Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ohio Landlord Refuses To Apologize For Posting ‘Whites Only’ Pool Sign Because It’s ‘Historical’

In September the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ruled that a white landlord, Jamie Hein, had violated the state’s Civil Rights Act by posting a sign by the pool of her duplex that read “Public Swimming Pool, White Only.”
A black tenant filed a discrimination complaint with the commission after Hein accused his teenage daughter of using chemicals in her hair that made the water “cloudy.” Days later, she posted the sign on the gate to the pool.
Hein has so far been unapologetic, and is asking the commission to reconsider their ruling. “If I have to stick up for my white rights, I have to stick up for my white rights,” she said. She recently defended her actions to ABC News, giving the curious excuse that the sign was merely “historical”:
An Ohio landlord accused of discriminating against an African-American girl with a “white only” sign at her swimming pool told that the sign was an antique and a decoration.
“I’m not a bad person,” said Jamie Hein of Cincinnati. “I don’t have any problem with race at all. It’s a historical sign.”
The sign in question reads, “Public Swimming Pool, White Only.” It is dated 1931 and from Alabama.
Hein, 31, was unapologetic about the racist origins of the sign that she displayed at the entrance to her pool. She said she collects antiques and was given the sign as a gift. She also said that even though the sign seems to indicate that the pool is public, the pool is on her private property and “everybody has to ask before getting in my pool.”
Landlords and business owners are subject to the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and Fair Housing Act, which prohibits them from discriminating against customers and tenants on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, handicap, familial status or national origin.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Tim Tebow Issue Is Complicated ... Favoritism, Football, Race, Religion

by Sandy Gholston

Tim Tebow, of the Denver Broncos, is generally either loved or hated by people who are loyal followers of the National Football League. First and foremost, Tim Tebow is not hated because he is a Christian. That assertion is the biggest bunch of garbage that I have maybe ever heard come out of the media. Turn on pro and college football, watch it for any number of hours, and you're bound to see numerous players (of all races) kneeling in prayer, thanking God and otherwise expressing their faith. It is absolute garbage to say or imply that Tebow is the victim of some anti-religious media bias. Now, as we know, that doesn't stop the right-wing nuts at Fox News from advancing such an absurdity. A panel of the disgraceful and disgracefully-biased Fox News Watch program tried to turn it into a Christian-Muslim issue on a couple of occasions. Again, this is absolutely absurd. In this clip, the right-wing panelists, either through their ignorance of bias, never talked about the many prayer huddles that happen before and after games, prayers that other players have after touchdowns or how players thank God in post-game interviews.They could not do that ... you see, it doesn't go with their agenda to portray Tebow as a victim of religious or Christian bias. Twice in that clip they invoked Muslims and even evoked the black Muslims led by Elijah Muhammad, who was followed by boxing great Muhammad Ali. This was not an accident. It was a subtle injection of race.
Tebow is criticized or disliked for the following reasons:

1. People do not like having stars shoved down their throat before they feel like an individual has truly earned that praise.

2. Defenders of Tebow irrationally shove his modest early success down the throat of people who are either neutral or critical.

3. He is winning with a style that is unorthodox and some people think is unsustainable.

4. He is getting all (or the vast majority) of the credit for the Broncos' success in spite of a strong running game behind Tebow and a strong defense.

5. He is getting praised where black quarterbacks (Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick as examples), historically, have been criticized. For example, University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is "winning" but is roundly criticized while Tebow is "winning" and gets national praised heaped on him. This has caused resentment.

6. Some people tend to want their sports free of religion.
Tebow is having success and I hope it continues for him. I just don't think his style is sustainable, but we will see. History will be the ultimate judge of Tim Tebow.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Herman Cain, Koch Brothers' 'Brother From Another Mother,' Defends Ties To Conservative Group (VIDEO)

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain spoke at an Americans for Prosperity event Friday, and proudly claimed to be the "Koch brothers' brother from another mother."

"I'm proud to know the Koch brothers. I'm very proud to know the Koch brothers. They make it sound like that we have had time to go fishing together, hunting together, skiing together, golfing together," Cain told the audience. "Just so I can clarify this to the media, this may be a new announcement for the media: I am the Koch brothers' brother from another mother. Yes. I am their brother from another mother, and proud of it. You see, the reason that I am running for president, folks, is because I want to unite the United States of America, not divide the United States of America."

Billionaire oil magnates Charles and David Koch are the founding benefactors of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that admitted having controversial financial ties to the Cain campaign earlier in the week.

The Associated Press reported last month that the Cain campaign's deep connection -- or brotherhood, as Cain appears to contend -- to the Koch brothers could undercut the image he has tried to foster as a Washington outsider and businessman who is not part of the politics machine that is so often disparaged by the conservative base.

From AP:

Cain's campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which lobbies for lower taxes and less government regulation and spending. Cain credits a businessman who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his "9-9-9" plan to rewrite the nation's tax code. And his years of speaking at AFP events have given the businessman and radio host a network of loyal grassroots fans.
Cain delivered his address as reports continue to flow concerning allegations of sexual harassment brought against him during his time as head of the National Restaurant Association. Three anonymous women have claimed that Cain engaged in inappropriate behavior while he served as their superior. Two of them reportedly received generous settlements in the wake of the allegations. He has denied the allegations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tea Party Group Urges Small Businesses ‘Not To Hire A Single Person’ To Hurt Obama

By Marie Diamond

Congressional Republicans have acted shocked and offended at Democrats’ suggestions that they are intentionally sabotaging the economy to try to win back the White House in 2012. Republicans have refused to pass President Obama’s jobs plan — which experts estimate will create at least 1.9 million jobs — and proposed an alternative plan that Moody’s says “will likely push the economy back into recession.”

Now influential Tea Party leaders are throwing caution to the wind and openly lobbying business owners to stop hiring in order to hurt Obama politically. This week, Right Wing Watch picked up on a message Tea Party Nation sent to their members from conservative activist Melissa Brookstone.

In a rambling letter titled “Call For A Strike of American Small Businesses Against The Movement for Global Socialism,” Brookstone urges businesses “not hire a single person” to protest “this new dictator”:

Resolved that: The current administration and Democrat majority in the Senate, in conjunction with Progressive socialists from all around the country, especially those from Hollywood and the left leaning news media (Indeed, most of the news media.) have worked in unison to advance an anti-business, an anti-free market, and an anti-capitalist (anti-individual rights and property ownership) agenda. [...]

I, an American small business owner, part of the class that produces the vast majority of real, wealth producing jobs in this country, hereby resolve that I will not hire a single person until this war against business and my country is stopped.

Brookstone cites Democrats’ support of the Occupy Wall Street movement as proof that Obama, media elites, and the like are “against business, private property ownership and capitalism.” Although she fails to explain how a freeze on hiring would send a bold pro-business message, given that such a boycott would further damage the economy and exacerbate high national unemployment.

But these Tea Partiers are only too happy to put politics ahead of the well-being of 14 million unemployed Americans, not to mention the businesses who are looking for qualified workers.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cain: ‘I Have No Idea’ How My 999 Plan Would Work

By Pat Garofalo

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain’s 999 plan — which would scrap the current tax code in favor of a nine percent personal income tax, nine percent corporate income tax, and nine percent sales tax (on everything, including food) — was the undeniable star of the GOP’s primary debate this week, with the number nine warranting 85 mentions during the course of the evening. As we’ve been reporting, the plan would entail a huge tax increase on the poor while slashing taxes on the rich.

Cain, when faced with analyses showing how much his plan would wallop the low-income Americans, dismisses them, calling them “erroneous.” But as it turns out, Cain isn’t particularly well-versed in the nuances of his plan. Asked how his proposed corporate income tax would apply to products built in other countries and designed and sold in the U.S., Cain replied “I have no idea“:

Mr. Cain made it clear Wednesday his plan remained a work in progress. Visiting Concord, N.H., he added several new wrinkles. He would preserve the deduction for charitable donations, making the flat income tax not so flat; he would exempt any used goods, including previously owned homes and cars, from the national sales tax; and he would allow businesses to deduct new equipment purchases from their 9% corporate income tax, as long as the goods were U.S.-made.

Asked how that would apply to a computer designed domestically but containing Malaysian components and assembled in China, he replied, “I have no idea.”

Even the Cain campaign’s own economist said the 999 plan “wouldn’t be the one I picked” to run with. Remember, the plan was crafted by a Koch-affiliated financial adviser from a Wells Fargo branch in Ohio, not an actual economist.

As ABC reported today, a long list of economists “say Cain’s plan would be a tax hike for the lower middle class and a tax windfall for the wealthy.” Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett wrote that, “at a minimum, the Cain plan is a distributional monstrosity.” Cain would surely dispute these assertions, but how seriously can his protests be taken if he freely admits he has “no idea” how the plan would even function?

Monday, October 10, 2011

“No Niggers Please”: Michigan State University Rocks with Racial Controversy

Michigan State University is on fire after a series of racially-motivated incidents have taken place on the campus. Most recently, a sign that says “No Ni**ers Please” put on the women’s restroom has become the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“The incident that really jump-started this movement was an incident at Akers Hall where someone wrote ‘No Ni**ers, please’ on a door of a young lady’s room,” said Mario Lemons, the president of the MSU Black Student Alliance (BSA). “The residence life staff told us not to talk about. Of course, someone took a picture of it and sent it to one of us.”

Over 1,000 students gathered in Conrad Hall to discuss racial tension on the campus and how to resolve it.

“We put it on Facebook and Twitter and started a dialog about it,” said Lemons. “From that came more stories of other people going through things on campus.”

There was another story of a black doll being hung with a noose outside the chemistry lab in September.

“There are people overtly saying the n-word,” said Lemons. “People telling other students that they don’t belong here, saying that they only got here because of Affirmative Action. Very unwelcoming things done to black people on campus.”

The students say that Tinisha Sharp was the target of the chemistry lab incident. She also saw a racial slur written on a dry-erase board.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Sharp. “It was very surprising to see a message like that. I really thought this type of discrimination had been ceased by this time. But I guess not.”

A statement was soon released by Lou Anna K. Simon via email:

“The University supports free speech including the use of words that are offensive to most in our community,” Simon said. “However, given the nature of these incidents, the MSU police were immediately contacted and the matter has been turned over to them to investigate, not only as a form of vandalism, but also as potential ethnic intimidation. I am personally awaiting the outcome of the police investigation.”

“In my many years at MSU, this rash of incidents at various parts of the campus in such a short timeframe is unmatched, is extraordinarily troubling and creates a legitimate concern that all of us must address.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Because Tom Coburn's single-handed block on the Transportation Bill required even fellow Republicans to go on record against him. And he said, "“The beautification mandate is an indefensible threat against public safety that forces states to prioritize bike paths over bridge repair.” And bike paths mean the terrorists win.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Former NBA Player Says He Slept with Sarah Palin
September 15, 2011

Former NBA Sharpshooter Glen Rice has revealed that he had a one night stand with Sarah Palin. In the new book, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, author Joe McGinniss puts forth quite a few interesting facts about Palin’s past. One of those facts is that in 1987, when Rice was a star basketball player at The University of Michigan, he and Palin had a one-night stand.

McGinniss says that the special rendezvous occurred in 1987 when Rice played in a basketball tournament in Alaska. Palin was a reporter for a local television station at the time. Most interesting was that the author was able to confirm the incident with Rice himself. At least with this revelation coming to the fore, we can no longer say that Palin doesn’t have love for black people.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Racist or Not? Arizona State University Students Wear Black Face to Football Game

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World.
September 10, 2011

Arizona, a state that is regularly accused of having a serious issue with people of color, received another stain to its reputation. This week, four white female students at Arizona State University showed up to a football gamewearing black face. The school asked students to wear all-black attire to celebrate the new uniforms in their game against the Missouri Tigers. This is when a few students took it too far.

The game was televised on ESPN, so the entire world saw the action go down both on and off the field. Thousands of people have expressed their anger at the students for their insensitivity. But while many were outraged, some found no reason to be offended.

One has to laugh at the irony that a school with students showing up to a game in black face also happens to be highly dependent upon African Americans to run and jump, thus bringing millions to the university in revenue each year. The idea of black men working up a sweat for white folks in the stands wearing black face is beyond disturbing.

We also cannot forget that Arizona received national attention for being the only state that would not support the Martin Luther King holiday, and also for some of the most Draconian immigration laws in the country. Arizona State University made news itself for refusing to give an honorary degree to the nation’s first black president, even though they’d given a slew of these degrees out in the past. Apparently, they don’t think that being the first black president in American history is all that big of a deal.

One thing we know about racism is that much of it is learned. We also know that young people must also learn racial sensitivity. In both cases, Arizona State University appears to have failed the test. Students are a reflection of those who teach them, and it’s interesting that these four white women made the plan to wear black face, went out and bought the makeup, told their friends about their plan, put on the makeup and went to the game, without anyone even taking a second to realize that what they were doing would be incredibly offensive to millions of people.

That, my friends, is what happens when young people are not educated. Arizona State University should be embarrassed for this behavior. But given the racially-disgusting behavior of university officials in the past, they are probably quite proud.

Dr.Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

GOP Legislator: Homosexuality Is ‘More Dangerous’ Than Terrorist Attacks Because We Have To Deal With It Every Day

By Marie Diamond posted from ThinkProgress

Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern (R) first became infamous on the national stage when she said that blacks “don’t work as hard” as white people. The Oklahoma House finally reprimanded her for those statements, but Kern has yet to answer for a number of derogatory remarks she’s made about gay men and women.

Now, ahead of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, Kern is doubling down on her claim that homosexuality poses a greater threat to America than terrorist attacks. In 2008, Kern said homosexuality is “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam,” and called it a cancer that is “spreading” across America and “will destroy our young people.”

Now Right Wing Watch reports that a few days ago, she spoke with Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality to promote her new book, The Stoning of Sally Kern. She repeated her claim that homosexuality is “more dangerous” than terrorist attacks because unlike terrorism, we have to deal with it every day:

KERN: Which has destroyed and ended the life of more people? Terrorism attack here in America or HIV/AIDS? In the last twenty years, fifteen to twenty years, we’ve had maybe three terrorist attacks on our soil with a little over 5,000 people regrettably losing their lives. In the same time frame, there have been hundreds of thousands who have died because of having AIDS. So which one’s the biggest threat? And you know, every day our young people…they’re bombarded with ‘homosexuality is normal and natural.’ It’s something they have to deal with every day. Fortunately we don’t have to deal with a terrorist attack every day, and that’s what I mean. It’s more dangerous, and yes I think that it’s also more dangerous because it will tear down the moral fiber of this nation.

Kern went on to say that homosexuality is eroding the “principles of religion and morality” our nation was founded on and “without virtue this nation will not survive.” Perhaps not coincidentally, her words echo the rhetoric of conservatives who blamed the September 11th attacks themselves on homosexuality in America.

It’s difficult to comprehend the sheer heartlessness of Kern’s implication that the gay men and women who were murdered on September 11th were actually a greater threat to their country than the terrorists who killed them. Also insulting — and ignorant — is her claim that homosexuality is solely or mostly to blame for AIDS deaths. Blaming the AIDS epidemic on the gay population is to blame many of its victims.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Eric Cantor: No Federal Earthquake Disaster Aid Without Spending Cuts

Is there an end to the stupid? It's a rhetorical question, don't answer. Eric Cantor's remarks about federal aid and Tuesday's earthquake centered in his district transcend stupid and go straight to dense.

“There is an appropriate federal role in incidents like this,” Cantor said. That role? The bare minimum. According to Cantor, Congress’s traditional practice of providing disaster relief without strings attached — a policy its followed for years — is going way beyond the call of duty. If Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) asks for federal aid, Cantor insists that the relief be offset elsewhere in the federal budget:

The next step will be for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to decide whether to make an appeal for federal aid, Cantor said. The House Majority Leader would support such an effort but would look to offset the cost elsewhere in the federal budget.

But that's not the worst of what he said. It's quite similar to what he said after Joplin, MO was devastated by a tornado. No, the real stupid came after the initial selfish, heartless, disgusting, cynical denial of federal aid.

While touring the damage in his district, Cantor surmised, “Obviously, the problem is that people in Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance.” As the Insurance Information Institute notes, “earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.” So, for Cantor, the problem here is that Virginians didn’t have the foresight to predict an exceedingly rare natural disaster and pay out of their own pocket in advance.

Until last Tuesday, the largest earthquake to hit that region was a 3.2 magnitude quake in 2010. Buildings along that corridor are not built to be earthquake-safe. This is because earthquakes are rare. If one were to buy supplemental disaster insurance, it would more likely be insurance to cover damage due to hurricanes, not earthquakes, assuming any insurer would actually sell earthquake insurance in a non-earthquake zone where buildings are not built to withstand earthquakes.

How stupid is this? We all know Cantor is the insurance and financial industry golden boy, but I'd be embarrassed to have bought and paid for such a stupid politician if I were his keepers. What's next? Denying federal aid to people in Hawaii for not buying insurance against blizzards?

Even as Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast – Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has already declared a state of emergency in Virginia – Cantor is also refusing to pay for hurricane disaster relief unless Congress cuts spending elsewhere. When asked about paying for potential hurricane damage by TPM, Cantor spokesperson Laena Fallon responded, “as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Man Murders His Wife, Says a Black Man Did It

By Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World.
August 22, 2011

Kashif Parvaiz didn’t have a good relationship with his wife, Nazish Noorani. In fact, the marriage had deteriorated so badly that divorce wasn’t enough. Instead, he wanted to see his wife dead.

So, Kashif took matters into his own hands, setting up a murder-for-hire situation that left his wife’s dead body in the street. Reaching for every angle he could find, Kashif first used America’s anti-Muslim sentiment to his advantage, telling police that the assailants had called him a “terrorist” as they killed his spouse.

In addition to the first lie, Parvaiz also used the prototypical media-driven blueprint for the kind of men who might choose to kill an innocent woman for no reason: He said that they were African American. While he initially stated that the three assailants were of mixed race, he eventually changed his story, stating that they were all black.

To the credit of the Boontown police, they weren’t going for it. They were initially suspicious because Nazish had sent her brother a text message stating that she “can’t talk to him cuz he abuses me … I’m so tired of this. … Someday U will find me dead, but it’s cuz of Kashi … he wants to kill me.”

Parvaiz’s decision to kill his wife and lie about it is similar to that of Charles Stuart, a Boston man who murdered his pregnant wife in 1989 and said that an African American committed the crime. This led to a city-wide manhunt in which scores of black men were harassed by police. Susan Smith, a South Carolina woman, killed both of her children and also said that a black man did it.

The Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi, says that Parvaiz plotted with a woman, Antoinette Stephen, to commit the murder. He said “there is obviously a relationship” between Stephen and Parvaiz. “I am not saying it is a physical relationship,” he said. “I am not saying it is a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship.”

After telling Stephen about the trouble in his marriage, Parvaiz received a text from her stating that she would “think of something.”She also said, “You hang in there. Freedom is just around ur corner.”

Situations like this one are clearly disturbing, particularly to people of color. There are thousands of black people who’ve been incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit, in many cases because they were the most convenient suspect. I spoke just yesterday to a friend about a young man who was falsely accused of murder. His struggling family mortgaged their home and spent $30,000 on his legal defense, only to have the jury deliberate just five minutes to find him not guilty. Unfortunately, there are too many other cases where the man could not raise thousands of dollars for a legal defense, and there is no financial recourse for those who’ve gone broke trying to defend themselves.

One has to also give the police force credit for thoroughly investigating the crime and not believing the simplest story that was presented to them. This is a reminder that there are good law enforcement officials across America who are determined to do the right thing. At the same time, we must stop and consider how many cases there have been in which the public nature of a crime has led officers to go into the community to arrest an innocent black man with a criminal record, knowing that he won’t have the ability to defend himself.

America is no post-racial society.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World coalition.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Perry Claims Federal Stimulus ‘Didn’t Create Any Jobs,’ Ignoring The 50,000 It Created In Texas

By Marie Diamond and Travis Waldron

ThinkProgress filed this report from Pembroke, New Hampshire

New GOP presidential contender Gov. Rick Perry (TX) continues to get a free pass from the press for his stimulus hypocrisy on the campaign trail. Last week the governor claimed that the Recovery Act signed by President Obama had “failed” — conveniently forgetting that he accepted more stimulus money than any other state besides California, and used the funds to close 97 percent of Texas’ massive budget deficit.

The Houston Chronicle reported that as of July 2010, federal stimulus funds created or saved 47,700 jobs in the Lone Star State. Yet today during a question-and-answer session in Pembroke, New Hampshire, Perry once again feigned ignorance of the indispenable benefits his state received from stimulus money. In fact, he claimed that the stimulus “didn’t create any jobs, as far as I can tell”:

QUESTION: If the stimulus plan didn’t work, then what do you think would help for unemployment?

PERRY: He asked, “If the stimulus didn’t work” – and the stimulus did not work, obviously all it did was create more debt in this country. It didn’t create any jobs, as far as I can tell, except for maybe those federal regulators that were increased.

So far, Texas has used $17.4 billion in federal stimulus money to keep schools open, ensure Medicaid coverage for children, and put more people to work on infrastructure projects. About half of that was spent on “shovel ready” projects — “things we would not have done with our own money,” says a senior budget analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities. Texas benefited disproportionately from the stimulus, using it to balance its budget two years in a row.

Ironically, Perry once aggressively pursued the federal aid he now denounces to pander to the far-right base. According to Time Magazine, in 2003, “lobbyists under Perry’s direction went to Capitol Hill to lobby the Republican Congress for more than a billion dollars” in stimulus-type funds. Over several years this lobbying campaign won funds for programs “Perry now says he opposes as fiscally irresponsible intrusions on state responsibilities.”

Texas received $4.3 billion in stimulus funds for Medicaid and $3.25 billion for public education. Without the generosity of the federal government Perry now decries, Texas would have had to lay off 565 caseworkers who investigate child abuse. Stimulus-funded child care and job training programs would also have ended. In short, Texans would have been much harder hit by the recession if the Recovery Act hadn’t been there to cushion the blow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Facing Ninth Deployment, Army Ranger Kills Himself. 'No Way' That God Would Forgive Him For What He'd Seen, Done, He Told Wife

By Susie Madrak

The people who should be worried about going to hell are the bastards who sent these soldiers over there for no good reason, and then refuse to pay for the help they need when they come back:

JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - A soldier's widow says his fellow Army Rangers wouldn't do anything to help him before he took his own life - after eight deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army found Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann's body at a training area of Joint Base Lewis McChord a few weeks ago. A spokesman for the base tells KOMO News that the nature of the death is still undetermined. But Staff Sgt. Hagemann's widow says her husband took his own life - and it didn't need to happen.

"It was just horrible. And he would just cry," says Ashley Hagemann. Ashley says her husband Jared tried to come to grips with what he'd seen and done on his eight deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. "And there's no way that any God would forgive him - that he was going to hell," says Ashley. "He couldn't live with that any more."

More U.S. soldiers and veterans have died from suicide than from combat wounds over the past two years.

And as a special way of thanking those who served, Texas Republicans want to make it harder for young, homeless and traumatized veterans to vote.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Russell Brand: Don't Let People In Power Tear Apart The Values That Hold Communities Together

By Susie Madrak

I always thought of British comedian-actor Russell Brand as an amusing, mindless twit, but between this and the recent eulogy he penned for Amy Winehouse, I see he's actually a thoughtful writer. This is part of the piece he just wrote for the Guardian about the London riots:

Politicians don't represent the interests of people who don't vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, "He must've known") that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.

Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, "mindlessly", motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that's why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few f**king pairs of trainers.

These young people have no sense of community because they haven't been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron's mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there's no such thing.

If we don't want our young people to tear apart our communities then don't let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together.

As you have by now surely noticed, I don't know enough about politics to ponder a solution and my hands are sticky with blood money from representing corporate interests through film, television and commercials, venerating, through my endorsements and celebrity, products and a lifestyle that contributes to the alienation of an increasingly dissatisfied underclass. But I know, as we all intuitively know, the solution is all around us and it isn't political, it is spiritual. Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

In this simple sentiment we can find hope, as we can in the efforts of those cleaning up the debris and ash in bonhomous, broom-wielding posses. If we want to live in a society where people feel included, we must include them, where they feel represented, we must represent them and where they feel love and compassion for their communities then we, the members of that community, must find love and compassion for them.

As we sweep away the mistakes made in the selfish, nocturnal darkness we must ensure that, amidst the broken glass and sadness, we don't sweep away the youth lost amongst the shards in the shadows cast by the new dawn.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Putting an Antebellum Myth to Rest

Op-Ed Contributor
Published: August 1, 2011
Princeton, N.J.

WAS slavery an idyllic world of stable families headed by married parents? The recent controversy over “The Marriage Vow,” a document endorsed by the Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, might seem like just another example of how racial politics and historical ignorance are perennial features of the election cycle.

The vow, which included the assertion that “a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President,” was amended after the outrage it stirred.

However, this was not a harmless gaffe; it represents a resurfacing of a pro-slavery view of “family values” that was prevalent in the decades before the Civil War. The resurrection of this idea has particular resonance now, because it was 150 years ago, soon after the war began, that the government started to respect the dignity of slave families. Slaves did not live in independent “households”; they lived under the auspices of masters who controlled the terms of their most intimate relationships.

Back in 1860, marriage was a civil right and a legal contract, available only to free people. Male slaves had no paternal rights and female slaves were recognized as mothers only to the extent that their status doomed their children’s fate to servitude in perpetuity. To be sure, most slaves did all that they could to protect, sustain and nurture their loved ones. Freedom and the love of family are the most abiding themes that dominate the hundreds of published narratives written by former slaves.

Though slaves could not marry legally, they were allowed to do so by custom with the permission of their owners — and most did. But the wedding vows they recited promised not “until death do us part,” but “until distance” — or, as one black minister bluntly put it, “the white man” — “do us part.” And couples were not entitled to live under the same roof, as each spouse could have a different owner, miles apart. All slaves dealt with the threat of forcible separation; untold numbers experienced it first-hand.

Among the best-known of these stories is that of Henry “Box” Brown, who mailed himself from Richmond, Va., to Philadelphia in 1849 to escape slavery. “No slave husband has any certainty whatever of being able to retain his wife a single hour; neither has any wife any more certainty of her husband,” Brown wrote in his narrative of his escape. “Their fondest affection may be utterly disregarded, and their devoted attachment cruelly ignored at any moment a brutal slave-holder may think fit.”

He had been married for 12 months and was the father of an infant when his wife was sold to a nearby planter. After 12 more years of long-distance marriage, his wife and children were sold out of state, sundering their family.

Slave marriages were not granted out of the goodness of “ole massa’s” heart. Rather, they were used as tools to keep slaves in line and to increase profits. Many slaves were forced to marry people they did not choose or to copulate like farm animals — with masters, overseers and fellow slaves.

Abolitionists and ex-slaves publicized excruciating details like these, but the world view of pro-slavery apologists like James Henry Hammond, a senator from South Carolina, could not make sense of motivations like Brown’s. “I believe there are more families among our slaves, who have lived and died together without losing a single member from their circle, except by the process of nature,” than in most modern societies, Hammond claimed. Under the tutelage of warm and loving white patriarchs like himself, slave families enjoyed “constant, uninterrupted communion.”

Hammond’s self-serving fantasy world gave way to reality during the Civil War, as slaves escaped in droves to follow in the footsteps of Union Army soldiers. Although President Abraham Lincoln had promised that he would not interfere with slavery in states where it already existed, he and his military commanders were faced with the unforeseen determination of fugitives seeking refuge, freedom and opportunities to aid the war against their masters. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler developed a policy of treating slaves as “contrabands” of war, inadvertently opening the door for many more to flee. In early August 1861, Congress passed the First Confiscation Act, which authorized the army to seize all property, including slaves, used by the rebellious states in the war effort.

“Contrabands” became the first beneficiaries of a government appeal to military officers, clergymen and missionaries to marry couples “under the flag.” The Army produced marriage certificates for fugitive slave couples solemnizing their marriages, and giving legitimacy to their children for the first time. But it was not until after slavery was abolished that marriage could be secured as a civil right. Despite resistance from erstwhile Confederates, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which extended the right to make contracts, including the right to marry, to all former slaves.

Why does the ugly resuscitation of the myth of the happy slave family matter? Because it is part of a broad and deliberate amnesia, like the misleading assertion by Sarah Palin that the founders were antislavery and the skipping of the “three-fifths” clause during a Republican reading of the Constitution on the House floor. The oft-repeated historical fictions about black families only prove how politically useful and resilient they continue to be in a so-called post-racial society. Refusing to be honest about how racial inequality has burdened our shared history and continues to shape our society will not get us to that post-racial vision.

Tera W. Hunter, a professor of history and African-American studies at Princeton, is the author of “To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the Civil War.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

R Pig Coburn: Budget Cuts Will Only Hurt "The People Sucking Off The Program"

This week, the so-called Gang of Six — composed of Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Kent Conrad (D-ND) — released the outline of a plan that would reduce deficits by about $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years, with about $3 trillion of that coming from spending cuts. The plan closely mirrors that of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission. But according to Coburn, it doesn’t really matter which programs get cut, because, as he told Al-Jazeera English, it’s only people who are “sucking off the program” that are going to feel any change:

COBURN: The point is where’s the efficiency in that? The actual service going to people isn’t going to decline, the people sucking off the program are going to be the ones that lose.
Think Progress
It's a war on the poor and middle class. And it's long past time for days of rage. Folks must wise up and rise up. To save this corrupt system for the rich, they're screwing seniors and children. The "least among us," as Jesus said in Mathew 25.

Some days I wish for a John Brown. Now I'm not advocating what he did in our circumstances, although his cause was just.

Non-violent direct action is what we need.

It is a class war. Unless we fight back, we lose.

And while I'm frustrated with the President on a number of things, he's not the real enemy. Wall Street is. And the people like Coburn are. The dumbshit Ayn Rand losers.

If they prevail this time, there must be a way to make them pay. The electoral route is one way, but it really is time to get in the streets. It is time for civil disobedience. It's time to throw something into the gears of this system.

They never pay a cost for the evil they do. The rich debate on how to screw poor folks and they never pay a price.

As they impoverish working people, they will reach a point where there is little left to lose. And there will be a reckoning. The arc of history is long, but it does bend toward justice.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rise of a New "Confederacy": Race, Privilege and President Obama

It is hard to process sometimes the belief that a mixed race, poor kid from a broken family, abandoned by his dad literally, "abandoned" by his mom figuratively (ask some children who have been given to grandparents to raise, even if it is the best choice for them), who was one of few African-Americans at virtually all levels of education, with an international-but-not-European-name, who attended two Ivy Leagues, including graduating from Harvard Law - as the first Black editor of the Law Review, who became a State Senator, a U.S. Senator and then President of the United States before turning 50...

It is hard to process the condescension towards him, the portrayal of him as naive and, indeed, stupid, the entitlement that insists that despite their considerably lesser education and accomplishments (as evidenced mainly by their writing skills, unshakable opinions that lack or defy research, limited approach to logic and reliance on ad hominem attacks, and sheer statistical likelihood of doing all he has done)...

It is hard to process their unassailable belief that they are smarter, wiser, savvier, more moral and more visionary than this particular man is.

In the event it has been a while since the President's accomplishments have been reviewed and reflected upon, let's revisit below, with a final thought-for-the-day at the end. I have removed his name, just so we can all read the list objectively.

2008 to present President of the United States of America

2009 Recipient, Nobel Peace Prize

2005-2008 U.S. Senator, State of Illinois

2007 Time Magazine: One of the "100 Most Influential People in the World"
2006 The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Crown Publishers (NY Times Best-Seller)

2005 Time Magazine: One of the "100 Most Influential People in the World"

1997-2004 State Senator, State of Illinois

1995 Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Times Books (NY Times best-seller, reprint 2004)

1993 to 2002 Associate Attorney, Davis, Miner & Barnhill, Chicago, IL

1992 to 2004 Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School

1991 J.D., Magna Cum Laude, Harvard Law School,

1990 President, Harvard Law Review (first African-American)

1983 B.A., Political Science, Columbia University

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Deficit Is Not Default of Obama

by: Greg Palast, Truthout

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 11, 2011.Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" gave debtors' prison a bad rap. Too bad. I'd say that locking away GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a penitentiary for deadbeats seems like a darn good idea.

Let's talk about how we ended up in this pickle, bucking up against the "debt ceiling." From 2001 to 2008, a Republican president took an annual surplus of $86 billion left for him by Bill Clinton and ran up the budget deficit to over half a trillion in a year ($642 billion in 2008). Altogether, George W. Bush blew up the national debt by over $3 TRILLION - then left the bills to Barack Obama.

For eight years, Bush spent like a drunk monkey. The world was the GOP's Bergdorf and they had our credit card. If there was a shiny, new war on the shelf, they just had to have it: Iraq, Afghanistan, and let's not forget the Fantasy Wars, the half a trillion dollars a year on fancy-ass weapons for a war that won't happen. (Example: the Virginia Class submarine. (The V-class was designed to attack Soviet subs. There are no more Soviet subs, but Bush ordered three dozen anyway - at $1.8 billion each.)

And tax cuts? Don't get me started!

The Bush administration acted just like Sarah Palin when she was set loose in that Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis - grabbing whatever she could carry because Sarah could put it on someone else's account.

The GOP's fattened frat boys feasted - but when the waiter arrived with the bill, the belching rich kids looked around, pointed at some poor schmuck sweeping the floor, Mr. John Q. Veteran, and said, "THAT GUY will pay."

By the way: Congressman Cantor, the guy leading the Republicans' refusal to lift the debt ceiling, voted for the V-class sub as well as Bush's bogus scavenger hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But now Cantor doesn't want to pay the bill.

Y'know, Congressman, maybe you think my parents were fools because they taught me: If you buy it, you pay for it.

Apparently, that's not the rule at Cantor's country club.

The sick assumption of this entire debt ceiling debate, as we hear from talking heads whether on Fox or PBS, is that this is our deficit; as if you and I got a tax break or Amazon delivered that submarine to our door.

And the flapping lips on TV also assume that there must be some kind of "compromise" in which the spending spree by the rich must be paid for by the working class. The Washington elite agree we must pay for tax holidays for hedge funds by closing health clinics.

Of course, the GOP is right about one thing. President Tiger Wuss will do just that: make the poorest among us pay the debts of the richest. Here we have a bunch of economic terrorists - "Agree to all our demands or the economy gets it!" - and Obama's idea of leadership is to offer the berserkers three-quarters of what they demand.

Thank the Lord and Michele Bachmann that 75 percent isn't enough for these greedsters.

Solution: Don't pay the banksters

There's another wrong assumption controlling this debate over debt, that the banks, the debt holders, must be paid. When the bankers and the Chinese and the Saudis lent Bush three trillion dollars for his wild-ass buying party, they were betting, like any investor, on the good faith of the borrower to pay it back.

So, let Hu Jintao and King Abdullah stick a collection agency on Cantor and the other Republican shirkers. Repossess their limousines or send The Boys around to remind Cantor what happens when you don't pay what you owe.

The president should say to Hu, the Sheik and Goldman-Sachs:

"I have identified $3 trillion in Treasury notes issued between 2001 and 2008 which were lent to fund President Bush's expenditures. Unfortunately, those who borrowed your money don't want to pay it back. You made a bad investment - but that's how the free market works. Therefore, I am suspending payments on these Treasury notes until we can round up the deadbeats and make them live up to their commitments.

"As president, I have the constitutional duty to pay the bills of the Veterans Administration, the Social Security fund, and other vital services already voted and appropriated by Congress. Military pay before banker pay. Get used to it."

Will the bankers have heart attacks? I hope so. (Maybe if bankers are ill, the GOP will vote for universal health care.) Will China refuse to buy more US debt? Not a chance: The Chinese cannot afford a devaluation of the $2 trillion to $3 trillion in US Treasury notes they have in their pokey, a devaluation which would surely follow their abandoning the US treasuries.

Note: Argentina defaulted and thrived. We can tango, too. But that's all detail for me to argue out with other economists in some effete what-if seminar.

Ultimately, "default" is not the issue. "Default," dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in that age-old battle between Them and Us. They spent the money and now they want Us to pay.

Default lies with the Republican spendthrifts, Mr. President. So, I suggest you issue an executive order creating a new wing at Guantanamo: a debtors' prison for trillion-dollar deadbeats.

(Don't you think Eric Cantor would look good in orange?)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Study Finds that Black Men are Healthier in Prison than When They are Free

by Dr. Boyce Watkins.

Many of us have seen the dismal statistics for black males in America. African American men are at the bottom of the barrel in nearly every category of life, including healthcare, education, incarceration, and unemployment. Many of us raise our black boys with little to no understanding of how many of these statistics are perpetuated by a series of systems that serve to enhance and promote a lifestyle that leads to an early death. That is one reason why we’ve expressed concern for hip-hop music, fueled by corporate America, that promotes a self-destructive lifestyle that many young men emulate.

It turns out that the facts might be worse than many could have speculated. According to a recent study, black men are half as likely to die in prison than if they are free. The authors of the study claim that easier access to healthcare, protection from drugs and alcohol, and the ability to avoid deadly black-on-black violence leads to a longer life span for those who are incarcerated. African American males are the only group for which these facts hold true, according to the authors of the study.

The authors of the research, set to be published in the Annals of Epidemiology, also claim that the study reflects a pattern that those from disadvantaged groups live longer in prison primarily because they are protected from violent injuries and murder that can happen on the outside.

"Ironically, prisons are often the only provider of medical care accessible by these underserved and vulnerable Americans," said Hung-En Sung of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

"Typically, prison-based care is more comprehensive than what inmates have received prior to their admission," Sung, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said to Reuters Health.

The study examined 100,000 men between the ages of 20 and 79 being held in North Carolina prisons between 1995 and 2005. Sixty percent of the men being examined were African American. The authors found that while in prison, the death rate between whites and blacks was the same. But outside of prison, black males were far more likely to die than whites.

"What’s very sad about this is that if we are able to all of a sudden equalize or diminish these health inequalities that you see by race inside a place like prison, it should also be that in places like a poor neighborhood we should be able to diminish these sort of inequities," said Evelyn Patterson, who studies correctional facilities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

"If it can be done (in prison), then certainly it can happen outside of prison," Patterson said to Reuters Health.

I don’t know about you, but this study made my stomach turn. Dying and going to prison are among the easiest things for a black man to do in a world where it’s easier for him to get a gun than a good public school education. Most interesting is that black male political power is so weak that politicians in Washington have almost no incentive to pay attention to the crises occurring within our communities. Given that politicians don’t care about your son, brother or husband, here are some things you might want to do:

1) Raise your boys differently. If we allow our sons to be raised in a world where every song on the radio tells them to become the next Lil Wayne and every television commercial persuades them to be LeBron James, we’ll end up with a teenage boy who’s been wired to walk right into the traps that have been laid out for him. More interesting is that there are circles of violence among young black men that breed confrontation and a set of self-destructive behavior patterns being promoted by irresponsible television networks like BET which feature artists who make light of drinking and driving, sexual irresponsibility and gun violence. There is a prison bed and a casket waiting for your son on the day he is born. It is up to his mother, father and mentors to divert him from the pathway that has been created.

2) Black men must take responsibility for one another. Not only should black males work for continuous consciousness and awareness of the manner by which their psyches have been hijacked, but we must challenge one another to think differently about how we perceive education, fatherhood, community leadership, etc. In other words, BS must be stopped in its tracks when we see it, even if it means confronting our friends in ways that make them uncomfortable. We must challenge one another to embrace manhood and not the caricature of the shiftless, lazy, ignorant negro who spends more time thinking about going to the club than about making a better life for himself and his children.

3) Politicians must be held accountable at all costs. Without pointing fingers at any specific politician, the degree to which black male inequality is allowed to fester is sickening, insulting and unAmerican. Inequality in hiring, education, and criminal justice creates situations where even well-intended black males have their dreams eaten up by institutionalized racism. Black men, to some extent, are America’s cockroaches – our lives are deemed to be less valuable and our concerns less relevant. Any politician who buys into this rhetoric and shows inaction on such disturbing racial inequality does not deserve our support. Individual accountability without broader institutional modification is not the solution. The entire community must take a unified approach to solving these problems, for saving the black man is critical to saving the black family in America.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Syracuse University Professor and author of the forthcoming book, "RAPP: Rising Above Psychological Poison." He is also the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bill Clinton: GOP Voting Crackdown Worst Since Jim Crow

Benjy Sarlin | July 6, 2011,

Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on Republican efforts in several states to pass new restrictions on voting, comparing the measures to the Jim Crow laws of the past.

"There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today," Clinton said in a speech at a Campus Progress conference in Washington.

He specifically called out Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) for trying to reverse past precedent and prevent convicted felons from voting even after they've completed their sentence.

"Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they've paid their price?" Clinton said. "Because most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics who tended to vote for Democrats. That's why."

Clinton is hardly the first Democrat to raise the alarm over a wave of Republican-proposed laws purportedly aimed at combating voter fraud. The Democratic Governor Association is raising money for a new voter protection project to counter the proposals, which they say violate minority voters' civil rights.

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz recently made similar comparisons to Jim Crow over the Florida policy as well as new voter ID laws in other states that civil rights activists have likened to a poll tax.

"You have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally -- and very transparently -- block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates," she said. The Florida Congresswoman later walked back her remarks, saying the JIm Crow reference was the "wrong analogy."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Study confirms dark-skinned women get longer prison sentences

By Kase Wickman
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
A recent study of females convicted of crimes showed a disheartening correlation that would confirm accusations of racial injustice in the legal system: The lighter a convict's skin, the shorter their prison sentence tends to be, and the less time they serve.

Researchers at Villanova University examined the records of more than 12,000 women in North Carolina prisons to come to these results, reported. The study was published recently in The Social Science Journal.

Light-skinned women were sentenced to an average of 12 percent less time than their darker-skinned peers, and served an average of 11 percent less time in jail, the study found. The researchers used similar crimes to compare sentences, so that they could generate the most accurate, relevant results.

The study, called “The Impact of Light Skin on Prison Time for Black Female Offenders,” is part of a larger effort called The Sentencing Project, which has long examined the interactions of the justice system and race.

According to the summary on The Sentencing Project's website, the study provides a much-needed nuance. Discrimination is not as simple as black and white, but, "among blacks, characteristics associated with whiteness appear to also have a significant impact on important life outcomes."

A 2006 University of Georgia study of light-skinned versus dark-skinned black men showed that the light-skinned men had an advantage when applying for jobs, regardless of past experience and credentials.

A 2009 York University study published in Science found that many people unconsciously harbor racist attitudes and behaviors.

“Justice is not blind, in fact, it’s more accurate to describe justice as nearsighted,” said Lance Hannon, a sociology professor at Villanova and one of the prison study's co-authors.

“Justice is too often decided by one’s ability to sympathize with a defendant or crime victim. Sympathy, in turn, is often the product of larger social forces like segregation and media depictions of certain groups. Among blacks, characteristics associated with whiteness appear to have a significant impact on important life outcomes, such as the amount of time one spends in jail."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Keith Olbermann Says Farewell To Beck With Media Matters' Retrospective Of "The Crazy" From Beck's Show

Friday, June 24, 2011

NC woman sterilized because state deemed her ‘promiscuous’

By David Edwards

The day that Elaine Riddick had her first and only child at the age of 14, the state of North Carolina had her sterilized on the orders of a court. Riddick had been raped but the state said she was promiscuous.

“They said that I was feeble-minded, they said that I was promiscuous,” Riddick, now 57, told CBS News. “I’ve always been able to take care of myself – I’ve never been promiscuous.”

“So how can people use these things to describe a child that had been abandoned? Or that had been raped by the neighbor and then again, raped by the state of North Carolina?”

North Carolina is the first state to consider a $20,000 payment to victims of sterilizations, but it is doubtful that the Republican-controlled legislature will set aside the necessary funds.

CBS News noted that more than 60,000 women in 32 states were sterilized from the 1920′s to the 1970s to keep down welfare costs. The practice is no longer in use.

Watch this video from CBS News, broadcast June 23, 2011.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Justices Have Been Forced To Resign For Doing What Clarence Thomas Has Done
By Ian Millhiser on Jun 19, 2011

Justice Clarence Thomas is an ethics problem in a black robe. Just eight months after ThinkProgress broke the story of Thomas’ attendance at a Koch-sponsored political fundraiser, we learn that Thomas doesn’t just do unethical favors for wealthy right-wing donors — they also do expensive favors for him.

Leading conservative donor Harlan Crow, whose company often litigates in federal court, provided $500,000 to allow Thomas’s wife to start a Tea Party group and he once gave Thomas a $19,000 Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass. The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank which frequently files briefs in Thomas’ Court, also gave Thomas a $15,000 gift.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because America has seen this movie before. Indeed, the Thomas scandal is little more than a remake of the forty year-old gifting scandal that brought down Justice Abe Fortas. Like Thomas, Fortas liked to associate with wealthy individuals with potential business before his Court. And like Thomas, Fortas took inappropriate gifts from his wealthy benefactors.

Fortas’ questionable gifts first came out when President Johnson nominated him for a promotion to Chief Justice of the United States in 1968. Fortas had accepted $15,000 to lead seminars at American University — far more than the university normally paid for such services — and the payments were bankrolled by the leaders of frequent corporate litigants including the vice president of Phillip Morris. Fortas survived this revelation, although his nomination for the Chief Justiceship was filibustered into oblivion.

Just a year later, the country learned that Fortas took another highly questionable gift. In 1966, one year after Fortas joined the Court, stock speculator Louis E. Wolfson’s foundation began paying Fortas an annual retainer of $20,000 per year for consulting services. Fortas’ actions were legal, and he eventually returned the money after Wolfson was convicted of securities violations and recused himself from Wolfson’s case, but the damage to Fortas — and the potential harm to the Supreme Court’s reputation — were too great. Fortas resigned in disgrace.

It is difficult to distinguish Fortas’ scandal from Thomas’. Like Fortas, Thomas accepted several very valuable gifts from parties who are frequently interested in the outcome of federal court cases. One of Thomas’ benefactors has even filed briefs in his Court since giving Thomas a $15,000 gift, and Thomas has not recused himself from each of these cases.

Of course, Thomas is also the least likely Justice to actually follow the command of precedent. Thomas embraces a discredited theory of the Constitution which would return America to a time when federal child labor laws were considered unconstitutional. His fellow justices criticize him for showing “utter disregard for our precedent and Congress’ intent.” Even ultra-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia finds Thomas’ approach to the law too extreme — in Scalia’s words “I am a textualist. I am an originalist. I am not a nut.”

But Thomas’ disregard for what has come before him changes nothing about the precedent he faces. If Abe Fortas had to resign his seat, so too should Clarence Thomas.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Anthony Weiner Resigns, Prostitute Enthusiast David Vitter Continues To Be Embraced By GOP Leadership

Yesterday at 2PM, Rep. Anthony Weiner announced his resignation from Congress following revelations that he sent lewd texts to women he met over the internet. The move comes after nearly every prominent Democrat — from Leader Nancy Pelosi to DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to President Obama — called on Weiner to step down.

Nevertheless, the chairman of the GOP, Reince Preibus, attacked Democrats for inaction, saying, “We’ve got leadership and a Democratic Party that are defending a guy that deserves no defense.”

Today’s events stand in stark contrast to the treatment of Senator David Vitter, who admitted in 2007 to being a regular customer of a notorious prostitution service. Immediately following Vitter’s admission, McConnell was asked about Vitter on ABC News and flatly refused to address the issue or offer any criticism of Vitter’s conduct:

ROBERTS: Are you comfortable with him staying in the Republican Caucus?

MCCONNELL: Senator Vitter has addressed the issue that you’re referring to, and I’ll let him speak to that.

ROBERTS: Right. Is this something that you think he can recover from? I mean, does the Republican Party, the Republicans in Congress take a hit because of this?

MCCONNELL: Well, you’ll have to ask Senator Vitter about what he had to say about the episode that I think you’re referring to. He would be the one to address that.

McConnell wasn’t alone. Gannett reported that “few colleagues would go on record” following Vitter’s admission. One who did, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), offered only praise: “David Vitter is one of the most capable guys here. He was fabulous in the immigration debate. I think his constituents will respect that.” When Vitter returned to the Senate a few days later and addressed the GOP caucus, he was warmly received:

Applause could be heard inside the room. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who like most members wouldn’t disclose what Vitter said, reported that his comments went over well.

“People were very supportive,” Thune said. “People realize he has worked through this this past week. I think everybody is ready to move forward.”[...]

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, exemplified the forgive-and-forget view voiced by Senate Republicans.

“My attitude is he’s doing everything he can to rectify the mistake he made and should be allowed to do so,” Hatch said. “I’m a great believer in redemption.”

Despite moral transgressions that are more serious, from a legal perspective, than what is known of Weiner’s conduct, Vitter remains in the Senate with full seniority and committee memberships. When asked about Vitter’s potential legal violations, his GOP colleagues claimed ignorance of the law.

To this day, RNC chair Reince Preibus refuses to discuss Vitter’s conduct saying he doesn’t want to “relitigate” the situation.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Neal Boortz: "We need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta"

From the June 14 edition of Neal Boortz Show!

Boortz is just scum! From his radio show:

This town is starting to look like a garbage heap. And we got too damn many urban thugs, yo, ruining the quality of life for everybody. And I'll tell you what it's gonna take. You people, you are - you need to have a gun. You need to have training. You need to know how to use that gun. You need to get a permit to carry that gun. And you do in fact need to carry that gun and we need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta. We need to see the next guy that tries to carjack you shot dead right where he stands. We need more dead thugs in this city. And let their -- let their mommas -- let their mommas say, "He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd." And then lock her ass up.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

GOP Can’t Handle The Truth: Taxes Are Lower Under Obama Than Reagan

By Pat Garofalo posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Jun 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

President Obama met with House Republicans today at the White House to discuss ways to move forward on negotiations regarding the nation’s debt ceiling and the budget. During the discussion, talk evidently turned to taxes, and when Obama noted that taxes today are lower than they were under President Reagan, the GOP, according to The Hill, “engaged in a lot of ‘eye-rolling’“:

Republicans attending a White House meeting on Wednesday didn’t take kindly to President Obama telling them tax rates were higher during the Reagan administration. GOP members engaged in a lot of “eye-rolling,” according to a member who was on hand to hear Obama, who invited House Republicans to the White House for discussions on the debt ceiling. [...]

“[The President] made a comment like the tax rate is the lightest, even more than (under former President) Reagan,” Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) told The Hill following the meeting. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) joked that during the meeting, “We learned we had the lowest tax rates in history … lower than Reagan!”

That House Republicans find this preposterous is symptomatic of the hold Reagan mythology has over them. After all, for seven of Reagan’s eight years in office, the top tax rate was higher than the current 35 percent. In six of those years, it was 50 percent or more. And every year that Regan was in office, the bottom tax bracket was higher than the current ten percent.

For a family of four, the “average income tax rate under Reagan in 1983 was 11.06 percent. Under Clinton in 1992, it was 9.18 percent. And under Obama in 2010, it was 4.68 percent.” During Reagan’s time, income tax revenue ranged from 7.8 to 9.4 percent of GDP. Last year, it was 6.2 percent and is not projected to climb back to 9 percent until 2016. In fact, in 2009, Americans paid their lowest taxes in 60 years.

Republicans are very fond of saying that the U.S. has “a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” But the truth is that revenue has plunged due to the recession and to continued misguided tax cuts, and revenue needs to be raised to eventually bring the budget into balance. And Reagan knew that taxes were an important part of the budget equation. After all, he “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Black Former NFL Player Pulled Over For Looking Like Someone ‘Transporting Drugs And Guns’

By Scott Keyes and Tanya Somanader posted from ThinkProgress Alyssa on May 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Last week, former NFL star Warrick Dunn was pulled over outside Atlanta, Georgia by three police officers. Dunn has been involved in a number of charitable organizations since leaving the NFL, including founding the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation to help single parents find homes for their families. The former Atlanta Falcons running back has also received numerous accolades for his off-the-field service, including the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the Bart Starr Award, and former President Clinton’s Giant Steps Award. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described Dunn as a “model citizen.”

So it was to Dunn’s surprise when he was stopped by police officers for having “the characteristic of people transporting drugs and guns” last Friday. Dunn, who is a 36 year-old black man, was also stopped for having tinted windows that were allegedly “too dark.” Dunn reported the incident on his Facebook account late last week:

Pulled over outside Atl because he said my window tint was too dark. During the stop he asked a lot of personal questions, said I had the characteristics of people transporting drugs & guns. So he searched my car and gave me a warning for my tint. Felt violated and I’ve had my car since ’08, nvr been pulled ovr for tint. Taken back bc I think the reasoning was bad. Ruined my day but not my spirit.

Despite the alleged rationale of illegally tinted windows, Dunn wrote that “my tint is not dark.” In addition, “it was cloudy and [the police were] 20 yards behind at an angle.”

Dunn was not charged in the stop, but did ultimately receive a warning from the officers.

The former NFL player’s ordeal is one that is already felt by many across the nation. Yet if conservatives had their way, profiling incidents like Dunn’s would not just become more commonplace, but would be legally justified as well. Indeed, racial and ethnic profiling is widely supported by Republicans. Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) called profiling “common sense” and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) justified it on the grounds that “all terrorists are Muslims or Middle Easterners.”

But the GOP’s push to profile necessarily stems from the idea that such “common sense” is not actually racist. To Republicans like former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, racism no longer exists. To him, America is inherently “colorblind” and “not a discriminate [sic] nation” because, after all, “we elected a black president.” In fact, a recent study reveals that white Americans actually view “anti-white prejudice” as the predominant race problem of the times, as opposed to “anti-black bias.” With this as the dominant view, the racism Dunn endured is too often perceived by many Americans as belonging to an era long gone and existing only in the margins of today’s society — no matter how prevalent.

Ever gracious, Dunn told TMZ after the incident, “As the son of a hard working police officer, I understand the stress that police officers are under.” “The real lesson in all this is that Twitter is a powerful tool but what happened to me is the same thing that happens to a lot of people every day,” he added.

ESPN has more information on Dunn’s life of service in the face of ordeal. When he was 18, Dunn’s mother, a Baton Rouge police officer, was killed in a robbery. Dunn helped raise his younger siblings while going on to a successful career at Florida State and the NFL.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Musician-Poet Gil Scott-Heron dies at 62

Musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron, whose biting and lyrical fusion of verse and rhythm made him a formidable forefather of rap and hip-hop, died Friday in New York. He was 62. Friend Doris C. Nolan told the Associated Press that Scott-Heron died at St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan after becoming ill upon his return from Europe. A cause of death has not been determined.

Scott-Heron's fiery fusion of soul, jazz and free-flowing versification , inspired by such black literary precursors as poet Langston Hughes - led to his recognition as one of the most forward-looking black musicians of the '70s. Best-known for his mordant critique of race in the media ''The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,'' he essayed such topical concerns as nuclear power, apartheid and Ronald Reagan's presidency in his pointed work.

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.
Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Study: Whites say they face more racism than blacks

By David Edwards
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 -- 3:01 pm
Whites in America now believe that they face more racial bias than blacks, according to a recent study.

Samuel Sommers of Tufts University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard asked 208 blacks and 209 whites to use a 10-point scale to indicate how much they thought blacks and whites were a target of discrimination each decade from the 1950s through the 2000s.

Less than 2 percent of blacks and whites gave anti-white bias the maximum score in the 1950s. More than 9 percent of both groups also gave anti-black bias the maximum score for that same decade.

Blacks and white agreed that racism against blacks decreased as the decades progressed. But whites, unlike blacks, felt that anti-white bias had increased along with the drop in anti-black bias. Eleven percent of whites rated anti-white bias at the maximum during the 2000s, while only 2 percent of blacks did.

"We propose that Whites' belief about the increasing prevalence of anti-White bias reflects a view of racism as a zero-sum game," researchers wrote, "which can be summed up as 'less against you means more against me.'"

"[N]ot only do Whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do Blacks, but Whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality -- at their expense," they concluded.

"While affirmative action advocates don't perceive of such preferences as anti-white discrimination, many whites do," George Mason University Law Professor David E. Berstein told The New York Times.

"Given the overt nature of such preferences, and many whites’ own perceived self-interest in the matter, it's not terribly surprising that whites subjectively perceive discrimination against members of their own group as an especially significant and growing problem, even though, objectively speaking, bias against blacks is far more pervasive, problematic and ill-intentioned," he added.

The study "Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing" was published in the May edition of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Image credit: Flickr/bandita

Monday, May 23, 2011

Baptist Group: Oklahoma’s Sharia Ban Is Unconstitutional

Last year, Oklahoma became the first state to ban the non-existent threat of Islamic Sharia law, jeopardizing Native American rights, Oklahoma businesses, and even the Ten Commandments to do it. But state Republicans’ fervor for this “preemptive strike” — known as the “Save Our State” amendment — hit an inevitable snag of constitutionality, compelling a federal judge to block the law’s implementation. Nevertheless, Oklahoma election authorities appealed the judge’s injunction to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Regardless of what Oklahoma Republicans may think, numerous religious groups view the law as a clear infringement on the First Amendment and are now taking a stand. Last week, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) signed on to an amicus brief urging the 10th Circuit to invalidate the law as it has “the unambiguous effect of communicating official disapproval of Islam“:

“The BJC’s brief argues that the Oklahoma amendment violates the Establishment Clause for two separate and distinct reasons. First, “the amendment’s purpose plainly is to disapprove of the Islamic tradition.” Secondly, “the amendment’s dual specific references to Shari law – and to no other religious tradition – have the unambiguous effect of communicating official disapproval of Islam.”

Both reasons put the Oklahoma amendment in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Lemon Test which is used to determine whether a law is in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.”

The American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, Interfaith Alliance, Union for Reform Judaism, and several civil liberties groups joined BJC in signing the brief. Viewing fear as the “driving force” behind state Sharia bans, Texas Baptist pastor Bob Roberts Jr. urged Christians supporting anti-Sharia laws to put their faith in God rather than in legislation. “When we fear to that degree, then we start pushing laws because somebody else’s beliefs make us nervous,” said Roberts.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Right-wingers flood teen who challenged Bachmann to a debate with threats of violence

You all remember that high-school sophomore who challenged Michele Bachmann to a debate (because she knew full well she'd be able to kick wingnut butt)?

Seems she's attracted the usual right-wing response -- threats and thuggery:

Several media outlets reported on Myers' challenge. As a result, she said, people have threatened violence against her and threatened to publish her address online, the Courier Post reports. Myers' high school has also reportedly received inquiries regarding Myers' letter.

"A lot of them are calling me a whore," Myers said of the online remarks against her. Added her father Wayne Myers: "I personally did not think there would be a reaction like actual stalking and the vitriol that's coming out."

The worst was reading the work of trolls at right-wing sites, the girl's father said:

Amy and Wayne Myers said the comments on conservative websites alarmed them most. Several commenters threatened to publish the Myers' home address.

Others threatened violence, including rape, they said.

"They're targeting me just because I'm challenging Bachmann," Amy said.

Amy's challenge is arguably unrealistic: Few if any sitting members of Congress would actually agree to debate a teenager.

Bachmann, talked up by the Republican right wing as a 2012 presidential contender, is often the subject of unflattering press. An aide said Tuesday the office would have no response to Myers' challenge.

The Courier-Post had scheduled a video interview with Amy Thursday. On Wednesday, a somewhat panicked-sounding Wayne Myers phoned to cancel, citing the alleged threats.

"I got a call from the principal that the main office received threatening mail," said the computer programmer and single father.

Such a classy bunch. Especially when you consider their fondness for depicting the Left -- and especially unions -- as a bunch of thugs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

According to his wife’s financial disclosure forms, Newt Gingrich had a revolving charge account of between $250,000 and $5000,000 at Tiffany’s. How did Newt spend over $250,000 at Tiffany’s? I’m guessing it wasn’t on breakfast. A 6-figure jewelry charge account—at Tiffany’s. That doesn’t look good when you’re running for office. Newt, you want to connect with the common man—you should have had your half million dollar jewelry charge account at Zales. The numbers were included in the financial disclosure forms of Newt’s wife, Callista. I’m assuming the jewelry was for his wife too, unless Newt Gingrich has some very exotic piercings that we can’t see. OK, now I’ve made myself sick to my stomach.

Now pundits are saying that Newt Gingrich might be too undisciplined to run for president. Right. Here’s another news flash—Newt Gingrich might be too out of shape to qualify for the US Olympic track and field team. Everybody knew that Newt Gingrich was going to screw up eventually. But not too many people had him giving himself a first round knockout. Really, if this was a pay-per-view prize fight, people would be asking for their money back. Newt did a mea culpa on Fox News. That makes sense. Anyone who is watching Newt’s troubles on anything other than Fox News is simply doing it to enjoy watching Newt squirm. On Fox, Newt said “The budget vote is one that I am happy to say I would have voted for.” Newt, if you had done that, you’d be just as screwed in any election as you are now anyway. That’s why they’re so touchy about it.

Here’s a classic from Newt: “Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate.” Translation: if I shouldn’t have said something, then as far as I’m concerned, I never did say it. Evidently if you quote Newt Gingrich, you are, by definition, misquoting him. Or by Newt’s definition, at least. I think Newt wants to float everything he ever says out as a trial balloon first. If it doesn’t end up being stupid and hurting him, then he’ll tell us “OK, that one is a keeper.” Here is what it’s come down to—in order to salvage his campaign, Newt Gingrich will have to refuse to comment on anything involving Newt Gingrich.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

REPORT: Sen. Tom Coburn Actively Negotiated Multi-Million Dollar Hush Money Package For Ensign’s Mistress

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
After a 22-month investigation, the Senate Ethics Committee released a report on the conduct of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who resigned early this month. The report contains voluminous evidence suggesting Ensign may have violated several laws in an effort to cover up an affair with a member of his staff. The committee has referred the matter to the Department of Justice.

Contained in the 67-page report, however, is troubling evidence of the central role that current Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) played in trying to keep Ensign’s mistress and her husband quiet — evidence that contradicts Coburn’s previous public statements on the matter.

In July 2009, Coburn said he was consulting with Ensign “as a physician and as an ordained deacon” and he considered it a “privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody.” Asked about the claim from Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign’s mistress, that he “urged Ensign to pay the Hamptons millions of dollars,” Coburn said, “I categorically deny everything he said.”

Coburn was similarly blunt in a November 22, 2009 interview with George Stephanopoulos:

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told me flatly that he did not offer to broker a million-dollar deal between his Senate colleague, John Ensign, R-Nev., and the family of Ensign’s mistress.

Doug Hampton, the husband of a staffer with whom Ensign had an affair, makes the explosive allegation in an interview with “Nightline’s” Cynthia McFadden that will air on Monday.

…When I asked Coburn on This Week if Hampton is telling the truth, he said, “There was no negotiation,” but acknowledged that he had worked to “bring two families to a closure of a very painful episode.”

Coburn eventually agreed to cooperate with the Ethics Committee; their findings on the level of his involvement are startling. According to the committees report, Coburn actively assisted in the discussions of a hush money package, negotiating a proposed package from $8 million down to $2.8 million. The ethics committee report, on pages 37 to 38, describes the negotiation between Mr. Albregts, an attorney for the husband of Ensign’s mistress, and Sen. Coburn:

Mr. Albregts tried to get a ballpark estimate from Senator Coburn as to the amount he would be comfortable with. Mr. Albregts proposed $8 million based on a document Doug Hampton prepared. According to Mr. Albregts, Senator Coburn said that the figure was absolutely ridiculous. Senator Coburn then stated that the Ensigns should buy the Hamptons home because it is so close to the Ensigns, and the Hamptons should receive an amount of money above and beyond that to start over, buy a new home, have some living money while they were looking for new employment, and possibly some seed money to send the children off to college. Senator Coburn stated that that’s what I’ve thought from day one would be fair, but said that $8 million was nowhere close to a reasonable figure. Senator Coburn told Mr. Albregts to figure out what those amounts would be, and call him back.

Mr. Albregts then spoke with Mr. Hampton, and asked him how much it would cost to get the house paid for, and how much he needed above that figure to get started somewhere new. Mr. Hampton then came back with some figures, and estimated $1.2 million for the home, and another $1.6 million to get started somewhere new. Mr. Albregts called Senator Coburn back for the final time with this revised figure on the same day in a five-minute call. Per Mr. Albregts, Senator Coburn responded by stating that okay, that’s what I had in mind and I think is fair and said he would take the figure to the Ensigns.

The Ensigns rejected the new offer. Previous reports referenced Coburn’s role as a go-between but did not reveal the extent of his inovlement in the negotations. The report notes that “Mr. Albregts testified that Senator Coburn took an active role in the negotiations between Mr. Hampton and Senator Ensign, and this role included proposing specific resolutions.” Coburn told the committee that he was “simply going to pass information” to Ensign.

One thing is certain: Tom Coburn has a lot of explaining to do.