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Byrd Goes Nuclear With Nazi Comparisons

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) is trying to paint a picture of Republicans as Nazi's leading Democratic Senators off to the gas chambers. He's certainly brought the image of the contemplative, deliberate, and gentlemanly discourse of the United States Senate to a new low. In the parlance of the internet, what the former Ku Klux Klan recruiter turned Senator did was invoke Godwin's Law.

From his speech on the floor of the Senate today:

Many times in our history we have taken up arms to protect a minority against the tyrannical majority in other lands. We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men.

But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitler's dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law. Hitler needed a two-thirds vote to pass that law, and he cajoled his opposition in the Reichstag to support it. Bullock writes that "Hitler was prepared to promise anything to get his bill through, with the appearances of legality preserved intact." And he succeeded.

Hitler's originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.

And that is what the nuclear option seeks to do to Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

It seeks to alter the rules by sidestepping the rules, thus making the impermissible the rule. Employing the "nuclear option", engaging a pernicious, procedural maneuver to serve immediate partisan goals, risks violating our nation's core democratic values and poisoning the Senate's deliberative process.

For the temporary gain of a hand-full of "out of the mainstream" judges, some in the Senate are ready to callously incinerate each Senator's right of extended debate.

The problem with Byrd's argument (among many) is that while he wants to shroud the debate in terms of laws and the constitution what he's really fighting to save is Senate rules. Senate rules aren't laws - for the most part the only ones who give a shit when they are broken or changed is other Senators...

Senator Byrd does know filibusters - he filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Michelle Malkin profiled some of his finer moments in 2001. In 2003 Byrd took to the floor of the Senate compared the Bush administration to Nazi mass murderer Hermann Goering.

Note: See Roofer comment below about a direct unattributed quote in Byrd's speech.

Update: Jon Henke notes that in addition to being crass and ridiculous -- Senator Byrd was also wrong. Hitler most certainly operated "outside the cloak of legality." More reaction, including mine, from the blogosphere in Howard Kurtz's Media Notes in The Washington Post.

Update 2: Trey Jackson scores with the video of the speech and a takedown from MSNBC's Scarborough Country. (Via InstaPundit)


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Comments (47)

You pasted the second parag... (Below threshold)

You pasted the second paragraph twice, unless he said it twice =\

Byrd is an embarassment not... (Below threshold)

Byrd is an embarassment not only to his state, but to Congress itself. Does this guy even know what the constitution has to say about standing senate rules? Does he even know that the so called 'nuclear option' is in fact a Constitutional Option? He is either a liar, inexcusably ignorant, or mentally deranged . . . . or perhaps a combination!

Yeah, Sen. Byrd making Hitl... (Below threshold)

Yeah, Sen. Byrd making Hitler analogies is completely appropriate given his reputation and previous occupation.

Man, where's a well-placed lightning bolt when you need it?

Sen. Byrd is apparently aff... (Below threshold)
Roofer:

Sen. Byrd is apparently afflicted with Biden's disease, which causes one person to use the words of another without attribution.

At
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/viewtopic.php?topic=5688&forum=3

we find:

Hitler's originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.

Source: Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, rev. ed. (New York: Bantam Books, 1961), pp. 213, 217, 225. Original edition: 1953.

Byrd ranks right there with... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Byrd ranks right there with Kennedy as a senator who really needs to retire, but the people of West Virginia must think the senate is a lifetime appointment.

Many people aren’t aware th... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

Many people aren’t aware that the movie “Easy Rider” had a scene, and an entire song, based on the life of Robert Byrd.

I can’t remember the exact lyrics, but it went something like: “If you want to be a Byrd, it won’t take much, to get you up there…”

Has any prominent Democrat ... (Below threshold)

Has any prominent Democrat denounced Byrd yet?

... tick ... tick ... tick ...

So Byrd is getting upset th... (Below threshold)

So Byrd is getting upset that Hitler pushed through a bill completely overstepping the bounds of Germany's Constitution?

The entire liberal agenda in this country oversteps the bounds of our Constitution. I should say "Hurrah, Byrd!" Let's repeal all your left-wing redistributionist laws and get back to a truly Constitutionally-limited Republic.

Roofer, to nitpick, that's ... (Below threshold)
Josh:

Roofer, to nitpick, that's probably just a point of a misplaced quotation mark by a staffer than malice to plagiarize on Byrd's part. He does note Bullock in the previous paragraph, and the quote is probably meant to encompass both.

As a teenage, I loved to li... (Below threshold)
McCain:

As a teenage, I loved to listed to Robert Byrd because of his powerful and colorful oratory skills. He talked a good talk, but when independent reasoning overcame my sensibilities, I discovered that he was mostly full of crap. Yet still, in his prime, he was an orator unmatched by any in the Senate.

So as a historical figure, Byrd has been a great political figure. He is eminently quotable, and because of that, he will be quoted and quoted again by future historians compiling the storied history of the Senate. And I say that knowing that he is a dinosaur, the last of the influential racists, and practially senile today.

For example, history will record that he held (what seems today to be a laughably impotent and inconsequantial) debate in the Senate about the Iraq war. And yet THAT debate will be known as about the only public record of the feelings of the nation on this war. So in 50 years, it will be recognized as an important historical footnote to the national debate leading up to our eventual democratizaton of the middle east. So as a matter of public record, Byrd did serve a public service, as obtuse and nationally demoralizing as it seems today.

What do you expect from the... (Below threshold)
Rod Stanton:

What do you expect from the former Grand Wizard of the W. Va. KKK?

For the record, Byrd was a ... (Below threshold)

For the record, Byrd was a Kleagle (recruiter) -- never a Grand Wizard.

To be fair Sheets does give... (Below threshold)
Oxen:

To be fair Sheets does give credit to Alan Bullock, poorly and not fully, but he does mention him.

I wonder what kind of a hoo... (Below threshold)
bsp:

I wonder what kind of a hood ornament he has on his car. He's just pissed because the Nazis had prettier uniforms than the KKK.... What a freakin' second class operation using cheap bedsheets.....Methinks he should just concentrate on what he does best- i.e., being the pork king of the U.S. and maybe get a better tailor for "his boys" for when they work the mightnight shift.

that is "midnight" shift- c... (Below threshold)
bsp:

that is "midnight" shift- can't type

I'm sorry, but the word "Kl... (Below threshold)
julie:

I'm sorry, but the word "Kleagle" is too similar to the word Kegal, and it always makes me laugh.

Let Mr. Byrd know what you ... (Below threshold)
John A:

Let Mr. Byrd know what you think

http://byrd.senate.gov/byrd_email.html

Byrd is a tremendous embarr... (Below threshold)
Jumbo:

Byrd is a tremendous embarrassment to West Virgina, but they put up with the Hillbilly Bloviator because he brings home the bacon like no other lawmaker in America. Unless I'm mistaken, West Virginia citizens have more federal money spent on them or in W.V., per capita, than in any other state. Uncle Sugar sure helps you swallow your pride.

Unless I'm mistaken, Wes... (Below threshold)

Unless I'm mistaken, West Virginia citizens have more federal money spent on them or in W.V., per capita, than in any other state.

I'm afraid Alaska probably has WV beat, especially now that the Republicans are in charge and Ted Stevens is Appropriations Chairman. When Jumpin' Jim Jeffords put Sheets back in that seat the Mountaineers probably got a boost, but Stevens makes Byrd's pork buffet look like a half-eaten ham sandwich.

The senator didnt invoke Go... (Below threshold)
IM:

The senator didnt invoke Godwin's Law. The senator threw accusations of Nazism.

'Invoking Godwin's Law', by contrast, is the process of someone on the internet trying to show off by mentioning "Godwin's Law". And since the senator didnt say it on usenet, it's even less applicable (although there I am straying into traditional 'Godwin's Law bore' territory)

Someone should invent a new "Law" that describes how misguided nerds invariably jump at the chance to invoke Godwin's Law, in order to appear clever and in-the-know.

Ted Stevens probably is the... (Below threshold)
Justagoober:

Ted Stevens probably is the King of Pork, but Robert C. Byrd is no slacker. I live in Kentucky and travel to West Virginia on business occasionally. And it's no urban legend - there are a substantial number of bridges, buildings, and other public facilities with the Byrd name afixxed thereto. Our tax dollars at work.

for "McCain":While... (Below threshold)

for "McCain":

While Byrd was indeed an orator......NONE in recent history have come close in my estimation to my own Senator Everett M Dirksen of Illinois. He had such a powerful voice that he and his stories were even recorded and sold in an album!

As a young radio newsman from Pekin, IL, Dirksen's home town (though he lived most of the time in Virginia) I had a wonderful chance to interview his often. When he was in town he'd call me at 5:30am weekday mornings and allow me to record and use him on the air.

Neat times, neat memories....and several stories too long to replay here.....
I'll put one particular story on my blog:

http://pekinprattles.blogspot.com

Duke

Your left side bar is block... (Below threshold)
Jimbo:

Your left side bar is blocking your text, at least on this platform (HPze5470us laptop)

I am afraid that you are no... (Below threshold)
Jeremy:

I am afraid that you are not understanding the rationale behind Byrd's comment. The fact that he resorted to such a harsh comparison shows how scared he is of the GOP.
I am Jewish, yet I am not offended by his remarks, but scared as well. Given that he is not the first to compare the Republicans to a fascist movement, I am beginning to wonder if he on to something. Look up the definition of fascism and see for yourself if it fits Bush's political goals.

As a native of West Virgini... (Below threshold)
Chuck:

As a native of West Virginia, I'm certainly ashamed of Sen. Byrd - sadly, he's become an institution (not unlike Ted Kennedy), and the only way he'll be leaving the senate is feet first. I'd dispute his reputation as "King of Pork" - he's sent a few dollars our way for projects (and yes, his name has been placed on most of them), but few are what I'd call serious pork barrel projects - like a military base, for example. He did move the FBI fingerprinting center from Washington DC to WV, and that's where he got the "King" title - DC hates to lose even a tiny fraction of their job base.

Jeremy -I looked. ... (Below threshold)
JB:

Jeremy -

I looked. The answer is, "No." Actually, the answer is, "Are you out of your mind?"

Please adjust the tinfoil on your head so the Halliburton Secret Police can't read your secret thoughts.

Senator Frist has <a href="... (Below threshold)

Senator Frist has responded.

This retro-Dem fascination ... (Below threshold)
John Blake:

This retro-Dem fascination with Der Furher seems to me a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, the urge to identify with one's oppressor. Not only does Herr Byrd seek solace from his party's powerlessness by invoking Brown Shirt puissance, but he does so in projection of all collectivists' wishful thinking-- the sense that, if I but had the unchecked power, I'd be able to do things just MY WAY. Reid, Pelosi et.al. commonly attribute such attitudes (not policies) to demonized figures of some Church, probably because their own unacknowledged theology is generally comfortable repressing opposition. Force of argument, in terms of facts or logic, means nothing to these people, so why bother stating and re-stating the obvious to close-minded doobs? There is a reality at work here, and sooner rather than later it'll wash 'em over the Falls. Meantime, let 'em keep cowering in their reinforced barrels of unknowing.

JB - There is no need to be... (Below threshold)
Jeremy:

JB - There is no need to be rude. Aren't I allowed to express a reasonable opinion? This is exactly what Senator Byrd was trying to say - the rights of the minority are under attack. I also disagree that this is Stockholm Syndrome. The truth is that we are terrified of any possibility that the Nazi ideals might rise again. I am terrified of any group with too much power, and the Republicans are on that track. Just because you agree with some of the Republican policies does not mean that you shouldn't fear its power. Given that some of the bills currently under debate are not in synch with traditional Republican values (for example, this whole national driver's license act that the house passed is a huge assault on state's rights.), I am really curious why so many intelligent, conservative people think that the GOP is so wonderful.

Jeremy, I agree with your ... (Below threshold)
Labels can Kill:

Jeremy, I agree with your assessment that one party should never have too much power. In Georgia, it took 130 years for the Republicans to take control of the government.. What's interesting, a lot of the legislators are former Dems turned Republicans. So you get some of these liberal bills wrapped up by a labeled conservative who is probably a left of center moderate.. Labels can kill and the Dems keep trying to label everyone, but themselves.

Call him a Nazi, call him a fascist, at least we have a leader in the White House that made the tough decisions after 9/11. This country went weak in the 90's, so many attacks and only a few weak responses. The terrorists are finally getting their due like Hitler and all the other tyrants. The Dems took their power and squandered it by not leading our country and not responding to the terror threats. Now many Democrats are leaving their once proud party which has resorted into a bunch of name calling radicals that have lost touch with Americans!

I don't know why anyone wou... (Below threshold)
Jake:

I don't know why anyone would be apalled by Senator Byrd's comparison of Bush and the Republicans as Nazis, my only question is why hasn't the comparison been brought up before? Aside from the source of the Bush family money coming directly from Nazi Germany and most of Adolf Hitler's "cabinet" members, many of Bush Sr.'s cabinet and advisors got their money from the same source. If you look at Rove, Chenney and Bush, their intense secrecy, their drive to mislead the public about what is really going on - through fake news releases, paying off members of the press, sneaking in "beards" to the WH press meetings, sanctioning torture, keeping supposed terrorist foreign nationals in prison for years with no outside contact, trying to move the country to a zealot state of Christianity, where couterpoints and any outside ideas or ideals might be allowed to shed light, "gestapo" tactics and interrogations done with attack dogs to sink the fear of God into secret prisoners, - feel free to stop me at any time here - how far off are we from Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany?

Jake- You really have no u... (Below threshold)
Steve:

Jake- You really have no understanding of Nazi Germany if you believe all that.

And you do, Steve? Senator... (Below threshold)
Jeremy:

And you do, Steve? Senator Byrd was not talking about the Holocaust, but the political manuverings of Hitler that brought him to power. While I agree that labels can indeed be harmful, a fascist regime is taking over this country. Here's the definition from Merriam-Webster: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. That is what is happening here. Abundant patriotism abounds, but anyone not flying a flag is thought less of. This is valuing the nation above the individual. Several bills introduced lately are eroding state's rights, moves that are providing more power to the Federal government, thus centralizing the government. Measures like legally defining marriage and increasing censorship by the FCC are social regimentation. Everything is falling into place for Karl Rove and he has scores of bloggers backing him up. Why isn't everyone afraid?

I am not just some whacky delusional liberal, so if someone can please show me a different interpretation, I would be happy to listen. However, saying that he was the man for the job when the terrorists attacked is not a justificiation for his current actions.

JeremyLet's go ove... (Below threshold)
Jay:

Jeremy

Let's go over that definition again and see which party better qualifies as "Fascist", shall we?

"a political philosophy, movement, or regime... that exalts nation and often race above the individual"

Um, bad news, but this is at the heart of the rotting Leftism that defines the modern Democratic party. Which party is it that places more emphasis on groupthink and identity politics than on individual character and ideas? Which party has carved this country into a collection of hyphenated-Americans divided along racial/gender/sexual orientation/economic lines? Which party keeps insisting that they need to steal more of our money for the sake of the "greater good"? Which party excoriates any member of its "useful idiot" lemming-like voting blocks (the Jews, the blacks, the gays) who have the nerve to dissent from its rigid orthodoxy (see Rice, Condoleezza)?

"and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader"

You're right. The Democrats don't want a single dictatorial leader; they want five. They call it a "Supreme Court majority". And if you think that anything that George Bush has done even remotely approximates the disdain for our Constitution regularly expressed by these robed oligarchs, then you’re indifferent, ignorant, or tacitly complicit. You talked about the erosion of states' rights and the further concentration of power in the hands of the federal government. On that concern you and I agree wholeheartedly. But if you think the primary culprit for this usurpation of authority is the Bush administration (whose culpability cannot be denied), then your anger is wildly misdirected. The Supreme Court has been spitting all over the separation of powers, both between the state federal governments and among the three branches of government, for decades, going back even further than that hallowed abomination known as "Roe vs. Wade".

"severe economic and social regimentation"

Let's see...
Oppressive levels of taxation? Check.
Ludicrous levels of corporate and personal regulation? Check.
Active oppression of Christians exercising their First Amendment rights? Check.
"Hate Crime" legislation, designed to punish "undesirable" intent rather than the nature of the act? Check.
Forced busing, diversity/sensitivity training, and quota-based hiring by race/gender? Check.

I'll give you three guesses as to which party is responsible for these blatant examples of economic and social regimentation...

"and forcible suppression of opposition."

Unless you're referring to the subhuman wastes of flesh we've got penned in at Gitmo as the "opposition", you'll have to enlighten me as to where this "forcible suppression" is coming from. Considering that you are here, comparing the Bush administration to Mussolini's or Hitler's, and doing so, apparently, without rational fear of being "silenced", your argument is foolish and hyperbolic. Please show me concrete examples where the rights of anti-Bush lefties, no matter how unstable and dangerous they may be, to peaceably assemble or voice their opinions over on Kos's idiot blog, or in the NYT, the WP, et al. have been suppressed. Pretty please with sugar on it. And good luck, friend, because you ain't gonna find a single legitimate example.

I, on the other hand, can come up with numerous examples where Christians and other conservatives have been actively harassed and even jailed (the "Philadelphia Four" being a great one) for exercising their Constitutional rights. Of course, the Left doesn't believe in the Constitution; never has. To that cult and its members, it is merely a quaint and even offensive instrument to be wielded clumsily and disingenuously whenever it suits their purpose, which is a feverish pursuit of universal conformity and forced compliance with their ideology. Of course, that ideology has killed, tortured, starved, and miseried more people than all other man-made evils combined, but I keep forgetting that it's all in the name of the "greater good".

It's... just... so... infuriating... when people like you so casually throw around comparisons between Bushism and Fascism. It's even more infuriating that you actually bothered to look up the definition of Fascism and STILL came to the same asinine conclusion. There is no excuse for this level of intellectual laziness and moral relativity. You seem like a decent enough and salvageable sort so, please, SMARTEN UP and stop buying into the wild bumper-sticker mentality of the Left. You want to see Fascism in action? Take a trip to a major public university.

Jake,You failed to s... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Jake,
You failed to show any relationship between money and leadership. FDR, like Bush, was born with a silver spoon. Hitler was a bastard child born into poverty. Aside from being highly entertaining, the first third of your post fails logically just as all Chomsky arguments fail.

The middle third of your post would have merit, if it weren't for the annoying fact that all presidents manipulate the press. Indeed all politicians in every country do it, as exemplified by your old pals the communists. What you have failed to do is two things: show how Bush is better or worse than anyone else, and why it matters.

The final third of your post is an attempt to show how we have lost freedoms, but you fail equally here. You manage to list only Guantanamo and a rather vague reference to Christians taking over the damn country. What you failed to show is what freedoms you have lost, I have lost, or any citizen has really lost. Try again, and be really specific.

So your paper is returned to try again, and try it this time without yelling about the gestapo. That doesn't mean anything really, and just causes people to laugh at you. We are far far off from fascism in this country, 61 years and increasing. And the part you must really like is that we are ending fascism in other countries as well. Write about that in your next paper, but don't let Chomsky see it.

Sen. Byrd has the courage t... (Below threshold)
Lynda:

Sen. Byrd has the courage to tell it like it is. Bush is bringing the US closer to Nazi Germany every day. Why Americans continue to support the most corrupt administration in our history is beyond me. Is a collective American stupidity? Complacency? The arrogance to think that only we matter. If we continue to support the outrages of this administration, I hope no one is surprised when they "come for us next."
Thank God for men like Sen. Byrd.

Lynda,And yet anot... (Below threshold)
JJ:

Lynda,

And yet another Left-wing nutjob compares Bush to Hitler without qualifying it with anything approximating a logical argument.

Is it collective Lefty stupidity?
Babbling incoherence?
The arrogance to believe that anyone who doesn't subscribe to your unbelievably destructive worldview is an idiot?

I hope that no one is surprised when they don't "come for us next", because, as far as I can tell, they haven't "come for anyone" first. Except, of course, the terrorists, and you certainly don't sympathize with them, do you? Nah, of course not. That would make you a monster.

And "thank God for Senator Byrd"? The man was a freaking Klansman for crying out loud. Is there ANY example of good versus evil where the Left doesn't actively side with the evil?

AARP President Marie Smith ... (Below threshold)

AARP President Marie Smith Tells Black Leadership "No Social Security Crisis..."

Atlanta was the hot spot. Tavis Smiley hosted his annual symposium "The State of the Black Union." The forum was held at Rev. Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The program focused on defining the African American Agenda. Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition took opportunity to explain to those gathered that the Black Congressional Caucus has in place a ten (10) point plan of action. But regardless of the question of whether or not the agenda set forth by the Caucus is the substance of this group's covenant the forum did establish that the process will include a community unity.

Today, black leaders voiced a need to advance the community. Freedom was the agenda until 1864. Civil rights, voting rights and access to public accomodations followed from 1864 to 1964. Leveraging the black community's collective capital appears to be the new covenant.

They voiced a concern that Democrats have taken the black community for granted and the republican party "just takes, using blacks who really have no power to lead."

The highmark of the event was when the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam, explained to the group that "regardless of where we have been, we want to advance our people." He said, " black children can't eat at the table of illusion and hypocrisy." He added, "we can't focus on the house that denied us access for 400 years." He closed, "the hell with democrats and republicans."

These African American leaders, carrying the history and weight of the black experience want group unity. They appear to have found meaning in their individuality and heritage. It's more than a common skin pigmentation. It has now become a community based on a social phenomenon of systematic and comprehensive forces that only those challenged by a longstanding history of discrimination and violence may understand.

The Need:

The level playing field remains more illusion than reality... Since the start of George W. Bush presidency in January 2000 a general concern in the African American community was voiced that on issues that are of the greatest importance to millions of Americans, the President's policies are misplaced priorities. The uncertainty continued into 2004 election.

But there's one truth above all others in second term elections. They are referendums on the incumbent. So as hard as it is to accept, there are other Americans outside the African American community that like the job that George W. Bush is doing. And, with re-election he's not an asterisk anymore alone among American presidents. That is, riding the votes of 59 million (other)Americans, he's the president regardless of the fact that majority of African Americans who voted would rather have had the other guy.

So... it's time to move on. African Americans must put their differences aside. American identity is not a function of birthright but a way of life. The African American community must keep moving toward the America identity it believes is possible. Isn't democracy great?

Some argue "African American leaders judges America from the utopian standard, never comparing America to anything other but the Garden of Eden (immigrants, for example, are said to compare America to their old country)." But, it has been only forty years since separate water fountains of Jim Crow prohibitions and many Americans would now like to proceed as if the slate is clean and the scale is balanced.

The upward strides of many African Americans into the middle class have given the illusion that race cannot be the barrier that some make it out to be. However, one in four African Americans continue to live below the official poverty line (versus approximately one in nine whites). The optimistic assumption of the 1970s and 1980s was that upwardly mobile African Americans were quietly integrating formerly all-white occupations, businesses, neighborhoods, and social clubs. Black middle- and working-class families were moving out of all-black urban neighborhoods and into the suburbs. But, the one black doctor who lives in an exclusive white suburb and the few African American lawyers who work at a large firm are not representative of the today's black community. And although most white Americans are also not doctors or lawyers, the lopsided distribution of occupations for whites does favor such professional and managerial jobs, whereas blacks are clustered in the sales and clerical fields.

In short, the inequalities run even deeper than just income. One must compound and exponentiate the current differences over a history of slavery and Jim Crow, and the nearly fourteenfold wealth advantage that whites enjoy over African Americans—regardless of income, education, or occupation—needs little explanation, and add the failure of the education system where African Americans children are the clear victims.

The explanations for economic inequality perceives the American political economy as being fundamentally fair with virtually everyone guaranteed an equal opportunity to compete, work hard, and excel in American schools, labor markets, housing markets, and other American social institutions. However, using wealth as a measure of economic inequality, the same top twenty percent of American households controlled over sixty-eight percent of the net worth of the United States, leaving virtually no wealth in the hands of the bottom twenty percent.

Economic inequality that characterized the United States at its inception continues to influence contemporary institutional practices and American social institutions routinely discriminate against African Americans denying them the means of acquiring human capital (innate individual capacities such as talent and motivation combined with achieved qualities such as educational qualifications and employment experiences). Limited to segregated neighborhoods, educated in inferior schools, and lacking access to the good jobs that are increasingly located in inaccessible suburban neighborhoods, African Americans bear an unfair share of the costs and economic inequality in the United States constitutes economic injustice.

Recurring discrimination in workplaces and elsewhere wastes human capital and seriously restricts and marginalizes its victims. The negative impact of racial animosity and discrimination includes a sense of threat at work or elsewhere, lowered self-esteem, rage at mistreatment, depression, the development of defensive tactics, a reduction in desire for normal interaction, and other psychological problems. The costs of racial animosity and discrimination extends well beyond the individual to families and communities. While many African Americans may have managed to overcome discrimination, their struggle will take a toll in their personal health or on the ability to maximize contributions to the larger society.

Discussion:

Are some blacks becoming a "black bourgeoisie?"

Are some blacks controlling the wealth and power within the black community and turning its back on its own people?

Are many members of black America adopting the values, standards and ideals of the white middle class, and are trying to distance themselves from the black poor?

In the 1960s, federal entitlement programs, civil rights legislation, equal opportunity statutes and affirmative action programs broke the open barriers of legal segregation. The path to universities and corporations for some blacks was now wide open. More blacks than ever did what their parents only dreamed of – they fled blighted inner-city areas in droves. The new frontier, business where the dollar is made and where significant wealth and resources are at stake.

But, is there a widening rift between the black haves and the black have-nots that has been blurred by racism, ignored by blacks and hidden from white society?

Is black wealth, like white wealth, now concentrated in fewer hands?

A study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project, shows progress toward school desegregation peaked in late 1980s. That is a half-century after the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of American education, schools are almost as segregated as they were when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The report said that a massive migration of black families toward the suburbs is producing "hundreds of new segregated and unequal schools and frustrating the dream of middle-class minority families." According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test report, by the 12th grade, on average, black students (in the United States) are four years behind those who are white or Asain.

The "NAEP" test report not only average scores for each racial or ethnic group; they also place each individual test-taker in one of four different "achievement levels." The bottom is labeled below basic, which is reserved for students unable to display even "partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills." In five of the seven subjects tested, a majority of black twelfth graders perform Below Basic. In math, the figure is almost seven out of ten, in science more than three out of four.

While this gap may not be hidden from public, black republicans have been inhibited from describing the problem in its full dimensions. But closing the skills gap is the answer to real racial equality in American society.

What, in fact, are black republicans doing with what they aggregate?

Access to positions of power and prestige – and to well-paying jobs in general – are limited because blacks typically leave high school with an eighth-grade education. The status of blacks today is different than it was a half century ago, when almost 90 percent of blacks lived in poverty. By now more than 40 percent of blacks describe themselves as middle class, and a third live in suburbs. College attendance rates are as high although a high percentage drop out before getting a four-year degree. African-Americans are CEOs and occupy lofty positions in the federal government. But all is not well.

The most discouraging news of all is that which has been barely discussed by black leaders: the appalling racial gap in academic achievement in the K-12 years. Without an education, black children are slaves to the world they live in. Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision struck down legalized school segregation to give equal educational access to African Americans and other minorities. But, today's major American educational issue still involves race.

Blacks have no choice but to prepare its young. At least three black men ascended in the aftermath of civil rights movement to become CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and an additional 275 or more senior black executives are now no less than three steps away from the CEO. They've attended the nation's most prestigious schools, learned how to navigate the highest reaches of the systems, and they have thrived.

But, for all their great wealth and enormous resources, it appears most sucessful blacks remain absent from the struggle of educating our young. Recently, Kmart Holding Corp. chose Aylwin Lewis to improve the giant retailer's image and operation. Lewis joins Stanley O'Neal of Merrill Lynch, Richard Parsons of Time Warner, Ken Chenault of American Express and Franklin Raines of Fannie Mae as the only African American chief executives heading top publicly trading companies in the U.S.

Corporations today say they do look to a talent pool largely comprising minorities and women for their senior and middle managers. But the level of education and the caliber of schools blacks attended are not equal, and the competition for market share is so ferocious that companies must recruit the best talent.

George W. Bush appealed to Americans' best instincts when he declared that no child should be left behind.

But?

All agree that every child in America should have the same opportunity to reach his or her full potential regardless of the color of skin, gender or the income level of the child's parents. The president's plan has set up millions of vulnerable kids for failure, leaving black youth with another dose of mostly symbolic politics. The education reform accountability system based on annual testing in grades three through eight that financially sanctions schools that do not show quick improvement, will do a great deal of additional damage to the children in America's most-troubled public schools. It is wrong to expect schools to succeed virtually overnight when so little is done to attack inequalities in education.

How can he expect the poorest children, who face every disadvantage, to do as well as those who have every advantage?

Given Bush's spending priorities there is little left to finance his efforts to leave no child behind. Further, by the time students enter the third grade, when the Bush testing plan would kick in, much already has been determined about whether individual children will succeed or struggle academically.

America's schools must be accountable to the children being educated in them and to their parents. But making high-stakes annual tests the sole determinant for students and their schools, and imposing major costs on those who fail, is counterproductive.

In closing, assessment should measure, not drive, education reform. Why force schools to spend thousands on consultants to teach test-taking strategies instead of substantive learning? The magic that can happen between a creative teacher and engaged students is too often lost in schools driven by test preparation.

Jay - I appreciate the effo... (Below threshold)
Jeremy:

Jay - I appreciate the effort and the lack of insults. That is unfortunately a rare thing to find when I read conservative blogs or when I see conservatives posting on liberal blogs. However, I really do still disagree with you. A couple of years ago I spent about 6 months studying in southern Germany. I am a biologist, so there was no politics in my studies. While I was there I talked to people and went to museums and the like to find out what really happened in the early 1930's. The most striking thing that I saw was an old black and white photograph of the town square where I was living. It was a placed I walked through every day, but in the photograph it was covered with swastikas. Literally every available spot had a flag on it. This propoganda machine that Hitler created is how he was able to do what he did. Now I in no way think that the US will ever become like that. However, I see the rights of U.S. citizens being slowly eroded away in the name of protecting us from terrorism, and I see the GOP creating this enormous propoganda machine that began with Bush buying off the press. Those things scare me. So, if an old senator whole lived through WWII wants to accuse the Republican leadership in the senate of using fascist tactics, then I say more power to him. With that, I yield the floor.

Robert Byrd's grandmother w... (Below threshold)
Goeffrey MacPherson:

Robert Byrd's grandmother would have washed his mouth out with soap for his comments.

Geoff MacPherson

Yeah, like Dick Cheney's "G... (Below threshold)
James:

Yeah, like Dick Cheney's "Go F... Yourself!" on the Senate floor! Senator Byrd is just falling in line with the rest of the fine gentlemen.

JamesUnlike Robert K... (Below threshold)
Linda:

James
Unlike Robert KKK Byrd, Vice President Cheney's remarks were said in private to a non-gentlemen that had just finished accusing him of everything his narrow little mind could come up with. The most disHonorable Robert Byrd, made his remarks on the floor of the Senate for the record. You could try to get some perspective.

Jeremy,If you beli... (Below threshold)
Jay:

Jeremy,

If you believe that rights are truly being eroded in the name of fighting terrorism, and if you believe that there is a bought-and-paid-for propaganda machine being produced by the White House and masquerading as a free press, then I would agree that you have every right to be concerned.

My problem is, you have no rational reason to believe either of these things. You show me 1,000,000 people that claim to have been negatively impacted by the Patriot Act in any way, shape, or form, and I'll show you 999,999 liars and one terrorist. The Patriot Act extends RICO-like powers to governmental and law enforcement agencies pursuing suspected terrorists. That's about it, and it's something that would've been done by Bill Clinton if he hadn't been too busy gutting our intelligence community and turning the CIA into a poster child for "diversity hiring" (diversity, of course, which didn't include many Arabic speaking agents, despite that having been their greatest need for years). It is ludicrous to suggest that law enforcement should have special pursuit and surveillance powers (all of which must be approved by a judge after demonstrating just cause, by the way) of suspected drug dealers and gangsters but not suspected terrorists, wouldn't you agree? So, instead of buying into the histeria of Lefties who never met a mass-murdering totalitarian they didn't want to protect under the shroud of "freedom", I suggest you read the statute and do some research to verify your fears that your rights aren't every bit as available to you as they were before Bush came into office. That is, unless you're someone who dares wish another Merry Christmas within earshot of an anti-religious fascist...

And as for the Bush Administration "buying the press", you have GOT to be kidding me. Despite the penetration of blogs, the success of conservative talk radio, and scandal after scandal that has exposed the mainstream media as the Leftist shills that they are and have been for over 40 years, the majority of people are still dim enough to tune into the big three networks and pick up the New York Times to get their "news". No objective, informed person could or ever has successfully argued that these media sources aren't blatantly biased in favor of leftist ideology and Democratic candidates for office. Ever since Cronkite and Rather snow-jobbed the American public into believing that the Tet Offensive was a crushing defeat for our military (while the opposite was demonstrably true, and they damn well knew it) and that the Vietnam War was lost, "journalists" have been pouring out of our fine Orwellian thought factories (read "universities") not with the intention of reporting facts to the public but to "change the world". And, of course, since the world to which they're reporting overwhelmingly rejects their Stalin-loving worldview, they have to "change the world" by changing the facts or selectively reporting only those facts which advance their ideology. I could enumerate several hundred examples of shameful, blatant, irrefutable Leftist media bias, but Brent Bozell at the Media Research Center does a very good job all on his own. You might want to check it out before you go on about the vast pro-Bush propaganda machine filling our heads with mob-like nationalism and dreams of imperialistic glory.

Perhaps you refer to the chump change that was given to Armstrong Williams to support the (horribly-unConstitutional-and-brutally-expensive) No Child Left Behind Act. This was stupid on the part of Williams and sleazy on the part of the Department of Education, but (a) Williams was a big fan of the NCLBA anyway, and (b) there is nothing inherently illegal in what the DOE did. Or perhaps you're referring to the tempest-in-a-teapot known to Lefty Loons with far too much time on their hands as "GannonGate"? If this is to you an example of "buying the press", then all I can say is -- WEAK. This guy got a day press pass that pretty much anyone with anything resembling an audience and a "journalistic mission" can get; you should see the Chinese and Muslim anti-American propaganda rags that have gotten access to the press corps this way in the past. As far as I can tell, this guy's biggest "sin" is being gay and a Republican at the same time. No one can reasonably be upset that he asked "friendly" questions of Bush, considering that the rest of the hacks in that corps treated Clinton like a God in his first term and a victim in his second ("Mr. President, why do think everyone is being so mean to you?"), and senile Communists like Helen Thomas have been doing nothing more than advancing their twisted ideology for decades under the guise of being "reporters".

If you wanted to see a real government-paid propagandist masquerading as a journalist, you should have been watching Bill Moyers all those years he was on the government dole selling hatred of Christians and Republicans for PBS audiences. This talentless nimrod analyzed the 2004 election and came to the conclusion that George Bush won because millions of his voters are anticipating the return of Christ and the end of the world, and therefore don't need to act "morally" (as all Leftists define their poisonous philosophy of turning their lessers into cattle that they rule like "benevolent" deities).

Come on man, you're killing me here. These are the parallels you see between Nazi Germany and the democratically elected Bush administration? Doesn't the fact that you can fling these outrageous invectives publicly without being imprisoned, tortured, or murdered dispel you of that very belief? You do realize that, despite what your Lefty history professor might tell you, Hitler's assumption of power was never subtle and never Democratic. Hitler never won the majority of a popular election, and by the time he got the Enabling Law passed that made him a de facto dictator, his SA had already killed or driven away any politician that was willing to oppose him. Have you heard of similar tactics being employed by Bush? Lots of Boxers, Pelosis, Reids, or Sharptons disappearing these days? Any brown-shirted goonsquads wandering the streets and rounding up peaceful protesters? Know of any left-wing and virulently anti-Bush (and anti-America, anti-Constitution, anti-freedom) publications or blogs that have been silenced?

I said it before and I'll say it again. Stop with the bumper-sticker mentality. You've produced two posts that demonstrated an ability to think on your own and even some direct experience that most people don't have, so use that ability and that experience for critical analysis that doesn't include oft-repeated and never-justified lies about a "government bought press" and "erosion of freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism".

Byrd's statements are not o... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Byrd's statements are not only ludicrous, but they are also hypocritical. I'm surprised you didn't mention his pro-constitutional option stance in 1979. Martin Gold writes:

But what if the current Senate cloture rule is not binding? In 1979, faced with a potential filibuster on his rules-change proposal, Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) raised the possibility that the U.S. Constitution provides the majority with a method for overriding the Senate's cloture rule:
The Constitution in article I, section 5, says that each House shall determine the rules of its proceedings. Now we are at the beginning of Congress. This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past.
....
The first Senate, which met in 1789, approved 19 rules by a majority vote. Those rules have been changed from time to time .... So the Members of the Senate who met in 1789 and approved that first body of rules did not for one moment think, or believe, or pretend, that all succeeding Senates would be bound by that Senate .... It would be just as reasonable to say that one Congress can pass a law providing that all future laws have to be passed by two-thirds vote. Any Member of this body knows that the next Congress would not heed that law and would proceed to change it and would vote repeal of it by majority vote.
[I]t is my belief--which has been supported by rulings of Vice Presidents of both parties and by votes of the Senate--in essence upholding the power and right of a majority of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate at the beginning of a new Congress.
Byrd made clear that if his rules-change proposal were filibustered, he would invoke the Senate's powers under the U.S. Constitution to force a vote. Byrd never carried out his threat to use the "constitutional option." He never had to. His threat to use it was enough to break the opposition and secure a vote on his rules-change proposal.

28 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 205

Robert Byrd and the dixiecr... (Below threshold)
portb71:

Robert Byrd and the dixiecrats weren't liberals. in fact the American conservative union in 1971, the first year its ratings came out gave conservative democrats favorable conservative ratings, higher than many northeastern republicans. Robert Byrd and Fritz Hollings moderated their views somewhat to survive, but were given very favorable consevative ratings to rival republicans today. On the other hand, liberals like McGovern and Tedy Kennedy and the northern democrats who supported CRA 64 got 0 ratings, which, of course, is what liberals would expect to get: http://www.conservative.org/new_ratings/1971/sen_riwy.html

Senator Byrd is a remarkabl... (Below threshold)
Sherry:

Senator Byrd is a remarkable man and politician. The people of West Virginia are to be commended for continuing to elect him. In response to pajama hadin's comment, Senator Byrd knows more about our Constitution than most. You need to do research before making incorrect statements.

Senator Byrd is a remark... (Below threshold)
Steve:

Senator Byrd is a remarkable man and politician.

9 out of 10 Klansmen agree.




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