Sunday, June 30, 2013

Uncle Thomas is Still A Lawn Jockey for the Extreme Right Part 2

"Just as the slavemaster in that day used Tom, the house Negro, to keep the field Negroes in check, the same old slavemaster today has Negroes, who are nothing but modern day uncle toms, keep you and me in check." Malcolm X

Last week, by declaring Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ripped out the heart of the Act. For Uncle Thomas, that was not enough. To prove his loyalty to his right wing sponsors, that sellout went above and beyond the call of duty. In his dissenting opinion, that house negro wrote:

"I join the Court’s opinion in full but write separately to explain that I would find §5 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional as well. The Court’s opinion sets forth the reasons."

If Clarence Thomas was a real black man, the Voting Rights Act would still be intact. He is a disgrace. As an African American from Savanna, Georgia who lived during the Jim Crow era, he should know better than anyone why we still need the Voting Rights Act.

The First Family's Trip to The Motherland

Shout out to Black Web Series

Good morning family. Last week, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama went home to the Motherland. Mrs. Obama's descendents left Africa shackled in chains at the bottom of a slave ship. Last week, she returned to Africa as the first African American First Lady with her husband, the first African American president. The images from their trip are truly powerful.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Supreme Court Unleashed the South on Black Voters

“I’m going to be real honest with you, the Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they’re going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.”  Ken Emanuelson, Texas Tea Party leader

African Americans and others fought, bled and died for voting rights. Following the 50th Anniversary of assassination of Medgar Wiley Evers and the 49th anniversary of the assassinations of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, the United States Supreme Court showed utter disrespect for the black people and our struggle. Instead of protecting the Voting Right Act ("VRA"), the Court castrated it.  They rendered it impotent. With its disastrous decision, the Court eviscerated all that we struggled for.

In the case of Shelby County v. Holder, the Court held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. In order to understand the importance of Section 4, one must understand Section 5. Section 5 requires covered jurisdictions to obtain preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia prior to implementing any changes in their voting laws. The covered jurisdiction must prove the proposed law "does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color." Section 4 sets forth the formula that determined which jurisdictions are covered. Covered jurisdictions includes States and counties that have a long history of discriminating against African American voters. More specifically, Section 4(b) states:
"(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall apply in any State or in any political subdivision of a state which (1) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1964, any test or device, and with respect to which (2) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 percentum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percentum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1964."
By striking down Section 4, the Supreme Court rendered Section 5 useless, at least until Congress acts. It is like having a car with no engine or a computer with no hard drive.

Another key provision of the VRA is Section 2. Section 2 states that "no voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Section 2 remains in place. However, it is not as effective as Section 5. Section 5 is proactive. It fights discrimination in voting before it occurs and saves plaintiffs the time and expense of litigation.

The Court held that Section 4's formula is outdated and violates the principle of equal sovereignty among the States. Basically, the Court found that the current burdens of Sections 4 and 5 are not justified by today's current needs.  The Court noted that states no longer use literacy tests and poll taxes to prevent African Americans from voting.  The Court further stated "African American voter turnout exceeded white voter turnout in five of the six States originally covered by Section 5, with a gap in the sixth State of less than one half of one percent." The Court mentioned that "minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels."  The Court acknowledged that that progress is a direct result of the effectiveness of Section 4 and 5.

Here is the layman's translation. The Court said, "Since the Voting Rights Act worked so well, you people don't need it any more."  The Court basically said, "You Negroes have black mayors, black congressman,  black senators and even a black president. What more do you people need?" For the first time in history, the black vote exceeded the white vote. Instead of celebrating that achievement, the Court decided to collectively punish black people by stripping us of the tool that made that accomplishment possible. As Justice Ginsburg stated in her dissent, "[t]hrowing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discrimination changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."

As pointed out in the Ginsburg's dissent, the Court failed to consider the current day, "second generation barriers to minority voting" such as racial gerrymandering, adoption of at large voting, vote dilution and other tactics that "diminish the minority community's ability to fully participate in the electoral process and to elect their preferred candidates." Moreover, the court failed to consider that the bailout provisions keep the VRA current. The bailout provisions allow covered jurisdictions to opt of Section 5 by proving that they no longer discriminate against minority voters.

While I read the Court's opinion, I keep thinking about Justice Scalia's saying that the VRA "a racial entitlement."  In his twisted mind, such "racial entitlements" are difficult to eliminate through the normal political process. Accordingly, this activist Supreme Court decided to substituted its judgment for Congress' judgment.

In the Court's eyes, it did not matter that Congress considered a voluminous 15,000 page record when it decided to reauthorize Section 5 of the VRA. As noted in the dissenting opinion, that record established DOJ blocked over 700 discriminatory voting law changes between 1986 and 2006.  According to the Katz study in citing in the dissenting opinion, although the covered jurisdictions are less than 25 of the population, the covered jurisdictions accounted for 56 percent of the successful Section 2 litigation and "there were nearly four times as many successful Section 2 lawsuits in covered jurisdictions as there were in noncovered jurisdictions." The record before Congress established that the covered jurisdictions are more racial polarized than the noncovered jurisdictions. In her dissent, Ginsburg correctly asserts such racial polarization "increases the vulnerability of racial minorities to discriminatory changes in voting law."

Now that the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the VRA, African American voters are vulnerable.  Although there are no literacy test and poll taxes, discrimination in voting is not dead.  It has evolved. We will have to confront more second generation barriers.  As Texas Tea Party leader Ken Emanuelson acknowledged, the Republican Party does not want black people to vote. Through its horrible decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Court has unleashed the rabid, howling, southern states on black people. More specifically, MSNBC reports that:
"Texas is ground zero for measuring the impact. Just hours after the ruling was announced, Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state’s voter ID law “will go into immediate effect.” The law—the strictest in the country, and described by Attorney General Eric Holder as a “poll tax”—had been blocked last year under Section 5, after a federal court found it discriminated against blacks and Latinos, who, numerous studies show, are more likely than whites to lack ID. On Thursday, the Supreme Court officially threw out that ruling.

In South Carolina, the Supreme Court’s ruling may allow the state to enforce an existing voter ID law more strictly. Last year, a federal court, citing Section 5, blocked the law for the November election. It said the measure could go into effect in 2013, but only because the state promised to broadly interpret a provision making an exception for voters without ID, allowing them to vote if they affirm they weren’t able to obtain one. The court added that if South Carolina wanted to interpret the provision more narrowly, making it harder for those without ID to vote, it would need federal sign off under the Voting Rights Act...

Adam Piper, a spokesman for South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, told MSNBC that the assurance the state gave the court about its interpretation of the provision “still applies.” Nonetheless, now that federal sign-off is no longer needed, state officials can likely interpret it however they choose in the future...

Then there’s Virginia, which recently passed its own voter ID law, scheduled to go into effect next year. Opponents of the law had held out hope that it might be blocked under Section 5. Now that’s moot, the measure appears likely to be in force for next fall’s midterms."
Contrary to the GOP's representations, such laws are not designed to prevent in person voter fraud.  In person voter fraud is extremely rare.  The real purpose such voter ID laws and laws limiting early voting is to suppress African American voters.  Such laws have a disproportionate impact on African Americans.The NAACP's Defending Democracy report states that:

"An astonishing 25% of African Americans (over 6.2 million African-American voters) and 16% of Latinos (over 2.96 million Latino voters) do not possess valid photo ID. By comparison, only 8% of whites are without a current government-issued photo ID. "

Furthermore, according to the Defending Democracy report, "African-American voters have been much more likely to take advantage of early voting, accounting for 22% of early voters during the 2008 general election, despite being only 13% of the Florida electorate.

GOP lawmakers know that such laws will suppress African American voters, a group that tends to vote for Democrats.  Last year, state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai acknowledged that the purpose of Pennsylvania's voter ID law was to help elect former Republican Presidential Mitt Romney.  In fact, as reported in  Palm Beach Post, former Florida Republican Party Chair Jim Greer admitted that the GOP limited early voting in Florida in order to suppress the black vote. This is just the beginning. If you do not act now, this will only be the tip of the iceberg.  If left unchecked, southern states will dilute the black vote through other schemes. We must urge Congress to correct the Supreme Court's supreme error.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Uncle Thomas is Still A Lawn Jockey for the Extreme Right

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision for the case of Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin. Thankfully, the Supreme Court did not end affirmative action. The Court held that the lower court did not apply the proper legal standard, strict scrutiny to evaluate the University's affirmative action plan under the Equal Protection Clause. Accordingly, the Court remanded the case back to the lower court and ordered that the court apply the strict scrutiny standard. More specifically, the Court held that:
Rather than perform this searching examination, the Fifth Circuit held petitioner could challenge only whether the University’s decision. to use race as an admissions factor “was made in good faith.” It presumed that the school had acted in good faith and gave petitioner the burden of rebutting that presumption. It thus undertook the narrow tailoring requirement with a “degree of deference” to the school. These expressions of the controlling standard are at odds with Grutter’s command that “all racial classifications imposed by government ‘must be analyzed by a reviewing court under strict scrutiny.’ ” 539 U. S., at 326. Strict scrutiny does not permit a court to accept a school’s assertion that its admissions process uses race in a permissible way without closely examining how the process works in practice,yet that is what the District Court and Fifth Circuit did here. The Court vacates the Fifth Circuit’s judgment. But fairness to the litigants and the courts that heard the case requires that it be remanded so that the admissions process can be considered and judged under a correct analysis. In determining whether summary judgment in the University’s favor was appropriate, the Fifth Circuit must assess whether the University has offered sufficient evidence to prove that its admissions program is narrowly tailored to obtain the educational benefits of diversity.

Thank God that the Supreme Court did not decide to end affirmative action. At least for a second, we can breathe a sigh of relief. Now, it the time for the civil rights community to mobilize and develop a sophisticated messaging and advocacy strategy. This case or/and another parallel case will back before the Supreme Court for consideration. So, we must start organizing now.

While I am relieved by the Supreme Court's ruling, I am disturbed, but not surprised, by Justice Thomas' concurring opinion. His concurring opinion in Fisher is just another example proving that he is still a lawn jockey for the extreme right. If Uncle Thomas had his way, he would "overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306 (2003), and hold that a State’s use of race in higher education admissions decisions is categorically prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause." That house negro went on to say that "there is nothing 'pressing' or 'necessary' about obtaining whatever educational benefits may flow from racial diversity." He further stated that "the pursuit of diversity as an end is nothing more than impermissible “racial balancing.”

Then, he proceeded to make an absurd comparison. He compared diversity advocates to segregationists. More specifically, he states that:
It is also noteworthy that, in our desegregation cases, we rejected arguments that are virtually identical to those advanced by the University today. The University asserts, for instance, that the diversity obtained through its discriminatory admissions program prepares its students to become leaders in a diverse society. See, e.g., Brief for Respondents 6 (arguing that student body diversity “prepares students to become the next generation of leaders in an increasingly diverse society”). The segregationists likewise defended segregation on the ground that it provided more leadership opportunities for blacks.
After the idiotic comparison of affirmative action to segregation, it gets worst. Justice Thomas compares affirmative action to slavery. He states that:
I suspect that the University’s program is instead based on the benighted notion that it is possible to tell when discrimination helps, rather than hurts, racial minorities. See post, at 3 (GINSBURG, J., dissenting) (“[G]overnment actors, including state universities, need not be blind to the lingering effects of ‘an overtly discriminatory past,’ the legacy of ‘centuries of law-sanctioned inequality’”). But “[h]istory should teach greater humility.” Metro Broadcasting, Inc. v. FCC, 497 U. S. 547, 609 (1990) (O’Connor, J., dissenting). The worst forms of racial discrimination in this Nation have always been accompanied by straight-faced representations that discrimination helped minorities.

Slaveholders argued that slavery was a “positive good” that civilized blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life.
His concurring opinion is problematic for several reason. Contrary to Justice Thomas' arguments, promoting diversity is a compelling interest. Diversity has many benefits. It enhances the educational experience. In a heterogeneous environment, students are able to learn more by hearing different perspectives on issues. When diverse groups of people have more social and educational interaction, it reduces prejudice and bigotry. Furthermore, diversity in college prepares students for the work place.

Obviously, segregation and slavery were tools of oppression. They stifled and snuffed out our humanity and potential. Under slavery, we were chattel property like farm animals. During slavery, we were killed, beaten and raped. During the Jim Crow era, we could not vote. We segregated in every facet of life. We were segregated at school, on the bus, at the movies, at restaurants, at hotels, etc. During the Jim Crow era, African Americans could not attend schools like the University of Texas.

Unlike African Americans during segregation and slavery, whites as a group are not harmed by affirmative action. Race is simply a factor of a factor that universities consider when admitting students. Whites continue to be the majority at schools like the University of Texas at Austin. For instance, 45.5 percent of students at the university are white and only 4.5 percent of the students are black. In sum, segregation deprived black people of the right to education. In contrast, affirmative action does not deprive anyone of an education.

It is a tool to promote education, empowerment and advancement. Affirmative action made it possible for African Americans to obtain higher degrees. It has helped expand the black middle class. It has help many African Americans and other minorities become doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, professors, politicians and other professional positions. Unlike segregation, affirmative action opened the doors of opportunity.

Clarence Thomas walked through that door of opportunity and now he wants to close it in our faces. He benefited from affirmative action. That ingrate would not be a Supreme Court Justice without affirmative action. Affirmative action made it possible for him to attend college and law school. He crossed the bridge of success. Instead of helping his fellow African Americans cross that bridge, Uncle Thomas wants to burn that bridge and prevent his brethren from crossing it. Former President George Bush, Sr. appointed Thomas in part because Thomas is black. They needed another African American to fill the vacancy left by Justice Thurgood Marshall. It is a disgrace that Thomas has tried to tear down the progress that Justice Marshall helped build. It is an outrage that the only African American on the Supreme Court is a right wing nut who has no love for his people.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Justice for Trayvon Martin #J4TM Part 2

Check out my latest YouTube video. In this video, I continue to share my views about the George Zimmerman trial. I discuss the opening statements. I was fired up when I did the video. So, I got a little emotional.

As usual, I welcome your feedback. What did you think about the prosecution's opening statement? What did you think about defense counsel's opening statement?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Justice for Trayvon Martin #J4TM Part 1

Good morning family. Peace and blessings. Today, I posted a YouTube video expressing my views about the George Zimmerman case. In video, I cite key facts contained in a Daily Kos article entitled DNA Report Does Not Support Zimmerman's Claims that Trayvon Martin caused his injuries. I plan to post a series of videos during and after the trial. I welcome your feedback and comments.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do You Support President Obama's Position on Government Surveillance?

Good morning family. Yesterday, PBS aired President Obama's interview with Charlie Rose. During the interview, the President discussed several issues and defended the National Security Agency's surveillance program. What is your position? Do you support the NSA's surveillance program? Why? Why not?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Candidate Obama versus President Obama

In my last article, I said that there are two Barack Obamas. The first Obama is candidate Obama. Candidate Obama wants to protect our civil liberties. Candidate Obama condemns the Bush Administration for invading our privacy.

The second Obama is President Obama. In the name of protecting national security, President Obama supports government surveillance of our phone records, emails, Google searches, Facebook activities, Skype calls and other internet information. President Obama embraces the Bush Administration by invading our privacy.

I prefer Candidate Obama over President Obama. Any questions?

The Two Obamas, His Zombies, Black Progressives and the Move Towards an Orwellian Society

There are two Barack Obamas. On one hand, there is candidate Obama, the young charismatic eloquent brother on the campaign trail who says all of the right things. That Obama condemned the excesses of the Bush Administration. As a candidate, Obama challenged the Bush Administration for violating our civil liberties. He opposed data mining. He opposed the government snooping around and gathering our information at public libraries.

The other hand, there is the older, greying President Obama. In the name of fighting terrorism, this Obama has no problem with the federal government gathering and analyzing the phone and Internet records of millions of innocent Americans.

The UK Guardian reports that:

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
But wait, there is more. The UK Guardian also reports that:

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.
This is contrary to basic notions of civil liberties. This is an indefensible violation of our fundamental right to privacy. It is a gradual step toward an Orwellian society. This problem did not start with Obama. However, contrary to his beautiful campaign rhetoric, he continued those Bush era abuses. The President is not solely to blame. Congress is to blame as well for repeatedly reauthorizing the Patriot Act and the FISA courts. To justify their actions, the Administration and Congress conjure up the mysterious boogie man called terrorism. The fight against terrorism does not justify the government violating the privacy of millions of innocent and ordinary Americans.

To make matters worst, there are legions of sycophants and Obama groupies who no longer think for themselves. They suffer from a condition that Princeton University professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. calls "selective moral outrage." Those people condemned Bush when he violated our civil liberties. They also rightly condemned Bush for his imperial wars and drone attacks.

Yet, they are silent as church mice when Obama does the same thing. As the government monitors our phone records, emails, Skype calls and Facebook activities, these Obamaholics believe anything that the Obama Administration tells them to believe. They rationalize and justify any and everything that this President does.
These people are nothing but zombies. Like an episode of the Walking Dead, herds of mindless Obama zombies lurk on the Internet and elsewhere ready to grab and devour anyone who has the audacity to question their Lord and Savior, Barack Obama. It is a damn shame and disgrace.

For fear of being ostracized and devoured like Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, many black progressives are reluctant to speak out. Black progressives are reticent for another reason as well. We support the many positive accomplishment of Barack Obama.  We are immensely proud of the first African American president. We understand that President faces Republican obstructionism. We understand the Republicans are desperately trying to undermine the President's second term agenda by diverting the public's attention to fake controversies like Benghazi. In such a toxic political environment, our natural impulse is to defend the President.

However, the violation of our fundamental right to privacy is not a fake controversy. It is real. Our liberty is at stake. Therefore, we must speak truth to power. Just because something is legal that does not make it just or right. Like we ended the oppressive Jim Crow laws in the South, we must end tyrannical laws like the Patriot Act and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act. If we do not act now, Obama's successors may take away even more of our civil liberties.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Obama Promotes Susan Rice to Be National Security Advisor

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Good morning fam. Yesterday, in a bold and courageous move, the President Obama promoted Susan Rice to be the National Security Advisor. President Obama basically told the Republicans to go to hell with their fake Benghazi scandal. Good move, Mr. President.