Y’all need to chill! Seriously!

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Mitt Romney is the living embodiment of a President from Hollywood central casting.  His all-American good looks and patrician bearing are reassuring to some folk and harkens back to the halcyon days of yesteryear when times were simple and dark people, women and gays knew their proper places.  Following the lead of Congressional Republicans in racializing Obama’s policy agenda, Mitt Romney’s strategists, conscious of their diminishing odds of winning this election, elected to frame their horse’s throwback candidacy in a way that intentionally stokes a sense of white racial resentment.  President Obama’s every thought, word and deed is construed as a racial attack on God-fearing, taxpaying white Americans. Whites are cast as the victims in this alternate Republican universe and Mitt Romney is the savior they’ve been praying for.  It is a lie, like everything the modern Republican Party stands for. It doesn’t matter how confidently Mitt Romney recites his lies. A confident lie is still a lie. Remain calm. There is nothing that transpired yesterday between the contenders to America’s throne that should disturb any Obama partisan.

Let’s review. In the span of 50 years, we’ve gone from, “Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever,” to the eleventh great grandson of the first enslaved African serving as President of the United States.  God is speaking through this recent revelation in Obama’s family tree. Can you hear him? I believe in my sanctified soul that Barack Obama’s miraculous rise to the presidency was predestined. The African ancestry traceable through his “white” mother shatters the myth of white supremacy and cleanses the stain of chattel slavery.  In Jeremiah 1:5, God tells his prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:10 states, “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”  Every step this brotha has taken in the last thirty years has been ordered by The One Most High.

Eight years ago, Barack Obama was a minor state legislator nobody had ever heard of. He gamely took on the State Comptroller and a Multi-Millionaire Businessman for the chance to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate. Heavily outspent, he vanquished them both. Plucked from obscurity by John Kerry to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, he electrified the nation. Two opponents, including his attractive Republican opponent, self-destructed in sex-scandals. Smears, misinformation and right-wing distortions, many of the same we hear today, were employed by an unhinged Republican to stop his rise.  None worked. Four years later he went on to defeat the most formidible political dynasty the Democratic Party has ever produced to claim the Democratic nomination for President. The Clintons questioned his fitness for the Presidency and Bill Clinton dismissed his ambition as a “fairytale” and prompted Teddy Kennedy to endorse Obama after letting rip, “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” Oh, how the worm has turned. President and Mrs. Clinton both serve at Obama’s pleasure now.

We love him because he has always displayed the cool serenity and regal dignity that every child of God should emulate.  This is the same president that shamed Donald Trump on Wednesday, punked his ass contemptuously on Saturday, and killed Bin Laden on Sunday.  Don’t believe for one minute that an empty suit like Mitt Romney got under our president’s skin last night.  Don’t fall for that.  Obama set a trap and Romney took the bait. Romney shook his etch-a-sketch so hard that he broke it.  This is the same president that allowed Republican extremism and obstructionism to trap them into the untenable position of opposing tax cuts, a grand bargain on deficit reduction and a debt limit extension.   To hear some pundits tell it, Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he always seems to come out on top.

Romney still has much to answer for. The specificity of his budget and tax plan that journalists and pundits were critical of earlier in the week sure as hell didn’t materialize last night. What we heard was a lot of nonsensical doubletalk and backpedalling from what he was saying during the primaries.  The Obama for America campaign is sure to take a hefty pound of flesh from Romney for his evasions and falsehoods.  The ads should pretty much write themselves. All one has to do is stack Romney’s inconsistencies on top of one another and call it a damn day.

The corporate media knows that this race was over a long time ago. It doesn’t want to give up the ghost just yet because it invests the empty theatrics and ridiculous posturing of the modern presidential debate with more meaning than the serious policy discussions it was designed to facilitate. The contention that stagecraft means more than statecraft is a serious indictment of our fourth estate and an indication that the systemic corruption beneath the Media’s shiny façade threatens our democracy.  We need to continue working, watching and praying for healing and racial reconciliation in our country.

There is a hymn that goes, “We’ve come this far by faith. Leaning on the Lord. Trusting in His holy word… Just the other day I heard someone say he didn’t believe in God’s word. But I can truly say that God has made a way.  And He’s never failed me yet. That’s why we’ve come this far by faith.”

Of blue collars and rednecks

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I have a confession to make. I am exhausted. Sadly, I’m too spent to muster any enthusiasm or energy to witness any of the history happening around me first hand. Nevertheless, it is happening and it has meaning that many too dependent on the misbegotten impressions of the establishment press corps fail to discern.

Hillary Clinton’s trail of crocodile tears into the bosom of blue collar, redneck America has been an interesting fall from the imperial heights from which this campaign began. Getting down and dirty with America’s great unwashed hoards was only supposed to be an indignity reserved for Iowa and New Hampshire before the coronation. Conventional wisdom told us that anything more would be unnecessary because it was obviously Hillary’s turn. Her claim to the throne as America’s Queen, ironclad.

Supposedly, the worldly celebrity sophisticates from Chappaqua now revel in having to come down from their $109 million dollar mountaintop to rub shoulders with ordinary farmers and shift workers, and enjoy being forced to engage in a morally bankrupt blood sport to deny Barack Obama the White House in order to preserve Hillary Clinton’s post 2008 Presidential viability. I don’t believe a word, baby.

As Hillary’s designated “Ambassador to rural America,” Bill Clinton has put on a good show of feigned sympathy and cornpone compassion for the plight of rural North Carolina’s put upon Jessecrats. “Who and what are Jessecrats,” you ask. To put it simply, they are rural white Democrats who rationalized Jesse Helms fealty to Segregation and White Supremacy as character.

During a stint as a security guard in a grocery store, a Jessecrat I’ll call Mr. Earl told me to my face that he respected and voted for Jesse Helms because he didn’t change what he believed. Mr. Earl shook my hand firmly and was a courtly, portly, older gentleman and native of the small town I live in now. Mr. Earl and Senator Helms personify the rural, closed social network and reactionary Bible belt values that I regard as commonplace and intuitively understand. In many ways, I am his younger black equivalent.

Anyhoo, Bill’s Hillbilly’s for Hillary road show shtick is damn interesting in what it reveals about the campaign and our politics. Race, as I’ve discussed umpteen times in the past, is undeniably a factor in this campaign. Moreover, it is the real reason for Bill’s bogus tour of rural seduction.

According to an account in the Dunn Daily Record about an appearance in Lillington, NC, a Harnett county town just a stonestrow from my home, “The political rhetoric got started before the former president even took the stage in Lillington, with former Sen. Robert Morgan introducing President Clinton, praising him and criticizing the current occupant of the White House, President George W. Bush. “He presided over the country when we had one of the largest budget surpluses in our history,” Sen. Morgan said of President Clinton. “The best I can tell he is the only president that has ever been in Harnett County, and I am proud to introduce him.”



The president said he was glad to have the opportunity to see Sen. Morgan again. “Bob Morgan has been a friend of mine for a lot of years and I am proud to be here with him today,” President Clinton said.
I am sure that it would please you to know that Senator Morgan was the campaign manager for the last candidate for Governor of North Carolina to run on an avowedly segregationist platform.

Yes, children, the candidate’s name was I. Beverly Lake Sr. A law professor, lawyer and state supreme court justice. He participated in oral argument against Brown v. Board of Education as North Carolina’s Assistant Attorney General. By 1960, he was the unquestioned leader of the state’s segregationists and he became a candidate for Governor.

As he describes in an oral history interview, “Those men whom I taught, not only in that class but in all the others before it, those men became the nucleus of my political campaign when I ran for Governor in 1960 and again in 1964.” Robert Morgan was one of those men.

Judge Lake’s boys became the most powerful men in North Carolina. CEOs of corporations, state supreme court judges, federal judges, and members of congress, they were a closed fraternity and were undeniably influential members of the white power structure. This is the network, which the Clintons turn to put them over. It is also the network that controls Democratic politics in North Carolina and it’s the reason for Democratic dominance over the Governor’s mansion for 24 of the last 32 years.

Bill and Hillary are intimately acquainted with closed Good Ole Boy and Girl networks of power, having benefited from the one that controls Arkansas. When she first arrived in Arkansas, Bill arranged for Hillary to be given a teaching position in the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville School of Law, where he also taught. After his election as Arkansas Attorney General, Clinton biographer Roger Morris, author of Partners in Power, recalls how Bill called up Herbert Rule III, a partner in the Rose law firm and Clinton fundraiser.

Morris quoted Rule “I got the word from Bill Clinton that she was coming and I tracked her down,” Rule said later. At the time the firm had few women or even Ivy League law credentials, and Rose rarely recruited from law school faculties or legal aid clinics. “Hillary was just a law professor, that’s all,” remarked one partner. But the firm saw her obvious value, offering the twenty-nine-year-old attorney a salary just under $25,000—far higher than the pay in Arkansas for teaching or public interest law and well more than Clinton himself would make as attorney general.”

“…The decision had been made when she decided to marry, to go with his career as the engine for her own ambition and power,” said someone who had known them since Yale. “By the time Rose came across with the offer, she was going to do whatever was best for Bill, whatever would get them to the top—and I mean all the way to the top—as fast as possible.”

“…Both sides recognized the mutual compact in Rose’s employing the wife of an attorney general and politician on the rise…For the firm she was a natural hireling. Formed before statehood and named for a founder of the American Bar Association, Rose had numbered among its partners judges and state supreme court justices, mayors, legislators, a US Senator, and , above all, the intimates of those in power, figures who exerted their force more discreetly, without potentially awkward public visibility, without accountability. It was a matter of appearance and reality in an Arkansas when the two were frequently not the same.”

“For a century and a half Rose represented and wielded the influence of the most powerful forces in the state—in land, timber, retailing, insurance, investment banking, agriculture, financial services—and, with governments at all levels, virtually the entire enveloping grid of political privilege and consequent private profit from the Ozarks to the Delta.

“What Arkansas was the Rose Law Firm had been well paid to make it—and to protect and maintain the result. The discreet firm’s own fortunes were inseparable from the economic and social system it served. Beyond any considerations of gender, resume, or name, Hillary Rodham’s presence on the letterhead was in a long tradition.”

Operating as a preserve of racial exclusivity is apparently a long tradition as well because not even one of the current crop of 30 plus attorneys practicing law as associates or partners with Rose Law, a firm Hillary Rodham Clinton served as a partner and had a say in running, is African American.

For Billary to attempt masquerading as champions of the working class is funnier than Larry Craig explaining his wide stance. For the record, Bill and Hillary Clinton got to where they are by servicing the needs of white corporate power. Period. Anybody who says anything different is crazier than Brittney Spears.

It’s funny how the questionable associations of the Clintons are not being placed under the same microscope as Barack Obama’s. Associations like these could be ferreted out, discussed and disseminated widely by the media and Obama’s post-racial campaign. But, then, it wouldn’t be post-racial if he obsessed over the corporate and segregationist allies of Bill and Hillary. And it would reveal that the deliberate lies about race and power told in the supposedly post-racial 21st century are essentially the same as the ones told in the twentieth.

Speaking of the past, Bill and Hill’s rustic pander fest is reminiscent of another road show that has been lost down the memory hole. It’s Lurleen Wallace’s 1966 campaign for Governor of Alabama. Lurleen Wallace, long term readers of this blog will recall, was the wife of Alabama’s term-limited segregationist Governor, George Wallace. She ran to continue her husband’s hold on power.

I ran across a beautifully written article in the Saturday Evening Post detailing the campaign, “A huge WALLACE FOR GOVERNOR sign hung behind speakers stand. It did not make a point of the fact that it was Mrs. Wallace who was the candidate. Along the sidewalls faded banners bore George Wallace’s old cry of defiance—STAND UP FOR ALABAMA. At the doors Wallace aides held out baskets into which the faithful dropped dollar bills. An elderly minister offered a long and fervent prayer. At the end of it he paused and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to present to you the First Lady of the State of Alabama.”

“Mrs. Wallace stood up and calmly began to read her little speech, “As you know,” she said, “I am a candidate for governor of Alabama. I am happy to offer to you a continuance of the honesty and efficiency so much in evidence during the administration of my husband,” In the back of the hall a man leaning against the wall muttered to a companion, “That’s enough of her—let’s get on to George,” Wallace could not possibly have heard this remark, but his political antenna were responding to the mood of the audience.

“He sensed its impatience. He rose and moved to his wife’s side, “My election,” she was saying, “will enable my husband to carry on his program for Alabama—we want to continue to serve you together.” This is the central argument of Hillary’s campaign and nothing symbolized it more than when they jointly eulogized Coretta Scott King from the pulpit.

“… He [Wallace] then went on to tell them that in his travels around the country he had not found any people anywhere who were “more intelligent or more cultured or more refined than the people of Alabama.” This is what I hear when I hear Bill and Hill tell folks that they matter more than the caucus states and when I hear tell of their shifting rationales for counting Michigan and Florida, contrary to the rules, and their proposed use of the so-called Nuclear Option to seat their people.

Bill seems to be consciously channeling Wallace as he panders his way through the country’s rural areas. Ecohoing Wallace’s infamous 1963 Inaugural, shortly before he stood in the schoolhouse door of the University of Alabama, can’t you just imagine Bill saying, “Today I have stood, where some segregationist once stood, and took an oath to my wife, the woman who single-handedly kept my presidency alive. It is very appropriate then, that from this Cradle of the Confederacy, this very Heart of the Great Anglo-Saxon Southland, that today we sound the drum for freedom in the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of Obama tyranny and I say Hillary today, Hillary tomorrow, Hillary forever.

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.