Orgy of Ignorance

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Voters in the nation’s capital city rebuked the President’s homie, Mayor Adrian Fenty.  Formally, we call what took place yesterday an election.  I call it an orgy of ignorance.  I am a race man to the core but what happened yesterday is unfathomable.

One of my home girls called me last night from D.C., and I asked her who she voted for.  The answer, of course, was Vincent Gray, the aging quadroon who is Chairman of the City Council.  I knew it was over without looking at a single return. I could not help berating her. Lacking conviction in her vote and stung by my attack she asked, “Why you ain’t call me?”  I should have said that I thought she had better sense than to throw out a decent brotha over a vague sense of racial grievance. The crap about gentrification and Fenty’s cabinet appointments are just blackfolks venting about the common misconception that Adrian is a House Negro too beholden to whitefolks.

Fenty’s loss is a triumph of style over substance because Gray certainly had no real programmatic objections that he chose to share. Fenty lost for two reasons:  1) His hard charging and humorless style rubbed too many the wrong way.  2) The unconscious desire of the black community to crucify a scapegoat because of their economic anxiety during this brutal recession.  Blackfolks convinced themselves that their black college educated Black Mayor with the black wife and kids did not care about black people.

I firmly believe that if Adrian Fenty had been caught by the FBI in a roach motel with a chickenhead and a crack pipe–he would have been re-elected in a landslide.  There would have been no question that Adrian was sufficiently black enough to vote for.  Functioning schools, tolerable crime, a responsive city government, and a healthy business climate are apparently anti-black instruments meant to oppress and demean black people.

I suppose having a Black Mayor who does not embarrass us with his extramarital affairs, ungrammatical profundity, and serial incompetence are a naïve expectation. I know it is unreasonable to expect that black folks would vote for a Black Mayor maniacally focused on making the city function properly by appointing people, regardless of race, who know what they are doing.

Fenty’s installation of Michelle Rhee, a Korean American, as Chancellor of the DC Schools, was a bridge too far. She single-handedly turned around one of the most catastrophically inadequate urban school systems in the country by demanding excellence and holding teachers accountable for black student success.  She even had the temerity to fire bad teachers.  We cannot have that. Rather than graduate school prepared for a career, it is better for the community if Black children drop out of school and remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. Politicians get bonus points if a disproportionate number of Black children end up dead or in jail.

Things were definitely better in the District during the halcyon days of the Barry Administration. Those were the days when the city was on autopilot. Nearly every city agency was under federal receivership because of gross mismanagement, and a congressionally appointed control board unaccountable to the people controlled the purse strings.   At least Barry was pro-Black, whatever that is supposed to mean.

About face on Burris

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Illinois Governor

It has been several days now and I’ve had time to chill and collect my thoughts. During that time, I have come to realize that my opposition to the seating of Roland Burris as the Junior Senator from Illinois is a mistake and a histrionic reaction to Rod Blagojevich’s mischievous and Machiavellian appointment of a qualified African American.

 

There is no way in hell that accepting Blagojevich’s appointment was the rational act of a black politician concerned about fair black representation in the upper house. Instead, it was the juvenile and selfish maneuvering of a washed up politician who equates the legitimate desire of the African American community to be represented by at least one African American Senator with his appointment. They are not one and the same.

The man or woman chosen to replace the President Elect should have been academically, politically, and professionally the best our community could put forward. Burris fails on that score. He is relatively undistinguished but qualified and is definitely over the hill.

 

But what’s done is done and the President Elect and the Democratic Caucus need to deal rationally with the unsavory politics of this appointment without casting aspersions, as many, including me, have done.

 

This is a legally unassailable appointment. Period. Rod Blagojevich retained the legal authority to make this selection and he made it because the Illinois legislature declined to strip him of this authority. Given the time-frame he constitutionally has to decide whether he would sign or veto any piece of legislation, he probably would have been able to stall long enough to make the appointment anyway and we would still be here. Most reasonable folk understand that he had no moral authority, but the law doesn’t require that.

 

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times dropped the dime on Blagojevich the other day. Reid actively maneuvered against any African American appointment. He opposed Jesse, Danny Davis, and Emil Jones. The fact of the matter is that no Senate Democratic leader has done any heavy lifting to benefit a black Senatorial candidate in a contested situation. Nobody has ever attempted to clear the field to benefit a brotha or sistah. Nobody has ever attempted to dry up a white candidate’s fundraising to help out a black senate candidate. It happens for whites all the time. Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, actively sought to dry up Kweisi Mfume’s money to benefit Ben Cardin in 2006.


 

The Senate Majority Leader has never done anything to benefit a black Senate candidate before appointment or before a contested primary. It’s a damn shame I didn’t see that before, but I see it now. Despite Bobby Rush’s clumsy, cartoonish injection of race into the initial press conference—he happens to be right. He also happens to be the worst messenger of the truth because of his unwillingness to support Barack Obama for this seat in the first place.

Rikyrah, CPL, y’all are right, and I was wrong.

What is baffling to me though is why some of the same black people who advocate seating Burris don’t castigate Barack Obama for siding against qualified black representation.

 

Jefferson faces latina in run-off

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Scandal plagued Congressman William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, 61, secured a spot yesterday in November’s Democratic Run Off  by besting five serious black contenders and a lone Latina,  Helena Moreno, 30, a political newcomer and former newscaster.

Ms. Moreno, a Texas transplant and the daughter of Oil and Gas entrepreneur Felix Moreno, has been identified in the mainstream media and seems to be campaigning as the only “white” contender in the race despite having been born in Mexico and not stepping foot in this country until after her seventh birthday.  Technically, Ms. Moreno’s mother, an academic at Baylor University, a native born American, is white.

Most Mexicans identify themselves racially as Mestizo–an Indian and Anglo combo analogous to being Mulatto in the United States.  But Latin America is famous for having a reverse one drop rule: one drop of white blood makes you white in some contexts and countries.

The subtext of all southern politics is race, and the politics of New Orleans, a uniquely French influenced region and culture, is no different.

Louisiana is famous for having jungle primaries in which candidates of all parties compete against each other and the top two candidates regardless of party advance for the general election.  That has been changed for Congressional races. However, the Democratic Primary and Run Off are not closed to independents.    Independents in the New Orleans Metro area are usually not of color and vote disproportionately Republican.

The question in this race is whether African Americans will coalesce around the federally indicted Jefferson and send him back to Congress for a term he will never finish.  Jefferson’s December trial will most assuredly result in his conviction for bribery, kickbacks, and a host of other crimes I’ve long since forgotten and don’t care to research.

Given the division between blacks and whites in Metro New Orleans over Hurricane Katrina related recovery projects and the universal hostility of the majority-white city council and their Negro ventriloquists to working class African Americans need for affordable housing and their undisputed right to return home and reclaim the property and lives destroyed by white hostility and indifference, it is unlikely that reform minded African Americans will coalesce behind Moreno and her Republican Real-Estate Developer benefactors.

The Congressional Black Caucus chose to back Jefferson rather than bow to reality and back an acceptable horse–an act of political malpractice I still struggle to understand.  New Orleanians are the most misrepresented blackfolks in the nation and are in need of a savior.  Before New Orleans drown in a sea of Army Corps of Engineers incompetence, Dollar Bill was too preoccupied securing the relief of the richest 1% from Estate Taxes and engineering foreign graft and kickbacks for himself and his children to bother with procuring appropriations for the upkeep of the levies that keep the city dry.  I’m too tired to adequately express the totality of my contempt for Dollar Bill.  I’ll get to it later.

This race will be an interesting one for sure.

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.

Cohen/Tinker election results

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WITH 72% OF PRECINCTS REPORTING, CONGRESSMAN STEVE COHEN CRUSHES AUNT NIKKI, THE CORPORATE MAMMY, WITH A LANDSLIDE 60% MARGIN!!!!!!!!

STEVE COHEN 44,995 79%

NIKKI TINKER 10,676 19%

JOE TOWNS 844 1%

Black voters, especially those of us in the South, have always been able to judge our politicians by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. We’re never given credit for having that ability when racially polarizing tactics are injected into a political race by one of us, but we’ve always had it and always will. Now Mr. Cohen can go back to the halls of power confident in the knowledge that he has unequivocally earned the trust of a majority of his black constituents. In order to keep it, he must continue to provide the same common sense, progressive leadership that has been known as his trademark.

The epic collapse of the Tinker campaign is one for the history books and closes a sad chapter in the book of political rivalry between Harold Ford Jr and Steve Cohen. His transparent maneuvering to shield his allegiances to Tinker by using his wife as a conduit for campaign cash, and his politically expedient denunciation of Tinker’s tone-deaf tactics should be enough for Barack Obama to remove the Whore from any consideration for a prominent role in his administration.

Sistah’s Step Up

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Late last week, Georgia State Representative “Able” Mabel Thomas announced her intention to challenge Congressman John Lewis for re-election.  

 

 

 

She becomes the second serious challenger to Lewis, the first being Markel Hutchins, a community activist and minister.  This marks the second time Thomas has challenged Lewis. Representative Thomas lost badly in 1992 and won less than 25% of the vote.  Able Mabel is a serious politician having served in both the Georgia House of Representatives and the Atlanta City Council.  She is also a progressive legislator having twice passed legislation to increase Georgia’s homestead exemption to protect low income and elderly people from losing their homes.

 

She, like Hutchins, frames the contest in generational terms, I believe that, at the end of the day, that my opponent is not only beatable, but my opponent should — right now — just get out of the race and let a new generation come forth.”

 

Hutchins subsequently released a statement as well and obviously got the memo that this is a change election. “While my campaign will continue to respect the contributions of the elder politicians that have come before us, this congressional race is about sending a true change agent to Washington that has the energy to work, audacity to hope, courage to lead and propensity for diplomacy needed to effectively represent and advocate for all of the people of Georgia in the United States Congress.”

 

This follows on the heels of an announcement last month that Georgia State Senator Regina Thomas, (no relation) will challenge Congressman John Barrow for re-election in the July Democratic Primary. Barrow, a conservative Democrat, barely made it last election and has raised an impressive war chest to fend off stiff Republican competition.  

 

 

Senator Regina Thomas, a Savannah Democrat, has a weakness for colorful and elaborate hats and apparently hers is on too tight.   She cannot possibly win this seat in a general election despite having the demographic advantage of a 40% African American population in the district.  She’s a weak fundraiser but a solid progressive. Unfortunately, that ain’t gonna be enough to overcome white resistance to liberal black representation in rural South Georgia.