Hat tip to Carmen at Racialicious

No I’m not done going on Gary Kamiya over at Salon. Here’s what he said yesterday about race in American politics:

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, issues of black vs. white dominated the national discourse. The Rodney King riots and the O.J. Simpson case inspired endless discussions and reams of editorial soul-searching. Affirmative action and racial preferences, multiculturalism, and political correctness were fraught topics. Then the twin towers fell, and suddenly we had a completely new enemy to worry about.

I guess someone forgot to tell Ward Connerly.

Democrats are girding for a battle on immigration in 2008, both as a topic of debate in the presidential race and as an agenda-setter in the states. Anti-immigrant referendums are expected on ballots across the country. But flying under the radar is another ballot campaign manufactured to play on tensions of race, class, and ethnicity. Ward Connerly, the California businessman who successfully led ballot initiatives to eradicate affirmative action programs in California, Washington state, and Michigan, plans to take his crusade to five more states next year: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

After a string of failures on affirmative action, progressive organizers are trying to control the terms of the debate by challenging Connerly’s “civil rights” rhetoric, which implies affirmative action is just as discriminatory as Jim Crow-era segregation. Affirmative action defenders are also reframing the policy as one that primarily benefits women of all races.

The fact that the debate need to be “reframed” to acknowledge those who benefit most from Affirmative Action is indicative of how completely dominant an issue race remains.

To Salon’s credit, they even published a counterpoint to Kamiya this morning.

Shouldering the have-nots with all the responsibility for their downward mobility also reassures those who are better off that they have achieved their prosperity through hard work, which keeps them from feeling guilty about their indulgences. Believing the poor are simply lazy or have “underclass values” allows comfortable Americans to feel superior to the less fortunate, and to smugly promote a strict work ethic as the only tonic for indigence while avoiding the truth about wealth transfer. A number of scholarly studies are finding that one of the biggest reasons for the persistence of the immense economic gap between whites and blacks isn’t rap, absent fathers or Ebonics, but unearned income and equity. Call it the “parent economy,” as described by Brandeis law professor Thomas M. Shapiro in his 2004 book “The Hidden Cost of Being African American.” Essentially, says Shapiro, inheritance, gifts and financial backing create a safety net for middle-class white people that does not exist for the majority of blacks. Shapiro found that in 1999, only 25 percent of white families lived in “asset poverty” (which he defined as having a “private safety net” of less than $4,175 for a family of four), whereas 54 percent of blacks did. Shapiro also found that blacks were more likely to take care of their parents than to receive an inheritance from them.

The teaser for the essay, “Are poor blacks responsible for their own plight?” is still somewhat misleading. Who else would that question be asked about? Many Americans don’t even believe the president is responsible for bringing us to war under false pretenses! Everyone has the choice whether not to excel, but let’s not pretend we’re all starting from the same place, or that we all have the same opportunities.

But Salon publishing a counterpoint to Kamiya in no way excuses his absolutely minimal research on the subject. Not being white doesn’t qualify you to speak about race effectively, and being white doesn’t disqualify you. But just because you’re not white doesn’t mean you can write about other people who aren’t white with authority.

In an interesting development, Salon even gave some positive coverage to Obama!……..Michelle Obama.

We’re looking forward to the CNN/YouTube debate tonight here at Jack and Jill Politics and plan on multi-blogger coverage and analysis. Of the racism. Among other things. Stay tuned.

Recently Matt Stoller at OpenLeft, Kos at DailyKos and yesterday Jose Antonio Vargas at the Washington Post recognized the emerging force of African-American blogs. Check out their stories (and thanks for the links).

What’s driving black bloggers? There’s a new generation of African-Americans — mostly under 40 — who are frustrated at the lack of leadership and embrace of corruption among our leaders. Young progressives are disappointed and frustrated at baby boomer leaders who have turned away from community support toward crony support. We face a media that ignores real black leaders who are making a difference like Tavis Smiley to speak only to the opportunistic cynic Al Sharpton and the frankly weakened Jesse Jackson. We face a media that by turn distorts or ignores the issues most important to us. The organizations purporting to represent our interests are silent, ineffective or in collusion with those actively working against our interests. Sound familiar?

So through blogging, we’re holding our leaders accountable. We’re exposing socioeconomic bigotry, corporate corruption, media malfeasance and just plain tomfoolery. Or Uncle Tomfoolery. We’re getting organized in the Afrosphere. We’re joining forces with committed and wired new organizations like Color of Change who are bringin’ it. We are working on environmental justice, unequal law enforcement, protecting our right to vote, ensuring equal opportunity, fighting “the war on terror” and “the war on drugs” which look to us more like “the war on brown people” and more.

And baby, we are gettin’ all up in your face. Get used to it.

Going old school: Public Enemy’s famous declaration in 1988 “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” may no longer apply.

Here’s a post on John Edwards as part of our TV One presidential forum blogging partnership.

John Edwards must hold a record for walking picket lines in support of organized labor. Today he made an appearance in support of the Writers Guild of America strike, saying “This is part of the continuing effort to make sure that people who work hard for a living are treated fairly.”

Writer James Duff (The Closer, Enterprise, Felicity) summed up the significance of Edwards’ appearance: “It’s really nice when Senator Clinton and Senator Obama send a note expressing support. They’ve talked the talk. But John Edwards is coming to walk the walk.” (hat tip to Media Matters for the transcript.)

It was good to see John spreading the message that a) writers are not all fat-cat, rich Hollywood types and b) this issue is very much connected to the consolidation of our media landscape, which is bad for just about everyone: writers and citizens across the board.

Here’s a clip of Edwards at the strike.

I’m becoming more of an Obama man every day, but Edwards still holds strong appeal for me. He has “walked the walk” time and again in his quest to keep poverty in our national conversation after the subsiding waters of Katrina allowed many of us to conveniently forget. My mother, who passed away back in 2005, saw him on television and said simply, “he’s an idealist.” Friends of mine have a range of attitudes toward the former Senator.

One doesn’t buy what Edwards is selling. The smooth trial lawyer with perfect hair was just too perfect for him. “I just don’t trust that that dude really cares about poor people,” he said to me.

Another predicted that when all is said and done, Edwards has the best chance of winning the nomination. This friend pointed out that while Howard Dean was riding high as the outsider with big change, once in the voting booth, those Iowa voters got electability religion and decided to send a war veteran up against Bush. He sees Edwards benefitting from the same “electability math” when people realize they don’t really think the country will vote for a woman or a black man.

I wish we could do the bait and switch so familiar to black males trying to get a cab. Send Edwards out to hail the votes, but once the count is done, Obama slips in, like SIKE!!

Anyway, one can hope right?

What do yall think. There’s been so much fuss over Hillary vs. Obama, but Edwards will not go quietly into the night. Do you buy his poverty message? His strong embrace of unions?

I posted on this when I first found out about it.

Rudy Giuliani has Priest accused of Molesting Children ON HIS PAYROLL.

Yes, ON HIS PAYROLL.

Not in the past.

RIGHT NOW.

Now, riddle me this, explain to me WHY the MSM has ignored this story?

A man running for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Has an ACCUSED PEDOPHILE ON THE PAYROLL!

This man is running on a platform of ‘security’.

Isn’t SECURITY, and protecting folks, and law and order, also mean PROTECTING CHILDREN?

And, how could you trust a man to protect the children, when he has an accused CHILD MOLESTOR ON HIS PAYROLL?

Please, any of our good,moral, Christian, Republican readers, EXPLAIN THIS TO ME.

How could you be a WOMAN and even consider voting for this man?

Here’s the latest on this issue from InsideCatholic.com

Money quote:

This is one of six residences that have been co-owned by Placa and Msgr. Brendan Riordan. See “Giuliani Advisor is Accused Pedophile Priest?”
I received the following e-mail regarding Placa:

I think it might be interesting to note that some of the real estate owned by Placa and Riordan was transferred to them from Fr. Kane. He was the founder of the House of Affirmation and the leader of the “boot camp for pedophiles.” He was caught embezzling from the House, a lot with which he bought real estate. The church never brought charges.
Thanks for your article. I was brought to the House as a young teenager…

Placa was a legal advisor to the House of Affirmation while Riordan was a director.

I say again….this man is CURRENTLY ON RUDY’S PAYROLL.

And, even if Rudy fired him TOMORROW, why doesn’t this lapse of judgement completely disqualify the man for the Presidency?

Hat tip: Prometheus Six

From the EbonyJet blog,The Gang Bill

The Gang Bill
Congress has fast-tracked some tricky legislation. now comes the tough part: pegging discrimination.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
By Brian Gilmore

At a sparsely attended Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill recently, Wayne McKenzie, a former prosecutor, and now Director of the Vera Institute’s Prosecution and Racial Justice Program, spelled out an initiative that was almost unheard of just a few years ago. The Prosecution and Racial Justice Program is, for lack of a better description, a new direction at the intersection of criminal justice and race. It helps prosecutors collect data on race and crime within their own offices in the hope that it will stop the discriminatory racial patterns so pervasive these days.

The Vera Institute, a 40-year-old organization that seeks solutions to problems with the criminal justice system, says the initiative “seeks to offer…prosecutors a mechanism for being proactive by monitoring the exercise of discretion” with their offices. In addition, McKenzie’s bold effort of technical management, it is hoped, will promote “fairness” and enhance “consistency” while guarding against “biased decision making” in the criminal justice system. In other words, if there is racism in the criminal justice system, McKenzie’s program will try to help prosecutors, through technical support and information gathering, identify the problem with hard data.

The program is especially welcome now as the Democratic controlled Congress fast tracks a crime bill called “The Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression Act.” The bill, already approved by unanimous consent by the Democratic controlled Senate, is just the kind of potential law that could promote what has been described in McKenzie’s briefing as “mistrust” between prosecutors and Black communities across the nation as they play God with the lives of so many people of color.

“The Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression Act,” as the title suggests, aggressively targets gangs, gang activity and crime, but in the process, targets juveniles of color, mainly African-Americans and Latinos. It is simple criminal justice work: many gang associated crimes will be federal crimes now so federal prosecutors with the full weight of Uncle Sam’s deep pockets, can start filling up adult federal prisons with African-American and Latino youth, who comprise a large number of gang members. It is the same formula that has been incredibly successful in filling up state and federal prisons during the failed War on Drugs.
The bill re-defines gangs broadly and vaguely and also makes the penalties for gang crimes and gang activity more severe than they are now. This includes life sentences in prison without parole for some crimes.

Of course, many states already have laws to deal with gang activity, but it is nearing election time, and the Democrats in Congress, who were too cowardly to stop the war in Iraq, and cannot deliver health care for some children living on the edge, have to deliver something to the people. This year’s political sacrifice: thousands of African-American and Latino youth in prison if the bill passes.

For the record, it is mostly those “Blue-Dog Democrats” who want to stick it to the country’s youth under the guise of solving the country’s gang problems, but the opposition so far has been shallow from anyone up there. Everyone on Capitol Hill, as an election approaches, loves a hard nosed crime bill. Congressmen Adam Schiff, Democrat, California, pushed this one upon us.

“[F]or those who do engage in gang violence,” Congressmen Schiff, Democrat, mused when he introduced it, “the bill will give law enforcement an enhanced ability to crack down on gang offenders and increase penalties for those gang members who terrorize our communities.”

Schiff, a well known Blue Dog, also boasted of the bill’s prevention funding in his press release although anyone reading the bill can see quickly: this is really about locking up as many people as possible for long sentences and even life without parole if necessary.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission knows the deal. It reported recently that 75 percent of those incarcerated because of the enactment of the bill into law will be African-American or Latino. This is consistent with most of the available statistics on this issue.

Note, of the more than 2200 individuals in the world sentenced to life in prison without parole as a juvenile, all but 12 of these individuals are in U.S. prisons. No other country in the world thinks this is credible criminal justice policy.

A lot of political heavyweights are against this bill and it is easy.

The American Civil Liberties Union called it “disastrous” for minority youth. The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Coalition, an association of 80 national groups advocating for children, said the bill is “fundamentally flawed with its misguided emphasis on punishment and incarceration over prevention and early intervention.” Even the right wing Heritage Foundation hates it. They describe it as “overbroad” and add that it “disregards the constitutional framework underlying America’s state and federal criminal justice systems.”

The best argument for opposing this bill, however, is contained in a competing bill – “The Youth Promise Act” introduced by Congressmen Bobby Scott of Virginia.

Rep. Scott is not interested in locking up more and more people only to see them released, without skills, direction, or hope, and watch them get arrested over and over for the rest of their lives. He wants to get at the root causes: poverty, alienation, lack of jobs, training, or direction.

“’The Youth Promise Act’ will provide resources to communities to engage in comprehensive prevention and intervention strategies to decrease juvenile delinquency and criminal street gangs,” wrote Rep. Scott when the bill was introduced on October 17, 2007. It is a much different approach as it provides significant funding for prevention programs rather than incarceration efforts.

The act, Scott adds “implements the recommendations of researchers, practitioners, analysts, and law enforcement officials from across the political spectrum…to reduce gang violence and youth crime.”

These findings have been well known for years. Throw young people in adult prisons and you are harvesting career criminals who you will have to incarcerate for decades. Throw them a lifeline and they might just climb out of hell.

Brian Gilmore is an attorney and a writer based in Washington, D.C.

So, just as we MIGHT begin to get a break because of drug sentencing, NOW, they’re going to do it FEDERALLY?

Hell no.

Where is the CBC? Have they come out, IN FULL, for Bobby Scott’s bill?

NBC Tricked You

27 Nov 2007

That they did. Prometheus 6 points out NBC’s new report on black women wasn’t really about black women as much as it was about emasculating black men by showing how much we suck in comparison:

P6′s Conclusion:

It is to say I’m pretty damn tired of seeing Black men catch it in the neck. Black women have accomplished a lot; they have much to be proud of. Why can’t they just SAY that?

The condescension is twofold; there is a presumption that there is something intrinsically wrong with a social situation in which women fare better than men (as opposed to when men fare better than women, we like to call that “normal”) but the observation made about the achievement gap in this context also allows the viewer to look down on black men for being “inferior” to black women.

How could America miss an opportunity to point out black inferiority, even if it’s relative to other black people?

Oh yeah, and that 50 Cent song came out what, five years ago?

The campaign dynamic between Clinton and Obama in South Carolina is fascinating, since it’s not so much that black voters have to be convinced to like Obama as a candidate, it’s that they have to be convinced that a black man can be president in our time. Not an easy task anywhere in America, let alone the heart of the South.

From a McClatchy Interview with Michelle Obama, who is stumping for her husband in South Carolina:

Q: Explain the choice and the issues that black voters are confronting (in whether to support Barack Obama’s candidacy) that white voters aren’t confronting.

A: People who are oppressed at every turn in their world, they see indications directly or indirectly of what they can’t do. You see negative images about yourself on TV. This is what you take in as a person of color. It feeds on that self-doubt — it builds on it and it makes you think that somehow, something must be wrong with me and others like me so that we’re not ready, and we’re not good enough to be anywhere, let alone running for president of the United States. Folks don’t want to be disappointed; they don’t want Barack to be emotionally disappointed by what they perceive to be other people who won’t accept the possibilities of who he is. Sometimes it’s easier not to try at all than to try and fail.

The campaign pitch says it all. It’s not that Obama has to convince black voters that he’s the better candidate for them, it’s that he has to convince them that he can actually win in a country that still struggles with racism.


I know folks talk in barbershops and beauty salons, and I’ve heard some folks say, ‘That Barack, he seems like a nice guy, but I’m not sure America’s ready for a black president,’ ” Michelle Obama told a crowd Tuesday at historically black South Carolina State University.

“We’ve heard those voices before, voices that say, ‘Maybe you should wait’ — you know? — ‘You can’t do it,’” she said. “It’s the bitter legacy of racism and discrimination and oppression in this country.”

[...]

“I know it’s also about love,” she said. “I know people care about Barack and our family. I know people want to protect us and themselves from disappointment and failure. I know people are proud of us.

“I’m asking you to believe in yourselves. I’m asking you to stop settling for the world as it is and to help us make the world as it should be.”

[...]

Ask yourselves,” she admonished the crowd at South Carolina State, “who will fight to lift black men up so we don’t have to keep locking them up? Who will confront racial profiling? Voter disenfranchisement?”

It sounds corny, (and straight out of the Obama campaign script) but for many it really is a choice between hope and cynicism. My impression is that a great many black voters in South Carolina like Obama better as a candidate but doubt that America is ready for a black president. I’m not gonna lie, as it looks increasingly possible for the Obama campaign to pull of a win in Iowa, I’m facing my own doubts about whether or not this country will really vote for a black man once they find themselves in the privacy of the voting booth.

cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK

This is the third and final installment of my series “Why I Don’t Support Clinton.” You can read part 1 and part 2 to witness the build-up.

Update 26 November: Jack & Jill Politics has been invited to participate with other black bloggers in TV One’s Heartland Presidential Forum. TV One will feature the voices of (and link to) several bloggers throughout the week as we blog on the presidential candidates. We bloggers will also blog during this Saturday’s Democratic Presidential Forum this Saturday December 1 at 2pm ET. I’m submitting this Clinton Part 3 ask our kickoff post to the week’s candidate series.

There are many groups that want Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee: the press, Republicans and many on the left who get all hot and bothered at the mere idea that Bill Clinton might even walk past the White House one afternoon and perhaps sign a piece of paper accidentally.

The Press

Don’t get it twisted. The press wants Hillary to be president, and not because it’s a liberal press but because its a conflict-driven, profit-obsessed, drama-addicted entity that has much more in common with the shameless lowlifes behind TMZ than it does with the integrity of Edward R Murrow. Nothing would sell more papers or gross ratings points than a return of the Clintons to the White House. They could rerun all the scandal footage and theories from the 1990s and double their output with special reports from today.
Hillary thinks she can handle the press scrutiny because she’s been through it before. I’m sure she can. What I doubt is America’s ability to handle the press scrutiny because we’ve been through it before, and it was exceptionally ugly and distracting. Also, that was the lite version of what would is likely to greet Hillary a full media-consolidated decade after their last turn at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The 1990s was a terrible time for American politics, divisiveness and the press. I don’t want to go through that again.

The GOP

As ever-changing poll results are showing, the Republicans have yet to rally around a frontrunner for president. That’s because their frontrunner is Hillary. Mayor 9/11 himself could not motivate as many GOP voters to the polls as could the prospect of voting against Hillary Clinton. Although she represents the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, many on the Right see her as some sort of leftist rebel. Oh, the terrifying stories they will weave about how Hillary-care will force your child to experiment with gay relationships and speak only in Spanish.

If she does get elected, do you think for one second that the Right will allow her to govern? Without controlling Congress, this will be tougher, but all attempts to stop her administration will be made with full force. Charges of a liberal media, swift boat groups and more will come out of the woodwork to make sure absolutely nothing gets done. The Republicans cannot afford to have anything good come of a Clinton administration while Democrats control the House and Senate.

The Left

I asked my Dominican electrician who he wanted for president.

“Hillary Clinton,” he said.

“Why?”

“Bill Clinton! Anything to get him back in the White House.”

How many other Democrats are thinking this same way? Hillary is merely the vessel getting us our beloved Bill Clinton back. A big part of this series has be debunking the mythology surrounding Clinton. He was not a messiah. He brought us NAFTA, weak progress on energy, incomplete and thus unnecessarily cruel welfare reform, a centrist DLC attitude which had Democrats increasingly sounding like Republicans, abandonment of Rwanda and such a massive lack of sexual self-discipline that he almost got himself kicked out of office. If he’s the messiah, I’d hate to meet the anti-Christ.

What On Earth is Bill Clinton’s Job?

The Clintons need to stop being coy about Bill Clinton’s role in a Hillary White House. Will he be an ambassador to the world, as Hillary has suggested? Great, then that ought to be a lot of fun for her Secretary of State. General policy role? There goes the vice presidential job. It’s a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen, and you don’t have to believe me, look at what Al Gore suffered through as he got trampled by Bill and Hillary’s outsized ambitions and personalities in the 1990s.

I strongly recommend you read the entire November Vanity Fair article which is a book excerpt from the forthcoming White House Civil War. It provides impressive insight into the White House tensions between the Clintons and the Gores. You had Al competing with Hillary for Bill’s attention during the first and part of the second term. And Al’s presidential campaign was undermined both by Hillary’s selfish Senate run and Bill’s damaging infidelity and backstabbing remarks to the press.

A sample:

Gore was the one most affected by Bill’s reliance on his wife. It was a given in the White House, as Chief of Staff Mack McLarty said, that everyone would “just have to get used to” the fact that Hillary, along with Bill and Gore, had to “sign off on big decisions.” But having what Clinton domestic-policy adviser Bruce Reed called “three forces to be reckoned with” added yet another layer of perplexity and rivalry to the West Wing, where advisers and Cabinet officers knew they could lobby either the First Lady or the vice president to reverse decisions by the president. David Gergen, counselor to the president in 1993 and 1994, called the “three-headed system” a “rolling disaster.”

See what I’m saying? Too many cooks.

Yet Hillary always had an undercurrent of competition with Al Gore that burst into the open from time to time. One day, when Gore and his team presented their plans for improving government efficiency, Bill asked so many questions that the meeting ran a half-hour too long. As a result, Bill was late for a session in the White House Residence with Hillary and her health-care advisers. Feeling snubbed, Hillary lectured her husband on the importance of health care. Bill “retreated a bit,” recalled a participant. “It took five minutes to get through that situation.… She was not pleased.”

People who support Hillary because of her “experience” really need to think about whether we want to relive the “experience” of an unmanageable White House. There is no experience for having two presidents in the White House, living together. It’s completely uncharted, and if the rough approximation that is Bill Clinton’s White House is any indicator, fraught with counterproductive conflict.

Rather than being focused on making sure we’d continue to have a Democrat in the White House, Bill became obsessed with getting Hillary into the Senate. He pretty openly acknowledged that he owed her for being such a disrespectful, back-stabbing husband. (BTW, to all my ladies on the Left, please stop adoring this man. He’s a bad guy when it comes to respect for you. Infidelity is not sexy.)

In his practical and optimistic way, Bill saw the Senate candidacy as a prize for Hillary, a lifeline for him, and a salve for their marriage after her humiliation over his sexual affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which had been sensationally revealed the previous January.

<snip>

As a sitting president, Bill was in a unique position to boost his vice president’s candidacy by scheduling White House events to highlight his achievements. But in 1999 those resources were diverted from Gore to Hillary “in a big way,” said one member of the Gore team. “The Clintons come first. That was their basic framework.” From June through December, Bill and Hillary appeared at 20 events under the aegis of the White House, including a celebration of Hillary’s 52nd birthday, where in typical style Bill larded his tribute with statistics on welfare, poverty, crime, and economic growth as he touted his wife as a “genuine visionary” needed by the Senate—the ultimate confluence of the personal and political. During the same period, Gore was featured only at a White House Conference on Mental Health—with Bill, Hillary, and Tipper.

Gore was in an impossible spot. He could not use Bill that much because Bill was tainted, but he needed Bill’s confidence, advice and Democratic fundraising abilities to operate the strongest possible campaign. However, Bill and Hillary were blinded by the idea of a Clinton political legacy. Focusing on her campaign kept them from talking about his sins. Energy that could have gone into Al’s campaign was siphoned off into hers. Check this ish out right here!

Before Hillary officially established her exploratory committee, she began directly competing with the vice president for money, sometimes even at his own fund-raising events. When Tipper’s friend Melinda Blinken and a group of women planned a Gore fund-raiser in Los Angeles, Hillary insisted on being invited—over the objections of the event’s organizers. Hillary then shocked the vice president’s supporters by soliciting donations for herself in front of Tipper.

You see what’s happened here? It takes a special flavor of triflinity (yeah, I just made that word up yall!) to poach funds at someone else’s fundraiser, especially if that someone is your friend and political teammate. This is that single-minded ambition that throws so many people off. It definitely throws me off. Why? Because all the while, the Clintons are practically ushering George W. Bush into the White House, as if it were no big thing because Hillary would at least get to be a Senator.

Because of their greed and Bill’s wayward penis-fueled debt to Hillary, these two put her election to the Senate above Al’s election to the presidency. To me this is the greatest error in judgment of both Clintons. Would America have been better off with a President Gore or a Senator Clinton over the past seven years?

The worst case scenario if Hillary didn’t get that seat is that half of New York state is represented by a nobody named Rick Lazio. The worst case scenario if Gore didn’t win is that all of America is represented by George W. Bush who spends his downtime clearing brush and his office hours launching poorly planned, illegal, preemptive wars which drain the treasury, accelerate an already apocalyptic energy crisis, undermine nearly a decade of civil rights, environmental and safety regulations and forces Americans to pretend they are Canadians when they’ve scraped together enough worthless dollars to travel abroad.

All the hullabaloo about Hillary’s Iraq war vote would be moot, for there would have been no Iraq war under President Gore.

I don’t want either of these people running my country again.

Technorati Tags: ,

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.


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