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Breaking news- Former Senator Jesse Helms dead at 86

Helms, who was first elected in 1972, was the longest serving Senator in North Carolina history. Raleigh's WTVD writes-

In North Carolina Helms was a polarizing figure, and he freely admitted that many people in the state strongly disliked him: "They (the Democrats) could nominate Mortimer Snerd and he'd automatically get 45 percent of the vote." Helms was particularly popular among older, conservative constituents and was considered one of the last "Old South" politicians to have served in the Senate. However, he also considered himself a voice of conservative youth, whom he hailed in the dedication of his autobiography. He is widely credited with helping to move North Carolina from a one-party state dominated by the Democratic Party into a competitive two-party state that usually votes Republican in presidential elections. Under Helms' banner, many conservative Democrats in eastern North Carolina switched parties and began to vote increasingly Republican.

Because of recurring health problems, including bone disorders, prostate cancer and heart disease, Helms did not seek re-election in 2002. His Senate seat was won by Elizabeth Dole, wife of long-time colleague and former Senator Bob Dole. Helms remains to date the longest-serving popularly-elected U.S. senator in North Carolina history.

Many people outside of North Carolina also had strong opinions about the Senator. Helms was a patriot, and it may only seem appropriate he died on the day the US celebrates its independence. RIP.

Hat tip- James Joyner at OTB


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Comments (21)

I live in Raleigh and had m... (Below threshold)

I live in Raleigh and had met the Senator who was a patron of my High School here. He was a polarizing figure because he was a racist in the old days, essentially he didn't want something crammed down his throat as the "progressives" sought to do, for good, but sometimes for ill (affirmative action).

That said, in his later years, he changed his colors, hired blacks for prominent positions, and made some peace.

He will be remembered by people in some forgotten places, like Nicaragua, for trying to free them from the scourge of Communism which had us all under its cloud for most of the 20th Century.

God Bless, and rest well, the Conservative Lion of the Senate.

<a href="http://www.motherj... (Below threshold)
So when someone eulogizes y... (Below threshold)

So when someone eulogizes you, HB, will there be a mini-HB there to snark too?

Too bad Bobby Byrd doesn't ... (Below threshold)

Too bad Bobby Byrd doesn't follow his example of stepping down when infimnity begins to take it's toll.

What snark? He believed whi... (Below threshold)

What snark? He believed white people to be superior in kind to black people. He believed straight people to be superior in kind to gay people.

My comment is a hell of a lot more measured than what some people here had to say when Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer. I meant it as a compliment--seriously--when I said Helms was bright and good with words.

Jesse didn't live to see Pr... (Below threshold)
John S:

Jesse didn't live to see President Obama take the oath of office. I'm guessing a lot of folks will be whistling Dixie four years from now.

...and they'll all reveal t... (Below threshold)

...and they'll all reveal themselves to be ignorant, stupid, petty, immoral animals.

(You forgot to finish your comment, John.)

It is Independence Day, con... (Below threshold)

It is Independence Day, conservatives. In order for the antiquated, intolerant, hateful notions of Jesse Helms to die with him -- you must declare your independence from them -- for a brighter tomorrow, filled with human progress.

Good luck, conservatives.

"It is Independence Day,... (Below threshold)

"It is Independence Day, conservatives. In order for the antiquated, intolerant, hateful notions of Jesse Helms to die with him -- you must declare your independence from them -- for a brighter tomorrow, filled with human progress.

Good luck, conservatives."

This ignorant, pompous, bloviating, idiotic lecture brought to you by the same party that features Senator Robert "KKK" Byrd.

At least old Jesse didn't k... (Below threshold)

At least old Jesse didn't kill a girl in his car while traveling home from a cocktail party . . .

He cancelled out Teddy's vote, thank God. Can you imagine if the libs. had no push back in the '80's??? We'd still have dictatorships all over latin america, a Soviet Union, etc.

All for the sake of accomodation, just like they are trying now with their empty vessel, Obama.

From powerlineblog.com, wor... (Below threshold)

From powerlineblog.com, worth remembering the "true" facts, as opposed to the liberal made up ones, in this case about the ad against Harvey Gantt in 1990:

"But the real issue is not whether the ad played on fears, or whether Gantt could believe the ad was run. The real issue is whether Gantt supported legislation that would lead employers in some instances to deny "best qualified" whites a job. If so, then there was nothing wrong in depicting that result in the ad, since the fears the ad "played on" would be legitimate.

This issue turns on the nature of the Kennedy-Hawkins Civil Rights Act to which the ad refers, and whether Gantt supported it. There is no dispute as to the latter point. As I recall, it's also the case (though this point is not essential) that the legislation failed to pass the Senate by only vote, and thus would have passed if Gantt, not Helms had been representing North Carolina.

As to whether the Kennedy-Hawkins bill is fairly called "a racial quota law," the issue is a bit more complex. Certainly, nothing in the proposed legislation (which was enacted in substantially modified form as the Civil Rights Act of 1991) expressly called for racial quotas. But there are substantial arguments in favor of viewing the bill as paving the way for quotas. National Review made that case here; the Heritage Foundation here. This was also the view of various organizations that represent businesses.

Kennedy-Hawkins could reasonably be viewed as paving the way for quotas in two ways. First, it proposed to change the standard of proving discrimination, and the burden of proof, in ways that would induce employers to adopt quotas. In essence (and to simplify a bit), under Kennedy-Hawkins evidence of the statistical under-representation of minority group members in an employer's workforce or a particular job category would create a presumption of discrimination. The employer then would have to meet a higher standard of proof in defending its selection devices than previously existed. This would lead to quotas because some employers would voluntarily balance their workforces along racial lines to avoid lawsuits. I know from having represented employers that some think and act this way. The less rigorous the standard for proving discrimination through numbers, the more often employers will rig their numbers through the use of quotas. When that happens, the color of your skin can indeed be more important than your qualifications.

Second, Kennedy-Hawkins proposed to overturn a Supreme Court decision holding that persons who are not parties to an employment discrimination consent decree containing racial preferences (i.e. quotas) can challenge decisions taken as a result of the decree in a subsequent employment discrimination suit of their own. In other words, whites harmed by a quota contained in a certain form of settlement, would be unable to sue thereafter. These whites would still have the right to object to the quota prior to the entry of the decree, but as a practical matter that's not likely to happen. Folks like the gentleman depicted in Helms' ad generally first learn of a quota, if at all, when they get the rejection letter or its equivalent.

In sum, though Helms' ad cast the Kennedy-Hawkins legislation in a highly inflammatory light, there's little doubt that its passage would have resulted in some "best qualified" whites being passed over for jobs that, in the absence of the law, they would have been selected for. For better or for worse, inflammatory ads are the norm in tough political contests. One can argue that they should be avoided when the topic is race, but I don't find that argument persuasive. Race remains a key issue, and debate over it should be no less robust than over other matters."

It's amazing that only libs... (Below threshold)

It's amazing that only libs bring out the race card...


R.I.P. , one of the few Sen... (Below threshold)

R.I.P. , one of the few Senators with a pair who dared to call it the way it was.

It's not suprising. In 198... (Below threshold)

It's not suprising. In 1981, Doctor Jones warned of the dangers that the Ark imposed...it is Helms fault for not heeding that warning...and that's what happens. You die:


Meybe we should complain to... (Below threshold)

Meybe we should complain to the Canadian Big Bother Board that HB is spouting hate speech and inciting racial tension.

Good riddance. Another Old ... (Below threshold)

Good riddance. Another Old Guardsman that belonged to a different time and place has perished. Let the bugs have him.

Editor's note: "ClayAiken" is also, apparently, "Skeeter" and "Sticky" from my own "Rights -- And Responsibilities" thread. This is his/her/its warning to settle on a single identity and "stick" with it, or he/she/it will be banned. We don't tolerate sock puppets around here.

Hey, Clay, "It," you'll be ... (Below threshold)

Hey, Clay, "It," you'll be maggot food soon enough, yourself.

At least Helms did something with his life before meeting this fate. You, nothing.

Hyper, you are without a do... (Below threshold)

Hyper, you are without a doubt classless. I know, someone else was mean so that means you can be. Kind of juvenile, even for you. ww

I wasn't being mean. I made... (Below threshold)

I wasn't being mean. I made a statement of fact, and you're free to present counterexamples of Helms being a tolerant, decent person. I think he contributed to a poisonous racial climate in his state. Do you disagree?

Hyper boy, there were plent... (Below threshold)

Hyper boy, there were plenty who contributed to race problems in this state, not the least of which were blacks, indians, as well as whites.

Helms had the guts to call it like it was; if you don't like those facts (see the post I brought over here from powerlineblog, above), then you can just stick to yours, and I'll take the rest, the lion's share.

It would seem that the worl... (Below threshold)
vic lieberman:

It would seem that the world is better off without him perpetuating his racism as something of which to be proud.






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