cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK

Welcome to part two of my three-part series on why I am not supporting Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. If you missed part one, you can find it here. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that on the day part one dropped, so did Clinton’s Iowa poll numbers. Perhaps Democrats are waking up.

Part Two will focus on this illegal, immoral and clusterf*ck of a war we’ve got going in Iraq and Clinton’s part in getting us to this place while utterly refusing to acknowledge that she was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Post 9/11 “patriotism”

As a woman and a New York senator, Hillary probably had to come across as tougher than average following the September 11 attacks. I know that after 9/11 lots of sensible people found redeeming qualities in Bush and decided, despite red flags to the contrary, to trust him. I was not one of those people, but by and large, the public was behind the man. In my way of thinking, that is exactly when a discerning eye is most needed. It’s easy to stand up to Bush when he’s at a 30 percent approval rating. Do it when he’s at 70 percent and people are challenging your patriotic bona fides, and you might just be a leader. Hillary Clinton was not a leader.

As I mentioned in Part 1, I’m quoting extensively from the research in Her Way. The authors’ work reconstructing the period from 9/11 through most of the Iraq war is incredibly valuable and depressing.

Right after 9/11, from the Senate floor, Hillary vowed that any country choosing to harbor terrorists and “in any way aid or comfort them whatsoever will now face the wrath of our country.” That’s just stupidness talking, and I hate when any politician picks up useless words and reuses them, thinking they are a substitute for strategy, leadership or clear thinking. How exactly do you comfort a terrorist in any way whatsoever? If a terrorist slips and falls on my pillow, did I comfort him? Why the talk of wrath? This knee-jerk and far-reaching violent response should have tipped us off.

RTFM

The key issue around Clinton’s Iraq vote is yet to come, however:

What has not been discussed publicly is whether she specifically read the classified version of the National Intelligence Estimate, the most comprehensive judgment of the intelligence ommunity about Iraq’s WMD, which was made available to all one hundred senators. The ninety-page clasified report was delivered to Congress on October 1, 2002, just ten days before the Senate vote. An abridged summary was made public by the Bush administration, but it painted a far less subtle picture of Iraq’s weapons program than the full classified report, part of which was later declassified. To get a complete picture, one needed to read the entire classified document

Hillary still had no one on her staff with the security clearances needed to read the NIE and the other highly classified reports that pertained to Iraq. This put more pressure on her to read these reports herself. Senators could easily access the NIE in a secure room on the fourth floor of the Capitol or in the offices of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rather incredibly, given the magnitude of the vote to come, only six senators personally read the report.

WTF, and hold the damned phone. Stop the game. Do not pass go. I want to know the names of the six, and the rest I want thrown out of office and into jail. This has got to count as gross negligence. How hard is it to read 90 pages when war is on the line? I bet these Senators read more than 90 pages from their campaign donors. Don’t we elect these people to do a job? Isn’t it part of the job to do the basic prerequisite reading before pushing the giant kill button on the national war apparatus? We are doomed as a people when a $400 haircut gets more attention than such a flagrant and dangerous abdication of responsibility, and we let it slide.

The French people go on strike when someone threatens to stop paying them long after they stop working. We Americans just head to community-destroying Wal-Mart for a re-up on useless “consumer goods” while trillions of dollars are raided from our treasury and tens of thousands of our children are mentally and physically traumatized by war and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are murdered in our name. We are so screwed.

In 2007 there was a bit of a stink around Hillary when she was asked at a campaign stop if she read the NIE. She claimed she “was briefed” but as Her Way points out, “none of her own aides could possibly have done so.” The book continues:

The question of whether Hillary took the time to read the NIE is critically important. Unlike the abridged and sanitized summary, the longer, classified version of the Intelligence Estimate contained numerous caveats and dissents on Iraq’s weapons and capabilities, making it sound less certain that the country posed a legitimate threat to the United States.

On the floor of the Senate October 10, 2002, Hillary ran off her list of reasons for supporting the vote. Among them she stated Saddam had given “aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members,” but as Gerth and Van Natta point out, “Hillary’s link between Iraq’s leader and Al Qaeda, however, was unsupported by the conclusions of the NIE, as well as by several other classified reports and unclassified documents that were available before the Senate vote.”

That’s a fancy way of saying she made the ish up or went along with Bush, Cheney and the other criminals drooling for a chance to wave their Halliburton-inflated penises around in the Middle East.

The kicker: “In fact, the lone Democratic Senator who came close to echoing Hillary’s hawkish remarks about Hussein’s alleged assistance to Al Qaeda was Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.” Nuff said.

Since that dreadful mistake, Hillary has been willing to refer to it as anything but. She’s said she “takes responsibility” for her vote, but what does that mean? If I drive drunk and kill four members of a family, I don’t take responsibility for my actions by talking about how I take responsibility for my actions. I go to jail. I do community service. I suffer pariah status within my community. I pay a price. There is accountability. Real leaders don’t talk about how they take responsibility. They simply do it.

Code Pink implored her.

Thanks to Her Way, I found the following YouTube video of Code Pink insisting on getting time with Clinton shortly before the war was to be launched. They actually traveled to Iraq to see the situation on the ground. They returned with a message. Watch as much as you want. I recommend starting at about minute 5:00.



Key statement from Code Pink:
We know you have talked about it takes a village to raise a child. We know it takes a bomb to destroy a village. And we’ve seen that around the world. We don’t want to see that again. We want you to help us protect the Iraqi women, the Iraqi children, and we want you to help us protect our children. And you also know much better than we do that every state in this nation is suffering from deficits right now. We know we need that money to go to child care to go to health care, to fighting things like AIDS around the world. We don’t think we can afford to spend billions of dollars on killing people in Iraq. We know that you’re a wonderful woman, and deep down we really think you agree with us.

They were wrong, and I think many others are wrong to this day. Hillary Clinton is not an anti-war candidate. She’s quite hawkish on the whole military thing. She’s probably not the change candidate. She’s not going to radically open government to the people. We project our own values, hopes and dreams onto the nearest available leader, and like a broken relationship, we think we can change them.

Few constituencies know this better than Black America when it comes to the Clintons. The boy has rhythm, can play the sax and is comfortable around Black people. All the sudden we think he’s the second coming of Martin Luther the King. Many refer to him as the first black president. It’s insanity.

Those Code Pink women wanted desperately for Hillary to say, “Oh you’re right. Thanks for seeing deep into my heart and reminding me of my roots and who I really am,” but she did not. Hillary did not care about the millions of Iraqi women and children. Her vote tells us that. Hillary Clinton is not the leader we want her to be. She’s who she is. The sooner we acknowledge that the sooner we can start to evaluate her and all candidates back here among the land of the mortals. Hillary really wanted to believe that Bush would sincerely pursue diplomacy, and many of us really want to believe the Hillary didn’t screw this thing up. She and we were wrong together.

“I voted for diplomacy.”

My final beef with Clinton’s war vote and her subsequent representation of it revolves around her claim that she was “voting for diplomacy.” That is so disingenuous, and I’ll explain why, again thanks to some text from Her Way

…she stressed the need for diplomacy with Iraq on the part of the Bush administration and insisted she wasn’t voting for “any new doctrine of preemption, or for unilateralism.” Yet just a few hours later, Hillary voted against an amendment to the war resolution that would have required the diplomatic emphasis Hillary had earlier gone on record as supporting — and which she now says she had favored all along

The long-overlooked vote was on an amendment that had been introduced by several Senate Democrats who hoped to rein in President Bush’s authority by require a two-step process before Congress would actually authorize the use of force.

Oops. Busted. Funny how facts get in the way of a good story huh? The problem with trying to rewrite history is that we now have a pretty good record of the first draft.

Why Am I Making Such a Big Deal Of This?

Am I playing “gotcha” or “the blame game?” You’re damn right I am. This is war! Our leaders seem to have forgotten this, while the women of Code Pink had exactly the right idea and called the outcome well in advance. We have destroyed a nation. We bombed its history into rubble. There is no more Iraq. Peace is done there. We have ripped families apart. We have sent millions fleeing into neighboring countries. We have created monsters of our own children. We have multiplied war profiteering, treasonous life sucking entities. We have bankrupted our treasury and our children’s treasury. We may not recover from this war for a generation or two. Of course I’m playing the blame game. It was designed for just such an occasion.

Now we have the same macho talk being directed at Iran. I’ve seen this movie before. It sucked, and the sequels are always worse.

I know politicians have to survive, and their lifeblood consists of money and votes (probably in that order), but we’re not talking about naming a national park. We’re talking about killing people. Killing people.

You do not get to slide on this. You do not get to simply say, “I take responsibility for my vote.” You enabled this crazy incompetent mofo to go tearing up the world, using our military and our kids as his personal play toy, so you could “look tough.” Why didn’t you just wear the flight suit right next to him on the aircraft carrier and join his self-delusional land of make believe? I have no patience for people who only pay lip service to their “solemn oath” with regard to using the military.

For Hillary Clinton, the Iraq War was not just a massive mistake in judgment, but it was also a massively missed opportunity. Just imagine how things might have been different if someone with her clout had the courage to speak up when it mattered. Not only could she have avoided the box she voted herself into, but given her name and power, she might have been just what other Senators and Congresspeople were looking for. She might have influenced them to follow her example. She might have led. Just imagine, as Kucinich said in the last debate, “what it would be like to have a president that was right the first time.”

This has been part two of my series explaining my frustration with Hillary Clinton and why I do not support her campaign. Tomorrow, I will post part three, the final part, on why two Clintons are worse than one. As always, I welcome comments.

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(cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK)

Today, I’m commencing what will probably be a three-part series on why I don’t support Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency. I plan to drop a new post each day. Tentatively, the schedule is

Monday – Abandoning Friends and Principles
Tuesday – No War for Polls
Wednesday – Why Two Clintons are Worse Than One

Thursday – americans over consume food for thanksgiving
Friday – americans over consume goods for the “economy”

Until about a month ago, I was open to any of the candidates, though I had an inarticulable hesitance when it came to Hillary. The more I’ve learned and thought on the matter, the more I actively oppose her campaign. As we get closer to the nomination, with her national poll numbers soaring, I’m getting nervous. There’s a certain momentum to her campaign, and while I’m not so arrogant as to think I can single-handedly stop it, my conscious demands I throw this out now, for me, before it’s too late. Given the choice of speaking now or forever holding my peace, and I’m opting to speak.

About Me (my biases, conflicts etc)

  • I believe I am registered as a Democrat. I go back and forth between Democrat and Unaffiliated depending on the primaries in my state, but basically, I’m a lefty.
  • I recently and for the first time donated $25 to Obama’s campaign. He is now my number one preference partially because he has the best shot at beating Hillary, partially because he’s got the most potential to inspire new participation in the political process. He is not perfect, but he’s the best option I see to bring about the severe change we need to survive this country’s coming challenges. And yes, I chose the terms “severe” and “survive” intentionally.
  • Two influential sources for this series are the book Her Way by NY Times reporters Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr and a November Vanity Fair article, “White House Civil War” by Sally Bedell Smith. At least with Her Way, I know there are folks (including Media Matters) that call into question the motives and accuracy of the authors. Still, my impression is that the book was tough on Clinton but not unfair and certainly not a conservative think tank-funded hit job.

Finally, let there be no misunderstanding: I prefer Hillary Clinton to any of the Republican candidates, but a preference is not the same as support.

Part 1: Abandoning Friends and Principles (many of whom happen to be black women)

You can judge a lot about people by the company they keep, who they count as friends, who they tap for important roles (<cough Giuliani & Kerik </cough>). Your associates are a reflection of you as a person. So, knowing that Marian Wright Edelman — founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and something of a saint — hired Hillary back in 1970 to lead the organization, is a big deal to me. The fact they became close friends is an endorsement. Discovering how badly the Clintons alienated Edelman with the welfare reform bill is a major strike against them.

According to Her Way, “a key opponent of the legislation was Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, and the woman who Hillary credited with inspiring her in 1970 to commence a lifelong advocacy for children. Twenty five years later, however, Hillary was no longer an idealistic advocate…”

In fact, by all accounts, Edelman was devastated by the Clintons’ support for this bill and took great pains to let her position be known. A New York Times story at the time reported that Edelman “sent a blistering memorandum to the Cabinet, warning that one of the welfare options being considered will ‘violate every standard of decency and fairness.’”

Back to Her Way: “Publicly, Hillary denied compromising her principles or values when she endorsed her husband’s support of the welfare legislation, which came as he was facing reelection. She believed, she claimed, that the third bill passed by Congress went far enough in its guarantees of medical benefits, child care and food stamps to warrant her and Bill’s support. (Others, both liberals and conservatives, noted that the third bill was almost the same as the previous two Bill had vetoed.)”

This sort of self-deceptive justification sounds too familiar. When Hillary describes her vote for this blood-draining, money burning, illegal occupation known as the Iraq War, she likes to say the bill she voted for was for diplomacy. She’s the only one who believes that.

Back to Her Way: “Years later, the welfare reform bill was viewed by many as a success; others considered it an abandonment of the truly needy for the sake of scoring political points. In her book Living History, Hilary found the space to acknowledge more than four hundred friends, colleagues and supporters. Marian Wright Edelman was not one of them”

Damn. That’s cold. It’s one thing to have a disagreement. It’s another to completely and utterly dis a friend, supporter and mentor of over 20 years.

This past July, Marian Wright Edelman was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. The subject was, in part, Hillary Clinton and welfare reform. Here is the exchange:

AMY GOODMAN: Marian Wright Edelman, we just heard Hillary Rodham Clinton. She used to be the head of the board of the Children’s Defense Fund, of the organization that you founded. But you were extremely critical of the Clintons. I mean, when President Clinton signed off on the, well, so-called welfare reform bill, you said, “His signature on this pernicious bill makes a mockery of his pledge not to hurt children.” So what are your hopes right now for these Democrats? And what are your thoughts about Hillary Rodham Clinton?

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: Well, you know, Hillary Clinton is an old friend, but they are not friends in politics. We have to build a constituency, and you don’t — and we profoundly disagreed with the forms of the welfare reform bill, and we said so. We were for welfare reform, I am for welfare reform, but we need good jobs, we need adequate work incentives, we need minimum wage to be decent wage and livable wage, we need healthcare, we need transportation, we need to invest preventively in all of our children to prevent them ever having to be on welfare.

For the sake of looking tough on “welfare queens,” Bill and Hillary (and they were indeed a team) sacrificed the well-being of millions, forced single mothers into underpaid, underinsured work and added further strain to many families. Edelman continues:

And yet, you know, many years after that, when many people are pronouncing welfare reform a great success, you know, we’ve got growing child poverty, we have more children in poverty and in extreme poverty over the last six years than we had earlier in the year. When an economy is down, and the real test of welfare reform is what happens to the poor when the economy is not booming. Well, the poor are suffering, the gap between rich and poor widening. We have what I consider one of — a growing national catastrophe of what we call the cradle-to-prison pipeline.

A black boy today has a one-in-three chance of going to prison in his lifetime, a black girl a one-in-seventeen chance. A Latino boy who’s born in 2001 has a one-in-six chance of going to prison. We are seeing more and more children go into our child welfare systems, go dropping out of school, going into juvenile justice detention facilities. Many children are sitting up — 15,000, according to a recent congressional GAO study — are sitting up in juvenile institutions solely because their parents could not get mental health and healthcare in their community. This is an abomination.

You know what else is an abomination? The way the Clintons so quickly sacrificed so many friends, black women especially, in their quest to appease the Right, move to the center, win elections or all three. Yall remember Lani Guinier? Oh yes, let’s revisit that painful episode..

Guinier was nominated by Bill to head the DOJ’s Civil Rights division. The two knew each other from back in the day at Yale Law School, but when a fanatical group of conservatives and a shamefully lazy press manipulated Guinier’s positions on race to the point that she was being called “quota queen,” the Clintons were nowhere to be found. They withdrew Guinier’s nomination with the quickness rather than defend a friend and intellectual powerhouse who they’d know for 20 years.

The Center for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting put out an article on the manipulative press and cowardly Clinton:

But there was also an ideological agenda at work: promoting Clinton’s media-celebrated shift “back to the center.” It seemed as if the hiring of Republican spin doctor David Gergen had to be complemented by dumping a representative of the “radical left.” “How he deals with Ms. Guinier in the weeks ahead may show whether Mr. Clinton is moving back to the middle of the road,” the New York Times’ R.W. Apple wrote (5/31/93) in a front-page news analysis of the Gergen appointment.

To make her a proper sacrificial offering, however, the establishment media had to reinvent Guinier — transforming a sophisticated advocate of racial reconciliation and participatory democracy into a sinister, race-baiting enemy of the American Way.

Finally, there was the sacrificing of Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, a longtime friend of the Clintons from back in Arkansas. After conservatives got their knickers in a bunch over Elders’s suggestion that kids possibly should be taught about masturbation as an alternative to sex, the Clintons tossed her out as well. Of course, those same conservatives would be glued to their computer screens years later, reading the sordid details of Bill’s ever-distracting and disgusting adultery, but at the time, they were trying to protect children from their own nasty, nasty genitals.

The Clintons’ abandonment of Elders is especially frustrating because she seemed to really be about the business of the job, coming in ready to make real change. In 2005, Elders was interviewed by CNN:

“I went to Washington, not to get that job but to do that job,” Elders said. “I wanted to do something about the problems that I saw out there that were happening in our country. I wanted to do something to make sure that all people had access to health care. I wanted to do something to reduce teenage pregnancies and begin to address the needs of our adolescents.”

As surgeon general, she advocated universal health care and comprehensive health and sex education, but some of her comments — such as her remarks about masturbation — enraged conservatives.

“Our country talked about masturbation more in December of 1994 than they ever have in the history of the country, and you know, people would think you’d be embarrassed about that,” Elders told CNN in 1996. “I’m not embarrassed about that.”

I hope this post has shed some new light on Hillary and the Clintons generally. There is a dangerous messianic air about the Clinton name, especially among African Americans, but it is a gross disservice for us to idolize the past merely because the present is so abominable.

I welcome your comments and questions. I’ll do my best to write back. My overall disappointment is that they have sacrificed good people and/or good principles in the name of political expediency. I’m sure this is not unique to Hillary as a politician, but I have a higher standard I guess. I could settle for people who did this, but I won’t actively support them.

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow, tentatively titled “No War for Polls.” In it, I plan to document how Clinton went below and beyond even the neocons in promoting this disastrous war and still refuses to acknowledge the biggest error in judgement on the biggest immediate issue facing our nation. Hundreds of thousands of people have died, and she bears significant responsibility for that.

Stay tuned.

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Hey fam,

I’m late doing the recap of our last appearance on NPR’s News & Notes along with Desmond Burton of Afronerd and Lauren Williams of Stereohyped.

Here is the audio right on NPR’s website

Desmond, Lauren and I were all in the New York studio, so we could share eye contact and head nods. They are both great bloggers and cool people I hope to work with again. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to the most interesting topics on the docket that day, principally the Enough is Enough campaign in which citizens are protesting outside the homes of BET and Viacom executives to register their complaints about damaging images in much of commercial hip hop.

Having prepared to talk on the subject, I just want to throw out some bulleted thoughts I had on the campaign right here. And before getting to that, I owe a debt of gratitude to What About Our Daughters. Not only have they got a strong stance on the issue, but they do mad primary research (having live blogged the House hip hop hearings), and the Black Women’s Roundtable podcast is one of my favorite. It’s a bit long (coming in at nearly two hours), but so worth it.

Quick thoughts:

  • Todd Boyd (an apologist for the industry) is terrible. He tells people to simply turn off their televisions if they don’t like what they see. More on his perspective in the NY Times and on NPR
  • It is not as simple as “turning off your TV” or “choosing” to watch something else. It’s not a fair competition. On the one hand you have billion dollar Viacom with its lawyers and lobbyists. On the other hand you have black women and black people victimized by these negative images. When black women command a $28B company with access to legislators and media outlets across the country, then we can talk about “choice”
  • I don’t have a problem with people protesting at these executives’ homes. After all, the executives are poisoning our homes by pumping in such damaging filth. To be truly fair, people would have to find a way to protest directly inside these executives minds, since that is where the damage of mass media imagery is most heavily inflicted
  • The imagery promoted on BET is a symptom of a centralized, profit-driven and ultimately corrupt media environment. Let’s not lose the fact that who and what gets aired is intricately linked to who owns the broadcast and network outlets, in other words, media ownership.
  • I do disagree with the campaign about the Read a Book video, but I’ve already blogged and commented enough about my take on that piece of satire.

Just a few points I had to get off me chest!

When I saw this in Borders, I knew I had to post it.

In Mississippi, Poor Lag in Hurricane Aid
By LESLIE EATON
Published: November 16, 2007

GULFPORT, Miss., Nov. 14 — Like the other Gulf Coast states battered by Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi was required by Congress to spend half of its billions in federal grant money to help low-income citizens trying to recover from the storm.

But so far, the state has spent $1.7 billion in federal money on programs that have mostly benefited relatively affluent residents and big businesses. The money has gone to compensate many middle- and upper-income homeowners, to aid utility companies whose equipment was damaged and to prop up the state’s insurance system.

Just $167 million, or about 10 percent of the federal money, has been spent on programs dedicated to helping the poor, mostly through a smaller grant program for lower-income homeowners.
And while that total will certainly increase, Mississippi has set aside just 23 percent of its $5.5 billion grant money — $1.25 billion — for these programs. About 37 percent of the residents of the state’s coast are low income, according to federal figures.

Mississippi is the only state for which the Bush administration has waived the rule that 50 percent of its Community Development Block Grants be spent on low-income programs, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the program. It is also the only state to ask for such waivers.

State officials, from Gov. Haley Barbour on down, insist that the state does not discriminate by race or income when it hands out aid to storm victims.

“We feel like we have programs in place to address all walks of life,” said Gray Swoope, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, which administers the federally financed grant programs.

Any delays in spending money on low-income projects have been caused by the complexity of creating the projects, said Donna Sanford, director of the disaster recovery program for the development authority. The state, Ms. Sanford said, “has done everything that we can to keep it on track and moving as fast as possible to meet the needs of everyone.”

Nonetheless, resentment at being left out of Mississippi’s economic recovery has been stirring in poor communities along the coast, and nowhere more so than in this city, hit hard by Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge, where the state plans to spend $600 million of the federal money to repair and improve its shipping port.

Though the expansion will increase employment here, historically very few port jobs have gone to low-income residents.

Some critics contend that the main interest of state leaders in spending community development dollars is to help big businesses like shipbuilders and casinos and the port.

The state’s spending plan “moves business to the forefront and forgets about the people on the ground,” said Anthony Thompson, pastor at Tabernacle of Faith Ministries, whose spotless church (rebuilt by volunteers) is next to a moldering subsidized housing project that he says has not been touched since the storm.

In his mostly black neighborhood in west Gulfport, Mr. Thompson said, “I see a lot of people waiting on help; I see a lot of houses still damaged.”

State officials say that programs not limited to lower-income residents help them nevertheless.

And while that total will certainly increase, Mississippi has set aside just 23 percent of its $5.5 billion grant money — $1.25 billion — for these programs. About 37 percent of the residents of the state’s coast are low income, according to federal figures.

Rest of article is here

Not that this was any kind of surprise for me, but it’s always good to get validation of what you actually suspect.

THIRTY SEVEN PERCENT of the residents are low income.

But, only TEN PERCENT of the money has gone to help low income residents.

I don’t even need to tell what the color of those residents is, but that’s just a ‘coincidence.’.

Mauffrey capitulated to the media’s demand that they be let in on Michael Bell’s trial even though he is being tried as a juvenile.

HOUSTON – Replying to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of U.S. media companies, the judge overseeing the trial of Mychal Bell, one of the teenage defendants in the racially charged Jena 6 case in Louisiana, reversed course Thursday and agreed to open Bell’s upcoming juvenile trial to the public.

But LaSalle Parish District Judge J.P. Mauffray, in a court filing, maintained that he is not required to open pre-trial hearings in Bell’s case to the news media or the public, and he argued that the media lawsuit seeking full access to Bell’s case should be dismissed.

The lawsuit, initiated by the Chicago Tribune and joined by the Associated Press, The New York Times Co., CNN and other major media organizations, asserts that Mauffray’s earlier decision to close all the proceedings in Bell’s case runs counter to Louisiana juvenile laws and provisions of both the Louisiana and U.S. Constitutions.

After all the shady things perpetuated by the authorities in Jena, it’s a relief to know they won’t be able to take similar actions behind closed doors in the Bell trial. I still don’t really understand how he hasn’t been recused given his connection to Bell’s previous, and overturned, conviction as an adult.

While the Washington Post was intelligent enough to present Juan Williams interpretation of a recent Pew Poll as an Op-Ed, NPR gave Williams a ten minute segment on Morning Edition to cherry pick the results to fit his own political agenda–without a counterpoint.

First thing’s first, the program capsule for the show states:

For example, VH-1′s highly rated Flavor of Love show features a black man in a clownish hat, a big clock hanging around his neck, spewing the N-word while demeaning black women. And hip-hop music videos celebrate the “Thug Life” and “gansta” attitude for any young black person seeking strong racial identity.

But a critic who points out that this so-called culture is defeatist and damaging — because it leads to high drop-out rates, record black-on-black murder statistics and a record number of out-of-wedlock births — is dismissed as a prude and a censor. Anyone questioning lyrics that glorify violence and make it cool to treat women as sex toys is told that the words reflect the reality of black life, and that they are “acting white.”

Fox News so often uses explicit sexual content to lure viewers that Brave New Films launched a website called Fox News Porn, composed exclusively of images broadcast on Fox News. The images were so graphic that Youtube rated the selected clips as appropriate for 18 and over. Mr. Williams is a regular presence on Fox News. Either he doesn’t care about demeaning women, or he thinks white women have it coming. (What I wouldn’t give to hear Juan Williams say something like that.)

Somehow, despite being portrayed as hoes all over the American media, white women have managed to avoid the problems Williams describes above. Maybe Hip-hop isn’t the issue? No, never that.

So while I’m not going to contest Williams’ characterization of the minstrel show that is Flavor of Love, I will point out that Williams has no business criticizing VH1 as long as he is a regular talking head on Fox.

The first guest that Williams introduces immediately calls his primary thesis, that black people are “two races” into question.

WILLIAMS: The first person I want to introduce you to is a woman by the name of Myrtle Wilson, she’s 86 years old, lives in Houston Texas. I asked her if there were two African-American worlds.

WILSON: Oh Lord, there are more than two. Because we have some who are professional, some who are religious, some have given up, look like all hopes of making a good life for themselves and they kinda got on the street side where they don’t’ work and don’t wanna work.

WILLIAMS: Right now Steve, it’s like 53% of black Americans who say African-Americans who aren’t getting ahead are responsible for their own problems. And two thirds of all Americans, whites, blacks, Hispanics, now feel that personal behavior, and by that we come back to the values concern, that wrong values with regard to education, keeping family together, that those are the things that are keeping poor black people oppressed, it’s not racism.

Notice that Mr. Williams adjusts the question at the last minute; he asks Myrtle Wilson if there are two African-American worlds, not two African American races. Wilson herself never makes the leap in logic that Williams makes.

I haven’t met anyone so defeated by racism that they believe they can’t succeed because of it. But this is a straw man; the issue is not whether racism can literally prevent you from succeeding in all circumstances, we know that isn’t the case. The issue is whether racism still exist, and if it does exist, how pervasive it is. What Juan doesn’t tell is that the poll itself shows most blacks think racism is a serious problem that they encounter regularly, especially when finding jobs or buying homes.

Again, while I think Williams’ views are bullshit, the real issue is that they are clearly a matter of opinion, and NPR should not be presenting them without an adequate counterpoint.

But this is why that opinion is bogus.

While Juan Williams argues that poll results regarding black opinions about diverging values and the questions of whether blacks are a “single race” (This was never true, at least, not scientifically) the poll results don’t actually say that black people who think blacks “are no longer a single race” think so because of values or economic status. The poll itself states:

African American respondents who believe that middle class and poor blacks have relatively little in common are – not surprisingly — more likely than others to say that blacks are not a single race. More than four-in-ten (44%) among those who say there is little in common between the values of the black middle class and poor blacks also take the view that blacks are no longer a single race. Among those who don’t see a values difference, somewhat fewer (33%) accept the idea that there is no single black race.

There was no poll question directly asking why blacks are no longer a single race, there is simply a connection between those who believe the poor and middle class share few values and those who believe blacks aren’t a single race. Without a direct question, the assumption that racial identity is therefore a matter of social class and “values” is just that, an assumption.

My problem with Williams view is that it confines blackness to a narrow slice of cosmic misery. If race is a matter of values, then are black children who make fun of their studious colleagues for acting white correct? Why are we still having a conversation about “authentic” blackness in 2007?

Rather than questioning black stereotypes, Williams is arguing that they actually apply to some people (Just not him, and his kind of people). It is Chris Rock’s old routine about the difference between black people and niggers painted with a veneer of respectability.

My inference is that minimizing what black people actually think about racism in his Op-Ed and radio presentation allows Williams to distance himself from “niggers” while attempting to create a new black identity severed from the issues facing the black poor. Listening to the NPR show, one can hear Williams barely containing his glee at the possibility that he might no longer have to be linked by association with people he no longer wants to see as human, not unless they buy a home and a Honda.

There is something deeply wrong with Juan Williams attempt to conflate the issue of whether black Americans see themselves as a single race (I’m not sure when that idea wasn’t a fabrication) with the issue of class.

Conventional wisdom about black America is being turned on its head. Nearly two out of five black people (37 percent) surveyed in a new Pew poll, done in association with NPR, said that blacks “can no longer be thought of as a single race.” Only half of all black people in the country (53 percent) say it is possible to think of blacks as one race. And young black Americans — ages 18 to 29 — are more likely than older blacks to say that blacks are no longer a single race.

The growing perception of two races is really a divide over values.

Over half of all Americans — people of all colors — believe that the values of poor and middle-class blacks are becoming more different. When the question is limited to black people, the answer is even more definitive: 61 percent say values are now more different between middle-class and poor blacks. The perception of a class divide in black America has increased nearly 20 points since a similar question was asked of black people in 1986.

There is a clear break with the historic convention that black people are one race. Racism, stereotypes and segregation laws long enforced the idea of a single black race by keeping down black people no matter their education and class. But just over 50 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision set in motion the modern civil rights movement, with a unified black America pressing for political and social equality, there are significant numbers of people with dark skin, and racial discrimination battles, who say black people do not have enough common experiences and values to be thought of as one race.

Well that’s interesting. Race is now a consequence of “experiences and values” and not actually what you are? How delightfully arbitrary. Blacks befuddled about Juan Williams decision to write a book criticizing reparations for slavery (I’m guessing the sequel is on preventing the tooth fairy from leaving money for your kids…oh wait, the tooth fairy doesn’t exist either) and whites who agree that Juan Williams is not really black because he doesn’t say “motherfucker, where’s my iced tea,” will be pleased.

I agree that black people in America face a wide range of experiences based on class and cultural background, but I don’t see that as a “racial” distinction. That argument seems like it has little to do with what we understand as race and more to do with what Juan Williams thinks being black means.

And Juan tells us.

This comes down to black Americans who believe in family, education and personal responsibility vs. those who point at “the man” or the “system” for the added weight on black Americans.

So now, given to William’s paternalistic summary of black political views, we are to determine that black people are “two races,” the good and the bad, the poor and the bougie? When was the last time being white was predicated on your pay stubs or credit rating?

That is some sick shit.

From OpenLeft.com

Transformative Proposals from Obama (+)
by: Matt Stoller
Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 11:29:51 AM EST

Today, Obama is throwing down the gauntlet on a internet freedom, telecom lobbyists, and on opening up government in general to the public. It’s some genuinely radical stuff, and it includes the use of blogs, wikis, and openness in government hearings. Significantly, Larry Lessig has endorsed Obama’s platform.


Specifically, Obama wants the public to be able to comment on the White House Web site for five days before legislation is signed.

Several well-known local figures are expected to announce their support for Obama’s plan, including two former FCC chairmen under President Clinton: Stanford University legal expert Larry Lessig and John Roos, chief executive of Palo Alto law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Roos, one of Obama’s top fundraisers, said Silicon Valley start-ups will be encouraged by Obama’s call this month for a clean technology venture capital fund backed by a whopping $50 billion in federal money over five years.

In the plan, Obama also calls for more aggressive government support of broadband access. Specifically, he says subsidies for phone carriers should be given only to those offering both regular phone service and Internet broadband to rural areas. To date, carriers offering merely phone service have been able to claim subsidies from the so-called Universal Service Fund, giving them little incentive to roll out out broadband.

Obama also calls for reviewing the decision by the Federal Communications Commission to open the wireless spectrum for competition. He thinks the FCC may not have gone far enough with its recent ruling, according to campaign managers who asked not to be named. He wants to conduct a multiyear review but is leaning toward pushing for the opening of some spectrum on the 700 MHz band so third parties can lease it on a wholesale basis.

This is to ensure that the winners of a pending auction for the spectrum – expected to be large phone carriers like Verizon – don’t just sit on the spectrum and not use it. Some fear they may do that to block others from competing with them.

Obama’s proposals are supported by Google, which is expected to bid on the wireless spectrum.

The candidate also is in favor of network neutrality, a policy that would prevent Internet service providers from charging companies like Google extra to ensure the speedy transfer of data over the Internet.

It’s a little difficult to discuss just how significant these proposals are, since we don’t have a great frame of reference. Take the Universal Service Fund, and his plan to move the money that is currently subsidizing rural phone service and ensuring that broadband is subsidized as well. High speed broadband is a core tool for citizens to engage politically; it’s not an accident that Color of Change emerged in 2006-2007, after massive growth in broadband to African-Americans. Building this network out, as Obama is putting forward, and opening up government could create organizing opportunities the likes of which we haven’t dreamed. Imagine the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley combined with the power of government and the movement building organizing capacity of the netroots, and that’s a start. Of course, what’s possible is not necessarily what will happen, and it’s all in the execution, but this is reaching for something bold.

And then of course there is spectrum and net neutrality. Both Edwards and Obama have made it clear they will break the power of the wireless gatekeepers, the telecom lobbyists who gut our laws, and the Comcast traffic shaping tyrants. Clinton, though, has been a noted absence in the debate about spectrum, mumbling about it incoherently at Yearlykos, and her plan for broadband was written by the telcos and doesn’t include net neutrality. She still hasn’t come out clearly on retroactive immunity, as her campaign’s ties to telecom lobbyists are not trivial, and it looks from her possible FCC choices that her administration would be a continuation of the Clinton-Bush years of media and telecom deregulation.

Rest of article is here.

I don’t really understand all of it, but the key phrase for me was net neutrality, something that I fought for last year when the House was in danger of giving it up. The openness in government and investment in technology can’t be anything but good for the country, since it is the future, business-wise. I think these are all positive moves by Obama, and further distinguishing himself from Clinton.

UPDATE: Entire Platform Posted on Obama’s Site

Michelle Obama has done an interview with MSNBC, and some folks are up in arms.

If you want to hear the Michelle Obama interview, go here.
Transcript is here.

Here’s the ‘controversial’ quotes by Michelle Obama:

BRZEZINSKI: The polls are showing your husband is trailing Hillary 46% to 37% in the African-American community. What is going on here?

OBAMA: First of all, I think that’s not going to hold. I’m completely confident. Black America will wake up and get it, but what we’re dealing with in the Black community is just the natural fear of possibility. You know, when I look at my life, you know, the stuff that we’re seeing in these polls has played out my whole life. Always been told by somebody that I’m not ready, you know, I can’t do something. My scores weren’t high enough. There’s always that doubt in the back of the minds of people of color. People who have been oppressed and haven’t been given real opportunities that you never really, that you believe somehow, someone is better than you. You know, deep down inside you doubt whether you can do it because that’s all you’ve been told is, no, wait. That’s all you hear. And you hear it from people who love you, not because they don’t care about you, but they’re afraid. They’re afraid that something might happen.
…………………………………………

Brzezinski: It’s interesting you say that, excuse me, because the stewardess yesterday, a 52 year African American and I asked her are you interested in Barack Obama and would you vote for him and she said I don’t think so because he probably can’t win because he’s black.

Obama: That’s right, that the physiology that’s going on in our souls and our heads and I understand it, I know where it’s coming from you know and I think it’s one of the horrible legacies of racism and discrimination and depression you know it keeps people down in their souls in a way where you know sometimes they can’t move beyond it. But the truth of the matter is that that’s something we’re gonna have to get over as a community and you do it by forging ahead fearlessly. I would not be where I am, I wouldn’t have gone to Princeton, I wouldn’t have gone to Harvard I certainly wouldn’t be a practicing attorney, neither would Barack if we listened to that doubt. You know, and there are a lot of kids who I know who aren’t pushing themselves or going for what they know they can do because of that doubt. We have to move beyond it not just for Barack in this Presidency, but for the future of our community we’ve got to show people of color a different possibility. And I think that once they see what’s possible then they own it, they believe it, I think that some black folks think that Barack won’t win because the white people won’t vote for Barack.
………………………………..

Brzezinski: Now it seems like you are almost, or you are speaking directly to the Black community here about this psychological barrier this fear of possibilities, you have Wall Street journal doing a front page article about whether or not a qualified African American can win the While House, to those who say Barack Obama cannot possibly win the election because he is black what do you say?

Obama: I say wait and see you know wait and see. Barack has been doing stuff he’s not supposed to, I’m used to doing stuff that people told me I wasn’t supposed to do that’s my whole life. It’s like ok here we go again you know telling me I can’t do something before I even try. I mean, that’s just not healthy. It’s just not healthy. It’s not healthy for people, it’s not healthy for young people to hear those messages from anyone because it’s not true. It’s like me going into your house and telling your daughter who she’s going to be today. You wouldn’t allow that.

Brzezinski: And she wouldn’t either.

Obama: And she wouldn’t either, but fortunately she already has the self-assurance to know who she can be. Now you imagine millions of children who don’t have that. They don’t have parents who were affirming them you know they don’t go to schools where teachers were affirming them. Everyday they hear what they can’t be. The Wall Street polls don’t even begin to touch on that. That’s why I’m like give it up, stop it, because you can’t start polling now, you’ve gotta start at the root cause of this. This stuff is deep and we haven’t touched it as a nation. We don’t deal with pain that has been caused by racism and division. We don’t deal with it. And then we’re surprised when it rears its head among whites and blacks. We haven’t dealt with it and it’s hurting all of us. It’s hurting all of us. We can’t afford to have generations of children of any race believing they can’t be exactly who they think they should be.

Are we really going to say that Michelle Obama is lying? That she’s imagining about the fear in our community? Or have I not read the articles that I’ve read about Obama and the Black Community. I don’t have to read any articles about Obama and the Black community – I live Obama and the Black community. Most days my radio is tuned into the Black Talk Radio station where I live. I hear the views of those active who want to discuss the issues, and I’ve heard it all when it comes to Barack Obama.

I have my own family and our discussions about Obama. The generational split is pretty evident: I, my sisters, my cousins, 50 and younger, we were on board with Obama from the beginning. We’ve actually had to discuss, to debate, to convince our older relatives about Obama.

Black folk, by nature, are a conservative lot. Our survival in this country has depended upon it.

If you accuse Michelle Obama of imagining what she said, dare I remind you of a NYTimes article not one month ago.

Money quotes:

“I’ve got enough black in me to want somebody black to be our president,” she said in her tiny beauty shop, an extension of her home, after a visit from an Obama organizer. “I would love that, but I want to be real, too.”

Part of being real, said Ms. Vereen, whom everyone calls Miss Clara, is worrying that a black president would not be safe.

“I fear that they just would kill him, that he wouldn’t even have a chance,” she said as she styled a customer’s hair with a curling iron. One way to protect him, she suggested, would be not to vote for him.

…………………………………………….

Another striking theme that emerged in the interviews was how often these women described an almost maternal concern for Mr. Obama’s safety, which they take seriously by noting that he was given Secret Service protection in May, earlier than any presidential candidate ever except Mrs. Clinton, who already had protection as a former first lady. The assertion this year by Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle, that as a black man he could be shot “going to the gas station” has done little to quell their fear.

This was a topic in Carrie’s Magic Touch. One customer, Maria Hewett, 63, a retired factory worker, told the others she would probably vote for Mr. Obama despite her fear that he could be a target.

“Things happened with presidents in the past, and they weren’t African-Americans,” Ms. Hewett said, sitting in one of two big barber chairs, her hair in curlers. “President Kennedy was a good person, and somebody took him down,” she said, prompting a chorus of “that’s true, that’s true.”

Still, she added, “Hillary’s husband has a lot of wisdom and knowledge, and that will help her.” This elicited another round of “that’s right, that’s true.”

“Whoever it is,” she concluded, “we just ask the Lord to bless them and take care of them.”

Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a Democratic state representative from Orangeburg, S.C., who has not endorsed anyone in the primary, said she had heard black women say they were afraid for Mr. Obama. “This really troubled me,” Ms. Cobb-Hunter said. “Maybe it’s a Southern thing. They want to protect him from the bad people, and in order to protect him, they won’t support him. They want to see him around, making a difference.”
…………………………………………………………………

Tonya Thomas, 46, and Tina Thompson, 45, both involved in early childhood education, discussed their internal struggle over whom to support as they talked with a reporter after the breast cancer walk. Ms. Thomas said she liked Mrs. Clinton but was not “totally sure.”

“Men have been running the country for a while, and I’d like to see a woman in office,” she said. “Personally, I don’t feel the country is ready for an African-American,” she said, adding matter-of-factly, “He would be killed.”

………………………………………………………………………….

From the Washington Post:

Most of Bell’s customers have said they are looking hard at Clinton and Obama. Former senator John Edwards of North Carolina is a distant third, polling in the low single digits among black women here. Bell initially found the candidates so similar on the issues that they were hard to distinguish, so she made her decision based on her sense of their electability.

“I’m not even thinking about color, but I guess in a way I am. I think basically white people won’t vote for him,” Bell said of Obama. “Isn’t that what voting is all about? You are voting for a person that you feel could be a winner.”

That pessimism that a black man could ever become president is a powerful force, even for Obama supporters such as Gaynell Wise, 51, an accountant who was getting her hair cut the day Champaign came into Passion Slice.

“I’m voting for him. I’m old-school. I know what’s going on,” she told Champaign. “He’s trying to take this country someplace it’s never been before. It’s going to take a lot for him to win. I know that. I know the system is not set up for him to win. It’s going to take a miracle and a lot of prayers for him to win. If you can get us to vote . . .” Most of the salons Champaign visits are frequented by younger women, who polls show have been more likely than their elders to vote for black presidential candidates.

Now, explain to me how these previous passages don’t reek of fear. Tell me how Mrs. Obama’s comments don’t directly address the issues raised in the above stories. To Mrs. Obama’s critics – if you’re Black, please stop pretending that she’s getting these ideas from the sky; you know better.

Since the beginning of his campaign, I have said routinely that I DO NOT KNOW if White People are ready to SERIOUSLY vote for a Black man for President of the United States of America.

I only know that I want THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION.

I don’t know many Black folk that have drunk the ‘ Kool Aid’; I think far more are just willing to give the man a chance to run the best race possible. I respect his sheer nerve to get out there and run for President. I believe that every month he lasts in there, has to be a positive. It has to be. This republic has to know that a credible Black candidate can run for the Presidency, and the country won’t fall apart. That it will survive for another day.

UPDATE: An Article from Alabama that makes Michelle Obama’s Point.

Hat Tip: Countdown with Keith Olbermann

From NYTimes.com

Ex-Publisher Says News Corp. Official Wanted Her to Lie to Protect Giuliani
By RUSS BUETTNER
Published: November 13, 2007

Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post.

Ms. Regan makes the charge at the start of a 70-page filing that seeks $100 million in damages for what she says was a campaign to smear and discredit her by her bosses at HarperCollins and its parent company, the News Corporation, after her project to publish a book with O.J. Simpson was abandoned amid a storm of protest.

In the civil complaint filed in state court in Manhattan, Ms. Regan says the company has long sought to promote Mr. Giuliani’s ambitions. But the lawsuit does not elaborate on that charge, or identify the executive who she alleged pressured her to mislead investigators, nor does it offer details or evidence to back up her claim.

Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, Regan Books, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near Ground Zero that had been donated as a respite for rescue and recovery workers.

Mr. Kerik, who in 2004 said he withdrew his nomination because of problems with his hiring of a nanny, was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.

“Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik,” the complaint says. “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”

Officials of the News Corporation were asked in a telephone call for comment on the lawsuit, but had yet to issue a statement.

One of Ms. Regan’s lawyers, Brian C. Kerr of the firm Dreier L.L.P., said she possesses evidence to support her claim that she was advised to lie to federal investigators who were vetting Mr. Kerik. But Mr. Kerr declined to discuss the nature of the evidence.

“We’re fully confident that the evidence will show that Judith Regan was the victim of a vicious smear campaign engineered by News Corp. and HarperCollins,” Mr. Kerr said.

The News Corporation controls a vast array of media outlets worldwide, including Twentieth Century Fox, the New York Post and the Fox News Channel, where Ms. Regan once hosted a talk show.

I don’t watch Faux News, so I’ll take the word of those that do that it’s been carrying the water for Rudy for awhile now.

So, now, they’re trying to get folks to lie for Rudy.

Um, ok.

I’ll remind folks again…

This is the man who had his WHORE in the House with his WIFE AND CHILDREN.

His PUBLICLY FUNDED HOUSE.

This is the man who has ON HIS PAYROLL, A PRIEST accused of MOLESTING CHILDREN.

And, now this.

Doesn’t surprise me in the least.

Watching Dan Abrams – he said that in July, in the ‘ Gossip’ columns, said that Ms. Regan has TAPES. If she does…..GOOD! She knew the types of folk she was dealing with….SNAKES ALL.

UPDATE: The Smoking Gun has a copy of the lawsuit HERE

Middle-Class Dream Eludes African American Families
Many Blacks Worse off Than Their Parents, Study Says
By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; Page A01

Nearly half of African Americans born to middle-income parents in the late 1960s plunged into poverty or near-poverty as adults, according to a new study — a perplexing finding that analysts say highlights the fragile nature of middle-class life for many African Americans.

Overall, family incomes have risen for both blacks and whites over the past three decades. But in a society where the privileges of class and income most often perpetuate themselves from generation to generation, black Americans have had more difficulty than whites in transmitting those benefits to their children.

Forty-five percent of black children whose parents were solidly middle class in 1968 — a stratum with a median income of $55,600 in inflation-adjusted dollars — grew up to be among the lowest fifth of the nation’s earners, with a median family income of $23,100. Only 16 percent of whites experienced similar downward mobility. At the same time, 48 percent of black children whose parents were in an economic bracket with a median family income of $41,700 sank into the lowest income group.

This troubling picture of black economic evolution is contained in a package of three reports being released today by the Pew Charitable Trusts that test the vitality of the American dream. Using a nationally representative data source that for nearly four decades has tracked people who were children in 1968, researchers attempted to answer two questions: Do Americans generally advance beyond their parents in terms of income? How much is that affected by race and gender?

“We are attempting to broaden the current debate” beyond the growing gap between higher- and lower-income Americans, said John Morton, Pew’s managing director for program planning and economic policy. “There is little out there on the question of mobility across generations, and we wanted to examine that.”

The data source, called the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, followed 2,367 people from across the country, including 730 African Americans, since 1968. The study participants have been repeatedly interviewed about their economic status through the years, allowing for income comparisons across generations.

The Pew reports found that in many ways the American dream is alive and well. Two out of three Americans are upwardly mobile, meaning they had higher incomes than their parents. About half the time, moving up meant not only that they earned more money than their parents, but also that they were better off in relation to other Americans than their parents were.

That growth was most evident among lower-income people. Overall, four out of five children born into families at the bottom 20 percent of wage earners surpassed their parents’ income. Broken down by race, nine in 10 whites were better-paid than their parents were, compared with three out of four blacks.

Median family income for adults now in their 30s and 40s rose by 29 percent, to $71,900 between the two generations covered in the reports. And as incomes grew, households shrank, from an average of 3.1 individuals in 1969 to 2.3 in 1998 — meaning that income per person grew even more.

Julia B. Isaacs, a researcher at the Brookings Institution who authored the three reports, noted that between 1974 and 2004, the median income for men in their 30s actually dropped 12 percent. But because more women entered the workforce, and earned much more than their mothers, median income for women more than tripled during the period, to $20,000.

“The growth we’ve seen in family incomes is because of the increase in women’s income,” Isaacs said. “Without that, we would not have seen an increase, because men’s earnings have been flat and even declined.”

Again, the reduction has been more dramatic for black men than whites. And income for white women, who were less likely than black women to work outside the home a generation ago, has grown faster than it has for black women. Black women earned a median income of $21,000 in 2004, almost equal to that of white women. Black men had a median income of $25,600, less than two-thirds that of white men.

Rest of article is here.

There are a lot of things at work here. The lack of WEALTH amongst Black families is hurting us, and can be pointed to here. Also, our lack of marriedness. The rise in family income comes from WOMEN. But, if Black men and Black women are not married to one another, then of course, our income will not be rising. We can see the impact upon the problems of the Black male in the workplace coming back to haunt, considering that the Black male is earning less than 2/3 of what the White male earns. Add it all up, and the findings are not surprising, but disappointing. We haven’t even brought into it the potential loss of Black wealth due to this subprime lending meltdown.

In an excellent piece (and I’m not saying that because she wrote about Jack & Jill Politics or quoted me or used my photo :)), Vanessa Jones of the Boston Globe wrote a story titled “Blog is Beautiful: People of color challenge mainstream views online” which ran in today’s paper.

Here’s what I like

  • she doesn’t just focus on black bloggers
  • she doesn’t make the story about bloggers of color struggling for a seat at the table of “white bloggers” as so many other stories do
  • i think she captured a good part of the nature of blogging as a conversation and follows that conversation into posts, comments and the airwaves of mainstream media, showing blogger influence well beyond the blog itself

While I think all of us bloggers can, at times, get an inflated sense of importance thinking we are the revolution, there is no doubt that we’re an important part of it.

Keep on keepin on.

The Post is reporting that penalties for selling crack cocaine could be reduced, and the sentences imposed retroactively, allowing thousands to be be freed. The penalties for crack-related crimes are far harsher than those for crimes involving powder cocaine.

Should the panel adopt the new policy, the sentences of 19,500 inmates would be reduced by an average of 27 months. About 3,800 inmates now imprisoned for possession and distribution of crack cocaine could be freed within the next year, according to the commission’s analysis. The proposal would cover only inmates in federal prisons and not those in state correctional facilities, where the vast majority of people convicted of drug offenses are held.

By far the largest number — more than 1,400 — of those who would be eligible for sentence reductions were convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which has jurisdiction over Northern Virginia and the Richmond area, according to an analysis done by the commission. Nearly 280 inmates convicted in federal courts in Maryland would be eligible, as well as almost 270 prisoners found guilty in the District of Columbia.

The commission is taking up one of the most racially sensitive issues of the two-decades-old war on drugs. Jurists and civil rights organizations have long complained that the commission’s guidelines mandate more stringent federal penalties for crack cocaine offenses, which usually involve African Americans, than for crimes involving powder cocaine, which generally involve white people. The chemical properties of the drugs are the same, though crack is potentially more addictive.

Nearly 86 percent of inmates who would be affected by the change are black; slightly fewer than 6 percent are white. Ninety-four percent are men.

The commission’s proposal does not change sentencing recommendations for powder cocaine.

A few things come to mind: Given the incredible amount of people in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, this is really a trickle. Also, releasing people from prison really isn’t enough; to reduce recidivism inmates have to have the kind of vocational or educational skills necessary to find gainful employment and avoid the traps of their former lives.

Naturally, the Bush Administration is opposed, because cocaine makes people dangerous, irrational, paranoid, and possibly prone to messianic delusions. Of course, Mr. Bush is only speaking from his own personal experience.

Well, that’s not exactly what they said.

The Bush administration opposes the new plan, arguing that it would overburden federal courts and release potentially dangerous drug offenders. In a letter to the commission, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher wrote that the release of a large number of drug offenders “would jeopardize community safety and threatens to unravel the success we have achieved in removing violent crack offenders from high-crime neighborhoods.”

But many federal judges, public defenders, parole officers and civil rights advocates favor the move, asserting that the penalties for crack cocaine charges have fallen disproportionately onto black people.


Were the Bush Administration concerned with creating sound policy rather than moralizing, they would propose a plan to help inmates re-enter society safely and with the proper career tools to help them avoid a life of crime. Even from a conservative point of view; recidivism is a disaster for taxpayers.

But black people don’t vote Republican. So isn’t it better to have as many of us disenfranchised and unable to vote as possible?

A quick update:

Michael Baisden, DJ, apologizes to Color of Change (sort of). At least he acknowledges that he didn’t quite have his facts straight and credits CoC for their work. Hmph.

An excerpt:

The Michael Baisden show and staff were given inaccurate information regarding donations made by the public and David Bowie. We apologize to our listeners and to ColorofChange for not seeking more reliable sources. According to documentation provided by the organization through their web site, all the funds collected by ColorofChange have been distributed to the families as promised.

We do, however, respect the right of four of the Jena 6 families who have insisted that ColorofChange discontinue collection of any monies on their behalf. But this should not reflect on the integrity of this organization which has collected and distributed over $200,000 to their legal defense.

The problems with his “apology”:

a) it’s buried deep within his listener forums and there’s no link on his main website that I can find.
b) clearing Color of Change’s name merits an on air apology as loud as his false accusations against them (and those of us who supported them)
c) when will Color of Change have the opportunity to share their side on Baisden’s show?
d) while Baisden is pointing fingers, it would be interesting to hear an accounting of where his fundraising for the Jena 6 families has gone.

I’ve heard that James Rucker of CoC is on the Tom Joyner Morning Show this am which is great. I have a lot of respect for both parties and am looking forward to hearing the recording. The TJMS has a wider reach than Michael Baisden so this is good news.

Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune
set the record straight:

Michael Baisden, a nationally syndicated black radio host who is leading a major fundraising drive on behalf of the Jena 6, has declined to reveal how much he has collected. Attorneys for the first defendant to go to trial, Mychal Bell, say they have yet to receive any money from him.
[...]
Only one national civil rights group, Color of Change, has fully disclosed how the $212,000 it collected for the Jena 6 via a massive Internet campaign has been distributed. The grassroots group, which has nearly 400,000 members, has posted images of cancelled checks and other signed documents on its website showing that all but $1,230 was paid out in October in roughly equal amounts to attorneys for the Jena youths.
[...]
On the eve of the Sept. 20 civil rights march, Baisden advertised a book-signing and solicited cash donations for the Jena 6 families at a rally in Alexandria, La., but his business manager, Pamela Exum, declined to specify how much was collected or how the money was distributed.

Color of Change officials call Baisden’s broadcast comments slanderous and say they are contemplating legal action.

“We are trying to clear our good name,” said Mervyn Marcano, the group’s spokesman. “It’s distressing that right now the conversation around the Jena 6 is on a ‘Jenagate’ that doesn’t exist, not the actual issues of how justice is administered in that town.”

On Friday, after several prominent African American bloggers criticized Baisden for his comments, the radio host issued a statement apologizing to Color of Change “for not seeking more reliable sources.”

Civil rights groups report that donations to the Jena 6 defendants had already slowed to a trickle in recent weeks, as the story fell out of the national headlines and the complicated legal cases slowly made their way through the courts.

A spokesman for the NAACP, which collected nearly $20,000, including a $10,000 check from musician David Bowie, said it is winding down its Jena 6 fund and preparing to distribute the remaining cash to the attorneys for the six youths after deducting some of its own organizing expenses.

Black bloggers — this story is proof that we CAN make a difference even up against the seemingly overpowering voices on the air (with a little help from our friends). And dig:

NAACP: 500,000 members, almost $20,000 raised for Jena 6, 0% of funds disbursed to families and lawyers to date

Color of Change: 400,000 members, over $200,000 raised for Jena 6, 100% of funds disbursed to date

As African American Political Pundit points out, which of these organizations looks more competent, effective and credible in terms of black leadership to you?

The Black blogs helped to spread the word about Jena 6, keeping the story alive and encouraging folks to donate to Color of Change which has been in the trenches in Jena. Between black blogs and CoC — looks like there are some new leaders in the African American community. Ya betta recognize…

Michael Baisden is an emerging figure on African-American radio with a syndicated drive time show. For reasons that appear at best, self-serving, he and another DJ have gone on the attack against the laudable leadership Color of Change has shown in bringing needed attention to the plight of the Jena 6 families. They have provided real on the ground support. Despite direct communications with Michael Baisden and his staff, Baisden has chosen to air falsehoods promoted by one of the Jena 6 father, Marcus Jones. Other bloggers like Prometheus 6 and Eddie Griffin have the dope.

This is a shame. It’s really a shame because it threatens to divide a successful organizing coalition that happened online among our own community and spread from there across the nation and the world. As a card-carrying member of Color of Change, I am outraged by the unjustified slander against them by a man known mostly for his advice to the lovelorn and not his civil rights activism. It’s ok if he wants to be like Tom Joyner when he grows up. But not by climbing on the backs of sincere brothers and sisters trying to make a difference.

You can see more about what’s going on here at Color of Change’s pages of documentation of exactly how they’ve worked side-by-side to provide real financial help pooling the lil bits and lil bits of your money and mine online to give to the families and their legal teams.

Color of Change is asking for help in pushing back on Baisden. If you have time, please send a message to him and to his bosses saying “This ain’t right!” Baisden may think he’s got the mike but let’s reverse the megaphone in the words of Seth Godin and talk right back to him. Please take a quick sec to send a message to ABC Radio and tell them to leash their dog, Baisden. Baisden — you still have a chance to rescue your credibility and Step Off. I just sent my message and dang it if didn’t feel good, y’all. This type of cynicism and exploitation cannot — will not — be tolerated.

Here’s more info from the email CoC sent out today to members like me:

Baisden’s claims and suggestions are completely false, and he and his staff know it. After you’ve read the facts below, can you take a moment to send Michael Baisden and his producers an email asking that he publicly apologize for slandering the movement we’ve built together?

You can listen to the damaging segments of the show, review the facts, and send him a message here:

http://colorofchange.org/baisden/?id=1489-129670

The real story about your donations

Since July, 17th, ColorOfChange members have donated $212,039.90 for the legal defense of the Jena 6, six Black boys being unjustly railroaded by the criminal justice system in Jena, Louisiana. ColorOfChange has already sent $210,809.90 to the six legal teams defending these young men. You can view the cancelled checks here:

http://colorofchange.org/jena/baisden/documentation/checks.html

On Michael Baisden’s show this week, Mychal Bell’s father, Marcus Jones, made allegations on air that the Jena 6 families have had no contact with ColorOfChange and that we do not have their authorization to collect money. It’s simply not true. ColorOfChange has had contact with all of the families for several months. A member of each family has signed a letter authorizing the payments from our defense fund to their attorneys. This includes Marcus Jones. Marcus also asked us on air to stop fundraising for the Jena 6, and implied that he speaks for all of the families, but he does not – none of the other families have said they want this. All but Marcus are thankful and appreciative. Michael Baisden knows all this, yet he provided a forum for this attack and backed it up. You can view the authorization letters, and the full details, here:

http://colorofchange.org/jena/baisden/facts.html?id=1489-129670

ColorOfChange has not taken a single penny of these funds, not even for overhead or administrative costs. We absorb all the fees from every transaction, ensuring that every dollar donated goes directly to legal defense. Aside from the latest donations that are still being processed, every penny that has come in to help these young men is in the hands of lawyers who have been fighting hard to achieve justice.

Baisden has the facts, so why is he on the attack?

Michael Baisden and his staff know the facts. As early as September, we explained our procedures to Baisden and his staff. In October, we helped them contact the families and lawyers so that they could verify for themselves that the money was being distributed. By mid-October, Yvonne Gilliam, who works for Baisden, indicated by phone that every lawyer she’d contacted had properly received their checks from us.

So why does Baisden resort to slandering us on the air now, after seeing for himself exactly how funds were managed? He’s promoting his own fundraising effort this week and is trying to position himself as the only trustworthy source for fundraising around the Jena 6. He’s stated explicitly that he started his fund because he thinks other efforts are untrustworthy. Discrediting us is a great way to promote himself and his fund.

But there is no excuse for his behavior, especially from someone who claims to be part of a movement.

We hope Baisden can raise a lot of money for the Jena 6. The families need all the help they can get. But when someone with his reach builds himself up by spreading slanderous accusations about an organization doing innovative and powerful work on behalf of the Jena 6, it damages the entire movement. And it must be called out.


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