Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Michelle Obama's Speech and Other Highlights from the #DNC

Here are a few highlights from the Democratic National Convention. According the chatter in the press and on social media, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a powerful speech during the Democratic National Convention. For those of us who did not watch the speech yet, the video is posted below.

On another note, after many long months of campaigning against Wall Street puppet Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders urged his supporters to support Hillary Clinton. At that point in his speech, his own supporters booed.

Sorry, Bernie. If I was at the Democratic National Convention, I would have booed as well. With all due respect, Hillary Clinton will not advance your political revolution. Clinton's decision to select Tim Kaine as her running mate is an omen.

The low light of the Convention was when the crowd booed Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz off of the stage.  The crowd was outraged over the DNC email leak scandal. Those emails revealed how the DNC colluded with the Clinton campaign and the media to defeat Bernie Sanders.

Let me hear from you. What do you think about the DNC email leak scandal? What is your assessment of Michelle Obama's speech and Bernie Sanders' speech?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Jesse Williams Delivers a Powerful Speech at the BET Awards

Last night, actor Jesse Williams received the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award. He gave a powerful and moving acceptance speech. He boldly discussed police brutality, activism, racism and cultural appropriation. In my YouTube video below, I salute the brother for his courage. Check it out.

Friday, June 24, 2016

No Justice for Freddie Gray

The Baltimore Sun reports that:

A Baltimore judge acquitted the police officer facing the most serious charges in the death of Freddie Gray on Thursday, delivering a broad rebuke of a case that he said lacked evidence.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, drove the transport van in which Gray sustained fatal injuries. He is the second officer cleared in the high-profile case. Four other officers could still face trial.

After an eight-day bench trial, Circuit Judge Barry Williams found Goodson not guilty on charges that included second-degree depraved-heart murder and three counts of manslaughter.

The acquittal cast doubt on the remaining criminal cases in which the other officers face similar but lesser charges. Legal observers said Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who drew widespread praise and also condemnation after charging the officers in May 2015, must now re-evaluate the remaining cases.

Prosecutors alleged Goodson deliberately threw the shackled but unrestrained Gray around the back of the van by giving him a "rough ride." Williams said the state lacked evidence and was asking him to make assumptions.

"As the trier of fact, the court can't simply let things speak for themselves," Williams said.

In my YouTube video below, I express my outrage about this grave miscarriage of justice.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Is Officer Caesar Goodson Going to Get Away with Killing Freddie Gray?

The Baltimore Sun reports that:

Judge Barry G. Williams has denied a motion to acquit Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Defense attorneys for Goodson filed the written motion at the conclusion of the state’s case asking Williams to issue a judgment of acquittal, based on the defense claim that prosecutors had not proven Goodson’s guilt to a reasonable degree on the charges against him – including second-degree depraved heart murder.

Such motions are standard at the midway point in trials, after prosecutors have rested their case and before the defense mounts its own.

Williams questioned the state closely, saying the murder charge was a "close call."

The defense will proceed with calling witnesses Thursday.

The prosecution concluded its case Wednesday after calling a police expert witness who testified about so-called rough rides but couldn’t say whether Goodson, the driver of the van in which Gray was injured, gave such a ride to Gray.

Gray, 25, died a week after his arrest in April of last year from a severe spinal cord injury that both sides agree he suffered in the back of the van. They have argued over when and how the injury occurred during Gray’s 45-minute transport in the back of the van.

Goodson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree depraved heart murder, three counts of manslaughter and related charges. Prosecutors allege that he failed to secure Gray in a seat belt or call a medic for Gray after he had requested one. They also allege that he intentionally drove Gray around in a reckless manner.

Defense attorneys have said Gray’s injuries were a tragic accident.

The state called a total of 21 witnesses over five days. The court has not said how long the defense expects to take in presenting its case.

I am deeply concerned that Officer Goodson make walk away a free man still employed by the Baltimore City Police Department. According to some legal experts, the prosecution did not present any evidence proving that Officer Goodson took Freddie Gray on a "rough ride." Equally as important, the judge admitted the medical examiner's notes into evidence. As reported in the Sun, the notes suggest that the medical examiner initially considered ruling Freddie Gray's death an accident. The notes undermine the medical examiner's court testimony and credibility. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the judge will find that Goodson's failure to secure Freddie Gray in a seat belt rises to the level of deprived heart murder or even manslaughter.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Bernie or Bust: Why I Will Never Vote for Hillary Clinton

Although the Democratic Primary is far from over, the corporate media and its establishment pundits have essentially declared their candidate, Hillary Clinton, the winner. The political establishment is desperately trying to intimidate and bully people into supporting Hillary Clinton by threatening us with the possibility a President Donald Trump presidency or a President Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz. Through such scare tactics, they have begun to demand that Bernie Sanders’ supporters bow before Hillary Clinton’s throne, kiss her ring and declare unconditional fealty to her. I refuse to do so. I refuse to be intimidated.  We are told that we must vote for the lesser of two evils. To hell with that, I will never vote for Hillary Clinton for several reasons.

As reported in Salon, the Clintons and the Democratic Leadership Council embraced policies that “less tilted toward minorities and welfare” in order to reconnect “the Democratic Party to white working- and middle-class class voters.” For the Clintons, being “tough on crime” and ending welfare were perfect ways to reconnect with white voters. Crime and welfare are racially weaponized issues. Hillary Clinton supported, lobbied for and campaigned for the enactment of the 1994 crime bill, a law that led to the mass incarceration of black people for nonviolent drug offenses. As noted in Michelle Alexander’s masterpiece entitled the New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,

“Far from resisting the emergence of the new caste system, Clinton escalated the drug war beyond what conservatives had imagined possible a decade. As the Justice Policy Institute has observed, ’the Clinton Administration’s tough on crime polices resulted in the largest increases in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history.”

Even though there is zero proof that African American use or sale drugs more than whites, a disproportionately large percentage of those inmates were black.  Clinton's War on Drug, Nixon's, targeted black communities.

To lessen or diminish his culpability for mass incarceration, Bill Clinton and his sycophants argue that most people are incarcerated in state prisons, not federal prisons. Such an analysis ignores the fact that the Clinton Administration, like previous Bush Administration, created incentives to encourage states to lock up more and more black people in state prisons. As noted in The New Jim Crow, those incentives were created by transferring “military, equipment, technology and training to local law enforcement, contingent, of course, on the willingness of agencies to prioritize drug-law enforcement and concentrate resources on arrest for illegal drugs.” Michelle Alexander further writes that “the bill…authorized more than $16 billion for state prison grants and expansion of state and local police force.”

With this increased funding, training and technology, those police departments did not target white suburban and rural communities. They targeted black communities. Massive numbers of black people were locked way in America’s concentration camps and forced to become the new slaves. Those who were released from the physical prisons were transferred to a virtual prison of the New Jim Crow. Under such a system, it is legal discriminate against ex-felons in housing, employment and voting rights.

In addition to promoting mass incarceration, the Clintons cut holes in the safety net for poor and vulnerable families, who are disproportionately black. As reported on Alter Net, the Clinton’s 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) “ended the federal guarantee of cash assistance to the poor, limited welfare payments and turned welfare programs over to the states.” It “destroyed the safety net for poor people, increased poverty, lowered income for single mothers, put people into homeless shelters and left states free to eliminate welfare entirely."

Furthermore, Hillary Clinton supported disastrous trade policies like North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements that have sent American jobs overseas. In the long run, such agreements devastated communities dependent on manufacturing jobs for employment and prosperity.

Aside from supporting detrimental trade policies, Hillary Clinton and her husband supported the deregulation of Wall Street which eventually led to the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the recession. Despite that reality and despite her campaign receiving millions of dollars from Wall Street, some fools actually believe that she is going to reign in Wall Street.

Not only does she have an abysmal track record on domestic policy, she supports hawkish militarism and imperialism abroad. As a U.S. Senator, she supported the Iraq War, a war that was based on the lie that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of American soldiers died based on a lie. In all actuality, they died so that Halliburton and other American companies could reap huge profits. That ridiculous war destabilized the region and enabled the emergence of ISIS.

 As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton supported the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya. Now, Libya is a failed state and ISIS has a foothold in that country. Attacks in Brussels, Paris, Benghazi, Sacramento are the fruits of Hillary Clinton’s and many others American politicians’ failed foreign policy. Also, she unconditionally supports Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. She gravels at the feet of AIPAC for support.

In essence, I will never vote for Hillary Clinton because of her failed and disastrous track record of supporting mass incarceration, welfare reform, trade agreements, deregulation of Wall Street and American imperialism.

Those policies are evil. Hillary Clinton is not the lesser evil. In some ways, she is an equivalent evil. The Clinton embraced the shortsighted policies of the “evil” Republicans. In fact, Clintons had a term for this phenomenon, triangulation. With Democrats like that, who needs Republicans. One should not be forced to choose between the devil and Satan, the wolf and the fox. I refuse to vote for any form of evil.

Unfortunately, many of us have accepted and embraced that false dilemma. If Scooby Doo was the Democratic nominee, many African Americans and other Democrats would follow the zombie herd and blindly vote for Scooby Doo. They have adopted a slave mentality.  They are captive voters who will accept any Democratic nominee even if that nominee has a track record of making decisions that have had a devastating impact on our black communities. I reject such group think.

As captive Democratic voters, the black community is expendable. We have very little leverage or influence. The Clintons and other right-wing Democrats have no problem throwing the black community under the bus. The black community is loyal and faithful like a dog to its master. The black community is loyal like a battered woman to her abusive husband. The Democratic will quick cast us aside to secure white conservative voters. When one accepts such abuse, one will continue to be abused. I refuse to be Hillary Clinton’s battered victim. We deserve better.

In addition to her bad track record, Hillary Clinton is not fit to be President. She race baits for votes. During the 2008 President election, she used various race baiting tactics against Barack Obama including releasing a photo of Obama in “African Muslim” attire to fan the flames of birtherism and Islamophobia. During that campaign, she made racial appeals to “hard working white Americans.” Back then, Bill Clinton dismissed Obama by comparing Obama’s South Carolina primary victory to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s South Carolina primary.

After Hillary Clinton secured votes from gullible, uninformed blacks in the South this year, Bill Clinton threw Obama under the bus by describing the Obama's time in office as an “awful legacy.” Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton disrespected Black Lives Matter activists and continue to support Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, a man who covered up the police murder of a young black man, Laquan McDonald. Yet, they have no problem exploiting Trayvon Martin’s mother and Sandra Bland’s mother to get black votes. Hillary Clinton sunk to a new low when she used those grieving mothers to attack Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton is dishonest. She lied about her State Department emails. She lied about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia. She has no integrity or core principles. She will say and do anything to get elected, including using the corpses of dead children killed in Sandy Hook as political footballs.  She has changed positions on immigration, trade policies, same sex marriage and Wall Street. One minute, she is a progressive. The next minute, she is a moderate with conservative roots. She is a chameleon who changes with the political environment and political winds.

As long as the American people continue to vote for mediocre, moderate, corporate, deceptive candidates like Hillary Clinton, there is be no true quantitative and qualitative progress in this country. Enough is enough. On the other hand, Bernie Sanders is the one of the most progressive, mainstream Presidential candidates in American history. For that reason, I support him to the bitter end.

If Bernie Sanders does not win, we do not have to settle for Hillary or the Republicans. Our ancestors and elders did not struggle and die so that we would be forced to vote a candidate who supported policies that are detrimental to our community. To do so would dishonor our ancestors and our elders.

There are many lesser known Democratic candidates running for President. There are Green Party, Socialism and Liberation Party, Peace & Freedom Party, Socialist Workers Party, Workers World Party and other third party candidates running. We must diligently research each candidate and make an informed decision. Contrary to the establishment reasoning, such a vote is not a wasted vote or a vote for the Republican candidate. It is a vote for change. It is vote against the political machine. It is a vote against the power elite, the 1 percenters. One should vote out of hope, not fear. Bernie or Bust.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tariq Nasheed's Don't Vote Campaign Equals Black Voter Suppression

Ahead of the South Carolina primaries, author and film maker Tariq Nasheed wrote an article entitled Why Black People Should Not Vote In The 2016 Presidential Election. The article promotes an anti-voting campaign called #Don'tVote. His article is misguided, deeply flawed, problematic and irresponsible.

In his article, Nasheed asserts that "many Black Americans are disheartened by president Barack Obama's hateful neglect of issues plaguing the Black society." Nasheed claims that "this has caused many Black people to be disheartened by the election process in general."

President Obama has not "hatefully" neglected the black community. Obama promoted policies and took action that directly benefited the black community. For instance, he launched the Brother's Keeper Program, issued an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, passed the Fair Sentencing Act, defended the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, defended affirmative action in Fisher v. the University of Texas, re-energized the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, sued the discriminatory Ferguson Police Department and entered a consent decree with the Cleveland Police Department. Although one can argue that President Obama has not done enough to address the problems plaguing Black America, it is a gross exaggeration to accuse the President of "hateful neglect." Furthermore, Nasheed's analysis fails to consider Republican obstructionism which prevented Obama passing other potentially beneficial legislation like the Jobs Bill.

It is naive for anyone to expect one black man to miraculously solve America's 400 year-old race problem. Instead of waiting on Obama to walk on water, part the Red Sea and raise the dead, the African American community should have put greater pressure on the President. Rather than doing so, many public intellectuals like Michael Eric Dyson and activists like Reverend Al Sharpton sold out for access and proximity to power. As result, we are, at the very last, partially to blame for the President's failure adequately address lingering problems haunting Black America. Our failure to hold elected officials is not a sound basis for deciding not to vote. Instead of merely voting, we must present an agenda, demand support, vote for supportive candidates and hold them accountable.

Tariq Nasheed's second argument emphasizes that "Presidents selected by the Electoral College, not the popular vote." He further claims that participation in electoral process is imperative to prevent the people from rebelling against the power structure.

The mere existence of the Electoral College is not a legitimate reason not to vote. As everyone learns in middle school, the American people indirectly elect the President and Vice President. As noted in the Huffington Post article titled What is the Electoral College? How It Works and Why It Matters, for most states, the Presidential "candidate who wins the majority of votes in a state wins the state's electoral votes." The article notes that "electoral votes are assigned by proportional representation" in Nebraska and Maine. In other words, when we vote, we are "voting for our candidate's electors."

The electors pledge to vote for their parties' nominees. As stated in the Huffington Post article, "twenty-seven states have laws requiring electors to vote for their party's candidate if that candidate get a majority of the state's popular vote." In the other states, it is still "common practice for electors to vote for their party's nominee." As stated on U.S. Electoral College website, "more 99 percent of Electors have voted as pledged." Wikipedia states that "faithless electors have not changed the outcome of any presidential election to date." In sum, through the popular vote in each state, we indirectly elect the President and Vice President. The suggestion that our votes do not matter is just false. The Bush-Gore election of 2000 is a major reminder of how very important our votes are. Again, the existence of the Electoral College is not valid reason not to vote.

Nasheed's third argument against voting is that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are two faces of the same coin. Essentially, he is implying that the parties are the same. To prove that Democratic Party is just as racist as the Republican Party, Nasheed cites examples of Democratic prosecutors failing to prosecute various police brutality cases. Rather than substantiating his fundamental argument that black should not vote, such examples illustrate how precious and valuable our vote actually is.

Clearly, one should not select a candidate based solely on his or her party affiliation. We must select candidates based on their positions on important issues. In many jurisdictions, prosecutors are elected by the voters. If the citizens voted for other prosecutors who were truly committed to eliminating police brutality, perhaps, there would be different outcomes in the Michael Brown and Tamir Rice cases. Perhaps, a different Chicago prosecutor would have promptly filed charges against the officer who allegedly killed LaQuan McDonald.

Contrary to Nasheed's simple analysis, the two major parties are not essentially the same. Although there are some similarities on some foreign policy issues, the parties have conflicting views on affirmative action, criminal justice reform, police brutality, immigration, abortion, taxes, social programs, Wall Street, voting rights, workers' rights, health care, campaign finance reform and other issues. The difference is further demonstrated by mere fact that Republican leaders and candidates, including Donald Trump, seek to have another staunch conservative justice fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. They want to appoint more judges and justices like Antonin Scalia, a deceased Supreme Court Justice who said that African Americans should go to "slower track" schools and that maybe the University of Texas should not attempt admit as many African Americans as possible. The Republican want to usurp President Obama's constitutional power and wait for the next President to appoint a new justice.

On the other hand, the Democrats want the President to exercise his constitutional power and appoint a progressive justice. Without doubt, just based on the power to appoint justices and judges, African Americans would be worst off with Trump or any other one of the Republican candidates in the White House. Such judges regularly decide cases that directly determine our constitutional and human rights.

Even if one does not support either major party, one should, at least, vote for a third party candidate. Buried at the end of his article in one sentence, Nasheed writes, "If Black people choose to vote, they should vote independent." That sentence contradicts and dismantles the feeble premise of his entire article.

Nasheed's final argument is that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders "have not committed to actually doing anything for Black people." Contrary to Nasheed's claim, a simple review of the candidates' websites reveals that both candidates have committed to actually doing things for black people. Sanders' website and Hillary Clinton's website outline their plans for addressing police brutality, voting rights, mass incarceration, racial profiling, education, economic disparities and environmental racism. Apparently, Nasheed failed to conduct any basic research before he wrote his article.

Next, Nasheed basically asserts that black people should not vote for Sanders because Sanders does not support reparations. Reparations is an important issue. We should pressure all candidates and political parties to support H.R. 40. However, upon further reflection, we cannot base our decision solely on that one issue. There is a myriad of other urgent issues, such as police brutality, poverty, unemployment, failing schools, mass incarceration and inner city violence, that must be addressed. Moreover, Nasheed rightfully criticizes the Clinton for policies that led to the black mass incarceration.  If we elected a more progressive President at the time, maybe there would no 1994 crime bill. That is yet another illustration of the importance of voting.

In conclusion, as previously explained, Nasheed's reasons for not voting are weak. His article is irresponsible and reckless. It is one thing to demand that politicians fight to earn our vote. It is quite another thing to support a ridiculous Don't Vote Campaign. When a group withdraws from the political process, the politicians have no incentive to address that group's interests.

The Don't Vote will not empower the black community. It will only empower Donald Trump and the rest of the rabid right wing opposition. Such a campaign promotes the voluntary suppression of the black vote. The extreme Right does not need to implement voter ID laws, eliminateof early voting or purge voters as long as we have misguided people like Tariq Nasheed encouraging gullible black people not to vote. His self-defeating campaign is a slap in the face of the black elders and ancestors who fought, bled and died for our right to vote. Instead of discouraging our people, we need to encourage them.  We must encourage voter education, voter registration and voter participation. There is too much at stake for us to sit on the sidelines waiting for some distant, elusive and imaginary rebellion to occur.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

President Obama Delivers His Last SOTU Address

Good Afternoon. Yesterday, President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address.