Monday, October 29, 2018

Voting while Black


The history of voter disenfranchisement demonstrates the government’s failure to uphold and exercise federal power. Congress never reduced Southern states' congressional representation in proportion to its disenfranchisement and the Supreme Court actively undermined its powers to protect voting rights by refusing to acknowledge discrimination even when it was obvious.

1870

During Reconstruction, former slaves were granted the right to vote by an Act of Congress. The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1870, stipulates:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
In Mississippi, African Americans registered and flooded the polls, electing Blacks to many local offices and over a dozen Black men to the United States Congress, in what was called the Black and Tan Revolution. A likely outcome, since former slaves far outnumbered the white population.

In response, Whites promoted the idea that Blacks had ascended to office only through means of fraud and corruption and a new state constitution was written stating that:

“Negroes were denied the right to vote because as long as they had voted, corruption and fraud had characterized government in the state of Mississippi....To restore "purity" to the governance of the state of Mississippi, Blacks must no longer be allowed to vote."

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Lies Republicans Tell, over and over and over

Paul Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda said, 
"The most brilliant propagandist technique… must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over and over. “  
He exploited the lowest instincts of people – anger, fear, racism, xenophobia, and class envy. Aided by the effects of the Depression and with sober psychological calculation he led the masses wherever he wanted them to go.  And that’s exactly what Trump and the Republicans do today.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Calling out racism DOES NOT diminish its meaning


I keep reading it in comment sections and hearing it on talk shows…”calling so many acts racist makes the whole idea of racism lose its meaning.”  Presumably,  some whites have just become bored at the whole idea of being held accountable for the racially insensitive things they say and do.

It occurs to me that many people are confused about what even constitutes racism.  For example, absolute furor exists around the spectacle of football players taking a knee during the National Anthem and against Colin Kaepernick, the former football player who started the protest.

Some say it is about honoring the flag.  This is false fury.  

Monday, September 3, 2018

President Wrecking Ball


“You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.” ~ Art of the Deal
Trump fancies himself a master dealmaker,  but so far, he has only dismantled deals made by others, while clinching none of his own.  He’s like a brood parasite.  Brood parasites are birds that lay their eggs in other birds’ nests sometimes destroying eggs already in those nests. So far, there is little Trump can claim as his own outside of lies and chaos.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Republicans haven’t been fiscally responsible since Eisenhower


According to recent polling, more people have confidence in Republicans to solve our economic problems than Democrats. I can’t imagine why. For while there might be other reasons for voting Republican, all economic reasons , every single one of them, favor voting for Democrats.

Republicans crow constantly about the need for a balanced budget, but the truth is it’s all talk. They have never voted for one. Even when one of their own, then Senator John Kasich introduced legislation, not a single republican voted for it.

Not since Eisenhower has a Republican balanced a budget. He balanced budgets in 1956, 1957 and 1960. Johnson balanced the budget in 1969 and Clinton did so in 1998 through 2001. In fact, during the last 40 years there have been six budget surpluses , and all six were under Democratic Presidents: 1969, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2013. But the debt continues to rise because the surpluses are not applied against the outstanding balance.
Nothing speaks more to Republican economic incompetence than the fact that Republicans held the presidency at the onset of the last NINE (9) economic downturns, including the two greatest economic collapses in our history.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

America’s mass incarceration addiction


This is the season for inmate protests. Prisoner strikes are underway throughout the nation and in Canada to call attention to prison conditions and the exploitation of prison labor.

The strikes began on August 21 to mark the date in 1971 when Black Panther organizer George Jackson was killed by guards at San Quentin State Prison and will continue through September 9, the date on which the Attica prison riot started in upstate New York.  The actions will include work stoppages, boycotts of companies that exploit prison labor, sit-ins, and hunger strikes.

Mass incarceration is weighing on our beleaguered state budgets and devastating our civic health. We are able to admit we have a problem, but old habits seem impossible to break.




Tuesday, August 21, 2018

When anti-immigrant rhetoric turned deadly

Between 1882 and 1968, nearly 5,000 vigilante murders that included shootings, hangings and other forms of mob “justice” were recorded in the United States. Most of their victims were African-American men. But on March 14, 1891 the target wasn’t Black people. 

Italians, considered “not quite white”, because of their dark skin, were often treated with the same contempt as Black people. The fate of Italian Americans was no different than that of Blacks targeted by lynch mobs. The most infamous lynching of Italians occurred in New Orleans.


In late 19th-century America, Italians were recruited to satisfy the demand for cheap labor. Sugar planters, in particular, who sought workers who were more compliant than former slaves, hired immigrant recruiters to bring Italians to southern Louisiana.

In the 1890s, thousands of Italians were arriving in New Orleans each year to fill the shortage of cheap labor created by the end of slavery. Many settled in the French Quarter, which by the early 20th century became known as “Little Sicily.” 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why the Hell are White People Angry?

I  try to steer clear of racial generalizations because as writer Tom Cordle so aptly pointed out, 
“posting about race is a bit like pulling the pin on a hand grenade, and then finding it stuck to your hand.”
The idea that whites feel neglected and forgotten is ridiculous.  Clearly, were that the case, they would have voted every incumbent Republican out of office.  After all, they sat on their hands for eight years and blocked legislation that would have helped them; healthcare, infrastructure, broadband, education and every job bill introduced during the Obama administration.  So the idea that white people are economically frustrated and feel abandoned is nonsense.  Moreover, the economy didn’t suddenly experience a great resurgence, but in fact is on the same trajectory it has been on for the last nine years.

I wrote the following post in 2012...I could have written it yesterday. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

America’s Terrorists - Hate-mongers, Nativists and Anti-government Zealots


Extremists in the U.S. come in a myriad of forms; neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, anti-gay zealots, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others. And their numbers are growing. 

According to The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, the number of hate groups operating in America last year had risen to 1,002. The number of nativist vigilante groups grew to 319, while the antigovernment "Patriot" movement skyrocketed 61% to 824 groups just last year.

When Italy, Poland and Greece were Shithole Countries


Eugenicists, who believed there was a gene pool that  led to the deterioration of the human race, were able to influence the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924.

The Act identified undesirables banned from entering the country:

Monday, August 6, 2018

When whites fear losing their privilege

“Black success was an intolerable affront to the social order of white supremacy, so ta king their possessions not only stripped Blacks of their material status, but also tipped the social scales back to their proper alignment.”~ Historian James S. Hirsch
The Reconstruction period that followed America’s Civil War was one of the most violent eras in American history. During that time, thousands of African-Americans were killed by domestic terrorists like the Ku Klux Klan who tried to reinforce policies of white supremacy.

Bitter over the Confederacy’s loss, many white Southern Democrats tried to continue disenfranchising and restricting the rights of former slaves. Then as now, m
any impoverished whites faced increased economic hardship and wealthier whites exploited their fears and blamed freed Blacks and immigrants as the cause of their ills.  While, newspapers were full of radicalized propaganda.  Dangerous rhetoric turned lethal and in 1919 alone more than a dozen Black soldiers were lynched, some while still in uniform and eleven live African Americans were burned at the stake by white mobs. 

The following are cautionary tales about the explosive and violent potential of whites who feel on the verge of losing their privilege.

Republicans sacrificed national security just to undermine Obama



I cringe each time I hear Republican criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, knowing what the Republicans did when President Obama was newly elected with a commitment to nuclear proliferation. Suffice it to say, they showed no concern for nuclear proliferation then.  

The bipartisan 9/11 Commission had warned that,
“The greatest danger of another catastrophic attack in the United States will materialize if the world’s most dangerous terrorists acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Nation of stolen children

Credit: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/458009157388206081

What is currently happening at the southern border is nothing new, indeed it is American history repeating itself. Americans are descendants of stolen children.

This is the result of our desire to whitewash America and everyone in it. It is the consequence of mass denial. Understandably. Denial is far easier than owning the barbaric brutality God-loving christians imposed on other human beings.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Donald Trump is just another Great White Hope



On November 23, 1887, when a mob of whites in Thibodaux,  Louisiana killed as many as 300 men, women and children because Black farmers dared to seek fair prices for their crops. The white press cheered along with the murderers:


“….this will settle the question of who is to rule, the nigger or the white man.…” 



Uncle Sam was an Abortionist




The government has a history of taking over people’s reproductive future.  In the first half of the twentieth century, the United States promoted efforts to “breed better human beings”. The pseudoscience,  called eugenics included forced abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.

When the Nazis went on trial after World War II, for war crimes in Nuremberg, they justified their mass sterilizations by citing the United States as their inspiration.  And just as the rich and powerful promoted the Nazi Holocaust, in the United States, eugenics was driven by the elite. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Political Propaganda Defines Republican Patriotism


              
             "What good fortune for those in power that the people do not think."~ Adolph Hitler




Immediately after the Nazi’s took power, the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was established. It was responsible for controlling the press and public opinion. Goebbels exerted control over the media and information in Germany.





He openly acknowledged that he exploited the lowest instincts of people – anger, fear, racism, xenophobia, and class envy. Aided by the effects of the Depression and with sober psychological calculation, he led the masses wherever he wanted them to go. He was a master propagandist.
"The most brilliant propagandist technique… must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over and over. “

The “N” Words


At a U.N. press conference, Ambassador to the United Nations, Nimrata “Nikki” Haley said:

“…. we’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion.” 

It’s hard to know if that is just reckless political rhetoric or ignorance, but following are the facts.

Throughout history, race has been the motivation for immigration policy. Until 1952, except for two years in the 1870s, Congress allowed only white persons to become naturalized as citizens. Consequently, it is not possible to have a serious discussion about the merits of immigration without also discussing the "n" words: nationalism, nativism and naturalization.

Following is a compilation of the laws and policies that have influenced and defined immigration and naturalization in America since 1790.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Great Giveaway - Farm Subsidies


Both houses of Congress are working on farm bills that will make the biggest cuts to welfare since President Clinton’s 1996 legislation that dismantled Aid to Families with Dependent Children. In 2012, Congress allocated $74.6 billion to SNAP (the food stamp program), an amount the US military spent every 9 days. 
The 2013 farm bill called The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 includes almost $21 billion in cuts over the next ten years. Those lucky enough to remain on the rolls will see an average loss of $25 in benefits for a family of four. Due to economic conditions, long-term unemployment and natural disasters, a staggering 15 percent of the US population receives food stamp benefits, nearly double the rate of 1975. The average monthly benefit per person receiving SNAP benefits was only $133 last year; a household’s income cannot be more than $23,800 for a family of three to qualify for a meager $300 per month. 

It's time for a new farm bill and even deeper cuts.

America’s endangered species, white babies

Credit: https://twitter.com/LadyAodh/status/505357444869283840



In 1905, just as women were beginning to understand conception well enough to attempt to avoid  it, pregnancy became a symbol of patriotism and national pride.

President Theodore Roosevelt summoned 

“all healthy women to bear at least four children, preferably six.”

He felt that to use birth control or fail to keep up with the birth rate of ethnic minorities was to risk suicide. In March, 1905, he attacked birth control and condemned the tendency towards smaller families as decadent, a sign of moral disease.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Truth about the NATO defense commitments


Credit: NATO http://www.munlaws.com/committee-north-atlantic-treaty-organization.php

On September 5, 2014 the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales issued a declaration that among other things stated the following:

Taking current commitments into account, we are guided by the following considerations:

Memo to Republican Men: Get Knocked up or STFU

Credit: http://snarkysnatch.wordpress.com
In 2011, Supreme Court Justice Antonin "Broccoli" Scalia argued that 

“women do not have equal protection under the 14th amendment as "people" because men's rights are guaranteed by specific language in the Constitution, but women's rights are not mentioned.”

Republicans have been spewing hateful, ignorant nonsense for a long time, but they ramped up their tourette’s after the 2010 election and despite the most racist, anti-homosexual, anti-women, anti-worker and frankly anti-American rhetoric, they’ve been excused with a wink and a nod, and childish postulations that “both sides do it”.  So the idea that another Republican said something inflammatory should come as no surprise.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Erosion of Empathy - Black Lives Matter

In a neuroscience study on racial empathy, Social Psychologist, Dr. Michael Inzlicht, found physical evidence that white people have difficulty empathizing with non-white people. According to his findings,
“white people are sensitive to others who fall within a closed circle defined by their social relations; and members of the social out-groups ( Asians, Blacks, Latinos, Muslims ) are excluded from this circle.” 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Privatization is the Holy Grail of Corporate Greed  



Free Market is predatory capitalism

The great con of capitalism is the ability of corporations to fleece the federal coffers and taxpayers for their own private gain. Through a well-orchestrated campaign, they managed to convince taxpayers that “government is too big” and “federal workers are too lazy and too well compensated.”  It is the con of a lifetime, for somehow taxpayers seem to forget that whether the government paves the road or a private entity does so, in the end, we still have to pay the tab. 

There’s a common belief that private companies can help governments save or make money by doing jobs faster and cheaper, or managing public assets more efficiently. In some instances, state and local governments have identified savings by hiring outside contractors to handle tasks like trash collection, pothole repair, and water treatment. But on a larger, national scale, privatization is nothing more than a scam.

In fact, the privatization of public services can drive governments deeper into debt because the contractor has an incentive to spend the least amount for quality to maximize profits. It is nothing more than a way to skirt federal regulations, to legally discriminate and to rob the revenue coffers. The scam is promoted for everything from prisons to schools to sports stadiums. 

The Internet Superhighway

An article by the analyst, Bruce Kushnick explained how deregulation of the telephone company has cost taxpayers $360 billion in rate increases, subsidies, tax breaks and overcharges. 

When Al Gore called for nationwide broadband two decades ago, the task was given to private telephone concerns who instead directed the money to build second-rate wireless businesses, overpaying their executives and rewarding stockholders.

The original Stimulus (2009)called for $2 billion in broadband investment that was stripped from the plan for tax cuts.  As a result, the U.S. is a second tier communications nation, ranking 15th in broadband behind countries like Hong Kong and South Korea. 

In the meantime, cyber attacks and cyber espionage have become the top security threat facing the United States. Digital assaults on government and computer networks are the new terrorism.  

Guns

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates that in 2010, the U.S. spent $235 billion on arms. Why?  According to soldiers, the Afghanistan weapons inventory contains hundreds of unopened weapons crates.  And what happens to all this surplus weaponry? 

Title XVI of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Page 331) created the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice; Firearms Safety (CPRPFS). 
“The Corporation may obtain surplus property and supplies without cost, but may sell at fair market value surplus rifles, ammunition...to citizens of the United States over 18 years of age who are members of a gun club affiliated with the Corporation.”
The NRA is such a corporation. Why is Congress so unwilling to regulate guns? Maybe it's because the only business more profitable than selling drugs is weapons sales.

Prison Industrial Complex

There is no better example of the private prison scam than Arizona. The state is losing an average of $3.5 million per year, according to an AFSC analysis. What’s more, Arizona officials knew private prisons would not save money, but prison economics is what drove Arizona’s immigration concerns.

For-profit prison firms skimp on labor costs, typically paying guards $7 to $10 per hour with no benefits and little training. The savings don’t benefit taxpayers,  they line the pockets of corporate executives and shareholders. Reports show that it actually costs more to run a private prison than a state run facility. The most egregious outcome is the incarceration of people, for little or no reason, in order to keep the beds filled.

Two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks from a builder to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

Military Industrial Complex

There exists no better example of the privatization scam than the military-industrial complex.

A Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan which was created by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in 2007, concluded that up to $60 billion in U.S. taxpayer money has been squandered in contract waste and fraud. The committee report cited "ill-conceived" projects, "poor planning and oversight", "poor performance" by contractors, as well as "criminal behavior and blatant corruption." 

Many complain that federal workers are overpaid, while taxpayers were billed $5 million for 144 mechanics who worked as little as 43 minutes a month. The private concerns aren’t even required to supply their own equipment and materials. One contractor, KBR (Cheney’s Halliburton) can't account for $100 million worth of government-furnished property in Iraq. 

The same company collected $204 million for electrical work that was so shoddy as many as 12 soldiers were electrocuted to death, including a Special Forces commando who died after he was shocked in a shower stall.

Mother Jones did an excellent expose' on what they called military contracting "boondoggles".

Remember the Sequester

When Congress passed a continuing resolution that sought to mitigate cuts made to the defense department, but left cuts to programs like head start, unemployment and food stamps in place, I thought of Dwight D. Eisenhower who in 1953 said:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
The sequester cut a total of $85 billion. Was it necessary to end Head Start for thousands of children, furlough any workers? And just think, contracting is merely one phase of military outsourcing. The real cost to taxpayers has been in privatizing and grossly overpaying for tasks military members can do themselves.

President Obama wanted to retire three Navy cruisers and Secretary of Defense Panetta went before Congress and asked that obsolete weapons and programs be discontinued...not only did Congress ignore both requests, but the Defense Department was awarded even more money than requested.  Congress did, however, make plans to reduce military personnel, raise their share of TriCare, reduce their housing allowance and cut veterans benefits. Fortunately, President Obama vetoed the bill.  But it just goes to show,  If the axe must fall, it falls on taxpaying Americans.

Most people recognized the privatized profit scam of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout. The same loopholes, subsidies and tax cuts grease the gears of all privatization. We pick up the tab for sports arenas and player’s multi-million dollar contracts. Even as Congress raised taxes on the middle class, they gave a $500 million tax break to a pharmaceutical company and passed out favors to NASCAR, Hollywood and fracking companies.  

There are now charter school chains and Cyber charter schools where the heads are paying themselves $400,000 and $500,000 a year. They are not collaborators in education but business competitors.
The cost of Medicare soared when privatized insurance (Part D) was added.  We give tax breaks, loopholes and subsidies to oil and gas and they still jack us up at the pump. They get us coming and going, rob us of revenue that supports our needs and they do it without creating jobs. Privatization is not a panacea, it is the holy grail of corporate greed. 









Saturday, July 28, 2018

Vigilante Justice - Lynching and Stand your ground

Credit: https://blackmainstreet.net/never-forget-americas-forgotten-mass-lynching-237-black-sharecroppers-murdered-arkansas/

The practice of lynching pervaded the United States from the late 19th through the early 20th century. A type of vigilante justice, lynching was also a form of racialized and regionalized brutality that emanated from a wellspring of hatred, bravado, anger, fear, and vengeance. 

The Ku Klux Klan , often abbreviated the KKK , who wanted to restore white supremacy expressed themselves through terrorism. Beginning in 1866, the Klan attacked Blacks and their White sympathizers, killing political leaders, the heads of families, and the leaders of churches and community groups. Masked men shot into houses and burned them, often with the occupants still inside. They drove successful Black farmers off their land. 

They killed thousands of men, women, and children and intimidated voters with impunity because a large percentage of KKK members (often in leadership positions) were government officials, lawmakers and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). And because The Supreme Court determined it had no jurisdiction over the Ku Klux Klan because it was considered to be “a private club.”


The Lynching of Mary Turner
Credit: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns
-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article211223209.html
A vengeful white mob, unable to find the Black man suspected of killing a white plantation owner, killed other Black people instead, including a man named Hayes Turner. His wife vowed to swear out a warrant against the murderers. So they came for her.

Mary Turner was maybe 20 years old and eight months pregnant.  They strung her up by her ankles in a tree. They doused her with gasoline and motor oil. They set her afire. 


Life still lingered in her burned body... a man stepped towards the woman and, with his knife, ripped open the abdomen. Out tumbled the prematurely born child. Two feeble cries it gave — and received for answer the heel of a stalwart man, as life was ground out of the tiny form. They then riddled the body of Mary with bullets.
‘..... you ought to’ve heard the nigger wench howl!’ a member of the mob boasted.

Congress
According to the Tuskegee Institute figures, between the years 1882 - 1968, 4,743 people were lynched in the United States: 
3,446 Negro and 1,297 white. 
Two hundred anti-lynching laws were presented to Congress over the years. Three bills passed the House but were defeated in the Senate. In 2005, the Senate finally passed a resolution apologizing for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation. Two months later, Florida passed the first “Stand Your Ground” legislation, another endorsement of vigilante justice. 

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article211223209.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article211223209.html#storylink=cp


Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article211223209.html#storylink=c
Apparently, vigilante murder had the stamp of approval of the twenty senators (19 Republicans and 1 Democrat) who refused to endorse the bill: 
Lamar Alexander (R-TN) 

Robert Bennett (R-UT) 

Christopher Bond (R-MO) 
Jim Bunning (R-KY) 
Conrad Burns (R-MT) 
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) 
Thad Cochran (R-MS) 
Kent Conrad (D-ND) 
John Cornyn (R-TX) 
Michael Crapo (R-ID) 
Michael Enzi (R-WY) 
Chuck Grassley (R-IA) 
Judd Gregg (R-NH) 
Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 
Trent Lott (R-MS) 
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 
Richard Shelby (R-AL) 
John Sununu (R-NH) 
Craig Thomas (R-WY) 
George Voinovich (R-OH) 











     Southern trees bear strange fruit
           Blood on the leaves
               Blood at the root
               Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
               Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
               Pastoral scene of the gallant south
               The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
               The scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
               Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
               Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
               for the rain to gather
     for the wind to suck
     for the sun to rot
     for the tree to drop
     Here is a strange and bitter crop