Leon Jenkins Resigns In Disgrace

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Los Angeles NAACP President Leon Jenkins has resigned amid scrutiny surrounding the organization’s decision to give awards to disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

In his letter of resignation Thursday evening, Jenkins said the “legacy, history and reputation of the NAACP is more important to me than the presidency. In order to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused … I respectfully resign my position as president of the Los Angeles NAACP.”

The group granted Sterling an award in 2009, the same year the real estate magnate and L.A. Clippers owner paid $2.73 million to settle U.S. government claims that he refused to rent his apartments in Koreatown to Latinos and blacks.

The chapter was set to give Sterling a second award when a recording emerged in which a man said to be Sterling asked a female friend not to publicly associate with African Americans.

While Jenkins was a Detroit judge, he was indicted in 1988 on federal bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and racketeering charges, according to records from the State Bar of California.

Authorities at the time alleged that Jenkins received gifts from those who appeared in his court and committed perjury, according to the records.

He was acquitted of criminal charges, but in 1994 the Michigan Supreme Court disbarred him, finding “overwhelming evidence” that Jenkins “sold his office and his public trust,” according to the bar records.

Jenkins was practicing law in California in 1991, serving as an attorney to the family of Latasha Harlins, an African American girl who was fatally shot by a Korean grocery store owner in South L.A., according to Times reports at the time.

In 1995, the state bar began looking into the misconduct allegations from Michigan. He was disbarred in 2001. He tried to be reinstated in 2006 but was rejected, according to records. He made another attempt in 2012.

Earlier this month, the bar turned him down, questioning whether he had the “moral fitness to resume the practice of law,” according to records. The bar stated that he had made misrepresentations on divorce papers and on his petition for reinstatement to the bar. Officials said he failed to disclose a $660,000 loan he owed former legal clients.

In his efforts to win back his law license, Jenkins said he was a rehabilitated man and a force for good in the community.

He said he’s raised $2 million for the NAACP’s 2011 national convention in Los Angeles. He also cited work with organizations that helped African Americans, including youth mentoring programs and voter outreach.

On the L.A. NAACP’s website, a biography for Jenkins notes he was “the youngest African American judge to serve in Michigan” but does not mention his legal troubles.

Jenkins did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Donald Sterling’s House Negro: Leon Jenkins

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By now you’ve heard of the toxic swirl of racism surrounding Billionaire Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise. What you may not have heard about is the complicity of the Los Angeles NAACP in covering up for this infamous racist with a public relations problem. In 2009, the same year that Sterling settled a federal housing discrimination case, the largest in history, the LA NAACP gave Mr. Sterling a “lifetime achievement award.” Sterling, in fact, has paid out more than $8 million in housing discrimination cases related to his extensive real-estate holdngs. Apparently the President of Los Angeles NAACP, Leon Jenkins, felt this record of hate was worthy of celebration. The billionaire racist was so outstanding by Jenkins lights that he was set to award the bastard with yet another “lifetime achievement award” this year.

Donald Sterling is what happens when you make a disbarred attorney and defrocked judge the president of civil rights organization. The California State Bar picks up the story:

Jenkins was admitted to practice in Michigan in 1979 and in California the following year. In 1984, he was appointed a district court judge in Michigan, a position equivalent to a municipal court judge in California before courts here were unified. The Michigan Supreme Court found that between 1984 and 1987, Jenkins “systematically and routinely sold his office and his public trust, . . . committed wholesale violations of the most elementary canons of judicial conduct, and brought grave dishonor upon this state’s judiciary.”

The court found that he accepted bribes to dismiss traffic citations, intentionally misstated his address to get a reduction in his auto insurance premiums, solicited an individual for whom he fixed traffic tickets to commit perjury in a federal investigation of Jenkins’ conduct, engaged in improper communications with parties and counsel regarding matters coming before him, improperly accepted gifts and favors from litigants and counsel who appeared before him, and signed a writ of habeas corpus to release from custody someone he believed to be a close friend without adequate information about the case.

Although Jenkins was prosecuted twice in federal court, he was not found guilty. In 1991, between the two trials, he was removed from the bench by the Michigan Supreme Court. Three years later, after an 11-day hearing before the state’s discipline board, his license was revoked. The following year, disciplinary proceedings began in California under a statute which permits professional misconduct in another jurisdiction to be considered in a disciplinary proceeding in this state.

California subsequently disbarred Jenkins in 2001. He remains disbarred to this day. He is a crook and a charlatan that has sought to regain his lost prestige and credibility by remaking himself into a civil rights leader. Jenkins was elected President of the LA NAACP in 2008 and wasted no time in cozying up to billionaire racist Donald Sterling.  He put his considerable charm and people skills to use to promote a racist at the expense of the organization’s mission. The billionaire, looking to clean up his tarnished image, opened his considerable pockets and broke Jenkins off a piece. This unconscionable corruption is grounds for immediate suspension by the national NAACP of all LA NAACP branch officers. The NAACP wouldn’t have to whore itself out to corporations and billionaire racists to stay afloat if it was actually doing something.

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.”

You is kind, you is smart, you is really playing a damn Mammy in 2012?

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Sorry Y’all, I just can’t get over black women of my generation willing to lower themselves to play mammies that whitewash the Jim Crow subjugation of our people while Barack and Michelle Obama are living in the White House.  There is something profoundly deceitful about that which completely ignores the struggle to go from the slave quarters to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Secondly, I can’t give a pass to these admittedly gifted actresses who collude with an unscrupulous author like Kathryn Stockett in her deliberate theft of a real black woman’s name, image and likeness just to make a buck.

While I applaud the Academy for selecting the incomparable Meryl Streep for Best Actress, any organization that could nominate The Help for a Best Picture nod is irredeemably evil. It is almost criminal that Black actors can only be recognized for roles that debase & defame black people as pathological and dysfunctional stereotypes.

I realize that it is hard out here for black actors, but on some level don’t Whoopi, Halle, Taraji, Gabourey, Monique,Viola, Octavia and their Black brothers, have a responsibility for the characters they’re willing to portray given the blatant racism in Hollywood? Is the validation of Whitefolks really that valuable?

Incremental Change I Can Believe In

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As the nation sits on the precipice of default and worldwide Depression, my frustration with progressives has turned from annoyance to blind rage.  The delusional fantasy that Barack Obama can wave a magic wand, part the Red Sea, and create progressive change with the stroke of a pen, just won’t die.  And it frustrates the hell out of me.  I understand the mindset intimately because I was there.  This presidency is a unique moment in American history and it has fueled the idealism of the American people. That’s a good thing.  However, it has also unleashed a tsunami of unrealistic expectations.  

Our system of government is designed to frustrate reform and change, especially progressive change. Whatever change we manage to get is ALWAYS incremental and a foundation that can be built upon. I thought that was widely understood.  I was wrong.

Anybody who hasn’t been under a rock for the last few weeks understands that there is no reasoning with the Republicans on Capitol Hill or anywhere else.  David Brooks said it best:

… the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative. The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

…If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.

And they will be right.

Given the ruinous catastrophe that the country faces, I find it maddening that some progressives think that the president is going to be able to achieve anything worthwhile as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives.  Didn’t we learn this lesson 16 years ago when Bill Clinton was president? After Clinton’s re-election the GOP doubled down on the crazy.  Bill Clinton was immensely flattered to be considered the first black president and the Republicans resolved that any white male that would cop to that should be treated like a nigger. That’s what the humiliation of impeachment was ultimately about and they haven’t changed. The thin veneer of solidarity with African Americans and other people of color displayed by our party leaders renders the Right-Wing constitutionally incapable of accepting any Democratic President’s legitimacy.

Thirteen years later, the president who saved us from Depression, secured comprehensive health reform, and reversed DADT without embarrassing his wife, his family, and the nation with sordid details of oval office fellatio, can’t seem to do anything right for the people who vigorously defended the philanderer-in-chief who got all of that progressive policy wrong in addition to weakening the social safety net and deregulating the banks that speculated us into the current predicament.  In the African American community, there is an aphorism that we are taught as children: We have to be twice as good to get half as much.  True to form, Barack Obama is twice as good as Bill Clinton ever was and doesn’t even get half the credit.

I’m tired of the cacophony of criticism from the firebagger caucus that President Obama is somehow defective.  He’s the most effective president on domestic policy since LBJ. Unlike Charlie Sheen, Barack Obama IS winning, which I think is the realization fueling the Republican drive to blow up the economy and his presidency so they can play blame-a-nigga games during the 2012 Presidential election.

The fact that firebaggers refuse to acknowledge the latent racism behind Republican machinations blocking a raise in the debt ceiling reveals that Republicans are not the only ones with a race problem they need to own up to. The need for Barack Obama to be perfection personified before some progressives can trust and applaud his leadership is delusional at best.  At worst it is racist and it is time we had an adult conversation about that. His election has not exorcised the demon of racism in this country and relieves no one of their moral obligation to continue supporting fairness and equal opportunity.

If President Obama has a failing, it is that he refuses to acknowledge that truth and the racism behind the animus he faces from the Republicans.  Whatever.  I’ll support him regardless because nobody in my lifetime has demonstrated that they’re more worthy of being President.

Orgy of Ignorance

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Voters in the nation’s capital city rebuked the President’s homie, Mayor Adrian Fenty.  Formally, we call what took place yesterday an election.  I call it an orgy of ignorance.  I am a race man to the core but what happened yesterday is unfathomable.

One of my home girls called me last night from D.C., and I asked her who she voted for.  The answer, of course, was Vincent Gray, the aging quadroon who is Chairman of the City Council.  I knew it was over without looking at a single return. I could not help berating her. Lacking conviction in her vote and stung by my attack she asked, “Why you ain’t call me?”  I should have said that I thought she had better sense than to throw out a decent brotha over a vague sense of racial grievance. The crap about gentrification and Fenty’s cabinet appointments are just blackfolks venting about the common misconception that Adrian is a House Negro too beholden to whitefolks.

Fenty’s loss is a triumph of style over substance because Gray certainly had no real programmatic objections that he chose to share. Fenty lost for two reasons:  1) His hard charging and humorless style rubbed too many the wrong way.  2) The unconscious desire of the black community to crucify a scapegoat because of their economic anxiety during this brutal recession.  Blackfolks convinced themselves that their black college educated Black Mayor with the black wife and kids did not care about black people.

I firmly believe that if Adrian Fenty had been caught by the FBI in a roach motel with a chickenhead and a crack pipe–he would have been re-elected in a landslide.  There would have been no question that Adrian was sufficiently black enough to vote for.  Functioning schools, tolerable crime, a responsive city government, and a healthy business climate are apparently anti-black instruments meant to oppress and demean black people.

I suppose having a Black Mayor who does not embarrass us with his extramarital affairs, ungrammatical profundity, and serial incompetence are a naïve expectation. I know it is unreasonable to expect that black folks would vote for a Black Mayor maniacally focused on making the city function properly by appointing people, regardless of race, who know what they are doing.

Fenty’s installation of Michelle Rhee, a Korean American, as Chancellor of the DC Schools, was a bridge too far. She single-handedly turned around one of the most catastrophically inadequate urban school systems in the country by demanding excellence and holding teachers accountable for black student success.  She even had the temerity to fire bad teachers.  We cannot have that. Rather than graduate school prepared for a career, it is better for the community if Black children drop out of school and remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. Politicians get bonus points if a disproportionate number of Black children end up dead or in jail.

Things were definitely better in the District during the halcyon days of the Barry Administration. Those were the days when the city was on autopilot. Nearly every city agency was under federal receivership because of gross mismanagement, and a congressionally appointed control board unaccountable to the people controlled the purse strings.   At least Barry was pro-Black, whatever that is supposed to mean.

I’m Running

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For the last twenty years I have struggled with a lifelong desire to be a political figure and the realization that American politics is infected with what bell hooks terms “White supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”   Trying to navigate shark infested political waters in a way that preserves my integrity has been a tough slog.  I’ve tried volunteering on campaigns, I’ve even run some for people I thought brought something special to the public arena.   I’ve tried writing and blogging.   None of it quite fits me even though I had some success.

I’ve been contacted by national writers from the Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times.  During the 2008 campaign I even saw my blog mentioned on CNN.  None of it was enough though.  I allowed myself to become disillusioned with politics and watched passively as life passed me by.

I need more.

I’ve wasted a lot of time and I’m not getting any younger.  Next year when I hit forty I need to fulfill what I’ve always thought was my purpose: running for public office.  I ‘ve been obsessed with politics and  policy for as long as I can remember and life is too short not to try and make the world a better place.  I realize that I am just as fucking flawed as some of the politicians I despise and looking for perfection in this life is a fool’s errand.

I am a progressive that believes in what the good people of Black Agenda Report call “The Black Consensus.”  In sum, what that means is that we do no harm to the political, economic and social viability of the black community and that we do our level best to strengthen black institutions.   The last thing we need is a dependant and prostrate black community willing to sell out for the crumbs of imperialism.

Capitalism, for the most part, operates to the detriment of people of color.   Not always, but mostly. It is the obligation of African American pol’s to level the playing field in any way possible.   Some of you will complain that this explicit racial consciousness is un-American, but I can assure you that as a dreadlocked skeptical brotha, nobody allows me to forget my race.  The knee-jerk apprehension when I enter white spaces is palpable.

President Obama is the main example of this phenomenon.  Since the day it was apparent that he would defeat Hillary Clinton, it has been open season.  Conservatives have been ringing the bell and sounding a disturbing racial alarm.   The sound and fury of conservatives signifies discomfort with everything Obama symbolizes.   They refuse to accept his legitimacy as president and displace that into rhetoric questioning his citizenship, patriotism, and religion and they smear him as a socialist, Marxist, and Muslim.

Their thinly veiled racism and full throated hatred ain’t fooling nobody, honey.    They want to “take their country back” from the unwashed hoards of Negroes, Latinos, Asians, and Gays of all persuasions and turn back the clock to a simpler time when they knew their proper places in the underclass.

Some of us have gotten sidetracked the last 18 months worrying about these attacks, but it really isn’t about Obama, it’s about us, people.   Obama is just the proxy, y’all, conservatives are attacking progressive progress in general and the black community in particular. Obama is a very flawed politician despite his many gifts. I admire him tremendously, but his penchant for defending an unacceptable status quo and softening the edges of America’s harsh imperialism is not really admirable. TripLBee said it best:

When any President, including this one, glamorizes and sanitizes warfare, I will be offended. I found his speech offensive; especially because he knows he was spouting nonsense. Does he really want his daughters buying into his blather about the sanctity of waging war against the poorest country on the face of the Earth? He is sounding like every other emperor. It’s pathetic.

Lastly, I feel compelled to run because l feel an obligation to do something more than bitch and complain on a keyboard.   Some folk can effect positive change that way, but I don’t think that is really my gift.

Richmond set to face Cao for Big Easy Congressional seat

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Hat Tip: New Orleans Times Picayune

State Rep. Cedric Richmond won two of every three votes cast in heavily African-American precincts and nearly half of all votes in heavily white precincts in Saturday’s Democratic primary to advance to the Nov. 2 general election for the 2nd Congressional District, an analysis of ballot results shows.

Cedric Richmond

Richmond, a three-term legislator from eastern New Orleans, will face incumbent Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao, also of New Orleans, and three little-known independent candidates to represent the district that covers most of the city and a swath of Jefferson Parish.

Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to the U.S. House, won the seat with strong Democratic support two years ago when he ousted nine-term incumbent William Jefferson, who campaigned under the specter of a federal corruption probe. After a trial last summer, Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in prison and remains free on appeal.

Joseph Cao

Richmond got 60 percent of the vote on Saturday, when a dismal 8 percent of the district’s voters turned out, a poor showing that was likely a result of rainy weather and the distraction of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

State Rep. Juan LaFonta came in second, with 21 percent, followed by former Jefferson chief of staff Eugene Green, with 10 percent, and newcomer Gary Johnson, who served a stint last year as research director for the House Rules Committee, with 8 percent.

In a district where six of 10 registrants are African-American, Richmond’s strong showing among black voters — especially in Jefferson Parish — helped secure his victory, according to an analysis by University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak.

I believe that it is a certainty that Cedric Richmond is the next Congressman for New Orleans.  His win will be the sole defeat of a Republican incumbent this cycle.

Restoring Honor Open Thread

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I am fascinated to know what y’all thought about Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  C-SPAN’s video library has the entire rally and is available if you haven’t seen it.  Let me put a few questions out there to get the ball rolling.

(1) Was Beck successful in co-opting the message and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr?  (2) Were you moved by the vacuous patriotism and empty religiosity? (3) Did Beck erase the stain of his incessant race baiting against Obama by sharing the stage with colored folks? (4) Could you discern anything coherent from his pompous rambling? (5) What did you think of Palin’s remarks? (6) Did Alveda King make a fool of herself, her family, and the entire African Diaspora by lending her name to this rally?

It is finished

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Late in the midnight hour, the President addressed the nation basking in the glow of a landmark political triumph over right-wing massive resistance to health care reform. His understated demeanor and measured words belied the enormity of this breakthrough.

Ted Kennedy would be so proud that his dream of universal health care is on the path to reality. His instinct that Barack Obama was the president we needed was vindicated in last night’s roll call. At the president’s side in this fight was the most effective Speaker of the House in living memory, Nancy Pelosi.   She refused to let this effort die and she helped revive the push for reform the pundits thought dead.

Nobody but Barack Obama could have pulled off this legislative victory.  Behind the genial exterior and megawatt smile is a disciplined, ruthless, pragmatic pol equipped with a flawless mastery of policy minutia.

The president’s  politically expedient compromises with the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies greased the skids of the legislative process and ultimately resulted in the enactment of a recycled package of Republican proposals from the last health care showdown 16 years ago that provide at last a framework for health insurance for most Americans.

While others focused on progressive goals like covering everyone, bringing down health care costs and providing competition, Obama focused on getting a passable bill that partially addressed those goals. This President is interested only in the art of the possible.  Ideology is secondary.

Obama won and left the Republicans sputtering unintelligible nonsense for over a year.  They showed their arses last night, every flat hairy butt cheek. They used every arrow in their quiver to defeat reform: fear, deception, xenophobia, and racism.  They still lost.

Over the course of the next few years, 32 million Americans will finally gain access to health insurance they should have had all along. It is the most expensive in the industrialized world and doesn’t cover what it should, but it is better than nothing at all. 

My hat is off to the Commander-in-chief for this triumph over unadulterated Republican evil.

I still want a public option.

“Victory”

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On the cusp of a landmark “victory” on health care reform, President Obama dramatically addressed a boisterous throng of well-wishers convinced that his industry written reforms constituted positive change. The President glowed and fed off the positive energy in the air. He seemed revitalized and renewed as the crowd roared its approval.  The president’s earnest entreaties are beguiling and difficult to resist.  The recession weary public desperately wants to believe that “change we can believe in” is at last on the way. It isn’t.

Many on the left in the progressive blogosphere believe that “change we can believe in” was killed in the crib. The corporate infanticide of change was facilitated by a conspiracy between the Administration and the insurance lobby that gutted the public option, instituted weak cost controls, enforced a mandate to buy private insurance and left the anti-trust exemption, which allows insurance companies to engage in the most egregious price gouging, largely intact.  The reality leaves me drained and dispirited.

The average black person I meet is trapped in a post inaugural cocoon of black pride.  Any constructive criticism of the President provokes a defensive scorn, as if you called their upstanding, god fearing, churchgoing grandmama a trifling whore.  The relationship between the Obamas and the black community is not political but familial. They meet every benchmark of acceptability and are like the new bougie couple that just joined the church that everybody wants to get to know. We see ourselves in them.  Unfortunately, we’ve become so lost in the reflection of ourselves that we failed to notice that the black community is drowning in an ocean of narcissistic b.s. and benign neglect.

The Stockholm syndrome is so profound that if the Congressional Black Caucus had determined to sink Health Care Reform without a public option, blackfolks would have eaten them alive.  Some folk seem to think that God put them here on earth to be Obama’s pep squad.  The President may be black, but he is also a politician like all those that came before him who told us what we wanted to hear and then broke their backs to do the bidding of their corporate paymasters.

The absence of a real urban agenda, what some refer to as a “black agenda,” is a festering wound that will never heal without progressive policy solutions that address the corporate theft of predatory lending, support for mass transit, massive infrastructure improvement,  job training programs, de-escalation of both the prison and military industrial complexes and support for public education.  The president has done some good work on the education piece with a reform of student loans, but much more needs to be done.

Don’t get me wrong, the stimulus was a tremendous help in stabilizing the economy, but we are in such a deep hole that we need much more. Everybody knows that there ain’t no damn jobs out here. State budgets are still tight and teacher layoffs, public school closings, and the loss of thousands of state and local government jobs is still a daily reality. The president damn near had to fight the civil war all over again with some ignorant Republican from Kentucky just to extend unemployment benefits for a short time.

Here in the Carolinas, Republicans  in the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to the eliminate  state support for the entire budget for HIV/AIDS  prevention and assistance. That also includes the AIDS drugs assistance program that provides a lifeline to HIV positive people who cannot afford their anti-retroviral medications.  Republicans are the same people that spread the death panels red herring they claimed was embedded in Obama’s health care reform bill that would “pull the plug on grandma.”

The political calculus implied by this heartless proposal is that the people in the program are not Republicans and that helping them extend the quality and duration of their lives is unnecessary and too expensive.  Given the disproportionate numbers of HIV infections in black South Carolinians (8 times that of Whites), the racial animus behind this move is crystal clear. South Carolina has the eighth highest rate of new  HIV infections in the country and the Republicans in the South Carolina legislature would rather pretend that this isn’t a problem as HIV ravages the black community unchecked.

The Health Care Reform proposal making its way through congress will do nothing to stop state governments from making draconian choices like South Carolina.   I pray it will provide something commensurate in the way of relief for the victims of state sanctioned indifference.  Health Reform still leaves out 24 million people from coverage because health care, despite the histrionics of the socialist obsessed right-wing, is still not a right.

The gluttonous plutocracy that masquerades as American Democracy is alive and well. If we truly want the victory over our corporate overlords, we need to stop putting our trust in personalities and parties and stick with our principles.

Kilpatrick claims she’s not a target of federal investigation

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Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

Hat Tip: Deb Price and paul egan / The Detroit News

Washington — Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, said Thursday she and a top aide are not targets of a grand jury and will “cooperate fully” after receiving subpoenas.

In addition to Kilpatrick, her aide Andrea Bragg received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan. The congresswoman’s son is former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose actions as mayor are being investigated by federal prosecutors.

Kilpatrick said she’ll have no further comment.

Though grand jury matters are secret, legal observers said Thursday it is likely the subpoenas relate to an ongoing federal investigation of the congresswoman’s son, and possibly her ex-husband, business consultant Bernard N. Kilpatrick.

There is no legal privilege that makes communications between a mother and son confidential, and the spousal privilege would only apply up to the time Bernard Kilpatrick and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick were not divorced, said Detroit attorney David Griem, a former federal and state prosecutor.

Griem speculated the subpoenas may be related to recent cash fundraising involving tens of thousands of dollars to cover the former mayor’s restitution payments that Cheeks Kilpatrick was involved in, according to media reports.

“I’m not sure of the propriety of a U.S. congresswoman spearheading such an effort on behalf of a family member, especially when the money is given in cash,” Griem said Thursday.

Most of Kilpatrick’s recent restitution payments from his state obstruction of justice conviction came in the form of money orders, many purchased by family members. Griem said he wouldn’t be surprised if everyone who purchased those money orders was subpoenaed before the grand jury.

The Health Care Reform Summit

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The Republicans didn’t bring anything but the standard right-wing talking points composed of lies, misinformation and fear. They didn’t bring any policy ideas because they believe tactically that they must scuttle reform in order to gain seats and possibly take back the congress this year. They lost the message war today because they had nothing to offer but a lame arse call to start the process over which is nothing more than their way of trying to kill reform.  Nobody with a brain bought the b.s. they were selling.

The Republican game was to look earnest in discussing health care reform with the president while offering nothing of substance. They used their time to pander to whitefolks fears. That is ultimately a losing strategy. It is a larger part of their strategy to demonize the president and scare the stupid into believing that the insurance companies and their outrageous premium increases and denials of care are as American as apple pie and something that they should accept instead of fight.

The president had policy, facts, and the American people on his side. The Republicans have fear. Fear lost today.  He handled his critics with his trademark grace.

The President elegantly byotch slapped John McCain during his angry tirade and told him gently but firmly, “…We’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.” Barack Obama is what class looks and sounds like.  The Republicans cannot reconcile themselves with that reality.   So instead they deal the race card from the bottom of the deck and call him condescending which is a sophisticated way of saying the president is an uppity nigra that doesn’t know his place.

I am disappointed that he didn’t use some time to defend the public option which I believe to be critical to achieving meaningful health care reform. I will be writing my senator to ask why she hasn’t signed onto the public option.   It is probably in vain but I’ll do it anyway because she needs to hear more voices from the black community.

The President clearly enunciated his goals today:

Rather than start at the outset talking about legislative process and what’s going to happen in the Senate and the House and this and that… let’s talk about the substance: How we might help the American people deal with costs, coverage, insurance, these other issues. And we might surprise ourselves and find out that we agree more than disagree. And that would then help to dictate how we move forward.

His evenhanded and calm moderation of a serious discussion belies the wingnut talking points that attempt to demonize the president by painting a portrait of a violent, dangerous, left-wing radical.  The president is a centrist politician that seeks to govern by consensus.  He is not divisive or disagreeable by nature.  Any attempt to make it seem so is disingenuous.

In my humble opinion, the President won the day hands down and should now proceed towards reconciliation which includes a public option without delay.

Governor Davis: a fantasy in black and white

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Congressman Artur Davis, Mrs. Peggy Wallace Kennedy

Artur Davis is a facinating politician in many respects. The power of his intellect and sharp political skills set him apart from most pol’s.  The sky should be the limit for Artur.  In Alabama, congress is the limit for Artur.  If not for the Voting Rights Act, he would not be a member of congress from Alabama.

In America, it should be a no brainer that any child born anywhere should be able to reach for the highest political rung in state government and not be deterred, discouraged or attacked on the basis of race. Unfortunately, that is not the America we live in despite the fantasies of some whites that we live in a post-racial utopia.  It does not matter how many blackfolks buy into the white fantasy that Artur can win this year.  It isn’t true. This diary seeks to explore the reasons for this bitter reality.

A black man might be president,  but he would not be if America was a cultural mirror of the state of Alabama.  Only one in ten white voters, according to NBC political director Chuck Todd, voted for Barack Obama.  Extreme racial polarization is a fact of life in the Deep South that smart people can’t get around.

The President of the United States is a biracial man of color who is the product of an interracial marriage. He was raised almost exclusively by his white kinfolks. Most rural whites in the Deep South cannot process these facts and are profoundly threatened by his presidency.

They displace their discomfort with his race by questioning his citizenship and asking to see his birth certificate.  They are willing to question his professed and demonstrated Christian faith and believe any smear about him being a Muslim terrorist because the father he never knew was a Muslim.   They then voted for a Republican Senator universally known to have been born outside the continental United States in the Panama Canal Zone because “at least he is American,” which is nothing more than a euphemism for being White.

The President of the United States is the most nonthreatening black politician in American history. He is decidedly centrist in word and deed to the chagrin of most of us on the progressive left.  To most rural whites, though, he is a Socialist, Marxist, Communist Antichrist hell bent on creating a segregated, racist society in which only non-whites rule and whites are subjugated. That is a nifty piece of racist projection most psychologists would love to get their hands on and take apart.

Because of this ridiculous racial paranoia, there will be no ability to see a similar black man any differently.

Congressman Artur Davis and President Barack Obama

Race is still a bar to achievement and advancement in the United States in some fields of endeavor. Our inability to talk about race or be honest  about our racial fears is part and parcel of the infrastructure, which reinforces the bar to achievement and advancement.

Alabama is stuck in both a time warp and in a black hole of its own making with regard to race. There can be no change unless people are willing to smash the taboo of cross racial cooperation.

Meaningful cross racial dialogue and genuine fellowship is rare anywhere in the Deep South but more likely to occur in urban areas with a large University presence. On the other hand, if folks live in larger communities, they are still largely segregated. Nobody wants to go to school with us or live in our neighborhoods. If we are fortunate enough to live in communities where both white and black do go to school together, the interaction is largely superficial.

When time comes to choose a college, the choices are still segregated. We live separate lives and pretend that it is normal. It isn’t. We (blackfolks) are usually the ones that have to stick our necks out to make change.  It is rarely the other way around.

I think it is wonderful that most of the people on this board look favorably on Artur Davis and the egalitarian ideal his candidacy represents, but the hard work and foundation for an eventual win by a black candidate for Governor has not been done in any state of the Deep South–Georgia included.  Anybody who believes he can win in this backwards and hostile cultural environment is deluding themselves.

Nobody in the grip of a rural Tea Bagger’s poisonous racial paranoia is capable of building community with the blackfolks they see everyday that mirror them in every demographic respect.

They might know your people, might have known your extended kinfolk back to the Civil War, but it still don’t mean that they’ll vote for your daddy to become the first black sheriff. I have a hard time understanding why Artur has to come along like a Negro in a buddy movie and be their black friend when most rural whites have only superficial relationships with the blackfolks they see everyday.  There is no sense of community where stereotypically everybody knows and is kin to everybody. Ultimately, this is why Artur cannot be elected Governor this year.

Dr. King spoke of a desire to “..foster and create the ‘beloved community’ in America where brotherhood is a reality…Our ultimate goal is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living–integration.” That does not exist in Alabama or anywhere in the Deep South.  It doesn’t even exist up north but most of the time northerners are not so blinded by race that they will vote against politicians of color they are philosophically compatible with because they are not white.

We are still living separate lives despite dramatically less racial polarization in the north. The South is less physically segregated than the North but it is more functionally segregated on the ground.  This has to change.  Only hard work done by committed blacks and whites will change it.  Most of the onus is on whites though, and becuase it is I doubt seriously that it will happen anytime before I turn 50 in 2021.

We’re in Hell

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I remember it like it was yesterday.  In the fall of 1994, I was an intern for the North Carolina Democratic Party. The 1994 elections were a watershed of fear, racist projection, and ignorance. The election night parties were full of tears and slack jaws as damn near everyone went down.  I went home with my tail between my legs.

Devastated by the previous evening’s events and looking for solace I stepped into the HBCU counseling center office of my play mom, Ms. Chisholm.  A South Carolina native, she made everyone feel like family but wasn’t a stereotypical, syrupy sweet, southern Mom. She looked up and saw the newspapers I had collected announcing the Republican sweep and said gravely, “we’re in Hell.”

This week has felt like that as a veil of ignorance and fear descended over Washington in the wake of Scott Brown’s election to the United States Senate in Massachusetts.  A wake up call to be sure, it provoked some interesting reactions and farcical moments.   As the president finally located his stones and called for a broad tax on the predatory banks to recoup the trillions in bailout largess they extorted from the U.S. Treasury, the Supreme Court reversed a century of precedent and plunged the United States back into the Gilded Age of Robber Barons and monopolistic trusts.

President Obama only had a year-long window to make any kind of change and he squandered it by trying to compromise with the Republicans, the banks, and the insurance companies.  Everything from here on out will be filibustered unless Harry Reid uses reconciliation.  But even that handy little tool will be useless with the new toy the Supreme Court has given our corporate overlords.

Campaign Finance Reform, an issue I care deeply about but never discuss was front and center yesterday as the Supreme Court struck down any limits on corporate independent expenditure campaigns on free speech grounds.  They now have the power to use their general treasuries and their billions in profits to buy every friendly politician in sight or mount saturation level campaigns targeted at their political enemies.

Scared by the browning of America and the Presidency of Barack Obama, the Supreme Court finally pulled the trigger on fascism, shredded the constitution under the guise of interpreting it, and effectively destroyed our Democracy.  The Republicans will finally be able to rely on an endless tsunami of cash to fund their campaigns and elections will be nothing more than contests to see who can most effectively whore out to the corporations.

I refuse to participate in, to borrow a phrase from Keith Olbermann, a “farcical perversion.” I will finish this election season out and work for the candidates I have committed to but this is Skeptical Brotha’s last campaign.  I’m done.  I am going to do what I should have done years ago and finally learn Spanish and French.  I am going to leave this country and go somewhere that doesn’t elevate the rights of corporations over the rights of people.  I love my Momma.  I love my Daddy.  I love my family, but I refuse to stay here and be a slave on this corporate plantation.