I Don’t Care What You Say…

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Daschle-Confirmation Hearing

You fight for the ones that were with you from day one. Tom Daschle encouraged Barack Obama to run for President and not be intimidated by the Clinton Juggernaut, which he ultimately defanged and defeated. All the Senate old heads sat a brotha down and schooled him. “Your chance, if it comes at all, won’t come but once—grab it.” He did, and retired old heads like Daschle provided wise counsel along the path to ultimate power. Daschle, apart from being the ultimate Senate insider, health care expert, and former Majority Leader, knew the internal machinations of the Senate and its formidable personalities. His addition to the Obama cabinet and on the White House staff signaled that Tom was back in the saddle and czar of the most formidable reform effort, aside from the economic recovery, on Barack Obama’s plate. This is and was a serious portfolio and his tax status, irrelevant as it is, was no reason to cast him aside when his skill set is in short supply and his discipline, focus, and ideological purity on health care reform is so badly needed.

 

I simply don’t buy, given the reaction of Senate Democratic old heads, that Daschle removed himself from consideration. He was pushed—by whom, besides arse clowns like John Ensign, remains to be seen. This is a fine mess and I no longer have any warm and fuzzy feelings about health care reform in this Administration.


Nobody can tell me that throwing Daschle overboard and then fishing Judd Gregg’s right wing behind out of the soup is “Change We Can Believe In.”

About face on Burris

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Illinois Governor

It has been several days now and I’ve had time to chill and collect my thoughts. During that time, I have come to realize that my opposition to the seating of Roland Burris as the Junior Senator from Illinois is a mistake and a histrionic reaction to Rod Blagojevich’s mischievous and Machiavellian appointment of a qualified African American.

 

There is no way in hell that accepting Blagojevich’s appointment was the rational act of a black politician concerned about fair black representation in the upper house. Instead, it was the juvenile and selfish maneuvering of a washed up politician who equates the legitimate desire of the African American community to be represented by at least one African American Senator with his appointment. They are not one and the same.

The man or woman chosen to replace the President Elect should have been academically, politically, and professionally the best our community could put forward. Burris fails on that score. He is relatively undistinguished but qualified and is definitely over the hill.

 

But what’s done is done and the President Elect and the Democratic Caucus need to deal rationally with the unsavory politics of this appointment without casting aspersions, as many, including me, have done.

 

This is a legally unassailable appointment. Period. Rod Blagojevich retained the legal authority to make this selection and he made it because the Illinois legislature declined to strip him of this authority. Given the time-frame he constitutionally has to decide whether he would sign or veto any piece of legislation, he probably would have been able to stall long enough to make the appointment anyway and we would still be here. Most reasonable folk understand that he had no moral authority, but the law doesn’t require that.

 

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times dropped the dime on Blagojevich the other day. Reid actively maneuvered against any African American appointment. He opposed Jesse, Danny Davis, and Emil Jones. The fact of the matter is that no Senate Democratic leader has done any heavy lifting to benefit a black Senatorial candidate in a contested situation. Nobody has ever attempted to clear the field to benefit a brotha or sistah. Nobody has ever attempted to dry up a white candidate’s fundraising to help out a black senate candidate. It happens for whites all the time. Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, actively sought to dry up Kweisi Mfume’s money to benefit Ben Cardin in 2006.


 

The Senate Majority Leader has never done anything to benefit a black Senate candidate before appointment or before a contested primary. It’s a damn shame I didn’t see that before, but I see it now. Despite Bobby Rush’s clumsy, cartoonish injection of race into the initial press conference—he happens to be right. He also happens to be the worst messenger of the truth because of his unwillingness to support Barack Obama for this seat in the first place.

Rikyrah, CPL, y’all are right, and I was wrong.

What is baffling to me though is why some of the same black people who advocate seating Burris don’t castigate Barack Obama for siding against qualified black representation.

 

Jackson Jr informed on Blagojevich

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sandi

Hat Tip: By Don Babwin, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Shortly after his 2002 election, Gov. Rod Blagojevich told Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. he didn’t appoint the congressman’s wife for lottery director because he had refused to make a $25,000 donation to the governor’s campaign, a person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press.

“That’s why she’s not getting the job,” the person quoted Blagojevich as saying. The person, a Jackson associate who was interviewed Tuesday by the AP, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation.

Jackson’s name has played prominently ever since Blagojevich was arrested last week on corruption charges, including allegations that the governor tried to sell or trade President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat for personal gain.

Jackson has been identified as one of the candidates Blagojevich was considering for the seat, and a criminal complaint said his supporters were willing to raise $1.5 million for the governor if he picked the congressman.

The complaint quotes Blagojevich as saying on federal wiretaps that an associate of the candidate offered to raise money for him if he made the Jackson appointment happen.

Jackson spokesman Kenneth Edmonds declined to comment on the account of the exchange shortly after Blagojevich’s 2002 election but said the Democratic congressman, the son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, has approached federal investigators to discuss the governor and others for years.

“He has shared information with federal prosecutors about public corruption during the past several years, including information about Blagojevich and others,” Edmonds said.

Jackson has openly sought the Senate position but denies initiating or authorizing anyone to promise anything to Blagojevich on his behalf. The congressman has said federal prosecutors told him he is not a target of their investigation.

The Jackson associate interviewed by the AP did not know whether Jackson’s wife, Sandi had asked for the state lottery job. At the time, Blagojevich was the first incoming Democratic governor after years of Republican rule and had scores of state jobs to fill.

“The governor had kind of penciled Sandi in as lottery director and then asked for contributions from the congressman,” the person said.

Sandi Jackson, who has since been elected to the Chicago City Council, did not return a call to her office seeking comment.

In April, the Chicago Tribune reported that an examination of campaign donations to Blagojevich showed that three in four donors who gave exactly $25,000 received administration favors such as state board appointments or contracts.

It’s also the same amount of money that figured prominently in the testimony of a government witness in the political corruption trial this summer of political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko.

Rezko, who raised more than $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign fund, was convicted of shaking down companies seeking state business for campaign contributions.

Senator Caroline Kennedy

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GET FILES-FRANCE-US-KENNEDY

I find it ironic and disengenuous that the Hillarycrat detractors of Caroline Kennedy, a New York resident for over four decades, would have the temerity to suggest that the Harvard University educated author, lawyer, and philanthropist lacks the necessary qualifications  to represent New York State in the United States Senate.   Ms. Kennedy has always been a dignified, understated and classy mover and shaker that has used her celebrity,  talent, and money to help other people.   Politically, nobody could beat her under any circumstances.   She can raise the money and would maintain the current number of women in the senate, which is already too few. Where the hell were these people when Hillary decided to accept the phony draft of New Yorkers to run for the Senate in a state she had never lived in?  Caroline Kennedy has been a New Yorker longer than the Queen of Triangulation has been a blond.   I am relieved that she has decided to throw her hat in the ring.   If David Paterson is smart, he’ll appoint Caroline without any more deliberation and secure his re-election at the same time.


			

Obama-Biden:Unconditional surrender to the Washington Establishment

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Late in the midnight hour, the Washington press corps informed the world definitively that Barack Obama had reached deep into the senior ranks of the Senate’s comb-over caucus of corporate has-beens to recycle Delaware’s ponderous windbag, Senator Joe Biden, as his running mate. Obama’s selection signaled his unconditional surrender to the tribal Washington power structure and the corporate media voiced its approval through endless rounds of substance free adoration and praise.

Receiving the campaign’s tired little text message this morning was anti-climatic given the aggressive reporting the night before. This Skeptical Brotha is unimpressed. I am assuming that you’ve chewed it over some. What say you?

Harold and Snowflake jump the broom

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Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and America’s favorite Negro Corporate Whore, was on “Meet the Press” yesterday in his paid capacity as a “political analyst.” He announced that he and Snowflake, the white fiancé he hid better than Strom Thurmond’s black daughter, jumped the broom three weeks ago. How precious.

I’ve been trying to figure out the quadroon from Tennessee’s career plans, and I’m stumped. At first, I thought he was gearing up for another Senate run because his campaign website was up for more than a year after the last campaign. When it finally came down, I heard tell of a run for Governor. Then, the engagement to Snowflake was announced. Some of y’all speculated that Tennesseans weren’t gonna allow any miscegenation in the Governor’s mansion.

I just don’t know. If Obama is elected, it could go either way in Tennessee. Part of me believes that the rednecks will think that Negroes are taking over and they’ll reject him. The other part believes that Obama’s election will make it easier. Only time will tell.  

Today, I think he’s angling for a cabinet spot and seeking to make himself a prominent Washington fixture and corporate tool. If he accepts anything lower than a cabinet spot, like Secretary of the Army, he’ll soon be running for something again. In any event, he’s just 38 and has nothing but time. Senator Alexander is over seventy, Senator Corker is up again in 2012 and the Governorship is term-limited. Ford is a political vulture and opportunist. He is clearly circling wounded Republicans in Tennessee waiting for an opportunity to strike.  

Anyway, the Whore, as I prefer to call him, was busy spouting a gusher of corporate propaganda. He suggested the following running mates for Obama: Colin Powell, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, the corporate pedophile who balances state budgets on the backs of children he eliminated from Medicaid.

None of those corporate fossils is acceptable. He should choose somebody who adds something to the ticket and somebody he can work with.

The first people that come to mind are Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and a Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. I would prefer either of them. They are mainstream pols, however, so we probably can look forward to nothing innovative, but they are decent people and they bent over backwards for Obama. Loyalty should not be a trait to be overlooked. Both possess the sharp political instincts to be good advisors to a President.

The second tier would be the Hillary people. Some of her peeps ain’t bad. Washington Senator Patty Murray comes to mind. With 16 years on the Hill, she is a senior member of the Senate and has the experience to aid and guide Obama like few others do. A solid progressive, she is also pragmatic and determined. She ain’t no great shakes in the speech-making department, but she can work on that. Her personal story is very interesting and inspirational and she would make a good addition.

Finally, the unaligned folks in the third tier. Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold comes to mind. Nobody would be better in the role of Vice President. His eloquence, experience, and progressive tenacity are unmatched by anybody. There is just one problem; the prickly progressive can’t keep a wife. The twice-divorced Senator ain’t got a spouse and that ruins the solid family man portrait party bosses like to paint for their tickets.

Whatever happens, I would sincerely hope that Obama’s pledge to keep lobbyists out of his White House is sincere and that one of the first names he crosses off his list of political appointees is that of the Whore.

Senator Kennedy hospitalized

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Hat Tip: By DAVID ESPO and GLEN JOHNSON, Associated Press

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was airlifted to a hospital Saturday after suffering a seizure at his home, and did not appear to have had a stroke as initially suspected, his spokeswoman said.

The 76-year-old Democrat, the lone surviving son in a famed political family, was undergoing tests at Massachusetts General Hospital to determine the cause of the seizure, spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said.

“Senator Kennedy is resting comfortably, and it is unlikely we will know anything more for the next 48 hours,” she said.

Kennedy went to Cape Cod Hospital on Saturday morning “after feeling ill at his home,” Cutter said. After discussion with his doctors in Boston, Kennedy was taken to Massachusetts General.

An official who declined to be identified by name, citing the sensitivity of the events, had earlier said that Kennedy had stroke-like symptoms. The hospital declined to comment on his condition.

In October, Kennedy had surgery to repair a nearly complete blockage in a major neck artery. The discovery was made during a routine examination of a decades-old back injury.

The hourlong procedure on his left carotid artery — a main supplier of blood to the face and brain — was performed at Massachusetts General. This type of operation is performed on more than 180,000 people a year to prevent a stroke.

The doctor who operated on Kennedy said at the time that surgery is reserved for those with more than 70 percent blockage, and Kennedy had “a very high-grade blockage.”

On Saturday, Hyannis Fire Lt. Bill Rex said a 911 call came in from the Kennedy family compound at 8:19 a.m. A man was transported to Cape Cod Hospital and transferred by air at 10:10 a.m. from Barnstable Municipal Airport to Boston.

David Reilly, a spokesman for Cape Cod Hospital, said that Kennedy was brought to the hospital around 9 a.m. and stayed for about an hour before being flown by helicopter to the Boston hospital.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts did not talk to reporters when he arrived at the hospital shortly after 1 p.m.

Kerry later issued a statement, saying that Kennedy “been a fighter who has overcome adversity again and again with courage, grit, and determination. Teresa and I are praying” for Kennedy’s family.

“We know that everyone in Massachusetts and people throughout the nation pray for a full and speedy recovery for a man whose life’s work has touched millions upon millions of lives,” the statement said.

Kennedy, 76, has been in the Senate since election in 1962, filling out the term won by his brother, John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy is the lone surviving son in a famed family. His eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a World War II airplane crash. President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his brother Robert was assassinated in 1968.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, beginning a tour of hospitals in Eugene, Ore., told reporters that he had been in touch with the senator’s family.

“Ted Kennedy is a giant in American political history. He’s done more for health care than just about anybody in history. We are going to be rooting for him. I insist on being optimistic about how it’s going to turn out,” he said.

Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, New York. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also issued a statement.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Ted Kennedy and his family today,” she said. “We all wish him well and a quick recovery.”

Kennedy gave Obama’s presidential campaign a big boost this year with his endorsement and has campaigned actively for the Illinois senator.

Grandpa McCain’s chick on the side

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WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.

Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)

Mr. McCain’s confidence in his ability to distinguish personal friendships from compromising connections was at the center of questions advisers raised about Ms. Iseman.

The lobbyist, a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay, represented telecommunications companies for whom Mr. McCain’s commerce committee was pivotal. Her clients contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaigns.

Mr. Black said Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman were friends and nothing more. But in 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, “Why is she always around?”

That February, Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman attended a small fund-raising dinner with several clients at the Miami-area home of a cruise-line executive and then flew back to Washington along with a campaign aide on the corporate jet of one of her clients, Paxson Communications. By then, according to two former McCain associates, some of the senator’s advisers had grown so concerned that the relationship had become romantic that they took steps to intervene.

A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman’s access to his offices.

In interviews, the two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman. The two associates, who said they had become disillusioned with the senator, spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others.

Separately, a top McCain aide met with Ms. Iseman at Union Station in Washington to ask her to stay away from the senator. John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after “a discussion among the campaign leadership” about her.

“Our political messaging during that time period centered around taking on the special interests and placing the nation’s interests before either personal or special interest,” Mr. Weaver continued. “Ms. Iseman’s involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort.”

Mr. Weaver added that the brief conversation was only about “her conduct and what she allegedly had told people, which made its way back to us.” He declined to elaborate.

It is not clear what effect the warnings had; the associates said their concerns receded in the heat of the campaign.

Ms. Iseman acknowledged meeting with Mr. Weaver, but disputed his account.

“I never discussed with him alleged things I had ‘told people,’ that had made their way ‘back to’ him,” she wrote in an e-mail message. She said she never received special treatment from Mr. McCain’s office.

Mr. McCain said that the relationship was not romantic and that he never showed favoritism to Ms. Iseman or her clients. “I have never betrayed the public trust by doing anything like that,” he said. He made the statements in a call to Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, to complain about the paper’s inquiries.

The senator declined repeated interview requests, beginning in December. He also would not comment about the assertions that he had been confronted about Ms. Iseman, Mr. Black said Wednesday.

Mr. Davis and Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s top strategists in both of his presidential campaigns, disputed accounts from the former associates and aides and said they did not discuss Ms. Iseman with the senator or colleagues.

“I never had any good reason to think that the relationship was anything other than professional, a friendly professional relationship,” Mr. Salter said in an interview.

He and Mr. Davis also said Mr. McCain had frequently denied requests from Ms. Iseman and the companies she represented. In 2006, Mr. McCain sought to break up cable subscription packages, which some of her clients opposed. And his proposals for satellite distribution of local television programs fell short of her clients’ hopes.

The McCain aides said the senator sided with Ms. Iseman’s clients only when their positions hewed to his principles

A champion of deregulation, Mr. McCain wrote letters in 1998 and 1999 to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to uphold marketing agreements allowing a television company to control two stations in the same city, a crucial issue for Glencairn Ltd., one of Ms. Iseman’s clients. He introduced a bill to create tax incentives for minority ownership of stations; Ms. Iseman represented several businesses seeking such a program. And he twice tried to advance legislation that would permit a company to control television stations in overlapping markets, an important issue for Paxson.

In late 1999, Ms. Iseman asked Mr. McCain’s staff to send a letter to the commission to help Paxson, now Ion Media Networks, on another matter. Mr. Paxson was impatient for F.C.C. approval of a television deal, and Ms. Iseman acknowledged in an e-mail message to The Times that she had sent to Mr. McCain’s staff information for drafting a letter urging a swift decision.

Mr. McCain complied. He sent two letters to the commission, drawing a rare rebuke for interference from its chairman. In an embarrassing turn for the campaign, news reports invoked the Keating scandal, once again raising questions about intervening for a patron.

Mr. McCain’s aides released all of his letters to the F.C.C. to dispel accusations of favoritism, and aides said the campaign had properly accounted for four trips on the Paxson plane. But the campaign did not report the flight with Ms. Iseman. Mr. McCain’s advisers say he was not required to disclose the flight, but ethics lawyers dispute that.

Recalling the Paxson episode in his memoir, Mr. McCain said he was merely trying to push along a slow-moving bureaucracy, but added that he was not surprised by the criticism given his history.

“Any hint that I might have acted to reward a supporter,” he wrote, “would be taken as an egregious act of hypocrisy.”

Statement by McCain

Mr. McCain’s presidential campaign issued the following statement Wednesday night:

“It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

“Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career.”

Today’s Political Developments

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Following the surprise announcement of Senator Trent Lott’s resignation, his successor has been revealed. After much speculation, most of it ludicrous, such as the appointment of an African American, Mississippi Republican Governor Haley Barbour named Congressman Roger Wicker, a north Mississippi Republican, to Trent Lott’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. The White Citizens Council is presumably pleased.

Although the presence of racial discrimination and an undying fealty to the principles of the confederacy and white supremacy remain unabated, Congressman Wicker, in the face of unrefutable evidence that it is still needed, voted to gut the re-extension of the Voting Rights Act of 2006 by voting for a series of GOP amendments designed to make the act unconstitutional and unenforceable.

This follows the time honored tradition of southern white politicians of both parties paying lip service to the cause of voting rights and frustrating its implementation at every opportunity. The African American citizens of Kilmichael, Mississippi, in 2oo1, were treated to disgusting display of segregationist shit when city elections were postponed on the eve of the election, in violation of state and federal law, because it appeared to white city fathers that African American candidates were going to win.

There is no bigoted southern stereotype that Mississippi has not earned. According to the Leadership Council for Civil Rights, “The entire state of Mississippi is required to submit all voting changes to the Department of Justice (DOJ) before enacting them because the state for so long consistently and aggressively denied blacks the right to vote. Since 1969, DOJ has objected 169 times to voting changes in Mississippi–112 of which occurred after the 1982 reauthorization.”

“Many of DOJ’s objections involved efforts to dilute minority voting strength, mostly by creating majority-white districts or changing election procedures to favor white candidates. Because of repeated DOJ objections to these redistricting plans, Mississippi has had at least one black representative in Congress since 1986.”

“McDuff concludes that Mississippi has a long way to go before voters in black-white elections cast their vote based on non-racial factors. For example, in the 2003 State Treasurer election Gary Anderson, the director of the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, lost the election with 47 percent of the vote to a 29-year-old white candidate with no experience beyond working in a bank. Of the 57 majority-white counties, Anderson won only 18 and lost 39.”

“In addition, federal observers have been sent to monitor Mississippi elections on 250 separate occasions since the 1982 reauthorization, the most for any state. Mississippi accounts for 40 percent of the overall elections to which federal observers have been sent since 1982.”


He supported every questionable judicial nomination put forward by the Bush Administration, for example, Judge Charles Pickering, a long time GOP activist opposed unanimously by the Congressional Black Caucus. According to Roger Wicker, “While I was in college, Charles Pickering was one of the bright new faces in the
Mississippi Republican Party, Wicker said. “He’s been so progressive and so courageous in the area of equal rights for all that it is so unfortunate and so unfair that he’s been accused of being otherwise.”


But Pickering, according to Salon.com, “Instead of “trying to
establish better race relations” in the 1960s, Pickering worked to support segregation, attack civil rights advocates who sought to end Jim Crow, and back those who opposed national civil rights legislation, above all the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Or, in the words of a public statement he signed in 1967, Pickering wanted to preserve “our southern way of life,” and he bitterly blamed civil rights workers for stirring up “turmoil and racial hatred” in the South.”

 

Back in the day, when Judge Pickering was a politician, state senator and a lawyer in private practice, he teamed up to practice law with a segregationist, former Lt. Governor Carroll Gartin. As I am sure y’all are aware, I have a low tolerance for bullshit and an even lower tolerance for bastards like Pickering and their enbablers that don’t have the courage to tell the world that they still support white supremacy. Having come from Mississippi stock, I am always a bit touchy about their blatant racism.

Also, the New York Times is reporting that New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is fixing to cock block Barack Obama or John Edwards should they be successful in knocking the Queen off her throne. This is a significant development. Bloomberg, a billionaire, is prepared to spend a record shattering billion to claim the imperial throne. He made noise earlier in the year that he would forgo a bid should the Queen and Giuliani make it to the finish line. I guess his high profile meeting with Obama some weeks back ain’t go well despite the favorable publicity it generated. The centrist non-partisan smokescreen his operatives and their willing political hacks are putting forth are not credible in the least. Bloomberg is prepared to make Ross Perot look cheap.

Meanwhile, the Iowa Caucuses are Thursday, nobody has a lead and its all just a sophisticated ground war now. The Washington Post catches us up on the tactics of Obama, and the rest of the pack in these closing days. Brotha has as good a shot as any at this point, contrary to my pessimistic assessments earlier in the year and that is an impressive achievement. Lastly, the fourth quarter ends today and I expect to hear some numbers soon from the candidates although I don’t know if we’ll hear anything before caucus day.

Trent Lott officially resigns from the U.S. Senate

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After 35 years in the U.S. Congress, Mississippi Republican Trent Lott officially stepped down from the U.S. Senate last night after casting a series of late votes.  Once at the pinnacle of power as Senate Majority Leader, he is famous for saying at former Segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmod ran for president, we voted for him.  We’re proud of it.  And if the rest of the country had followed our (racist) lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems (Uppity Nigra’s) over all these years, either.” He leaves the Senate to pursue other interests-presumably, as has been reported, a lucrative gig on K street as a lobbyist, corporate whore, and free lance segregationist.   Mississippi’s right-wing governor, Haley Barbour, has a self-imposed ten day deadline to huddle with GOP grand dragons and select another pinstripe Klansman to replace Lott. 

Trent Lott steps down from Senate

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Yesterday, surrounded by friends, family and his GOP Klavern, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate by the end of the year.   Lott, a 66 year-old segregationist from Pascagoula, Mississippi, spent 35 years in the U.S. Congress serving in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.   His repeated attempts to repeal the twentieth century and the thirteenth amendmendment to the U.S. Constitution proved unsuccessful.

A corporate whore with no peer, Lott hopes to feather his nest as a Washington lobbyist. During his downtime, perhaps the pinstripe Klansman can build a monument to his ego which commemorates his achievements in preserving white supremacy. How bout The Jefferson Davis-Strom Thurmond-Trent Lott Senate Library. Sounds good to me. 

Mississippi state flag

Acquiescing to white supremacy by any means necessary

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Dianne FeinsteinThe Battle Flag of the Confederacy

“We declare our rights on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”   -Malcolm X 

Southern Segregationists always reacted to Malcolm X and those of like mind with alarm and repudiation.   In time, they came to understand the utility of the mantra “by any means necessary” and adopted it as their own. Today, Dixie Dianne Feinstein played her self-assigned role to assist her neo-confederate colleagues Trent Lott and Thad Cochran in preserving white supremacy by any means necessary as they pushed through the nomination of their judicial minion, former Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Leslie Southwick, for a lifetime position on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Judge Leslie H. Southwick

In my Dixie Dianne’s Betrayal post, I wrote that she approved a nomination for a judge who makes light of the fact that he ordered the reinstatement of a white female state employee that called a black female co-worker, “a good ole nigger.”  As I’ve said before, there is no circumstance where it is ever acceptable for a white person to call a black person a nigger in freakin’ Mississippi.  Never.    He also concurred with his collegues homophobia by taking away a woman’s child in a child custody case because he objected to her being a lesbian.

Her reasons for this betrayal were less than convincing.   She said yesterday, In my conversations with Judge Southwick, I have gotten a sense of the type of person that I believe him to be. He is not either insensitive or a racist but one who is thoughtful and analytical and a strong believer in the law. As an appellate court judge, he evaluates the specific legal issues of the case before him, not necessarily the veracity of the parties involved as would a trial judge.  

…While I respect the views of my colleagues who oppose this nomination, I also respectfully disagree. I think Judge Southwick made mistakes by concurring in the two opinions in question, but I don’t think those rulings define his views. I don’t believe they outweigh the other factors that suggest Judge Southwick should be confirmed.”

Southwick’s  record in criminal cases reveals a troubling pattern of racist myopia.  According to the Alliance for Justice, “Judge Southwick has participated in numerous cases involving challenges to the racial makeup of a jury under Batson v. Kentucky, in which the United States Supreme Court held that peremptory challenges to jurors cannot be used in a racially discriminatory manner.

 

“In 59 of the 70 Batson cases reviewed for this report, the defendants challenged their convictions on the ground that the prosecution had used peremptory challenges to strike African-American jurors. Judge Southwick, voting with a majority of the Court in every case, voted to uphold the convictions in all but five of these cases.” 

 

“In 10 of these 70 Batson cases, the defendants challenged their convictions on the ground that the prosecution had unfairly prevented them from using their peremptory challenges to exclude white jurors (in one case the juror whom defendant sought to strike was Asian American). Defendants, with Judge Southwick again joining the majority of the Court in every case, lost all ten of these challenges. In the final case, the defendant challenged his conviction on both grounds and lost on both grounds, with Judge Southwick again in the majority.

 

“In other words, Judge Southwick and a majority of the judges on the Court of Appeals routinely rebuffed allegations of prosecutorial racism against African Americans in jury selection while upholding allegations of anti-white discrimination levied against defendants.” 

Mississippi Senators have an unbroken record of white nominations to the Fifth Circuit and they intend to keep it that way.   Since 1985 when they broke the color barrier to nominate an African American to the Federal District Court, they have adhered to a rigid whites only policy for the Court of Appeals.   They’ve nominated women and a judge with a Turkish background but no African Americans.  As a general rule, nobody has to worry about Trent Lott or Thad Cochran sniffing around their law offices looking for federal judicial nominees unless they have a track record of supporting Republicans and a demonstrated hostility to African Americans.  

Dixie Dianne knew all of this and still chose to confirm him.  She knew and opposed all of the previous troglodytes they’ve nominated to fill this spot. She has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the last 14 years and watched as Republicans filibustered President Clinton’s nominees for this same position until the clock ran out and the Supreme Court selected Bush as President.

Another battle in the war movement conservatives have waged to radically remake the federal judiciary was won tonight and it happened because of the acquiescence of the Senate Majority Leader and the rank cowardice of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.   As I said in August, Dixie Dianne’s betrayal has had one fortuitous consequence.  She has provided the Democratic frontrunners in this contest one more opportunity to prove their progressive fealty or (reveal) their politically expedient treachery.  Judge Southwick’s nomination is coming to the Senate floor whether we like it or not. If the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Majority Leader green light a filibuster, it will happen.” 

“Even if they don’t concur, Hillary and Barack have the power to force one.  …Reading an obligatory statement into the record will not do.  Voting against cloture will not do.   Putting up an aggressive fight and making several lengthy statements on the floor and to the media that make it clear that their opposition is not merely for show; and their active and visible participation in floor strategy that kills this nomination, that’s what we must demand.”

It didn’t happen. Hillary and Obama issued obligatory statements of opposition on their respective websites but neither made much effort.  Even former Senate Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden, who killed the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork, took a pass.   No matter what test of progressive political fortitude is given, Hillary and Obama will fail it with flying colors.   Hillary and Obama made a big statement today about what they really stand for: getting elected President and acquiescing to white supremacy by any means necessary.  

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.

 

Craig bows to the inevitable and will resign

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photo by Buddy Stone courtesy of Flickr

Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig will resign from the Senate amid a furor over his arrest and guilty plea in a police sex sting in an airport men’s room, Republican officials said Friday.

Craig will announce at a news conference in Boise Saturday morning that he will resign effective Sept. 30, four state GOP officials told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Word of the resignation came four days after the disclosure that Craig had pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge arising out of his June 11 arrest during a lewd-conduct investigation at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The three-term Republican senator had maintained that he did nothing wrong except for making the guilty plea without consulting a lawyer. But he found almost no support among Republicans in his home state or Washington.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appeared Friday to have already settled on a successor: Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, according to several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations.

Craig’s spokesman, Dan Whiting, had said earlier that the senator would announce his career plans Saturday. The spokesman would not say whether Craig intended to resign.

Craig has been out of public view since Tuesday, when he declared defiantly at a Boise news conference: “I am not gay. I never have been gay.” But Republican sources in Idaho said he spent Friday making calls to top party officials, including the governor, gauging their support.

There has been virtually none publicly.

Asked Friday at the White House if the senator should resign, President Bush said nothing and walked off stage.

Republican officeholders and party leaders maintained a steady drumbeat of actions and words aimed at persuading Craig to vacate his Senate seat.

GOP lawmakers, hoping to get the embarrassment to the party behind them quickly, stripped Craig of leadership posts on Wednesday, one day after they called for an investigation of Craig’s actions by the Senate Ethics Committee. Craig complied with the request.

With his wife, Suzanne, at his side, Craig said he had kept the incident from aides, friends and family and later pleaded guilty “in hopes of making it go away.”

Craig, 62, has represented Idaho in Congress for more than a quarter-century and was up for re-election next year.

Republican officeholders and party leaders wanted Craig to give up his seat in the Senate as soon as possible. Their preference, according to several officials, was for a successor to be selected and ready to take the oath of office when the Senate returns from its summer vacation next week.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Craig’s conduct “unforgivable” and acknowledged that many in the rank and file thought Craig should resign.

Republicans, worried about the scandal’s effect on next year’s election, suffered a further setback Friday when veteran Virginia Sen. John Warner announced he will retire rather than seek a sixth term. Democrats captured Virginia’s other Senate seat from the GOP in the 2006 election and have sought to line up former Gov. Mark Warner to run if the seat became open.

The contest for control of the next Senate was already tilted against Republicans, who must defend 22 of 34 seats on the ballot next year, before the Craig scandal and Warner’s announcement.

With a GOP candidate other than Craig, Republicans would stand a much better chance of keeping his Idaho seat in 2008. Idaho is one of the nation’s most reliably Republican states. The GOP controls the statehouse and all four seats in Congress, and Bush carried the state in 2004 with 68 percent of the vote.

Risch, the lieutenant governor, served for seven months as governor last year after former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne was named interior secretary. Risch had said earlier he was interested in Craig’s Senate seat if Craig did not seek re-election in 2008.

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, also had been mentioned as a possible replacement for Craig, but the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because Craig has not resigned, said Otter would choose Risch.

Mark Warbis, a spokesman for Otter, said the governor would not comment until he hears from Craig.

Craig served in the House before winning his first Senate term in 1990 and compiled a strongly conservative voting record.

On Thursday, the Minneapolis airport authorities released a tape recording of Craig’s interrogation minutes after he encountered a plainclothes officer in an adjacent stall in an airport restroom.

Craig and airport police Sgt. Dave Karsnia disagreed about virtually everything that had occurred — including whether there was a piece of paper on the floor of the stall and the meaning of the senator’s hand gestures.

Craig denied that he had used foot and hand gestures to signal interest in a sexual encounter.

“I’m not gay. I don’t do these kinds of things,” Craig told the officer. “You shouldn’t be out to entrap people.”

Karsnia accused Craig of lying and grew exasperated with his denials.

“Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we’re going down the tubes,” Karsnia said

Larry Craig’s revised statement to the Media

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Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, made the following statement at 4:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

BOISE, Idaho  — “First, please let me apologize to my family, friends, staff and fellow Idahoans for the obvious and unnecessary lie I’m about to tell. I did nothing at the Minneapolis airport I’m willing to cop to. I regret my stupid decision to plead guilty and the shame and derision that has brought to my wife, family, friends, staff, and fellow Idahoans. For that, I offer this, the lamest apology in the history of all mankind.

“In June, I overreacted, told the truth, and it was a politically poor decision. While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else, somehow, for the second year in a row, I keep being exposed as someone with the proclivity to solicit sex in a public toilet.  I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of making it go away. I did not seek any counsel, either from an attorney, staff, friends, or family. That was a stupid mistake, and I deeply regret it. I could have lawyered up and muddied the waters sufficiently to get this charge thrown out, but I didn’t for rather transparent reasons.  I have now retained counsel and I am asking my counsel to review this matter to see if he can get me out of this s#*tstorm.

“For a moment, I want to put my state of mind into context on June 11. For eight months leading up to June, I had been relentlessly and viciously exposed for what I am by the Idaho Statesman. If you’ve seen today’s paper, you know why. Let me be clear: I am not willing to admit to being gay and never have been.

“Still, without leaving me a shred of dignity, the Statesman has exposed my extra curricular fornication. In pleading guilty, I overreacted in Minneapolis, because of the stress of the Idaho Statesman’s persecution and the deliciously sarcastic gossip it has fueled around Idaho. Again, that overreaction was a mistake, because if my Republican colleagues were willing to let  the obvious lies of  Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and Alberto Gonzales pass unchallenged for years, I don’t understand why they can’t back me up one more time. Furthermore, I should not have kept this arrest to myself, and should have immediately hired an attorney and public relations mouthpiece to spin the lie of the century on my behalf. I wasn’t eager to face the music, but I should have done so anyway.

“I love my wife, family, friends, staff and Idaho. But I love serving Idaho in Congress more. Over the years, I have accomplished nothing for Idaho, and I desperately hope Idahoans will allow me to continue to do that. There are still fascist goals I would like to accomplish and hypocrisy I’d like to revel in.  I still cling to the delusion that I can be an effective leader for the religious right. Next month, I will announce the fact that I will not seek re-election.  I am just putting this face-saving B.S. out there as a Hail Mary pass to see whether or not there are enough gullible troglodytes left in Idaho to vote me back into the Senate.  

“As an elected official, I fully realize that my life is open for public ridicule and scrutiny, and I take full responsibility for the “brilliant idea” of blaming the Media for exposing my hypocrisy and the mistake in judgment I made in attempting to handle this matter myself.”

“It is clear, though, that through my actions I am obviously lying to Idahohans and the American people. For that, I ask the people of Idaho on bended knee to please look the other way and let this pass down the memory hole like Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Iraq, Impeachment, and all the rest of the crap in Washington. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzze let me be a Senator again!!!!!!!!”

A recipe for indifference

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I love cooking shows and the Food Network.  I’ve been bothered by the lack of ethnic diversity on the channel, but I am buoyed by creative and cheerful southern cooks and restaurateurs like Paula Deen.   Miss Paula is probably my favorite. People with her charm and warmth are part of what make living in the south tolerable.   Her recipes are full of rich ingredients and served with love.    It’s more than just cooking for Miss Paula; it’s almost her way of saying thank you to God for the many blessings he’s bestowed, and for the comfort of good food, good friends, and close family.   

Fine dining is a combination of all of those important ingredients and she understands that intuitively.  Like entertaining and fine dining, column writing is an art.  Among the ingredients of good column writing:  a sense of humor, a strong vocabulary, and the ability to tell a story.    George Will, the conservative Washington Post Columnist that also has a gig on ABC’s public affairs program, “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” is reputed to be a columnist of legendary prowess.   

He and other conservatives have overplayed the sanctimony in their crocodile tear commentary over the last several years.  We’ve been consistently treated to well coordinated campaigns of right–wing talking points while they’ve been surreptitiously engaged in a long ideological march to remake our courts in their overwhelmingly white, right-wing and indifferent image.   George Will’s latest Sunday column is no different.  However, along with a dash of tasty hypocrisy and indifference, he also adds some special ingredients: fantasy and prevarication. 

Will measured the ingredients in his column to deliberately poison people like me with severe allergies to white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.  Will’s foils this week are liberals, and by extension, Barack Obama.  Obama announced his “opposition” to the Leslie Southwick nomination some time back.  As I’ve said before, he must do a helluva lot more than issue a press release to stop my criticism. He gon’ hafta do some heavy lifting’ instead of going through the motions of opposition as he usually does.  

Anyhoo, Will does a great job of minimizing the racial insensitivity of this nomination and this nominee.  He has the audacity to criticize African American critics of this nomination and dismisses out of hand the fact that only one African American sits on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and more than 37 percent of Mississippians are African American, Will says, “This “diversity” argument suggests that courts should be considered representative institutions, like legislatures, and that the theory of categorical representation is valid: people of a particular race, ethnicity or gender can be understood and properly represented only by people of that same category.”   

I hate taking mofo’s to school, but I’m forced to in this instance. First, Will’s argument with respect to the courts not being representative institutions, like legislatures, is totally, and completely disingenuous.  We all know that for purposes of ideology, the makeup of the courts are methodically tracked by liberals and conservatives alike and any omission that fails to recognize this constitutes hypocrisy.    

According to the Alliance for Justice,  “Judge Southwick’s views are especially critical because the Fifth Circuit has been subject to extraordinary partisan engineering: during the Clinton administration the Republican Senate blocked two moderate nominees to that court to hold seats open for the next president. For one of the seats, President Clinton first submitted a nominee in mid-1997; for the other he submitted a nominee in early 1999.”   

“Indeed, Judge Southwick’s home state Senator Trent Lott stated about the Senate’s role in confirming Clinton judges: “Do I have any apologies? Only one: I probably moved too many judicial nominations already.” Benefiting from this obstructionism, President Bush exploited the opportunity to appoint deeply conservative judges like Priscilla Owen and Edith Brown Clement to the court.”  

Second, there is the issue of this nominee’s more ominous rulings regarding employment discrimination.  The Richmond v. Mississippi Dep’t of Human Services, case is instructive of Southwick’s views on racial discrimination. Again, the Alliance for Justice, Bonnie Richmond, a social worker for the Mississippi Department of Human Services was fired when, at a meeting that included top agency executives, she used a racial slur, referring to an African American co-worker(who was not present at the meeting) as a “good ole n*****.” The Mississippi Court of Appeals, in a 5-4 decision joined by Judge Southwick, upheld the Mississippi Employee Appeals Board’s decision to reinstate her.   

“The majority found that, taken in context, this slur was an insufficient ground to terminate her employment, because there was no specific rule she violated, because it “was not motivated out of racial hatred or racial animosity directed toward a particular co-worker or toward blacks in general,” and because it did not give rise to workplace problems other than offending the coworker who was called a “n*****.”   

“Two of the dissenters, deeply troubled by the majority’s preoccupation with context and its failure to acknowledge the “inherent offensive [ness]” of the slur, observed: “The … majority opinion seems[s] to suggest that absent evidence of a near race riot, the remark is too inconsequential to serve as a basis of dismissal. Such a view requires a level of myopia inconsistent with facts and reason.”  

This legal analysis fascinates me because it seeks to minimize the power of the most inflammatory racial epithet in the lexicon.  It is disingenuous in the extreme to rule that the Mississippi Department of Human Services had no legal basis for terminating her.  They damn sure did and the fact that everyone in that room was white should speak volumes.  This remark was reported by high-ranking white executives in the agency and they called Bonnie Richmond on her bullshit.  They fired her ass as they shoulda done.   

Southwick, and a majority on the court of Appeals, ruled, in effect, that whites exercising the prerogatives of state power never have the right to use it to defend the rights of African Americans.  Had Bonnie Richmond made a covert anti-Semitic remark, or had the shoe been on the other foot, and a black used a racial epithet toward a white co-worker, we wouldn’t even need to have this discussion. George Will consciously participates in the misidentification of the victim in this case as a man, which so far has turned up twice, in both the Post and the Wall Street Journal. I suppose calling a woman a N***** behind her back is politically less palatable and mean spirited.   

The post-hearing report by the Alliance for Justice reveals, “In response to a written question posed by Senator Durbin (D-IL), Judge Southwick indicated that he could not find a single non-unanimous case, of the more than 7000 opinions that he wrote or joined, in which he voted in favor of a civil rights plaintiff or wrote a dissent on behalf of a plaintiff.”  

What we have here, in the selection of judges like Southwick, and the failed nominations of Michael Wallace and Charles Pickering for the same seat, is a continuation of the patterns of discriminatory intent and the conscious and deliberate support of white supremacy that Mississippi Senators have engaged in from time immemorial.   

Widener University Law Professor Mary Ellen Maatman, in a stunning article, “Speaking Truth to Memory: Lawyers and resistance to the end of white supremacy,” wrote, “The stark truth is more complicated and unpleasant. Lawyers built the systems of disfranchisement and segregation that rendered Deep South African Americans second-class citizens. When those systems were threatened, lawyers fought to sustain them. From the White primary’s end in 1944 until the overturn of miscegenation laws in 1967, a cadre of elite Deep South lawyers and judges used a remarkably consistent rhetoric to defend White Supremacy by opposing Black suffrage, the Fair Deal, desegregation, federal civil rights legislation, and legalization of interracial marriage.” 

 “For these lawyers, opposition to legally mandated racial equality arose from their knowledge that White Supremacy in the Deep South depended on the twin pillars of de jure disfranchisement and segregation. This understanding, coupled with an undying belief in White Supremacy’s tenets, drove their work before and after they led massive resistance to Brown. Indeed, their resistance to Brown was but one part of a long legal campaign for restoration of the White Supremacy and embedment of supremacist assumptions in “the law of the land.” In short, they wanted to ensure that African American “inferiority”would be inscribed in American “hearts and minds”—and the law—“in a way unlikely ever to be undone.”  

Maatman argues that this bitter history of opposition should be viewed as a whole.  In this way, Judge Southwick’s unwillingness to see discrimination in the jury selection of black defendants, his willingness to punish black defendants for striking hostile white jurors for cause, and his mistreatment of a gay parent in a child custody case-makes perfect sense.  Mississippi’s judiciary clearly has different strokes for different folks and the arbitrary and capricious star-chamber quality of its administration of justice merit the strictest scrutiny.    

Instead of acknowledging the truth, Will stoops to call out Obama for his tepid opposition as if he’s an errant child, and defends the elevation of white supremacy and homophobia to constitutional legal principles fit to defend “Why does Obama think Southwick should have ruled differently in the two Mississippi cases? Because he thinks Southwick applied the law inappropriately? Or because he does not like the result? Obama is seeking the office from which federal judges are nominated.  Southwick explained himself, in writings and testimony to the Senate.  Now Obama has explaining to do.”  

Along with Obama’s explanation of his tepid opposition to the Southwick nomination, George Will needs to explain why he continues to stir the pot of racial indifference and homophobia and willingly serves it up to the public as something wholesome.