Leslie Southwick was confirmed by the Senate, 59-38.

Democratic Traitors:

Akaka (Hawaii)
Byrd (West Virginia)
Conrad (North Dakota)
Dorgan (North Dakota)
Feinstein (California)
Johnson (South Dakota)
Lieberman (Independent-Connecticut)
Lincoln (Arkansas)
Nelson (Nebraska)
Pryor (Arkansas)

Related Articles:

Acquiescing to white supremacy by any means necessary

Still Opposing Southwick Nomination

Dianne Feinstein’s Betrayal on Southwick Nomination

Stop Judge Leslie Southwick

Watson Resigns

25 Oct 2007

Wow. That was fast. Good.

This past Monday, show producers of global call-in show “World Have Your Say” on BBC World Service contacted JJP, inviting us to comment on the James Watson story. Jill and I both wrote about the nutty professor last week.

The show topic is represented on the BBC blog.

The show was broadcast live, worldwide (except for Africa) from 1pm-2pm eastern time this past Monday. I managed to get about 40 seconds in at the very end of the show (minute 51). There was a second broadcast starting at 2pm (covering the African continent) in which I was able to comment a bit more at length. However, there is no online version available for the 2pm show.

Here’s the 1pm version of the show, streaming (Real Player required).

What was most troubling about some comments made on the show were people who insisted that “scientists should have a right to ask the question ‘are black people less intelligent?’” It became less about Watson and more about so-called academic freedom and free speech. I maintain that such “freedom” is really a smokescreen for pursuing harmful, discriminatory and racist policies.

The points I tried to make in both shows:

  • The Dr. is beyond the science completely. There’s no scientific definition of race and no scientific consensus for a measure of intelligence. He’s wrong on both sides of his statement
  • Unsubstantiated statements have no place in this discussion and no bearing on the real world. I happen to believe a good test for witchcraft is whether or not a woman floats when tossed into a lake. Should my concept be seriously considered??
  • As a Nobel prize-winning doctor, Watson’s statements get more attention and credibility than they deserve. He may have a theoretical right to say what he wants, but he does not have a right to spread bad science
  • Whenever inflammatory situations like these arise, we are always tempted to focus on the white man who said the bad thing. This is misguided, because we forget the victims. Dr. Watson may be a crazy old man, but his words cause real harm to black people around the world. He provides aid and comfort to those who seek to dehumanize black people and will use his statements to justify their own prejudices and unequal treatment.
  • Here we go again. There is always some so-called scientist looking for support for their little racist perspective on the world. Such bad science was behind “eugenics” and countless other attempts to dehumanize black people. If we can prove black folks aren’t as intelligent, then we can prove they are less human and thus less deserving of human rights. We can enslave them, deny them justice, etc.

Technorati Tags:

Because the government won’t help you. However, if you’re upper middle to upper-class, living in a mostly white area with a Republican governor you’ll be fine.

The evacuation operation was going smoothly Tuesday afternoon, and National Guard troops sent to maintain order were described as polite and helpful.

AT&T provided Internet access to the evacuees and charged their cell phones for free. Volunteers offered massage therapy, yoga, kosher food and art projects for kids.”There was a call for artists last night,” said Brian Patterson, who manages community programs at the San Diego Museum of Art. “And I thought, ‘this is what I do, anyway,’ so I came down here,” he said.

Evacuees also had access to information on insurance and got medical help. They were given snacks and drinks and necessities such as baby wipes, tooth brushes, toothpaste and hand sanitizers.

Yoga and Kosher food. It took the Bush Administration five days to get a fresh bottle of water into New Orleans, but in San Diego they have Yoga classes and the government is taking into account religious dietary restrictions.

Even the Associated Press noticed the contrast in the Bush Administration’s treatment of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina and the San Diego Fires.

Like Hurricane Katrina evacuees two years earlier in New Orleans, thousands of people rousted by natural disaster fled to the NFL stadium here, waiting out the calamity and worrying about their homes.

The similarities ended there, as an almost festive atmosphere reigned at Qualcomm Stadium.

Bands belted out rock ‘n’ roll, lavish buffets served gourmet entrees, and massage therapists helped relieve the stress for those forced to flee their homes because of wildfires.

“The people are happy. They have everything here,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared Monday night after his second Qualcomm tour.

Of course, this was after the article had gone through several re-writes, including a change of headline. The original AP headline was “Civility Reigns at San Diego Stadium,” as if to draw a contrast between the scene in San Diego and those savage Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

The headline is especially galling considering much of the violence reported in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was exaggerated and made up.

Maybe conditions in the Superdome would have been better if the evacuees had massage therapists to help them cope with the stress of being abandoned and left to die for five days; but I’m inclined to think that maybe food, water, and shelter would have been enough.

Had New Orleans been a mostly white city, they would have gotten all that and more.

There are many factors at work here, the fact that the governor of California is a Republican and the Bush Administration would like to keep it that way, the fact that the evacuees here are financially better off than those in Hurricane Katrina, and the fact that the evacuees are not overwhelmingly black. But it really comes down to the same thing, which is that in America how the government treats you hinges entirely on your race, class, and assumed political affiliation.


The digital divide has taken on a new twist as the chart shows below. Blacks, Hispanics and ahem, everybody else (?) are adopting new mobile and internet technologies at a higher rate than Caucasians. Here’s an example — Take a look at the chart above for more details by age, gender and ethnicity. Not new data (it’s from over a year ago) but I just got it in the mail today…

One of Donnie McClurkin’s biggest hits goes as follows:

“We fall down
But we get up
For a saint is just a sinner who fell down
and got up…”

As it turns out, Barack Obama is the one who has fallen down this time. Will he rise a saint or a sinner?

Folks are up in arms over Donnie McClurkin’s ministry and views on homosexuality. He sparked controversy by his decision to sing at the GOP Convention in 2004. Here’s what the Washington Post had to say at the time:

Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who has detailed his struggle with gay tendencies and vowed to battle “the curse of homosexuality,” said yesterday he’ll perform as scheduled at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, despite controversy over his view that sexuality can be changed by religious intervention.

“I can’t let off. I didn’t call myself — God called me to do what I do,” McClurkin told The Post’s Hamil R. Harris. The Grammy winner declared, “If this is a war, we are willing to fight. Not a war of violence, but a war of purpose.”

McClurkin wrote on a Christian Web site in 2002 that he struggled with homosexuality after he was molested by male relatives when he was 8 and 13. “I’ve been through this and have experienced God’s power to change my lifestyle,” he wrote. “I am delivered and I know God can deliver others, too.”

McClurkin, who said he’s sung for Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, blamed “the hatred of a few activists, not the gay community,” for the flap. “They act as if my singing on the ticket is the same as singing at a Nazi rally endorsing Nazism. The bottom line is that I sang at the Democratic convention” in 1992.


Keith Boykin wrote a powerful push-back
to McClurkin’s ministry on his blog several years ago.

I don’t know if Donnie McClurkin is homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual or asexual. Quite honestly, I don’t care. But I do know that his experience is not the same as everyone else’s. I’ve met thousands of gay men and lesbians across the country, and very few of them were raped or abused as children. Even fewer would say they “chose” their sexual orientation. Why would anyone choose to be a victim of discrimination?

In fact, because Donnie McClurkin said he had no control over the circumstances that led to his own early sexuality, McClurkin himself never chose to be gay. But he did apparently choose to be heterosexual, largely because he wanted to change.

It’s highly unlikely that God changed McClurkin’s sexual orientation. It’s far more likely that McClurkin was confused about it all along. Whatever the case, McClurkin should not make the mistake of assuming everyone else is the same as he is.

My opinion is this:

Donnie McClurkin is a MAJOR gospel star with chart-topping hits beyond gospel with a strong R&B/hip hop crossover audience. I submit to you the 308 videos of him on YouTube along with the millions of views to date that they represent.

Obama’s team was likely thinking about turnout and yes, probably wanting to represent a wider range and bigger tent. I am a big gospel fan and frankly was not aware of his “personal struggles” until this came up. I’ve sung along to McClurkin’s songs on the radio after tough days at work. His music has meant a lot to my life.

In fairness, I think there are probably a lot of people like me who will associate first with his inspiring and accessible, non-political music. And post-Katrina/post-Iraq fiasco, there’s been a big backing away from conservatives by some African-American church leaders such as T.D. Jakes who’d flirted with and even supported George Bush. So while I disagree vehemently with McClurkin’s views, I can see how this may have come to pass. Obama’s fallen down — into a dark ditch where church and sexuality, well, don’t necessarily meet as friends. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine the Clinton team stumbling this badly given the sensitivity of this topic in the black community.

For the Obama team to “repudiate” the gospel tour and/or Donnie McClurkin as Earl Ofari Hutchinson advises?

Well, this would probably a move that would be poorly received in the black community — it’s more than just music for many people. “Redemption” in its many forms is an important value. Repudiating gospel is a non-starter. Better probably to acknowledge the controversy around McClurkin’s ministry/activism and embrace the man and his music while distancing as gracefully as possible from some of his viewpoints.

I understand AmericaBlog’s insistence that Obama drop McClurkin from the tour as a “statement”. Culturally speaking, however, there are a lot of different ways that people will view Donnie McClurkin — both as saint and as sinner among African-Americans. I view McClurkin personally as a talented, tragic, confused and angry man.

I think Obama’s best hope is that McClurkin will step down from the tour and decline to be embroiled in further controversy. But given McClurkin’s enormous fan base, I think it will be difficult and perceived badly as rude and believe or not — intolerant — by many of the African-Americans Obama hopes to re-engage to dis-invite McClurkin directly. It wouldn’t sit well with the older female church-going, reliably voting demographic. In getting back up, the question is how Obama will balance their opinions with that of other progressives.

(cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK)

If the insightful sociological analysis of Bill O’Reilly wasn’t enough to put you on to the idea that we black people are actually people, I’d like to share two stories I found last week which reinforced this theme in two completely independent spheres.

In “Tyler Perry’s Money Machine,” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson wrote about the box office-topping “Why Did I Get Married?”

In his plays and movies, Perry shows African Americans as they . . . well, I was about to say he shows us as we really are, but that’s not true. Reality is for documentaries; Perry’s characters are unsubtle, his humor is broad, and his plots are soaked with melodrama. Among his big themes are love, fidelity and the importance of family, and his movies usually have religious overtones.

What Perry does is depict black Americans as people relating to other people — not as mere plot devices and not as characters defined solely by how they relate to the white world. The rest of the movie industry would do well to take note.

Thank you so much for saying this! Robinson continues:

In depicting African Americans, mainstream Hollywood still struggles to leave behind the “magic Negro” paradigm — the idea, epitomized by ” Driving Miss Daisy,” that black characters exist solely to teach valuable lessons to white characters. We still don’t get a lot of films in which black characters bestow their moral wisdom on one another. Even in ” The Pursuit of Happyness,” Will Smith’s character was only secondarily a lesson-giver to his son; mostly, his role was to teach and uplift the audience.

There’s nothing wrong with a little inspiration. But African American moviegoers who want to see their own concerns and struggles — their own lives, even if rendered in broad outline — projected at the cineplex still aren’t getting much love from Hollywood.

True dat. We exist for more than the illumination of white America, and we don’t need other people telling us who we are and what our motivations are. This takes me to part two.

In “Clinton-Obama Quandary for Many Black Women,” the New York Times’ Katharine Q. Seelye did one of the most admirable mainstream media stories about black folks and the Democratic field I have seen. She didn’t stoop to reducing black people’s decision-making process to a struggle over the fake-me-out meme of Obama’s vs. Clinton’s “blackness.” She did actual research, and in the process, discovered key differences in the campaigns as well as the complex considerations black women are weighing in deciding who they will support.

Seelye writes about the importance of South Carolina’s black beauty shops to the campaigns and interviews Clara Vereen:

“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.

Wow. This echoes a column I wrote back in March.

Think about it. America can’t even handle black people in horror movies. We’re still the first to die.

America doesn’t know how to deal with black club-goers on the night before their weddings. America shoots them 50 times.

America even has trouble with fictional black presidents. On 24, they tried to kill President David Palmer three times. Have you ever seen such murderous determination targeting fictional white presidents? The West Wing’s Jed Bartlet seemed pretty safe. 24 finally did assassinate Palmer—on the fourth attempt, when he wasn’t even president anymore.

And what are folks saying about Hillary?

“We always love Hillary because we love her husband,” Ms. Vereen said. Then she paused. Much of the chitchat in her shop is about whether a woman could or should be president.
“A man is supposed to be the head,” she said. “I feel like the Lord has put man first, and I believe in the Bible.”
<snip>
“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.”

Thank you Eugene Robinson and Katharine Q. Seelye for treating black folks like the complicated human beings we are.

Hat Tip: Daily Dish

Zogby Poll: Half Say They Would Never Vote for Hillary Clinton for President

Other top tier candidates in both parties win more acceptance; Richardson & Huckabee favored most

While she is winning wide support in nationwide samples among Democrats in the race for their party’s presidential nomination, half of likely voters nationwide said they would never vote for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The online survey of 9,718 likely voters nationwide showed that 50% said Clinton would never get their presidential vote. This is up from 46% who said they could never vote for Clinton in a Zogby International telephone survey conducted in early March. Older voters are most resistant to Clinton – 59% of those age 65 and older said they would never vote for the New York senator, but she is much more acceptable to younger voters: 42% of those age 18–29 said they would never vote for Clinton for President.

Whom would you NEVER vote for for President of the U.S.?
%

Clinton (D)
50%

Kucinich (D)
49%

Gravel (D)
47%

Paul (R)
47%

Brownback (R)
47%

Tancredo (R)
46%

McCain (R)
45%

Hunter (R)
44%

Giuliani (R)
43%

Romney (R)
42%

Edwards (D)
42%

Thompson (R)
41%

Dodd (D)
41%

Biden (D)
40%

Obama (D)
37%

Huckabee (R)
35%

Richardson (D)
34%

Not sure
4%

At the other end of the scale, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrats Bill Richardson and Barack Obama faired best, as they were least objectionable to likely voters. Richardson was forever objectionable as President to 34%, while 35% said they could never vote for Huckabee and 37% said they would never cast a presidential ballot for Obama, the survey showed.

The Zogby Interactive poll, conducted Oct. 11–15, 2007, included 9,718 likely voters nationwide and carries a margin of error of +/– 1.0 percentage point.

In a Zogby International telephone survey conducted in March, 46% said they would never vote for Clinton. In that survey, she finished in second place, behind Republican Newt Gingrich, a divisive figure who has since announced he would not seek the presidency and was not included in this new online survey. In that earlier poll, 54% said they would never vote for Gingrich. This recent survey included only the 17 candidates who were at that time running for President in one of the major parties. Former Vice President Al Gore, who like Gingrich was also included in the earlier Zogby survey of who would never win voters’ support for the White House, was excluded from this latest survey because of his insistence that he has no interest in a run for the presidency.

Interest in a Gore candidacy has been rekindled after he recently won the Nobel Prize for peace in connection with his work on the issue of global climate change.

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who announced Friday he would end his campaign, was included in the poll. He might have sensed the nationwide opposition to his campaign, as 47% said they would never vote for him for President. The survey showed he was tied as the third most objectionable candidate, behind Clinton and Congressman Dennis Kucinich (49%). Tied with Brownback was Democrat Michael Gravel, a former Alaska senator, and GOP Congressman Ron Paul.

Opposition to Clinton among Democratic and Republican women revealed mirror opposite attitudes, the Zogby Interactive survey showed. While 83% of Republican women said they would never vote for her, just 17% said they could possibly cast a ballot for her. Among Democratic women, just 17% said they would never vote for Hillary, while 83% said they could.

Democratic women appear smitten by former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois – just 11% said they could never vote for them for President. Republican women, on the other hand, find former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney most attractive – just 14% said they would never vote for him. Tied for a close second was former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who were found to be objectionable by just 15% of Republican women.

For a complete methodological statement on this survey.

This isn’t the first poll that says this. So, I don’t want to hear anything about Clinton being a ‘realistic’ choice for President and Obama being an ‘idealistic’ choice. If you want to talk to me about being ‘ realistic’, don’t bring up a candidate who, 13 months out, HALF THE COUNTRY TELLS YOU THEY’LL NEVER VOTE FOR.

If folks told me that they were supporting Edwards because they were being ‘ realistic’, I’d buy that. But realism and choosing someone that HALF the country will never be persuaded to vote for – DO NOT MATCH. Obama might have a ‘ Bradley Effect’, but it would have to be tsunami-sized to catch up to Hillary right now.

Just heard about this and want to get out the word.

The Souls of Black Girls is a provocative news documentary that takes a critical look at media images–how they are instituted, established and controlled. The documentary also examines the relationship between the historical and existing media images of women of color and raises the question of whether they may be suffering from a self-image disorder as a result of trying to attain the standards of beauty that are celebrated in media images.

The documentary features candid interviews with young women discussing their self-image and social commentary from Actresses Regina King and Jada Pinkett Smith, PBS Washington Week Moderator Gwen Ifill, Rapper/Political Activist Chuck D, and Cultural Critic Michaela Angela Davis, among others. The Souls of Black Girls is a piece that attempts to provoke honest dialogue and critical thinking among women of color about media images and our present condition—internally and externally.

Saturday

New York – October, 20 2007 – 3:45P
Harlem International Film Festival (Schomburg Center)
515 Malcolm X Blvd (Corner of 135th Street)
Harlem , New York|33 10037

Los Angeles – October, 20 2007 – 6:00P
African American Film Marketplace and the S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase
5300 Melrose Ave
Hollywood , CA
Cost: 10.00

Sunday

October, 21 2007 – 3:30P
African American Film Marketplace and the S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase
5300 Melrose Ave
Hollywood , CA

It’s been a bad news day between SCHIP override failure, Turkey invading Iraq, Al-Qaeda or the Taliban or both or whomever attacking hundreds of innocent civilians in Pakistan, Sarkozy and Now-Ex Wife, etc. I should have know it would start off bad when this was the first story I read today on CNN:

Nobel winner in ‘racist’ claim row

A British museum has canceled a lecture by Dr. James Watson, co-founder of the DNA double helix, after he claimed black people are less intelligent than whites in a recent newspaper interview.

James Watson won the 1962 Nobel prize for discovering the structure of DNA.

Watson, who won the 1962 Nobel prize for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, provoked a storm of criticism after his comments were published in the Sunday Times.

The eminent biologist told the British newspaper he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.”

Of course one is tempted to notch this off as an angry, frustrated, embittered old coot who admits to being socially inept in his youth. Which is certainly how the Sunday Times in London portrays him in a bafflingly affectionate sort of “our lovely old granddad still filled with vim, vigor and bigotry” way. By way of example, from the narrator, who passes on his hateful words without judgment or rebuttal:

As I motor back to New York, I reflect on a man who – at nearly 80 – is, and will remain, an immensely powerful and revered force in science. I wonder whether it’s possible, as his desire to shock seems so strong, that a fear of boring people really does play on his mind. Perhaps the best description of the man is from the driver. “Dr Watson’s so kind and still very young at heart,” he drawls as we leave the campus behind. “He’s got a lot of curiosity about everything and he’s always working. But to him it isn’t work: it’s a challenge to the mind. And if he runs into a problem, it’s fun time.”

The article also says:

His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. He writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”.

Still as a recognized, historic pioneer of science, his words are troubling and encourage the wrong sort of elements — such as the person who added the story to Digg and whomever is writing the Race and Intelligence entry in the Wikipedia. The Digg notes:

The Church of Political Correctness is burying facts and creating a 21st century Galileo. Dr Watson, A Nobel Prize winner who now runs one of America’s leading scientific research institutions drew widespread condemnation for comments he made. He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade

A Galileo? Please, honey. It simply isn’t true. Race is a social construct created to nurture inequalities and exploitation of an Other. Biologically speaking, there is no such thing as race and in fact, we are all human beings above all else. Did you know that some African slaves were imported to America precisely because of their culture’s technical knowledge of growing rice and other crops in warm, wet climates? And that the elaborate metal-working of places like New Orleans were imported by slaves highly valued for their technique? Did you know that African slaves imported medicinal knowledge such as the use of white clay (Kaolin) to prevent diarrhea (think about Kaopectate) and cherry tree bark to flavor strong-tasting medicine?

Do you have any idea how many inventions we rely upon daily were provided by poor, stupid African-Americans such as the traffic light, the carbon filament in light bulbs and refrigerated trucking? Did you know the phrase “the real McCoy” is derived from those who wanted the inventions of Elijah McCoy — black man — without substitute?
Here’s a top ten list of African-American scientists and inventors.

Stupid indeed. America owes a great debt to this long list of Black scientists and inventors and millions more people intelligent enough to thrive even under slavery and discrimination. This shiznit makes me so mad.

Every few years some scientist has to come out and claim that black people are genetically inferior or less intelligent or prone to more sex or some such nonsense.
This week’s buffoonish mascot is non other than Dr. James Watson, Nobel Prize winning scientist credited with discovering DNA.

The Times of London reports:

Black people ‘less intelligent’ scientist claims

One of the world’s most respected scientists is embroiled in an extraordinary row after claiming that black people are less intelligent than white people.

James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, has provoked outrage with his comments, made ahead of his arrival in Britain today.

More fierce criticism of the eminent scientist is expected as he embarks on a number of engagements to promote a new book ‘Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science’. Among his first commitments is a speech to a London audience at the Science Museum on Friday. The event is sold out.

Dr Watson, who runs one of America’s leading scientific research institutions, made the controversial remarks in an interview in The Sunday Times.

The 79-year-old geneticist said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.”. He said he hoped that everyone was equal, but countered that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.

He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. He writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”.

Wow. Don’t you love that scientific method? “People who have to deal with black employees”??? Amazing. Dude is clearly a bit old an no stranger to idiocracy. The same article points out his equally ignorant statements about women and homosexuals:

Watson is no stranger to controversy. He has been reported in the past saying that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual.

In addition, he has suggested a link between skin colour and sex drive, proposing a theory that black people have higher libidos.

He also claimed that beauty could be genetically manufactured, saying: “People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great.”

It’s funny, based on my scientific studies, white scientists who try to monopolize credit for one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century then pontificate on affairs well beyond their expertise are genetically pre-disposed to ending up as racist, dirty old men.

Hat tip: Prometheus 6:

Plan Would Ease Limits on Media Owners
By STEPHEN LABATON
Published: October 18, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — The head of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.

A proposal from Kevin J. Martin could change media ownership rules in two months.
Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months — a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some executives of media conglomerates.

Among them are Samuel Zell, the Chicago investor who is seeking to complete a buyout of the Tribune Company, and Rupert Murdoch, who has lobbied against the rule for years so that he can continue controlling both The New York Post and a Fox television station in New York.

The proposal appears to have the support of a majority of the five commission members, agency officials said, although it is not clear that Mr. Martin would proceed with a sweeping deregulatory approach on a vote of 3 to 2 — something his predecessor tried without success. In interviews on Wednesday, the agency’s two Democratic members raised questions about Mr. Martin’s approach.

Mr. Martin said he was striving to reach a consensus with his fellow commissioners, both on the schedule and on the underlying rule changes, although he would not say whether he would move the measures forward if he were able to muster only three votes.

“We’ve had six hearings around the country already; we’ve done numerous studies; we’ve been collecting data for the last 18 months; and the issues have been pending for years,” Mr. Martin said in an interview. “I think it is an appropriate time to begin a discussion to complete this rule-making and complete these media ownership issues.”

Officials said the commission would consider loosening the restrictions on the number of radio and television stations a company could own in the same city.

Currently, a company can own two television stations in the larger markets only if at least one is not among the four largest stations and if there are at least eight local stations. The rules also limit the number of radio stations that a company can own to no more than eight in each of the largest markets.

The deregulatory proposal is likely to put the agency once again at the center of a debate between the media companies, which view the restrictions as anachronistic, and civil rights, labor, religious and other groups that maintain the government has let media conglomerates grow too large.

As advertising increasingly migrates from newspapers to the Internet, the newspaper industry has undergone a wave of upheaval and consolidation. That has put new pressure on regulators to loosen ownership rules. But deregulation in the media is difficult politically, because many Republican and Democratic lawmakers are concerned about news outlets in their districts being too tightly controlled by too few companies.

In recent months, industry executives had all but abandoned the hope that regulators would try to modify the ownership rules in the waning days of the Bush administration.

“This is a big deal because we have way too much concentration of media ownership in the United States,” Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, said at a hearing on Wednesday called to examine the digital transition of the television industry.

Rest of the article is here.

I agree with Senator Dorgan. There is NO WAY that this is remotely a good thing. We have too much ownership in too few hands RIGHT NOW, and not enough diverse voices are heard. There are stories that are not being told because of the corporate influence in media, and the changing of the rules would just make it worse. Call your Senator.

I have to give it up to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who has led the fight for fairness in subprime mortgage lending, even before it was cool. Hopefully he and other CBC members will continue their efforts as the issue gains momentum in the public eye.

From May 2007:

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat who represents parts of Baltimore City and Howard County, responded to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s comments on the subprime market Thursday. Cummings issued an open letter calling for more federal supervision of subprime lending, including more rigid requirements for making sure borrowers will be able to repay their loans and keep the homes they buy.

“We are concerned that current regulatory oversight has not kept pace with deteriorating credit standards or the growth of unfair and deceptive lending practices,” reads the letter signed by Cummings and eight Democratic representatives from six other states and the Virgin Islands.
[...]
Cummings and the other legislators called for the Fed to use authority given to it by a 1994 law called the Home Ownership Equity Protection Act to make subprime lending fairer and more stable. The law, known as HOEPA, allows the board to prohibit practices relating to mortgage and refinancing loans it finds to be unfair.

One measure in their letter would require that lenders establish a borrower’s ability to repay over the life of a loan, because some subprime loans have payments that increase as time goes on. Another would restrict the ability of lenders to qualify borrowers without documenting their income or assets.

The letter makes other requests, including one that the board require that fees and prepayment penalties be reduced, mandate pre- loan counseling, and increase the disclosure of alternative mortgage products.

Lots of folks including the New York Times Opinion page are clucking their tongues over the subprime mortgage mess.
People have previously said alarming things like:

“U.S. subprime losses have detonated a global financial markets disaster,” said Vickie Hsieh, who helps oversees $1.4 billion at President Investment Trust Corp. in Taipei. (Bloomberg Aug 15, 2007)

“In the fixed income markets we have Armageddon.” — Jim Cramer of Mad Money (Aug 4, 2007)

Think everything’s just fine since the Fed stepped in? Think again:

Nomura Holdings, the largest Japanese brokerage, said Monday that it would shut down its mortgage-backed securities business in the United States, the latest casualty of the subprime mortgage crisis that is rippling across the globe.
[...]
“This is extremely regrettable,” the company’s chief executive, Nobuyuki Koga, said at a press briefing in Tokyo. “The pace of the collapse in the U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities market was quicker than we expected.” (International Herald Tribune, Oct. 15, 2007)

Because the excesses in the U.S. lending industry have kinda sorta threatened the world economy just a tad, (rich) people are taking a closer look at how we came to this dark place. And whose fault it might be. Props to Politics Plus who also blogged this.

From “Subprime in Black and White”:

Evidence is mounting that during the housing boom, black and Hispanic borrowers were far more likely to be steered into high-cost subprime loans than other borrowers, even after controlling for factors such as income, loan size and property location.

The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University released a study this week highlighting a disturbing pattern of racial disparities. Using data gathered by the federal government, the study showed that the 10 New York City neighborhoods with the highest rates of subprime lending in 2005 had black and Hispanic majorities, while the 10 areas with the lowest rates were mainly non-Hispanic white. The higher incidence of subprime lending to borrowers of color held up even when the median income levels of the neighborhoods were comparable.

And as The Times’s Manny Fernandez reported this week, the Furman findings are consistent with a separate analysis of mortgage data by this paper, which found that high-income blacks and Hispanics in New York City were two to three times more likely than comparable non-Hispanic white borrowers to have subprime loans.

Other studies have shown similar racial disparities in Boston, Washington, Philadelphia and other cities.

The bad news doesn’t end there. Neighborhoods where subprime borrowers are concentrated are the same neighborhoods that are now experiencing high rates of default and foreclosure. That’s because many subprime loans were not designed to be affordable over the long term, but rather to be refinanced before their initial teaser rates rose. That often hasn’t been possible as home values have dropped and credit standards have tightened, leaving borrowers stuck in loans that have become unmanageable.

That doesn’t sound good. But there’s more.

The mortgage lending industry says it’s impossible to say that such patterns are the result of discrimination because the federal data do not include so-called risk characteristics like borrowers’ credit scores, other debts or how much of a down payment they were able to make.

But the burden of proof has to be on the lenders to show that no discrimination has occurred. They have data on the risk characteristics of their borrowers. When the Federal Reserve began in 2004 to require lenders to provide specific data on subprime loans, the industry fought successfully to keep the risk profile of borrowers, including credit scores, under wraps. Now, with indications of discrimination rife, Congress must demand that data be fully disclosed.

If you’d like a translation for your barbershop conversation later, I offer you this:

Basically, some big lenders and brokers figured out a new, creative way to rip off African-Americans and Latinos of all socioeconomic levels, taking advantage in part of government encouragement to close the gap between minority and white home ownership in America. They made some crazy money off us and people all over the world got into the act and got a piece of the action. They have managed to cover their tracks and get rich until well, it didn’t work anymore and they got caught with their hands deep in the cookie jar. Now, we would like for these lenders and broker who claim not to be discriminatory to open up their hands so we can see if there’s a big fat racist cookie there.

Once again, we are witness to the ultimate market inefficiency of racism and its partner in crime, corruption. Our suffering in the form of what sounds like a disproportionate number of hard-working, tax-paying minorities losing their homes or going broke to keep them like Jose Pomoles here on NPR will lead to others in America feeling the pinch whether they make the connection — or not. What a waste.

The Bush Administration and Congress looked the other way — or aided and abetted for too long. Now it’s time to take a look and make changes that will protect the American consumer — no matter what race or ethnicity s/he might be.

Hat tip: Think On These Things:

Fat Cats Disproportionately Support Hillary, Everyday Folk Support Obama

The bulk of Hillary’s primary money is from people who contributed over $2300. Only a small proportion of her money came from small donors (those giving less than $200). On the other hand, the largest category for Obama’s campaign money is from small donors (those giving less than $200). That would be those of us who are $5, $10, and $25 people…and I give my $10 with pride.

Obama Size of Donations:

Under $200: $34,512,100

$200-$2299: $19,481,410

Over $2300: $25,268,200

Clinton Size of Donations:

Under $200: $9,460,880

$200-$2299: $23,504,390

Over $2300: $46,676,500

There’s nothing wrong with giving $2300 if you got it like that. However, when the “under $200″ category is disproportionately low relative to other candidates, it does raise some eyebrows. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about who is really not going to be beholden to the lobbyists and special interests.

I thought that this was interesting information, just to see how all the money shook out.

I have read numerous places about how Obama doesn’t connect with the ‘blue collar’ worker. Yet, those who only give a small amount to campaigns seem to be giving it to Obama.


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Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

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