Emmett Burns Emulates Rahn Emanuel, or, What Does It Tell Us That Yvette Clarke Is NOT This Month’s Most Incompetent Elected Official?

Brooklyn, NY, circa. 1898. If you look closely, you can see the slaves working in the windmills…

In case you missed it, Rep. Clarke, the Congresswoman from Brooklyn, NY, had thousands of American banging their heads against the wall (and, tragically, many more, like those who voted this dolt into office nodding their empty heads and saying, “She speaks the truth!”) when she told Comedy Central’s wag Stephen Colbert that Brooklyn still had slavery in 1898, a full 33 years after the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment. When Colbert, in mock surprise, said, “It sounds like a horrible part of the United States kept slavery going until 1898! Who would be enslaving you in 1898 in New York?”, Rep. Clarke, eager to fill the gaps in Colbert’s knowledge of New York history,  informed him that it was “the Dutch”…who lost control of New York when “New Netherland” was conquered by the British in 1664, 200 years before the end of the Civil War.

This woman makes our laws. She has the future of the nation and your family in her hands, and, such as it is, brain. And not only does she lack a 4th grade knowledge of the history of her own state, her nation, and her race in that nation (she is African-American), she is so confident in her unconscionable ignorance that she will go on TV to spread it far and wide. This is how, of course, Joe Biden knows that people will believe him when he says that Mitt Romney will put blacks “back in chains,” and Rep. John Lewis knows that he can get away with telling the Democratic National Convention that voter ID laws are the beginning of a Republican plot to revive segregation. After all, if the Dutch could still hold slaves in New York in 1898…

Yet Clarke’s display of her absolute unfitness to be a legislator was neither the most striking nor the most disturbing instance of incompetent elected officialdom on display in September thus far. That gut-wrenching distinction goes to Maryland State Delegate Emmett Burns, a Democrat* who really, really hates the idea of gay marriage, and thus felt it was appropriate to write an official, and therefore threatening, letter to the owner of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens in which he said…

 “As a Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly and a Baltimore Ravens Football fan, I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically, as a Ravens Football player. Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other. Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement. I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base. I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing. Please give me your immediate response.”

Yes, while Rep. Clarke is a disgrace to her district, and dangerous in a “what is a blind man doing flying this airplane?” sort of way, Burns is worse. Not knowing that the Dutch didn’t keep control of New York past the Revolutionary War is one thing, but being unaware of the Bill of Rights is another. Burns apparently believes that elected officials in America can use their positions and power to tell citizens what to say and think. He tells the owner of a business in the state that it is necessary for him to inhibit the expressions of his employee and that he must be ordered to cease and desist expressing his views on a matter of cultural and social policy as well as civil rights. Burns does this on official letterhead, and ominously insists on an “immediate response.” Who does he think he is? Why, a dictator, naturally. He thinks it’s his job, and the government’s, to make sure we say only the “right” things.

But wait!  I’m having deja vu! This seems like it has happened before, and recently…I’m sure I remember…yes!  That’s it! This is the same thing exactly that those good, liberal mayors like Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Thomas Menino of Boston were doing when they threatened Chick-fil-A because his owner opposes gay marriage. Oddly, however, progressive mouthpieces like the Daily Kos defended them, while excoriating Burns. You see, these people don’t understand the First Amendment either—they think it only protects those who agree with them.

I wonder if they know that there was no slavery in Brooklyn in 1898?

* UPDATE: In the first version of this post, I erroneously identified Burns as a Republican. That was careless—I just assumed that an anti-gay marriage zealot came from that side of the aisle. Then again, it’s the Democrats who have been dominating the abuse of power rap sheets lately, so that should have alerted me. In any event. my intent was to have a Democrat and a Republican in the post. I apologize to both a parties: the GOP for sticking them with Burns, and the Democrats, for picking on them. They could help out by running better candidates.


Pointer: James Taranto ( WSJ)



Graphic: Flickriver

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

43 thoughts on “Emmett Burns Emulates Rahn Emanuel, or, What Does It Tell Us That Yvette Clarke Is NOT This Month’s Most Incompetent Elected Official?

      • Lewis took a plea deal and testified against his accomplices
        in exchange for the lesser charges. So the first part of your statement doesn’t mean all that much either.

        • He took a plea deal becuase the prosecuted over charged him to make him do so, which Jack will tell you is unethical. ALL the reports state that he wasn’t involved in the fight and all he did was see it happened THEN he lied about knowing his two friends who supposedly committed the act.

          • Bill, you must have some “inside” information because that is not how the case was reported (factually.) However, we have digressed from my point, which was why would Burns keep quiet about a CONVICTED thug representing Baltimore yet speak out about someone who shows support for equal rights? Because Burns is a hypocrital, power abusing bully, the point of this article.

            • Its not insider information. If you take the time to read the transcripts of the trial instead of just going off what you have heard on the street or read in the paper its clear that he wasn’t involved.

              I understand the point of the article and I agree that Burns is a hypocritical bully but that doesn’t excuse you or others misstating what Ray Lewis did or exaggerating his crime and conviction. He got convicted for obstruction of justice not murder. He didn’t have anything to do with those men being killed and only observed what happened. In a moment of panic he told the people in the limo not to talk to the police after the incident. Is that wrong ? Yes. Is it anything close to murder no.

              And by all accounts of people who work with him and the charities he works with he is anything but a thug.

              • He could have been charged as an accessory after the fact. He wasn’t, but he could have been. Covering up a murder is being an accessory to murder, thug or not.

                I doubt that he would have been allowed to play baseball.

                • But he wasnt charged with accessory after the fact, he was charged with obstruction.

                  That would be baseballs loss. He is a hell of an athlete and from what I udnerstand does a lot of good in the community. Everyone makes mistakes and he paid for his.

                  • Agreed. But he WAS an accessory after the fact, just as Ted Kennedy DID commit negligent manslaughter. The decisions of prosecutors don’t change what happened, just what the consequences are.

                    How did this thread get onto Ray Lewis?

                    • Accessory after the fact is one of the worst creations of law. Helping someone get away with crime X after they’ve already commited crime X is in no way similar to helping someone commit crime X, but the accessory name denies this.

              • Where is the white suit, Bill?
                A friend of mine was the owner of the nightclub where this all occurred. He is a good person, and was running a “clean” legitimate business that was shut down due to the sordid clientele and the Ray Lewis incident.
                Lewis did not suffer the consequences he could have. I am glad he seems thankful for that and has turned his life around. But that does not really help the murder victims families or those who lost their business.

                • Ray Lewis is not responsible for the club closing or for the murder. He was a witness to the murder. That he was hanging out on a bad crowd does not mean he has a duty to help victims of murders associated with his crowd. Leaving the crowd was his duty.

                  • “Appeal to belief. False assumptions. You assume that if you don’t know the answer to something, it must have been the worst possible scenario.”

                    Yes, I can assume the worst possible scenario because I am not a judge nor on the jury in this case and I can make LOGICAL assumptions and judgements even without knowing all the answers, without considering “reasonable doubt”.
                    So again, where is this white suit? How does a grown man lose his clothes so conveniently?

                  • It is illogical to wonder how clothing worn the night of a murder completely disappeared? Please give me some plausible explanation that doesn’t imply Lewis’s guilt.

                    • Not illogical to wonder how, but illogical to assume it was due to guilt in this instance. Maybe Lewis got blood on him (or his cohorts DNA on him) and he freaked out. That sounds like it fits the fact pattern we have very well.

                  • Not illogical to wonder how, but illogical to assume it was due to guilt in this instance. Maybe Lewis got blood on him (or his cohorts DNA on him) and he freaked out. That sounds like it fits the fact pattern we have very well.

                    That is the best you could come up with? That is laughable. So he freaked out in the moment, yet never could calm down enough to explain where his clothes went? This is a grown man we are talking about. That is hilarious.

                    • You are guilty of a non sequitur. I explained what could have happened to his clothes, not why he didn’t give that explanation. I’d say that avoiding incriminating oneself for destruction of evidence is reason to keep silent.

                • His sorid clientele was his own doing when he set out to atrract that crowd on what people who visited the club called “urban” night.

                  The two men who got killed had criminal records and one was wanted for probation violations. Its also be reported that they were the ones who started the whole mess.

                  • Lewis was not directly responsible, no. It was a chain of events.
                    Where is the white suit, of he was just a witness? He got lucky and everyone knows it.

                    • Appeal to belief. False assumptions. You assume that if you don’t know the answer to something, it must have been the worst possible scenario.

  1. Clarke, for her part, says that she was kidding around. In her favor, The Colbert Show is a comedy show, and for large parts of her interview she does appear to be joking and stifling back laughter while giving her answers. And the time machine question is inherently ludicrous. However, while she is definitely smiling while answering the time machine question, it is up up in the air if she was joking. Watch for yourself. The time machine question starts at around 3:57 or so.

    • This is why doing that show is inherently foolish for any pol who isn’t Al Franken or Barney Frank. But there is no question that she’s not kidding. The “smile” you refer to is the pol’s mask—it says “I’m friendly” and not “I’m hilarious.” She’s not kidding. She’s an idiot. It isn’t up in the air at all. Of course she says she was joking, but nobody fairly watching the clip could believe that–do you? Really? It’s believable as a joke only if you can’t believe we have voters so stupid that they will elect representatives this stupid. But we know otherwise, don’t we, and conclusively. Now we also know she’s a liar.

  2. I don’t know. When I watch it, she doesn’t appear to be kidding about the 1898 thing. But on the Dutch part, she does seem to be holding back some laughter. I go back and forth on that part, at least.

    • What is funny about that part. While she may be smiling, there is nothing humorous about saying the Dutch were enslaving blacks in 1898.

      I watched about half the interview and on all the other question she was asked she was giving straight answers. Even the obvious candidates for mocking humor, ‘Stand up for your rights’ being about fighting to keep Bush tax cuts’ she played straight with an ‘I don’t think so’ response.

      • I watched about half the interview and on all the other question she was asked she was giving straight answers.

        Even the “Brooklyn in the hizzouse!” part? Or agreeing with Colbert that he would make a great rapper? Damn, maybe meeting with those Indians would be dishonoring Custer’s memory after all…

        • I think that’s a stretch. She was responding in kind to Colbert being facetious, and doing so like a person with no comic instincts trying to be a good sport. That’s a far cry from suddenly dipping into ironic absurdism by suggesting that the Dutch were responsible for slavery in the late 19th century.

          • There was no correct answer for who was responsible for slavery in the late 19th century in New York. Which Clarke realized, about a question or two too late. So she just throws out the Dutch to be ridiculous, judging by her smirk and stifled laughter when she says it.

            An interesting note, when Clarke says her “set me free!” line, the audience cheers and laughs wildly, seemingly in support. It is only when Colbert points out that there was no slavery in New York in 1898 does the real laughter begin. So it appears that Clarke is in some fine company as far as American history goes. Perhaps her people deserve her after all.

  3. Thanks for pointing out the tie in with chick-fil-a as they really are the same issue. This was also clearly a media play as the letter was copied tot he media. I don’t know if this is common, but I assume if he actually wanted a response from Mr. Bisciotti he would not have copied it to them.

    Last point, for the record by Rep. Burns is a democrat.

  4. If Baltimore Ravens tickets were as cheap as Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, many people would crowd Ravens games in support of free speech- and most of them would be the same persons who went to Chick-Fil-A.

    Most of the American people find that government officials telling us what is orthodox in thought or opinion is more offensive that banning or legalizing same-sex “marriage”.

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  6. These 2 idiots remind me of dialog from the 1947 musical, “Finian’s Rainbow”. Finian’s daughter, Sharon, is arguing with the ultra-racist Sen. Rawkins. He wants to know where she gets her “radical equality ideas.”

    SHARON: From the US Constitution….have you ever read it?

    RAWKINS: Hain’t had time to read it….too busy defendin’ it.

  7. Oddly, however, progressive mouthpieces like the Daily Kos defended them, while excoriating Burns.

    Plenty of Demcoratic-leaning sites called out Democratic politicians over the Chick-fil-a mess, as did the ACLU. Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald, arguably the two largest names in pro-Obama and left-wing blogging (respectively), both posted calling out the Democrats in that case.

    For that matter, a two-second google search finds that some Daily Kos folks — including one of the editors, who rank much higher than the hundreds of community members — criticized Menino et al, rather than defending them as you claim. (Here and here.) And this Kos post from four days ago makes the exact same comparison you just did, pointing out that this is just what happened with Chick-Fil-A.

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