Interesting day for politics, with a new big Supreme Court discussion, discussion about yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, and a filibuster against controversial legislation in the Texas State Senate, all as the Congress prepares to seriously address immigration reform for the first time since the 1980s.
Melissa Harris-Perry is worried that the gay marriage decisions restrict the power of the federal government. Ed Morrisey and Kevin Drum worry that it contradicts the reasons for the California regulations which allow citizens to vote for laws the politicians don’t support. Jonathan Chait looks at the five stages of grief for gay marriage opponents.
The Post looks at the effects of Wendy Davis’s filibuster. Her political future is also considered. Hot Air had a Republican partisan’s view of the filibuster. This country does have a proud tradition of politicians using procedural acumen to block legislation they don’t like, and further legislation they support. There are legitimate arguments for doing away with that, but Davis shouldn’t be criticized for fighting with every tool in her arsenal.
Section 5 was the most important and imaginative provision in the law. It required certain states and jurisdictions, mostly in the South, to ask the federal government’s permission before making any change—no matter how small—in the way they run elections. Until a rule was “precleared,” it could not go into effect. This unusual provision solved the central problem of voting-rights enforcement during the civil rights era—keeping up with the increasingly creative strategies recalcitrant state and local governments used to disenfranchise voters. Section 5 shifted the burden of inertia, allowing the Department of Justice to get one step ahead of local officials.
It worked. It worked miraculously well, in fact. In a remarkably short period, African-American registration rates shot up. Section 5 mattered especially for the Deep South, where there were large concentrations of black voters. By the 1990s, these states were able to send a historic number of black representatives to Congress. But Section 5 didn’t just matter for the big-ticket races. For decades it provided strong protections for minority voters in local and state elections as well as federal ones. Based on those successes, Congress renewed Section 4’s “coverage formula”—the provision that determines which jurisdictions have to preclear changes and which don’t—again and again.
I’d like to add some context because the bottom-feeding media is doing the opposite.
1. Every alleged example of Deen’s racism involves either a good friend of hers who is African-American, an African-American chef or general manager that she or her brother hired for their restaurants, and in one case a preference for hiring African-American servers for a particular event. (More on that later.) That’s a strange pattern for a racist.
2. I owned two restaurants. Restaurants are unusually fertile breeding grounds for bogus lawsuits and employment claims. You can’t compare restaurants to other businesses in that way. You should assume 90% of employee discrimination claims in the restaurant industry are complete bullshit even if the stats are opposite in the standard corporate world. That’s the context in which you should view the employee claims against Deen. Remember, she’s an easy target, and any lawyer would know she has deep pockets and a need to settle quickly. I don’t know the facts in her case, nor do you. I’m just giving context.
3. Deen claims her use of the N-word was in the context of jokes long ago and not representative of her current thinking. I don’t know where her critics grew up, but during my youth in upstate New York it seemed as if all jokes were at the expense of one ethnic group or another, blonde women, farmer’s daughters, lepers, dead babies, and folks with disabilities. The wrongness of the so-called humor was the whole point. That was the style of the day, as despicable as it seems by today’s standards. When Deen admits to being part of that culture, and evolving out of it, that sounds more like naïve honesty than racism. If you didn’t live through that era, you are missing some important context.
4. One of the most damning allegations is that Deen once suggested a slave-themed event that would feature only professional servers who were African-American. To me that sounds laughably implausible. It’s the sort of thing one could only believe if you already bought into the idea that Deen is a racist, diabetes-promoting monster. It reminds me of the recent Internet hoax showing a photo of Heineken banners over a dog fight. A lot of folks on the Internet believed Heineken was advertising at a dog fight, as if that was even slightly plausible. (The Heineken signs were left over from some earlier event at the same location.)
I’ll reiterate that I don’t support Deen, or condone anything that she did, allegedly or otherwise. It’s not my job to judge anyone. I’m just adding context.