Al Wynn resigns

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Hat Tip: Open Left

Matt Stoller of Open Left wrote, “Roll Call just reported that Al Wynn resigned his seat to join a DC law firm.” 

Now “Fat Albert” can ply his trade as the corporate whore that he is free from the contraints of progressive policy that the public expects from a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, but never receives.  Looks like Miss Donna will need to run in a special election and can claim the prize she won in February earlier than she thought.  

Looks like the “Fat Albert” was a gentleman after all. 

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Introducing Markel Hutchins

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Listening to Rev. Markel Hutchins preach is like listening to Martin Luther King, Jr for the first time-it gives you chills. The thirty year-old preacher has an extensive record of activism and community organizing on behalf of the voiceless and powerless.

Working with the progressive labor movement against Wal-Mart and for health care and living wages, Hutchins cuts a charismatic figure fighting for people in stark contrast to Congressman John Lewis who seems to have lost his nerve.

Lewis, a distinguished warrior during the civil rights movement, was beaten countless times by the racist stormtroopers of the confederacy. He faced down dogs and hoses only to punk out as a member of congress and to remain silent in the face of Bill Clinton’s unconscionable attempts to racially polarize the electorate for the benefit of his wife.

Only after Hutchins announcement of his candidacy did John Lewis find a pair and leave Hillary’s plantation.

What impresses the most is the level of his game, he brings it with a freshness and a skill that belies his age. His principled advocacy on behalf of the family of Kathryn Johnston, 92, who was shot to death by Atlanta Police in a botched drug raid proves to me that he is ready to lead because he is already doing it.

The Congressional Black Caucus has failed on so many levels that I cannot bear to go into an explanation. I am enthusiastic and wholeheartedly in favor of a challenge to the ossified and complacent membership of the Congressional Black Caucus. In my humble opinion, Lewis is toast. Don’t believe me, see for yourself.

As soon as I am able, I am going to send this cat a contribution. He inspires and provides the right dose of substance and charisma. While Lewis is a down the line progressive, his light does not shine brightly enough to shame his CBC colleagues into following his example or be replaced, I have every confidence that this brotha can provide the right example.

Hillary’s Handkerchief Heads: Call Them Out

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Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)
Del. Donna Christensen (D-V.I.)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.)
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.)
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-Ohio)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.)

If any of the listed Negro members of Congress supporting Hillary belongs to you, they need to hear a word from the people. I propose the following letter.

Dear Handkerchief Head:

You have been unconscionably silent in the face of Bill Clinton’s racially divisive tactics on behalf of Senator Clinton’s presidential campaign. I can only surmise from your silence that you either approve of Bill Clinton’s tactics or are too gutless to publicly register your opposition. Whatever the case may be, I have taken the liberty of writing to formally register my unbridled indignation and to withdraw whatever support I may have given to your re-election campaign.

Pretending that the President’s comments were somehow taken out of context or don’t mean what they plainly imply simply will not do. Burying your head in the sand or defending the indefensible won’t do either. It’s time to do-you know what-or get off the pot. You can delay addressing these comments if you want to, but you do so at your peril.

The Sunday morning talk shows were universally caustic against the Clintons.

On “Meet the Press,” Byron York of the right-wing National Review said, “You know, I don’t think you can overstate the amount of, of anger in–created in Democrats by Bill Clinton’s tactics. I mean, they were very, very unhappy with him. I was talking to a Democratic strategist the other day who said, “My wife just got in the car. She’s driving to South Carolina to volunteer for Obama.” They were that angry at what Clinton had done. And he also said, you know, Clinton is trying to turn him into Jesse Jackson. And sure enough, after Obama wins big, what does Bill Clinton say about it? “Well, you know, Jesse Jackson won here, too.”

Neo-Con Fox News Contributor and NY Times Columnist Bill Kristol wrote, “What do Jesse Jackson’s victories two decades ago have to do with this year’s Obama-Clinton race? The Obama campaign is nothing like Jackson’s. Obama isn’t running on Jackson-like themes. Obama rarely refers to Jackson.”

 

“Clinton’s comment alludes to one thing, and to one thing only: Jackson and Obama are both black candidates. The silent premise of Clinton’s comment is that Obama’s victory in South Carolina doesn’t really count. Or, at least, Clinton is suggesting, it doesn’t mean any more than Jackson’s did.”

“But of course—as Clinton knows very well—Jesse Jackson didn’t win (almost all-white) Iowa.  He didn’t come within a couple of points of prevailing in (almost all-white) New Hampshire.  Nor did he, as Obama did carry rural Nevada. And Saturday, in South Carolina, even after Bill Clinton tried to turn Obama into Jackson, Hillary defeated Obama by just three to two among white voters. So Bill Clinton has been playing the race card, and doing so clumsily.  But why is he playing any cards.?

On “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director, provides a blunt answer to Kristol’s  rhetorical question,  “But, you know, it does feel like, though, that what Bill Clinton is doing is he reads a poll, and he said, “OK, when am—how am I going to get her to 51 percent.  OK. We’ve got to figure out how to drive white men away from Barack Obama. We’ve got to figure out how to drive Latinos away from Barack Obama.” That’s what works on February 5th.  And, you know, he may not ever say that, but it feels like it’s a very tactical thing that they’ve done, and I think that’s what, you know, is going to offend the Beltway corridor, the Amtrak corridor, and, and you’re seeing a lot of, sort of, the New York and Washington Democrats who are probably going to keep coming out against Clinton on this…”

Some of us were raised to believe that members of the Congressional Black Caucus were among the best Black public servants in the country.  Your actions belie that notion and constitute a slap in the face to those that came before you in the Reconstruction era.  They fought valiantly for a seat at the table for African Americans before they were disenfranchised through the white supremacist tactics of mob violence, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, and poll taxes. 

Continuing to languish on the Clinton plantation in light of these racially divisive tactics is a betrayal of the progressive ideals of the Democratic Party and to the many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement who fought to make America a functioning and pluralistic democracy.  As for me, I am through with the Clintons and I am too through with you.

Sincerely,

Skeptical Brotha, a Negro who has some damn self-respect.



 

The Clintons civil rights remarks offend James Clyburn

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Suffering from foot in mouth disease, due in part to their fear of losing their imperial grip on the Presidency to someone else, the Clintons have managed to piss off a power broker in their most loyal constituency-African Americans. Congressman James Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and the most influential and highest ranking African American on Capitol Hill, ain’t a happy camper at all. He is so displeased that he is seriously considering changing his neutrality in the Presidential nomination free for all.

 

The New York Times reports, “We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics,” said Mr. Clyburn, who was shaped by his searing experiences as a youth in the segregated South and his own activism in those days. “It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone’s motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those. That bothered me a great deal.”

“In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Mrs. Clinton, who was locked in a running exchange with Senator Barack Obama, a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, over the meaning of the legacies of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., tried to make a point about presidential leadership.”

“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Mrs. Clinton said in trying to make the case that her experience should mean more to voters than the uplifting words of Mr. Obama. “It took a president to get it done.”

“Quickly realizing that her comments could draw criticism, Mrs. Clinton returned to the subject at a later stop, recalling how Dr. King was beaten and jailed and how he worked with Johnson to pass the landmark law. Clinton advisers said her first remark had not captured what she meant to convey. And they said she would never detract from a movement that has driven her own public service.”

“She has spent the majority of her life working for poor families, poor children, fighting for the principles that Martin Luther King stood for,” said Minyon Moore, a senior adviser. “The Clintons have a track record.”

“Mr. Clyburn, reached for a telephone interview Wednesday during an overseas inspection of port facilities, also voiced frustration with former President Clinton, who described Mr. Obama’s campaign narrative as a fairy tale. While Mr. Clinton was not discussing civil rights at the time and seemed to be referring mainly to Mr. Obama’s stance at the Iraq war, Mr. Clyburn saw the remark as a slap at the image of a black candidate running on a theme of unity and optimism.”

“To call that dream a fairy tale, which Bill Clinton seemed to be doing, could very well be insulting to some of us,” said Mr. Clyburn, who said he and others took significant risks more than 40 years ago to produce such opportunities for future black Americans.”

I think that the Congressman is sending a warning to the Clintons that they had better heed. If they don’t, he will use his considerable clout against them and could bring the rest of the undecided membership of the Congressional Black Caucus with him.

On the other side of the ledger, Black Congressional surrogates are turning up with regularity to chew the fat on MSNBC.   Gregory Meeks and Stephanie Tubbs Jones appeared today to defend the Borg Queen and her consort.  Congresswoman Jones was aggressively negative saying that while Barack Obama talks about change, Hillary makes change.   She also defended the Clintons foot in mouth remarks that pissed off James Clyburn.   I like Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Gregory Meeks, but I have a deep seated mistrust of lawyers hooked up to the criminal justice system.  Both Meeks and Jones have been prosecutors and I ain’t got no love for that.

It’s one thing to criticize Barack Obama, as I’ve done, for his departures from the progressive black consensus, its quite another to be a flack and volunteer handkerchief head defending the indefensible Clinton juggernaut.

 

Today’s Political Developments

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Following the surprise announcement of Senator Trent Lott’s resignation, his successor has been revealed. After much speculation, most of it ludicrous, such as the appointment of an African American, Mississippi Republican Governor Haley Barbour named Congressman Roger Wicker, a north Mississippi Republican, to Trent Lott’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. The White Citizens Council is presumably pleased.

Although the presence of racial discrimination and an undying fealty to the principles of the confederacy and white supremacy remain unabated, Congressman Wicker, in the face of unrefutable evidence that it is still needed, voted to gut the re-extension of the Voting Rights Act of 2006 by voting for a series of GOP amendments designed to make the act unconstitutional and unenforceable.

This follows the time honored tradition of southern white politicians of both parties paying lip service to the cause of voting rights and frustrating its implementation at every opportunity. The African American citizens of Kilmichael, Mississippi, in 2oo1, were treated to disgusting display of segregationist shit when city elections were postponed on the eve of the election, in violation of state and federal law, because it appeared to white city fathers that African American candidates were going to win.

There is no bigoted southern stereotype that Mississippi has not earned. According to the Leadership Council for Civil Rights, “The entire state of Mississippi is required to submit all voting changes to the Department of Justice (DOJ) before enacting them because the state for so long consistently and aggressively denied blacks the right to vote. Since 1969, DOJ has objected 169 times to voting changes in Mississippi–112 of which occurred after the 1982 reauthorization.”

“Many of DOJ’s objections involved efforts to dilute minority voting strength, mostly by creating majority-white districts or changing election procedures to favor white candidates. Because of repeated DOJ objections to these redistricting plans, Mississippi has had at least one black representative in Congress since 1986.”

“McDuff concludes that Mississippi has a long way to go before voters in black-white elections cast their vote based on non-racial factors. For example, in the 2003 State Treasurer election Gary Anderson, the director of the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, lost the election with 47 percent of the vote to a 29-year-old white candidate with no experience beyond working in a bank. Of the 57 majority-white counties, Anderson won only 18 and lost 39.”

“In addition, federal observers have been sent to monitor Mississippi elections on 250 separate occasions since the 1982 reauthorization, the most for any state. Mississippi accounts for 40 percent of the overall elections to which federal observers have been sent since 1982.”


He supported every questionable judicial nomination put forward by the Bush Administration, for example, Judge Charles Pickering, a long time GOP activist opposed unanimously by the Congressional Black Caucus. According to Roger Wicker, “While I was in college, Charles Pickering was one of the bright new faces in the
Mississippi Republican Party, Wicker said. “He’s been so progressive and so courageous in the area of equal rights for all that it is so unfortunate and so unfair that he’s been accused of being otherwise.”


But Pickering, according to Salon.com, “Instead of “trying to
establish better race relations” in the 1960s, Pickering worked to support segregation, attack civil rights advocates who sought to end Jim Crow, and back those who opposed national civil rights legislation, above all the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Or, in the words of a public statement he signed in 1967, Pickering wanted to preserve “our southern way of life,” and he bitterly blamed civil rights workers for stirring up “turmoil and racial hatred” in the South.”

 

Back in the day, when Judge Pickering was a politician, state senator and a lawyer in private practice, he teamed up to practice law with a segregationist, former Lt. Governor Carroll Gartin. As I am sure y’all are aware, I have a low tolerance for bullshit and an even lower tolerance for bastards like Pickering and their enbablers that don’t have the courage to tell the world that they still support white supremacy. Having come from Mississippi stock, I am always a bit touchy about their blatant racism.

Also, the New York Times is reporting that New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is fixing to cock block Barack Obama or John Edwards should they be successful in knocking the Queen off her throne. This is a significant development. Bloomberg, a billionaire, is prepared to spend a record shattering billion to claim the imperial throne. He made noise earlier in the year that he would forgo a bid should the Queen and Giuliani make it to the finish line. I guess his high profile meeting with Obama some weeks back ain’t go well despite the favorable publicity it generated. The centrist non-partisan smokescreen his operatives and their willing political hacks are putting forth are not credible in the least. Bloomberg is prepared to make Ross Perot look cheap.

Meanwhile, the Iowa Caucuses are Thursday, nobody has a lead and its all just a sophisticated ground war now. The Washington Post catches us up on the tactics of Obama, and the rest of the pack in these closing days. Brotha has as good a shot as any at this point, contrary to my pessimistic assessments earlier in the year and that is an impressive achievement. Lastly, the fourth quarter ends today and I expect to hear some numbers soon from the candidates although I don’t know if we’ll hear anything before caucus day.

Julia Carson laid to rest

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An honor guard member stands at attention by the flag-drapped casket of Rep. Julia Carson at the Indiana State House Rotunda Friday morning. (Matt Kryger / The Star)

Hat Tip: By Will Higgins, The Indianapolis Star

The 2,000 people who attended U.S. Rep. Julia Carson’s funeral Saturday got more than just spirited preaching. They got a look behind the curtain at the congresswoman’s legendary but little-understood influence. 

Carson, the first black and first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress, died of lung cancer Dec. 15 at her Indianapolis home. She was 69. 

The four-hour service at Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis was followed by a procession to Crown Hill Cemetery, where a military presentation featuring a rifle salute preceded her burial. 

Gov. Mitch Daniels, Sens. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar, former Sen. Birch Bayh and Mayor Bart Peterson were among about two dozen people who spoke during the service about the impact Carson had on their lives and on the lives of others. 

Peterson said that before he ran for mayor, he flew to Washington, D.C., for Carson‘s blessing. “I would not have been elected without her,” he said. “What may be less known is that I couldn’t have done this job without her guidance.” 

State Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, said it was Carson who urged him to run for public office. “I’d never thought of it,” Crawford said. “Julia saw in me something I hadn’t seen.” 

Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed’s story was the topper. He recalled several years ago telling Carson he was interested in public office. He didn’t know which office, but the idea of service appealed to him. Later, she invited him to her home, where some movers and shakers had gathered.

“She introduced me around the room as her candidate for judge,” Shaheed said. A judge he became and remains. 

In the week since Carson‘s death, stories of her personal warmth and charisma dominated the outpouring of remembrances. There were many more such stories at her funeral.

A voice for justice

Carson‘s was a festive funeral — a “home-going,” said Jeffrey A. Johnson, Eastern Star’s senior pastor. As Carson‘s casket was carried into the sanctuary, the mourners broke into sustained applause.

Several musical selections, a Scripture reading and prayer preceded remarks by dignitaries. Daniels recalled being touched that Carson came to his father’s funeral.

“All of our political arguments are so small,” Daniels said, “compared to what Julia knew — that we’re all one in Jesus Christ.”Lugar, R-Ind., said he was thankful for the friendship he had with Carson and spoke about how much of an inspiration she was for him and others.

“It didn’t matter where she was; she kept talking about justice,” he said. “She also talked about education and health care and justice, civil justice and racial justice. She not only talked about it, but she was by far the most remarkable political figure I have ever seen in attaining all of these things.

“It is important for each one of us to have the idealism of Julia Carson.” Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., touched on Carson’s humility.“I don’t think she ever said no to anybody who needed her,” he said. He also spoke about her courage and said she didn’t think about what was popular.

“She only knew what was right and what was wrong, and was always willing to stand up for what was right.”Carson “walked with kings but did not lose the common touch,” he said, paraphrasing the poet Rudyard Kipling.

“Good night, sweet Julia”

Each speaker was greeted warmly, several drawing standing ovations, including Peterson and former U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs.It was Jacobs who gave Carson her start in politics.

He recalled meeting her in 1965, shortly after he first won election. She was working for a labor union, United Auto Workers Local 550, and he asked her to join his staff.“She conferred with her mother,” according to the obituary in the church bulletin, “who told her that Mr. Jacobs was really a Congressman.”

His authenticity established, she took the job and had remained in politics ever since. On Friday, she became the first woman to lie in repose in the Statehouse.

Despite all the praise, Jacobs insisted there was much more to his “little sister.” Because of her modesty, Jacobs said, “the public hasn’t scratched the surface of her accomplishments. Over time, her legacy will grow.” He teared up toward the end of his remarks as he said, “Good night, sweet Julia. May choirs of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Several of Carson’s grandchildren spoke after Jacobs gave his remarks, including Andre Carson and her eldest grandson, Sam Carson IV.

About three hours into the funeral, Sam Carson, recalling how he used to drive his grandmother and act as her security detail, told the audience: “We went to a lot of funerals together, and I have to tell you, if we’d been at this one, we’d have been gone an hour ago.”

Endorsements for a grandson 

Peterson, who recently lost his bid for re-election as mayor, was rumored to be interested in Carson’s seat after Carson said last month she did not plan to seek re-election. On Wednesday, he announced he would not be a candidate.A half-dozen others are reportedly interested in the job, including Carson’s grandson Andre, who was elected to the City-County Council last month.

Andre Carson has not announced his candidacy, but momentum for him seemed to gather Saturday, with several of his grandmother’s eulogists coming out strongly for him.U.S. Reps. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, were among about a dozen or so members of Congress at the funeral.

Both said they sat beside Carson near the end of her life and heard her say “Andre.” They encouraged voters to choose him to fill her seat.“If you love me, send my seed,” Kilpatrick said Carson told her. The remark drew loud applause.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan echoed the earlier calls for Andre Carson to succeed her in Washington.“She lives in the spiritual sense,” he said. “She lives in those whom she touched. She lives in Andre. She wants him to succeed her in service to the people. She wants him to be a good servant.”

When it was his turn to speak, Andre Carson talked only of his beloved grandmother.“She was a Christian woman,” he said. “But she had a universal nature.” He referred to her celebrated ability to mingle comfortably in any group.

Bill Jefferson wants change of venue in corruption trial to D.C.

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Hat Tip: by Allen Lengel, Washington Post

Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), indicted on federal bribery charges, said yesterday in court papers that he did nothing illegal and accused prosecutors of bringing the case against him in Virginia because there would be fewer black jurors.

The motions filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria provided the first look at Jefferson’s defense strategy as he fights a 16-count indictment and asks a judge to dismiss 14 of the charges or move the case to the District.

A federal grand jury indicted Jefferson, the former co-chairman of the congressional caucus on Nigeria and African trade, in June. The congressman faces charges that he used his official position to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes for himself and his family, falsely reported trips to Africa as official business, sought to bribe the former Nigerian vice president, and promoted U.S. financing for a sugar factory in Nigeria whose owner paid fees to a Jefferson family company in Louisiana.

In more than 100 pages of motions, Jefferson’s attorney said the congressman did not bribe the Nigerian vice president, did nothing illegal by getting involved in private business ventures, and declared that the government concocted a flimsy conspiracy charge because the statute of limitations was set to expire on several charges.

The lawyer, Robert P. Trout, noted that the government charged that Jefferson wrote letters, made introductions, and went to meetings and foreign trips to assist businesses to land contracts in Africa.

“In essence, the indictment alleges that Mr. Jefferson was employed to help these businesses and received compensation in return. . . .,” the motion said. “In this regard, it is important to note that it is not illegal — or even a violation of House Rules — for a member to have outside employment.”

Those private business transactions were unrelated to Jefferson’s duties as a member of Congress, the motion said. “Since the bribery case the government has outlined in the indictment does not fall within the four corners of the bribery laws, the bribery related counts indictment should be dismissed.”

The papers also say that the FBI used a cooperating witness to steer the case to Virginia. Blacks account for a smaller proportion of the potential jurors there than in the District, where they make up the majority of the population.

“That venue was selected in the Eastern District of Virginia in order to obtain a jury pool with fewer African Americans,” the motion said, adding: “The court has an obligation to ensure that the forum selection in this case was not tainted by racially discriminatory motive.”

The motion prompted prosecutors to issue a statement yesterday saying that race had nothing to do with their charging decisions.

“The indictment unsealed in June alleges facts supporting jurisdiction and venue in the Eastern District of Virginia. This venue is appropriate as we have indicated in public court filings and as represented by the guilty pleas of two alleged co-conspirators in the Eastern District of Virginia,” said Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd.

The federal indictment is the first in which a U.S. official is charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars bribery of foreign officials.

Jefferson, 60, a Harvard Law School graduate, was reelected last year while under investigation. He was the first black congressman elected in Louisiana since Reconstruction.

The indictment charges that Jefferson used his official position to help iGate, a Kentucky-based high-tech business, sell its technology to provide Internet and cable television in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. Jefferson, according to the indictment, took kickbacks from the company’s owner for his family and had stock in the company.

During a meeting with an informant wearing a recording device, Jefferson said he would need $500,000 to give to Nigeria’s then-vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to make sure the high-tech venture went through. A short time later, the informant handed Jefferson $100,000 in FBI money that had been photocopied. FBI agents found $90,000 found in a freezer at his Capitol Hill home a few days later.

Jefferson’s attorney argued in the motions that because the money never reached the vice president, no bribe of a foreign official took place.

He also wrote that the bribery statute requires that a politician take something of value in exchange for an official act such as voting or authorizing appropriations:

“There is no allegation in this indictment that Mr. Jefferson solicited anything of value in return for being influenced in any decision in a matter that was or could be pending before him in his capacity as a Member of the United States House of Representatives.”