Bye, bye, Mary Frances’
President Bush has appointed a replacement for the Civil Rights Commission’s disruptive Mary Frances Berry, one of the worst public servants in Washington, but–surprise, surprise!–Ms. Berry says she’s not ready to go.
Here’s a report on balking Berry:
“Berry balked at leaving now, arguing through a spokesman that she and vice chairman Cruz Reynoso, who also is being replaced, have terms that run until midnight Jan. 21, 2005. The White House maintained that their six-year terms expired Sunday and that Berry and Reynoso had been replaced.”
Oh, dear, I hope they don’t have to get the federal marshals to usher Ms. Berry out of her office’Berry aficionados will recall that at one point in her career she said she’d seat a Bush appointee only if the federal marshals came.
Here’s that story (as told in a column by Linda Chavez):
“Mary Frances Berry, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is a bully. Her most recent escapade — last Friday — involved her refusal to seat Peter Kirsanow, the man appointed by President Bush to a commission seat that became vacant on Nov. 29. Berry told White House counsel Al Gonzales he’d better send federal marshals if he wanted Kirsanow to take his lawful place on the commission. But her outrageous behavior in this incident is nothing new. I’ve watched her in action for years, even before President Reagan appointed me staff director, the chief executive officer of the commission, in 1983 when she served as vice chairman. She once bullied a member of the commission staff so badly — in words not fit to print in a family newspaper — I had to threaten to have her removed from the building.”
Ms. Berry’s departure, now or later, is welcome not only because she is rude and obnoxious but because she purveyed a view of America as bitterly racist and mean-spirited that just isn’t correct. It is a view designed to promote the notion that African-Americans should feel that the United States is less their country than it is of other Americans.
I spoke with author and Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom, whom Berry has unsuccessfully tried to bully, about Berry several years ago for the IWF. Here’s a portion of that interview–it starts with l Thernstrom describing hearings the commission held about allegations that African-American voters were prevented from voting in the 2000 presidential election in Florida:
“Thernstrom: The commission held three days of hearings in Florida. And it heard countless witnesses. The bottom line for me: The election was far from perfect in Florida, which was undoubtedly true in other states as well. But, race per se, racial discrimination per se, played absolutely no part in the outcome. And that, of course, runs counter to the commission’s report. Its central finding was that blacks were nine times more likely than whites–and I’m putting it in a passive voice deliberately because the commission report puts it in a passive voice–to find that their ballots had been spoiled. The implication was that somehow Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris figured out which ballots were cast by black voters and managed to crumple them up. Or mutilate them in some way.
“In fact, the commission had no evidence upon which to rest its conclusion with respect to the rate of ballot error. And worst of all, until very recently, it kept as a total secret the statistical analysis upon which the report was based, so that writing the dissent was extremely difficult. To this day, the machine-readable data and crucial regression tables to which the commissions report refers are both still missing.
“IWF: Are you saying that you are on the commission but it wouldn’t give you this basic information? Who wouldn’t show you this?
“THERNSTROM: Chairperson Mary Frances Berry, the staff, and the expert (Allan Lichtman) whom they hired to do the work and who was paid with taxpayer dollars. His work product belongs to the public, but he has not been willing to send me his regression tables and the machine-readable data that went into them, so that I can understand what data he used and how he analyzed them. This has astonished other social scientists, across the political spectrum.
“IWF: What did the commission tell you?
“THERNSTROM: That it didn’t exist. Well, of course it existed. The commission referred in the report to Lichtman’s multiple regressions. If they didn’t exist, then he and the commission had no basis upon which to draw conclusions and the commission paid for work that wasn’t done. This elementary point seems finally to have partially sunk in, and the commission has now posted on its web site some of what I was looking for, but not all. Lichtman has substituted a different table–never referred to in the report. And the machine-readable data that went into his analysis are still unavailable.
“IWF: Are they closing you out? Why are they doing this? The never heard of a commissioner not being allowed to see the commission’s work.
“THERNSTROM: This is a government agency in a horrible class by itself. The commission is unanswerable even to the commissioners. I have just discovered it’s going to Illinois to look at voting rights; we didn’t vote on that inquiry. Proposed budgets are supposed to be voted on in June; we have not seen the budget being prepared for submission to the Office of Management and Budget. The published meeting agenda seldom resembles the actual agenda when the commission meets. A House oversight committee is having a hard time getting basic information out of the staff.”
Mary Frances Berry–we shall not see her like again. Thank heavens.