We’re in Hell

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I remember it like it was yesterday.  In the fall of 1994, I was an intern for the North Carolina Democratic Party. The 1994 elections were a watershed of fear, racist projection, and ignorance. The election night parties were full of tears and slack jaws as damn near everyone went down.  I went home with my tail between my legs.

Devastated by the previous evening’s events and looking for solace I stepped into the HBCU counseling center office of my play mom, Ms. Chisholm.  A South Carolina native, she made everyone feel like family but wasn’t a stereotypical, syrupy sweet, southern Mom. She looked up and saw the newspapers I had collected announcing the Republican sweep and said gravely, “we’re in Hell.”

This week has felt like that as a veil of ignorance and fear descended over Washington in the wake of Scott Brown’s election to the United States Senate in Massachusetts.  A wake up call to be sure, it provoked some interesting reactions and farcical moments.   As the president finally located his stones and called for a broad tax on the predatory banks to recoup the trillions in bailout largess they extorted from the U.S. Treasury, the Supreme Court reversed a century of precedent and plunged the United States back into the Gilded Age of Robber Barons and monopolistic trusts.

President Obama only had a year-long window to make any kind of change and he squandered it by trying to compromise with the Republicans, the banks, and the insurance companies.  Everything from here on out will be filibustered unless Harry Reid uses reconciliation.  But even that handy little tool will be useless with the new toy the Supreme Court has given our corporate overlords.

Campaign Finance Reform, an issue I care deeply about but never discuss was front and center yesterday as the Supreme Court struck down any limits on corporate independent expenditure campaigns on free speech grounds.  They now have the power to use their general treasuries and their billions in profits to buy every friendly politician in sight or mount saturation level campaigns targeted at their political enemies.

Scared by the browning of America and the Presidency of Barack Obama, the Supreme Court finally pulled the trigger on fascism, shredded the constitution under the guise of interpreting it, and effectively destroyed our Democracy.  The Republicans will finally be able to rely on an endless tsunami of cash to fund their campaigns and elections will be nothing more than contests to see who can most effectively whore out to the corporations.

I refuse to participate in, to borrow a phrase from Keith Olbermann, a “farcical perversion.” I will finish this election season out and work for the candidates I have committed to but this is Skeptical Brotha’s last campaign.  I’m done.  I am going to do what I should have done years ago and finally learn Spanish and French.  I am going to leave this country and go somewhere that doesn’t elevate the rights of corporations over the rights of people.  I love my Momma.  I love my Daddy.  I love my family, but I refuse to stay here and be a slave on this corporate plantation.

Aunt Nikki

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Move over Aunt Jemima. There is a new corporate mammy in town. EMILY’s List, the “feminist” political action committee that uses the pretext of gender equality to support status quo females in their quest for power and prestige in the halls of congress, has endorsed Nikki Tinker, Harold Ford Jr’s malevolent protégé, against progressive Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen.

The decision to support Nikki Tinker is typical of the brand of corporate feminism that EMILY’s List is known for. There are only two requirements for endorsement: the resourcefulness to raise sufficient cash to be viable enough to justify turning on the pac spigot, and the good fortune of being born female. Matt Stoller wrote a post on the same topic some weeks ago. One reader of Matt’s post couldn’t have said it better, I never got the sense that EMILY’s List was a progressive organization. Its goal is to provide funding for people with vaginas [and] …some semblance of a pro-choice orientation, especially against opponents who don’t fit those two criteria.”

Skimming through Aunt Nikki’s campaign finance reports, I saw that EMILY’s List founder Ellen Malcolm has taken a personal interest in the corporate mammy by contributing $1250.00 of her own money. The criticism that EMILY’s List is primarily a benevolent pocket for aspiring white women apparently struck close to home and is underscored by the paltry $15,870 in bundled contributions it supplied this year. That’s hardly the level of beneficence provided to the corporate mammy in the last cycle.

Moreover, It is frustrating that the organization will sometimes support a genuine black progressive like Donna Edwards against a corrupt incumbent, then turn around in the same year, and endorse a fraud like Tinker against a more acceptable pro choice and progressive Congressman like Steve Cohen.

Longtime readers of this blog know of the animosity I have for Harold Ford Jr and his demagogic brand of corporate prostitution that masquerades as political centrism. Everything he touches turns to shit and the same could be said of his protégé.

I didn’t think it was possible to be more repellent than Ford, but Aunt Nikki is the willing overseer on Pinnacle Airlines corporate plantation as Vice President for Labor Relations and General Counsel. Aunt Nikki is representative of the lowest form of human life and is the worst kind of counterfeit Negress imaginable. As an employment lawyer, she specializes in destroying employee rights to collectively bargain and be free from workplace racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

Her campaign report is full of two kinds of people, acquaintances from her home state of Alabama and her motley collection of crooked contacts in the business world. The CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, Phil Trenary, her boss and corporate puppet master, is represented, as are Republican corporate employment lawyers from her former law firm, John and Ruth Alley. Finally, there is a member of Pinnacle’s Board of Directors, GOP rainmaker and real estate magnate James McGehee and his kith and kin.

JOHNINE BARNES and NIKKI TINKER-Corporate Doppelgangers separated at birth

Johnine Barnes, an employment lawyer for Washington D.C.’s high-powered Baker & Hostetler, is a fellow corporate employment law predator, Delta Sigma Theta sorority sister, and gal-pal of Nikki Tinker. She is emblematic of the employment lawyer/corporate whore type. Her web profile on the firm’s webpage says it best:

Johnine P. Barnes is experienced in various phases of employment law, including litigating and defending administrative claims of harassment; retaliation and discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, and disability; wrongful discharge and breach of contract issues;

This essentially means that the sister is a professional Uncle Tom who uses her race as a shield to defend corporate clients when they actively discriminate against their employees on the basis of age, race, sex, and disability.

By kicking into Nikki’s congressional kitty, she curries favor with a potential Congresswoman for her firm and its malevolent clients, and she enhances her own prestige, which rightfully ought to be lower than a pedophile.

I am given to colorful hyperbole and I love to kid around, but this is serious “bidness” as my girl Molly Ivins used to say. Baker and Hostetler as a powerful player in the employment law racket because they specialize in defending corporate clients against legitimate discrimination and retaliation suits and they say so on their own damn website.

Baker and Hostetler touts its win over the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when it challenged their client’s callous layoff of a pregnant woman during a workforce reduction. They conceded that she was a good employee with solid performance reviews and they happily defended the company’s effort to cut her loose in the middle of her pregnancy and leave her without income or insurance. We carefully explained the legitimate business reasons for the employee’s inclusion in the reduction (relatively weak technical skill set) and focused on the EEOC’s aggressive treatment of company witnesses at trial. We ultimately succeeded in portraying the EEOC as oppressive and overreaching in attacking the character of reasonable people who honestly made the difficult business decision of whom to include in a workforce reduction.”

Additionally, Baker and Hostetler markets itself as a firm that specializes in using technicalities to get legitimate lawsuits dismissed in the earliest stages of litigation and for ultimately destroying class action lawsuits against guilty clients who had the misfortune of being sued by competent counsel. Employment-related class action lawsuits are on the rise. The potential for large recoveries, adverse publicity and expensive litigation threaten a company’s bottom line, stock value and reputation. At Baker Hostetler, we are known for our ability to end class actions before they begin through creative case management, motion practice and aggressive defeat of class certification.”

As further proof of their mendacity, they site their triumph in a sex discrimination case where they denied hundreds of women their day in court, “After obtaining denial of a motion for class certification of a class of several hundred female employees, we obtained summary judgment on behalf of our FORTUNE 100 client on the plaintiff’s individual claims.”

Finally, I ran across an actual opinion in an Ohio case defended in part by Baker and Hostetler that they actually lost initially. A white plaintiff sued his employer because they fired him in retaliation for informing his only black co-worker that the company had a legal obligation to extend health insurance coverage to him because it extended coverage to everybody else. Several weeks before his termination, the partners in the business wanted him to buy into the company as a partner. After he “betrayed” them, and tried to do right by a brotha, and the brotha brought a legitimate discrimination suit against the company, they cut him loose.

Johnine Barnes is a doppelganger for Nikki Tinker. They’re cut from the same cloth and serve the same nefarious corporate interests on the Dark Side of the Force. One doesn’t get a prestigious job on a corporate plantation before 35 by being the vapid, southern fried, syrupy church lady spouting the self-serving, racially manipulative bullshit we’ve heard from her on the campaign trail.

Aunt Nikki ain’t no fool because a fool isn’t capable of raising close to a million dollars to contest a seat in congress in two election cycles.

CORPORATE MAMMY AND GOP TROJAN HORSE

The corporate tentacles of GOP power are all over the corporate mammy’s campaign filings. Phil Trenary, the CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, gave, along with his board members McGehee, Schockley, and Hunt, other executives, and their wives, nearly $25,000 to Nikki’s campaign.

McGehee and his kith and kin in particular, are major GOP moneybags having contributed more than $49,000 to the Republican Party and its candidates since 1997 and collectively kicked $8,600 into Aunt Nikki’s campaign coffers.

Other Airline industry players like Colgan Air, Sky West, and Jet Blue funneled nearly $13,000 through their executives to Nikki.

Moreover, law firms specializing in the employment law racket also took special notice of the corporate mammy. Baker & Hostetler, a major right-wing pocket, kicked in $4900. Baker & Hostetler lobbyists and lawyers have given more than $ 70,250 to Republican candidates and organizations in the last three election cycles; a sum, which is four times what they gave to Democrats.

Ford & Harrison, Aunt Nikki’s former law firm and a major employment law predator, kicked $5200 into the coffers of their former colleague. Nine of her colleagues had a favorable impression of Nikki’s Trojan Horse campaign. The Alley’s—both Ruth and J.E. Alley, are Florida attorneys and major Republican donors to both Dubya and Jeb Bush.

Other major employment law firms like Baker & Donnelson, Bryan Cave and Patton Boggs also kicked into Nikki’s kitty with $4,200, $1000, and $1050 respectively.

My colleagues at Black Agenda Report, in their former incarnation as the writers behind Black Commentator, came up with the nifty moniker of Trojan Horse to describe Black Democrats backed surreptitiously by Republican money and the corporate and right-wing foundation elite. They highlighted BET’s Bob Johnson and politicians Cory Booker and Harold Whore, Jr. Speaking of the Whore, he has used his new wife, Emily Threlkeld Ford, to funnel more than $3300 to his protégé. The Trojan Horse moniker definitely fits Nikki Tinker to a T because as her campaign finance report shows, she is a a member in good standing of this right-wing club.

As the moniker from Greek mythology implies, Aunt Nikki is a stealth weapon of the right-wing that optimally would be used to destroy progressive black representation and the social, political, and economic viability of Black Memphis. Unfortunately for our corporate enemies on the right, Aunt Nikki’s campaign exploded today like an IED in a war zone when it released an ad which strikes a note of false religiosity and implies that Steve Cohen is a Jewish interloper unwelcome in black churches and alludes to a bill to protect “religious freedom” and the unfettered right of religious organizations to discriminate against gay and lesbian people. This is the culmination of her clumsy attempts to make inroads with the black ministerial community by pandering to the homophobia of a select group of black pastors.

It looks like the wounds are fatal. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of cynical operators and puppet masters—especially Harold Ford. As of this afternoon, Emily’s List was forced to denounce the ad with egg on their faces. Finally, with the entrance of Black state representative Joe Towns in this race and the loss of prominent civil rights leaders like Maxine Smith, Aunt Nikki’s fantasy of being the power structure’s corporate mammy in Washington is just 24 hours from a lethal rejection by the voters from which there will be no appeal.