Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reapportionment: Red States Gain House Seats, Blue States Lose House Seats

Barbour's Feeble Attempt to Justify His Controversial Remarks

After coming under fire for praising the racist White Citizens Council, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour issued the following statement to "clarify" his earlier remarks:

"When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns' integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn't tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time."

According to some people, this statement should be enough.  We should just move on.  You know, forgive and forget. 

Hell no! First of all, his brief statement is not an apology.  It is merely a feeble attempt to justify his earlier remarks. Obviously, he issued the statement to protect his career and presidential aspirations. 

Also, his earlier statement is a part of a disturbing pattern.  Remember, this is the same man who had no problem with the State of Virginia omitting any references to slavery from its ridiculous proclamation recognizing Confederate History Month. According to him, that controversy did not amount to diddly.

Barbour is either racist or completely oblivious to issues impacting African Americans. For him, the historical suffering of black people is simply an afterthought. As far as he is concerned, black people are virtually invisible. Someone like him should not be a governor or the head of the Republican Governors Association.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Haley Barbour Defends a White Supremacist Group

Mississippi's soil is soaking wet with the blood of hundreds of lynched black people.  Many nameless and faceless black bodies rest at the bottom of the Mississippi River.  Mississippi is where Emmett Till was beaten beyond recognition, "shot in the head and thrown in the Tallahatchie River with a 70 pound cotton gin tied around his neck." Mississippi is where civil rights leader Medger Evers was shot and killed by white supremacists. Mississippi is where civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered.  In his book The Autobiography of Medger Evers, Manning Marable writes:

"Between 1882 and 1927, 517 African Americans were lynched in the state of Mississippi, the highest number in the nation for any state during this period."

Against that brutal historical backdrop, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) recently attempted to revise history by claiming that the White Citizens Council was a group of town leaders who kept the Ku Klux Klan out of town. That is similar to other revisionists depicting the Confederate Secession as a glorious and heroic event.

According to the Huffington Post, when asked why his hometown of Yazoo City was purportedly the only municipality to integrate its schools without violence, Barbour told the Weekly Standard that:

"Because the business community wouldn't stand for it," he said. "You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you'd lose it. If you had a store, they'd see nobody shopped there. We didn't have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City."

In fact, the White Citizens Council was nothing but a clean cut, corporate, white collar version of the KKK.  Both organizations supported segregation and white supremacy.  They simply used different tactics to enforce their racist ideology.

In the Huffington Post article, University of Michigan professor Robert Mickey states:

"This was an organization that spread very quickly across the South, directly in response to Brown v. Board of Education," said Mickey in an interview with The Huffington Post Monday. "Usually they were against violence because of its harm to economic development; firms wouldn't want to relocate to places that had a lot of violence. So their tools of slowing down the South's democratization was to use economic intimidation. ... They intimidated black parents from signing petitions demanding that school districts be desegregated, sometimes by printing the signatories in local newspapers, which oftentimes led to the signatures being recanted because the parents understood and feared the consequences of being publicly outed like that. So Barbour's right -- on one hand, they often helped out on the Klan, and a lot of times they were interested in deterring white mob violence. But Northerners are right that it's like the Klan."

This story is significant because Barbour is not just your average, ignorant racist.  As Governor of Mississippi, Barbour is shaping government policy in Mississippi.  As the Chairman of Republican Governors Association,  he is extremely influential.  Many consider him to be a serious, potential U.S. presidential candidate.  In the unlikely and frightening event that he is elected President, Barbour would shape U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Imagine what type of judges he would nominate to the United States Supreme Court and other federal courts. Imagine what type of legislation he would propose.

It is not surprising to see someone like Haley Barbour rise through the ranks of the Republican Party.  After all, the Republican Party did resort to the Southern Strategy to persuade racist Southerners to join.  It is the party that opposes affirmative action and immigrant rights. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

President Obama Supports UN Resolution Defending the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Shout out to rikyrah of Jack and Jill Politics

On December 16, 2010, the Washington Post reported:

"President Barack Obama said Thursday that the United States will reverse course and support a United Nations declaration defending the rights of indigenous peoples.

The declaration is intended to protect the rights of more than 370 million native peoples worldwide, affirming their equality and ability to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions. It sets standards to fight discrimination and marginalization and eliminate human rights violations.

Administration officials said last April that they were reviewing the U.S. position on the declaration. The State Department called the decision to support the declaration a "meaningful change in the U.S. position.""

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Is This the Hope and Change that We Voted For?

Yesterday, I was very disappointed to hear that President Obama signed legislation extending the Bush tax cuts and reducing the estate tax.  I am concerned that Obama may be adopting Bill Clinton's tactics of neutralization and triangulation.

In his book All Too Human, George Stephanopoulos described Bill Clinton's strategy of neutralizing the Republicans and triangulating the Democrats:

"Neutralization required passing big chunks of the Republican agenda: a balanced budget, tax cuts, welfare reform, an end to affirmative action. This would "relieve the frustrations" that got them elected in 1994 and allow Clinton to "push them to the right" on "popular issues" like gun control and a woman's right to choose in 1996. Triangulation demanded that Clinton abandon "Democratic class-warfare dogma," rise above his partisan roots, and inhabit the political center "above and between" the two parties - a concept Dick [Morris] helpfully illustrated by joining his thumbs and forefingers into the shape of a triangle. That meant Clinton had to deliberately distance himself from his Democratic allies, use them as a foil, pick fights with them." (page 334)

By signing the tax bill into law, President Obama is apparently adopting Bill Clinton's strategy of neutralization and triangulation in preparation for the 2012 Presidential campaign. Despite all his 2008 campaign rhetoric, Obama passed the Bush tax cuts for the rich and reductions in estate taxes, important chunks of the Republican agenda. For all intents and purposes, he has abandoned the so-called Democratic class warfare dogma. Some news analysts hail this action and assert that Obama is reviving his 2008 post partisan image. When progressive criticized the compromise, the President was able to distance himself from them. 

During his 2012 campaign, President Obama will probably point to this compromise as an example of how he was able to work with Republicans. 

Although passage of this legislation may be good campaign strategy, it is not the change and hope that many of us voted for. We voted for the candidate who opposed tax cuts for the rich. We voted for the candidate who promised to change the way Washington works.  Instead, we got more of the same, politics as usual.  In that world of Machiavellian politics, winning elections is primary, and principles are secondary, unnecessary and negotiable. 

This compromise represents what is wrong with the American bourgeois democracy. Through massive campaign donations, rich people and corporations continue to dictate domestic and  foreign policy.  The tax cuts compromise is another example of how government policy is shaped to serve the interests of the rich.

Under this deal, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. The New York Times reports that:

"the tax benefits will flow most heavily to the highest earners, just as the original cuts did when they were passed in 2001 and 2003. At least a quarter of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the population. In fact, the only groups likely to face a tax increase are those near the bottom of the income scale — individuals who make less than $20,000 and families with earnings below $40,000." 

Undoubtedly, this tax deal will have a disproportionate and adverse impact upon poor and working class African American families.  That is unfair and unjust. 

Some African American pundits and bloggers suggest that we should just be quiet and unconditionally support the Nation's first African American president, the "anointed" one.  It is disturbing to witness this blind, cult like devotion to Obama.  If Obama asked some of these people to sip the Kool Aid, they would obey.  If Obama asked them to jump off of a cliff with him, they would obey.  I refuse to be any one's zombie.

My commitment is to the people.  My commitment is to the struggle for freedom, justice and equality, not to any particular politician or political party. When the President is wrong, I will continue to voice my opposition.  When the President serves the interests of the people, I will praise his actions. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Senator Bernie Sanders Stands Strong!

Sen. Bernie Sanders is a true American hero. I commend him for standing strong and speaking out against the GOP deal. Unlike some politicians, Sen. Sanders refuses to engage in the cowardly politics of capitulation, appeasement and triangulation. He refuses to bow to the insatiable demands of the avaricious rich. We need more politicians, like Sanders, who are willing to stand up for poor, working class and middle class families.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

House Democrats Stand Up to the President and the GOP....For Now

The Washington Post reports that:

"The House Democratic Caucus voted Thursday to try to block the tax-cut deal that President Obama struck with Republicans, a move that does not kill the legislation but shows that its opponents are digging in.

Rank-and-file Democrats passed a nonbinding resolution, introduced by Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), by voice vote that said the tax package should not come to the House floor for consideration.

And in her first explicit declaration of dissatisfaction since the tax deal was cut, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested that she would not bring the package to the floor in its current form."

For now, I salute the House Democrats for standing up to the President and the GOP hostage takers.  Hopefully, Democrats will not cave or crumble under pressure tomorrow.  As I heard one senator say some time ago, you can sprinkle sugar on a pile of horse manure, but that does not make it a donut.  No matter what Obama, Biden and Gibbs say, that appeasement deal is still a stinking pile of ish.

President Obama Signs Legislation Compensating Black Farmers and Native Americans

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The President Should Not Have Bowed to the Hostage Takers' Demands

Yesterday, the President defended his decision to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich. During the press conference, Obama described the Republicans as "hostage takers" holding middle class tax cuts and unemployment insurance benefits hostage. He insisted that when the hostage takers hurt someone you may have to negotiate. Since the hostage takers were hurting the American people by holding up unemployment benefits and middle class tax cuts, he purportedly had no choice but to negotiate with them.

For years, we have been told that the U.S. government does not negotiate with hostage takers or terrorists. Obama should have maintained that policy when he dealt with the GOP hostage takers.

Although I understand and appreciate the President's pragmatism, it is frustrating to see him surrender to the Right's hypocritical demands. Obama vigorously campaigned against tax cuts for the rich. But when push came to shove, he gave the Republicans their holy grail. Not only did he negotiate, he abandoned a core principle. Ideally, one should never abandon one's principles. Instead, one should stand up and fight to the bitter end in support of one's principles.

I refuse to accept the false notion that Obama had no alternative. As he acknowledged, the majority of Americans oppose extending tax cuts for the rich. Obama could have effectively used his bully pulpit and his group, Organizing for America, to rally the American people against the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

During this time of soaring unemployment and economic uncertainty, the President and his surrogates could have drove home a populist message. He could have further exposed how the Republican Party tramples on the American masses to serve the interests of rich people and corporations. In today's political climate, I doubt that the GOP would have been able to hold up unemployment benefits and middle tax cuts for long.

During the health care debate, Senator Jim DeMint vowed to break Obama. Hopefully, this compromise did not break Obama. Sadly, this may be the beginning of Obama's path down the gloomy road of capitulation and accommodation.

It pains me to say this but this President is weak. He has no fight in him and the Republicans know it. Like school yard bullies, they are preying on his weakness. If we do not take a stand, the situation will be worst when the Republicans control the House and hold more seats in the Senate during the next session.

Despite our disappointment, we should not abandon the President. However, we must hold him accountable. We demand that he fulfill his campaign promises. Without pressure from progressives, the President will continue to succumb to pressure from the Right. Our silence and blind allegiance will not help the President or the country. It will only empower and embolden the right wing opposition. We must consider joining Senator Bernie Sanders' call to oppose this outrageous compromise.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Obama Surrenders to the GOP's Demands and Extends Tax Cuts for the Rich

Today, President Obama caved to the Republicans.  After campaigning on ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, guess what. Obama is going to extend those tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. That is not "the change we need."

If the Republican Party can wield that type of power during the lame duck session, imagine how much power they will wield during the next session of Congress. 


Thursday, December 2, 2010

House Censures Rep. Charlie Rangel

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Today, the United States House of Representatives voted to censure Rep. Charlie Rangel for 11 ethic violations. For a full video of the proceedings, click this C-Span link. Was censure of Rangel an appropriate or fair sanction?

The Attack on WikiLeaks is an Attack on the First Amendment

Every since its recent release of 250,000 State Department cables, WikiLeaks has been under attack by U.S. government officials.  Unfortunately, in some ways, the attack on WikiLeaks is an attack on the First Amendment. 

This week, U.S. Representative Peter King argued that the U.S. government should designate WikiLeaks a terrorist organization. 

22 U.S. Code, Title 22, Ch. 38,  Section 2556f(d) defines terrorism as follows: 

(1) the term “international terrorism” means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than 1 country;

(2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents;

(3) the term “terrorist group” means any group practicing, or which has significant subgroups which practice, international terrorism.
Obviously, WikiLeaks is not a terrorist organization.  It has not engaged in any acts of violence.  It is a news organization.  WikiLeaks merely reports and supplies information to other news organizations such as the New York Times and the UK Guardian. In addition, there have been no confirmed reports of any deaths linked to WikiLeaks' release of any information.  
If the government embraces Rep. King's extremist view and starts labeling news organizations as terrorist organizations, our First Amendment rights will be eviscerated.  For instance, bloggers and reporters who oppose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could be viewed as threats to national security.  The government could designate them as terrorists. 
This assault on the First Amendment does not end with Rep. King.  As reported in Reuters, under pressure from Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, Amazon stopped hosting the WikiLeaks website.  Through staff, Senator Lieberman also urged "other companies that provide web-hosting services to boycott WikiLeaks." 

If Lieberman is able to do this to WikiLeaks, who is next?  The New York Times?  The Washington Post?  The New York Times, Washington Post and all other major news organizations published the same information as WikiLeaks.  The government could force internet providers to stop hosting those and other news sources.

Finally, Attorney General Eric Holder is conducting a criminal investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  Some speculate that the Justice Department may use the Espionage Act to prosecute Assange. The Espionage Act of 1917 states:
"SEC. 3. Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall wilfully make or convey false reports, or false statements, or say or do anything except by way of bona fide and not disloyal advice to an investor . . . with intent to obstruct the sale by the United States of bonds . . . or the making of loans by or to the United States, or whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully cause . . . or incite . . . insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall wilfully obstruct . . . the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, and whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag . . . or the uniform of the Army or Navy of the United States, or any language intended to bring the form of government . . . or the Constitution . . . or the military or naval forces . . . or the flag . . . of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute . . . or shall wilfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall wilfully . . . urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production in this country of any thing or things . . . necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war . . . and whoever shall wilfully advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the cause of any coun try with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both...." (Emphasis added)
In his article "Prosecution of WikiLeaks Founder Fraught with Unprecedented Legalities" on the, Michael Hughes explains why it may be difficult to bring such charges.  Hughes also states that: "Prosecuting Mr. Assange could also open the door for going after traditional media organizations, including The New York Times, which was provided advance access to the materials."  By all media accounts, WikiLeaks did not steal or take the information through espionage.  Army Pfc. Bradley Manning allegedly leaked the information to WikiLeaks.
I have not thoroughly researched the Espionage Act and related case law.  However, the highlighted language is extremely disturbing because it may be used to prosecute all American opponents of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  Today, it is WikiLeaks.  Tomorrow, it could be you.  We must protect our First Amendment rights by opposing this unfair attack on WikiLeaks. 


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Time for Bipartisanship is Over; Do It the Chicago Way!

Many of us believed that President Obama was going to change the way Washington works. Unfortunately, we were dead wrong. During the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton was on the money when she said:

One day after President Obama's pointless meeting with Republican leaders, the GOP issued an ultimatum to the Democratic Party. CNN reports that:

"Senate Republicans promised Wednesday to block legislative action on every issue being considered by the lame-duck Congress until the dispute over extending the Bush-era tax cuts is resolved and an extension of current government funding is approved.

All 42 Senate Republicans signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, vowing to prevent a vote on "any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers."

"With little time left in this congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities. While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate's attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike," the letter said."

The GOP's primary concern, other than defeating Obama in 2012, is tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Just in time for Christmas, they are holding unemployment benefits hostage.   As far as the Republicans are concerned, the unemployed are just expendable pawns in the game of politics.  While the GOP is engaging in these ridiculous shenanigans, American families are suffering.  As reported in Politics 365, the unemployment rate is 9.6 percent.  For African Americans, the unemployment rate was 15.7 percent in October.

Hopefully, the President will not resort to capitulation and triangulation. Such compromise will not stop with extending tax cuts for the rich.  Next, it will be social security, medicaid, etc.  Instead of wasting time meeting with those right wing zealots, Obama should take the gloves off and handle those chumps the Chicago way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

After Her Infamous N Word Rant, Dr. Laura is Back!

The Grio reports:

"Talk show host Laura Schlessinger won't stay away from radio very long -- only a weekend, in fact.

Sirius XM Radio said Monday it has a multiyear deal with Schlessinger to bring her "Dr. Laura" advice program to satellite radio in January. Specific terms were not revealed.

Schlessinger had said in August she was quitting her syndicated radio program, a week after she apologized for using the N-word on the air 11 times while talking to a black woman, and activists demanded her ouster.

She ends her traditional radio program on Friday, Dec. 31. The following Monday, she starts at Sirius."

For the full context, here is a link to Dr. Laura's N word rant.

Most of the Grio's readers on Facebook voiced strong disapproval of the deal.  However, some readers made the following comments on the Grio's Facebook page:

Theon Dixon: ‎"Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is your own eye" We are such hypocrites! We say whatever we want but don't let a white person say nigger. Smdh, at how stupid we are with this crap. Respect self first!!!

Kai Price: "Who cares!! Dr. Laura is on the air because the right people pay attention to the wrong things. If we would not give her the time of day, she would have no one to piss off. Seriously, so what she went on a Nigger's never what they say or call you, it's ALWAYS what you pay attention and answer to. Stop making her rich and important...ignore her; maybe then she will go gently into that good night."

 Tamika Baskin: I don't understand why there was such a big deal about it, when black folks say it all the time. When is it time for us to get mad when hip-hop artists call women B!%CH.

Ricarra Farmer: We all just need 2 get over it. They only say tha word because they kno we still get mad n 2 get under our skin! If we show them that we are better than that and way past bein called nigger they will have nothin 2 say that'll make ppl get n... they feelins. We can't change everyones opinion of us but we can change our own minds n ignore ignorance. Gettin mad n doin nothin bout it ain gon change shit. Not sayin I agree with her but come old is this word? I understand its meanin to demean our ancestors but we gotta blk pres ppl r scared of.....we made it! Y r we trippin??

First of all, no one should use the N word. The fact that some brothers and sisters use the N word does not give white racists the right to use the word. People must be judged by their actions and intentions.  Yes, many African Americans use the N word.  One cannot listen to a rap cd, whether the artist is gangsta or conscious, without repeatedly hearing the N word.  Nonetheless, for the most part, African Americans do not use the N word as an insult. They do not intend to anger, humiliate or demean anyone when they use that word.  As rapper Qtip said, many actually believe that they are using the word as a so-called "term of endearment".

However, when Dr. Laura, an old white woman, used the N word 11 times within a 4 minutes period while talking to an African American caller, her intention was obvious.  Clearly, she intended to be offensive and dismissive.  So yes, her use of the N word is more offensive to me than rap artists' use of the N word. 

Finally, ignoring Dr. Laura, Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh and other bigots is not option.  They reach millions of people.  They have great influence over public attitudes and perceptions.  We cannot play dead, and blindly hope that those racists just go away.  Silence is tacit approval.  We cannot allow this controversy to die down.  We should not allow her to quietly and peacefully move to Sirius XM Radio. We must turn up the heat on her sponsors.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West's new cd, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, lives up to the hype. The beats are amazing. The production is incredible. The lyrics are a brilliant mixture of unbridled arrogance, swagger, debauchery, humor, irreverence and self depreciation.

The opening track, Dark Fantasy, sets the stage for this masterpiece. I'm not a big Nicki Minaj fan but her brief intro on Dark Fantasy works. My favorite tracks are Dark Fantasy, Gorgeous, Power, All of the Lights, Runaway, etc. Hell, I dig most of the songs on the cd. The only joint that I'm not feeling is Monster.

Other guest artists include The RZA, Raekwon, KID CuDI, Jay Z, Swizz Beats, Rick Ross, Pusha T, Rihanna and John Legend. The last two tracks feature legendary poet Gil Scott-Heron. Chris Rock's skit is hilarious; it had me cracking up! He took it to another level.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Are Black Politicians More Corrupt than White Politicians?

African Americans marched, fought, bled, and died for the right to vote.  The struggle for the right to vote was a integral part of the larger civil rights struggle for equality, human dignity and respect.  As a result of that beautiful struggle, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

After the passage of the Act, Black Power was transformed from a slogan into a tangible reality.  Now, we have many African American mayors and members of Congress. We have black governors and one U.S. senator. Today, the most powerful man on earth is a black man, President Barack Hussein Obama.  It is undeniable.  In many ways, African Americans have made great progress.

However, that tremendous progress has been tarnished by recent political scandals involving African American politicians. This past Thursday, the House Ethics Committee convicted long time, legendary Congressman Charlie Rangel of 11 ethics violations and recommended censure. The Washington Post reported that:

"Rangel, 80, was found to have improperly used his congressional staff and official letterhead to solicit donations from corporate charities and chief executives for a college wing named in his honor, contributions that soared into six- and seven-figure range once he became chairman of the tax-writing committee. The committee also found that he violated New York City rules by housing his political committees in rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, did not pay taxes on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic, and did not properly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal financial assets."

I was saddening to see this accomplished 80 year old politician break down and start weeping like a baby. 

Unfortunately, Rangel is not the only African American accused of ethics violations.  Rep. Maxine Waters also faces ethics charges for improperly seeking to help a bank in which her husband owns stocks.  As AP reports, her trial has been postponed due to the discovery of an email affecting the charges.  The charges include: "violating a rule requiring lawmakers' conduct to reflect creditably on the House; violating the spirit and letter of a rule prohibiting receipt of benefits by exerting improper influence; and violating a government code of conduct that prohibits dispensing or receiving special favors."  Fortunately, at least for now, Rep. Jesse Jackson no longer faces an ethics investigation. 

Last week, Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife Leslie Johnson were arrested for taking bribes from an unidentified developer. To view the video of the arrest, click this link.  The Washington Post reports that the following events led to Johnson's arrest:

"Two FBI agents were at the front door of their two-story brick colonial in Mitchellville.

"Don't answer it," the county executive said, unaware that more agents were listening in.

Johnson ordered his wife to find and destroy a $100,000 check from a real estate developer that was hidden in a box of liquor.

"Do you want me to put it down the toilet?" Leslie Johnson asked.

"Yes, flush that," the county executive said.

But what about the cash? she asked - $79,600.

Put it in your underwear, the county executive told his wife.

She replied, "I have it in my bra" - which is where agents discovered the money after she answered the door.

That conversation, as documented in an FBI affidavit, led to the arrest Friday of Jack Johnson and his wife. Each was charged with evidence tampering and destroying evidence in a case the U.S. attorney called the "tip of the iceberg" in a broader corruption investigation in Prince George's."

This month, Leslie Johnson was elected to the Prince George's County Council. After her arrest, voters have launched online petition drive to prevent her from being sworn in.

The Jack Johnson situation reminds me of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon's conviction and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's conviction.

Early this year, as reported in the Baltimore Sun, Dixon entered an Alfred plea to perjury charges related to her failure to "disclose on her city ethics form lavish gifts from her then-boyfriend, Ronald H. Lipscomb, a developer who benefited from city tax breaks and contracts."  In December 2009, "a city jury found her guilty of stealing roughly $500 worth of retail gift cards intended for the needy."

Finally, the people of Detroit were proud of the improvements that Kwame Kilpatrick was making to the city until the text message scandal emerged.  In September 2008, Kilpatrick pled guilty to perjury charges.  He was sentenced to 4 months in jail and 5 years probation.

After serving his jail sentence, he violated his probation, lied in his affidavit and was sentenced to a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.  To make matters worst, in June 2010, the Detroit Free Press reported that the feds indicted the former mayor on 19 mail fraud and tax charges.  Here is a break down of the charges and penalties:

"Mail and wire fraud: Kilpatrick faces 13 counts for allegedly using the mail and telephone to raise money for his tax-exempt Kilpatrick Civic Fund under the false assertion that it would be used for charitable purposes. Authorities allege he actually used fund money for personal and political expenses.

Penalty: Up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Filing false tax returns: Kilpatrick faces five counts for allegedly failing to report taxable income of $470,951 in the form of cash and private jet flights from unspecified sources, and personal expenses paid by the civic fund from 2003 to 2007.

Penalty: Up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Income tax evasion: Kilpatrick faces one count for allegedly failing to report $171,751 in income in the form of cash and private jet flights from unspecified sources, and personal expenses paid by the civic fund in 2008.

Penalty: Up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine."

All of these recent scandals create the impression that African American politicians are more corrupt than their white counterparts. Such scandals perpetuate the stereotype that black people are not fit to govern.  I refuse to accept those racist assertions.

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  Many politicians, black and white, become intoxicated by power, develop an exaggerated sense of entitlement and compromise their integrity. They begin to believe that they are above the law.  These current investigations, prosecutions and convictions of black politicians may be another manifestation of institutional racism in the criminal justice system.

Bear with me for a second.  According to legal scholar Michelle Alexander, the so-called War on Drugs is waged almost exclusively in black communities even though studies consistently show that African Americans are no more likely to use or sell drugs than whites.

Similarly, it appears that the war against corruption is being waged almost exclusively against African American politicians. Legal scholars should conduct a comprehensive study of this issue. Apparently, prosecutors and ethics committees primarily focus on black officials.  Consequently, black officials are disproportionately investigated, indicted, arrested and convicted.

For example, as Joe Conason notes in his article Why Mitch McConnell is worst than Charles Rangel, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell has engaged in similar conduct as Rep. Rangel.  Conason writes, "like Rangel, McConnell has rewarded corporate donors to an academic center named after him -- and used earmarks for that purpose."  However, as far as I know, no one is investigating McConnell. 

Please do not get me wrong.  I refuse to defend any corrupt politicians. Corrupt African American leaders like Dixon and Kilpatrick betrayed the people and dishonored the struggle.  They got what they deserved.    All politicians must be held accountable for their actions. Everyone must obey the law.  However, laws must be equally and fairly enforced regardless of race.  Selective prosecution is unacceptable.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Part 2: A White Alabama Trooper Sentenced to Six Months in Jail for Killing a Black Man!

This morning on Democracy Now, U.S. Representative John Lewis and reporter John Fleming discussed the sentencing of former Alabama State trooper James Fowler. Fowler pled guilty to killing civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson and received only a six month jail sentence.

On the program, Rep. Lewis described how Mr. Jackson's martyrdom inspired the historic Selma to Montgomery march. Rep. Lewis explained how the Alabama state troopers viciously beat the courageous, nonviolent protesters. I cannot understand how anyone could remain nonviolent in the face of such savage brutality. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

A White Alabama Trooper Sentenced to Six Months in Jail for Killing a Black Man!

The Grio reports that:

"A white former state police officer pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge in the 1965 shooting death of a black man at a civil rights protest, a killing that inspired historic voting rights marches.

James Bonard Fowler, 77, entered the plea of misdemeanor second-degree manslaughter two weeks before he was scheduled to go to trial on a murder charge for the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Jackson's shooting in the city of Marion set off protests at nearby Selma that led to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Fowler was sentenced to six months in jail in Geneva County, his home county."

For more information, visit the Grio.

Fowler killed Mr. Jackson approximately 45 years ago.  While Fowler roamed free for 45 years and enjoyed his life, the Jackson family suffered unimaginable pain and loss. Now, at the age of 77, Fowler only received a slap on the wrist for killing a black man, six months in jail. That is outrageous!  Hell, football star Mike Vick received a longer sentence for dogfighting.  Apparently, some people still believe that a dog's life is more valuable than a black man's life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Part 2: A "Brother" Allegedly Attempted to Suppress the Black Vote

Today, the Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler filed a federal lawsuit against black political consultant Julius Henson, Universal Elections and Rhonda Russell for making deceptive robocalls to Prince George's County and Baltimore Democratic voters.  For more information regarding the robocalls, click this link to my last article.  The calls were designed to suppress the black vote. 

The civil complaint alleges that the defendants violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and seeks millions of dollars in fines.  Gansler claims that he has no reason to believe that former Governor Bob Ehrlich was aware of the calls. 

To read the article, visit the Baltimore Sun website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A "Brother" Allegedly Attempted to Suppress the Black Vote

Many brothers and sisters fought, bled and died for the right to vote.  Sadly, some black people, like political operatives Julius Henson and Rhonda Russell, do not give a damn about our struggle for equality.  On WBAL TV, Mr. Henson acknowledged sending controversial robo-calls to predominantly black Baltimore and Prince George's County during the 2010 Midterm Elections.  Rhonda Russell actually made the call.  In an obvious attempt to suppress the black vote, Ms. Russell's robo-call said:

"I'm calling to let everyone know that Gov. O'Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. Our polls were correct and we (unintelligible). We're OK. Relax. Everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch on TV tonight. Congratulations and thank you."

Contrary to Mr. Henson's assertions, that call was clearly designed give black Democratic voters the false impression that there was no need to vote.  The call implied that the election was over.

Voter suppression is not new phenomenon in Maryland.  However, it was shocking and disappointing to learn that some African Americans would participate in such a scheme against their own community.  Henson and Russell sold out the black community for approximately $97,000. According to WBAL TV, that is how much former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich (R) paid Henson for political consulting.  Unfortunately, some people will do anything for the love of money.  This situation conjures up images of African kings selling their own African brothers and sisters to European slave masters.

Hopefully, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler will conduct a thorough investigation and bring all of those involved to justice.

To read WBAL TV's news report and view the related videos, click this link.

George W. Bush Discusses His Failed Presidency

Monday, November 8, 2010

BET Black Girls Rock : 4 Women - Ledisi, Kelly Price, Jill Scott and Marsha Ambrosius

On my way home, I heard this beautiful rendition of Nina Simone's Four Women on the radio. Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius, Kelly Price and Ledisi rock! Ledisi is awesome!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

President Obama Reacts to the Republican Takeover

Bush: Kanye's Statement - The Low Point of His Presidency, WTF?!!?

According to former President George W. Bush, the low point of his presidency was not the 9/11 terror attacks. It was not the invasion of Iraq based on "faulty" intelligence. It was not the thousands of lives loss in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was not the federal government's inept response to Hurricane Katrina. It was not the economic disaster that resulted in a massive loss of jobs, homes and banks. In his memoir, Bush says that low point in his presidency was when rapper Kanye West said that George W. Bush "does not care about black people." WTF??!!??

By the way, I wish more African American artists would stand up and speak out about political issues. Kanye West should be commended for having the heart to say what many of us felt at the time.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

According to news reports, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) asked the Clinton camp to urge U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) to drop out of the Florida U.S. Senate race.  Apparently, former President Bill Clinton accepted Crist's proposal. 

Bill Clinton publicly supported Meek during rallies.  However, behind the scenes, President Bill Clinton asked Meek to consider dropping out of the race to help Crist win the Senate race. Although Meek and Clinton tout their friendship, a true friend would not do the bidding of his friend's rival. 

Convinced that Crist will vote with the Democrats, an article in Daily Kos states that:

"Meek's best chance was always that Rubio and Crist nuke each other, much like Lisa Murkowski and Joe Miller and beating the crap out of each other in Alaska. That didn't happen. In fact, the worst case possible scenario did -- Crist and Meek beat the shit out of each other, giving Rubio a free pass for most of the race. Crist's best chance was to relegate Meek to also-ran status (like GOPer Maes in the Coloardo [sic] governor's race). That didn't happen."

"So Plan C for keeping the seat would be for Meek to withdraw and give Crist the chance to consolidate moderates and progressives against Rubio. That won't happen either. With Meek's wife reportedly convinced her husband can still win, he's sticking with this through the bitter end."

"So there we are. A big ol' pile of suck."

In her excellent article, The Wrong in the Florida Senate Race, one of my favorite bloggers, rikyrah of Jack and Jill Politics, wrote:

"But, Kendrick Meek did the hard work. He did all the legwork. He shook the hands. He went to meet the people, and, it is not his fault that no other Florida Democrats, outside of that shady creep who ran against him at the last minutes was the only one who would run. Meek won the nomination WITHOUT crapping on his base (cough:::Artur Davis, Adrian Fenty:::cough).Meek won his right to win, and yes, to lose, this election."

I agree with rikyrah and reject Kos' analysis of the Florida race for following reasons.  Crist is not trustworthy.  As reported in the Miami Herald, after being a lifelong Republican, Crist abandoned his party only because he realized that he would lose the Republican Primary against Marco Rubio.  For political convenience, he has changed his positions on various issues.  Clearly, he is a political opportunist who will say or do anything to be elected. Under such circumstances, one cannot assume that Crist will vote with the Democrats on important issues.  In fact during the debate moderated by David Gregory of Meet the Press, Crist would not state which party he would caucus with if elected.

Democrats should not abandon a loyal candidate like Meek to embrace a flip flopping, opportunist like Crist. If Meek was white, I doubt that many Democrats would even consider voting for Crist.  If Kendrick Meek loses this election, there will be no African Americans in the U.S. Senate in 2011.  When Roland Burris leaves the Senate, it will return to being an exclusive, all white club.  African Americans are the most loyal supporters of the Democratic Party.  We deserve better treatment from Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party.

There comes a time when principle is more important than pragmatism.  Florida Democrats should unite and support Kendrick Meek.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Right Wing Extremists Seek to Suppress the Black and Latino Vote

On October 28, 2010, Project Vote issued a press release detailing nationwide efforts by members of the Tea Party and Republican Party to suppress minority voters.  The Brennan Center has a page on its website tracking right wing so-called "ballot security" operations.  Under the guise of promoting so-called "ballot security" and "voter integrity", right wing activists are using various suppression tactics against black and Latino voters.  Here are a few examples cited in Project Vote's report:

In Houston, Texas, someone sent fake and deceptive fliers to African Americans to discourage them from voting a straight Democratic ticket. 

In Nevada, a political television ad actually urged Latinos not to vote.

As reported in the Houston Chronicle, in Harris County, Texas, early voters in predominantly minority districts complained to the County Attorney Vince Ryan about Tea Party activists" "hovering over" voters, "getting into election workers' faces" and blocking or disrupting lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots."

Finally, in Illinois, Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk was recorded saying, "I have now funded the largest voter integrity program for 15 years in the state of Illinois.  These are lawyers and other people that will be deployed in key vulnerable precincts.  For example: South and West side of Chicago, Rockford, Metro East, where the other side might be tempted to jigger the numbers somewhat."  Those precincts are predominately African American. 

As noted on the Keith Olbermann show and in the Huffington Post, "Hans von Spakovsky was in Chicago.....recruiting Republican attorneys for "voter integrity" efforts. In 2006, von Spakovsky, according to the Washington Post, pushed to require Georgia voters to provide photo identification that had to be purchased--basically creating a poll tax that disproportionately affected the black community." For more information, watch the Keith Olbermann video below.

Voter suppression is a modern form of oppression. Such despicable racist strategies are contrary to this nation's ideals and values.  Voting is the essence of American democracy. Those schemes are analogous to poll taxes, literacy tests and other repressive Jim Crow era strategies to prevent black people from voting. The opposition understands the importance of our vote. Otherwise, they would not work so hard to suppress it.  We must exercise and defend our right to vote. 

On November 2, 2010, I will be working with fellow NAACP staff attorneys and the Election Protection coalition to assist voters.  If you experience any problems voting, please contact 1-866-OUR-VOTE for assistance.  For more information, visit

Friday, October 22, 2010

NPR Was Right to Fire Juan Williams

On Thursday, NPR fired Juan Williams for making Islamophobic statements about on The O'Reilly Factor. On the program, Williams said, "When I get on a plane, I gotta tell you. If I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslim, I get worried. I get nervous." Later in the segment, Juan Williams argued against stereotyping Muslims.  Unfortunately, that does not excuse or justify his earlier, bigoted statement.

NPR was right to terminate Juan Williams.  Williams has written about the civil rights struggle. As a black man, he knows first hand about discrimination and prejudice. He is the last person that I would expect to make such a bigoted statement. Islamophobia, like anti-semitism, must be universally condemned. Discrimination and violence begin as fear and suspicion.  It is dangerous for a man of his stature to legitimize or mainstream such hatred.  NPR had every right to ensure that their brand was not associated with such bigotry and prejudice.

Some contend that NPR should not have fired Williams for expressing his genuine feelings. His supporters imply that the 9/11 terror attacks justify such fears. Such an outlook is rooted in ignorance and intellectual laziness. It is far easier to judge a people as a group than it is evaluate people as individuals. 

The American people must understand that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists. True Islam calls humanity to peace, righteousness and excellence, not terrorism.  Over one billion Muslims should not be collectively punished or feared because of the horrific actions of 19 demented terrorists. That is similar to assuming that most young black men are drug dealers and gangsters or that every African American customer is a potential thief.

Other apologists assert that Williams' statements are being taken out of context.  They compare his situation to the infamous firing of Shirley Sherrod. However, it is not analogous.  Unlike Ms. Sherrod who rose above prejudice, Williams described his present fear of Muslims and prejudice. Essentially, he was defending the bigoted statements that Bill O'Reilly made on the View.   

Immediately after NPR fired Juan Williams, the Washington Post reports that "Fox News on Thursday awarded Williams a new multiyear contract worth nearly $2 million that will expand his role on the cable news channel and its Web site."  Basically, Fox News awarded Williams for making such insensitive remarks. After the announcement, right wing commentators Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity came out of the woodwork to defend and support Juan Williams. O'Reilly told Williams:

"Number 1, this is good for you...You are going to get a big book contract..Number 2, you will be able to host the O'Reilly Factor tomorrow. More people will see you tomorrow night than will see you all year on NPR. Number 3, everybody likes you now. Now everybody likes you, everybody that counts. Number 4, Congress is going to defund NPR. They are going to lose all of their public funding.."

I hope that Juan Williams does not blindly embrace this fake love.  Although I do not always agree with him, he is the voice of reason on the Fox News Sunday.  Hopefully, he will not lose that voice. In time, perhaps, he will learn from this experience.