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Opinion

Opinion

Cain waffles on issues of race

October 16, 2011

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This is for those who keep asking what I think of Herman Cain. In particular, it’s for those who want to know what the tea party’s embrace of this black businessman turned presidential candidate says about my claim that the tea party is racist.

I might eat the plate of crow those folks proffer if I’d ever actually made that claim. What I have said, fairly consistently, is something more nuanced: racial animus is an element of tea party ideology, but not its entirety. As I once noted in this space, the tea party probably would not exist if Condoleezza Rice were president.

Modern social conservatives, in my experience, do not hate black people en masse. To the contrary, there are two kinds of blacks they love. The first is those, like Rice, who are mainly mute on the subject of race, seldom so impolite as to say or do anything that might remind people they are black. The second is those who will engage on race, but only to lecture other blacks for their failures as conservatives conceive them. And that, friends and neighbors, is Herman Cain all over.

“I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way,” he told CNN recently. Had he contended too many African-Americans use racism as an excuse for failure to succeed and even failure to try, Cain would have gotten no grief from me; I’ve made that argument often.

But what he said was that racism is no longer a factor. He surely warmed the hearts of his conservative fellow travelers who swear blacks have the same opportunity to succeed as whites if they’d only get off their lazy so-and-sos and do it.

It is a claim spectacularly at odds with reality, given that African-American unemployment runs twice that of whites, given that the Agriculture Department admits to systematically discriminating against black farmers, given documentation of a “justice” system engaged in the mass incarceration of young black men.

But what made the claim truly bizarre is that two days later, Cain branded himself a victim of racism. Specifically, he said some black people are “racist” because they disagree with his politics. So blacks aren’t held back by racism, but Cain is?

Lord, give me strength.

He thus neatly encapsulates what has become an article of faith for many white conservatives; namely, that it is they, not black and brown people, who are the true victims of bigotry. Mind you, they have not a shred of a scrap of a scintilla of evidence to support this cockamamie idea, but they believe it anyway. And now they find support for their idiocy in this Negro from Atlanta.

One of the least-discussed impacts of the black experience in America is its emotional toll. African-Americans were psychologically maimed by this country, the expression of which can still be seen in the visceral self-loathing that afflicts too many.

Meaning the black child who equates doing well in school with “acting white.” Meaning the famous black man who bleaches his skin. Meaning the famous black woman who rationalizes her use of a certain soul-killing racial epithet. Meaning Herman Cain.

In his diminution of African-American struggle, he comes across as a man profoundly at odds with the skin he’s in. He seems embarrassed he’s black.

For what it’s worth, I suspect black folks aren’t real happy about it, either.

Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

Liberty275 2 years, 10 months ago

Oh, blah blah blah. Just come out and call him an "Uncle Tom" because he doesn't hate the other race enough and acts too much like them. We know you want to do it, Mr Pitts. Be a man and say it out loud.

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BlackVelvet 2 years, 10 months ago

Pitts thinks that all white folks are racists and any black folks who don't feel that way are somehow flawed.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

"Yet, Pitts hates normal people like Cain and normal people supporting him."

No, he laments wackjobs like Cain, for reasons he stated quite well.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Who cares how many pizzas he sold? His statements and "platforms" may sound reasonable to the simple-minded Fox viewer, but that's what makes him a wackjob.

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jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

There's an interesting analysis of how FOX manipulates and misleads it's viewers.

And, an interesting study was done showing that FOX viewers are much more likely to be misinformed about substantive issues.

If you watch FOX, it might be in your own best interests to check those out.

The first had something like 14 techniques they use, and was called something like "14 techniques FOX uses to manipulate viewers".

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Fox News is the flagship for the nutcase right. The tremendous damage they inflict on the body politic is evidenced by the idiotic posts you so nancy-boyishly puke out all day long.

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Liberty275 2 years, 10 months ago

"nancy-boyishly "

That's close to a personal attack based on the sexual identity you associate with another person.

Is that really what you want to do?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Where did I call for censorship.

To the contrary, I think the more people hear Fox's stupidity, and your repetition, the better, because most people can recognize it for what it is, especially if they hear enough of the sensible alternatives.

Sadly, most Foxistas and Rushistas rarely hear or pay attention to anything outside the echo chamber.

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TopJayhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

I watch a little Fox.

I also watch a little of the "Ed Show" on MSNBC. does one balance the other out?

MSNBC =Fox.

MR Ed = complete idiocy.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

"wackjobs like Cain"

Always the hater.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Some of my favorite people are wackjobs. Fortunately, they don't fancy themselves as presidential material.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Right. And Cain is a wHackjob because...................

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Because he's got nothing but simplistic (and completely ineffective) solutions to complex problems.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Not that what you state is true, but THAT makes him a "whackjob"? Seek help, bozo.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Can you recommend a therapist? You must have lots of experience with them.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Proven a fool once again, bozo regresses to his 10 year old retorts.

Shocker.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

"Or maybe, just maybe, it's about politics and not race."

It's about both, as Pitts stated.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Really, LO, you'd find life a lot easier if you put milk on your cornflakes rather than pissing on them.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

"if you tried critical thinking."

Translation-- if I regurgitated Mises like LO does.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Lets's review this little mini-thread. My first post made a very simple statement. No slams, no insults.

And how did you respond? Nothing but a whines about my "sarcasm," even though the post to which you were ostensibly responding didn't have one hint of sarcasm.

Get over yourself and your hypocrisy.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Hah! Took one column since I predicted Pitts would pull the hatchet out on Cain. Too easy.

"Cain branded himself a victim of racism. Specifically, he said some black people are “racist” because they disagree with his politics. So blacks aren’t held back by racism, but Cain is?"

'Scuse me, Lenny, but exactly where did he say he was held back by racism? Cain never denied racism exists, nor has he said it has held him back. But then this whole piece-of-Pitts column is held together with that one pathetic tie pin of an assertion, isn't it? Pulitzer winner my fanny.

"One of the least-discussed impacts of the black experience in America is its emotional toll. African-Americans were psychologically maimed by this country, the expression of which can still be seen in the visceral self-loathing that afflicts too many."

Or in your columns, week after week after week after week........

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes, but it gives you ample opportunity to provide your trademark, pump-yourself-up, weak rebuttals.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

And yet you're consistently impotent to refute any of them. Huh.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Your posts are consistently self-rebutting. You have a real talent for that.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Talk about pumpin' yourself up. You really got me there, whew! Care to prove that bs, or will you run away? Again?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

You dislike Pitts. You'll whine about whatever he says, even if it's noting that the sun rises in the east. You think that disagreeing with him for disagreement's sake makes you sound reasonable. It doesn't.

Nothing more needs to be said.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Nothing more needs to be said unless you'd now like to try and prove the bs you initially wrote. Never mind that the "dislike Pitts" thing is utter garbage, I've agreed with him on a number of columns and my history is here to prove such.

Care to prove your bs now, or keep pretending your backing up your empty assertions like with the "whackjob" crappola earlier?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

So you like Cain. Big deal. It confirms your bad judgement, but vote for him if you want-- it's your right.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

So that would be a huge resounding "NO, I can't back anything up."

Shocker.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 10 months ago

This post pre-removed for using a vulgar sexual term to refer to a disappointed progressive.

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Liberty275 2 years, 10 months ago

Please don't insult our loyal companions by associating them with the people currently protesting whatever they are protesting on Wall St and in loon pockets of 10 or 20 around the nation. Dogs have been a friend and ally of man for thousands of years and will often place themselves between danger and their masters. The "whateverbaggers" aren't good enough to feed on the blood of a dog. Any dog.

Personally, I find your insult to dogs in very bad taste and kindly ask you to restrain from making this association in the future.

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grammaddy 2 years, 10 months ago

Folks need to get a clue."Occupy" is NOT led by Obama,You folks are putting your small-minded ignorance on full display with that one. Herman Cain is just another "token" the Rethugs put out there to look like they aren't bigots. You see how well that worked for Michael Steele, right. Or Sarah Palin, she really stole those votes from people mad about Hillary not getting the nomination.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

A "token", gramm? Niiiiiice. That multi-cultural household in which you dwell hasn't taught you much has it? Like I suggested to ywn, you should really consider learning something about the person you wish to smear before opening your yap. Won't look like such a fool.

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Windemere 2 years, 10 months ago

Desire for low taxes and limited government power. What a frightening, creepy agenda.

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jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

I wonder why he is hiding the connection then?

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 10 months ago

As said on another thread of this award-winning website, "who put a nickle in the loon?"

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

"Kind of interesting to see the left bashing Cain and nobody from the right is calling them out as being racists."

Perhaps that's because the right has a history of racism and xenophobia, while the left does not.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 10 months ago

...and it is always somebody else's fault when we suck at something.

I get it.

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Windemere 2 years, 10 months ago

Both sides bash, that 's the sad reality.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 10 months ago

But what made the claim truly bizarre is that two days later, Cain branded himself a victim of racism. Specifically, he said some black people are “racist” because they disagree with his politics. So blacks aren’t held back by racism, but Cain is? Lord, give me strength.

---and ... Ol' Lennie Pitts exemplifies the racism by blacks Cain was describing: But what made the claim truly bizarre is that two days later, Cain branded himself a victim of racism. Specifically, he said some black people are “racist” because they disagree with his politics. So blacks aren’t held back by racism, but Cain is? Lord, give me strength.

---if you're not toeing the party line, not staying on the democratic plantation, you get vilified for being black and thinking independently. you get all these black celebrities and Pittsie chewing your butt for daring to be a black conservative.

Pitts has not shown any waffling. the first answer by Cain was in the context of racism by whites. the second was discussing racism by blacks. I have suffered the latter.
posters on this very message board have asserted that because someone is white, he/she is inherently racist. that is in fact a racist attitude.


Herman Cain is a magnificent singer. go to youtube.com and type in: "herman cain" "sings" last summer he was recorded singing "I must tell Jesus." it is a stunning vocal performance.
you can also hear clips from a gospel album he recorded in the 90's.

be warned, there is also a very ugly rant against Cain that will come up.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 10 months ago

Most of us knew that sooner or later, the truth would emerge regarding Cain's background and here it is again.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/long-ties-to-koch-brothers-key-to-cains-campaign/2011/10/16/gIQAKTLPoL_story.html

So now we know.

Herman Cain the actor and consummate salesman. An "agent of influence" for the Koch Brothers empire and poltiical front groups now taking over American politics.

....and the Republican Party has become a party of "useful idiots" who obediently attend their weekly seminars where they are trained and given the legislation they are required to vote to approve and the pledges they are required to sign.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 10 months ago

again...I'll reference one of my ex grandfather teapartiers litany of comment concerning race....I have no problem with minorities as long as they make as much money as I do....the gop looks for minorities who don't act like minorities.....one has to let the majority off so that the majority doesn't have to deal with unpleasant histories...and I absolutely love how the people on here flip their own history issues on the people that confront them... real people own up and try to make the future better..cowards blame and attack....

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 10 months ago

The Washington Post link is no longer working so here is one of many to find out about Herman Cain's association with the Koch brothers. Or just goole it.

http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2011/10/16/herman_cain_ties_to_koch_brothers.html

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps you should learn how to read.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 10 months ago

don't look in the mirror....again someone of your ilk saying crazy things and getting called out for it.....keep flipping it like perry and romney....that works right????

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 10 months ago

I sincerely wish that we had a party that could ethically represent the interests of corporate america and at the same time represent labor in this country and do it all fairly and wisely.

Instead, we have the Koch brothers and for 99% of Americans, that is a really bad deal.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 10 months ago

Cain is a hypocrite just like Palin. Without the Civil Rights movements and the Feminists movements, neither one of them would have been able to do what they are doing. Then they turn around a spit on the people who earned them the freedom to succeed. Disgusting.

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 10 months ago

Cain's pizza sucks.

Pitts is dead on correct, which explains the furor, anger, and anguish of right wingers commenting on this article.

Having said that, I believe that Herman Cain is a conservative. He holds conservative views socially and is pro-corporate economically.

In order to be a politically successful black conservative, he has decided that he needs to play to the right wing on race. Otherwise, he wouldn't stand a chance.

Cain has made a political decision, and Pitts has called him out on it. I don't necessarily blame Cain for this behavior (after all, consider his base), but it's Pitts, for the win.

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jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

Your comments have virtually nothing at all to do with the comments you're responding to.

There is nothing in them that would support any of your accusations.

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jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

Since I haven't made any arguments, I have no idea what you're talking about either.

ywn made a series of very calm, reasonable statements about Cain, none of which involved racism of any sort.

ijm, on the other hand, ignored all of them, and then accused him of racism, based on a bunch of stuff he just made up.

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jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

And, pray tell, what exactly is your version of "the issue" when it comes to race?

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Wow. I'm not sure you could have demonstrated more accurately how much you don't know what you're talking about with that post, nightmare. You might consider actually knowing something about the person you're wishing to criticize, just a thought.
Herman Cain has not made a "political decision.... to play to the right wing on race." These have been his views for as long as I've known of him, and I've been listening to him on the radio for the better part of a decade. His position is that he's a man. Period. And he doesn't believe anyone need be reminded he's a black man, whether they're blind or not. To people like Pitts, apparently that's despicable.

This column is nothing more than fish wrap.

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beatrice 2 years, 10 months ago

I believe there is a lot that is correct in this column, but certainly not everything and absolutely not the conclusion. "He seems embarrassed he’s black" is completely off track, in my opinion. Cain hardly seems the type to be embarrassed about anything he does.

What Cain appears to have done, however, is run on the assumption that since he could make it in this world, anyone else can, too. While in theory that seems reasonable, in practice it just doesn't hold up. People born in a certain class, be it middle, working or priviledged, tend to stay in that group for the rest of their lives. Statistics prove this out. Just because one person can become a successful businessman or woman and move from a working class family to become one of the upper crust doesn't mean all will be afforded the same opportunities. Anyone thinking that everyone has equal opportunites to achieve success is fooling themself. Our system doesn't work that way.

I believe that the disconnect Pitts sees in Cain and fellow Americans actually has more to do with financial success than with race. Pitts is only reading it as a race issue. That is a shame, because the issue of Cain's comments actually connects more with the 99% issue being addressed by the Wall Street protestors than with a racial issue. Cain is not of that 99%, and he is saying anyone with a little gumption can also become one of the 1%. He is ignoring the system that affords greater opportunities for those who are already there or close to it.

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beatrice 2 years, 10 months ago

"Cain hardly seems the type to be embarrassed about anything." (cut "he does.") He doesn't "do" black -- he is black. doh

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Liberty275 2 years, 10 months ago

Well said. That is much better than bickering about zombies.

You are correct in that not everyone can reach the position of CEO for a national corporation. I wouldn't even know where to start. But that doesn't mean everyone shouldn't stride to make a good life for themselves and achieve their own self-respect.

As for opportunity, we are afforded the same opportunity at birth. Whether some are lucky enough to have wealthy benefactors doesn't take away the opportunity of the poor man. It isn't like there exists a certain number of slots for financially secure and happy people in America. There are infinite slots.

As I see it, the problem isn't about "who has what", but rather about "who wants what". People should strive to be there best, live within their means and accept themselves. Telling other humans what they should be allowed to have and what should be taken from them is pointless and silly as well as disgustingly covetous.

"He doesn't "do" black -- he is black."

I don't "do" white -- I'm beige.

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jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

And, we certainly don't have the "same" opportunity, given various disparities of birth, and social inequalities.

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voevoda 2 years, 10 months ago

Cain is a successful businessman, and for that he deserves public respect. He was able to succeed despite the extra obstacles that get in the way of minority persons, and for that he deserves public respect. He calls on minorities--and non-minority whites--to try to do for themselves rather than to wait for someone else to make things happen for them. That's good advice. Leonard Pitts doesn't have a quarrel with any of that. Pitts criticizes Cain for hypocricy: claiming that racism no longer holds Blacks back from achieving their goals and also claiming that he, personally, is experiencing difficulties in achieving his goal because of "racism." He implies that Cain is insufficiently concerned about the needs of the Black community. Pitts is entitled to his opinion on that subject, and it does seem that his opinion is quite widely shared in that community. Instead of criticizing the Black community for not supporting him and dismissing their concerns as "racist," Cain ought to figure out what he needs to do to win that community's support, and alter his proposed policies accordingly. That's supposedly what businessmen-turned-politicians do best: they respond to the demands of the public.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

" Pitts criticizes Cain for hypocricy: claiming that racism no longer holds Blacks back from achieving their goals and also claiming that he, personally, is experiencing difficulties in achieving his goal because of "racism.""

I agree with most everything you wrote, voe, with the exception of altering proposed policies simply to win a specific community's support. That's one of the main problems with politics today.
However, the problem with Pitts criticizing Cain for hypocrisy is that it's simply not true. Cain never said nor implied that he's had trouble reaching his goal because of racism, nor anything close to that. All he said was that he feels it's racist or bigoted for black liberals to question his dedication to their race because he's running as a Republican and against Obama.
Since this column is predicated on that falsehood, the column is garbage.

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Liberty275 2 years, 10 months ago

"Pitts criticizes Cain for hypocricy: claiming that racism no longer holds Blacks back from achieving their goals"

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the president is still of black ancestors on his father's side. Yeah, that racism will really hold you back... if you use it as an excuse for failure.

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voevoda 2 years, 10 months ago

The Black community isn't criticizing Cain because he is running against Obama. In some congressional districts, it's not uncommon for both candidates to be Black. Members of the Black community question Cain's commitment to their race because he hasn't voiced much in the way of recognition of the particular issues that community faces.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 10 months ago

G, some things shouldn't be dignified with a response. Have a coke & a smile.

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Liberty275 2 years, 10 months ago

Wow, Cain has the left running in circles. Dealing with all that cognitive dissonance at once may drive one of them into a deadly rage.

If, in your rage, you come after me, don't bring a gun and mess my house up. Just bring a bottle of valium and a litre of 50 year old single malt scotch. I'll eat the valiums, then we'll enjoy the scotch together. That doesn't destroy the retail value of my house, You'll get to drink some fine scotch, and best of all, they won't be able to pin murder one on you. It's win win.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Lost in this mess of a column is the atrocious headline the LJW has pulled off. Again! Do you folks actually read what you're re-titling beforehand??

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BrianR 2 years, 10 months ago

The more people learn about ol' Koch-Cain, the less they'll like him.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, right. The majority on here ripping Cain are only doing so by association, yourself included. That's incredibly brilliant. Right up there with everyone on the Wright bandwagon a few years ago. The hypocrisy 'round these parts is astounding.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Nippin' at the sauce tonight? The first two sentences make no sense. The last one is just plain dumb. Sleep it off and get back to me.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Well, I do 'think.' You should give it a try. Don't hurt yourself, though. Baby steps.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

That's patently false. Then again, perhaps you were just looking in the mirror.

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jaywalker 2 years, 10 months ago

Says the person who's posted nothing more thought provoking than 'cain & koch'' and 'pavlov' mulitiple times on this thread. (And others!) Please forgive me if I just laugh at you for being a hypocrite, mmkay punkin?

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Shelley Bock 2 years, 10 months ago

If the argument against a higher tax rate for the "job creators" is that a higher tax rate now would prevent them from creating more jobs, where are the jobs their idle dollars should be creating at a lower tax rate?

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