"It's a mistake for urban liberals to stand against the little guy."


As Jacob Sullum noted earlier this week, the Pfizer Corporation announced that it is pulling out of New London, Connecticut, just four years after the Supreme Court notoriously upheld that municipality's misuse of eminent domain on the corporation's behalf in Kelo v. City of New London. In today's New York Times Room For Debate blog, a number of leading commentators on eminent domain and urban renewal weigh in on the whole debacle, including superb analyses from Dana Berliner of the Institute for Justice (which litigated Kelo) and libertarian law professor Ilya Somin. But I'd like to draw particular attention to the words of Paul Bass, editor of the online New Haven Independent. Here's his take, aptly titled "Clarence Thomas Was Right":

The lesson learned in the City of New London's Fort Trumbull neighborhood — or what was once the Fort Trumbull neighborhood — is that urban liberals make mistakes, big mistakes when they stand against the little guy through the misuse of eminent domain….

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was living in New Haven when that lesson became apparent. He wrote the most insightful opinion, a dissenting opinion, in the case of Kelo v. New London. He noted that eminent domain-fueled urban renewal became a synonym for "negro removal." He saw that in New Haven. In New London, that observation could be broadened to include the removal of working-class families of different backgrounds, the kind of urban liberal constituency critical to the New Deal coalition that enabled Democrats convincingly to claim the populist mantle in this country's political debate for four decades.

Yet, in Kelo, it was the conservative justices who sided with Justice Thomas and with families whose neighborhood was destroyed by government-aided powerful private interests. The liberal wing unanimously sided with those interests and with the abusers of eminent domain.

And Democrats wonder why this former constituency now watches Fox News.

Read the whole forum here. Reason on the Kelo outrage here.

NEXT: They Should Call the Town "Public Choice, West Virginia"

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  1. ‘the Pfizer Corporation announced that it is pulling out of New London’

    Heh heh heh, heh heh, he said ‘Pfizer pulls out’

  2. How could you possibly ask liberals to side against eminent domain and urban renewal?

    These practices call for the sacrifice of individual citizens for the shiny glorious new future as represented by pretty little architect’s models in dioramas in planners’ offices.

    That’s the entire reason liberalism exists in the first place.

    The definition of a progressive is someone who believes in “temporary” injustice directed at individuals today in order to achieve progress in the future – and progress is always best represented by a pretty little architect’s model in a planner’s office.

  3. “And Democrats wonder why this former constituency now watches Fox News.”

    We at the White House have just added the New Haven Independent to our list of news organizations that are not REAL news organizations.

    1. Good job, Axelrod. Now go home and roll in that pile of Big Pharma money you will make when health care ‘reform’ goes through. Thanks for looking out for the little guy. [wink wink]

      1. Briareus has just been added to the White House list of posters who are not REAL posters. Take that.

  4. Perhaps this would have been a good time for Justice Thomas to ask questions during oral arguments. Maybe making public his reasoning would have done some good because then the other justices would be on the hook for breaking with their party’s historical populism. What a shitbag for keeping his opinion to himself until it was too late.

    1. Are you criticizing Thomas for not being an uppity negro?

    2. are you kidding me? he wrote a dissent. that you didn’t read it and/or weren’t privy to his statements behind closed doors does not make him less of an advocate for the cause you now recognize him for.

      1. for real, yo.

  5. Welcome, Mister Bass.

  6. “So the legacy of the anti-eminent domain crusade, at least for New London, is a vacant Pfizer building and a desolate plot of ground next door.” – Thomas Merrill, professor of law at Yale

    Talk about blaming the victims.

      1. Nevermind, I got it.

    1. Yeah, I saw that. The fucking GALL of those New London families, being all ungrateful for being forced out of their homes to support an abortion of a pharmaceutical research park.

  7. “And Democrats wonder why this former constituency now watches Fox News.”

    There’s a simple lefty answer for everything, and for this one its false consciousness. (not defending Fox, just saying…)

    See also: What’s the Matter with Kansas?

  8. Dont read the comments on that article. Just trust me.

    1. Most comments on most web pages are like wading through the bloody death of intelligence. Our fellow man is stupid.

      1. 22 .
        Dan Styer
        Oberlin, Ohio
        November 12th, 2009
        10:59 pm
        Commentators Bass, Berliner, and Festa miss the point.

        They say that the use of eminent domain in New London was a bad idea. Agreed.

        But the question before the Supreme Court was not whether it was a bad idea. The question was whether it was legal. And it was.

        The invasion of Iraq was another bad idea, but it was legal, too. Smoking is a bad idea, but it’s legal. There is a name for a system in which it’s illegal to implement a bad idea: police state.

        1. Oberlin. I fucking hate Oberlin. Evacuate it and let me go in there. I’ll dismantle the whole place by hand, crush each brick and beam and wall and window and strip of street to atoms, and piss salt water ov’r the whole plot.

          I fucking hate Oberlin.

          1. Safer to evacuate and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

            1. I’d glass that shit.


            God, I fucking hate Oberlin.

          3. God bless you, man. The only useful thing there is Cleveland Center for the ATC route control system.

        2. Yeah, I wanted to comment on that one. Instead, I printed a copy of it, took a shit on it, then I vomited on it.

          1. Why do you hate shit and vomit, briareus?

        3. If we don’t accept the definition of the public interest in terms of embracing the rent seeking of private, specific interest over the general welfare we are totalitarian, police state fascist?

          Is that the gist of what this guy is saying? As incoherent as it is, it is consistent with a lot of Newspeak coming from the left these days.

        4. The invasion of Iraq was another bad idea, but it was legal, too. …There is a name for a system in which it’s illegal to implement a bad idea: police state.

          Wait, is he saying that a system where we couldn’t invade another country would be a police state?

          WTF? I’m not sure that even the most committed militaristic would use the word “police state” to describe a country that wasn’t, err, free enough to go invading others.

      2. Whats weird is how self-segregation occurs.

        Sports forums are often worse than the politics onces, but then you get places like here and EDSBS where the comments are interesting and often better than the articles.

        As an interesting comparions, neither has registration. Yeah, I think I oppose registration.

        1. That reminds me: can we ban Steelers fans from Hit & Run? Jesus fuck, I hate yinzers.

          1. Huh? What’d you say? It’s hard to hear ya over the choir of angels singing the glory of 6 Super Bowl rings… O:)

            1. Donaldson, eh? I know you. You’re a pedophile.

              1. Dennis: Timmy, will you recite for our husky friend here the little courtroom speech we prepared?

                Timmy: I have a friend. His name is Wendell. He showed me funny movies with fully naked people in them. He gives me juice boxes that make me sleep easy.

                Wendell: All right, I get it.

                Timmy: He’s silly. He’s a tickle monster!

                Wendell: Listen, kid, I said I get it, OK?

                Timmy: He makes me taste things I don’t want to. He puts things in my heinie!

                Wendell: Goddamn it, will you make the kid stop, please? Come on.

                Dee: Yeah, I think that oughtta do it.

                Dennis: Yeah, that’s good, Timmy. So you’ll leave?

                Wendell: Yeah. I’ll leave. (winks at Timmy and closes the door)

            2. Is it just me, or does the entire Pittsburgh economy consist of the Steelers and Primanti Bros?

              1. Don’t forget Kennywood and welfare.

        2. If Reason goes with registration it would spell the end of Sandi, Warty, and goodness knows whom else. Registration stifles creativity nearly as much as the NEA.

            1. Let me spell it out for you fuckface. National Endowment for the Arts.

              1. Oh, so that’s what NEA stands for? Golly, I sure do have egg on my face! Gee whiz, I can’t believe I didn’t know that, and then you came and saved the day by letting me know! That sure was nice of you! 🙂

                1. I so love manipulating the ulcerated ass-faced.

    2. Worse than WaPo of Femifisting?

      1. of = or. Otherwise that would be a rather odd title of nobility.

        1. Haha, I dub thee sir WaPo of Femifisting. Classic.

          1. That’s just too much to type out.

            Can I get a rules committee ruling on the ad hoc dubbing?

            1. You could just acronymize it: WAPOOF. Your fans/supporters could be WAPOOFters. Monty Python fans who opposed you could go on about “No WAPOOFters”, etc.

              1. It’s WaPoofFter not WAPOOFter. Show some respect.

                1. I though Epi already had the WaPoofter handle.

  9. Anyone actually believing liberals care about the little guy shoulk seek treatment immediatly. In fact the opposite is true, keeping the little guy down is the key to maintaining a dependent voter base.

    1. And a great way to push him down even further is by taking his house away.

  10. Fellow reason readers, I’m getting rather tired of constantly saying “I told you so” to the statists. They stand for some absurd criminal policy, explain it away with some dreamy feel-goodery, or they chalk it up to necessity, or tell me ‘well you have to go along to get along’ or similarly vile shit. They generally just kneel and gulp the salty lies from the State Nozzle.

    For a few years there, it was a bit of a kick to call something amid general condemnation of my opinion, be right about it, and later say ‘I told you so’, but now I’m utterly sick of it.

    What say you?

  11. Great ACORN video at Big Government


  12. Stupid joke name….

  13. I like Oberlin.

    Those Oberliners are THERE, and I am HERE.

    See how that works?

    Go Oberlin! YAY!

    1. Ich bin keiner Oberliner.

  14. Well everyone makes mistakes. We have learned a lot about eminent domain and urban development in the last 10 years and just because we made one mistake doesn’t mean we should just give up now does it?!

    I suppose you just want anarchy?!

  15. Funny shit.

    Shoving “liberal contituencies” out of their neighborhoods and replacing them with stuff white people like is “urban liberalism.”

  16. Gabe actually whines that he doesn’t want to give up the fascism of taking one man’s private property by force for the benefit of some other group of men.

    1. To reference “The Simpsons”: “Dude, are you being sarcastic?” “I don’t even know anymore.”

      1. It’s very possible that my sarcasm detector was malfunctioning.

    2. I think he’s being sarcastic.

      1. Damn. I was too late.

  17. It was bad enough when postwar urban liberals / urban planning fetishists fucked up cities with public housing developments. It was a disaster, but at least they could claim the fig leaf of good intentions.

    Under Kelo, we see the worst of urban political corruption partnered to the worst of sleazy private real estate development. Cabrini Green meets Del Boca Vista.


    1. iowahawk! I heard you were dead.

    2. “Monorail!…”

      oh dang-it, whydja have to…

      there goes the rest of my afternoon…

      “Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth
      Like a genuine,
      Bona fide,
      Monorail! “

  18. LibertyMark,
    Did you just Godwin this thread?

    Progressive urban development has nothing to do with burning jews. When you call me a fascist you are insulting all the holocaust survivors with your anti-semitic insensitivity.

    1. Claiming that I have “anti-semitic insensitivity” is just as bad as anything Hitler did!

      There. Now I did it.

  19. “When you call me a fascist you are insulting all the holocaust survivors with your anti-semitic insensitivity”

    Just how many holocaust survivors do you think read H&R a day?

  20. “LibertyMark|11.13.09 @ 2:02PM|#
    It’s very possible that my sarcasm detector was malfunctioning.”

    it’s ok, people are pretty good on sarcasm here so I have to counter that by making comments that will ideally be taken as real arguments by about 15% of the people reading this. You have to do that in order to get high enough value sarcasm for the other 85%.

    1. Gawd, I hate being in the bottom 15%. I have some work to do.

      1. That’s OK LibertyMark. I graduated in the top 65% of my high school class. My mom says I still turned out OK.

  21. I don’t really think your in the bottom 15%…it is more that I caught you at a time when you are operating at your 15th percentile. The force in you is clouded by hate. Hate leads to rage- rage leads to misunderstanding.

    I have argued with sarcasm for a good hour or two before realising my mistakes…it only took you a couple minutes.

  22. “It’s a mistake for urban liberals to stand against the little guy.”

    Because it makes the little guy look really short?

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