Justice Harold Melton, Sonny Perdue’s Colored Confederate

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Harold Melton and Clarence Thomas

“The past is not dead.  In fact, it’s not even past.”-William Faulkner 

The news broke late Friday that the Georgia Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, overturned Genarlow Wilson’s conviction for aggravated child molestation, and the 10-year mandatory sentence that he received as a result of engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 and both were in High School.  

In reading the dissenting opinion, I discovered that Georgia’s newest State Supreme Court Justice, Harold Melton, a 41 year old African American and appointee of Republican Governor Sonny Perdue, is an undercover confederate with a disturbing penchant for distorting the rule of law.  Justice Melton signed on to a dissent in the Wilson case that only Federalist Society fascists like Clarence Thomas could love.  

The gross overcharging of Genarlow Wilson by Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, a racist if their ever was one, was a perversion of the law not intended by the legislature that echoes Douglas County’s only recorded lynching. 

“In Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia 1880-1930,”  “The lynching of Peter Stamps on July 24, 1885, in Douglas County, Georgia, is another example of the severe consequences of defying the color line in sexual relationships.  For almost a year, Stamps, a black tenant farmer, had been the lover of his employer’s sixteen-year-old daughter without arousing suspicions.  But when the girl became pregnant, the romance could no longer be kept secret.” 

“Stamps was promptly arrested for rape even though the girl adamantly refused to accuse him.  While he was being transported to the county jail, a mob seized him and hanged him. The tragic affair ended when the young girl committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.” 

In Douglas County, Georgia, Genarlow Wilson isn’t the first young person destroyed because of an unhealthy adult preoccupation with consensual, pre-marital sex among teens.   While all of the participants in the titillating sex party that was recorded on videotape were black, the unfettered white power to destroy their lives for a horrible youthful mistake remains the same.  All of the boys were branded as sex offenders for life.  None of them, however, served the time Genarlow Wilson did because he fought the charges, especially the rape charge for which he was acquitted. 

Because of that fact, I do not believe the District Attorney’s feigned concern for the girl who claimed that she was raped because after his fairness was challenged in the media, he distributed 35 copies of the videotape, which meets the statutory definition of child pornography, to the public.   Those are not the actions of man who believes he’s trying to protect a girl from unscrupulous teenage predators, but rather, they are the actions of a racist trying to cover his ass by clouding the issues and smearing Genarlow Wilson as some kinda teenage R. Kelly.

A real black man or woman would know and understand that and conduct themselves accordingly.  His two black colleagues on the court certainly did. Unfortunately, Harold Melton is not a real black man. He’s nothing more than a Clarence Thomas clone and a colored confederate faking the funk and fighting on the wrong side.   

Black Judges like Clarence Thomas and Harold Melton are fully aware of the historical context of the racial struggles of the African American community and are capable of meting out justice in cases like Genarlow’s,  but they are too blinded and ashamed to acknowledge the tawdry sex scandal that gave birth to their own nefarious power.  

Their power is the result of illicit fornication between Machiavellian southern rednecks and northern patricians in the Republican Party who unapologetically manipulate the inflammatory symbols of segregation, white supremacy and the irrational fear of black crime, to enrage and corral a provincial white electorate into voting GOP slates of pinstripe troglodytes like Douglas County DA David McDade into office.  Their mission: reverse the gains of the civil rights movement and keep colored folk like us in a designated place of impotent subordination.

Georgia State Flag, c. 1956-2001

In the same manner that George Herbert Walker Bush used Willie Horton to exploit the irrational and racist white fear of black crime, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue used the issue of changing Georgia’s confederate emblazoned Flag, demanded by African Americans and their white democratic allies, to inflame a bigoted rural electorate against his democratic opponent, former Governor Roy Barnes.    

Sean Wilentz, writing for Salon.com, breaks down the implicit racism employed by the maniacal right, “Republican politicians then exploited the issue, with all its blatant racial overtones. The Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Sonny Perdue, backed by Georgia Republican state chairman and former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, upheld the honor of those who died defending slavery, and pledged that, if elected, he would push for a statewide referendum to restore the old flag, nearly two-thirds of it taken up by the Confederate emblem.” 

“The tactic worked like a charm, especially in Georgia where the Democrat Barnes had been expected to win reelection handily. The election returns clearly show that rural white voters switched in droves to vote Republican, and that the flag controversy was one important reason why.” 

“… a victorious Sonny Perdue, appearing against a backdrop of Confederate emblems, jubilantly exclaimed, with dubious taste, a line from an old black spiritual made famous by another Georgian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, free at last!  Since then, Gov.-elect Perdue has backed off from his pledge to restore the old flag, and said with a straight face that the issue was only a “small” reason for his victory. And so his campaign appeals seem to have been just a cynical ploy, in a long tradition of Southern racial demagogy.” 

Once elected Governor, Perdue plucked Harold Melton out of the obscurity of the Attorney General’s Office and made him his chief counsel.   A black Republican of long standing, Melton graduated from Auburn University and interned for Alabama Republican Governor Guy Hunt, a right-wing crook indicted and removed from office for diverting $2oo, 000 dollars from his inaugural ball fund to personal use.  

Upon Melton’s graduation from law school at the University of Georgia, he spent 11 years in the Georgia Attorney General’s office, most of it under Mike Bowers, a sanctimonious, homophobic party switcher with gubernatorial ambitions who zealously persecuted gay people using Georgia’s antediluvian sodomy laws while simultaneously carrying on a decade long extramarital affair with his secretary.   

Melton absorbed his patron’s homophobia and facilitated Sonny Perdue’s demagogic crusade to “preserve marriage” as the Governor’s Chief Counsel.   After Perdue had solidified his credentials as a southern redneck, and he couldn’t fulfill his promise to restore the flag because of a hostile legislature, he moved on to exploit homophobia to distract the same fools fixated on preserving their southern heritage of hate. Perdue shrewdly gave them the gays to demonize and focus their hatred on.   Georgia’s passage of a so-called “marriage amendment” solidified the GOP stranglehold on state government and assured Perdue’s re-election.    

As a reward, Melton was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2005, pissing off a lot of white conservatives who believed that the first GOP appointment should have gone to one of their white wingnut fellow travelers.   His vote against Genarlow Wilson and in a death penalty case I will subsequently discuss, should have quieted all the talk about Melton not being sufficiently conservative.   

Melton, the Death Penalty, and Georgia’s history of lynching 

I have never been amused by the Republican habit of dismissing and ignoring the history and persistence of racially motivated murder in this country.  Between 1882 and 1968, 492 lynchings of black men and women took place in Georgia, 479 of them murdered at the hands of white mobs, a number that ranks Georgia second only to Mississippi in the savage sweepstakes of white supremacist killing.    

This next vignette of hate should have some significance to the Governor because it happened six months before he was born, and directly implicated a gubernatorial predecessor. In July, the Associated Press wrote about how they uncovered evidence, through the use of the Freedom of Information Act, that implicated former Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge, a virulent racist, in the lynching of two black couples after his 1946 re-election.

Talmadge, who died just months after his 1946 election to a fourth term, dominated Georgia politics in the 1930s and 1940s with a mix of racism and pocketbook populism.He came under FBI scrutiny because of a visit he made to the north Georgia town of Monroe two days before the Democratic gubernatorial primary and a day after a highly charged racial incident there, a fight in which a black sharecropper stabbed and severely wounded a white farmer.”

“The sharecropper was one of the four people who would later be lynched.In a report sent to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the agent in charge of the investigation said Talmadge met with George Hester, the brother of the stabbed farmer. Citing an unconfirmed witness statement, the agent said Talmadge offered immunity to anyone “taking care of negro.”

“…The lynchings of Roger and Dorothy Malcom, and George and Mae Murray Dorsey on July 25, 1946, came eight days after the election and followed weeks of simmering tensions. There were rumors that George Dorsey, an Army veteran, had secretly been dating a white woman — a taboo in the segregated South. And the town’s white establishment was enraged with Roger Malcom, who was imprisoned after stabbing white farmer Barney Hester.”

“Malcom was waiting in jail when white farmer Loy Harrison paid $600 to bail him out. Harrison said he was driving Malcom, his wife and the other couple home, when he was ambushed by a white mob that surrounded his car near the Moore’s Ford Bridge. As many as 30 people converged on the vehicle and pulled out the two couples, dragged them down a nearby trail and tied them to trees.”

“Then the mob fired three volleys of bullets at the couples, leaving their dead bodies slumped behind in the dirt. One of the victims, Dorothy Malcom, was seven months’ pregnant. An outraged President Truman dispatched FBI agents to Monroe, about 45 miles east of Atlanta. But the local community — both white and black — clammed up.”

…Black families, who often sharecropped on white farms, were “frightened and even terrified” when approached by FBI agents. One farmer fled into a cotton field and had to be chased down, eventually telling an investigator he had been warned not to talk.” 

Baby Boomers like Sonny Perdue turn a blind eye to the cruelty and malevolence of their parents’ generation and the six lynchings,  which occurred in his home county in the twentieth century.  His guilt is submerged into the “good works” he performs like opening his home to a black foster child or his close personal and professional relationships with a few people of color. However, when Perdue’s back was against the wall, like Eugene Talmage’s was in the election of 1946,  he resorted to the same bag of tricks and he drew from the well white supremacy and division because of a desperation to seize power.  His desire to paper over the racial divisions he created with appointments like Harold Melton only makes the problem of racial discrimination worse.  

The spirit of fear inculcated and bred into black people by enduring generations of racist terror like the aforementioned lynching, is all over the next case.   The manner in which Georgia carries out the death penalty more closely resembles a lynching than a carefully designed legal process, which respects the constitutional rights of the accused.  Just weeks before the prevaricator from Pin Point, Georgia, Clarence Thomas, was disingenuously accusing his inquisitors of subjecting him to “a high-tech lynching” a real one was taking place in a Savannah, Georgia courtroom, in a town he claims to know well.   

The case of Troy Anthony Davis, a death row inmate, is one that shocks the conscience.  Convicted of the murder of a white police officer and the shooting of a black teenager, his conviction was obtained as a result of the perjured testimony of African American witnesses coerced to appear by a racist and incompetent Savannah police force.   The state had no physical evidence in this case tying Davis to the crime and all but three of the “witnesses” recanted their testimony.     Don’t believe me?   Read for yourself.  

Affidavit of Darrell Collins: 

When I got to the barracks, the police put me in a small room and some detectives came in and started yelling at me, telling me that I knew that Troy Davis…killed that officer by the Burger King. I told them that… I didn’t see Troy do nothing. They got real mad when I said this and started getting in my face. They were telling me that I was an accessory to murder and that I would pay like Troy was gonna pay if I didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. They told me that I would go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I ever got out, especially because a police officer got killed.” 

“… I didn’t want to go to jail because I didn’t do nothing wrong. I was only sixteen and was so scared of going to jail. They kept saying that…[Troy] had messed with that man up at Burger King and killed that officer. I told them that it was Red and not Troy who was messing with that man, but they didn’t want to hear that…After a couple of hours of the detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke down and told them what they wanted to hear. They would tell me things that they said had happened and I would repeat whatever they said.”  

From the Affidavit of Antoine Williams:

 I couldn’t really tell what was going on because I had the darkest shades of tint you could possibly have on my windows of my car. As soon as I heard the shot and saw the officer go down, I ducked down under the dash of my car. I was scared for my life and I didn’t want to get shot myself.” 

“…Later that night, some cops asked me what had happened. I told them what is written here [in the affidavit]. They asked me to describe the shooter and what he looked like and what he was wearing. I kept telling them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night. I couldn’t then either. After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.”  

From the Affidavit of Benjamin Gordon: 

Later that night, police officers came and dragged me from my house in Yamacraw. There were police officers everywhere after the police officer was killed and it seemed like they were taking everyone in Yamacraw to the police barracks for questioning. I was handcuffed and they put a nightstick under my neck. I had just turned sixteen and was scared as hell.” 

“The police officers took me to the barracks and put me in a small room. Over the next couple of hours, three or so officers questioned me – at first, they called me a motherfuc*er and told me that I had shot the officer. They told me that I was going to the electric chair. They got in my face and yelled at me a lot. The cops then told me that I did the shooting over in Cloverdale.”

“I just kept telling them that I didn’t do anything, but they weren’t hearing that. After four or five hours, they told me to sign some papers. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I didn’t read what they told me to sign and they didn’t ask me to.” 

In their zeal to avenge the killing of a white police officer, police misconduct mimicked an angry lynch mob hell bent in defending white supremacy by pinning any nigger with the crime.  This case has bounced between state and federal courts for 16 years and they have continued to reject any claim of innocence and refused to consider affidavits recanting perjured testimony. 

A law signed by Bill Clinton makes it all but impossible to considered new evidence of innocence  in the federal courts, and a ruling in Herrera v. Collins, a U.S. Supreme Court Case in which Clarence Thomas was in the majority, allows states to execute people they know for certain are innocent of the crimes for which they have been sentenced to death.   You read that right.  Clarence Thomas ruled that there is no constitutional problem with executing innocent people.   

In the last eight years, six brothas-Willie Williams, Calvin Johnson, Robert Clark, Douglas Echols, Samuel Scott and Clarence Harrison, have been exonerated by the state of Georgia after being convicted on the basis of false eyewitness testimony.   

Apparently, Harold Melton is ignorant of these cases and is following in Clarence Thomas’s corrupt footsteps because when Troy Davis reached the end of the line, and his execution date was set,  he voted against the Georgia Supreme Court hearing this case to consider evidence of witness recantation and claims of actual innocence, something appellate courts rarely do after they’ve already heard the case.   Melton, in effect, voted to kill this brotha and proved that he is possessed by the same spirit of evil that has Clarence Thomas in its grip. 

Melton faces the electorate for the first time next year. So let the word go forth, from this time and place, that its open season on Sonny Perdue’s colored confederate, in solidarity with Genarlow and Troy, because Melton’s anti-black jurisprudence is the historical fruit of the poisonous tree of white supremacy and further proof that “The past is not dead.  In fact, its not even past.” 

 

Byrds of a Feather Flock Together

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Byrds of a Feather Flock Together: How Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama learned to accommodate white supremacy under the tutelage of Robert C. Byrd

In West Virginia’s State Capitol rotunda, there is an immense bronze monstrosity that commemorates the massive ego of its favorite son, Senator Robert Carlyle Byrd Jr, the longest serving U.S. Senator in American history. It is a monument to the incredible ignorance and servility of West Virginia’s electorate and its silent ostentation makes a cruel mockery of the state’s history of opposition to slavery and the suffering of its ever-present poor and working class majority.  

Senator Byrd’s principled opposition to the war in Iraq brought the Senate’s oldest war-horse some much needed prominence and acclaim as he trudged toward his crusade for the record books: a ninth six year term.  The Senator likes round numbers and at the conclusion of the current term, Byrd will have served in Congress for 60 years, shattering all previous records for congressional service. 

An orator of some heft, the Napoleonic Byrd routinely regales the Senate with perorations about the Senate of ancient Rome, U.S. Senate history, and mom and apple pie.   Behind those grandfatherly pontifications is something sinister, something dark, and it is the Senator’s own history of white supremacist advocacy as a member of the Ku Klux Klan and his record of opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

Eric Pianin of the Washington Post picks up the story, “In the early 1940’s, a politically ambitious butcher from West Virginia named Bob Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to form a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.  After Byrd had collected the $10 joining fee and $3 charge for a robe and hood from every applicant, the “Grand Dragon” for the mid-Atlantic states came down to tiny Crab Orchard, W. Va., to officially organize the chapter.” 

“As Byrd recalls now, the Klan official, Joel L. Baskin of Arlington, Va., was so impressed with the young Byrd’s organizational skills that he urged him to go into politics. ‘The country needs young men like you in the leadership of the nation,’ Baskin said.” 

With that chilling advice, Byrd embarked upon his legendary political career, which saw service in both houses of the West Virginia legislature and both houses of congress.  Along the way, he was attacked for his Klan associations, which he later “disavowed,” until the next election.   The friendships he made and the alliances built on a foundation of hate, lasted well into the second decade of his political career and they greased his path until he finally ran the U.S. Senate as its Majority Leader.    

A 1978 Time Magazine profile of Senator Byrd reads, “An archconservative, Byrd was regarded by many as a lightweight hanger-on to the influential group of Southern conservatives led by Georgia’s Richard Russell.  What no one realized was that Byrd was already planning his move to gain power in the Senate.  His strategy: to emulate Russell’s mastery of the Senate’s rules.  ‘Senator Russell’-out of reverence, Byrd always called him that-also advised him to study the book of precedents.  Byrd did, religiously, just as he had earlier pored over his butcher’s manual” 

“…Loyal to the Southern wing, he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Pianin of the Washington Post continued, “Byrd filibustered the bill (the Civil Rights Act of 1964) for more than 14 hours as he argued that it abrogated principles of federalism.  He criticized most anti-poverty programs except for food stamps.  And in 1967, he voted against the nomination of Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointed to the Supreme Court.” 

The illumination of Byrd’s opposition to the Marshall Nomination and what that reveals about Hillary and Barack’s craven cultivation of a segregationist fossil is what I wish to focus on.  

Byrd was the final member to address the Senate and blustered “I have reached the conclusion, only last evening, that I shall vote against Mr. Marshall’s confirmation. I shall vote against his confirmation realizing that, from a purely political standpoint, my vote will probably not be a good vote.  Mine being a political career, it is only natural that I cannot be averse to political considerations in many of the decisions which I am called upon to make.   Nevertheless, I feel that political considerations must be subordinated to my strong convictions in matters, which will leave a lasting imprint upon the country, which the next generation will inherent from our hands.”  

“There are those critics who may say that my vote against Mr. Marshall is a “racist vote.”  There are those who may say my vote indicates that I am anti-Negro.  “… Mr. President, the truth of the matter is that I would like to vote for Mr. Marshall, and I am frank to say that I would like to vote for him particularly because he is a Negro.  Yet, I consider it my duty as a Senator, under the Constitution, not to let Mr. Marshall’s race influence my decision.  Having reached the definite conclusion that were Mr. Marshall white, I would vote against him.  I cannot, therefore, let the fact that he is a Negro influence me to vote for him when I would not do so otherwise.”  

“What is the basis for my decision to vote against Mr. Marshall’s confirmation?”  Byrd disingenuously raised the specter of black crime and the liberalization of Supreme Court rulings. He thundered, “I have repeatedly spoken out against Supreme Court decisions which have placed shackles upon the police and which have made increasingly difficult the problem of law enforcement.  …I do not believe that I can be justified in criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court for decisions which favor the criminal if I, by my own actions, fail to take a stand against the appointment of any individual to that Court whose past record in the legal profession and as a jurist point unmistakably, in my judgment, to the likelihood that the nominee will add to an already dangerously imbalanced High Tribunal.”  

Thurgood Marshall’s remarkable career is a powerful testimony to the existence of God because his hand is so clearly visible in the miracles of advocacy Marshall routinely pulled off in hostile southern courtrooms on behalf of African American defendants.   Noted for his groundbreaking and successful strategy of challenging segregation, his work on behalf of black defendants in criminal cases is often overlooked. 

Marshall was the senior member of a triumvirate of black generals leading the charge against segregation and discrimination in this society.  Congressman Adam Clayton Powell led the battle in Congress, Martin Luther King Jr. fought the struggle in the streets and Thurgood led the protracted struggle against discrimination in the civil and criminal courts of the country.   The only thing standing between some criminal defendants and the electric chair, he rode into sleepy southern locales on his white horse, at great personal risk to himself, and fought with the whole armor of God for his clients and won more often than not.   

In 1940, after seven years of private practice, Marshall won his first case in the U.S. Supreme Court.  During the fifties, King asked for Marshall’s help during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. As head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Marshall was glad to oblige.  King underscored the thrust of Marshall’s trial advocacy and the philosophy behind the protests “One thing the gradualists don’t seem to understand: We are not trying to make people love us when we go to court; we are trying to keep them from killing us.” 

Alabama was ground zero in the fight for civil rights by 1955.  Robert J. Norrell, author of “Law In A White Man’s Democracy,” for the Cumberland Law Review, recounts the racist history of Alabama’s Judiciary and the fight against it for equality. Norrell wrote, Electoral forms in Alabama created from 1874 onward were intended primarily to ensure white political supremacy. Despite divisions among whites, the first concern of most white politicians after Reconstruction was to maintain white dominance and to undermine any black influence.  In the new century, much of the effort to maintain white supremacy was focused on the criminal justice system in Alabama. The courts helped to maintain an unfree labor system and discriminatory application of law. 

In 1960, Marshall had moved the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to back up the civil rights movement almost exclusively and the ramifications were profound for the movement.  Again, Norrell, “By 1961, racial feelings had surged to new heights as a result of black challenges to segregation. In the spring of 1960, the sit-in movement protested lunch-counter segregation in most Alabama cities. In May 1961, the ‘freedom-riders’ came to Alabama, and the ensuing violence in Anniston, Birmingham, and Montgomery took racial tensions even higher. A sense of siege pervaded the feelings of many white Alabamians, and predictions of a coming race war were commonplace.” 

Marshall waded in again personally in 1961 on behalf of Alabamian Charles Clarence Hamilton, a black defendant convicted and sentenced to death for raping a white woman. Thurgood got the conviction reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court for a due-process violation. Far from admiring Marshall’s legal acumen as he had done in the past by voting to confirm him to the U.S. Court of Appeals and as Solicitor General; Byrd turned on a dime and reviled it. Confirmed by a vote of 69-11, Byrd’s Machiavellian grandstanding on the nomination of Thurgood Marshall had an audience of one: Senator Richard Russell of Georgia. He was the one man with the power to punch his ticket and smooth the glide path to Senate leadership.  

His efforts paid off handsomely. Pianin of the Washington Post wrote, “…As a rising member of the leadership, Byrd paid close attention to minor legislative details that made life easier for other senators, always showing elaborate courtesy, and wrote thank you notes on the slightest pretext.  In 1971, he challenged Sen. Edward M. Kennedy for the majority whip post and unseated him, after securing the death-bed proxy of the legendary Sen. Richard B. Russell D-Ga …the architect of the southern filibuster against civil rights legislation.” 

After Senator Russell’s death, Byrd sponsored legislation to honor his segregationist legacy by naming the first Senate Office Building in his honor and he paid tribute to him in a 1988 address on the Senate Floor in which he reminisced at Russell’s final resting place, “As I stood by his graveside there beneath the a soft southern sky, my thoughts ran backward across the years we had served together and to the many times when I had sought his sage counsel and advice.  I thought of the example that he had set, as a senator who had truly revered the Senate, and of the impact of his life upon my own.  Here, I thought, was a senator who would have graced the Senate well in any era, at any period, in the broad sweep of its two hundred-year history.  Richard Russell was someone who, more than anyone else I have ever met, should have been President of the United States.” 

A bitter segregationist should have been President of the United States-yeah, right. 

Not content to oppose the form and substance of equality, Byrd also opposed its number one spokesperson and sought to install Supreme Court Justices inimical to civil rights. The Harvard Crimson, Harvard’s student run newspaper, said in a January 11, 1977 article, “He once condemned the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a ‘self seeking rabble rouser,’ suggesting later that the slain civil rights leader had incited the riots that broke out in the wake of his assassination.  Byrd was so opposed to the progressive decisions of the Warren Court that he broke ranks with his colleagues in supporting President Nixon’s ill-fated nominees for the Supreme Court, W. Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell.” 

In 1977, Senator Byrd defeated former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, a passionate civil rights advocate and leader of the forces pushing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for Senate Majority Leader. Again, the Harvard Crimson, “Surprisingly, Byrd received strong support in his campaign for the post not only from conservative Southern Democrats, but from liberals who might more naturally have been expected to support Byrd’s challenger, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey D-Minn.  In fact, so widespread was the liberal defection to Byrd that Humphrey, recognizing he had no chance of winning, withdrew. 

This is the person to whom Hillary and Barack turned to school them in navigating the corridors of senate power. They turned to a former Klansman, segregationist, and archconservative. 

In the November 2006 issue of the Atlantic, staff writer Joshua Green wrote of Hillary Clinton, “Before she was even sworn in, she went to pay obeisance to the very man who had all but driven a stake through her health-care plan, Senator Robert C. Byrd…’I was not exactly a disciple,’ Byrd told me.  ‘I thought she would play upon her having been a president’s wife and expect to have a lot of favors done, a lot of bending and bowing.’ He added huffily, ‘That didn’t concur with my impressions of what a senator should be.’ 

“Instead, Clinton asked Byrd for advice on being a good senator, and got a primer on how to comport herself.  Afterward, she announced her intention to heed Byrd’s advice: ‘Be a workhorse, not a show horse.’…The meeting with Byrd accomplished two things: it sent a public signal about how Clinton planned conduct herself in her new job, and it sent a private signal to Byrd that she wanted to apprentice herself to him.  A senate staffer told me that Clinton also asked Byrd at the meeting if he would lead a series of classes for the freshmen, which she would arrange, on his specialty of parliamentary rules and procedures.  Byrd delightedly agreed.  For more than a year, groups of Senators large and small filed through Byrd’s ornate office in the Capitol for their lessons.  There was no question who was the star pupil.”  

Not to be outdone, Senator Obama wrote in the bestselling Audacity of Hope, “…among Senate Democrats at least, my meetings would end with one consistent recommendation: As soon as possible, they said, I should schedule a meeting with Senator Byrd-not only as a matter of senatorial courtesy, but also because Senator Byrd’s position on the Appropriations Committee and general stature gave him considerable clout.” 

“…We spoke about the Senate’s past, the Presidents he had known, the bills he had managed.  He told me I would do well in the Senate but that I shouldn’t be in too much of a rush-so many senators today become fixated on the White House, not understanding that in the constitutional design it was the Senate that was supreme, the heart and soul of the republic.” 

“…Listening to Senator Byrd speak, I felt with full force all the essential contradictions of me in this new place, with its marble busts, its arcane traditions, its memories and its ghosts. I pondered the fact that, according to his own autobiography, Senator Byrd had received his first taste of leadership in his early twenties, as a member of the Raleigh County Ku Klux Klan…I thought about how he had joined other giants of the Senate, like J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and Richard Russell of Georgia, in Southern resistance to civil rights legislation…I wondered if it should matter.” 

Apparently, in Obamaworld and Hillaryland, it really doesn’t matter. All is forgiven. Senator Obama contemplated the contradictions so deeply that he campaigned for Senator Byrd’s 2006 re-election and raised $634,000 towards his re-election bid through the political action committee, MoveOn.org.  The audacity of Obama’s genuflection to Byrd, and his accommodation of white supremacy meant that like Hillary, he also had internalized his power tutorial well.   

I should hope that the irony of a woman and an African American beating a path to the door of a former segregationist whose “reverence” for the constitution is evidenced by his carrying around a copy of it in his pocket for the entirety of his 6 decades of service in congress is not lost on anyone. Byrd has brandished his little copy of the constitution on the Senate floor for decades but has consistently failed to defend the constitutional rights of African Americans.    

The same could be said of both Hillary and Barack. The constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment is fungible in the Clinton household.   As a young law professor demonstrating an idealistic commitment to justice, Hillary Clinton wrote a brief that freed a retarded inmate from death row. It was a commitment that was to be sacrificed in order to embrace the calculated and bloodless political expediency that propelled the Clintons to Washington.

In her husband’s final term as governor, as he campaigned for President, she stood mute as he allowed the execution of a brain damaged black man, Ricky Ray Rector, who killed a police officer and then lobotomized himself with a gun shot to the head. 

Christopher Hitchens described the craven act brutally, Executed by Clinton to draw attention from the Gennifer Flowers flap (about which he also lied) Rector outdoes Willie Horton by every definition of racist grandstanding.” Rector was so mentally impaired that Rector’s prison guards called him “the Chickman” because he thought the guards were throwing alligators and chickens into his cell. He would grip the bars and jump up and down like an ape. On the night of his execution, Rector saved the slice of pecan pie to be eaten before bedtime, not realizing his death would come first. He also told his attorney that he would like to vote for Clinton in the fall,” wrote Alexander Nguyen of the American Prospect.

Rector was a man that Thurgood Marshall, then in his final term as a justice, would have ruled to spare had the Court chosen to hear his last appeal.  Marshall wrote in his dissent, Ultimately, then, the common law conception of incompetence embodies the principle that it is inhumane to put a man to death when he has been rendered incapable of appealing to the mercy of the society that has condemned him.”   The Clintons respected Marshall’s point of view so thoroughly that they fast-tracked executions when Bill signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which allows the death penalty for an additional 60 crimes and short circuits death row appeals based on due process violations and actual innocence.    

In Chicago, a twenty-year reign of racist terror by Southside Chicago Cops was summarily ignored by Barack Obama and his political patron, Mayor Rich Daley. From the website of the University of Chicago Police Torture Archive, “Between the years of 1972 and 1991, approximately [192] African American Men and women were arrested and tortured at the hands of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command at Area 2 police headquarters.  Some of these victims were as young as thirteen years old. Various court cases have established that the methods of torture used in the interrogation of suspects included electric shock to the ears and genitalia, mock executions, suffocation, and burning. While Jon Burge was ultimately fired by the Chicago Police Department, not a single perpetrator of the tortures has ever been criminally prosecuted.”  Fourteen of those tortured were sent to death row.  

Throughout almost the entire period of racist terror, either the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, or his son, Richard M. Daley, was in a position of power to stop these human rights violations and neither did anything.  Knowing all of this, Barack Obama endorsed the Mayor’s re-election bid for a sixth term and accepted the Mayor’s endorsement for President while simultaneously grandstanding on the Senate floor against the torture of foreign terrorism suspects.   Barack Obama, like Hillary, defecated on the legacy of Thurgood Marshall and showed to all the world that Byrds of a feather do indeed flock together to accommodate white supremacy.

 

Lurleen’s Ghost: false prophets, empty symbolism, and the endurance of white supremacy

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Then the LORD said unto me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them. They prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought and the deceit of their heart.- Jeremiah 14:14

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. -1 John 4: 1

The Battle of Selma, an internecine conflict between Queen Hillary and the Safe Negro, Barack Obama, for the black vote, was waged in February and the combatants were both in rare form. To the uninitiated, it seemed that the courageous people who were battered and bloodied on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to secure African Americans voting rights inspired both. That would be wrong.

What the world witnessed was a big show of religiosity cynically calculated to pander to the vast majority of politically active and deluded black people facing a Hobson’s choice between two “articulate and clean” false prophets whose symbolic candidacies mask a hidden agenda to tend to America’s ruling class as servants and protectors of capitalist imperialism.

Michael Parenti, author of “Dirty Truths” has written: The history of the United States has been one of territorial and economic expansionism, with the benefits going mostly to the U.S. business class in the form of growing investments and markets, access to rich natural resources and cheap labor, and the accumulation of enormous profits. The American people have had to pay the costs of empire, supporting a huge military establishment with their taxes, while suffering the loss of jobs, the neglect of domestic services, and the loss of tens of thousands of American lives in overseas military ventures.

The greatest costs, of course, have been borne by the peoples of the Third World who have endured poverty, pillage, disease, dispossession, exploitation, illiteracy, and the widespread destruction of their lands, cultures, and lives.

The racial dimensions of our economic, political and military hegemony over the world’s people of color are an unstated but unmistakable form of white supremacy. Black Agenda Report has tilled the soil on this ground quite thoroughly. I highly recommend reading their piece on this subject. The meaning of Selma has been percolating in my mind for some weeks now and it gelled Friday while I dozed off in Barnes and Noble after work. What I would like to explore with you, if you’ll permit me, is the triumph of white supremacy over our politics and why I think Hillary and Barack are both agents of its facilitation.

In telling the story of white supremacy’s evolving political stranglehold, it is useful to examine the past as a template for the present.

One of the reasons I came to the south is because of its politics. Among the most colorful in the nation, the south has produced some world-class pols and demagogues. Some of the most notable: LBJ, Huey Long, and George Wallace. All three possessed an intuitive understanding of power. Both Huey Long and George Wallace understood the value of machine politics and the practical uses of propaganda.

Bill Clinton is not the first southern pol to advance his wife forward to maintain a foothold on power. Texas Governor James Ferguson was, running his wife Miriam and in his footsteps followed Alabama Governor George Wallace. Stephan Lesher, author of “George Wallace: American Populist,” picks up the story, “Wallace learned about the Fergusons shortly after Lurleen’s announcement; his source, of all people, was the President of the United States during a White House briefing on Vietnam for the nation’s governors…Then, Johnson regaled him with one of James’s 1924 campaign speeches in which he had explained how the couple would operate if Miriam was elected: he would be her number one assistant, he would say, but he would also “tote the wood and draw the water at the governor’s mansion.” Wallace knew a good line when he heard it-and adapted it in every speech he would make over the next months.”

George Wallace pursued the presidency with a vigor we’ve not seen recently until the emergence of the Clinton juggernaut. Running four times in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976, he used every asset at his disposal to hold the Governorship of Alabama as a powerbase and springboard to the Presidency. One of those assets was his wife, Lurleen. Forced out by term limits in 1966, he ran Mrs. Wallace in his place as a surrogate. She pledged to the people that she would “let George do it” [run the state].

I have been thinking of the demure and modest homemaker thrust into the limelight by a controlling husband to maintain his own power and to make up for his unconscionable philandering. By elevating her to the governor’s chair, he gave her something no other man could: power and status. In so doing, he repaired their unhappy marriage. The same could be said of the Clintons despite Hillary’s unquestioned ability to run this country without her husband. She would not be on the cusp of making history without him. Echoing the Fergusons before them, we are still “getting two for the price of one.” And make no mistake, he is “tot[ing] the wood and drawing the water” for this campaign behind the scenes.

The campaign of 1966 was an interesting spectacle that reminds me of the current 2008 contest. The Alabama establishment had two contenders to choose from and chose only one: Lurleen Wallace and by extension, George. Former Governor Patterson who had defeated George for Governor in 1958 was a bitter segregationist. George’s spirited defense of white supremacy deflated his sails and she won going away. Patterson provoked the immortal statement from George in Marshal Frady’s legendary biography “Wallace,” “John Patterson out nigguhed me. And boys, I’m not goin’ to be out-nigguhed again.”

Indeed, he never was. He came to be seen as the personification of segregationist resistance. He introduced himself to the American people by way of an incendiary Inaugural Address penned by a Klansman in which he proclaimed, “Segregation Now! Segregation Tomorrow! Segregation Forever!” Additionally, he reaped nationwide publicity for his melodramatic stand in the schoolhouse door of the University of Alabama. His demagogic advocacy of white supremacy connected him with the masses of disaffected whites fearful of black advancement. He turned their disaffection into an independent movement that mainstream Democratic and Republican politicians are still accommodating.

Dan Carter, author of the article “Legacy of Rage: George Wallace and the Transformation of American Politics” wrote, “Unwilling to listen to the dwindling handful of politicians who spoke of unpleasant choices, Americans willingly turned to the more satisfying task of exorcising demons. For politicians, it was a dilemma not unlike that facing George Wallace in 1962. I started off talking about schools and highways and prisons and taxes-and I couldn’t get them to listen,” he confided to an old supporter. “Then I began talking about niggers-and they stomped the floor.”

“Although working and middle class Americans in the 1960s periodically expressed uneasiness over inflation and the failure of wages to keep pace with the cost of living, widespread economic insecurity and declining incomes were not characteristic of the decade. It was primarily a sense of cultural and social dislocation- and out and out racism-that furnished the fuel for George Wallace’s angry rhetoric.”

Bill Clinton, although still a college student, was an active political operative by this time and a Capitol Hill intern for segregationist Arkansas Senator William Fulbright. He saw for himself how potent the politics of race was during the desegregation of Little Rock, Arkansas Public Schools a decade before. Governor Faubus parlayed his opposition to desegregation into an unprecedented six two-year terms as governor, a tenure equaled only by Clinton himself. In addition, Bill couldn’t have possibly missed Arkansas tepid support of LBJ in 1964 and its plurality support of Wallace’s third party bid in 1968.

Despite protestations to the contrary, white supremacy is still a factor today and has been supported by an exclusive focus on the integration of the ranks of politicians, public accommodations, and the desegregation of the public schools and institutions of higher learning. There is another institution, which is sadly deficient in its adherence to fairness and the rule of law: the judiciary. We’ve lost many battles and are losing the war.

The foundation of equal opportunity is crumbling before our eyes and the Roberts Court is leading the charge to destroy it once and for all. How did we get here? We got here because for some reason, we’re more concerned with electing politicians on the basis of showmanship-not policy. Politicians like Bill, Hillary, and Barack, use the politics of identity against us, rather than use it to create common ground.

The essence of their positions regarding judicial selection and due process reflect the political expediency of politicians on the make. Bill Clinton in 1992 famously executed Ricky Ray Rector, Christopher Hitchens described the incident Lobotomized by his own bullet, this disabled black convict did not understand either his trial or his sentence. Executed by Clinton to draw attention from the Gennifer Flowers flap (about which he also lied) Rector outdoes Willie Horton by every definition of racist grandstanding. His snuffing was not just an election tactic, bad enough though that would have been. In power, Clinton fast-tracked capital punishment to the point where even Republican governors and legislatures have had to try and slow it down.”

As President, he fast-tracked executions by signing legislation that increased the number of crimes that were death penalty eligible and which severely short-circuited habeas corpus, resulting in the dramatically increased possibility of executing the innocent. He even executed someone in Arkansas whose innocence was legitimately in question. Alexander Nguyen of American Prospect wrote, Also executed during the (1992) campaign was Steven Douglas Hill, who was convicted of shooting a state police investigator after he and an accomplice escaped from a state prison. Hill confessed to the crime, but his partner Michael Cox has insisted for years that it was he, not Hill, who pulled the trigger. In all, Arkansas executed four people on Clinton‘s watch.

Hillary stood by and never meddled in the process of shedding unnecessary blood to elevate themselves to the ultimate power of the Presidency. Given the choice between standing for what’s right and sacrificing power, she chose to support her husband and sacrifice a life giving the lie to the arguments regarding gender diversity in the ranks of elected politicians. While in the Senate, she and her rival, Barack Obama, have played it safe-very safe. The youthful opposition to the death penalty has given way to safe positions crafted to advance viable Presidential candidacies and leave undisturbed the grip of white supremacy over our Judiciary.

Bush has twice nominated arch Conservatives to the Supreme Court and twice Barack and Hillary refused to filibuster those nominations to death.  He and Hillary cast the right vote on the Alito nomination against cloture (shutting off debate), but they were just going through the motions.  Neither put up a fight against John Roberts, although they voted against him. A passionate level of opposition and principled advocacy would have sent a powerful signal to the civil rights community that those two meant business and would have provided political cover for their weak-kneed colleagues to man-up and follow suit.

John Kerry said it best of John Roberts, “Judge Roberts argued against using the “effects test” to determine whether section 2 of the Voting Rights Act was violated. Instead, he believed and “intent” test—requiring proof of a discriminatory motive should be required, regardless of the fact that many victims of discrimination would be unable to prove real discriminatory intent and therefore unable to enjoy the protections afforded by the Act. In some cases, the effect of Judge Roberts’ intent test meant that disenfranchised individuals had to prove the motive of long dead officials who crafted election rules. That is a foolish standard when it comes between citizens and their constitutionally protected right to fair representation in our democracy.”

As someone who represented a majority black legislative district created as a nod to the Voting Rights Act, Barack Obama, should have vigorously filibustered both of Bush’s reactionary appointments. Their collective hostility to the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action, and race discrimination claims were more than sufficient to ignite the fires of Barack’s righteous indignation. Alas, the safe Negro never gets angry or loses his temper on behalf of our people because it would get in the way of playing kiss-ass to Senate colleagues and the white power structure he hopes one day to join as our President.

So, chirren, let me end as I began because the scriptures are clear, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Hillary and Barack have both been tested in the heat of political battle for their progressive mettle and adherence to truth and in my mind, both have failed and revealed themselves to be false prophets and “New Democrats” in thrall to white supremacy.

The time has come for a death penalty for fashion faux pas

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MERYL STREEP photo

On the left, Actress Meryl Streep, nominated for Best Actress for The Devil Wears Prada this year at the academy awards.  On the right, Meryl Streep, four short years ago.    The horrible truth of the photo on the left is that Meryl is actually wearing Prada and it looks a hot damn mess.   In fact, Meryl looks a hot damn mess.   I don’t know who the Hell put together this look for this stunning Diva of the red carpet, but they obviously need to be put to death.   There is no explanation for this I am willing to accept.   They should be freaking killed immediately.  Disregard anything I’ve said previously about the death penalty. Clearly, there should be an exception for fashion crimes of this magnitude. 

I’m forgetting Meryl’s part in this travesty.   Having slimmed down to sport the immaculately banging outfits in the movie, Miss Meryl should know by now how to dress her body whatever weight she happens to be.   At 57, Meryl is still a beautiful woman and this hideous outfit is beneath a woman of her stature.   I don’t know what Hippy chic is, but this damn sho’ ain’t it.   She should be imprisoned for life for the shoes alone. Shame on you, Girl.  

Should America become the grotesque police state Dick Cheney fantasizes about, the fashion Czar Joan Rivers will have people executed on the red carpet for turning up in unflattering attire.  As well it should be.

O’Malley takes a stand against Death Penalty

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Governor Martin O'MalleyMaryland’s new Governor has taken a forceful and courageous stand against Maryland’s Death Penalty. It is a bold and unexpected move that distinguishes him in the public mind as a conviction politician.  I couldn’t be more overjoyed.  

In the days of focus groups and weekly tracking polls, it is rare to see politicians taking a stands like this based on conviction.   It is so rare that even a Skeptical Brotha like me had to sit up, take notice, and applaud him.   He definitely is the hero of the Week.

After eight years of this, I see something else on the horizon for this conviction politician bigger and better than Annapolis.   Something in Washington, D.C. perhaps?