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.   

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Tea Party is a Haven for Racists, Bigots, Anti-Semites and Islamophobs

Disclaimer: As usual, the views expressed in this article are my own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, my associates or my advertisers.

Today, the NAACP and the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights issued a report entitled Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size, Scope, and Focus of its National Factions.  All people of goodwill should read the report.  The report "compiles polling data, documents significant examples of racist vitriol on the part of Tea Party leaders, shows incidents where well know anti-Semites and white supremacists have been given a platform by Tea Party and analyzes the attempt by white nationalist organizations to find new recruits in Tea Party ranks." 

Describing how the Tea Party has provided a platform for racists, anti-Semites and Islamophobs, the report states that:

"Dale Robertson, the chairman of the 1776 who displayed the infamous “n****r sign,” for example, brought Martin “Red” Beckman on as a guest to the Tea Party Radio hour ....Beckman has been known for over twenty-five years for his anti-Semitic writings and his defense of militias."

"In a separate incident, Robertson endorsed Pastor John Weaver on the 1776 Tea Party Meet Up website...Weaver, of Fitzgerald, Georgia, has a sprawling set of connections to neo-Confederates and those preaching the so-called Christian Identity doctrine. He is the former Chaplain in Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.[205] He has spoken at “Christian Identity” gatherings in Branson, Missouri in 1998 and 1999.[206] According to this particular theology, Jews are considered a satanic force (or the incarnation of Satan himself), and people of color are considered less than fully human."

The notoriously Islamophobic Pamela Geller has been a featured speaker at several Tea Party events. The report notes that:

"Geller maintains a tight-knit trio of organizational fronts: Atlas Shrugs, SIOA (Stop Islamization of America), and the Freedom Defense Initiative. All are listed as official “partner” organizations of the ResistNet Tea Party faction."

With leaders like Geller, it is not surprising to find language on a ResistNet Tea Party website that denigrates an entire grouping of people because of their faith. “We are at a point of having to take a stand against all Muslims. There is no good or bad Muslim. There is [sic] only Muslims and they are embedded in our government, military and other offices...What more must we wait for to take back this country of ours...”[260]

In addition, the report details how white supremacist groups have attempted to join the Tea Party Movement:

"In preparation for Tea Party protests held on July 4, 2009, national socialists and other white supremacists created a discussion thread on, the largest and most widely accessed of the many white nationalist websites...the Stormfront discussion board aimed at a highly conscious intervention. One group decided against wearing any gear with swastikas or other symbols of their actual core ideologies. They would carry Confederate battle flags and other more generic symbols of white protest."

"The Council of Conservative Citizens, headquartered in St. Louis, with its strongest chapters in the South and Mid-South, is the largest white nationalist organization in the country and the group most active in the Tea Parties. A direct lineal descendant of the white Citizens Councils that fought to defend Jim Crow segregation during the 1950s and 1960s, the Council of Conservative Citizens promotes the idea that the United States is or should be a white Christian nation; and that Barack Obama and black people generally oppress white people."

"Through its periodical tabloid, Citizens Informer, and its website,, the Council of Conservative Citizens both led and promoted Tea Party protests."

Former Klu Klux Klansman David Duke embraced the Tea Party.  As the report states, "[h]e used the Internet to broadcast a ten minute video speech, “Message to the Tea Party.” Duke began the “message” by paying homage to the Tea Parties and the “Founding Fathers,” and ended with his usual roundhouse attack on “the Zionists” (meaning Jews)." 

Mocking African Americans attending a Tea Party rally, David Duke states that there were more blacks on stage than in the crowd.  Below check out Duke's racist appeal to the Tea Party.

The Tea Party Nationalism report also cites disturbing opinion data regarding the racial attitudes of Tea Party members.  The report states:

"Partiers are more likely than white people generally to believe that “too much” has been made of the problems facing black people: 52% to 39%.  Of those who strongly approved of the Tea Party, only 18% agreed with the statement that black people were “VERY hard working.”In fact, 68% of the Tea party “approvers” believed that if only they would try harder, then black people would be as well off as white people.  Indeed, a quarter of Tea Party supporters polled on the question admit that they think that the Obama “administration favors black people over whites.”[247] When asked whether or not Barack Obama understood the “needs and problems of people like you,” almost three-fourths of Tea Partiers (73%) said “no.” A similar number (75%) said he did not “share the values most Americans try to live by.”

Basically, this report reveals that the Tea Party is a haven for racists, bigots, Anti-Semites and Islamophobs.  Why would any African American, in his right mind, join the Tea Party?  How many shoe shining, tap dancing uncle toms, sellouts, black conservatives will come before the media to defend the Tea Party now?  Many black bloggers and journalists criticized the NAACP for tracking the Tea Party.  Those critics have egg on their faces right now.

Wake up people! The Tea Party must be purged and defeated!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Big Brother is Watching You on Facebook, Twitter, Black Planet...

As reported today on Democracy Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) learned through Freedom of Information Act documents that the Department of Homeland Security "established a Social Networking Monitoring Center (SNMC) to monitor social networking sites for “items of interest”.

In her article on the EFF's website, Jennifer Lynch writes

"Among the key “Candidates for Analysis” were general social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Flickr as well as sites that focus specifically on certain demographic groups such as MiGente and BlackPlanet, news sites such as NPR, and political commentary sites DailyKos. According to the slides, SNMC looks for “‘items of interest’ in the routine of social networking posts on the events, organizations, activities, and environment” of important events."  Read more.

In an earlier article, she cites a May 2008 memo by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) entitled Social Networking Sites and Their Importance to FDNS [Office of Fraud Detection and National Security] which states:

"Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of “friends” link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know. This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities."  Read More.

Note to self - Assume that the government is monitoring everything that I post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.  Be even more selective when "friending" people on Facebook and other sites.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Condoleezza Rice on Race, the Tea Party, Afghanistan and Iraq

This morning, former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice appeared on Morning Joe to promote her new book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People.  She discussed her views on education reform, family, race, the Tea Party, President Obama, Afghanistan and Iraq.  It was interesting  hearing Dr. Rice talk about race. When she was in office, she rarely mentioned the topic.  On the show, she said that America has the "birth defect of slavery" and "deep wounds of segregation and prejudice."  However, she criticized some people for being too quick to call others "racist".  She called for more civility in political discourse and stressed the need for both sides to "turn down the volume". 

As expected, Dr. Rice continued to defend the Bush Administration's senseless decision to invade Iraq.  She voiced support for President Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

O'Malley and Ehrlich Clash Over Education, Immigration and Taxes

On Monday night, Maryland gubernatorial candidates Martin O'Malley (D) and Bob Ehrlich (R) debated issues such as job creation, taxes, education, gun violence, immigration and negative campaign ads. To view the debate, click this link

They had a heated exchange on education. Both candidates implied that charter schools are a solution to the problem of poor performing inner city schools.  There is no empirical data to support that conclusion. 

O’Malley touted doubling the number of charter schools in Maryland. He proudly declared that Maryland was one of only 10 states to win a “Road to the Top” grant from the federal government. O’Malley claimed that he plans to use the grant funds to track students’ education and to encourage skilled teachers to work in problem schools.

Ehrlich criticized O'Malley for not allowing eleven failing Baltimore public schools “to go charter or private vendor” in 2006. Ehrlich said, "Your color, your ethnicity, your background, your race, what you look like should not be a predictor of the quality of education you receive."  That sounds great. But, what did Ehrlich actually do when he was governor to improve Baltimore City and Prince George's County public schools?

In response to Ehrlich, O'Malley asserted that he recruited the SEED charter school to come to Baltimore.  O'Malley said that his opposition “was not about protecting a monopoly.  It was about protecting progress.”  O'Malley claims that he has cut the achievement gap between black students and white students in half.  O'Malley challenged Ehrlich for "speaking in codes" and for not mentioning the progress that students are making. 

O’Malley asserted that 10 years ago not one grade in Baltimore city public schools scored majority proficient in reading and math. Today, according O’Malley, first through eighth grade students are scoring majority proficient in reading and math. O'Malley said, "I will put the progress in the city of Baltimore and our rate of improvement up against any kids in any major city in America." O’Malley concluded, “We move forward as a state. We move forward together and we move forward as a people.”

Ehrlich responded by asserting that at some Baltimore schools 85 percent of students do not graduate. Ehrlich asserted some Baltimore public schools have pass rates as low as 9 to 12 percent. O’Malley retorted, “And you would cut their funding if you are elected.”

In reply to O'Malley comments, Ehrlich mentioned that many innocent African Americans were wrongfully arrested in Baltimore when O'Malley was mayor.  In June 2010, the ACLU and the Baltimore Branch NAACP settled the lawsuit against the city challenging the Police Department’s pattern of improper arrests.  According to Ehrlich, 1 in 8 people were arrested in Baltimore when O'Malley was mayor.  Political motivation aside, that issue is significant.  Unfortunately, O'Malley failed to provide a substantive response. O'Malley must do more to address that issue and other concerns of the African American community.

On the issue of immigration, both candidates emphasized that it is the federal government's responsibility to address the problem of illegal immigration. Ehrlich voiced his opposition to CASA of Maryland. He claimed that CASA is using tax dollars to aid illegal activity. On the other hand, O'Malley stressed the need to offer a path to citizenship for undocumented people living in this country.

Ehrlich described the different groups that immigrated to America and stated that "some of us were forced here in slavery." O'Malley slammed Ehrlich phony celebration of diversity by reminding Ehrlich of his past statements rejecting multiculturalism as "bunk" or "crap".  The Baltimore Sun reported the following in 2004:

"The concept of multiculturalism is "bunk" and "damaging to the society," Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said , "Once you get into this multicultural crap, this bunk, that some folks are teaching in our college campuses and other places, you run into a problem," Ehrlich, a Republican, said during an appearance on WBAL radio Thursday. "There is no such thing as a multicultural society that can sustain itself, in my view, and I think history teaches us this lesson."

O'Malley said, "We are a multicultural people and a multicultural nation.  We should not blame new Americans for the problems that our country is going through."
In light of Ehrlich's statements against multiculturalism and his dirty tricks against the African American community during the 2006 election, it is difficult to take Ehrlich's new found concern for the black community seriously. 

Did you watch the debate?  Which candidate do you support and why?


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Transforming Detroit's Blight into Light and Hope

Last week, I read a beautiful article on  I created my blog primarily to highlight positive stories involving African Americans.  This is such a story.  This story is even more dear to me because it is about my hometown, Detroit.  Even in the depths of darkness, there is hope and potential. It is easy to remain cynical and sarcastic in the face of problems such as unemployment, violence, inferior schools, etc.  This story is an example of how blight can be transformed into light.  In his article, Paul Harris of the Guardian/UK writes:

"Covington's story is simple. Finding himself unemployed and living back in the blighted neighbourhood that he had grown up in, he decided to improve things by turning vacant lots into vegetables plots. Not only did the work improve the look of Georgia Street it also started to change local people's lives: reasserting community pride and helping people have healthier diets in a city where fresh food is unforgivably scarce."

"One of the UK's top DJ outfits, Above and Beyond, have shot a video for their next single, On A Good Day (Metropolis). The wonderful piece of film features the good folks of Georgia Street turning a spot of typical Detroit wasteland into a garden, transforming their neighbourhood piece by piece into a better place to live."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This is America: The 10-2-10 One Nation March

Yesterday, I attended the One Nation March.  Unlike the Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" March or even Rev. Al Sharpton's "Reclaim the Dream" March, this march truly reflected America's beautiful racial and ethnic diversity. There were whites, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans. Teacher unions, labor unions, civil rights groups, environmental groups, peace groups and LGBT groups joined the march.

The general theme was jobs, justice, education and peace. The main goal of the march was to motivate progressives to remain engaged in the political process. Hopefully, more people will be inspired to participate in the most important march, the march to the polls on November 2, 2010. If we do not turnout for that march, our gains such as health care reform, may be eliminated by a Republican dominated House and Senate. The President's relatively progressive agenda will be obstructed if the Republicans and their extremist Tea Party wing win control. We must fight them with every ounce of our energy.

However, voting is not the end of the process. We must continue to push the President and Congress to address problems such as unemployment, poverty and war.

Friday, October 1, 2010

White Racists Love Tea Party Candidate Rand Paul

Tea Party U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul is receiving financial support from racist, white  supremacists. According to Daily Kos, ", which was founded to support David Duke for senate by another KKK Grand Dragon, Don Black, has been promoting and contributing to Rand Paul's moneybombs."  Stormfront's slogan is "White Pride Worldwide".  As the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, the mission of Stormfront is "to provide information not available in the controlled news media and to build a community of White activists working for the survival of our people."

There are two full pages on the Stormfront website dedicated to supporting Rand Paul's candidacy.  Encouraging Stormfront members to support Rand Paul, knightedsoldier 5000 writes,

"Keep those donations coming if you believe in liberty and want to put a major thorn in the side of our elitist career politicians.  This is a 6 year term folks, this is the bigtime. Whereas a representative like Ron Paul is one of 435 House members, RAND would be 1 of 100 Senators, which would make him 4 times as effective - it'd be like having 4 more Ron Paul's in Congress!!! Send in $20 or whatever you have, the entertainment value alone will be well worth the cost!!!"

Paul is receiving support from other racists as well.  The New York Daily News reports that:

"According to FEC records, at least three people associated with white separatism have donated to Paul.  Former Vanderbilt professor and self-described separatist Virginia Abernethy gave Paul $500 in March, records show. Separatist movement leader William Johnson gave Paul $500 in August last year, and Carl Ford, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a member of the separatist League of the South, gave Paul $400 in March."

According the Courier-Journal, in response to calls for Rand Paul to return the donations,

"Jesse Benton, Paul's campaign manager, said in an e-mail that the money would not be returned."
"Dr. Paul is running to repeal Obamacare, create Kentucky jobs and cut out-of-control government debt,” he said. “Money will never buy his vote or influence his position. If people with small-minded ideas give him money, he will simply use it to fight for Kentucky values.”

His spokespersons insist that Paul opposes racism and discrimination.  To buttress their argument, his supporters emphasize that 20% of Rand Paul's staff is African American.  Certainly, the composition of his staff does not justify his failure to return the hate money.  If Rand Paul truly opposes racism and discrimination, he would immediately return the funds and vehemently disassociate himself from Stormfront.  When other prominent politicians received donations from questionable sources, they returned those funds.  It is time for Rand Paul to do the same. Until he does so, we should contact Rand Paul and demand that he immediately return the money.  Mr. Paul can be reached at 1-866-232-9747 or at 1-270-904-4862 or via email.

His mailing address is:

Rand Paul For US Senate
1019 State Street
Bowling Green, KY 42101

Why not return the donations?  What point is Rand Paul trying to prove?

The more troubling question is why are racists supporting Dr. Paul?  Apparently, white supremacists and Rand Paul share some common values and interests.  Perhaps, racists support him because of his strong opposition to provisions of Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The white supremacists probably support him because of his opposition to illegal immigration.  Maybe, they may support his stance against institutions such as the Federal Reserve, World Bank and the United Nations. Are Stormfront and other racist groups supporting other Tea Party candidates? 

Why isn't the mainstream media addressing this issue?  If it wasn't for the Grio, I would not have known about this issue.  However, the Grio has a limited audience.  Certainly, this issue is more important than whether or not his fellow Tea Party U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell participated in a witchcraft ceremony in her teen years.  That story was on the news for over one week.  We must continue to carefully monitor the Tea Party and its supporters.