Another Ford rises, Herenton re-elected

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Another Ford made his mark Thursday night in Memphis as the returns trickled in from the board of elections.   Edmund Ford Jr, cousin of the imfamous Harold Ford Jr, the worst corporate whore in the history of the Congressional Black Caucus, was coming in first in his District 6 City Council race.   He faces a run-off with Dr.  James Ketchings.  

A Ford with bad timing, Edmund Jr is running to replace his daddy on the council, a funeral director with a penchant for accepting bribes.  It seems that Edmund Sr has been indicted, along with another council colleague, in a federal bribery probe separate from the one his brother, former State Senator John Ford, was caught up in. 

Also in today’s news, it seems that former Congressman Harold Ford Sr’s right to vote is being called into question.  The elder Ford, the first African American elected to congress from Tennessee since reconstruction, is now a corporate lobbyist and fixer, has been living full-time in Florida in a lavish $2.5 million dollar estate and has claimed it as his primary residence.   Seems that could pose a problem with retaining his voter registration in Tennessee.

Lastly, Memphis’ long-term Mayor Willie Herenton, the first black elected Mayor in Memphis, was handily re-elected to a fifth term despite strong bi-racial opposition.  With 99% of precincts reporting, Mayor Herenton was re-elected with 69,626 votes to Councilwoman Carol Chumney’s 57,061 and Herman Morris’s 35,068.   Mayor Herenton remains undefeated and the undisputed choice of the African American voter.

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Nikki Tinker, Corporate Mammy

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Stunningly beautiful, flawlessly dressed, seemingly cosmopolitan and well educated, Pinnacle Airlines Attorney Nikki Tinker looks nothing like the plantation throwback and sellout that she is.

Yes, Children, she ain’t nothin’ but a corporate mammy and Trojan horse for white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

A protégé of Harold Ford, Jr, Tinker is an agent of the Memphis corporate power structure and has been running behind her corporate slave master, Phil Trenary, CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, like a 21st century Mammy.

The mammy archetype is such a powerful symbol of black subjugation. For some, it is soothing, and for others, it enrages. I’m one of the latter. For me, the mammy stereotype is evocative of a particular Memphis twist to the racist mammy image, and is so appropriate to a discussion of the impending primary challenge Tinker is mounting to freshman Congressman Steve Cohen.

  

During the forties, Memphis blacks continued chafing under the dictatorial rule of E.H. “Ed” Crump, the local political boss who ruled both Memphis and Tennessee for over forty years.

Crump ran a sophisticated operation in which his operatives paid the poll taxes of African Americans and he voted them for his slate of candidates. Crump supported white supremacy and never backed a black candidate. For years, most could be bought off with copious amounts of walking around money, beer and barbeque.

Others needed something more and sometimes got it as Jim Crow weakened. G. Wayne Dowdy penned an article in the Journal of Negro History entitled “The White Rose Mammy: Racial Culture and Politics in World War II Memphis.” He wrote, “…forty years of Crump rule allowed blacks access to the political process through him or his subordinates. Better schools, housing and city employment were results of this alliance between white and black. To be sure, the relationship was at best an unequal one, leaving most African Americans with little protection from the overall practice of white supremacy. Indeed, when individual blacks challenged Crump and the local Democratic Party, retribution followed.”

Population changes as a result of the war swelled the black population to 41% and racial tensions increased and dissent from the black community followed. Dowdy takes up the story, “As this unrest was spreading, the White Rose Laundry Cleaners erected a mechanical sign on Linden Avenue, which was not very far from prominent Peabody Avenue where Mayor Chandler and Mr. Crump both lived. The sign depicted an African American woman, dressed in traditional mammy garb, bending over a wash tub.”

“Founded by Jewish immigrant Henry Klyce in 1928, the White Rose Laundry was representative of the economic importance of the local Jewish community. Nominally a minority, the Jews of Memphis had almost completely assimilated into the prevailing white southern culture. Several Jews even held important posts within the Crump organization. The depiction was apparently done in a humorous fashion, with the woman bending over and revealing her undergarments. Many blacks saw little humor in this and instead were angered.”

African Americans protested and wrote Mayor Chandler, “The advertisement represents a complete effrontery to Negro people, in its subtle although effective ridicule of the race.” Chandler intervened on behalf of the offended African American community and asked the owners of the White Rose Laundry to take down the offending mammy sign. While it is unknown the extent of Boss Crump’s involvement in this case, what is known is that nothing of consequence happened in Memphis without his consent and the sign came down, although when is not remembered.

Today, what should offend the black community is the Trojan-horse candidacy of Nikki Tinker, a twenty-first century white rose mammy, and the machinations of her plantation puppet master, Phil Trenary. Her $100,000 haul at the end of the last fundraising quarter has proven that she’s still as serious a contender as she was in 2006, when she raised over $577,000. The Corporate Mammy’s candidacy is an affront to the black community, fueled as it is by the corporate friends and associates of her plantation puppet master, and is inimical to our social, political, and economic interests in Memphis. If black folk ain’t careful, they’ll empower another Boss Crump in the form of a present day corporate executive, or they will continue to empower the slightly less objectionable Steve Cohen, a man who has coveted this seat for years and who ran for it and lost to Harold Ford, Jr back in 1996.

It used to be different. Proud black women like Ida B. Wells and Maxine Smith, a civil rights crusader, school board member, and community elder, showed the young how its supposed to be done. They used whatever community resources they had to work on behalf of the community and to hold the white power structure to account. Today’s black politicians worship at the altar of the corporate power structure and like American Express, don’t leave home without it.

Campaign receipts and news stories to date reveal Tinker to be a Trojan horse candidate willing to pander to homophobia in the black ministerial community. The names of prominent black homophobes like Rev. LaSimba Gray, a supporter of last year’s “independent” candidacy of Jake Ford, are littered throughout her campaign report. It won’t work with bloggers like Thaddeus Matthews and me willing to spread the word.

Steve Cohen

More progressive than either Ford, Jr or Tinker, Cohen’s motives in running for this seat aren’t as pure as he claims. He won this seat because of divisions in the black community and a slate of too many black candidates. Only in Congress for nine months, it hasn’t taken him long to travel to Israel and cavort with the most extreme right-wing political actors in that country-the same people who brought last summer’s war with Lebanon that was roundly condemned by human rights groups. Nobody was blameless during that war-Hezbollah was not, but like a fight among children, somebody started it. Israel started the conflict last summer with cluster munitions supplied by the United States.

While a strong opponent of the Iraq War, Cohen has said nothing that I can find about the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions by Israel to kill innocent civilians in Lebanon. That war was an abrogation of the international rules of war and a stench in the nostrils of God. What is needed in Memphis is a real progressive candidate willing to stand up and fight all forms of injustice. Neither the Corporate Mammy nor Cohen fit the bill. However, in the absence of a true progressive, Cohen will have to do until the real thing comes along.

 

Southern Political Report

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Complicating Harold Ford, Jr’s nascent bid for the Tennesse Governor’s mansion is the fact that Uncle John, a former state Senator, has been sentenced to 66 months in prison for taking bribes. The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the scoop:  

John Ford sentenced to 66 months in prison

John Ford was sentenced to 66 months in prison this morning for his April conviction of accepting $55,000 in bribes in the FBI’s Tennessee Waltz public corruption investigation.

U.S. Dist. Court Judge J. Daniel Breen carefully noted his interpretation of advisory federal guidelines that suggest enhanced punishment for factors such as the amount and number of bribes, threatening witnesses, acceptance of responsibility and the fact that Ford was an elected official.

The judge said he was not convinced that Ford truly believes he did anything wrong and that the sentence must be a deterrence to others.

“The court is not convinced that a reduction for acceptance of responsibility is warranted in this case,” Breen said. “This trial reflects a person of greed and avarice, but at the same time a man with the ability to help others. This is the tragic dichotomy of this case.

“The sentence, therefore, should reflect the serious nature of this offense.”

Breen said he would impose no fine.

Ford, who showed no reaction to the sentence, will remain free pending notification from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons when and where he will report.

Ford, 65, was one of 12 lawmakers or aides charged in the sweeping statewide investigation, 11 of whom have pleaded guilty or been convicted in trial.

Earlier this morning defense attorney Michael Scholl criticized the media and the government for “the persecution of John Ford” over the years.

“What I have seen is John Ford singled out in all of this,” Scholl told the judge, noting that other legislators have been convicted and faced lighter sentencing. “John Ford could have gone out and robbed and shot somebody and he would be facing less time than he is now. What I want to emphasize here is all the good that John Ford has done. We can’t just wipe out 30 years in the legislature.”

Witnesses have testified that the county has suffered in money it gets from the legislature because Ford is no longer there, Scholl added.

He also issued a plea for the judge to consider Ford’s support responsibilities for seven of his 12 children.

“John Ford has suffered for two years,” Scholl said. “They have taken everything he has. One of the things I’ve seen in this case is the awesome power of the government.”

Federal prosecutor Lorraine Craig said Scholl’s comments reflect the problems that the government has with Ford.

“He has been persecuted? He has suffered?” she said. “Is it a surprise that his family and friends did not see the side that we saw on those (undercover) tapes? This was Mr. Ford, the man who makes the deals. The man who goes first class. That’s the Mr. Ford we saw.”

She said Ford accepts no responsibility for his offense.

“The only thing he says he did wrong was that he trusted too much,” Craig told the judge. “No one persecuted Mr. Ford. He is here in this courtroom because of his own criminal conduct.”

 Speaking of Memphis Politics, Nikki Tinker, the corporate protege of Harold Ford, Jr is ramping up her campaign to take back Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District for the Congressional Black Caucus against Steve Cohen.  The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the scoop:

WASHINGTON — Nikki Tinker began her 2008 campaign for the 9th Congressional District seat the night she lost the Democratic Party Primary to Steve Cohen last August by just 4,459 votes.

Cohen did too.

Cohen, who is white, says voters in Memphis will consider the job he’s doing rather than his skin color in deciding whether to re-elect him. Meanwhile, he tells anyone who will listen that he votes with the sensitivities of a black woman.

He and others suspect that a recent brouhaha among members of the Baptist Ministerial Association over his support of hate crimes legislation may be the opening salvo in a battle that Tinker would like to have center on, as she puts it, changing “the face and pace of our leadership.”

Tinker did not respond to repeated phone calls for this story, but her Washington-based spokesman, Cornell Belcher, explained Friday that she’s not interested in talking issues or Cohen’s record yet.

“Here’s where we are, to be straight with you: At this point, we want her talking to voters and raising money,” said Belcher, a partner in Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies. Talking about her differences with Cohen “is something that we really would rather not get into right now. … It will come, but it’s just not going to come right now.”

Cohen isn’t waiting. He says he doesn’t know where his opponent stands on most issues, and points out she’s never cast a legislative vote.

Tinker has spoken to the ministerial association and arranged for the company she works for as general counsel to provide a free airplane ride to members of the ministers’ congregations in June — after declaring her candidacy. Pinnacle Airlines flew the group in circles around Memphis on June 23 but, through spokesman R. Phillip Reed Jr., said the flight was “not directly or indirectly associated with the Tinker for Congress campaign.”

The ministers say the hate crimes bill passed by the House would limit what they could say about homosexuality from their pulpits, although the language of the law indicates it won’t. It’s pending in the Senate.

Among those who suspect that politics is involved in the hate crimes issue is Downtown developer Henry Turley, who has been Cohen’s campaign treasurer since he ran for the Shelby County Commission in the late 1970s.

“You can’t help but wonder, is this an effort to discredit Cohen?” Turley said last week. “It certainly makes you wonder since it’s an incorrect or spurious charge. …Why would they make that incorrect statement? … Why would someone say that unless there was an agenda?”

The issue didn’t draw fire during Ford’s terms. Records show Ford co-sponsored the hate crimes bill, broadening federal jurisdiction over crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, four times between 1997 and 2004 and voted for it in 2005. His stance never made headlines or drew criticism from the churches.

Turley said Tinker’s prodigious fund-raising in 2006 was impressive and he attributed it to two things: the influence of her boss, Philip H. Trenary, CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, and her endorsement by the pro-abortion rights group Emily’s List, whose acronym stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast.

Some in Memphis publicly objected to Tinker receiving the February 2006 endorsement, saying Cohen’s abortion rights bona fides were better established, but hundreds of thousands of dollars poured in for Tinker from across the country.

A spokesman for Emily’s List, Ramona Oliver, said last week that no decision on an endorsement in the 9th Congressional District race has been made.

Cohen acknowledges he’s asked “a few people at the national level” to help derail future Emily’s List endorsement. The group endorses women only.

“I’d be shocked if Emily’s List would get involved in this election,” Cohen said.

African American State Senator Vivian Davis Figures is gearing up to challenge ignorant confederate incumbent U.S. Senator Jefferson Sessions in 2008

MOBILE — Democratic State Sen. Vivian Figures said Saturday she is running against Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions in the 2008 election, pledging to give Alabama “new progressive leadership.”

Figures, 50, made her announcement at Mobile Government Plaza where she began her political career in 1993 on the City Council. She moved from the council into her husband Michael Figures’ legislative seat after his death in 1996 and has served 11 years.

Sessions, 60, also of Mobile, won his second term in 2002 and will seek re-election. No other challengers have announced plans to run.

Senator Figures is delusional if she thinks she can win in Alabama.

Turning to Louisiana, State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy announced his change of party from Democratic to Republican in preparation for a run for U.S. Senate against Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, in 2008:

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

BATON ROUGE — State Treasurer John Kennedy has switched political parties and will seek re-election to a third term this fall as a Republican, he announced Monday.

The change immediately vaults Kennedy to the top of the list of potential challengers to U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, who is up for re-election to a third term in 2008 and is considered vulnerable by national Republicans.

Kennedy has been publicly considering the party switch for months, and he has become an increasingly ascerbic critic of Gov. Kathleen Blanco and the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate on a variety of spending issues. 

In an e-mail message to supporters, Kennedy cited “certain fixed, bedrock principles” that he believes are more in line with the Republican Party than the Democrats, and said GOP officials have been more responsive to his proposals in recent years.

“For the past several years, it has increasingly been the case that those public servants who have embraced my ideas and my philosophy of trying new approaches are primarily Republicans,” Kennedy wrote.

He had been courted to switch parties by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and met recently with senior White House aide Karl Rove to discuss the matter.

The switch comes at a time when Republicans are losing ground nationally, having lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in the 2006 mid-term elections, but appear to be ascendant in Louisiana, where U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, enjoys a wide lead in the governor’s race.

Best Sex Scandal of 2007

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By Marc Perrusquia, Memphis Commercial Appeal 

Memphis police are investigating allegations by a former topless club cocktail waitress that she was recruited as bait in a plot to blackmail Mayor Willie Herenton by luring him into a sexual rendezvous. 

 

The waitress, who has told her story to Herenton and Police Director Larry Godwin and who says she will file legal papers today, says the plot was never consummated.

Yet, Gwendolyn D. Smith has touched off an official inquiry with her account, contending that she’s been paid as much as $18,000 — money she says came from rich businessmen trying to smear Herenton, the city’s first black elected mayor, to keep him from seeking a fifth term in October.

“I think the city of Memphis should know what so-called powerful businessmen are doing to their leaders,” Smith told The Commercial Appeal on Wednesday.

“I think it should upset not only the African-American community, but the whole city.”

Herenton confirmed that Memphis police took a tape-recorded statement from Smith after she approached him earlier this spring with her account. Herenton said he was initially suspicious but became convinced after she repeated it to Godwin and another officer.

“I’m utterly appalled, disappointed and I’m just simply shocked that individuals in this community would go to an unreasonable extent to try to embarrass me by orchestrating such a diabolical plot,” Herenton said.

Smith, 29, contends the plot’s mastermind was Richard Fields, a prominent Memphis attorney who represented her in a criminal forgery case and who also once served as Herenton’s personal lawyer.

“I’m amazed that Richard, who was my former attorney, an individual who purported to be a friend, really just went off the deep end,” Herenton said.

Reached Wednesday evening, Fields said legal ethics forbid him from commenting on Smith’s contentions.

“This is totally untrue. I wish I could go further,” Fields said. “If she waives the attorney-client privilege, I’ll be happy to respond to all allegations. Ms. Smith has some serious problems personally as well as legally.”

Smith, a cousin of one of Fields’ ex-wives, said the lawyer recruited her into a plot to smear Herenton after he represented her in a criminal case in Nashville.

Smith pleaded guilty in 2004 to five felony forgery counts after she defrauded merchants with stolen American Express gift checks and counterfeit identification. Faced with a drug charge that violated her probation, Smith hired Fields in 2005 and he worked out a deal to keep her from jail by extending her probation.

Smith said she was smoking marijuana at the time, but has since amended her ways. “I’ve learned my lesson,” she said.

Smith said Fields later learned that she had worked in 2000 as a waitress at Platinum Plus, a notorious East Memphis topless club closed by state and federal authorities in December.

She said Fields initially asked her to help in an FBI investigation but that his interests later turned to her having a secretly videotaped sexual encounter with the mayor.

“He told me to try to sleep with him and (Herenton’s longtime friend and former mayoral aide) Reginald French,” Smith said.

The plan, she said, was to approach Herenton at The Peabody’s lobby, where he and French were known to socialize. Smith said Fields paid her $2,000 a month between January and March — money she was told came from a prominent Memphis businessman — and that Fields also gave her the use of an account at a boutique where she bought expensive handbags and accessories.

Smith said Fields promised her a free apartment and other perks paid for by businessmen who were behind his plans.

One offer, she said, came from car dealer Russell Gwatney, who offered to give her a new Chevy Tahoe. Smith’s account caused Herenton to summon Gwatney, an old political supporter, to his City Hall office.

“I got a call from Willie Herenton wanting me to come down to his office. He said, ‘Russell you’re going to be named in a lawsuit,’ ” Gwatney told a reporter Wednesday. Gwatney said he told the mayor he knew of no plot but confirmed that Fields and Smith had come to him about two months ago inquiring about a car.

“She came in our dealership one time, and Rich Fields came in there and told me that he needed to buy a car for the girl,” Gwatney said. “And he told me that people were going to pay for the car, but they wanted to me to basically front all the money on the car.”

Gwatney said he refused.

He told the newspaper Fields was interested in getting Smith a small SUV and assured the car dealer he would be paid back.

“They wanted me to front the money to pay for the car so they could pay me back over time. I got real uninterested real quick.”

“I don’t know who the business people were, don’t even know.”

If I were to start giving out awards for the best sex scandal, this would be it. 

Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District Brawl

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A bitter and protracted battle for Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District is heating up this summer between former Harold Ford, Jr. campaign manager and corporate attorney Nikki Tinker , and incumbent Congressman Steve Cohen. 

Steve Cohen

Congressman Cohen took the majority black congressional seat after a bitter primary battle which saw the black vote splintered by more than five serious black candidates.  Some quarters in the community are less than thrilled by Cohen’s representation and are encouraging this re-match.  

The general election was a match between Cohen and a younger brother of Harold Ford, Jr. for the seat.  The younger Ford showed himself to be out of his league, unprepared, and lacking the necessary skills to make his candidacy viable.  He resorted to unnecessary racial appeals and homophobia in a failed attempt to keep this seat in the family.

Ms. Tinker announced her long rumored intention to file for a re-match and the battle looks to be joined.   Black rivals to the Ford family emerged last year to back Cohen in the form of Shelby County Mayor Wharton and Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

Since then, both Herenton and Wharton have been seriously damaged politically by scandal.  This race looks like one to watch because it parallells in intersting ways the Obama vs. Hillary match up.

Whore’s Uncle convicted of bribery

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 John Ford Trial

HAT TIP: (AP) MEMPHIS, April 27 — Former state senator John Ford (D), a prominent member of a politically powerful family, was convicted Friday of accepting $55,000 in bribes.

But the federal jury deadlocked on the more serious charge of extortion, creating a mistrial on that count. Ford was acquitted of three counts of witness intimidation.

The prosecution’s case depended heavily on showing jurors videos of the once-influential state senator stuffing his pockets with $100 bills counted one by one by an undercover FBI agent.

Ford’s defense contended that he thought he was being paid as a business consultant for a computer recycling company. But the company was a fake created for an FBI investigation of corruption among state officials.

The sting, code-named Tennessee Waltz, resulted in the arrests of five sitting or former lawmakers and several local government officials.

Ford served in the state legislature from the 1970s until May 2005, when he resigned a few days after his arrest. He is the brother of Harold E. Ford Sr. (D), Tennessee’s first black congressman, and the uncle of Harold E. Ford Jr. (D), who replaced his father in Congress and served 10 years until losing a race for the U.S. Senate last year.

Jake Ford, the tale of a puppet

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Jake Ford

Like Pinocchio,  Jake Ford is not a real boy, he is a limp and lifeless marionette of his creator father, Harold Ford, Sr.  Jake’s recent Independent candidacy for his brother’s Memphis House seat, the one daddy bequeathed to Harold, Jr. is lifeless because it is nothing more than the deceptive creation of Harold, Sr.

You see, Mr. Harold is a lobbyist of high standing, having turned to the profession after two decades in Congress and a perilous brush with a fraud indictment.  In a short space of time,  Harold, Sr. has made untold millions while conspiring with his clients to loot TennCare, Tennessee’s formerly world class, top-shelf medicaid program.  

According to an article in the Commercial Appeal by Marc Perrusquia,  TennCare subcontractor MIM Corp paid Harold, Sr. $1.6 million between 1998 and 2001.  In addition, he received more than $ 1 million in lobbying fees from other firms and MIM corp to look after their interests in Nashville. 

Harold, Sr took both of his remaining sons into his lobbying firm and used them for his ends. He also stood idly by while Governor Bredesen, the heartless, former multi-millionaire HMO executive dismantled TennCare and removed 200,000 sick and indigent people from TennCare rolls in a fake budget crisis that never needed solving. 

Mr. Harold or surrogates, Harold, Jr. or Newton conspired to contribute more than $15,000 to state politicians with a say on gutting TennCare, a program that serves 40% of the African American population and 50% of our children.  In addition, two of the crooked black politicians who were caught up in the Tennessee Waltz bribery scandal received contributions from Ford.

The Governor received $ 12,500 from Harold,Sr., Harold, Jr., and Newton “Jake” Ford.  114 contributions totalling over $206,000 flowed to the Governor’s campaign coffers from Health Care affiliated interests, which in turn, were handed a big payoff in the form of TennCare’s destruction. 

 TN State Senator Kathryn Bowers, the black, redheaded, Aunt Jemima who sat on the TennCare oversight committee in the House of Representatives and was quoted in the Tennessean as saying  “Our TennCare program is in need of major surgery” received $1,000 from Harold, Sr.

TN State Senator John Ford, Harold, Sr’s. brother, also received a contribution of $1,000 from his brother. In addition, Senator Ford pocketed over $237,000 from a TennCare dental health care provider, in a separate side deal apart from Harold, Sr. and Jake’s hustle. 

This all brings me back to Jake Ford, the Pinocchio like puppet who ain’t never had a real job and who wishes to become a real boy-congressman so he can use his office to serve daddy’s nefarious interests instead of his constituents.  Because of the free-for-all primary in which too many black candidates split the black vote and his cousin Joe Ford didn’t receive his Uncle Harold’s backing, white State Senator Steve Cohen was able to win.  With over twenty years in office and a progressive record, he stands head and shoulders over the puppet Jake.

Steve Cohen

The campaign seems to revolve around rallying the black community in a deceptive campaign of racial solidarity, gay bashing against “gay marriage” and implying that the never married Cohen is also gay.  Stooping to demagoguery around “gay marriage” is usually the last refuge of a scoundrel these days.  The time for racial solidarity was when the Governor dismantled health care for hundreds of thousands of people, a disproportionate number of whom were black.  It couldn’t be done because the Fords were too busy looting the system. It is time for this dynastic greed machine to be challenged.