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.

Michael Steele: Concern Troll

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The blackface minstrel the Republican Party installed as its chairman has had the audacity to call on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to resign.  Yesterday on Meet the Press, the preeminent Salon of Sunday talk, Steele was asked if Senator Reid should resign for saying Barack Obama was a viable Presidential candidate because he was “light-skinned” and because he did not speak with a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

I refuse to defend Harry Reid, but even an idealist like me knows the difference between a Majority Leader who advances the agenda of a black president and a Majority Leader who defended segregation.

Steele said, “[F]rom my perspective, whether he steps down today or I retire him in November, either way, he will not be the leader in 2011.” That is mighty curious statement because The Steele Sambo felt differently when Trent Lott found himself in a similar predicament.

The Politico has the scoop:

The Washington Post reported on Dec. 14, 2002: “Lt. Gov.-elect Michael S. Steele said last night that he was personally upset by U.S. Sen. Trent Lott’s praise for Sen. Strom Thurmond and his segregationist past, but said Lott should not be forced to relinquish his leadership position in the Senate. ‘Trent Lott apologized, but he needs to keep apologizing because this is a very sensitive issue to the black community,’ Steele (R) said at an event celebrating his election as Maryland’s first black lieutenant governor. ‘I know Trent Lott personally, and I know that this is not his intent. But it’s still unfortunate. And I think he needs to apologize a little bit more.’”

The New York Times quotes Steele:

What’s interesting here is when Democrats get caught saying racist things, an apology is enough,” Mr. Steele said. “If that had been [Senate Republican Leader] Mitch McConnell saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the United States,” Democrats would be “screaming for his head, very much as they were with [Former Senate Republican Leader] Trent Lott.

What the record proves, what it always proves, is that when Republicans say racist things an apology is usually enough and The Steele Sambo will be there to back them up.

Perhaps y’all remember this little tidbit from last year in Politico:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he has reached out to Rush Limbaugh to tell him he meant no offense when he referred to the popular conservative radio host as an “entertainer” whose show can be “incendiary.”

My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.

Class, let’s review what The Steele Sambo has enormous respect for.

Rush Limbaugh has said:

Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?

Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.

The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.

[To an African American female caller]: Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.

I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.

[On Justice Sotomayor] “So here you have a racist. You might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. And the libs, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one.”

At every turn, The Steele Sambo has used his race and status as a Republican leader to defend the most aggressive purveyors of the racism he now claims to be offended by. In the blogosphere we called creeps like The Steele Sambo concern trolls. It is a delicious epithet because they damn sure ain’t the least bit concerned about whatever they comment on. And they are almost always an ugly wingnut troll. To be fair, Michael Steele is not ugly, but the racism he consistently defends as the Chairman of the Republican Party is.

While I am no fan of Barack Obama’s safe establishment politics, I hope The Steele Sambo’s book and his rancid political agenda fails.

About face on Burris

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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.

 

Eric Holder: the triumph of tokenism

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Word has been leaking like a sieve from the catacombs of Washington power about an interesting list of cabinet appointments. First, Obama appears to have selected former Clinton Administration Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder as his choice for Attorney General; finally, a Black appointment. Folks were beginning to wonder. The Holder appointment is not exactly Earth shattering and has been on the radar for several months.

Having met Obama in 2004, Holder was immediately impressed with the Senator’s depth and the feeling was mutual. Along with President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, Holder oversaw the vetting process that facilitated the unimpressive addition of Joe Biden to Obama’s ticket.

A longtime Justice Department lawyer, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and a former DC Superior Court Judge, Holder is qualified to become Attorney General and it is my contention that Hillary would have appointed him as well as a sop to black folk for having defeated Obama through ruthless and deceptive means.

Holder, 57, is a standard issue establishment Negro who is safe, unimaginative, competent and compliant. As a partner in Covington & Burling, he has profited from his firm’s flacking for Halliburton’s bloated no-bid contracts and for other corporate predators like the Southern Peru Copper Corporation that left a trail of environmental devastation, economic dislocation, and a populace suffering from the deleterious health effects of toxic lead contamination.

While defending corporate criminals like Southern Peru Copper from any accountability for their crimes against the defenseless poor under the Alien Tort Claims Act, Covington & Burling has an interesting record of pro-bono work that has established the Fifth Amendment rights of Guantanamo detainees and defended abortion rights against the right-wing. Moreover, they’ve won a number of significant and high profile employment discrimination lawsuits on behalf of people of color.

What bothers me about Holder, though, is the law firm he is a partner in and what that ultimately says about Barack Obama’s oft stated “Change We Can Believe In.”

Yolanda Young, a writer, fellow blogger at spadeproject.com, and former staff attorney at Covington Burling, has written of the firm’s culture of face saving tokenism.

Staff attorneys are non-partner track lawyers who handle the menial legal tasks–generating binders and attaching “relevant” or “not relevant” codes to thousands of emails, spreadsheets, and any other documents associated with a particular case–that associates shun. While paralegals have their own offices, as many as ten staff attorneys share windowless file rooms. Segregated from other lawyers in the firm, we go uninvited to attorney-only firm functions and are not provided jury duty or maternity leave. The base pay and bonus structure is half that of a 25 year old first year associate’s.

Blacks at Covington comprise less than 5% of the Washington office’s partners and associates, but make up 30% of its staff attorneys. A peek at the firm’s website doesn’t reveal this since, unlike all other lawyers there, staff attorneys aren’t pictured. Were they, a peculiar pattern would emerge.

In a Legal Times essay, “The Unqualified Myth,” Veta T. Richardson, Executive Director of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association wrote, “Law firms claim to have consistent hiring criteria, but their ranks are actually filled with exceptions to the rule. These exceptions are more likely to be white lawyers.” Indeed, Covington’s black staff attorneys (like its black partners and associates) hail from top law schools like Harvard, Duke and Georgetown while several white associates and partners attended schools like Catholic, Kentucky and Villanova (all ranked well below 50). Taken as a whole, the black staff attorneys’ average law school rank is higher than that of white staff attorneys at the firm.

Blacks bought into the notion, stressed by legal literature, ranking systems and law firm recruiting departments, that investing in a top legal education is paramount for those wishing to work at top law firms. It’s disheartening to then discover that the black student who borrows $120,000 to attend Georgetown will only earn half that of the white associate who’s [sic] paid $60,000 to attend the University of Maryland.

Covington began stockpiling its staff attorney ghetto with blacks and other minorities in 2005, shortly after the General Council of some of the country’s largest companies joined Roderick A. Palmore, Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of Sara Lee in taking a tougher stance on law firm diversity. Signed by hundreds of General Counsel, this new “Call to Action” states they will retain firms that demonstrate a level of diversity reflective of their employees and customers and end their relationship with firms “whose performance consistently evidences a lack of meaningful interest in being diverse.”

Covington has certainly diversified its firm; however, its attorneys are far from equals. The vast majority of Covington’s black attorneys do no substantive work; have no control over their case assignments and no opportunity for advancement. This seems to be just the sort of structure the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warned against in its 2003 “Diversity In Law Firms” report which stated, “In large, national law firms, the most pressing issues have probably shifted from hiring and initial access to problems concerning the terms and conditions of employment, especially promotion to partnership.”

Having worked in the private sector, I’ve experienced both subtle and blatant forms of employment discrimination.  The politics of corporate diversity, in my view, is nothing more than a deceptive shell game.  I have worked for an organization whose CEO was a black man, the first ever, and still been subjected to retaliatory racism that led, in part, to my resignation.  Whatever feelings about race I may have, I come by them honestly.   It’s troubling to hear about better educated black professionals in supposedly high prestige workplaces being subjected to disparate treatment while a prominent black partner did little or nothing about it.

The Justice Department, in a sense, is the most powerful law firm in the world. The Bushites in control for the last eight years have done their level best to destroy it by turning it into a partisan dumping ground for the most far right hacks in their stable of fools.  They have conspired to undermine the administration of justice, facilitated torture and spied on the american people without probable cause. If a black partner in one of the most powerful Washington law firms can turn a blind eye to the discrimination in his own firm, I have to question why Barack Obama believes he is the right man to become Attorney General of the United States at this time. Finally, if he’s confirmed, I fear that Holder is just another token incapable of delivering anything resembling “Change We Can Believe In.”

 

Hate First

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Video Hat Tip: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Crooks and Liars

The mainstream media has been talking around this for weeks now, but Al Jazeera, the Middle Eastern news channel, lays it out plain and shows White voters spewing out the racist, sectarian, xenophobic, Anti-Obama talking points of the Republican Party.  The Republicans have been playing a ridiculous game of denial with the media and everyone else that calls them on their bullshit–thus, the histrionics by Republicans over John Lewis’ open letter calling out McSame and Failin’.  They know exactly what they’ve been doing because they’ve been doing it for over 40 years.  They have been masters at the non-denial denial and the art of deliberately stoking the racial resentments of their white constitutent base against the liberal enemies of the moment.  Southern Strategy, anyone?

O.J. Simpson: guilty of stupidity

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Hat Tip: By Linda Deutsch, Associated Press

Las Vegas, NV – O.J. Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and a friend, was found guilty Friday of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

The 61-year-old former football star could spend the rest of his life in prison after he is sentenced Dec. 5.

A weary and somber Simpson released a heavy sigh as the charges were read in rapid fire by the clerk in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody.

The Hall of Fame football star was found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said he brought a gun at Simpson’s request.

Simpson’s co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody.

Simpson showed little emotion as officers handcuffed him and walked him out of the courtroom.

His sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed behind him in the arms of Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto. As spectators left the courtroom, Durio collapsed and paramedics were called, according to court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer.

The jurors made no eye contact with the defendants as the entered and each of them answered firmly when asked if “this was their individual verdict.”

Judge Jackie Glass made no comment other than to thank the jury for its service and to deny motions for the defendants to be released on bail.

She refused to give the lawyers extended time to file a motion for new trial, which under Nevada law must be filed within seven days.

The attorneys said they needed time to submit a voluminous record, but she rejected that.

“I’ve sat through the trial,” Glass said. “If you want a motion for new trial, send me something.”

The verdict came 13 years after Simpson was cleared of murder in Los Angeles in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.

From the beginning, Simpson and lawyers argued the incident in Las Vegas was not a robbery; instead, they said, he was trying to reclaim mementos that had been stolen from him. He said he did not ask anyone to bring a gun and did not see any guns.

The defense portrayed Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make a buck off his famous name, and police officers who saw his arrest as an opportunity to “get” him and avenge his acquittal.

Prosecutors said Simpson’s ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; it was still a crime to try to take things by force.

“When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don’t let anybody out of here!’ — six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them — that’s kidnapping,” prosecutor David Roger said.

Kidnapping is punishable by five years to life in prison. Armed robbery carries a mandatory sentence of at least two years behind bars, and could bring as much as 30 years.

Simpson, who now lives in Miami, did not testify, but was heard on a recording of the confrontation, screaming that the dealers had stolen his property.

“Don’t let nobody out of this room,” he declared and told the other men to scoop up his items, which included a photo of Simpson with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Four other men initially charged in the case struck plea bargains that saved them from potential prison sentences in return for their testimony. Some of them had criminal records or were compromised in some way. One, for example, was an alleged pimp who testified he had a revelation from God telling him to take a plea bargain.

Memorabilia dealer Thomas Riccio, who arranged and secretly recorded the confrontation in the hotel room, said he netted $210,000 on the tapes from the media. He received immunity, and his recordings became the heart of the prosecution case.

Similarly, minutes after the Sept. 13, 2007, confrontation, one of the alleged victims, sports-memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, was calling news outlets, and the other, Bruce Fromong, spoke of getting “big money” from the incident.

Simpson’s past haunted the case. Las Vegas police officers were heard in the recordings chuckling over Simpson’s misfortune and crowing that if Los Angeles couldn’t “get” him, they would. And the judge told jurors they had to put aside Simpson’s earlier case.

Simpson’s lawyers also expressed fears during jury selection that people who believed he got away with murder a decade ago might see this case as a chance to right a wrong.

As a result, an usually large pool of 500 potential jurors was called, and they were given a 26-page questionnaire. Half were almost instantly eliminated after expressing strong feelings that he should have been convicted of murder.

 

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.

Why I am pro-choice

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Mother n Child (late 1930s) by Omega418.

Several years ago, I was asked to do a project for a Women’s history class and interview a woman of a certain age in the family. I interviewed my great Aunt Alberta. My aunt was her mother’s namesake and she told me my great-grandmother’s story. According to the census of 1930, my great-grandmother was my grandfather’s second wife. Born in Mississippi in 1907 to a family of 15, she met and married my great-grandfather, a Baptist minister, sometime in the late twenties and to their union were born three children: Uncle Isiah in 1927, Lula, my grandmother in 1929, and my Aunt Alberta in 1930. About 1933 my great-grandmother Alberta became pregnant again.

The economic injustice of the Jim Crow south was intensified by the near total economic collapse brought on by the depression. Times were tough for blackfolks anyhow, but the misery of the depression made some of us long for the degradation of slavery because at least they could be assured of being fed. It was into this climate of desperation, penury and fear that my great-grandmother faced the prospect of having a fourth mouth to feed.

When a woman is intent on ending a pregnacy to preserve the family that she already has, there is nothing that she won’t do.  My great-grandmother searched high and low for an abortifacient that would work and settled on a method, which is lost in the mists of time, that took her life. Her death left a hole in the family that could never be filled. My great-grandfather re-married twice. The woman who raised my grandmother and her siblings was a cold, emotionally distant woman who expected her grown children still at home to pay room and board before each eventually married. My great-grandfather was a strict disciplinarian who had trouble understanding the difference between necessary discipline and child abuse.

Several years ago, my Auntie gave grandma an old black and white photo similar to the one here. My great-grandmother, who my grandma closely resembles, is holding an infant, my aunt, while her two toddlers stand to her sides. Grandma cried as she told us how much she missed her mother. Her loss is felt even now. Because of limited career choices available to their generation, my grandmother and her sister became nurses and I know that her mother’s death made grandma firmly and unalterably pro-choice. Out of respect for her and the memory of my great-grandmother, I am too.

It did my heart good to see that the National Organization for Women endorsed Barack Obama and Joe Biden today. They said in part, “Sen. Obama is a co-sponsor of the Prevention First Act, to strengthen access to contraception and reproductive health care, and prevent unwanted pregnancies. He strongly supports Roe v. Wade and will oppose any efforts to overturn it. …Sen. Obama opposed the nominations of George Bush’s extreme right-wing nominees to the Supreme Court, who have consistently ruled against women’s rights.”

“For more than a decade, Barack Obama has said “yes” to women’s rights, while John McCain has consistently said “no” – NO to pay equity, NO to contraceptive access and reproductive rights, NO to appointing Supreme Court judges who will uphold women’s rights and civil rights, NO to funding shelters and other anti-violence programs, and NO to supporting working moms and dads with policies that support work/life balance.”

Barack Obama is not perfect and is far too accomodating and corporate for my taste. However, he is the only candidate in the race who shares most of my values that is capable of winning. Anybody who claimed to be for Hillary Clinton that doesn’t support Barack Obama is lying when they claim to be feminists. Feminists support the rights of women–all women, to be free of patriarchy, racism, violence and economic discrimination. Supporting John McCain and his right-wing fembot is antithetical to the philosphy of feminism.

Hiding behind John McCain and Sarah Palin or Cynthia McKinney changes nothing. Sarah Palin is not a feminist, no matter what she claims, and she doesn’t support preserving the reproductive rights of women. Cynthia McKinney, on the other hand, is a good feminist, but she has absolutely no chance to win.

The choice for feminists is clear. Anybody who says anything different and insists on bludgeoning Barack Obama as the scapegoat for the slings and arrows of sexism is really more interested in preserving white supremacy than they are in defending Hillary Clinton from sexist patriarchy.

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?