Friday, December 31, 2010

NAACP Finally Follows Media Spotlight in Mississippi Scott Sister's Case

As soon as I saw the NAACP mentioned in the Washington Post article about the Scott sisters, I smelled that the NAACP would try to take credit for the outcome, even though I've never heard their name associated with the Scott sisters' case before.  I know with certainty that, although I read blogs and newspapers every day, the NAACP is NOT where I found out about this case.  And now, Benjamin Jealous plans to hold a joint press conference with arch-conservative Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to celebrate this long-fought victory which then NAACP has so recently joined.

I imagine that if the case had occurred in Louisiana, Jealous would hold a press conference with David Duke.

In fact, although the Scott sisters have been in jail for sixteen years, while the NAACP's President Ben Jealous may have first mentioned the case to the media on September 15, 2010"NAACP backs pardon for Miss. sisters serving life", USA Today,   "The president of the N.A.A.C.P., is seeking a pardon from the Governor of Mississippi, announced the Red Mountain Post on October 15, 2010.  When the NAACP announces its support in a nationally-known case of injustice that has been advocated at blogs and community groups for years, and the NAACP's freshly-painted involvement becomes national news, you know that organization has lost its way.  It has gone from political leader to political opportunist, just as occurred in the Jena Six case, where "NAACP Spent More on Internal Jena Six Activities Than on Youths’ Defense Funds."

I think the current role of the NAACP is to show up at our victory parties and grab the microphone before anyone else has a chance to speak, so they can ask for donations that ultimately pay for NAACP overhead instead of being used to help the named victims of injustice.

Scotty Reid of BlackTalkMedia says that the NAACP ignored the Scott sisters' case until it became a media magnet, and then the NAACP jumped into the media fray as a "Johnny come lately," opening a financial donations account from which the Scott sisters allegedly have not received a dime.  "The NAACP has not contributed one dime to the legal expenses of the Scott sisters and nor has it stated that it will do so. . . " alleges Scotty Reid.

Leave it to the NAACP to announce a joint press conference with Haley Barbour, defender of the White Citizens Councils, and thereby putting the NAACP seal of Black approval on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.  , in the eyes of white people who thing the NAACP is a respected organization with real constituents.  Here's Haley Barbour's resume, in reverse chronological order, which facts Ben Jealous apparently has not read, or has dismissed in the rush for the media spotlight:

    Governor of Mississippi (Jan-2004 to present)
    National Policy Forum Founder (1993)
    Republican National Committee Chairman (1993-97)
    American Success PAC

    Americans for a Republican Majority

    America's Foundation

    Bayou Leader PAC

    Bluegrass Committee

    Bush-Cheney '04

    Bush-Quayle '92

    Campaign America Inc.

    Cantor for Congress

    Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism

    Defend America PAC

    Elizabeth Dole Committee

    Elizabeth Dole for President

    The Freedom Project


    Friends of Giuliani Exploratory Committee

    Friends of Katherine Harris

    Friends of Phil Gramm PAC

    Friends of Roy Blunt

    George W. Bush for President

    Keep Our Mission PAC

    JD Hayworth for Congress

    John McCain 2008

    Leadership PAC 2006

    Lindsey Graham for Senate

    McCain 2000

    McCain for Senate '98

    National Council for a New America Founding Member
    National Republican Senatorial Committee

    New Republican Majority Fund

    Northern Lights PAC

    Rely on Your Beliefs Fund

    Republicans Abroad Advisory Committee
    Restoring the American Dream Board of Directors
    Resurgent Republic Advisory Board
    Santorum 2000

    Senate Victory Fund PAC

    Spirit of America

    Washington Legal Foundation Legal Policy Advisory Board
    Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity

    Microsoft Washington lobbyist
    Barbour, Griffith & Rogers Founder, President, CEO (1991-99)
    Member of the Board of Amtrak

    Bush Pioneer 2000

The only thing missing so far is Barbour's conceivable involvement in the White Citizens Councils.  Now, I'd like to have one good reason why Ben Jealous wants to shake Haley Barbor's hand, if not for selfish fundraising goals and publicity after the fact.   See "Haley Barbour's Praise For Racist Group Gets Noticed" on NPR.  

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is getting much more national attention than he usually does this week following a Weekly Standard profile in which the Republican with presidential aspirations lauds a group that was part of the racist reaction to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s.

Haley Barbour has tried to rehabilitate the imagine of the White Citizens Councils, but Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post says:

In a 1956 article in Commentary David Halberstam describes the White Citizens Council as an organization determined to "not just oppose integration in the public schools but to stop or at least postpone it. In most of the the Deep South, where hostility to integration is nearly universal, it is this militancy and dedication that make the Council member stand out. Despite occasional efforts by supporters to build the Councils up into a movement of broad conservatism, their only serious purpose is to fight the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Not only do they contest the NAACP's desegregation suits, but they seek to cancel much else that the Negro has gained over the last half-century by keeping him out of the voting booth."
Even Haley Barbour now recognizes that the hateful and pro-segregation work of the White Citizens Councils. His state governor website says, apologetically:

"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."

I personally believe that Haley Barbour is trying to disassociate and immunize himself against attacks on his color-aroused background, perhaps because he was a member or collaborator of the White Citizens Council himself, or because his family members were.  That's just a hunch, but it's worth looking into it, because I believe Haley Barbour is running for president in 2012.

This is why I find it incredibly idiotic that Ben Jealous of the NAACP is planning to hold a joint press conference with Barbour.  He unwittingly or intentionally is helping to inoculate Barbour against charges of color aroused politics and helping to distract attention from Barbour's roles and affiliations in the Republican presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.  Meanwhile, Ben Jealous wants to get on television, pretending that his NAACP is still relevant, even though they didn't have a meaningful website during any of the days of the George W. Bush presidential administration.

Ben Jealous is prominently meeting with one of President Obama's most likely opponents for 2012, undercutting the obvious anti-Barbour opinion that Barbour is a color-aroused man from one of America's most color-aroused states.  I don't know who's worse:  The NAACP's Ben Jealous for helping Haley Barbour or Haley Barbour for being Haley Barbour.

Haley Barbour's motive is obvious, and Ben Jealous is seems blind to the political realities, except as they effect his own publicity and opportunities for an NAACP fundraising drive.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Black Leaders, Old Civil Rights Groups Conflict in Net Neutrality Debate

RE:  Net Neutrality Issue Heats Up

Please remember that the First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the US Government and the states from abridging our right to free speech, but it does not oblige huge communications corporations like newspapers and Internet providers to carry our content.  It does not prevent corporate giants from limiting or discontinuing our speech. 

francislholland's Channel


I was an active participant at Now Public, with my articles drawing hundreds of reads, until Now Public was bought by a Phillip Anschutz, a billionaire Republican who donated to people like Senator "Wide Stance" Larry Craig, John McCain and state Republican parties.  (See my article entitled, "Billionaire Republican Campaign Donor Buys "Now Public" Site".

About three days after this Republican billionaire bought the Now Public, my posting privileges were withdrawn and placed "under review" and have remained withdrawn and "under review" for over a year now.

I understand what happens when billionaire pro-Republican individuals and groups get control over Internet content, and I don't want to see that happen to the entire Internet. 

If they do get content control over the Internet, then I think you can kiss groups like BlackNetAction and Color of Change goodbye.  Since we do not agree with large Republican Corporations about many things, we may find that our groups' accounts are "under review" as well.
I am no expert on Net Neutrality or the proposals before the Federal Trade Commission, but I do understand major corporations trying to gain monopoly control over the Internet and then use it to squelch Black people's and Democrats' communication with each other.  Why should they carry our content if we are disagreeing with them at every turn?

At this point, cable corporations control the speed of each of our Internet connections, but not the content.  What I have read is that a few big cable corporations want the green light to, for example, charge the public one price if we  want access only to commercial sites, but charge more if we want access to send or receive messages from non-profit groups like Color of Change and Black Net Action.  Or charge Color of Change more if it wants access to e.g. send and receive e-mails from people in the 50 states.

Although I haven't heard these specific proposal, I can well imagine it happening, particularly if groups like ours continue to challenge these major corporations, as we do when we see color-aroused antagonistic and anti-Black commercials on television and in print.

The entire Internet could become like a privately-owned newspaper, where the editorial board decides what will be published and what will not.

Over the last two decades, "letters to the editor" have become practically irrelevant compared to the power of our communications over the Internet, our blogs and websites.  But, if corporate giants get editorial control over our Internet content, then we will effectively be back to writing letters to the editor and hoping the publisher agrees with our message enough to publish it.

That would be a gargantuan defeat for us and our communities and it is a battle that we must fight to our last breath.


Monday, December 6, 2010

"Civil Rights" Groups Being Used to Limit Blacks' Access to Internet

A Key, Unknown Player in Civil Rights Groups' Attack on the Open Internet

By James Rucker, Color of Change

Last Wednesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed Network Neutrality rules that he claims will save the open Internet.

As another FCC commissioner has attested, these ruleswill do no such thing. Instead, they will allow the big broadband companies, like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, to erect toll booths on the Internet that will result in segregated online communities where wealthy content and application providers will pay a premium for carriage, with everyone else discarded to a secondary, lower quality tier.
Such a policy would be disastrous for the Black community. Today, the Internet — unlike cable television, broadcast radio, or print — is the sole medium where we can communicate with each other nationally and globally, pushing back on the political and social status quo without the interference of corporate gatekeepers.
If Chairman Genachowski succeeds in letting the big phone and cable players carve up the Internet, the day will come when many in the civil rights community will realize and regret their role in making it happen.
Net neutrality is a core principle that is largely responsible for the Internet being such a powerful and transformative tool. It requires that content gets carried by Internet service providers with the same priority and speed regardless of the sender. It's the way the Internet has worked since the beginning. Those who are arguing for net neutrality are simply trying to maintain the status quo — a status quo that has enabled the Internet to flourish in a way that no other communications technology has.
Without net neutrality, Google, Facebook, the Huffington Post and would not exist; neither would Barack Obama be President. And it's an open Internet that has made the campaigns that we've run at ColorOfChange possible — everything from holding Fox News accountable for the likes of Glenn Beck, to stripping away Beck's advertisers, to telling the story of the Jena 6, or advocating for the rights of Katrina survivors.
For over a year, several of the most prominent civil rights groups have been aligned with AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast — whether knowingly or not — in those companies' efforts to end net neutrality. But they have not acted alone. In my conversations with many groups and individuals inside the Beltway, one man emerges as the nerve center for much of the action we've seen on the part of the civil rights groups. His name is David Honig.
David is the executive director of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC). He is in many ways the face and voice for Black America in Washington, D.C. on Internet issues, and perhaps the most influential person from the civil rights community representing our interests on media and telecom policy.
For years, national civil rights groups have relied on his counsel on what positions to take on key communications issues. And for years, he has been regarded as an honest and helpful broker when it came to addressing broadcasting issues.
But when it comes to Internet policy, David is writing a new and different chapter. Over the past couple of years, Honig's positions and statements seem to align him with the phone and cable companies who are set on undermining the open nature of the Internet. And those statements repeatedly appear in filings endorsed by the major civil rights groups. In my opinion, Honig is leading many of the respected civil rights groups he is advising off of the digital cliff.
Two weeks ago, I made a fact-based argument in a letter to House Majority Leader Pelosi about my concerns regarding a Black member of Congress, who has been aligned with AT&T and Comcast in opposing net neutrality and is vying for a subcommittee post with oversight over the Internet. The Congressman's response was to attack me personally, and to side-step my arguments.
Shortly thereafter, Honig and his organization appeared on a letter with every civil rights and black legislative group you can imagine to counter my letter with their own letter to Pelosi (Honig has organized groups around letters and FCC filings in the past; I presume this time is no different).
Did they engage any of the arguments I put forth? No. Not one.
After personally attacking me for allegedly being "uncivil," Honig then asserted that the Congressman's "position is on all fours with the Open Internet policy endorsed by the labor unions, all the minority intergovernmental organizations and virtually every national civil rights organization except ColorofChange."
Honig doesn't mention that he himself has been a driving force in getting these organizations to sign on to letters of support for the policy he mentions, and, in my opinion, using weak and debunked arguments. He also doesn't mention that the groups to which he's referring have been recipients of millions of dollars from AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast (I don't know if MMTC has received financial support from AT&T, Verizon or Comcast, but if it has, it should disclose that as well). While one can argue that these dollars don't have influence, the disclosure is important when making such statements, as is providing a characterization of an organization's funding picture and any other evidence to show how these dollars don't introduce influence.
Along with many others, I have written pieces here and elsewhere that have described the relationship between corporate dollars from AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, advocacy groups, and Black members of Congress. And I've deconstructed the core, faulty logic in the arguments carried by these messengers: that if we let these large corporations have their way and do away with net neutrality, they'll take their increased profits and suddenly invest in our communities where they traditionally haven't (historically they simply haven't done so, despite already seeing profit margins as high as 80 percent). It's a cynical trickle-down argument that defies the basic logic of how businesses operate. And it's the core sentiment that seems to anchor the anti-net neutrality statements in the filings and statements authored by Honig.
Some in Honig's camp also like to say that net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem. To say that, or to defend someone else's doing so, is to ignore statements made by the major players expressing their desire for a tiered system; instances where they've been caught attempting to censor or control content and applications on the Internet; and the obvious business incentives the companies have for doing so.
I'm interested in an honest debate and discussion about this issue but I still can't find, after almost a year of trying, arguments that hold water or that justify the civil rights groups' opposition to net neutrality. I've also had the good fortune of talking with David Honig directly and will continue to do so, but none of the arguments he has presented to me thus far have altered my perspective on the core issues I've raised here and elsewhere. In the meantime, I hope to get as much sunlight as possible on the dynamics I see in play.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let's give Hillary a chance in 2012!

I am disgusted with President Obama for his supply-side, help-the-banks solutions to Black America (and everyone else's) loss of equity in homes and high unemployment.  As Clinton Administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich pointed out this week,
Last Friday’s jobs report showed 159,000 new private-sector jobs in October. That’s better than previous months. But 125,000 net new jobs are needed just to keep up with the growth of the American labor force. So another way of expressing what happened to jobs in October is to say 24,000 were added over what we need just to stay even.

Yet the American economy has lost 15 million jobs since the start of the Great Recession. And if you add in the growth of the labor force – including everyone too discouraged to look for a job – we’re down about 22 million.

Or to put it another way, we’re still getting nowhere on jobs.
One out of eight breadwinners is still out of work. Most families in the Average Worker economy rely on two breadwinners. So if one out of eight isn’t working, chances are high that family incomes are down compared to what they were three years ago.

And that means the bills aren’t getting paid.

According to a recent Washington Post poll, more than half of all Americans — 53 percent — are worried about making their mortgage payments. This is many more than were worried two years ago, when the Great Recession hit bottom. Then, 37 percent expressed worry.

Delinquency rates on home loans are rising. Distressed sales are up as a percent of total sales.

Most people in the Average Worker economy own few shares of stock, if any. Their equity is in their homes. But with all the delinquencies and distressed sales, the housing market has a glut of homes for sale. As a result, home prices are still dropping. So the net worth of most Americans is still dropping.

Admittedly, Republicans blocked much of what Obama attempted to do in this area, such as funding the states and cities to maintain public employees and, e.g., creating a national public works project that would employ workers while fixing roads and bridges.  Republicans blocked these programs, but the President was too accommodating and docile to strongly criticize Republican resistance, which arguably contributed to Republican Congressional gains.

Now, if President Obama moves to the right to collaborate with Republicans, Obama will become even more of the right hand of the Republican Party and the super-rich, which is utterly unacceptable.

I am disgusted with President Obama's supply-side approach to medical reform, rather than a public option.  President Obama has incomprehensibly accepted using the same medical insurance companies that screwed us in the past to deliver our health care in the future, with no public option directed toward our care.  Our only option continues to be health care denials by health care giants, and with no national public option that provides us care wherever we go.

President Obama inexplicably allowed his health care programs to go into effect only in 2013--after his re-election campaign and TWO Congressional election campaigns.  It ought to be clear by now that the Republicans will demagogue this issue right through the 2012 elections, requesting a public mandate to abort President Obama's health care "victory" and his Administration before they can even be seen up and running.

And so, I'm ready to give Hillary Clinton a go at the presidency.  At least she knows a greedy, callous and inherently untrustworthy insurance company when she sees one, and she and Bill know instinctively that such companies will not be the solution to health care denials or to the utter lack of real health options, aside from the supply-side alternatives that President Obama invested with omnipotence when he caved in on the matter of the Public Option.

Yes, Bill and Hillary insulted and endeavored to marginalize all Black people mightily in the 2008 Primaries, trying to color-arouse the electorate for political gain, but she has since joined the President's administration and been loyal to the President, at least to the extent of not criticizing him, even when it is obvious that his Administration's anti-insurgent campaigns in Afghanistan and now Pakistan are utterly out of control and are serving neoconservatives more than they are serving the Democratic Party base's basic values of less war and more humility in international affairs.

Plus, as regards Hillary, she and Bill were punished mightily for first taking the Black vote for granted and then trying to win the presidency by appealing to whites while insulting Blacks.

Bill Clinton deserved a Nobel peace prize for his work in Bosnia/Herzegovina, while it is now clearer than ever that Obama should rip up his Nobel Peace Prize and throw it in the toilet. The only thing he has done for peace is to demonstrate a way that a Black person could reach the pinnacle of apparent power and stay there for two years without having without an armed rebellion by Blacks or whites.  That's a great accomplishment in a campaign for the presidency and even in his two years as president, but it's utterly inadequate to the tasks in terms of substance in government like health care, home foreclosures and war, more war.

Let's give Hillary a chance. In 2012, she can promise to fix all that is bad with Obama Care, just as President Bill Clinton said about affirmative action, "fix it, don't end it."  With the economy in 2012 no better than it is right now, and perhaps dramatically worse, Hillary can promise a change from Obama's supply-side pusillanimity and offer solutions aimed directly at the public pain, rather than seeking to use and virtually begging corporations to do that which they are utterly unable and unwilling to do: focus on the public good.

Sometime in the near future, Obama should install Hillary as his vice president (a first), and then free her to form cogent Democratic Party criticisms of Obama's mistakes.  Then Obama should bail out and let Hillary run as the incumbent in 2012.  Of course Republicans would attack her mightily, but that would divert their attention from trying to undo what little President Obama has accomplished.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

African American Pundit: DNC Triples Effort Reaching Out To Black Voters

African American Pundit: DNC Triples Effort Reaching Out To Black Voters

Americans Might Benefit from Successful Court Challenges to ObamaCare

President Obama has Given us a New Form of Buggery
that all Americans Can Get Behind

Courts across the United States are being asked to consider whether ObamaCare is constitutional.  I think it might actually be helpful for the US Supreme Court to determine that ObamaCare is unconstitutional because it compels people to pay for medical coverage that they do not want.

Here's my reasoning:  There would be nothing unconstitutional about Obama and the US Congress making Medicaid, Medicare, the Veterans Administration hospitals and/or the US Public Health Service into universal access entitlement programs.  That would be true health care reform. 

I think it OUGHT to be legally unacceptable for Obama to compel Americans to pay money to medical insurance companies that are hardly any less incorrigibly greedy and callous than the banks and brokers who have turned the nation's mortgage market into utter chaos and contributed to a fall of the value of the dollar by 50% over the last seven years.

Insurance companies simply cannot be trusted to offer affordable health care, and President Obama himself cannot be trusted when he tries to compel us to trust medical insurance companies.  (The same can be true of the Obamian supply-side economic fixes that always give more money to banks and other classes of corporations while stingily and callously letting individual American families lose their homes, live out of their cars be blown in the wind like US flags during a hurricane.) 

It's quite obvious by now that President Obama sees the failure of the banks as a more serious problem than 10% unemployment (an official 15% among Blacks), and the highest rate of mortgage foreclosures that the nation's citizens have suffered since the Great Depression.

Even now, he is more concerned about the effects that a moratorium on foreclosures would have for banks and markets than he is about the effects that lawless and fraudulent systemic banking practices have had on the individual homeowner's ability to know which bank (or which set of mortgage bundlers) has the legal authority to file foreclosure actions against individual American families.

American right-wingers need not concern themselves that President Obama could be a socialist when, in fact, his supply-side policies are almost as stringent toward working people as were those of Ronald Reagan.  The difference is that Reagan endeavored to remove every bit of safety-net that working Americans had, while Obama has passively sat by and watched as Americans lose every bit of safety that middle class Americans have.  But, he's been there for the bankers, the automobile manufacturers, and has created a program with 40 million new obligatory consumers of often-worthless health care insurance.

I don't think I'll cry if Obama is not re-elected in 2012, although I would be very chagrined to see the US Congress turned over to the Republicans now, partly as a result of Obama's insanely unpopular legislative pizzas.  (In Brazil they call massively unconscionable screw-ups and multi-party political train wrecks "pizza".)

I used to argue that Americans should prefer Democratic Party presidents because even if we don't care about what Republicans do within our borders, we should not be callous about the wars and suffering that Republican presidents and legislatures cause overseas.  President Obama has taken that abstract political argument away from me.

President Obama is at war in Iraq; at war in Afghanistan; turning Pakistan into an Afghanistan at war; looking at military options with Iran; and even building 7 new military bases in Columbia as a staging area for an invasion of Venezuela.  President Obama is just as warful as his Republican predecessors and considerably more warful than any Democratic Party president since President Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War. 

And yet, the Vietnam war was officially limited on one country, which Obama's mental genius has been able to multiply six-fold while still calling himself a Democrat.  No, admittedly Obama has not instituted a draft as President Johnson did, yet.

How am I supposed to argue that the US Government would be more bellicose under a Republican administration?  Obama is bellicose in six foreign countries simultaneously.  All he has to do now is start dropping white phosphorous on one of these battlefields and we can declare that we have a Republican foreign policy president elected by the Democratic Party.

Obamian health care is as welcomed as universal syphilis.

Back to the point of this screed.  If the Supreme Court finds that it is unconstitutional to make individual Americans give their money to insurance companies, then the only alternative will be what most Americans wanted in the first place:  a Public Option. 

If utter defeat in the US Supreme Court comes soon enough, there might still be time in Obama's one-term presidency for the legislation and implementation of a national government-sponsored program of Public Option health care that will not be a huge Government privatization of a health care vacuum, and giveaway to greedy, venal and callous insurance companies. 

Obama has not created more Government insurance.  He has simply privatized the market for insurance for the 40 million people who capitalist medicine was previously ignoring.

Obama sees Americans being financially raped by the unhealthy grasp of insurance companies and what does he do?  He says he believes it will be fairer if all of us are financially raped by medical insurers, so that some of us will not get financially raped twice or thrice while others of us are not raped at all.  Thanks President Obama!  You've given us a new national form of buggery that we can all get behind. 

This is one instance where the conservatives on the US Supreme Court could create Public Option medical care by finding that privatization of obligatory medical insurance is an unconstitutional "taking."

It's time for Obama to let the Congress go back to the drawing board and give us a Public Option in the US that is at least as good as the one I now have in Brazil.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How Much is President Obama's Presidency Similar to Jimmy Carter's?

In order to figure out what chances President Obama has of being reelected in 2012, we have to look back to the last Democratic Party president who presided over intractable economic troubles and foreign policy crises, neither of which he was able to contain.

Jimmy Carter had the misfortune of Iran taking American hostages, which left the media and the public wondering what Jimmy Carter would do about it.  Ultimately, Jimmy Carter was able to do little at all about this problem that the country came to see as a top priority:
On November 4, 1979, an angry mob of young Islamic revolutionaries overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking more than sixty Americans hostage. "From the moment the hostages were seized until they were released minutes after Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as president 444 days later," wrote historian Gaddis Smith, "the crisis absorbed more concentrated effort by American officials and had more extensive coverage on television and in the press than any other event since World War II."
If Jimmy Carter had bombed and Iranian city to ruins and promised more mayhem unless the hostages were released, this would probably have been perceived as a strong response, "not negotiating with terrorists" as Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, so often explained his overt public policy.  However, Jimmy Carter did not want to see senseless deaths on either side and was unwilling to lose thousands of US soldiers to save two-dozen US hostages.  His unwillingness to do anything other than negotiate made him seem week and prepared the way for the election of Ronald Reagan.

No one doubted that Jimmy Carter was intelligent, well-intentioned and Christian, but they ultimately concluded that he was ineffective and his policies were ineffectual.  Likewise, few people doubt that Obama is intelligent, well intentioned and Christian, but his policies are proving bureaucratic, incomprehensible  and he seems to be biting off far more wars than he will be able to chew.

Like President Johnson, President Obama now sees himself in the middle of too many unpopular wars--in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, potentially Iran, as well as Columbia, where US troops have built bases and are setting up fighting positions.  When it became apparent that President Johnson was unable to achieve his goals in Vietnam, Nixon was elected.  When it became obvious that Carter had no more ideas for saving the hostages in Iran, then Ronald Reagan was elected.  And when it becomes apparent that President Obama has no end game for his wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and covertly in Iran and overtly in preparations for Columbia vs. Venezuela, then any Democrat or Republican who claims to have a better plan might be nominated and elected.

Obama is similar to Jimmy Carter in another way.  Both Obama and Carter faced intractable and insufferably high unemployment rates; Blacks were substantially more unemployed than whites, costing the support and enthusiasm of the one group whose fidelity to the Democrats most makes it essential that that Blacks see a clear-cut reason to go to the polls on Election Day.  There seems to be a strong likelihood that many Blacks will be unemployed in 2012, having also lost their homes to mortgage foreclosures.  It is not clear how Obama will demonstrate to Blacks that his presidency has done us substantial rather than merely symbolic good.

While Obama faces negative economic statistics on virtually ever side, Jimmy Carter faced unprecedented inflation as well as high gas prices and rationing at the pumps.   If intractable economic and military problems show that a president has lost control and can assure neither domestic economic security nor national security as he has defined it, then Obama might find himself like Jimmy Carter did in 1980--first facing a challenge from within the Democratic Party, and then facing a Republican opponent who can convince the public that she is more resolute and more determined to do what needs to be done, domestically and internationally.

If President Obama's efforts to help people save their homes is any harbinger of his health plan, the health plan will have been proved useless to most people even before many of its provision take effect in 2014.  In fact, one of the poorest decisions Obama may have made as president was to provide health care relief only after his first term ends.  He seems to have assumed that he would get a second term during which he would implement this plan rather than see a Republican Congress and president undo all of the change that Obama hopes will someday come.

President Obama had better "check himself."  The people whom I know of who have homes in foreclosure, seeking relief, are not getting that relief from any of the programs the Obama Administration put in place.  The only things guaranteed by Obama's mortgage legislation has been bank and bank executive lucre, as well as overwhelming bureaucracy and hesitance from banks to reformulate mortgages, even when paid to do so by the Federal Government.

Obama privatized the response to the banking crisis by giving individual corporations money in the hopes that they would subsequently take actions that have not been forthcoming.  Obama privatized the Gulf Oil Spill by depending upon BP to fix their machinery and clean up the coasts, as well as indemnify those who lost income.  Those who have lost income say they face daunting bureaucracy.  And Obama privatized the response to individual home-owners with mortgage problems when Obama left the banks themselves to make the crucial decisions in these cases.

Obama might ultimately find that he is a right-leaning Democrat for whom the Democratic base has no respect or desire, but his ineffectual policies leave him indefensible across the political spectrum. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do Blacks and Whites Benefit Equally from the Word and Concept of "Race"?

I wrote the following to Professor Lawrence D. Bobo, Ph.D., W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University, challenging his use of the word "race":

Professor Lawrence D. Bobo, Ph.D.
W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences
Harvard University

Dear Professor Bobo:

I am a Black blogger from the American Journal of Color Arousal (AMJCA), researching the use of the word "race" among America's Blacks.  I would like to pose a question regarding your use of the word "race" in an article at The Root entitled, "Time to End the Criminal-Punishment Binge."  

I concur with the position of your article.  However, in your sentence as follows, what difference would it make if you removed the word "race" and inserted the term "skin color" instead?

Let us be the generation that undoes the connection between race and who populates our jails and prison.
I ask this question because if there is one thing that white supremacists and Black intellectuals can agree upon, it is the continued fundamental nature and necessity of the word and concept of "race." For example, here's what the white supremacist "Nationalist Party USA" says about "race:"
The Nationalist Party embraces the differences in Cultures and races, and allows for each group to embrace their own heritage -- while recognizing the right to live separately, if we choose; and to preserve our unique Culture and heritage. Nationalist Party USA (Emphasis added.)
Clearly the Nationalist Party's belief in different "races" rationalizes, in their minds, their belief in and advocacy for segregation and white supremacy. And why not? Do we not segregate the dog species from the cat species at the dog pound?

It seems to me that as soon as we concede that we and whites are from different "races," we supply intellectual and moral support for white supremacists' belief in segregation, with separate and unequal roles for whites, Blacks and Latinos in society. 

Here's another quote from the same website:
"The question is not why anyone would believe the races are unequal, but why anyone would believe them equal."
As Prof. Levin points out, a book like Why Race Matters should not have to be written. The only sensible conclusion to be drawn from simple observation is that races differ: "To put the matter bluntly, the question is not why anyone would believe the races are unequal in intelligence, but why anyone would believe them equal." For centuries, people as different as Arabs and Englishmen have judged Africans to be unintelligent, lascivious, jolly, and keen on rhythm. Today, in whatever corner of the globe one looks, blacks behave in certain consistent ways." Nationalist Party USA  (Emphasis Added.)
There you have it. White supremacists agree with many Black intellectuals, including Harvard University professor Lawrence D. Bobo, Ph.D., that Blacks and whites are from separate "races."  With white supremacists and Black intellectuals in agreement on this point, why should we even bother to consult the relatively new and opposite findings of the  U.S. Department of Energy's Human Genome Program which says:
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Human Genome Program devoted 3% of its annual Human Genome Project (HGP) budget toward studying the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) surrounding the availability of genetic information. Some of these projects studied potential effects of ELSI, and others sought to educate professionals through literature, conferences, workshops, and multimedia. Among the programs funded by DOE ELSI were educational materials for physicians, educators, students, clergy, and judges and other legal professionals. 
DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other.
Ari Patrinos, Director for Biological and Environmental Research, Office of Science, US Department of Energy, says on behalf of the DOE, in 'Race' and the Human Genome,

With very rare exceptions, all of us in the US are immigrants. We bring with us a subset of genes from our homelands, and for many Americans, often first-generation but more commonly second-generation, the plural noun 'homelands' is appropriate. From this perspective, the most immediately obvious characteristic of 'race' is that describing most of us as Caucasian, Asian or African is far too simple. Despite attempts by the US Census Bureau to expand its definitions, the term 'race' does not describe most of us with the subtlety and complexity required to capture and appreciate our genetic diversity. Unfortunately, this oversimplification has had many tragic effects. Therefore, we need to start with the science

( . . . )

In the end, each person must be treated as an individual with his or her own medical issues, rather than as an exemplar of a race. We anticipate a future in which accurate predictive medicine, based on one's individual genetic profile, will promote longer and healthier lives and a better ability to manage interactions with our environment and the challenges it constantly presents, be they allergens, diseases or environmental hazards. If nothing else, among so many potential benefits, the kind of solid science presented and discussed in this issue and at the Howard conference is providing proof that oversimplified concepts of race simply don't work in any objective realm. It's bad medicine, and it's bad science.   'Race' and the Human Genome,
Clearly what we have called "race" does not exist as a matter of science, yet the premise of "race" continues to be the single most fundamental commonality between white supremacists' arguments and those of Black intellectuals.  Do white supremacists and Blacks benefit equally from the ubiquitous use of the word "race'?  Historically, did we all benefit equally from the "N" word, whose use is just about as old as the word and concept of "race"? 

Words and concepts can empower and disempower whole classes of people.  We must either believe that whites gave Blacks the word "race" to empower us, or whites gave themselves the word "race" to empower whites. 

I propose that we Blacks challenge white supremacists, as well as journalists, newspapers and websites of all skin colors to cease and desist using the word "race," based on the new Human Genome Project declarations.  Rather than agree with white supremacists about "race," our strongest political high ground comes from insisting, based on new genomic science, that the word "race" be must be dropped from all public discussion of skin color, because the word "race" is nothing more than a pseudo-scientific and highly controversial political synonym for "skin-color group." 

Those who insist on continuing to use of the word "race" are "racists."


Atty. Francis L. Holland

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Four Black US Senators from Vermont and South Carolina??!!

Cross-posted almost verbatim from the Francis L. Holland Blog.

Carolina,vot,demographic,migrat,influx,white flight,blockbusting,retir

At present Black America has only one Black US senator (appointed) and has no guarantee and perhaps no hope of having even one Black US Senator after this fall's elections.  

It doesn't have to be this way.  If less than one million Black people moved across the border from New York into Vermont (whose population is less than one million) then Black people could send two US Senators to the US Senate from the state of Vermont!

According to the US Census Department's Quick Facts, Vermont, with a population of 621,760,  (0.9% Black) is a state that could reliably elect two Black US Senators if 650,000 Blacks of votin age moved there and registered to vote, creating a Black voting majority.  It might take even less Blacks if the influx of Blacks led to white flight, which Blacks would benefit from but would be powerless to discourage.
Inevitably, with the news that the State of Vermont would soon have a Black majority, white real estate agents would begin blockbusting tactics, convincing whites to sell their homes and farms (to Blacks) for a song, rather than remain in what was quickly becoming a Black majority Vermont.

Once Blacks announced our intention to become the majority in Vermont and proved to the public the numerical likelihood of our success, some whites would flee Vermont and Blacks could buy their houses and other properties a depressed prices in a buyers' market.

Other whites would leave Vermont while renting or leasing their property to Blacks.  Whether Blacks rented, leased or bought the property in Vermont (where rents and other prices are dramatically cheaper than in the boroughs of New York City), our financial arrangements would have only indirect effects on our demographic takeover of the state of Vermont.

Many color-aroused whites would be inclined to leave Vermont and South Carolina when the Blacks in Black majority areas made African-American history a requirement in grade school and state university curricula, while making other courses more relevant to Blacks' academic, professional and occupational needs.

Here, I have to thank African American Political Pundit for pointing out, in a private exchange of e-mails and Skype calls, that taking over South Carolina demographically and politically might be more consistent with preexisting demographic and cultural patterns among Blacks. Blacks are now moving back to Southern states, after fleeing in the Jim Crow era.  We have already reached a critical mass in South Carolina, such that our votes determine the winner of the Democratic state-wide elections and of the state's position in the Democratic Party's presidential primaries.

Again, according to US Census Department Quick Facts, South Carolina, with a population of 4,011,832 of which 28.5% (1,143,000 are Black), would have a majority Black voting population if two million more Black people of voting age moved there.  The elderly might be the best bet as political migrants to Vermont, because elderly people vote more reliably and can count on income from Government and other retirement programs.  That income makes it easier for them to move than for someone who has to find a job in a state whose population is quickly becoming saturated with a new Black influx.

To my way of thinking, this would be a much easier and more reliable and sustainable strategy to get two or four Black US Senators than the strategy of trying to convince majority white states  to elect Black leaders to the US Congress.  How many whites would be elected to the US Senate if they had to run in majority Black districts?

As Stu Piddy is fond of saying, 'this is not rocket science' or fanciful.  It's simply a matter of whether we Blacks want to elect two or four Black US Senators enough to congregate ourselves in two states where we can form a majority, such as whites have the majority or plurality in every state of the union at this time.  
White US Senators are not universally elected because they are the best relative to Black alternatives.  They are elected because whites are the majority demographically and are reluctant to elect Black alternatives, no matter how effective Black candidates would be at representing these states.

It might be considerably easier than it would seem for Blacks to form the majority in the states mentioned.  If Blacks moved to Vermont or South Carolina in significant numbers, then it might engender a new "white flight" from those states that would make it even easier to take over state politics and send four US senators to Washington from Vermont and South Carolina.

Where would Blacks find work in these states and how would they survive?  Just as whites move to Florida to retire on their retirement income, with no need to work there, Blacks who depend on SSI and SSDI and other pension programs, and Blacks who are self-employed, (particularly in industries where their work is done over the Internet or telephone from home) are Blacks who could move to Vermont and have no dependence on the local economy.  The same is true of South Carolina. Of course that many elderly or disabled and self-employed or mobile Black people moving to either of these states would create many new jobs in health care, etc.

So, there you have it!  I've been thinking about it and have proposed a feasible and financially sustainable way to guarantee that Blacks have four Black US Senators within six years, even though we have never before had two elected Blacks in the US Senate simultaneously (to my knowledge).  Since we are just about to have NO Blacks in the US Senate, this is really quite urgent.

Will it Blacks' lives change meaningfully to have two or four more Black US Senators?  I don't know, but white people seem to think it's worth spending up to tens of millions of dollars to get into the US Senate.  And Barack Obama made it a path to the presidency of the United States.

Let's not forget that, in addition to gaining four US senators, we would gain two Black governorships, a number of House seats, mayors, city councilors, state and local assessors, state representatives, police officers and appointed officials is these states.  In many cases, the Blacks moving to Vermont and South Carolina would be coming from states in which Blacks had no statewide representation at all and where we had little or no effect on the nomination and election of candidates from town councilors up to the US presidential nominating process.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Losing "Whites Only" Swimming Club Case Animates Rand Paul, Other Color-Aroused Antagonists

Dear Colleagues:

Please support Color of Change's initiative.

The high-profile Huntingdon Valley, whites-only Pennsylvania, swimming club case, in which whites lost their club to bankruptcy after discriminating against Black children, is the news that has color-aroused Republicans like Rand Paul animated and eager to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The result in the swimming pool case has reminded color-aroused white antagonists of just how much they resent having to serve Blacks and eat next to us.  Now Fox News is using this issue to drive up ratings while color-arousing the electorate.

They don't want to live in fear that they will discriminate against us and then be forced to pay financially for it while Blacks cheer that our rights have been vindicated.  That is what is animating them.

Rand was/is saying that he doesn't agree with the result in the swimming pool case and he believes the public accommodations part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be repealed.  The 29% of America that supported George W. Bush to the very end are probably among those who agree with Rand.  It is they whom Rand and Fox News are trying to mobilize for election turnout this November and in 2012, when the Black President's name will be on the ballot.

It's like Hillary Clinton in South Carolina.  Republicans first and last choice of weapons against us is the color of our skin.

Francis L. Holland

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Are Some Civil Rights Groups & Leaders On the Wrong Side of Net Neutrality?

I've received the communication below from Color of Change, wondering why so many minority groups have lined up against Net Neutrality. There is a link to the groups that signed a letter opposing Net Neutrality, but the only group name on the list that I recognize is the NAACP.

I suspect that the opponents of Net Neutrality have set up some of astroturf fake minority groups, because I'm not familiar with ANY of the supposed minority groups on the list. Actually, I have heard of 100 Black Men of America, and I would like to know why for what purpose and benefit their name is on the list. The meaningful national groups I am familiar with do not have their names on the list, with the exception of one signature from the NAACP and that 100 Black Men group.

The opponents of Net Neutrality apparently hope that the public and Congress will see words like "Latino" and believe that Latinos oppose Net Neutrality, when in fact the group may have been created by the Neutrality opponents exclusively for the purpose using the group name against Net Neutrality.

A little bit of research into the groups on the list will tell whether there are any cases in which this was true. In any case, I don't see on this list the names of any REAL groups that I would recognize as legitimate groups representing these minorities. I could be wrong. Look at the LIST. If any of these groups are real, then they need to be challenged by their constituents.

"[S]everal Congressional Black Caucus members were among 72 Democrats to write the FCC last fall questioning the need for Net Neutrality rules"? Each of them should explain their position, so we can evaluate the effect their stand should have on their political futures.

"We [Color of Change] just posted this at JackandJillPolitics, Daily Kos, HuffPo, FireDogLake, and OpenLeft."

From: William Winters

It’s said that politics creates strange bedfellows. I was reminded how true this can be when I traveled to D.C. in recent weeks to figure out why several advocacy groups and legislators with histories of advocating for minority interests are lining up with big telecom companies in opposition to the FCC’s efforts to pass “Net Neutrality” rules.

Net Neutrality is the principle that prevents Internet Service Providers from controlling what kind of content or applications you can access online. It sounds wonky, but for Black and other communities, an open Internet offers a transformative opportunity to truly control our own voice and image, while reaching the largest number of people possible. This dynamic is one major reason why Barack Obama was elected president and why organizations like exist.

So I was troubled to learn that several Congressional Black Caucus members were among 72 Democrats to write the FCC last fall questioning the need for Net Neutrality rules. I was further troubled that a number of our nation’s leading civil rights groups had also taken positions questioning or against Net Neutrality, using arguments that were in step with those of the big phone and cable companies like AT&T and Comcast, which are determined to water down any new FCC rules.

Most unsettling about their position is the argument that maintaining Net Neutrality could widen the digital divide.

First, let’s be clear: the problem of the broadband digital divide is real. Already, getting a job, accessing services, managing one’s medical care—just to mention a few examples—are all facilitated online. Those who aren’t connected face a huge disadvantage in so many aspects of our society. Broadband access is a big problem — but that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Net Neutrality.

Yet some in the civil rights community will tell you differently. They claim that if broadband providers can earn greater profits by charging content providers for access to the Internet “fast lane,” then they will lower prices to underserved areas. In other words, if Comcast — which already earns 80 percent profit margins on its broadband services — can increase its profits under a system without Net Neutrality, then they’ll all of a sudden invest in our communities. You don’t have to be a historian or economist to know that this type of trickle-down economics never works and has always failed communities of color.

Whether the phone and cable companies can make more money by acting as toll-takers on the Internet has nothing to do with whether they will invest in increased deployment of broadband. If these companies think investing in low-income communities makes good business sense, they will make the investment. Benevolence doesn’t factor into the equation.

On my trips to Washington, I met with some of the groups and congressional offices questioning or opposing Net Neutrality. I asked them what evidence they had to back up claims that undermining Net Neutrality would lead to an expansion of broadband to under-served communities, or that preserving Net Neutrality would thwart expansion. Not one could answer my question. Some CBC members hadn’t yet been presented with a counter to the industry’s arguments; others told stories about pressure from telecom companies or from other members of congress. As one CBC staffer told me, many CBC members have willingly supported the business agenda of telecom companies because the industry can be counted on to make campaign contributions, and they face no political backlash.

I also heard from people who don’t consider themselves against Net Neutrality, but who say their issue is prioritizing broadband expansion over maintaining Net Neutrality—as if the two have some intrinsic competitive relationship. When I’ve asked about the relationship, again, no one could provide anything concrete.

To those taking positions against Net Neutrality, I ask what sense it makes to undermine the very power of the Internet, especially for our communities, in order to provide access to everyone, presuming for a second the two were even connected. It’s like what we have with cable — our communities are saturated with programming that they cannot control, with no benefit of empowerment for anyone. Again, no one with whom I talked had an answer to this point.

Thankfully, there are an array of grassroots, media and social justice organizations that have not followed this line of reasoning and are actively supporting Network Neutrality, such as the Center for Media Justice and the Applied Research Center. Black and brown journalists and media groups who understand the need for unconstrained expression on the part of our communities are on the same page as well: the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, UNITY: Journalists of Color, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition have all been vocal supporters of Net Neutrality.

Prominent lawmakers, including CBC members Reps. John Conyers, Maxine Waters, and Donna Edwards are vocal supporters, as are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama — who has pledged to “take a back seat to no one” on the issue. And last week, Mignon Clyburn, a commissioner at the FCC, called out advocacy groups entrusted by many to represent our communities, for making half-baked arguments that completely miss the boat on the importance of Net Neutrality to our communities.

As Clyburn pointed out, far from being just a concern of the digital elite, Net Neutrality is essential to what makes the Internet a place where people of color and marginalized communities can speak for ourselves without first asking for permission from gatekeepers, and where small blogs, businesses, and organizations operate on a level playing field with the largest corporations. Net Neutrality regulations are needed to protect the status quo, because the telecom industry sees an opportunity for profit in fundamentally altering this basic aspect of the Internet.

In the coming weeks I plan to head back to DC to continue to fight for Net Neutrality. I’m hoping that on my next trip some of the anti-Net Neutrality civil rights groups or CBC members will heed my call and explain their position. I would like to believe that there is more to the “civil rights” opposition to Net Neutrality than money, politics, relationships, or just plain lack of understanding. For now, I’m doing my best to keep an open mind. But I don’t think it will stay that way for much longer.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

95% of Blacks View Obama Favorably, Says Pew Poll

Citing a Pew Poll that's 112 pages long, the WaPost says:

Thirty-nine percent of blacks -- nearly twice as many as in 2007 -- say that the "situation of black people in this country" is better than it was five years earlier. That view holds among blacks of all age groups and income levels. Similarly, 56 percent of blacks and nearly two-thirds of whites say the standard-of-living gap between whites and blacks has narrowed in the past decade. Still, when asked about the problems facing black families, a majority said there were not enough jobs and there were too many problems with drugs and alcoholism, crime and poor public education.

Meanwhile, there is a clear difference between the poll numbers and what Black bloggers are saying online, as reported by the WaPost:

Don Scoggins, president of Republicans for Black Empowerment, asked, "Where do we go from here?" on the blog Booker Rising. "Skin color aside, which within the Black community has perennially been a controversial topic, Senator Reid's apology . . . only confirms the unsaid feeling among many liberals who think they own everything related to civil rights and that the black community should be forever grateful yet [they] appear incredulous that an African American can speak proper English and actually embody what are regarded as white attributes even better than some of 'them'. "

Jill Tubman, a blogger on the liberal African American political site Jack and Jill Politics, said Reid's comments won't get a full airing because it is not a topic Obama wants to discuss. "I don't know what serenity prayer Obama says each day or what zen meditation allows him to breathe deeply with confronted with this kind of thing but he's going to need to share it with the rest of us African-Americans if he expects us to go along to get along like he does," wrote Tubman, who pronounced herself "deeply disappointed" by Reid.

If you read the WaPost article, Pew reports that 36% of voters say "race relations" have improved since Obama's election (and so 64 percent DON'T say that skin-color-associated issues have changed). Over the last year, there's been a twenty percent drop in Black's belief that Obama's election would improve color-associated American issues.

Only 13 percent of whites said Obama is paying too much attention to the concerns of blacks, and most blacks said Obama was paying the right amount of attention to their concerns. WaPost

Obama's got to be happy about that, because it means he's been successful in talking and doing sufficiently little specifically about Blacks that whites don't think we've been a focus of his attention. That bodes well for his re-election efforts, at least among whites.

Still, support for Obama among African Americans is even higher: 95 percent view him favorably. Among whites, 56 percent have a favorable view of the president and 38 percent of whites say their opinion of him is unfavorable, including 21 percent with a very unfavorable view. Last year at this time, 76 percent of whites gave Obama positive ratings. Pew's study attributed Obama's downward slide among whites to partisanship. Among white Democrats, nearly nine in 10 have a favorable view of Obama.