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FINALLY: Justice Clarence Thomas Recognized by Smithsonian African-American History Museum 

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty

 reports: Just in time to celebrate its first anniversary, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has included a display featuring Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative stalwarts.

Justice Thomas appears in an exhibit that was installed Sunday, a Smithsonian spokeswoman said Monday. The display honors both of the black justices who ascended to the pinnacle of the legal profession. The other is Thurgood Marshall.

Justice Thomas’ apparent omission irked conservative observers, who suspected an ideological bias among Smithsonian officials and called for the influential jurist’s inclusion in the museum.

Ronald D. Rotunda, distinguished professor of jurisprudence at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University, said Justice Thomas deserves to be recognized for his contributions to constitutional jurisprudence, his record of public service and his inspirational life story.

“Like Thurgood Marshall, he has been a very influential justice, and like Thurgood Marshall, he has risen from humble beginnings,” Mr. Rotunda said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shelby Steele: The Exhaustion of American Liberalism

White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority.

Shelby Steele writes: The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trumppresidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos.

Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy—hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism.

[Check out Shelby Steele’s book “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era” at Amazon.com]

All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?

America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.

“When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy.”

White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.

[Order Shelby Steele’s book “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country from Amazon.com]

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

“White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.”

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.

“To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having ‘no name in the street’ as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.”

When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power.  Read the rest of this entry »


It Has Been a Really Bad Week for Journalism

It has been a particularly embarrassing week for the press, and it’s only Saturday.

T. Becket Adams writes: For an industry that’s as disliked and distrusted as Congress, there’s a lot of work that media need to do to win back viewers’ trust.

There’s no room for error, especially now that there’s a subgenre of “news” that has zero basis in fact, and is created from thin air for the sole purpose of generating cash.

But learning to be more careful and even-handed is apparently difficult for much of media, and this week was especially rough for newsrooms that are already struggling to regain credibility.

In no particular order, here are some of the most embarrassing media moments from this week:

The New York Times’ unsubstantiated hit on Rick Perry:

The New York Times reported this week that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry agreed to be energy secretary without knowing the department oversees and maintains the country’s nuclear arsenal.

The story is written in such a way that Perry comes across as a bumbling bumpkin who’s in way over his head.

[Read the full story, at Washington Examiner]

The problem with the report – well, there are many problems – the main problem with the story is that it hinges entirely on a bland quote from a GOP energy lobbyist. That source, Michael McKenna, has disavowed the story, and he says the Times took him out of context.

Other problems with the article include that McKenna was booted from the Trump transition team in early November, while Perry was nominated in mid-December.

Nevertheless, the paper’s editors say they stand by the story, “which accurately reflected what multiple, high-level sources told our reporters.”

This is a particularly interesting defense, considering there is nothing in the article to suggest the authors had more than one source.

Bonus: USA Today falls for a parody Twitter account:

In my story this week on the Times’ unsubstantiated hit on Perry, I included a link to USA Today’s Dec. 14 report on the former governor accepting the position at the Department of Energy. I included the link for one purpose: To provide citation for Perry’s acceptance remarks, which were published originally in a joint statement with the president-elect.

What I didn’t notice until later was that the linked USA Today report also included a bogus reference to the North Koreans.

The Dec. 14 article read, “The Twitter feed of the nuclear-armed dictatorship said, ‘Donald Trump minister of nuclear weapons Richard Perry known as governor of Texas province, famed for its production of tacos and bumpkins.'”

Unfortunately for USA Today, the North Korean government did no such thing. Like many others in media, the widely circulated newspaper fell for a parody Twitter account created and maintained by members of the libertarian-leaning website, Popehat.com. I removed the USA Today hyperlink from my article debunking the Times, and I updated with a link to a source that doesn’t include an embarrassing mistake. Read the rest of this entry »


Prominent African Americans Not Included in Smithsonian’s African American Museum

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Besides Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, other African Americans not included in the museum, who are conservatives, are:

• Cora Brown, first African American woman elected to a United States state Senate, winning a seat in the Michigan State Senate in 1952.

• Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., who served in the Georgia state legislature and is a pro-life advocate with Priests for Life.

• Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), first African-American senator from the state of South Carolina, the first black Republican elected to the United States Senate since the election of Edward Brooke in 1966, and the first elected from the South since 1881, four years after the end of Reconstruction.

• Michael Steele, first African-American chairperson of the Republican National Committee, who served from January 2009 until January 2011.

• Kenneth Blackwell, mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio from 1979 to 1980, the Ohio State Treasurer from 1994 to 1999, and Ohio Secretary of State from 1999 to 2007.

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• Thomas Sowell, American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author.

• Shelby Steele, American author, columnist, documentary filmmaker, and a Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

• Walter E. Williams, American economist who is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Obama’s ‘Arc of Justice’

“History is not a moral force in and of itself, and it has no set course.”

— David A. Graham

‘The phrase is utterly lacking in feck because it outsources the bulk of the punishment to an abstract future rather than the concrete here and now.’

— Jonah Goldberg

December 2015, David A. Graham writes:

“..Obama’s own fresh contribution to the genre is his invocation of “the arc of history.” It’s his adaptation of an older phrase, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” which was popularized by Martin Luther King Jr. but coined (evidently) a century earlier by Theodore Parker. Obama has mentioned “the arc of history” a dozen times since his election.

“Forget that history doesn’t tell such simple stories and you end up employing this seemingly inexorable progression as evidence that humanity will continue to improve inexorably in the future. Butterfield warned in particular about the temptation to read moral judgments into history, to assume the thrust of events was determined by or proved the validity of reality over alternative possibilities that had not come to pass.”

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it imputes an agency to history that doesn’t exist. Worse, it assumes that progress is unidirectional. But history is not a moral force in and of itself, and it has no set course. Presuming otherwise embraces the dangerous tendency that the great English historian Herbert Butterfield dissected in his 1931 essay, The Whig Interpretation of History. Butterfield was writing about the inclination among certain historians to see the Reformation as a unalloyedly positive force—a secularizing, liberalizing movement that led inexorably to liberal democracy in the 20th century. Butterfield objected that this wasn’t at all how things worked. It was just a retrospective reading.

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“The total result of this method is to impose a certain form upon the whole historical story, and to produce a scheme of general history which is bound to converge beautifully upon the present,” he wrote. In fact, “the more we examine the way in which things happen, the more we are driven from the simple to the complex.”

“The problem with this kind of thinking is that it imputes an agency to history that doesn’t exist. Worse, it assumes that progress is unidirectional.”

Viewing history from the standpoint of the present not only misrepresented the complexity of events, he wrote, but also risked framing history as a natural progression wherein humans improved over time, going from darker, less intelligent and moral times to an ever-improving present. Butterfield warned against that:

History is all things to all men. She is at the service of good causes and bad. In other words she is a harlot and a hireling, and for this reason she best serves those who suspect her most. Therefore, we must beware even of saying, “History says […]” or “History proves […]”, as though she herself were the oracle; as though indeed history, once she spoken, had put the matter beyond the range of mere human inquiry. Rather we must say to ourselves: “She will lie to us till the very end of the last cross-examination.”

Forget that history doesn’t tell such simple stories and you end up employing this seemingly inexorable progression as evidence that humanity will continue to improve inexorably in the future. Butterfield warned in particular about the temptation to read moral judgments into history, to assume the thrust of events was determined by or proved the validity of reality over alternative possibilities that had not come to pass.

Within a decade of The Whig Interpretation, World War II broke out, providing a visceral example of how the passage of time didn’t necessarily result in progress. But the fallacy recurs occasionally, and Obama seems to have fallen into it. If history is on a trajectory toward perfection, it follows that there can be a right and a wrong side of history…(read more)

Source: The Atlantic

In March 2014, Jonah Goldberg writes:

“…The progression of history is scientifically knowable, quoth the Marxists, and so we need not listen to those who object to our program. Later, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others would use this reasoning to justify murdering millions of inconvenient people. It was a “God is on our side” argument, minus God.

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In fairness, I doubt Barack Obama and John Kerry have Marx or Hegel on the brain when they prattle on about the right and wrong sides of history. They more properly belong in what some call the “Whig school” of history, coined in 1931 by historian Herbert Butterfield. The Whiggish tendency in history says that the world progresses toward the inevitable victory of liberal democracy and social enlightenment. Again, I doubt Obama and Kerry have ever cracked the spine of Butterfield’s book.

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Still, this administration has used the “wrong side of history” phrase more than any I can remember. They particularly like to use it in foreign policy. In his first inaugural, Obama declared, “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Ever since, whenever things haven’t gone his way on the international scene — i.e., on days that end with a “y” — he or his spokespeople have wagged their fingers from the right side of history. Read the rest of this entry »


#Baltimore: Rioters Show Respect for Portraits of President Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

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“They bashed a hole right in the middle of the picture. Like they do not care about anything.”

 writes:

Essam, the owner of the looted and torched Papa Palace in West Baltimore was walking IJReview through the burnt out ruins of his shop.

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When he paused and showed us something unexpected: What the protesters did to the presidential portrait that was hanging in the front of his pizza store.

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Essam said “They bashed a hole right in the middle of the picture. Like they do not care about anything.”

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Read more…

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The Disintegration of the Obama Presidency

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Failure Upon Failure

Stephen F. Hayes writes: A year before his first inauguration, Barack Obama laid out the objective of his presidency: to renew faith and trust in activist government and transform the country. In an hourlong interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal on January 16, 2008, Obama said that his campaign was already “shifting the political paradigm” and promised that his presidency would do the same.

“Journalists not only swallowed this legend, many of them promoted it. Obama didn’t appear ideological to influential political reporters because they shared his views. He wasn’t liberal, he was right.”

His model would be Ronald Reagan, who “put us on a fundamentally different path,” in a way that distinguished him from leaders who were content merely to occupy the office. “I think that Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not. And in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”

President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names of individuals visiting the White House, according to a decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public Friday. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

(AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

If Reagan sought to minimize the role of government in the lives of Americans, Obama set out to do the opposite. “We’ve had a federal government that I think has gotten worn down and ineffective over the course of the Bush administration, partly because philosophically this administration did not believe in government as an agent of change,” he complained.

“I want to make government cool again,” he said.

“When he’s not on the golf course, the president seems to spend most of his time fundraising for vulnerable Democrats, threatening executive action on those things he can’t accomplish by leading, and working to minimize crises of his own making. This is a failed presidency.”

Obama believed in government, and he was confident that his election would signal that the American people were ready to believe again, too.

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 “Rather than restore faith in government, the Obama presidency has all but destroyed it.”

As we approach the sixth anniversary of his election, the Obama presidency is in tatters. Obama’s policies, foreign and domestic, are widely seen as failed or failing. His approval rating is near its lowest point. Obama’s base of support is loyal and fierce and shrinking. Much of the country sees him as incompetent or untrustworthy, and government, far from being “cool,” is a joke on good days and a threat on bad ones.

Read the rest of this entry »


Bundy’s Racial Rhetoric

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We can survive cranks, but not a criminal government.

For NROKevin D. Williamson writes: Cliven Bundy’s racial rhetoric is indefensible, and it has inspired a lot of half-bright commentary from the left today directed at your favorite correspondent, mostly variations on this theme: Don’t you feel stupid for having compared him to Mohandas Gandhi?

Short version: No. There is a time to break the law, and the fact that the law is against you does not mean that justice is against you. The law was against Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., too. That does not mean that what is transpiring in Nevada is the American Revolution or the civil-rights movement; it means that there is a time to break the law. As I wrote, “Cliven Bundy may very well be a nut job, but one thing is for sure: The federal government wouldn’t treat a tortoise the way it has treated him.”

Critics on the left, being an ignorant bunch, may be unaware of the fact, but the example of Mohandas Gandhi is here particularly apt, given that the great man had some pretty creepy ideas about everything from race to homosexuality, for example writing that blacks aspired to nothing more than passing their time in “indolence and nakedness,” objecting to blacks’ being housed in Indian neighborhoods, etc. Americans, many of whom seem to believe that Mr. Gandhi’s first name was “Mahatma,” generally confuse the Indian historical figure, a man whose biography contains some complexity, with the relatively straightforward character from the Richard Attenborough movie. We remember Gandhi and admire him because he was right about the thing most closely associated with him. In the same way, there is more to the life of Thomas Jefferson than his having been a slave owner. The question of standing in opposition to a domineering federal government that acts as the absentee landlord for nine-tenths of the state of Nevada is only incidentally related to Cliven Bundy’s having backward views about race. Mr. Bundy’s remarks reflect poorly on the man, not on the issue with which the man is associated. Read the rest of this entry »


Dismantling the Stigma of Guns

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Gerald Vernon believes conceal-and-carry laws and responsible firearm owners are crucial to keeping people safe—especially in the communities hit hardest by crime

  writes:  The first lesson Gerald Vernon shared with his conceal-and-carry class is, to him, the most fundamental: “The only thing that stops bad people with guns is good people with guns.”

His ten students—eight men and two women, all African-Americans—were listening intently. They had gathered in a meeting room at a south-side social service center to learn about gun ownership and self-defense from Vernon, a veteran firearms instructor who was seated at the front of the room next to a table set with an array of revolvers and semiautomatic handguns from his collection.

The students didn’t appear to need any convincing. “I’m interested in protection,” explained Thomas Brandon, 57, when it was his turn to introduce himself. The others said they were there for the same reason.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Pop Concert That Changed the World

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Columnist James Wolcott examines a new spate of books that look back on the time when America met the Beatles

O, you poor Generation Xers, Generation Yers, and Millennials (bent under the load of student debt as if it were a brick-filled backpack), how I pity thee. Thanks to us Baby-Boomers, the demographic bulge that refuses to budge, the remainder of this dec­ade looms like a commemorative rerun of a show you late arrivals didn’t see the first time. It will be a Ferris wheel of golden anniversaries, a rinse cycle of 60s nostalgia nourishing the collective narcissism of Boomers, who held the title of most coddled generation until the unholy rise of hipster parenting. The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedythe subject of my previous dispatch, is succeeded by the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ invasion of America, in 1964, the subject of the column before you. And we’re just getting started, so save your groans until the end. Lying ahead are the half-century retrospectives of Bob Dylan’s going electric (1965), the debut of Star Trek (1966), the flower-power Summer of Love crowned by the release of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic convention in Chicago (1968), then, capping this cavalcade of last hurrahs, the Woodstock festival, the Manson-family murders, and the moon landing (1969). As any fan ofMad Men knows, the deeper we move into this dec­ade, the darker the events being memorialized and the more nihilistic the fury, with even the mud bath at Woodstock shadowed by the violence months later at the free concert at the Altamont Speedway, where pool cues wielded by Hell’s Angels came whaling down. At least the anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival and their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show is one of unalloyed joy. The touchdown of Pan Am Flight 101 at J.F.K. Airport on February 7 that brought the Beatles to America set off a thunderclap of euphoria heard round the world and proved to be no temporary flash of mass hysteria or passing fad but the re-start of the 60s after J.F.K.’s funeral procession. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were the heralds of America’s spring awakening, a puberty rite writ large.

Read the rest of this entry »


5 things to know about the Gettysburg Address

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So where was Lincoln, exactly?

Where in Gettysburg, exactly, did Lincoln actually deliver his Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863? A prominent, 1912 monument to the speech by the entrance of the town’s National Cemetery leads casual observers to believe it happened there. But look closely: A nearby, vintage plaque says the speech occurred 300 yards away on the spot of another cemetery monument (to fallen soldiers). Except . . . that’s not right, either, modern research has found. The true spot, according to research backed by the National Park Service, lies along the crest of a hill just outside the gates of the cemetery, on the grounds of an older, private cemetery.

Lincoln wasn’t the keynote speaker

The dignitary who spoke before Lincoln, Edward Everett, delivered what was scheduled as the main speech of the day. The former Massachusetts governor and onetime Secretary of State took two hours navigating its 13,607 words.

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The speech was really, really short

Lincoln’s speech, a mere 271 words if you use the version that’s attributed to Lincoln, took only two minutes. The New York Times reported of the Gettysburg Address: “It was delivered (or rather read from a sheet of paper which the speaker held in his hand) in a very deliberate manner, with strong emphasis, and with a most business-like air.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Lecturer-in-Chief

President Obama should stick to his real job.

By  Conrad Black

We are now well into the season generally known as the summer doldrums, made more profound and dispiriting this year by the prolonged ineffectiveness of the political system, other than as an agent of sluggishly induced deterioration in public confidence and in the economic strength and international prestige of America. As a constructive thing only, let us focus on two aspects of this — first, the continued addiction of the president to distracting the country with perceptions that are mistaken, probably mendacious, and disserve such interest as there might otherwise be in bootstrapping the United States out of its profound torpor; and second, the failure of anyone I am aware of to recognize the need for a serious reorientation of the economy of the West in a way that only the operation of the free market, though not completely unfettered, can produce.

President Obama won the Democratic nomination in 2008 from Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that Senator Clinton won the primaries, because he rounded up the superdelegates (appointed, rather than elected, delegates), and then the entire country, with the argument that he was the first plausible leader of the African-American community since Martin Luther King Jr. (though General Colin L. Powell could have occupied that role had he wished it), that the time for a non-white president had come, and, more subtly, that conscientious American whites who felt embarrassment, or even guilt or shame, at the past treatment of the African Americans — what Abraham Lincoln called “the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil,” followed by a century of segregation and what Lyndon Johnson called the era of “Nigra, nigra, nigra” — could alleviate their discomfort and expiate their guilt by the simple expedient of electing Barack Obama president. It was an idea that developed an unstoppable momentum before Hillary Clinton or her husband realized what they were facing.

There is no reason to believe that John McCain ever figured it out, as he tried to pick up the torch from a president whose response to an economic crisis to which his own lassitude had importantly contributed (though President Clinton stoked it up with mandated trillions of dollars of non-commercial mortgages) was the stirring tocsin “The sucker could go down.” Senator McCain first declared, in the immortal words of Herbert Hoover, that the economy “is fundamentally sound”; then denounced corporate greed and locked arms with the rest of the political class to pretend that the incompetence and venality of the country’s leaders had nothing to do with it; then demanded that poor old Christopher Cox be handed a pink slip at the SEC to be replaced with, of all unsuitable choices, Andrew Cuomo; and then suspended his campaign (in itself a potentially vote-winning move) and returned to Washington to join in the bipartisan strategy session President Bush convened. He did not say a word at it, and then shared in the failure to pass the emergency stimulus bill (which was a ridiculous bill that looked good only when compared with the Democrats’ subsequent, infamously “shovel-ready” replacement). Given the times, the incumbent, and the Republican campaign, it is a wonder that the sly Obama message, ably and eloquently delivered by him, did not elicit a much greater victory than it did.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Racializing of American Politics

Even the exit polls now force people to put themselves in a racial category.

This is the most violated saying in American public life.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s acclaimed call in 1963 for a colorblind society has been displaced, at least in our politics, by an obsession with racial categories. That is the meaning of racialization.

It may be over four decades since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, but whenever America votes today, the exit polls can’t move fast enough to divide voters by the color of their skin. Mere moments after the 2012 exit polls were released, a conventional wisdom congealed across the media that the Republican Party was “too white.”

Let us posit that this subject wouldn’t have been raised if the bottom hadn’t fallen out of the GOP’s share of the Hispanic vote. When George W. Bush attracted 40% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, there was no cry that the Republican Party was “too white.” The GOP’s problem with Hispanics today is a tangle of issues involving the law, labor and assimilation that is hardly reducible to the accusation that the party is too white.

In virtually every instance, the idea that the Republican Party is “too white” is dropped with almost no discussion of what exactly that means. The phrase is being pinned like a scarlet “W” on anyone who didn’t vote for the Democrats’ nominee. It’s a you-know-what-we-mean denunciation. Its only meaning is racial…

More

via Henninger – WSJ.com.