CHIEF JUSTICE JOSH MARSHALL
Before Jon Stewart earned DB's permanent respect for killing Crossfire, that show was on TV here all the time. One of the moments that made it watchable was this:
JAMES CARVILLE: I'll tell you what, that is the best money the government spent in all of 2002.
Trent Lott isn't the only Republican that wants to turn the clock back to the years of segregation. The embattled senator from Mississippi wants to take us back to 1948. Attorney General John Ashcroft, though, would rather return to 1848. Four years ago, Ashcroft gave an interview to "Southern Partisan Magazine," in which he described the importance of "defending southern patriots like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis."
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) to say not only segregation, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So tonight, I want to announce the formation of Liberals for Lott. Libs for Lott is dedicated to the American principle of equal justice for all. Leadership based on character and full accountability to those who seek to govern. Libs for Lott demands equality. If Senator Lott stays, so can Ashcroft. But if Lott goes, we insist that the Republican Party send Ashcroft with him.
TUCKER CARLSON: Your group.
CARVILLE: Because I don't know what we're going to tell the children. Because when the little children come home and they say, mommy, why did Senator Lott lose his job? He was just for segregation.
CARLSON: But Senator Byrd...
CARVILLE: ... Ashcroft, who spoke out nostalgically about slavery keeps his. I don't understand. We have to be willing to have the courage to teach the little cowboys and cowgirls out there in America the lesson that everybody is responsible for their actions, even the attorney general.
CARLSON: Well, good luck, James. And in the absence of any real ideas, that would probably make a good platform for you. And I hope you do a great job with it.
CARVILLE: Please join Libs for Lott, because we're standing with Trent. Because we say equal justice for all. If it's good for the majority leader, it's good for the attorney general.
CARLSON: If the idea that the attorney general is a racist or a supporter of slavery, someone...
CARVILLE: Well why keep giving interviews to "Southern Partisan Magazine," a magazine that regularly praises the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? Do you think that was a good idea that Lincoln was assassinated? Speak out against it.
CARLSON: This is so insane, that I can't continue this conversation.
CARVILLE: ... wrong to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
CARLSON: We're going to have to take a commercial break. Insanity demands it.
Do you think that was a good idea that Lincoln was assassinated, Tucker? Comedy gold.
DB is writing this post today for several reasons. First, it is timely. President Lincoln was killed 142 years ago today (and I'm a sucker for anniversaries).
Today is also Jackie Robinson Day at stadiums across America. The same TV stations that have spent the last two weeks hosting debates about racist comments directed at some fantastic young athletes and scholars will spend the afternoon celebrating, quite rightly, an American hero who heard the same and worse when he broke the color barrier in baseball 60 years ago.
Robinson was named Rookie of the Year in September 1947, just five months before President Truman delivered his civil rights agenda to Congress, which led to the segregationist 1948 presidential candidacy of Strom Thurmond. The candidacy that Lott romanticized above.
We've come a long way in America, but obviously not far enough. Over at Josh Marshall's TPMmuckraker, we saw this report by Paul Kiel last week:
During the first five years of the Bush administration, the Justice Department's voting section only filed a single case alleging voting discrimination on behalf of African American voters. That's despite the fact that the section, part of the Civil Rights Division, was created mainly to protect African American voters from discrimination.
But during that same time period, the section managed to file the first ever "reverse" discrimination case under the Voting Rights Act.
A similar shift has occurred in the division's employment litigation section, which is tasked with preventing discrimination in employment. That section has managed to file two "reverse" discrimination cases alleging discrimination against whites under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, while filing only one alleging discrimination against African Americans in the past six years.
All of this is of course compounded by the examples of misconduct emerging from the U.S. Attorneys scandal, which is breaking open in large part because of the persistence of Marshall and TPM.
Which brings DB to the main point of this post and also to the reason this it begins with that ridiculous exchange on Crossfire.
While Marshall and TPM have been appropriately receiving accolades for their work in "PurgeGate," the truth is that Marshall has been an online hero for justice for a long time. Here's Ashcroft praising that racist southern magazine:
"Your magazine helps set the record straight," said Ashcroft. "You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like [Robert E.] Lee, [Stonewall] Jackson and [Jefferson] Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."
Who do you think broke that story for Slate in 2000? That's right, Josh Marshall. And here's what he humbly wrote at TPM:
And finally, why hasn't more been said about Ashcroft's interview with the Southern Partisan magazine? I'd like to take heaps of credit for being the first to mention this story late on the evening of December 22nd. But, honestly, a few Nexis searches are all that's required to get all the details. But a quick search on the self-same Nexis reveals that only one article (that by Tom Edsall in the Washington Post) has even mentioned the Southern Partisan interview since Ashcroft's nomination (and even then only in passing).
Isn't this sort of a big deal? Is it really too much to ask that nominees for Attorney General not give interviews to crypto- (or not-so-crypto) racist publications like the Southern Partisan?
The media did, finally, begin to notice and Marshall kept the questions rolling:
More on point is the fact, reported in the AP story, that George Bush, Sr. appointed Ashcroft to his commission on race and minorities in America. And Ashcroft was one of only two of the forty commission members who refused to sign the final report. Ashcroft said the report's "generalizations about setbacks in progress are overly broad and counterproductive."
Talking Points hasn't seen the report. But he imagines that since it was sponsored by President Bush it probably wasn't a particularly afro-centric document, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, the point isn't that Ashcroft's a racist. But then that's not the standard, is it? Given all the evidence, let's just say that civil rights enforcement just doesn't really seem like John Ashcroft's cup of tea.
And since the AG is the head civil rights enforcer. Maybe he just ain't the right guy for the job.
So here we are, seven years later, and the results are in. The Department of Justice has not just abandoned its Civil Rights responsibilities. It has deceptively and deliberately worked to undermine its own mission.
Josh Marshall saw it coming and rang the alarm bell. Too bad it's taken seven years for him to make it to prime time cable news shows and to get some notice in the "Paper of Record."
DB thinks America is a better country when people are paying attention to Josh Marshall and I'd like to keep him in the spotlight.
Therefore, I nominate JOSHUA MICAH MARSHALL, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE INTERNET
Who's with me?