated than they were back then! So does she support mandated busing today? This is what she said:
HARRIS (continuing directly): That is simply false. And let's be very clear about this. When Vice President Biden was in the United States Senate, working with segregationists to oppose busing, which was the vehicle by which we would integrate America's public schools, had I been in the United States Senate at that time, I would have been completely on the other side of the aisle.

And let's be clear about this. Had those segregationists their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate, Cory Booker would not be a member of the United States Senate, and Barack Obama would not have been in the position to nominate him to the title he now holds.


And so, on that issue, we could not be more apart, which is that the vice president has still failed to acknowledge that it was wrong to take the position that he took at that time.

Now, I would like to also talk about this conversation about Eric Garner, because I, too, met with his mother. And one of the things that we've got to be clear about is that this president of the United States, Donald Trump, while he has been in office, has quietly been allowing the United States Department of Justice to shut down consent decrees, to stop pattern and practice investigations.

On that case, we also know that the Civil Rights Division—

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

HARRIS: —This is important. The Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice said charges should have been filed, but this United States Department of Justice usurpedCivil Rights Division and I believe it is because that president did not want those charges to go forward. And they overrode a decision by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

HARRIS: Under my administration, the Civil Rights Division—

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

HARRIS: —will rein and there will be independent investigations.
In the parlance of the modern debate, it was a "three 'Thank you, Senator' night!" You'll also note that Harris' lengthy ramble had nothing to do with the question she was asked:

Does she support large-scale mandated busing to attack "segregation" today?

Harris killed a lot of time, but she didn't answer that question. Tapper gave Biden a chance to respond. The first short part what Biden said almost took us back to the original topic:
TAPPER (continuing directly): Vice President Biden, Vice President Biden, I want to give you a chance to respond to what Senator Harris just said.

BIDEN: When Senator Harris was attorney general for eight years in the state of California, there were two of the most segregated school districts in the country, in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. And she did not—I didn't see a single solitary time she brought a case against them to desegregate them.

Secondly, she also was in a situation where she had a police department when she was there that in fact was abusing people's rights. And the fact was that she in fact was told by her own people that her own staff that she should do something about and disclose to defense attorney's like me that you in fact have been—the police officer did something that did not give you information of what (inaudible) your—your client. She didn't do that. She never did it. And so what happened?

Along came a federal judge and said "Enough, enough." And he freed 1,000 of these people. If you doubt me, google "1000 prisoners freed, Kamala Harris."
We'd now wandered far afield from the original question. When Tapper gave Harris a second chance to speak, he didn't seem to remember or care how this whole thing started:
TAPPER (continuing directly): Thank you, Vice President Biden. Senator Harris, your response.

HARRIS: That is—is simply not true. And as attorney general of California, where I ran the second largest Department of Justice in the United States, second only to the United States Department of Justice, I am proud of the work we did. Work that has received national recognition for what has been the important work of reforming a criminal justice system and cleaning up the consequences of the bills that you passed when you were in the United States Senate for decades.

It was the work of creating the—one of the first in the nation initiatives around reentering former offenders and getting them jobs and counseling.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

HARRIS: I did the work as attorney general of putting body cameras on special agents in the state of California—

TAPPER: I want to bring in Congresswoman—

HARRIS: —and I'm proud of that work.
Tapper now threw to Candidate Gabbard, who hammered Harris hard. That said, Gabbard didn't mention busing either. The topic had disappeared.

This lengthy exchange had begun with a perfectly sensible question: Does Candidate Harris actually support large-scale, mandated busing to create racial balance today? If Biden was wrong to oppose it back then, does she support it today?

Harris quickly changed the subject, and the question was never raised again. In truth, no one actually seems to care about this, politicians and pundits alike. Or maybe we just live at a time when attention spans are quite limited.

Does anyone in the Democratic field support large-scale, mandated busing to address racial imbalance in our public schools? We would assume the answer is no. That's why we thought Harris's original complaint about Biden's stance back in '74 carried an air of bad faith.

Does anyone, including Tapper, care about, or support, mandated busing today? For whatever reason, it was the most high-profile moment from the first Dem debates. At that point it—Poof—disappeared!


  1. Here was Tapper’s question:

    “Vice President Biden says that your current position on busing, you're opposed to federally mandated busing, that that position is the same as his position. Is he right?”

    Here was Harris’ answer:

    “That is simply false.”

    Question asked and answered.

    If more detail is required, look here:

    “Kamala Harris on busing: Feds should only intervene if local governments are opposing integration” - by ALEXANDRA JAFFEE | ASSOCIATED PRESS | 8:42 am EDT July 5, 2019

    The first paragraph says:

    “Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday clarified her position on federally mandated school busing, saying it's only necessary in cases where local governments are actively opposing integration.”

    So, she does support mandated busing ... in some cases.

    And it only took 5 minutes to gather the info to debunk Somerby’s misrepresentation of Harris that he is laboring so hard at.

    1. “... local governments are actively opposing integration?” Name one place where this is currently happening. Harris is engaging in disingenuous sophistry in its purest, uncut form. Her political history stinks of fraudulent, unprincipled careerism.

    2. Mr. Sack:
      “New Jersey Is Getting Sued Over School Segregation”

      These kinds of things come up every so often. It isn’t exactly rare.

      Of course, your correct response would have been to say that schools cannot be integrated due to demographics. That is the canned TDH answer.

      It is worth noting that Harris’s position on busing is virtually identical to Bernie Sanders’.

      It is also worth noting that you and Somerby are more than welcome to point out cases where you think Harris is being disingenuous, as long as you’re not simply engaging in ad hominem attacks, but Somerby at least ought to also describe Biden’s record correctly. Biden’s recent assertions about his stance on busing do not line up with his stance back in the day.

    3. Sad, we also appreciate your assertion that she is engaged in sophistry that is “disingenuous”.

      As opposed to the other kind.

    4. Neither New Jersey nor any local government is “actively opposing integration” by Harris’s definition. That situation would not be covered by her stated hypothetical policies, nor would any other that would have the slightest chance of costing her net votes in a primary. If she were to gain the nomination, she would most likely change the language for the general election.

    5. But it is a case where one could at least see the possibility of using the tool of mandated busing, if the court were to rule that NJ must desegregate, and communities failed to take action.

      There is no need for her to change this stance for the general election, because it isn’t exactly an outlier amongst the Democratic candidates, and it doesn’t posit the mass use of forced busing, nor does it foresee busing as even a measure of first resort.

    6. Sophistry is the use of fallacious arguments. It isn’t necessarily, but becomes disingenuous when the user knows it themself. Thus, Nobody’s comment was sophistry, but probably not disingenuous. I hope that was also true of the use of the New Jersey example.

      My entire reply is unfortunately pedantic.

  2. "we aren't real high on Candidate Harris at this point"

    Not real high, eh Bob? Tsk, how sad.

    But is she, by chance, crazy? A crackpot? Some sort of mentally ill or sociopath? Please, tell us.

  3. Harris said "Had those segregationists their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate..." I think we have already noted that Berkeley's busing scheme, which Harris benefited from, was not mandated by the state or federal government.

    1. She’s wasn’t just talking about busing when she said that.

  4. The time has come to face up to what white Democratic voters actually want, not what they say, which Harris knows very well.

    The school discussed in the article was a polling station in the ‘16 election, exclusively serving the white neighborhood. The results were:
    Clinton 1022 Trump 153

    These white voters know, and Harris knows they know, that her grandstanding BS poses no actual threat to their precious Noah or Madison getting into an Ivy League school. If they ever thought it did, Harris would be doomed, and it would be four more years, baby, if she were the nominee.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Good post. Is it time to bring back busing? Neither Harris nor Biden want it, but it’s somehow a point of contention.

    And this:

    “And by the way, does anybody actually care about "segregation" in public schools?”

    This guy sure does!

    “Former Arizona representative and ALEC member David Stringer stirred controversy last year when he gave a speech complaining that “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” to integrate Arizona’s schools and that immigration is an “existential threat” to Arizona.

    A Gathering of Comrades

    Of course, this gets to one of the nub’s of Somerby’s posts on this topic. If busing was meant to bring minorities into parity with their (white) over-represented districts, should it, perhaps be turned around? Should white people be bused to the darker climes, in order to bring parity?

    Times have changed! Some segment of the white population is terrified that they will become the minority in this country, which is an “existential threat.” And a seemingly substantial minority of rubes lap it up. Personally, I think it’s past time for brown people to take over the continent that was once theirs.

    Anyway, if there were a parity of funding for public schools not mainly based on property tax, as the current system now exists, busing would probably be unnecessary. I don’t expect that to ever happen. But in terms of interaction, busing could be a good idea nowadays.


  7. "For ourselves, we aren't real high on Candidate Harris at this point."

    Of course he isn't! Why would anyone expect him to be? He didn't support Hillary against Trump, damning her with remarks about her poor campaign skills. Now he is starting in on Harris.

    Why Harris? Perhaps because Somerby considers her the most viable of the female candidates. Perhaps because the marching orders for conservative operatives has her on its list. Maybe Somerby's Russian handler is telling him to attack Harris. Who knows?

    Pretending that he is being fair-minded, by listing her supposed virtues, then attacking her repeatedly solely because she went after Biden (the putative frontrunner) in her campaigning, strikes me as ridiculous. If she, or any other candidate, wants to win, he or she must move up in the polls relative to the other Democratic nominees. That means highlighting one's own virtues in comparison with the others running. One of her strengths and Biden's weaknesses is her civil rights record, her work on behalf of minorities while Attorney General of California. She is using that, no more and no less. And so is Somerby. He is using whatever flaws he can find in her to attack her.

    But that leaves the question, who is Somerby attacking Harris on behalf of? I suspect he is doing it to benefit conservatives, not any of the other Democrats, but I haven't found Somerby plausible as a Democrat (or even a Democratic Socialist) in quite a while now.


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