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.