January 16, 2004

George W. Bush Celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday

George W. Bush celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday by giving Charles Pickering a recess appointment as an appeals court judge:

Salon: Charles Pickering... his dismal record on race begins with a law school article he wrote defending anti-miscegenation statutes. In the 1960s... "Pickering worked to support segregation, attack civil rights advocates who sought to end Jim Crow, and back those who opposed national civil rights legislation, above all the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Or, in the words of a public statement he signed in 1967, Pickering wanted to preserve 'our southern way of life,' and he bitterly blamed civil rights workers for stirring up 'turmoil and racial hatred' in the South." In the 1970s, as a state senator, he voted to appropriate money to the the Sovereignty Commission, a group dedicated to resisting desegregation...

The Republican Party's commitment to civil rights and equal opportunity for all Americans is unshakeable. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Say no more, say no more.

God knows there are many reasons in America today not to be a Democrat. But they pale to nothing compared to this reason not to be a Republican.


UPDATE: The smart and incisive Lawrence Solum misses the point, writing "Charles Pickering has received a recess appointment from President Bush.... This is, of course, a very significant development in the confirmation wars--a naturally retaliatory move by the President for the Senate Democrat's use of the filibuster against several of his nominees." A development in the "confirmation wars" is announced on some other weekend, any other weekend, a weekend that is not that of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. This is something different: the result of somebody inside the White House asking the question, "What can we do around Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to remind the Base that if you don't like Black people, the Republican Party is your natural home?"

Posted by DeLong at January 16, 2004 07:38 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Don't kick the guy - in 1963 he was recognized as one of the three Outstanding Young Men in Mississippi (http://www.usdoj.gov/olp/pickeringbio.htm). Note that he was born in 1937. Most of us stop playing these games way before we are 26. Definitely a late bloomer.

Posted by: Leopold on January 16, 2004 08:39 PM

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Second time for Pickering. Last year, though, he was the undercard.

Don't get the reference? Last year, for the main MLK event, Bush lied about the UM admissions policy and announced his DoJ was opposing it. But the undercard was to resubmit Pickerings name to the Senate.

DeLong is dead right about the remind-the-base comment. A large minority of the US is anti-black. Oh, you don't very often see it as blatantly displayed as it was in the 60s, but it's there and just as extreme and vile. 98% of these scumbags vote Repugnican. We were glad to see these asscrofts leave the Democratic party.

Posted by: oreo on January 16, 2004 08:51 PM

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Yeah, racist scum think Charles Pickering should be an Appeals Court Justice. White supremicists like Charles Evers, civil rights leader and brother of Medgar Evers. The civil rights leaders who know him best - those in Mississippi, where he practiced law, and was a Judge, support him.

The cross-burning case was about opposing mandatory minimums, not supporting racists. The kid who drove the car - who didn't burn the cross - got a harsher sentence than the scum who did burn the cross. Pickering questioned that. In a rational, honest world, the ACLU would be citing this case as evidence that he supports civil liberties.

He worked with racists in 1967 Mississippi. Well, guess what, if he was going to get anywhere in Mississippi politics he was going to have to work with those people. There are two ways to try to change the system - from the inside, and from the outside. People like Pickering worked from the inside. When you do that, you make compromises - supporting things you don't like, enforcing laws you don't want to enforce. Is he a paragon of civil rights? Probably not. He is a conservative, he cares about law & order. He's anti-abortion. But he is not some kind of crypto-racist. He is not Trent Lott. And he is qualified, by temperment and experience, to be an appeals court judge. Shooting his nomination down was pure politics. The Senate Dems had the right to do that. But Bush had the right to do this, as well. In the end, the right result came - a qualified individual will sit on the bench of the court of appeals.

Posted by: rvman on January 16, 2004 09:22 PM

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Nice smear on Pickering and the GOP, Brad -- don't let the facts of Pickering's life get in the way of the CW to the left. It almost makes me rethink bashing Coulter for calling Democrats traitors. Calling Pickering a racist is no better.

Posted by: Matthew Stinson on January 16, 2004 09:28 PM

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Matthew Stinson:

I am sorry, you are an idiot. What does opposition to Pickering have to do with treason? Republicans now have some kind of national security patent or something?

Posted by: Leopold on January 16, 2004 09:40 PM

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rvman writes: People like Pickering worked from the inside.

That requires proof.

rvman writes: When you do that, you make compromises - supporting things you don't like, enforcing laws you don't want to enforce. Is he a paragon of civil rights? Probably not.

So there is no proof.

Posted by: Leopold on January 16, 2004 09:52 PM

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This is something different: the result of somebody inside the White House asking the question, "What can we do around Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to remind the Base that if you don't like Black people, the Republican Party is your natural home?"

By George -- no pun intended -- he's got it!

Posted by: John H. Farr on January 16, 2004 09:56 PM

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I often think these kinds of appointments are chosen precisely because of their symbolic value. It sends the messages to the right people, but leaves deniability. "We never said that. It was about mandatory minimums.It was a state's rights issue."

Ashcroft, when a Missouri Governor was given an order from the state Supreme Court, or national (I can't remember which) ordering desegregation of their schools. He openly defied it. He used said defiance in an ad for his run for governor. "I'll protect your children" kind of bs. He also famously used many techniques for un-registering blacks in St. Louis. (If someone remembers the details better, spell it out, I googled to no avail). But Bush picked him precisely because of these traits. He could be counted on to uphold the laws of our country in such a manner.

..."God knows there are many reasons in America today not to be a Democrat. But they pale to nothing compared to this reason not to be a Republican"...

I'd just like to say that this is the kind of shit that truly disgusts me. Even if Pinkering is being unfairly tarnished for things that happened long ago, surely there were other, less compromised candidates of equal qualifications. Well, no, I guess if the most important qualification was the ability to send a f&*$ you to black people and a show of solidarity with the hateful rednecks of the south, then I guess there weren't that many equally qualified.

The only reason the cowardly democrats never call the Rep's on this shit, is because there are too many ignorant whites in the country. The south, solidly, resolutely Democratic, all of a sudden switches to Republican, in 1964. Just a coincidence, I'm sure. Confederate flags go up over state houses across the south, one hundred years after the Civil War. A flag that only flew for a couple years back then. Just another coincidence.

Posted by: andrew on January 16, 2004 10:03 PM

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Fact: Pickering lied under oath.

Bush has every right to try and appoint a trogdylite like this to the bench. Those who oppose Pickering's positions as revealed by his record on the bench and elsewhere have every right to oppose it. So, where's the beef?

For this we are accused as traitors? Does this make you feel good, now that the "impeach Earl Warren" bumper sticker on your '56 DeSoto has finally worn off?

Why does the right wing hate america?

Posted by: bobbyp on January 16, 2004 10:09 PM

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What I'd like to know is when did Rove decide to appoint Pinkering? Before or after his visit to the MLK Jr. memorial? I'm sure Bush thought it was great payback.

Posted by: LadyBarb on January 16, 2004 11:33 PM

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>"God knows there are many reasons in America today not to be a Democrat. But they pale to nothing compared to this reason not to be a Republican."<

Not to pick nits or anything Brad, but bigotry isn't the ONLY "sin" SOME Republican judges are going to have to account for--come Judgement Day.....

January 17, 2004

Trip With Cheney Puts Ethics Spotlight on Scalia

Friends hunt ducks together, even as the justice is set to hear the vice president's case.

By David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer


WASHINGTON [Of Course] Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent part of last week duck hunting together at a private camp in southern Louisiana just three weeks after the court agreed to take up the vice president's appeal...

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-ducks17jan17,1,7777211.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Posted by: Mike on January 17, 2004 02:36 AM

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I think LadyBarb is hinting correctly at the proximate motivation. Karl and the "president" were pissed off that their wreath-laying photo-op during the Atlanta fund raising trip got turned into a story about protestors. They could fire up the single-issue racists with the appointment whenever he did it, but he could the rest of their base by giving the finger to those who dare criticize the dear leader on national TV. The stars aligned and they acted.

Posted by: Tim on January 17, 2004 06:47 AM

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Mike: Was Cheney wrapping up Scalia's vote for '04? It was the swing vote back in Dec. of 2000. But thanks as I'll have to go get a copy of the LATimes.

Posted by: Harold McClure on January 17, 2004 07:18 AM

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Two points: (1) one of the links provided in "misses the point" (update) references Trent Lott's comment in 2000 that he would oppose all recess appointments. I wonder if he opposed this one?; and (2) there is some hostility towars our host for the word racist but correct me if I'm wrong, but he was not the author of the Salon piece.

Posted by: Harold McClure on January 17, 2004 07:27 AM

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John J. Coupal, it wasn't the "fear" that the Senate would approve Pickering; it was the recognition that his behavior with respect to the cross-burning case rendered him unqualified for the appointment.

As for what have they gotten? confirmation that the gop sees no limits to its hypocrisy, as harold mcclure notes.

rvman, the idea of working from the inside is insulting when it comes to addressing american apartheid. do some homework.

Posted by: howard on January 17, 2004 07:32 AM

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I wouldn't have minded the fundraiser if it hadn't been so lillified with folks who are
openly hostile to civil rights.

Posted by: Daryl on January 17, 2004 11:49 AM

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I think Tim's right; this was Bush giving the "F.U" to the folks who so loudly protested his visit.

But the White South's attitude isn't driven by racism, so much as pride and insensitivity. I've written up a blog post on that in case anyone is interested.

Posted by: David Ross on January 17, 2004 01:47 PM

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In a similar move several months ago, the administration rolled out Marriage Protection Week on the anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, the poster-child victim of gay-bashing. See e.g., http://www.sgn.org/2003/10/10/Letters/ .

Posted by: Mark Barton on January 17, 2004 02:26 PM

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Mark Barton and Brad are right, the White House does announce things like this on specific days to send messages to the base. In addition to the Pickering appointment and the Shepard anniversary announcement, last year on MLK's birthday Bush held a press conference during which he inaccurately labeled the University of Michigan's affirmative action system a "quota" and announced the administration would oppose it before the Supreme Court. That's not something you do on a day when people who care about such things are reflecting on our country's advances in civil rights.

Posted by: Dimmy Karras on January 17, 2004 02:40 PM

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You just know that if Bush got to reinstate Jim Crow there would be tax breaks for the costs of re-installing all those water fountains and restroom facilities.

Posted by: bigfoot on January 17, 2004 03:15 PM

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"People like Pickering worked from the inside."

What did he do from the inside, rvman? Are there specific things that have not been publicized, or did you just make that up?

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on January 17, 2004 03:36 PM

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>>What did he do from the inside, rvman? Are there specific things that have not been publicized, or did you just make that up?<<

Oh, he did do one thing: he quit the Democratic Party and joined the Republican Party because it had a more congenial (to him) attitude toward civil rights.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 17, 2004 10:42 PM

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Charles Evers and Medgar Evers are two different people. Brothers, yes, but Charles has a lot of baggage. He's frequently used to make it seem that the black community support someone or another, but he speaks mostly for himself.

Local support isn't always the most reliable; no one wants to make local enemies, so they're not going to stick their necks out.

Posted by: zizka on January 17, 2004 10:43 PM

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