The more things change…



Please give a warm welcome to TripLBee,  Skeptical Brotha’s newest contributor.

By TripLBee, Contributor

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Remember 1993? A charismatic young President rode into the White House in shining armor, liberating our tired and weary masses from 12 years of right-wing tyranny. We were giddy. We were hopeful. We were naive.

Within days of taking office, Bill Clinton gave us a clue as to the kind of President we could expect. Having campaigned on a promise to integrate the military, he promptly compromised his GLBT constituency with the ludicrous and triangulating “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. For GLBTs the abrupt about face may have been more aptly described as the “Don’t Trust This Mutha@#$%^& As Far As You Can Throw Him” policy.

Fast-forward 16 years. Another charismatic young President extricates Americans from the grip of a crazed GOP. He is handsome. He is “articulate and clean.” He sports a brilliant and beautiful wife, and two of the cutest kids on the planet. He quotes Jay Z and Jesus in the same speech. He is perfect. He seems too good to be true. Perhaps because he is.

Among the many promises he makes is one to overturn a Jim Crow redux, euphemistically titled the “Defense of Marriage Act.” This act essentially demotes GLBT couples to legally sanctioned second-class citizenship. Cut it and slice it any way you will, this is the essence of the legislation. Those of us concerned about basic civil and human rights are heartened that our new President is set to undo such palpable wrongs. Only he isn’t.

It took our perfect Prez only a few weeks to cause us some concern.

He’s extending the pull out date in Iraq by a year? Ummmm….okay, I guess.

What? He’s tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan, the graveyard of Empires? Oh dear.

He’s pumping money into the biggest banks in the country, but he’s not requiring them to fire their bosses, cap their pay or change the way they conduct their business? Now I am really confused!

Of course we’ve made excuses for our new Prez. Who did we think we were getting after all? Che Guevarra? Look, he’s gotta compromise a little bit. I mean, he has to govern 300 million people, many of them former Republicans. He’s gotta throw em a bone every once in a while. Right?

At some point however, compromise becomes a stale rationalization for “politics as usual.” By filing a friend of the court brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, President Barack Obama has officially become a typical Democrat.

This is a sad day indeed for those of us contributed to his campaign, knocked on doors until our knuckles bled and worked the phone banks until we were hoarse. Many of us, myself included, expected this brother to be different. So far he has proven himself to be smarter, more charming, and slightly more daring than the average bear. But in some fundamental ways, he’s no different.

Born to a white mother and black father in 1961, Obama was literally illegal in 17 states. His parents’ marriage would not have been recognized in many parts of the country. I wonder what they would think if they could see their baby defending state sanctioned bigotry?

And here’s the rub. He didn’t have to do it. He could have told his lawyers to take the day off and play golf. He could have told them to call in sick. Whatever pathetic excuse he has concocted, he didn’t have to go out of his way to spit in the faces of his GLBT supporters. He claims that he had to file the brief because the Defense of Marriage Act is federal law. Well, abortion is a constitutionally protected right. Did you see Bush filing friend of the court briefs when protections for abortion were being challenged in the courts? Nope. Bush knew where his bread was buttered. Apparently Obama does not.

Lurleen’s Ghost: false prophets, empty symbolism, and the endurance of white supremacy


Then the LORD said unto me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them. They prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought and the deceit of their heart.- Jeremiah 14:14

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. -1 John 4: 1

The Battle of Selma, an internecine conflict between Queen Hillary and the Safe Negro, Barack Obama, for the black vote, was waged in February and the combatants were both in rare form. To the uninitiated, it seemed that the courageous people who were battered and bloodied on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to secure African Americans voting rights inspired both. That would be wrong.

What the world witnessed was a big show of religiosity cynically calculated to pander to the vast majority of politically active and deluded black people facing a Hobson’s choice between two “articulate and clean” false prophets whose symbolic candidacies mask a hidden agenda to tend to America’s ruling class as servants and protectors of capitalist imperialism.

Michael Parenti, author of “Dirty Truths” has written: The history of the United States has been one of territorial and economic expansionism, with the benefits going mostly to the U.S. business class in the form of growing investments and markets, access to rich natural resources and cheap labor, and the accumulation of enormous profits. The American people have had to pay the costs of empire, supporting a huge military establishment with their taxes, while suffering the loss of jobs, the neglect of domestic services, and the loss of tens of thousands of American lives in overseas military ventures.

The greatest costs, of course, have been borne by the peoples of the Third World who have endured poverty, pillage, disease, dispossession, exploitation, illiteracy, and the widespread destruction of their lands, cultures, and lives.

The racial dimensions of our economic, political and military hegemony over the world’s people of color are an unstated but unmistakable form of white supremacy. Black Agenda Report has tilled the soil on this ground quite thoroughly. I highly recommend reading their piece on this subject. The meaning of Selma has been percolating in my mind for some weeks now and it gelled Friday while I dozed off in Barnes and Noble after work. What I would like to explore with you, if you’ll permit me, is the triumph of white supremacy over our politics and why I think Hillary and Barack are both agents of its facilitation.

In telling the story of white supremacy’s evolving political stranglehold, it is useful to examine the past as a template for the present.

One of the reasons I came to the south is because of its politics. Among the most colorful in the nation, the south has produced some world-class pols and demagogues. Some of the most notable: LBJ, Huey Long, and George Wallace. All three possessed an intuitive understanding of power. Both Huey Long and George Wallace understood the value of machine politics and the practical uses of propaganda.

Bill Clinton is not the first southern pol to advance his wife forward to maintain a foothold on power. Texas Governor James Ferguson was, running his wife Miriam and in his footsteps followed Alabama Governor George Wallace. Stephan Lesher, author of “George Wallace: American Populist,” picks up the story, “Wallace learned about the Fergusons shortly after Lurleen’s announcement; his source, of all people, was the President of the United States during a White House briefing on Vietnam for the nation’s governors…Then, Johnson regaled him with one of James’s 1924 campaign speeches in which he had explained how the couple would operate if Miriam was elected: he would be her number one assistant, he would say, but he would also “tote the wood and draw the water at the governor’s mansion.” Wallace knew a good line when he heard it-and adapted it in every speech he would make over the next months.”

George Wallace pursued the presidency with a vigor we’ve not seen recently until the emergence of the Clinton juggernaut. Running four times in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976, he used every asset at his disposal to hold the Governorship of Alabama as a powerbase and springboard to the Presidency. One of those assets was his wife, Lurleen. Forced out by term limits in 1966, he ran Mrs. Wallace in his place as a surrogate. She pledged to the people that she would “let George do it” [run the state].

I have been thinking of the demure and modest homemaker thrust into the limelight by a controlling husband to maintain his own power and to make up for his unconscionable philandering. By elevating her to the governor’s chair, he gave her something no other man could: power and status. In so doing, he repaired their unhappy marriage. The same could be said of the Clintons despite Hillary’s unquestioned ability to run this country without her husband. She would not be on the cusp of making history without him. Echoing the Fergusons before them, we are still “getting two for the price of one.” And make no mistake, he is “tot[ing] the wood and drawing the water” for this campaign behind the scenes.

The campaign of 1966 was an interesting spectacle that reminds me of the current 2008 contest. The Alabama establishment had two contenders to choose from and chose only one: Lurleen Wallace and by extension, George. Former Governor Patterson who had defeated George for Governor in 1958 was a bitter segregationist. George’s spirited defense of white supremacy deflated his sails and she won going away. Patterson provoked the immortal statement from George in Marshal Frady’s legendary biography “Wallace,” “John Patterson out nigguhed me. And boys, I’m not goin’ to be out-nigguhed again.”

Indeed, he never was. He came to be seen as the personification of segregationist resistance. He introduced himself to the American people by way of an incendiary Inaugural Address penned by a Klansman in which he proclaimed, “Segregation Now! Segregation Tomorrow! Segregation Forever!” Additionally, he reaped nationwide publicity for his melodramatic stand in the schoolhouse door of the University of Alabama. His demagogic advocacy of white supremacy connected him with the masses of disaffected whites fearful of black advancement. He turned their disaffection into an independent movement that mainstream Democratic and Republican politicians are still accommodating.

Dan Carter, author of the article “Legacy of Rage: George Wallace and the Transformation of American Politics” wrote, “Unwilling to listen to the dwindling handful of politicians who spoke of unpleasant choices, Americans willingly turned to the more satisfying task of exorcising demons. For politicians, it was a dilemma not unlike that facing George Wallace in 1962. I started off talking about schools and highways and prisons and taxes-and I couldn’t get them to listen,” he confided to an old supporter. “Then I began talking about niggers-and they stomped the floor.”

“Although working and middle class Americans in the 1960s periodically expressed uneasiness over inflation and the failure of wages to keep pace with the cost of living, widespread economic insecurity and declining incomes were not characteristic of the decade. It was primarily a sense of cultural and social dislocation- and out and out racism-that furnished the fuel for George Wallace’s angry rhetoric.”

Bill Clinton, although still a college student, was an active political operative by this time and a Capitol Hill intern for segregationist Arkansas Senator William Fulbright. He saw for himself how potent the politics of race was during the desegregation of Little Rock, Arkansas Public Schools a decade before. Governor Faubus parlayed his opposition to desegregation into an unprecedented six two-year terms as governor, a tenure equaled only by Clinton himself. In addition, Bill couldn’t have possibly missed Arkansas tepid support of LBJ in 1964 and its plurality support of Wallace’s third party bid in 1968.

Despite protestations to the contrary, white supremacy is still a factor today and has been supported by an exclusive focus on the integration of the ranks of politicians, public accommodations, and the desegregation of the public schools and institutions of higher learning. There is another institution, which is sadly deficient in its adherence to fairness and the rule of law: the judiciary. We’ve lost many battles and are losing the war.

The foundation of equal opportunity is crumbling before our eyes and the Roberts Court is leading the charge to destroy it once and for all. How did we get here? We got here because for some reason, we’re more concerned with electing politicians on the basis of showmanship-not policy. Politicians like Bill, Hillary, and Barack, use the politics of identity against us, rather than use it to create common ground.

The essence of their positions regarding judicial selection and due process reflect the political expediency of politicians on the make. Bill Clinton in 1992 famously executed Ricky Ray Rector, Christopher Hitchens described the incident Lobotomized by his own bullet, this disabled black convict did not understand either his trial or his sentence. Executed by Clinton to draw attention from the Gennifer Flowers flap (about which he also lied) Rector outdoes Willie Horton by every definition of racist grandstanding. His snuffing was not just an election tactic, bad enough though that would have been. In power, Clinton fast-tracked capital punishment to the point where even Republican governors and legislatures have had to try and slow it down.”

As President, he fast-tracked executions by signing legislation that increased the number of crimes that were death penalty eligible and which severely short-circuited habeas corpus, resulting in the dramatically increased possibility of executing the innocent. He even executed someone in Arkansas whose innocence was legitimately in question. Alexander Nguyen of American Prospect wrote, Also executed during the (1992) campaign was Steven Douglas Hill, who was convicted of shooting a state police investigator after he and an accomplice escaped from a state prison. Hill confessed to the crime, but his partner Michael Cox has insisted for years that it was he, not Hill, who pulled the trigger. In all, Arkansas executed four people on Clinton‘s watch.

Hillary stood by and never meddled in the process of shedding unnecessary blood to elevate themselves to the ultimate power of the Presidency. Given the choice between standing for what’s right and sacrificing power, she chose to support her husband and sacrifice a life giving the lie to the arguments regarding gender diversity in the ranks of elected politicians. While in the Senate, she and her rival, Barack Obama, have played it safe-very safe. The youthful opposition to the death penalty has given way to safe positions crafted to advance viable Presidential candidacies and leave undisturbed the grip of white supremacy over our Judiciary.

Bush has twice nominated arch Conservatives to the Supreme Court and twice Barack and Hillary refused to filibuster those nominations to death.  He and Hillary cast the right vote on the Alito nomination against cloture (shutting off debate), but they were just going through the motions.  Neither put up a fight against John Roberts, although they voted against him. A passionate level of opposition and principled advocacy would have sent a powerful signal to the civil rights community that those two meant business and would have provided political cover for their weak-kneed colleagues to man-up and follow suit.

John Kerry said it best of John Roberts, “Judge Roberts argued against using the “effects test” to determine whether section 2 of the Voting Rights Act was violated. Instead, he believed and “intent” test—requiring proof of a discriminatory motive should be required, regardless of the fact that many victims of discrimination would be unable to prove real discriminatory intent and therefore unable to enjoy the protections afforded by the Act. In some cases, the effect of Judge Roberts’ intent test meant that disenfranchised individuals had to prove the motive of long dead officials who crafted election rules. That is a foolish standard when it comes between citizens and their constitutionally protected right to fair representation in our democracy.”

As someone who represented a majority black legislative district created as a nod to the Voting Rights Act, Barack Obama, should have vigorously filibustered both of Bush’s reactionary appointments. Their collective hostility to the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action, and race discrimination claims were more than sufficient to ignite the fires of Barack’s righteous indignation. Alas, the safe Negro never gets angry or loses his temper on behalf of our people because it would get in the way of playing kiss-ass to Senate colleagues and the white power structure he hopes one day to join as our President.

So, chirren, let me end as I began because the scriptures are clear, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Hillary and Barack have both been tested in the heat of political battle for their progressive mettle and adherence to truth and in my mind, both have failed and revealed themselves to be false prophets and “New Democrats” in thrall to white supremacy.

Clarence Thomas: White Supremacist in blackface


Clarence Thomas official.jpg

Hat Tip: Melinda Hennenberger, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas famously opposes affirmative action, and clearly feels slandered by the suggestion he ever benefited from such a thing.

So, if we no longer need such programs, how’s that working out in Thomas’s own office?

Not well, as it turns out: “Mine happen to be all white males,” Thomas said of his current crop of clerks. “I don’t have quotas.”

When Rep. Jose Serrano, a Democrat from New York, asked about diversity today at a Congressional hearing on the Supreme Court’s budget, it was Justice Anthony Kennedy who answered first: “We’ve made strides,” he said, but there is just tremendous competition for qualified minority law students. “The profession as a whole is very conscious of it, very conscious.”

“Conscious,” Serrano persisted, “but, have we made progress?”

Of the most recent class of 57 clerks, Kennedy answered, only 7 were minority. And the number of women in the group has fallen dramatically, from more than a third to only 17 percent this year.

In a rare interview last week, Thomas told a writer for Business Week that the notion he was recruited to attend the College of Holy Cross because he is black was “a lie. I don’t mean a mistake. It’s a lie.”

After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Holy Cross did begin recruiting young black men. But that had nothing to do with his entrance the next year, Thomas said: “A nun suggested Holy Cross. That’s how I wound up there. Your industry has suggested that we were all recruited.”

“That was the creation of the politicians, the people with a lot of mouth and nothing to say, and your industry. Everything becomes affirmative action.”

There are no words that adequately express my contempt for Clarence Thomas and the inimical self-loathing ideology he espouses.  I ain’t got the “Love of the Lord” for him and it is something that I must pray over.  I’m gonna leave it at that before I say somethin’ truly hateful.

Opponents of School Desgregation tell Court: I’m White, I’m Right, let me have my way!


The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in the most important civil rights case since Gratz v. Bollinger.  The case involves a challenge to voluntary desegregation plans in Louisville, KY and Seattle, WA. The advocates against voluntary desegregation ooze insincerity.  They live in a wingnut fantasyland in which whites are victimized by “reverse discrimination” and pernicious “race consciousness” in which whites are illegally disadvantaged in schools and in the workplace. It is a patently ridiculous argument and downright disingenuous.

Theodore Shaw, Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has written, “The notion that race-conscious efforts to address racial inequality are racially discriminatory is like telling a physician that she cannot make a diagnosis when treating a disease because the diagnosis equals the disease.  There is no equivalency, moral or legal, between race-conscious attempts to address racial inequality on the one hand, and racial discrimination based in notions of superiority and inferiority on the other.”

The advocates against voluntary desegregation are the same people opposed to affirmative action.  They seek to get the Courts to genuflect to their superior racial position in American society, which is essentially: I’m White, I’m right, let me have my way! Invoking white privilege has gotten them all the way to the Supreme Court and the Justices always affirm this spurious reasoning or meet them halfway.

The truth of the matter is that in most urban locales, whites have abandoned the public school system for reasons, which have nothing to do with educational quality and everything to do with race.  They just don’t see educational quality in public school systems with “too many” black and brown faces.  Voluntary desegregation plans are an attempt to respond to white flight and create racially diverse, high-quality public schools that don’t ghettoize children of color in inferior schools populated by the children of disadvantaged working class people.

It should be noted that the cumulative efforts of the Reagan-Bush Administrations has been to stack the federal courts with right-wing ideologues sympathetic with the fantasy jurisprudence of white victimization. The timid efforts of the Democratic Party to halt the long march of the Right for federal judicial dominance have led us to the dangerous racial precipice we are dangling on today.   What is at stake is the continued life of equal opportunity in this country. The Right believes equal opportunity is synonymous with white privilege and seeks to render us blind to the institutionalized racism against people of color.

Theodore Shaw believes  “The work of racial justice  does not require us to gouge out our eyes so that we cannot see race. The race problem in America has never been mere race-consciousness; it has been White Supremacy. The question is not whether we see race; the question is, having seen it, what is its significance? Having seen it, are we an inclusive or exclusive society? This is not a time for blindness. This is a time for sight.” 

Amen, Brotha.