Leon Jenkins Resigns In Disgrace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jenkins did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Donald Sterling’s House Negro: Leon Jenkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Christie pays homage to Iowa’s Birther King

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has abandoned all pretense of giving a shit about assisting Mitt Romney in toppling Barack Obama this year and has started running in earnest for 2016. This week, the same politician who expressed disdain for “the crazies” in his party flew to Iowa to cozy up to just that in the person of Iowa Congressman Steve King. The gentleman from Iowa has distinguished himself during his tenure in Congress as Iowa’s chief race-baiter, birther, homophobe, misogynist and conspiracy theorist.

If Christie is to have any hope of making inroads with the Hawkeye state’s fringe Right, the path to power goes directly through Western Iowa’s Birther King.  The lamestream media would do well to pay attention to how their right-wing golden boy compromises his integrity and jettisons his moderation in the pursuit of the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination. Dostoevsky said it best, “Power is only given to those who lower themselves to pick it up.”  I can think of nothing lower than fundraising for and extoling the virtues of a bigoted troglodyte like Steve King.

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

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

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

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

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

Incremental Change I Can Believe In

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

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

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

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

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

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

And they will be right.

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

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

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

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

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

It is finished

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I still want a public option.

Governor Davis: a fantasy in black and white

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Congressman Artur Davis, Mrs. Peggy Wallace Kennedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congressman Artur Davis and President Barack Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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