10 things you need to know today: May 28, 2015

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


1.Nebraska legislators repeal death penalty over governor’s veto
Nebraska lawmakers on Wednesday voted to repeal the state’s death penalty law, overriding a veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). The bipartisan 30-to-19 vote was just enough to get past the veto. It made Nebraska the first conservative state in 40 years to abolish capital punishment. The final vote ended a months-long battle in Nebraska’s unicameral Legislature. Ricketts, a staunch supporter of capital punishment, had the backing of many law enforcement officials. Eighteen other states and Washington, D.C., also have banned the death penalty.

Source: The New York Times

2.FIFA bans 11 officials over corruption scandal
FIFA on Wednesday banned 11 officials from participating in soccer-related activities after the eruption of a corruption scandal. Nine of the banned FIFA officials were among 14 people named in a racketeering indictment announced by the U.S. Justice Department. Two are vice presidents of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the indicted officials “corrupted the business of worldwide soccer.” Swiss authorities have opened a separate investigation into Qatar’s 2022 and Russia’s 2018 World Cup bids.

Source: The Huffington Post

3.Santorum launches second presidential bid
Former senator Rick Santorum formally announced on Wednesday that he is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Santorum made his first run for the White House in 2012. He placed second in the primaries behind Mitt Romney, boosted by social conservatives. In his announcement speech in his home state of Pennsylvania, he framed his second bid as a battle for forgotten American workers. “Working families don’t need another president tied to big government — or big money,” he said.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

4.Pentagon says anthrax inadvertently distributed by Army lab
The Pentagon on Wednesday said that an Army lab in Utah inadvertently sent live anthrax samples to private research labs in nine states, and one in South Korea. “There is no known risk to the general public,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said, “and there are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in potentially exposed lab workers.” The lab where the errors were made was participating in efforts to develop a field test to spot biological threats.

Source: The Washington Post

5.FCC chief proposes subsidized broadband for the poor
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating a plan on Thursday proposing to subsidize high-speed internet access for low-income Americans. The federal government has been helping people pay for telephone service for 30 years, because phones are considered crucial to finding work, getting medical service, and climbing out of poverty. Wheeler’s proposal to change the $1.7 billion subsidy program to include broadband reflects the FCC’s recognition that high-speed internet service also is now essential.

Source: The New York Times

6.Hundreds evacuated due to new Texas flood threat
Hundreds of people were ordered to evacuate areas in Texas threatened with floods on Wednesday due to torrential rains. Residents were told to stay away from more than 200 homes in Parker County, 30 miles west of Fort Worth, as the Brazos River appeared close to overflowing. “The river is coming up fast,” Parker County Judge Mark Riley May said. May is already the wettest month in Texas history. Severe storms have killed at least 21 people in Texas and Oklahoma this week. Another 11 remain missing.

Source: Reuters, NBC News

7.Tracy Morgan settles with Walmart over deadly crash
Comedian Tracy Morgan has agreed to settle his lawsuit against Walmart over a 2014 crash that left the comedian severely injured, and killed his friend and fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair. A Walmart truck slammed into Morgan’s limousine on the New Jersey Turnpike. Prosecutors said the driver was sleep-deprived. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Morgan said in a statement that Walmart “did right by me and my family, and for my associates and their families,” and that he was “grateful that the case was resolved amicably.”

Source: NJ.com

8.Obama’s chief Iran negotiator leaving after nuclear-deal deadline
President Obama’s chief negotiator with Iran, Wendy Sherman, saidWednesday that she planned to leave the State Department shortly after the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal with Tehran. Sherman revealed her plans before heading to Vienna and Geneva for a final round of talks on curbing Iran’s controversial nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of punishing economic sanctions. “It’s been two long years,” she said. Secretary of State John Kerry praised Sherman for her “calm in the storm.”

Source: The New York Times

9. Pataki joins crowded race for GOP presidential nomination
Former New York governor George Pataki is expected to announceThursday that he is joining an increasingly crowded field of candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Pataki is a moderate Republican who considered running in 2000, 2008, and 2012, but didn’t. He signaled earlier in the week that he was ready to launch what he conceded was a long-shot bid. “It will be a very stiff climb up a very steep mountain,” he told the New York Post, “but that hasn’t stopped me in the past.”

Source: The Washington Post, New York Post

10.Golden State beats Houston to win a spot in NBA finals
The Golden State Warriors advanced to the NBA finals for the first time in 40 years on Wednesday night with a 104-90 victory over the Houston Rockets. The Warriors shook off a slow start to pull ahead for good in the fourth quarter, led by league MVP Stephen Curry’s 26 points and Harrison Barnes’ 24.  The Warriors move on to face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who advanced a day earlier with four-game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks. The teams will play the first game of the NBA finals on June 4.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Harold Maass

The 5 Most Ridiculous Things Right-Wing Nut Jobs Buy Out of ‘NRA Magazine’ (IMAGES)


Depending on what kind of magazines you read, you probably see lots of things advertised. From prescription drugs to age-defying face creams, vitamins to weight loss supplements, magazines have their staples.

The staples give way to more demographically direct advertising in magazines that cater to a specific hobby, profession or special interest. A bicycle magazine has ads for helmets and cool sunglasses; a hiking magazine pushes boots and backpacks.

It’s pretty simple, you market to your base of readers. What then will you find advertised in a magazine for right-wing, misogynist, ammosexual Teabillies?

Hold onto the bar in front of you and keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times, you’re in for a wild ride.

The five most ridiculous things right-wing nut jobs buy out of the NRA’s magazine America’s First Freedom.

5.) The Cool Red Dot:

Looking to not only look cool carrying a gun but be cool as well? With The Cool Red Dot you can transform your handgun into something out of an action movie in no time.

Imagine the dismay of the criminals you encounter daily as you train the Cool Red Dot on their chest, neck or head. You’ll be the slickest good guy with a gun in town.

4.) A Bullet…And A Knife!!!

I mean come on! It’s a bullet…and a knife! As if bullets weren’t cool enough, this handy little tool is good for opening dry rations, pulling ticks off your pitbull, carving your initials (or confirmed kills, wink wink) in your gun stocks or saving countless lives when your firearm isn’t so readily available.

You’re a hero…Outfit yourself like one.

3.) The Misogyny Ring

It used to be when that purdy lil’ thang you let do your dishes and make you sandwiches wanted a piece of green jewelry you had to spend some of your hard-earned cash on an emerald. Not anymore! For under a hundred bucks you can get some cooked ash and food coloring and give her something special.

Don’t let this one pass you by; it has a strange effect on womenfolk, if you get our drift!

2.) Carry Like A True Christian!

Don’t just carry a weapon, carry it with Christ. Nothing says “I’ll smoke you, thug!” quite like a firearm kept close the heart of Jesus himself. The bible says…things…about killing people…and stuff, so when you’re ready to take the law into your own hands, do it knowing the power of the Lord is behind you.

1.) The Racism Lamp.

Now you can proudly display your racism for all to see, cleverly hidden in this decorative lamp. Celebrate nearly four whole years of treason and pro-slavery inspired mayhem that culminated in the deaths of a million Americans. General Lee sits atop his steed with that ever-infamous “what the hell did I get myself into” look on his face beneath a glorious display of Confederate standards that have no meaning to anyone but southern racists and high school kids who think it means “rebel.”

As a special bonus it comes with a free lightbulb! Not one of them new-fangled energy-efficient ones neither. A good old-fashioned 75 watt incandescent from Walmart is all a true patriot needs.

A stunning addition to any collection of bigotry.

The bulb arriving unbroken or in working condition is not guaranteed.

Make sure you act quickly. These all American items are sure to sell out fast, and it takes almost a month to have more shipped from China.

God Bless guns, men, stupidity and racism.


Republican “Survivor”: A Proposal for Culling the G.O.P. Field

Voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take fifteen or twenty Republican primary candidates seriously.

Voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take fifteen or twenty Republican primary candidates seriously. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY


A couple of weeks ago, I was driving along the Belt Parkway, listening to Sean Hannity’s radio show, when the right-wing commentator said something that surprised me about the ever-expanding field of Republican primary candidates. This is getting ridiculous, Hannity complained—how are they all supposed to fit on the same stage for a debate?

Hannity’s fears have proved to be well grounded. On Wednesday, the former senator Rick Santorum, who had been the runner-up to Mitt Romney in the 2012 G.O.P. primary, announced his candidacy. On Thursday, it will be the turn of George Pataki, the former governor of New York. Who knows whom Friday will bring? Lindsey Graham? Rick Perry? Donald Trump? Herman (999) Cain? Ted Nugent?

Here, in alphabetical order, are the eight Republican candidates who, by Thursday, will be officially running: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Santorum. Then there are Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, two front-runners who have all but announced that they are in. Currently in the “exploratory” stage, we have Graham, Trump, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and the benighted Chris Christie. That makes fifteen, with other outlying possibilities, too.

The number turns out to be too high for Roger Ailes, Hannity’s boss at Fox News. The network (along with Facebook) is set to host the first televised G.O.P. debate, in Cleveland, on August 6th, and it has said that it intends to limit participation to the top ten candidates in the polls, plus those who are tied. “It was a difficult call based on political necessity,” Howard Kurtz, the veteran media reporter, who now works for Fox, explained in a post on Tuesday. “With 17 or 18 Republicans gearing up to run, you simply can’t have a viable debate with all of them. Each candidate would receive a miniscule amount of time. No sustained questioning would be possible. And it would be bad television.”

Not everyone associated with the Republican Party is happy about Fox’s decision. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, accused Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, of colluding with Fox to cull the field prematurely. “There are fourteen candidates who are serious people,” Kristol said (doubtless prompting a protest call from Trump). “I think they all deserve to be on the stage.” He proposed that they have two debates, with the candidates split up randomly. “Republicans would be interested. They wouldn’t turn off the TV halfway through.”

Kristol raises a good point. If Fox applied its proposed criteria on the basis of current polling data collated by Real Clear Politics, Santorum, who won eleven state primaries in 2012, would barely make the cut. Fiorina, the only female candidate, who has reportedly impressed Republican audiences in Iowa and New Hampshire, would miss out. So would Graham, Jindal, and Kasich, all experienced elected officials. That doesn’t seem fair, or even particularly democratic. So what to do?

The G.O.P. needs a procedure that affords all of the candidates an opportunity to impress while also acknowledging that voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take all fifteen or twenty candidates seriously. One solution might be to turn the early stages of the G.O.P. primary into a version of “Survivor,” the long-running reality-television series.

Here’s how it could work. Following Kristol’s suggestion, Fox and Facebook would hold two debates on August 6th, with the candidates drawing lots to decide whether they appeared on the first or the second one. Each would receive the same amount of airtime, and the questions in the two debates would be broadly similar.

For the second debate, which CNN is scheduled to host from the Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, on September 16th, things would be different. A limit of twelve candidates would be imposed. Rather than follow the “Survivor” template literally, and have the candidates themselves decide who gets to appear at the debate and who doesn’t, it would be best to rely on surveys of likely Republican voters. The top dozen candidates in the poll of polls on September 9th, a week before the debate, would make the cut; everybody else would miss out. I’d leave it to the network executives and the R.N.C. to decide whether this debate would need to be split in two, like the first one. (CNN has suggested an alternative format for its event, using the full slate of candidates, in which the top ten candidates appear in one debate and the rest in another.)

The winnowing process wouldn’t end there. For the third debate, which will take place in October, there would be another cut, to ten candidates, with the poll of polls again deciding who is invited. And for the fourth debate, in November, there would be a final cut, to eight candidates.

By that stage, the G.O.P.’s Iowa caucus would be on the horizon—it’s now slated for February 2nd, but may well move up a bit—and the field might be starting to narrow of its own accord, regardless. But for now, and for the next few months, there are too many candidates, and some way of treating them equitably needs to be found.

My solution perhaps isn’t the best. Quite probably, it would favor candidates who have raised enough money to launch advertising campaigns and boost their poll numbers—but the current system does that anyway. Another possible objection is that focussing attention on the minor players would blur the message of the front-runners. I doubt that would happen. Bush, Rubio, and Walker would still get the bulk of the media’s attention.

On the upside, shifting to the “Survivor” model would afford everyone an opportunity, and it would inject a bit of excitement into the race early on. Over to you, Reince!

John Cassidy

America’s Morals Are Shifting To The Left


Same sex couple Olga Miranda (R) and Matilde Custodio (L) hold their daughter Carolina during a walk in the park in Lisbon on February 23, 2014. | PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA via Getty Images


Americans are becoming increasingly more liberal across several moral issues. According to a new Gallup study, a record high percentage of Americans are now accepting of same-sex relationships, having a baby outside of marriage and premarital sex between men and women.

Sixty-three percent of Americans now say they are accepting of same-sex couples. Only 40 percent felt that way in 2001. The 23-point jump in just 14 years marks the greatest shift in opinion to the left out of any issue Gallup measured in the survey.

Substantial progression to the left has also occurred on having a child out of wedlock. Today, 61 percent report that they are comfortable with the idea, a 16-point increase from when Gallup last asked the question in 2001. When it comes to premarital sex between men and women, 68 percent of Americans now see it as morally acceptable, compared to 53 percent in 2001.

Moral acceptance of divorce and stem cell research has also jumped by 12 points, reaching 71 percent and 64 percent respectively. By slightly lesser margins, Americans have also grown more accepting of issues such as polygamy and cloning humans. Still, these issues are seen as morally acceptable by less than one-sixth of the population.

Americans aren’t just growing liberal on specific issues, they are becoming more liberal in general. For the first time since Gallup began asking the question 16 years ago, an equal number of Americans now identify as socially liberal and socially conservative. This reflects a trend since 1999 of a growing number of Americans self-identifying as liberal, according to Gallup.

Gallup surveyed 1,024 adults between May 6-10 via live interviews on landlines and cell phones.

Scott Walker: Mandatory Ultrasounds Are ‘Just A Cool Thing’ For Women


AP Photo / Gerald Herbert

Such an uninformed clown…


During the interview with conservative radio host Dana Loesch, Walker defended a bill he’d signed in 2013 that required women get the ultrasounds.

“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” Walker said. “Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons who are 19 and 20, and we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

He also lauded the bill’s effects.

“We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information, that more people if they saw that unborn child would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child,” Walker said.

Listen to the audio below, from Right Wing Watch:


Creationist Claims Proof Dinos And Humans Co-Existed; Scientists Fire Up Facepalming Machine


Ken Ham, known most notably for his massive creationism museum in Kentucky and getting absolutely demolished by Bill Nye in a debate on evolution, now says that he will soon be publishing “world-changing” evidence that demonstrates without a doubt that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.

Along with his co-conspirator Dr. David Menton (a man who generously describes himself as a “creation scientist”), Ham says his revolutionary evidence will show that dinosaurs didn’t die out 65 million years ago, but in Noah’s flood only a few thousands years ago. Before that, humans from Adam and Eve up until Noah’s time lived peacefully with the creatures.

What kind of evidence is Ham suggesting could overturn centuries of careful research by thousands of scientists in the fields of paleontology, geology, evolutionary biology, and other non-creation science sciences? Ironically, it’s fossils. Ham has long been wary of fossils being used as evidence – primarily because they tend to disprove his ideas – but recently he’s softened his position.

In a post on his Answers in Genesis website released on May 27, Ham claims he can explain why scientists (real ones) recently discovered rare fossilized brain tissue in a species of arthropods:

The rock strata that these creatures are found in is not 500 million years old. Brains are difficult to fossilize.Apparently the leader of the study on these brains said, “Brains can fossilize only if the conditions are just right . . . For instance, if an animal is suddenly buried in low-oxygen conditions that are rich in certain minerals, like carbon, its neural tissue would have a chance to fossilize.” What would produce the perfect conditions for such rapid burial? The global Flood of Noah’s day!

You know what else would produce the perfect conditions for such a rapid burial? Just a plain, old-fashioned regular flood in the region where these hapless arthropods happened to live – but I digress.

Ham isn’t finished with just arthropods. To really drive home his point that all fossilized animals can be linked back to Noah’s flood if you squint hard enough, the creationist has acquired a bunch of Edmontosaurus bones that he claims still have much of their bone marrow intact.

Following his logic that soft tissue means recent history, Ham plans to argue these animals only died several thousand years ago.

It’s an interesting theory undone by the really rather minor issue that it’s based on a complete misunderstanding of almost all of biological science. Even worse, it’s not even a new argument. Scientists have spent the last five years debunking similar charges from Ken Ham and company.

In 2010, a paleontologist named Mary Schweitzer made an incredible discovery by cracking open the leg bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex and dissolving the stuff inside with acid. What she discovered was some of the soft tissue that most people had assumed would never be there. For science it was a major breakthrough and made Schweitzer into a legend (at least among paleontologists), but creationists seized upon the finding and decided it meant all dinosaurs were really just recently deceased animals made to look millions of years old.

Now, thanks to a generous enabler, Ham has his hands on some dinosaur tissue that he believes will put the final nail in the coffin on evolution. Yet, he faces other problems along with his apparent ignorance towards paleontology. Even common sense seems to elude Ham’s highly selective reasoning skills.

It’s important to remember that Edmontosaurus were herd animals that scientists believe traveled in packs of perhaps one thousand at a time. (In one instance, a single area of land contained the bones of over 10,000 individual creatures.) In what is now much of Wyoming, they would have stomped their way from grazing area to grazing area in lines that stretched for miles. Interestingly, none of the Native American tribes living in Wyoming several thousand years ago ever mention them. Not once. Nor do they mention any other dinosaur. They never hunted one. They never worshiped one. As far as anyone can tell, they never saw one. At around three times the height of a man and weighing 4 tonnes, it seems odd that they – and other dinosaurs – didn’t make any sort of impression on the people who lived right alongside them.

And what of the thousands of other dinosaur species who’s bones don’t serve to support Ham’s theory? Ham is silent.

Ham’s ideas would be laughable to the point of easy dismissal if they weren’t so embarrassingly popular in the United States. In a 2014 Gallup poll, 42 percent of respondents said they believed God created all life in its current form. In other words, Ham’s ignorance is shared with millions of Americans. The effect bleeds into our education and political systems with troubling regularity. Recently, a school in Montana had to be told that it was not okay for it to organize an annual field trip to a creation museum, with parents outraged at the missed opportunity at miseducation. Politicians, too, must be reminded again and again why placing Ham’s “theory” of creation alongside the theory of evolution in science classrooms isn’t “teaching the debate.” Even after courts have intervened, schools routinely ignore the rulings and continue to teach religious doctrine as if it were legitimate science.

Ever the opportunist, Ken Ham has seized the public ignorance about science to inject his own religious dogma and give it just enough “credibility” to be used by people to keep on keeping ignorant. As ever with religious grifters, it’s impossible to distinguish where the scam ends and the sincere wrongness begins. Ham clearly doesn’t know much about science, but he’s smart enough to realize some people won’t know that.

Jameson Parker

Segregationists never went away: We just call them “small-government conservatives” now

Segregationists never went away: We just call them "small-government conservatives" now

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly (Credit: Reuters/Micah Walter/AP/Douglas C. Pizac)


Black freedom & opportunity in America has always required the very federal intervention the right wants to destroy

The continuing decline of public sector jobs at local, state, and federal levels is having an abysmal economic impact on African Americans, for whom steady, stable government employment opportunities have provided a sure path into the middle class. The New York Times reported yesterday that “roughly one in five black adults works for the government, teaching school, delivering mail, driving buses, processing criminal justice and managing large staffs.” Because Black people hold a disproportionate number of government jobs, cutbacks that affect everyone hit Black communities even harder.

In many ways that goes without saying. When America sneezes, Black America gets the flu. But I want to suggest that something even more sinister animates this swift pivot in the country away from an investment in public goods and services. It is not simply that Black people are victims of a numbers game. Rather, there has been a wholesale P.R. campaign on the part of those on the right to associate all public goods and services, from public schools to public assistance, with the bodies of undeserving people of color, particularly Blacks and Latinos.

Any discussion of welfare or public assistance in this country is rife with dog whistles from the right toward the lower elements of their base, who in Pavlovian fashion, respond to code words about welfare and public assistance by conjuring images of the undeserving Black and Brown poor. In his new book “How Propaganda Works,” Yale philosopher Jason Stanley argues that while a “liberal democratic culture… does not tolerate explicit degradation of its citizens,” there are “apparently innocent words that have the feature of slurs, namely that whenever the words occur in a sentence, they convey the problematic content. The word welfare …conveys a problematic social meaning.” I am suggesting that the word “public” in our political discourse is becoming just such a tool of political propaganda as well.

While we don’t explicitly degrade public institutions, those institutions are, in practice, seen as less valuable, worthy, rigorous, and prestigious. In places as disparate as New York City and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the problem of severe segregation in public schools has been well-documented. When economic means permit, white families tend not to educate their children in racially diverse schools. Public schools are viewed as cauldrons of poor learning and social dysfunction; and white people, whenever possible, exercise the prerogative to keep their children out of these environments. That seems reasonable, but it is unreasonable to except that other people’s children should have to learn in these kinds of environments either. The current circus that is the education reform debate in this country demonstrates a point that Stanley makes: “The usurpation of liberal democratic language to disguise an antidemocratic managerial society is at the basis of the American public school system as it was restructured between 1910 and 1920.” In other words, we have a publicly stated belief in the importance of good public education to our democracy, but this masks a variety of ways in which public schools become tools of social control; and, in this moment in particular, that perpetuates the creation of a Black and Brown underclass.

The tough reality about integration is white bodies are tethered to economic resources. Schools that have large populations of white children are not failing schools. When white gentrifiers move into urban areas, they seemingly bring nice restaurants, better policing, and better schools with them. The narrative attached to Black bodies is the opposite. The presence of Black bodies are seen as a drain on resources, particularly since the presence of Black people in neighborhoods tends to make those neighborhoods less desirable, driving down property values. One recent expose about racist housing practices in Brooklyn demonstrated that white people routinely ask not to live in places with too many Black people.

To the extent that our Civil Rights-era narrations of the racial divide persist, it seems that neither Black people nor white people ever invested fully in the idea of integration. Black communities in some respects fared better under segregation, because there were Black-owned business, students taught by Black teachers who believed in their inherent capability to learn, and more class integration within Black neighborhoods. Still, this was an inherently limited universe for many Black people. Thus, they aspired to white institutions and to racial integration in some ways as a means of access to a fairer redistribution of resources. Separate, Civil Rights era activists concluded, was inherently unequal.

Meanwhile, white people both then and now never fully bought into the idea of racial integration either. Beyond sentiment and rhetoric, we have only to look at the idea of racial integration in practice.  If schooling, housing, and worship practices in the 21st century are any indicator, we are as segregated as ever, and that has everything to do with a continuing practice among white Americans to segregate where they live, raise families and send their children to school. While many young white gentrifiers tell themselves they are chasing culture and diversity, in many ways, they are simply re-segregating neighborhoods, by shifting the color of who lives there from Brown to white. What gentrifiers seem not to have figured out is that they are being eaten alive by their own system, because their white bodies drive up property values and then price them out of the very neighborhoods they want to live in.

Moreover, white people continue to suggest that it is Black people who are self-segregating. They ask, “Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?” Or as one severely misguided senior professor at Duke University recently suggested, Black people’s choice of ethnic names is evidence of a lack of desire to fully integrate or assimilate into the mainstream of American society.

I am pointing to these practices in this larger argument about the way the notion of “public” has become a tool of propaganda in order to suggest a couple of things: One, racialized practices and racism still occur even when there is no identifiable racial discourse being deployed. And, two, these examples suggests that racialized bodies are tethered to material resources. So when the right argues that we privatize each and every facet of American life, this is at base about an attempt to segregate resources. But it is not accounted for by a purely Marxist analysis, which would suggest that this was about class and not race. In this country, our class structure is tethered to a racialized hierarchy, in which Black people in particular exist as a perpetual underclass.

A hallmark of American democracy has been an investment in a robust form of public life, good public schools, sufficient public services, active participation in our democracy. But we are a country where a significant segment of our citizenry has always been perfectly willing to erode long-held democratic principles in service of maintaining a racial hierarchy. The Civil War is only the most extreme example.

As those on the right bellyache about the cultures of poverty that cause Black folks to rely too heavily on government, no one ever seems to admit that there has never been any possibility of Black freedom or equal opportunity in this country without strong federal government intervention. Black people have a long history of working in government because the federal government was the first place to call for mass desegregation of employment opportunities.  In fact, the first March on Washington Movement, begun in 1941 by Pullman Porter A. Philip Randolph, was designed to force Franklin D. Roosevelt to desegregate federal employment in all federal agencies and among those who had federal contracts. In 1942, FDR obliged Randolph rather than risk a march on Washington, by creating the Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC).

Combatting racial segregation, and the racialized segregation of resources, has only happened in this country with strong federal intervention. So when the right continues to weaken federal government on all matters related to the social safety net, they deliberately rollback the pathways by which African Americans have procured access to middle class.

In 2013, the median net wealth for a white family was $142,000. The median net wealth for a Black family was $11,000. Black families have lost more than half their collective net wealth since 2008. As we are continually confronted with the stark and continuing reality of a rapidly disappearing Black middle class, while politicians continue to speak in “efficient” terms about the need to shrink government, it’s hard not to conclude that this was the goal all along.

Chicago Cop Fired for Posing with Black Suspect in Antlers


Tuesday night a judge ordered the release of a photo that got a Chicago police officer fired last year, depicting officers Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan posing with rifles over an unidentified black suspect, who was made to wear antlers:


Chicago Police Officers Jerome Finnigan, left, and Timothy McDermott with an unidentified man | Photo from court file

Per the Chicago Sun-Times, the photo was believed to be taken sometime between 1999 and 2003. Since then, Finnigan was jailed for 12 years for leading a team of rogue cops on a crime spree. The photo was turned over the Chicago Police Department, which began an investigation.

“Appearing to treat an African-American man not as a human being but as a hunted animal is disgraceful and shocks the conscience,” the department’s board wrote after voting 5-4 to fire McDermott.

“Appearing to treat an African-American man not as a human being but as a hunted animal is disgraceful and shocks the conscience,” the department’s board wrote after voting 5-4 to fire McDermott.

Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the photo

“is disgusting, and the despicable actions of these two former officers have no place in our police department or in our society. As the superintendent of this department, and as a resident of our city, I will not tolerate this kind of behavior, and that is why neither of these officers works for CPD today. I fired one of the officers and would have fired the other if he hadn’t already been fired by the time I found out about the picture. Our residents deserve better than this, as do the thousands of good men and women in this department.”

McDermott said he remembered no details about the photo, but did remember that the suspect had been arrested for drugs, and that the two officers had let him go.

“I am embarrassed by my participation in this photograph,” McDermott said. “I made a mistake as a young, impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in.”

[h/t Chicago Sun-Times]

Obama Takes Bold Executive Action To Protect America’s Drinking Water From Corporate Polluters


attribution: None


President Obama and his administration have announced bold new executive actions that have left Republicans fuming by protecting 33% of the nation’s clean drinking water supply.

In a statement, President Obama said:

For more than 40 years, American families and businesses across the country have counted on the Clean Water Act to protect the streams and wetlands we rely on for our way of life – from recreation to public health to a growing economy. In recent years, however, court decisions have led to uncertainty and a need for clarification. One in three Americans now gets drinking water from streams lacking clear protection, and businesses and industries that depend on clean water face uncertainty and delay, which costs our economy every day. Too many of our waters have been left vulnerable to pollution. That’s why I called on the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear up the confusion and uphold our basic duty to protect these vital resources.

Today, after extensive input from the American public, they’re doing just that – finalizing the Clean Water Rule to restore protection for the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of our nation’s water resources, without getting in the way of farming, ranching, or forestry. This rule will provide the clarity and certainty businesses and industry need about which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and it will ensure polluters who knowingly threaten our waters can be held accountable. My Administration has made historic commitments to clean water, from restoring iconic watersheds like the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes to preserving more than a thousand miles of rivers and other waters for future generations. With today’s rule, we take another step towards protecting the waters that belong to all of us.

Republicans are already losing their minds and calling the new administration rule a land grab. Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “The administration’s decree to unilaterally expand federal authority is a raw and tyrannical power grab that will crush jobs. House Members of both parties have joined more than 30 governors and government leaders to reject EPA’s disastrous WOTUS rule. These leaders know firsthand that the rule is being shoved down the throats of hardworking people with no input, and places landowners, small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers on the road to a regulatory and economic hell.”

Boehner’s statement is just one example of the outcry from Congressional Republicans. Republicans are trying to hide the issue. The new rule does not give the federal government possession of any land or waterways. What the new rule does do is give these waterways federal protections from corporate polluters.

EPA head Gina McCarthy debunked the Republican claims of a land grab, “It does not interfere with private property rights or address land use. It does not regulate any ditches unless they function as tributaries. It does not apply to groundwater or shallow subsurface water, copper tile drains or change policy on irrigation or water transfer.”

When Republicans claim that this rule is harming the economy, what they really mean is that these changes aren’t going to allow agribusiness and corporations to destroy the clean water supply for 33% of the country. Republicans are literally advocating for one-third of the country to potentially lose access to clean drinking water.

The action by President Obama and his administration was a bold, forward-thinking step that was designed to protect a key portion of the nation’s clean water supply.

Sorry Republicans, Obama isn’t coming for your land, but he is trying to make sure that you and your children have access to safe and clean drinking water.

Arizona Democrats Grow A Pair, Recruit Quality Candidate To Challenge John McCain (Video)

Arizona Democrats Grow A Pair, Recruit Quality Candidate To Challenge John McCain (VIDEO)

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick/Sen. John McCain – Photos from Wikipedia


Arizona Democrats seemed to have long ago given up, rolled over, and played dead when it came to John McCain’s Senate seat. He waltzed away with every election since 1986.

That’s about to change. On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced her candidacy for his Senate seat. She’s such a strong candidate that, within hours of her announcement, Roll Call changed their rating of the race from ‘Republican Favored’ to ‘Leaning Republican’. And that’s just the beginning.

Kirkpatrick has been a resilient campaigner. She first won her seat in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District in 2008, lost it in 2010 to Tea Partier Paul Gosar, regained it in 2012, then held onto it during the Republican sweep of 2014. The right has tried to characterize her as President Obama’s foot soldier and she is decidedly liberal, but the 1st District swings both ways, politically. It contains the largest Native American population of any district in the nation and includes the northern university town of Flagstaff.

Kirkpatrick has deep ties to the northern part of the state, especially with the Navajo Nation. Her emphasis is on jobs, jobs, jobs — plus veterans’ affairs and restoring the nation’s infrastructure. In the video of her announcement, she says:

“I’ve got a vision for the future of Arizona — and it’s all about jobs. I know this isn’t going to be an easy race. But I’ve got my boots on, my sleeves are rolled up, and I’m ready to work.”

There’s still time for other Democrats to join the primary race. A redistricting case before the Supreme Court may influence other candidates’ decisions, as it may change the composition of districts from which Democratic candidates like Rep. Kyrsten Sinema would have to run, increasing the tilt toward the Republican Party. The case was heard in August, with a decision to come soon.

Nevertheless, Kirkpatrick is an extremely credible candidate who can draw donors from both within and without the state, especially since McCain is in increasing trouble with Arizona voters. According to a recent report by Public Policy Polling (PPP), only 41% of Republican primary voters approve of the job he’s doing. Among those who identify as ‘very conservative’, only 11% say they would vote for McCain. He’s likely to also face a strong challenge from the far right, which could help consume some of his own vast financial resources.

To get a preview of what McCain can expect from candidate Ann Kirkpatrick, watch her announcement video below:

Deborah Montesano

H/t: DB