Corey Robin teases out the philosophy of Clarence Thomas

Cover00 largeLidija Haas reviews The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin:

’Robin suggests that the misreadings of Thomas are themselves based in racism, comparing the justice to Ralph Ellison’s “invisible man,” the one people “refuse to see.” (Invisible Man is, he notes, alongside Richard Wright’s Native Son, Thomas’s favorite novel.) Introducing the common idea of Thomas as “an intellectual nonentity, a dim bulb in a brightly lit room,” Robin rehearses a host of clichés about his supposed incompetence or laziness—qualities that would, some have implied, explain why he doesn’t speak up on the bench, is rarely assigned the majority opinion in important cases, and gets his clerks to write his opinions for him (this last accusation strikes me as odd, since Thomas’s opinions hardly seem the bland, predictable stuff you’d expect to get by paying someone else to do your homework). Robin claims that the only other justice “subject to all of these kinds of insinuations” was, not coincidentally, also the Supreme Court’s only other black justice, Thurgood Marshall, whom Thomas replaced.

Robin’s Thomas is no dimwit but a man of ideas, albeit dark, furious, and terrifying ones. “His beliefs,” Robin announces in an introduction, “are disturbing, even ugly; his style is brutal.” Robin recognizes no essential contradiction or vacillation in this man who by the late ’80s, several years into his career within the Reagan administration, could still lovingly recite Malcolm X by heart. He sees a powerful continuity between Thomas’s black nationalism and his conservatism, extrapolating from his words a coherent worldview that helps explain his approach to a slew of issues, from voting rights to gun ownership, from the Commerce Clause to gender relations. In Robin’s account, Thomas sees American racism as foundational, permanent, and ineradicable, such that African Americans should never hope for justice or advancement to come through either political representation (since they will remain a loathed minority) or any strategy dependent on the generosity of white institutions.…’

Via Bookforum Magazine

“Impeach him anyway”

GettyImages 1160062554’The case for impeachment, even if it can’t oust Trump.…’

Impeachment is a method of sanction as much as a mechanism for removal. The public disgrace of being one of the four impeached US Presidents forever attaches an asterisk to one’s presidency and acts as a deterrent. Even though the Senate leadership has made it clear that under no circumstances would they ever convict Trump, the revelations from a thorough impeachment in query in the House will inform the choice at the polls in 2020 — both in the president till race and, with any luck, voters’ choices in Senate elections as well. And finally, impeachment would be a message to foreign countries that their intervention in US elections will be exposed.“It may just be theater, but it’s necessary theater to protect American elections.”

Via Vox

“Liddle’, not Liddle”

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Trump’s latest tweets are among his strangest yet:

’Trump’s latest batch of morning tweets do not offer much reassurance that the commander in chief is in a healthy state of mind as he deals with a mounting impeachment crisis of his own creation.

As I’ve detailed previously, there have been other periods of time — such as the late stages of the Mueller investigation — when Trump’s tweets became increasingly unhinged as he felt the pressure of negative news cycles.

But his tweets on Friday, coming as they do at the end of a week in which the rapidly widening Ukraine abuse of power scandal made “impeachment” a buzzword in DC, raise questions about how equipped Trump is for what may be coming next…

Nearly three years into Trump’s presidency, people have generally figured out that his tweets — with some notable exceptions, such as when he announces new policies like banning transgender people from the military — are generally sound and fury signifying very little.

But they do say something about the mental state of the man in control of the most powerful military in the world (and its nuclear arsenal).

That mental state seems to be addled by conspiracy theories and a pervasive victimhood complex — not to mention a recklessness and lack of shame that has prevented the president, at this late date, from figuring out a way to get his tweets proofread before they’re published.…’

Via Vox

Supreme Court gun case: the biggest Second Amendment case in years

Images 1Gun control supporters are desperate — and have already taken drastic steps — to get the Supreme Court to dismiss this case:

’Last January, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, the first major Second Amendment case to be heard by the Supreme Court in nearly a decade — and also the first since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement shifted the Court dramatically to the right.

The case centers on an unusual — and recently changed — New York City rule that limited where gun owners with a certain kind of permit were allowed to bring their guns.…’

Via Vox