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.

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Why I am pro-choice

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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 Mattie 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 Mattie 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 pregnancy 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 this old black and white photo. My great-grandmother, who my grandma closely resembles, is holding an infant, my aunt, while her 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 accommodating 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.

Sarah Palin: John McCain’s Right-Wing Covergirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Law 3

Conceal your Intentions

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN MCCAIN IN A DRAG

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

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

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

THE OTHERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

DNC day three: Obama Nominated By Acclamation

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

Bill Clinton has finished his address, what say you?

It Must Be A Woman

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I’ve grown weary of hearing from the irrational dead enders in Hillary Clinton’s cult of personality. I’m tired of their racist demands that either Obama fold his candidacy and yield to her superior experience or accede to their arrogant demands that she join his ticket. I am deeply offended by their unwillingness to accept Hillary’s defeat and their oft repeated intention to cast a vote for John McCain instead. Moreover, it chaps my hide for the faux feminists in Hillary’s suicide cult that claim to be insulted by Obama’s consideration of another woman.

 

 

Moreover, nobody can tell me that a woman Governor who wins four statewide elections in a red state and still manages to govern progressively and with compassion and common-sense shouldn’t be considered to become the first female Vice President of this country.

 

 

 

Kathleen Sebelius is the total package and she happens to be a woman. I share the goal of the White House Project and the feminist community. I supported Carol Moseley Braun when the bulk of the faux feminists pretended that she was neither qualified nor viable. She was both and would have been able to prove that with their support. I didn’t support Hillary Clinton for reasons I’ve already stated in full and won’t rehash them here. But I am sincere in the belief that Obama’s running mate must be a woman. The time has come for a woman to be next in line to become President of the United States and Barack Obama would do well to text-message the name of Kathleen Sebelius to an anxiously awaiting public today.

After two decades in public life, she has just as much to offer as Hillary Clinton, if not more. During her time as Governor of Kansas she has twice reached across the aisle to chose a Republican as a running mate and has governed from the center and been productive while dealing with a Republican legislature. She protected a woman’s right to chose by vetoing draconian legislation, protected the environment by blocking smog producing coal plants, balanced Kansas budgets without raising taxes, protected funding for K-12 education, and as Insurance Commissioner for 8 years, protected consumers by preventing the state’s Blue Cross non-profit from being bought up by a managed care conglomerate that would have jacked up premiums.

It’s hard for me to understand why women who helped Hillary break the glass ceiling in American politics wouldn’t at least want another woman to be considered if their favorite daughter didn’t make the cut. Otherwise, what was the damn point of their efforts? Hiliary’s feaux feminists were the same people who excused Bill Clinton’s serial philandering and humiliation of their feminist icon and now they have the temerity to attempt to crucify Barack Obama, a man who has never publicly humiliated his wife by straying, on the cross of sexism. Please tell me that you see the racist double-standard in that.

I’m with Robert Schlesinger on this one. It is insulting to all the women in public life to suggest that all they bring to a ticket is gender and particularly insulting to the woman who made the final four, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Moreover, to answer Schlesinger’s rhetorical question of whether the women’s movement should be subsumed to one woman’s movement? I think the answer is clear. It cannot be and should not be.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones 1949-2008

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The reaction to the death of Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones has been swift.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

“On behalf of all Members of Congress, I express my deepest condolences on the sudden death of our friend and colleague, Chairwoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, to all who loved her, particularly her son, Mervyn Leroy Jones, II, and her sister, Barbara Walker. 

 

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a tremendously vibrant presence in the halls of Congress.  She believed in all the best things about our nation, and was a tireless force for justice, equality, and opportunity.  As a leader in election reform, she fought on behalf of voting rights to ensure that every American voter can vote.  She loved her hometown of Cleveland, and she believed that serving her constituents was the best job in the world. 

 

…Stephanie Tubbs Jones was always full of enthusiasm for the work of the Congress and for life in general.  In our sadness at her sudden passing, we remember that she seized every opportunity and enjoyed every moment that she was given.  I hope it is a comfort to Chairwoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones’s family and friends that so many people mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time.”

 

President and Senator Clinton:

 

“There are few words to express the shock we feel at this time. Our deepest condolences are with Stephanie’s son, Mervyn, her family, and her many loved ones, friends, and supporters.

 

Stephanie’s friendship meant the world to us, a friendship that deepened through every trial and challenge. We could always count on her to be a shoulder on which to lean, an ear to bend, a voice to reassure. Over the course of many years, with many ups and many downs, Stephanie was right by our side—unwavering, indefatigable.

 

It was that fighting spirit—safely stowed behind her disarming smile, backed by so much integrity and fiery intelligence—that allowed Stephanie to rise from modest beginnings, to succeed in public service, to become a one-woman force for progress in our country.

 

All of us who were lucky to know her and love her can only hope now to live like her—to be as passionate, loyal, hard charging, and joyful in life’s pursuits.  Stephanie was one of a kind. We will miss our friend always.”

 

Senator and Mrs. Obama:

 

“Michelle and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Stephanie was an extraordinary American and an outstanding public servant. It wasn’t enough for her just to break barriers in her own life. She was also determined to bring opportunity to all those who had been overlooked and left behind – and in Stephanie, they had a fearless friend and unyielding advocate. It was an honor to serve with Stephanie in Congress, and I know her legacy will live on in all those who walk the trails she blazed and walk through the doors she opened. Our hearts and prayers are with all those who knew and loved her.”

 

 

Iconic, intelligent, and irreplaceable, Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones is being remembered today for her zest for life, law and politics.  A trailblazer in law and politics, she was the first African American woman to sit on both Cleveland’s Municipal Court and Cuyahoga County’s Court of Common Pleas.  After losing a 1990 race for the Ohio Supreme Court, she entered the race to become Cuyahoga County Prosecutor and served until her election to Congress to replace a legendary member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Louis Stokes. 

 

As a member of congress, she became the first African American woman to sit on the House Ways and Means Committee and chair the House Ethics Committee.   A fighter of legendary prowess, she challenged the counting of Ohio’s electoral votes in the aftermath of deliberate subterfuge perpetrated by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a black wingnut who subsequently ran for Governor and lost, and his Republican minions who deliberately understaffed polling places with machines and personnel in Democratic areas to create long lines that frustrated voters and compromised their right to vote.

 

With the congresswoman’s passing, she leaves a void to be filled.   According to MyFox Cleveland:

 

With just four months remaining in Tubbs Jones’ current term of office, Governor Ted Strickland is required to issue a writ of election setting the dates for both a special primary and a special general election. The winner of these contests would be elected to serve until the current session of Congress ends in January.”  

 

“… The Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Central Committee must also decide who will replace Tubbs Jones as the party’s nominee on the November general election ballot.  Party chairman Jimmy Dimora has until October 27 to hold a meeting to select a replacement.”

 

Cuyahoga County Commission President Peter Lawson Jones, Cleveland City Councilwomen Nina Turner and Sabra Pierce Scott and State Representative Michael DeBose are some of the obvious names that should be looking into a race to succeed the late Congresswoman.