Friday, April 23, 2010

Is this what they call an incongruous juxtaposition of inconsistencies?

My 91 year old mother is unique. She is probably the only person in the world who likes both George Bush and Barack Obama. She likes George Bush because she was a lifelong Republican. She likes Barack Obama because he is black. I said she was a lifelong Republican but now she is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. She left the Republican party despite harboring years of resentment for the party accepting racist democrats with open arms. As she puts it Strom Thurman, Jesse Helms and all their ilk polluted her party. Of course other racists democrats remained in that party, issued false mea culpas like George Wallace and promptly got re-elected with the black vote.
However, that was 40 years ago and to ascribe racism to the Republican party and especially to the Tea party is a sign of desperation on the part of the democrats. As I told her, “who cares what they say or write? They are only saying it to themselves and writing it for themselves. People who know the truth know they are lying.”
The reason my mother left the Republican party is because of Barack Obama. She told me that this was her only opportunity to see a black president so she was going to support him. Now that he is president she supports him fully. I told her that if Obama was white, she would be railing against all of his policies. She told me recently, like she has in the past, that her grandfather preached self-reliance and despised handouts and those who took them rather than working to get what they needed. That attitude was my grandfather’s and my parents. Now my mother supports those whose entire political agenda is predicated on expropriating income from other’s hard work and handing it out to buy votes. Somehow she sees no problem if Obama is doing the handing out but if it were Bill Clinton, well that is different.
It has been enlightening for me to see. There is no use for me trying to discuss this with her. She has not paid any attention to my opinions for 65 years so there is no reason for her to start now. She can read something I said and then will perhaps accept it as fact because someone else corroborated it. She read me a piece from an anti-tea party Obama apologist asserting that tea partiers were racist as if it were truth. Although it was completely wrong, she would not entertain contradiction – especially since it was coming from me. But we know that cries of racism are the last refuge of desperation.
She is also addicted to talk radio. She listens to everyone from the left to the right. She says that the conservative hosts must send each other emails everyday on what to talk about – since they all talk about the same thing and have no difference of opinion about the subject at hand. She listens to people that I cannot abide. I keep saying to her, if you hate them so then why listen to them? Yet she does. What she really hates are all the disparaging comments made toward Obama. Calling him “incompetent”, “unqualified”, “inept”, “na├»ve” , “gangster politics” or a “thug” to her are disrespectful of the man and the office and are racist. Ironically, she felt the same way about the left’s comments on George Bush – but of course she did not consider them as racist because they were being uttered by white people against a white person.
And that is the crux of the matter. My mother basically considers any criticism of Obama as racist. She considers the Tea party as racist too. How she is able to reconcile these views with the fact that I am one of Obama’s severest critics and have keynoted two Tea party rallies is a mystery. It does not matter if I point out that the dramatic increase in spending will impoverish her great grandchildren, it does not matter that the projected tax increases of personal taxes, corporate taxes and capital gains taxes plus the dividend tax hike and the increased marriage tax will deplete initiative, drive investment and capital out of the country, and give us permanent double digit unemployment. It does not matter that 50 percent of all wage earners now pay no federal income taxes yet can vote to expropriate the earnings of others. It does not matter that democrats vehemently oppose vouchers that are the only hope for millions of black kids held captive to a nonproductive public education system. It does not matter that Barack Obama is silent on the devastation of the black community arising from 70 percent (and rising) of black kids being born out of wedlock. It does not matter that health care “reform” is a power grab by the government that will deliver poorer quality yet more expensive healthcare with rationing imposed by some government bureaucrat. It doesn’t matter that cap and trade will dramatically raise the cost of energy, increase the power of government which chooses winners and losers, without appreciably affecting the environment. There is much more to oppose and all of this is sanctioned by Barack Obama. Yet if we oppose it, we oppose him. And because he happens to be black, my mother will call us racist. So be it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tomato Sandwiches

This appeared in the Wall Street Journal. What follows is the letter I sent in reply.

Wall Street Journal
APRIL 2, 2010

How About Those Tomato Sandwiches . . .
What does a former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court do when she's mistaken for the restroom attendant?


Every March, I am invited to give a fair number of speeches in honor of Women's History Month. Having served as the country's first African-American female chief justice, I suppose one can say that I now own a slice of history. What strikes many people as particularly noteworthy is that I earned my stripes in Georgia, the deep South.
These speeches always force me to think of my own journey, sandwiched somewhere between how far women have come and how far we still have to go. The road for black women remains especially long.
I think back to the time when I was 23 years old and fresh out of law school. To celebrate the merger of my prestigious law firm with another, I attended a luncheon at an old private club in Atlanta. I was the only woman of color in the sea of lawyers present, and I felt like I had finally made it.
During the lunch I excused myself and went to the ladies' room. As I was leaving, another much older white woman tried to hand me her hat assuming, I guess, that I was the restroom attendant.
Growing up in Georgia, I've learned that the Southern way to handle such gaffes is to act as though they never happened, to jump to the subject of tomato sandwiches or the like. And that's just what I did. "I'm a lawyer; I'm having lunch here," I murmured. And without uttering another word, the lady handed her hat to the other black woman in the room—the one who was actually the attendant.
I'd like to think that scene wouldn't happen today, that times have changed. But a decade later I was at the Cloisters at Sea Island attending a swanky cocktail party. This time I was a Georgia Supreme Court justice. An older woman approached me. "The next time I want you to make sure you put more ice in my drink," she said, mistaking me for the cocktail waitress. I collected myself and said, "I'm Justice Sears," emphasizing the title, "the server is over there." And then, more talk of tomato sandwiches.
Something similar happened just two years ago, after I had become chief justice. I was walking with my children at yet another resort on the coast when a lady pulled over and hollered, "Hey girl, where's the spa?" Stunned, I directed her to the wellness facility, but this time I was seething with anger because my children were embarrassed.
I, like many women, tend to turn on myself when such faux pas occur. "Was I laughing so loudly she assumed I was the help?" I've asked myself. "Were my clothes too loud or cheap looking?" I've pondered.
I recently stepped down from the Supreme Court after 17 years to re-enter private practice, and many people are confused about how to address me. To be honest, I'm very fond of my first name. And perhaps if everything was right in the world, calling me Leah would be just fine. But I tend to ask people to call me Chief Justice Sears or Justice Sears because it's the same courtesy they automatically afford a retired male jurist, particularly down South. For instance, it was always "Judge Bell," even long after the U.S. attorney and former judge retired, never "Griffin." When I retired many people were suddenly confused. Why?
When gender and race-based—with me, it's impossible to separate the two—slights have occurred over the course of my career, I've always tried to remember the words of my friend Jean Young, an accomplished educator and the late wife of former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. "You have to forgive and forgive and forgive," she always said, "and then you have to forgive again. Otherwise it will destroy you."
Tomato sandwiches? It may sound trite, but it works. Especially when I consider the many women—and men too—black and white, who endured their own indignities and even harm so I could go to any college I wanted and pursue any profession I chose.

Ms. Ward Sears is a retired chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and a partner at Schiff Hardin LLP in Atlanta. She also serves as a fellow in family law at the Institute for American Values and is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Justice Sears’s experiences are in stark contrast with what I have experienced. I was the University of Georgia’s first black freshman – admitted in 1962. After graduating in 1966 I earned a Phd from Ohio State. I have served on the faculties of the University of Florida, Howard University, the University of North Carolina and for the past 23 years, the University of Tennessee. I have served on boards that met in Old South country clubs, attended conferences where I was the only black person not wearing a white coat or carrying a mop. However, I have not once been treated as if I were help. So Justice Sears’ experience says volumes about being a black female in the deep south. The only experience I can point to happens to me regardless of the era. Often strange white women at my universities have either not gotten on a elevator with me or exited when I get on, even if it were not their floor.

Harold A. Black
James F. Smith, Jr. Professor
Department of Finance
University of Tennessee

Ok. What happens if we don't buy them?

The Obama Administration is out to get your truck. The newly mandated CAFE standards to make the fleet average consume 34 percent less fuel is going tp impact what you drive - I think. The standards to go into effect in 2016 (do I hear repeal?) mean that automakers can produce large vehicles such as SUVs and pickups but will have to balance them with hybrids, plugin electrics and your hippie dippie teeny greenie weenie pseudo-cars. The new standards will also raise the average price of a car about $1,000. I thought Obama liked autoworkers? Seems to me that this is a sure fired way to get them laid off. Regards, the only vehicle that American automakers build that is really popular is the full sized pickup. While car sales of American manufacturers have fallen, only the full sized pickup holds its own. No manufacturer can meet the standards if the current ratio of truck sales to auto sales holds. This would mean that the government would force the auto companies to make fewer trucks. Zowie! Maybe the American public will sit on its hands and meekly accept the de facto repeal of Article I of the Constitution with the mandating that Congress can force you to buy insurance (I hope not) but it will not sit idly buy and give up the pickup truck. Talk about white rage! Well to be honest, that rage will be colored in that I own a F-350 diesel. Obama is also out to kill the travel trailer industry. I pull a 27 foot toy hauler behind my truck usually full of toys such as motorcycles and atvs. If I had a Prius (the world's dumbest vehicle) I would hitch it up to the toy hauler and spin out the tires. I guess I would have to camp in the RV storage lot. Also as to my car it is a decidedly nongreen Porsche cabriolet. What the new CAFE standards would mean that I would buy the last big truck and last Porsche and keep them forever. I pity future generations and in particular my grandkids for having to deal with the crap put on them by this current crop of politicians.