Harold Ford Jr: Rotten Apple

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The “news” broke yesterday that former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr’s three year effort to revive his flagging political career in the cesspool of New York politics has borne rotten fruit.  Since leaving the congress, Ford has kept busy with a few media gig’s on Fox News and MSNBC as a “political analyst,” Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, and most important, a corporate executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch—a bank that acquired the largest predatory lender, Countrywide. These corporate entanglements coupled with his unabashed support of estate tax repeal for the wealthiest among us make it clear to all sentient beings that Harold Ford Jr is nothing but a shameless corporate whore with an insatiable lust for power.

The day began with an appearance on “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s corporate sponsored Salon of establishment propaganda. The Whore played coy as Mika and Joe held forth on the NY Times story detailing Harold’s courtesan seduction of powerful and prominent Jewish fundraisers and corporate heavyweights in an effort to line up enough cash to mount a serious primary challenge to Hillary Clinton’s designated successor, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

The Whore even got Mayor Michael Bloomberg to say he would “take a look” at supporting him.  Y’all can believe what you want to believe, but the Whore is serious about this sh*t.  In one fell swoop, he has damn near neutralized Chuck Schumer, a man not to be trifled with.

Schumer considers himself the godfather of New York Politics and certainly the top Jewish pol. When he couldn’t control Mayor Bloomberg, he put his wife, Iris Weinshall, in his administration as one of Bloomberg’s commissioners.  Former Governor Spitzer was Schumer’s top rival  and his downfall in a tawdry sex scandal was relished with glee.  Harold is playing this political game of chess like Bobby Fischer.

All of this inside baseball is important considering his unmistakable fingerprints in clearing the field for Gillibrand.  As a former Senate Campaign Committee Chair, Schumer modis operandi is to clear the field for his favorites and to dry up the money for their opponents. Threats are exchanged and favors extended. It always worked.  It worked for Gillibrand up until now. Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney dropped their bids after being passed over for appointment after being threatened by the White House at the behest of Schumer.

But after looking at the love in these two men’s eye’s, I seriously doubt whether a call from the White House will be forthcoming this time.

Richardson withdraws, historic opportunity at hand

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News broke this afternoon that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his nomination over questions regarding a federal investigation of the state’s $1.5 million dollar financial services contract with a Beverly Hills, California firm, CDR, who’s CEO, David Rubin, donated $110,000 to political committee’s affiliated with Governor Richardson.

 

I am heartsick because I’ve always felt that Richardson’s presence in the cabinet essential to Obama’s success. Nevertheless, as my grandma is fond of saying, “one monkey don’t stop no show.” The vacancy represents an opportunity to do something no president has done and after the Warren fiasco a few weeks back, I’ve come to feel pretty strongly that Barack Obama needs to appoint a “gay American,” as former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy put it, to the cabinet of the United States.

 

When you stop and think about it this is a barrier that Bill Clinton should have shattered years ago, and one Al Gore probably would have if the ignorant tumbleweed that is George W. Bush hadn’t tripped him up. Clinton, after the broken promise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” attempted to buy off the LGBT community with the appointments of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxemburg and Roberta Achtenberg as Deputy Secretary of HUD. The public break with activist David Mixner, a leading LGBT fundraiser and convention delegate for Clinton, damaged Clinton’s relationship with the LGBT community in a big way.

 

Nothing of that magnitude has occurred in this new Administration, but the hue and cry over Rick Warren’s inaugural invocation channels the white-hot righteous indignation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Debate, and Bubba’s craven signing of the Defense of Marriage Act, which were straightforward betrayals. Obama hasn’t gone back on his word to the LGBT community on any significant issue, at least not yet. But he’s black, so I suppose there are some activists who feel the need to put Obama, and the rest of his dark skinned brethren, “in our place,” and psychologically project their legitimate anger for the failure of prop 8 on the most convenient scapegoats in America—black people, who don’t even make up 7% of California’s population.

 

Anyway, y’all, after little investigation, I’ve come up with two outstanding people that I think can send an inclusive message to the country and tamp down some of the fires of faux outrage burning in the blogosphere.

 

JARRETT BARRIOS

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The first person to come to mind is former Massachusetts State Senator Jarrett Barrios, the CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts. As CEO, he oversees a $55 million dollar endowment that focuses on expanding health care access and improved delivery to the uninsured and underinsured. Barrios, a Cuban American originally from Tampa, Florida, served for 8 years in both Houses of the Massachusetts legislature. An honors graduate of Harvard University, Barrios also possess a law degree from Georgetown University.

 

In the legislature he made Health Care access and delivery his signature issue and authored legislation requiring Massachusetts hospitals to provide interpreters to non-English speakers. In addition, he authored legislation protecting consumers from unscrupulous predatory lenders and required that lenders abide by Massachusetts laws requiring community reinvestment and he pushed for tax credits to subsidize the construction of more affordable housing.

 

A practicing attorney, Barrios has worked for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and for the law firms DLA Piper and Hill & Barlow.

 

Lastly, as you may have already surmised, Jarrett Barrios is a gay man who led the fight in the Massachusetts Senate to preserve marriage rights for same-sex couples. He is married to Doug Hattaway, a democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton spokesman.

 

The Obama Administration has focused on excellence in its cabinet appointments. I believe that Jarrett Barrios’ academic and professional credentials will stand the test and that he would be an outstanding Secretary of Commerce.

 

SUSAN LEAL

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Because I believe in balance, it is necessary to consider people of both genders and the accomplished Susan Leal, a former businesswoman, health-care executive, Public Utilities Regulator, San Francisco Treasurer and Supervisor, is an even more qualified choice than the first I put forward.

 

Ms. Leal, 59, is a native of San Francisco and a veteran civic leader. She is a first generation daughter of Mexican immigrants and the first Latina to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. While on the board, Ms. Leal co-authored San Francisco’s landmark domestic partners ordinance.

 

An honors graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Leal has degrees in Economics and Law and has an extensive background as a staffer in both the California General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. While in Washington Ms. Leal served as a staff attorney for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Investigations. Back in California, she served as general counsel to the Assembly Committee on Ways & Means.

 

Elected San Francisco’s Treasurer in 1998, she oversaw a $3 billion dollar portfolio of investments and she was the first treasurer to screen the city’s investments to ensure the city invested with socially responsible companies that respected workers, consumers and the environment.

 

A shrewd and successful businesswoman, Ms. Leal and a few friends created a health care startup that they subsequently took public and later sold at a profit.

 

Finally, Ms. Leal last served the public as a utilities regulator and she tangled with PG&E, the powerful utility made infamous in the movie Erin Brockovich.

 

Ms. Leal would make an excellent Secretary of Commerce, Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or as a Deputy Secretary of Energy or Interior. Both of these individuals are qualified, well-educated, Latino and Gay.  It’s past time that all God’s children are represented in the halls of power.

 

obama throws hillary a lifeline

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The jaw dropping news broke yesterday of the President-Elect’s “secret” meeting with Her Royal Highness, the Queen of Triangulation, Hillary Clinton, about the biggest plum he has to offer-appointment as Secretary of State.  He also reportedly met with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who dropped out early and endorsed Obama in a dramatic gesture long before Obama clenched the Democratic nomination.  The corporate media dutifully reported the “Team of Rivals” concept advanced by Doris Kearns Goodwin in her book about Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet.

I’m not buying it.

I have no choice but to take seriously this trial balloon on Hillary’s behalf by the Obama team.  Hopefully, something I say will deflate this travesty before a colossal misstep occurs.  I have no idea what “turning the page” on the past is supposed to mean if the Clinton’s are magnanimously appointed to a sinecure in the new Administration.  What happened to “No Drama Obama?”  If the Clinton’s are known for anything, it’s drama.  I thought this new regime had limits on carry on baggage. The Clintons will bring enough to crash Air Force One.  I don’t mean no harm, as we say, but I’m tired of these people.  The only time I want to hear from Hillary Clinton is from the Senate floor, not from Foggy Bottom.

Once she and Bubba dipped a toe and then submerged the primary battle into the well of racial resentment and xenophobia, that should have killed any talk of a cabinet appointment in its crib.   Hillary can kiss my hind part, no offense.  During the heat of the primary battle, Hillary Clinton sighted a USA Today poll in Indiana and North Carolina:

I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on…Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.

Her performance at the convention and campaign trail was admirable, but it doesn’t make up for appealing to the unjustified fears of white voters skittish about a brotha occupying the Oval Office.  There are some lines you don’t cross and a penalty must be paid.  After reading an assortment of PUMA slights on various blogs, my opinions have hardened on this score.

For all we know, the President-Elect coulda told her in June that he would consider her for Secretary of State and that bought her cooperation.  We won’t know for sometime.   Hillary lost and Barack won.  Its time he acted like it.  I’d appreciate it if he ripped out a page rather than just turning it.   John Kerry, Bill Richardson and  Susan Rice are far more deserving.

If Troy Davis Dies, blame the Clintons

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If anyone has sought to confuse you or just plain insult your intelligence by intimating that the United States has entered into a “post-racial” age of enlightenment, you have this Skeptical Brotha’s permission to curse them out so hard that they beg your forgiveness.  All one really has to do, if the aforemetioned is unappealing, is just say two words: Troy Davis.

I am primitive enough to actually believe in the death penalty despite knowing full well that the way in which it is administered discriminates against people on the basis of race and class.  I am also old fashioned enough to want any would be victimizers of me or my family to pay the ultimate price. 

The case against Georgia Death Row Inmate Troy Davis, 38, changes all that for me and it has me reconsidering  the fundamentally corrosive nature of prolonged righteous rage brought on by the machinery of death.  The family of the murdered police officer  is prevented from having closure and so is the family of Troy Davis who are convinced of his innocence.

Anger and rage are the essential building blocks of any activism for good causes, but they are also the essential tools of the demagogue.

This is where Bill and Hillary Clinton come in.  In the run up to the 1992 New Hampshire primary, Bill Clinton left the campaign trail and the questions surrounding the revelation of his affair wth Gennifer Flowers to execute a brain damaged brotha, Ricky Ray Rector. 

Christopher Hitchens was blunt:

I disliked Clinton because of the Ricky Ray Rector business. He left New Hampshire to go back to Arkansas and execute a man who was essentially unfit to plead–he certainly didn’t understand the charges against him,  would have met any ordinary definition of clemency.  I don’t think the Chinese execute people who are mentally disabled.  Rector was lobotomized. And it was clear that Clinton did what he did to send a racist signal.  It was as clear as it could possibly be.  The week of Gennifer Flowers he kept saying, “Why don’t we talk about the issues?”  So I asked him this: “Isn’t executing a mentally retarded black man for votes a clearer indication of what your morality is than what you do with blondes on the side?” Clinton turned his back on me. Walked away.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Clintons dipped into the well of racism against Barack Obama having deliberately used the unjustified execution of a black man to make a naked racial appeal to whitefolks back in 1992. 

Once elected, Bill and Hillary Clinton continued turning their backs on justice.  Bill signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

According to Amnesty International:

President Bill Clinton signed the AEDPA into law on 24 April 1996. “I have long sought to streamline federal appeals for convicted criminals sentenced to the death penalty,” he said at the signing; “For too long, and in too many cases, endless death row appeals have stood in the way of justice being served.”  He added that “from now on, criminals sentenced to death for their vicious crimes will no longer be able to use endless appeals to delay their sentences.”

The Act placed new, unprecedented restrictions on prisioners raising claims of constitutional violations.  It imposed severe time limits on the raising of constitutional claims, restricted the federal courts ability to review state court decisions, placed limits on federal courts granting and conducting evidentiary hearings, and prohibited “successive” appeals except in very narrow circumstances.

As one leading lawyer has said “The provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 restricting the power of federal courts to correct constitutional error in criminal cases represent a decision tat results are more important than process, that finality is more important than fairness, and that proceeding with executions is more important than determining whether convictions and sentences were obtained fairly and reliably.”

Under the AEDPA, once Troy Davis’ conviction and death sentence had been upheld by the Georgia Courts, the possibility of relief in the federal courts was curtailed. Federal relief was only permissible if the decision of a state court had “resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved in an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”  This deferential “reasonableness” standard represented “a remarkable departure from the traditional role of federal courts…to declare what the law is.”

The amazing thing about the case against Troy Davis is that there is literally no case.  There is no physical evidence at all. No DNA, no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no footprints. Nothing.  All there was against the brotha was the perjured testimony of coerced witnesses, 7 of whom now say in signed affidavits that one of their number was the real killer and that the combined effects of sloppy police work, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, and their fear of the real killer, produced this twisted and tragic result.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles delayed this execution for over a year to supposedly investigate the claims of innocence here thoroughly and completely. They still came to the same racist result as the orignial jury and every court of review.

At the end of the line and with state court appeals exhausted, executive clemency denied, and all federal appeals over, they appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court one last time. The Supremes delayed the execution until next Monday.  While a six-day repreive is cause for celebration for some, I am not hopeful.   A Supreme Court that would essentially overturn Brown v. Board of Education is a Supreme Court that will come up with some convoluted, racist rationale for the execution of the innocent.   Only time will tell.

The only thing I know for sure is that if Troy Davis dies, you can blame the Clintons for setting him up and sabotaging his legitimate claim of innocence.

Bubba does the View

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The triangulating liar-in-chief visited the ladies of The View .   It was such a momentous occasion that even Whoopi Goldberg put on a dress and some heels to receive a hug and kiss from Bubba, something she’d never done for Barack, Michelle, or McSame.  The body language was really interesting.  Barbara Walters seemed repulsed by Slick Willie and the greeting was beyond awkward. Whoopi, on the other hand, played her usual role of happy darkie and looked like she would be thrilled to play Sally Hemmings to his Thomas Jefferson.

After the President commented on Whoopi’s dress and ugly plastic shoes, Barbara got right down to business and asked the man from Hope whether the Queen of Triangulation really wanted to be Obama’s Vice.  His answer was less than convincing.  What was your impression?

Sarah Palin: John McCain’s Right-Wing Covergirl

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The selection of the “easy, breezy, beautiful” Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is the boldest act of political jujitsu seen in decades. I told y’all that Barack Obama should have chosen a woman to close the opening that this selection runs right through. Machiavelli would be proud.

You’ve heard the Republican talking points about John McCain’s right-wing covergirl. She’s a hockey mom, political reformer, and female trailblazer that has served as a city councilwoman, Mayor, State Oil and Gas Commissioner and Governor. This post is about what you may not know or haven’t considered.

While the Democratic establishment is widely panning the selection of an untested and unknown Governor Palin, I think that most are missing the bigger picture. They have panned this choice as a nakedly illogical pander to white women, which is certainly true, but politics is not about what’s logical, it is about what people really feel and will never say. The most diehard Hillarycrats and PUMA activists have already pledged their support to John McSame, a rigidly pro-life conservative opposed to women’s reproductive rights, feminism and the concept of equal pay for equal work. Hillarycrats have panned Barack Obama as an empty suit and unqualified usurper who screwed Hillary Clinton out of her divine right to become the Democratic nominee.

As Tim Wise has written, the various excuses thrown out by Hillarycrats, like gender solidarity, blaming Barack for Hillary’s sexist manhandling by the media and Obama’s qualifications, conveniently masks Hillarycrats undercover racial resistance to the idea of electing a black president. He writes:

How is it that you have managed to hold your nose all these years, just like a lot of us on the left, and vote for Democrats who we knew were horribly inadequate–Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dukakis, right on down the uninspiring line–and yet, apparently can’t bring yourself to vote for Barack Obama? A man who, for all of his shortcomings (and there are several, as with all candidates put up by either of the two major corporate parties) is surely more progressive than any of those just mentioned.

And how are we to understand that refusal–this sudden line in the proverbial sand–other than as a racist slap at a black man? You will vote for white men year after year after year–and are threatening to vote for another one just to make a point–but can’t bring yourself to vote for a black man, whose political views come much closer to your own, in all likelihood, than do the views of any of the white men you’ve supported before. How, other than as an act of racism, or perhaps as evidence of political insanity, is one to interpret such a thing

Karl Rove underscores the purpose of this pick for the uninitiated:

“It(s)… a clear sign from the McCain campaign that they were going to be making a very strong bid for the women whom they see up for grabs — both the traditional, swing independent suburbanites and then the Hillary Clinton supporters who remain disillusioned.”

McSame’s power move echoes the third law of power in Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power.

Law 3

Conceal your Intentions

Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelope them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

Governor Palin’s selection represents McCain scraping the bottom of a very shallow conservative barrel.

The Nation’s Christopher Hayes sights an Associated Press blurb from 1999:

Pat Buchanan brought his conservative message of a smaller government and an America First foreign policy to Fairbanks and Wasilla on Friday as he continued a campaign swing through Alaska. Buchanan’s strong message championing states rights resonated with the roughly 85 people gathered for an Interior Republican luncheon in Fairbanks. … Among those sporting Buchanan buttons were Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and state Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage.”

Anybody who supported any of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns is a hard-right troglodyte obsessed with immigration, “states rights,” the ever-increasing numbers of colored folks in America, and the religious right’s scorched earth culture war against abortion, homosexuality and the civil rights of the GLBT community.

Governor Palin opposes abortion rights—period. No exceptions. And the Governor is also a lifetime member of the gun nut NRA. She is a cynical sop to the hard right and to fanatical feminist dead-enders who refuse to listen to the entreaties of Hillary Clinton to vote for Barack Obama.

JOHN MCCAIN IN A DRAG

The conservative woman with the ideal resume to break the glass ceiling in Republican politics was New Mexico’s Heather Wilson. With a resume that reads like a political consultant’s wet dream, Congresswoman Wilson, the first female Air Force academy graduate elected to congress, is a Rhodes Scholar possessing a doctorate in international relations and an extensive background in military intelligence. Wilson served on the President’s National Security Council before her election to five terms in congress.

As a member of congress, Mrs. Wilson serves on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. The congresswoman has a couple of problems though. First, she is a nominally pro-choice Republican who supports stem cell research that is anathema to the pro-life lobby. Second, she sat on the House Page Board and claimed to know nothing about Congressman Mark Foley’s sick trolling for male pages. Additionally, she covered up incriminating case files detailing an investigation of her husband for playing grab ass with a teenage boy.

That was clearly not going to work. However, there were certainly others to whom McSame could turn.

THE OTHERS

Every senior Republican woman on Capitol Hill is more qualified than Sarah Palin—every woman. Maine Senator Olympia Snowe—the senior woman Republican on Capitol Hill, has served in congress for 30 years, longer than John McCain. She sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has been in the Senate for 15 years having first served as a state legislator and state Treasurer. Miss Kay is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and serves on both the Defense and Military Construction subcommittees.

Maine Senator Susan Collins, Joe Lieberman’s Republican concubine, has been on the Hill for 20+ years. Collins served as chief of staff for her Senate predecessor and was subsequently elected to office in her own right. A senator for 12 years, she is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chaired the Senate Committee on Homeland Security in the last congress.

Every single one of these woman is nominally pro-choice and neither would have solved McSame’s problems with the reactionary base of the Republican Party. In no way is this a choice based on the merits—it’s hardball politics calculated to woo white voters, especially women, wary of electing a black man to the highest office in the land.

Don’t sleep on John McCain’s right-wing covergirl. Palin defeated the incumbent Governor of her own party and the state’s last Democratic Governor to assume power in the incestuous cesspool that is Alaska politics. Her personality and forthright demeanor are her greatest asset and are the single biggest reason for her 80% approval rating. She can appeal to disaffected Hillarycrats without doing much of anything. PUMA’s Darragh Murhpy described her selection as, “Bold and Brave” on tonight’s Hardball.

In my estimation, this selection confirms the Machiavellian genuflection to Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos and is an ominous symbol that the GOP is still wedded to the exploitation of race as wedge issue. So much for Obama’s attempts to be post-racial.

DNC day three: Obama Nominated By Acclamation

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I am just so overwhelmed and I can’t write anything coherent. It has finally happened at long last and all I can do is take it all in.  

Bill Clinton has finished his address, what say you?