by: johnnyFive

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Quoting one of the tweets from the article:

    [Sanders] is a broken-down bitter and racist old man.

This is why Democrats keep losing. It's especially stupid to call Sanders racist, given his start in politics. Sanders was an organizer of CORE and SNCC in Chicago while in college, and organized a protest of segregated campus housing ("We feel it is an intolerable situation when Negro and white students of the university cannot live together in university-owned apartments"). Dude saw MLK speak at the March on Washington.

When the bar for the "racist" label becomes so low it becomes meaningless, and this does a huge disservice to people who have actually experienced racism. When it becomes a magic argument-ender, it no longer means anything.

Stories from my own life, and some ranting follow.

First, I spent a couple of years hearing unemployment cases for my state. Basically, my job was to do a hearing if someone (either the company or the ex-employee) appealed the lower decision. I fast became incredibly cynical when it came to charges of racism, because every single time it was a shitty employee who was trying to blame the employer for their own failures. Now you may wonder how I know, and the simple reason is that I would ask. This is paraphrasing from memory, but is indicative:

    Claimant: I was harassed.

    Me: What did [employer] do that you felt was harassment?

    Claimant: They wrote me up after I was late 37 times in 2 months.

    Me: ...

I'm sure racial discrimination at work still happens, but shit like that (which happened every couple of weeks) makes it impossible for the legitimate claims to be taken seriously. I pity people who work for the EEOC.

Second. I volunteered at our local legal aid organization while in law school. This was a group funded by a combination of private donations and the Legal Services Corporation, and provided civil representation to low-income people (so not criminal defense). We did a lot of housing stuff (Richmond sadly has plenty of slumlords), some divorce and custody (but only if there was abuse, so those were fun), just kind of whatever. We'd go after anybody: our state's sole power utility (a lawyer for which once accused me of legal malpractice for suggesting that they can be sued, which even as a lowly 1L I knew was ridiculous), Wells Fargo, whatever.

Random aside: knowing tenant's rights served me well as a tenant myself. If any of you still rent, do some research on what your state's laws are if you haven't already.

Anyway, the "high" point of my time there was being told I was a racist while standing in the clerk's office of Richmond Circuit Court because our client had spent over a year (I worked on this case both summers of law school) ignoring everything we told her. We'd arranged a way to solve her mortgage problem by having a private investor take over the note, but she was convinced she could get the money together. She was wrong, got foreclosed on, and then this was our fault (and we were racist).

Now I get it, people (in both examples) often look for someone else to blame. It is what it is. But it doesn't excuse it either, and ultimately does more harm than good.

One, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. As cathartic as it may be to yell at a racist, there's no evidence (whether anecdotal or more formal) that this actually helps. MLK didn't do it. There was a guy who has converted a bunch of white supremacists by simply sitting down and talking to them, which is a hell of a counterexample. And it's consistent with the conclusion that most racists have very little actual experience with the people they hate. I saw a stat awhile ago looking at Germany, and the folks who were most afraid of immigrants were also the ones with the least contact with them.

And second, as I mentioned earlier, it cheapens claims of racism. It's easy to be dismissive of someone crying race when your overwhelming experiences have been of people using it as excuse. For white folks, we don't generally see racism the way other races will, and it's difficult for anyone to trust a stranger over our own lived experiences. It took me until the shooting in St. Louis and all these protests to think that where there's smoke there's probably fire. Plus, talking to some folks there (mostly cabbies and the janitors in the building I was working in) really helped, and I am grateful to this day for their willingness to share their impressions and their fears with some white stranger who for all they knew could've been wildly unsympathetic. It was an interesting time, actually, and I'm hoping to write more about it one of these days.

Ultimately, we're all in it together, and none of us can solve this problem alone. It sucks that so much of the onus is on the same people who are taking the brunt of it, but pretending reality is other than it is doesn't lead anywhere. We can complain or we can get to work, but I don't think any of us have the energy to do both.

Absolutely. He's a war criminal by any sane definition: we invaded Iraq based on intelligence that the government knew was false, after lying to our allies. The Afghanistan invasion was shaky but not wholly so, but in both cases the post-war period was so colossally mismanaged that it makes parts of Trump's presidency look magisterial. They chose loyalty and ideology over experience; for example, a 24-year-old with no experience in finance (and who had applied for a job with the White House) was instead sent to re-open the Iraqi stock exchange. They authorized the use of torture if we thought someone might have something to do with terrorism, they locked up people in Guantanamo Bay without proof of wrongdoing or access to lawyers, and generally torpedoed US credibility abroad. He also withdrew us from the Kyoto Protocol (an earlier treaty on greenhouse gas emissions).

On the home front, his administration brought us the Patriot Act, and the president of the United States saying that you're "either with us or you're with the terrorists." Not long after the Justice Department ruled that the precursor program to the current domestic spying programs was illegal, then-AG John Ashcroft was in the hospital for acute pancreatitis, and possibly dying. The administration sent the White House Counsel (Alberto Gonzalez) and Chief of Staff Andrew Card to Ashcroft's hospital room to try to get him to reverse the DOJ's decision (Ashcroft refused). The acting AG, who witnessed all this, was none other than James Comey. Bush also signed laws requiring stricter standards on driver's licenses, a highly anti-consumer change to the bankruptcy code, and subsidies for energy companies that didn't incentivize green power generation.

They also did things like No Child Left Behind, which was roundly considered a failure. He pushed for and signed a law cutting taxes on the wealthy, turning the first budget surplus since World War 2 into a deficit. His first ever veto was a law that would have allowed federal funding for research on new stem cell lines. His administration also thoroughly botched response to Hurricane Katrina, fired eight US attorneys for political reasons (which would result in the resignation of Karl Rove and then-AG Gonzales), leaked the name of a covert CIA operative for political reasons, and, wait for it, used a private e-mail server. The list goes on.

Overall, he presaged the worst of Trump's policies and rhetoric: he was anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT rights, botched healthcare reform (pushed for Medicare Part D, which was a massive giveaway to drug companies), and mismanaged the financial crisis. He totally wrecked any pretense of moral credibility by the United States, including labeling countries as "evil" (at the same time we were happily torturing random folks from the Middle East at black sites all over the world). In any actually just society, he would've been impeached and sent to jail, but we just got left with someone who set a new low for presidential competence, comportment, and integrity. It's worth noting that Bush finished his presidency with an approval rating of 19%, lower than any president in history.