So much of our history, as black Americans, is often lost, forgotten or obscured. Key moments of that history often take us to North Carolina, where struggles are still being led by groups like Moral Mondays, spearheaded by Rev. William Barber.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), snuck around in the early morning hours Saturday to decree that stopping a Texas law which discriminates on racial grounds would be unfair to Republicans in Texas who have worked so hard to disenfranchise those who might vote against them.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote (another) scathing dissent which was also signed by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.
Sadly, three votes to protect the right to vote is as meaningful as zero votes on a court intent upon disenfranchising those who would vote against their preferred political party. It is not enough to be right, we need to win these, especially the obvious ones.
Justice Ginsburg harkens back to the mindnumbing disconnect from reality present in the majority's Shelby v Holder ruling last year that struck preclearance from the Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice Roberts declared that we are now post-racial and there is no need to consider history, blahblah, pesky facts, blahblah. But, as Justice Ginsburg notes in her dissent "racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970."
An estimated 600,000 citizens in Texas have not paid the 2014 version of the poll tax and will not have the required ids needed to vote this year.
THAT is how Republicans win: by denying the right to vote to those who are likely to vote against them. They can't win on their ideas and this is the last desperate gasp of a party soon to become a minoritea. That moment will likely be delayed unless we can convince two more justices that the right to vote is a fundamental right under our constitution and that artificial barriers to voting should be stricken.
Really, how can they let this stand? Justice Ginsburg:
The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.
Stop hurting America, SCOTUS. Give us back our democracy.
1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
In this week's address, the President discussed what the United States is doing to respond to Ebola, both here at home and abroad, and the key facts Americans need to know. There is no country better prepared to confront the challenge Ebola poses than the U.S. and although even one case here at home is too many, the country is not facing an outbreak of the disease. Our medical professionals tell us Ebola is difficult to catch, and is only transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is showing symptoms.
The President made clear that he and his entire administration will continue to do everything possible to prevent further transmission of the disease domestically, and to contain and end the Ebola epidemic at its source in West Africa.
Today, a health care worker from Dallas was transferred to Emory University Hospital for treatment after contracting the Ebola virus while helping to treat Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient to have the disease in the U.S.
After meeting with his Cabinet officials and Dr. Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the President updated the country on our comprehensive strategy to contain the disease, prevent its spread in the U.S., and combat it at its source in West Africa.
"The dangers of a serious outbreak are extraordinarily low" in the U.S., the President said. "But we are taking this very seriously at the highest levels of government."
The purpose of the meeting was to review exactly what happened in Dallas and how we can make sure it is not repeated.
Though many people think of Jim Crow as something in our past, along with poll taxes put in place to be a "skin-color" tax to prevent people of a darker hue from voting, it isn't history. It's alive and well and being perpetrated across the U.S. and not just in the south.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the largest circulation paper in Wisconsin and the paper of record for the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, penned a scathing editorial calling out the Republican legislature for their attempt to disenfranchise those who would vote for Democrats.
The editorial is in response to the blistering opinion from 7th Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner about that court's big sloppy kiss to Gov. Scott Walker and his re-election campaign.
Five appeals court judges gave their colleagues the what-for Friday in a bark-peeling attack rarely seen in the legal genre. Led by Judge Richard A. Posner, himself a convert to the idea that voter ID equals voter suppression (good for him), the judges called the idea of voter fraud by impersonation "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government."
Which is precisely what is afoot in Wisconsin.
It has been clear from the day this rancid idea began working its way through the state Legislature that this was all about winning elections and not about the integrity of those elections. Voter ID makes it harder for certain classes of voters to exercise the franchise, including minorities, the elderly and the young. The fact that those categories of voters tend to favor Democrats should tell you all you need to know about the motivations of Republican legislators.
It's about winning, baby, which is about integrity only in the sense that up is about down or that white is about black.
The editorial goes on to call out Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen who is contemplating an end around the Supreme Court's ruling that Wisconsin's voter id law cannot be used in the November 4th election. How, pray tell, does one defy the Supreme Court of the United States of America? Maybe J.B. stand for Jefferson Beauregard and he will rally the other crazee Republicans who wanted to include secession in the Wisconsin GOP platform this past summer to foment rebellion? Or maybe he is simply an idiot.
In this week's address, the President made the case for why it's past time to raise the minimum wage. Increasing the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would benefit 28 million Americans, and make our economy stronger. While Republicans in Congress have blocked this commonsense proposal, a large and growing coalition of state and local leaders and owners of businesses large and small have answered the President's call and raised wages for their residents and employees.
This progress is important, but there is more that can be done. No American who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. That's why the President will continue to push Congress to take action and give America its well-deserved raise.
... the full slate of changes passed by North Carolina this year, increasing restrictions on the voting process, is now back in effect for the election.
Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor dissented (PDF) noting that the courts removal of pre-clearance in the VRA led directly to this outcome:
These measures likely would not have survived federal pre-clearance. The Court of Appeals determined that at least two of the measures - elimination of same-day registration and termination of out-of-precinct voting - risked significantly reducing opportunities for black voters to exercise the franchise in violation of §2 of the Voting Rights Act.
There are two important election related emergency requests that are pending. One is for North Carolina and is in the hands of Chief Justice Roberts. The other is for Wisconsin and is in the hands of Justice Kagan. Both matters have been fully briefed. Court watchers expect the North Carolina ruling to go in favor of the state and the Wisconsin ruling to go in favor of the voters. But tea leaf readers are really just guessing because as they say, the law is an ass, and the Supreme Court does whatever the heck it wants.
After the recent news release about bullets fired into the White House back in 2011, I though I'd revisit some of the worrisome thoughts I've had for years about the Secret Service and the safety of President Obama and his family. Why are we supposed to automatically trust those assigned to the protection of the President when it is patently clear that security has been lax? Could racism inside the agency be one of the variables that comes into play? In the spate of news articles and blogs about the Secret Service screw-ups recently, I find it interesting that few have linked the ongoing suit in the courts by black agents to what seems to be only slipshod security as a potential factor.
Gay marriages to resume as Supreme Court rejects appeals
The U.S. Supreme Court has turned away appeals from Wisconsin and four other states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages, paving the way for an immediate expansion of gay and lesbian unions.
NY Times Breaking News E-mail
Supreme Court Clears Way for Gay Marriage in 5 States
The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for such marriages to proceed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The move was a major surprise and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban.
This morning the Court issued additional orders from its September 29 Conference. Most notably, the Court denied review of all seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. This means that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect shortly, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits.
In this week's address, the President highlighted that six years after the Great Recession, thanks to the hard work of the American people and the President's policies, our economy has come back further and faster than any other nation on Earth. With 10.3 million private-sector jobs added over 55 straight months, America's businesses have extended the longest streak of private-sector job gains on record.
But even with this progress, too many Americans have yet to feel the benefits. The President reiterated the vision he set out earlier this week for steps that can lay a new foundation for stronger growth, rising wages, and expanded economic opportunity for middle-class families.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed provisions of North Carolina's restrictive voting law to go into effect before the midterm election. Today's order restores same-day registration and reinstates out-of-precinct provisional voting on Voting Rights Act grounds. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging those provisions, as well as the elimination of a week of early voting.
"The court's order safeguards the vote for tens of thousands of North Carolinians. It means they will be able to continue to use same-day registration, just as they have during the last three federal elections," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.
"This is a victory for voters in the state of North Carolina," said Southern Coalition for Social Justice staff attorney Allison Riggs. "The court has rebuked attempts to undermine voter participation."
Judge James Wynn, an Obama appointee, begins his opinion with a simple declaration - "[t]he right to vote is fundamental." He then holds that two provisions of the new voter suppression law, the provision eliminating same-day registration and the provision calling for a voter's ballots to be tossed out if they vote in the wrong precinct, must be suspended pending a full trial of this case on the merits.
Judge Wynn's opinion reverses the decision of a George W. Bush appointed judge who allowed the entire law to take effect.
Yesterday's Marquette University Poll of the Wisconsin governors race included polling on voter id. Roughly 30% of those polled did NOT realize that the voter id law was going into affect for this election and 1.2% of registered voters, about 44,000, do not have an id.
On Thursday, Justice Kagan asked for a response brief from the State of Wisconsin, due Tuesday, 10/7 at 5pm.
Much of our attention has been focused on our young black men, and rightly so, given the propensity in this culture for them to be shot in cold blood, killed and incarcerated. We've discussed President Obama's initiative for young black men, "My Brother's Keeper."
The ruling by the anti-voter judicial activists on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the ruling which implemented newly developed and completely untested voter id rules for Wisconsin's general election on November 4, 2014, will not be reviewed by the full panel.
CHICAGO - The full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals today declined to rehear a three-judge panel's order reinstating Wisconsin's voter ID law prior to the midterm election. The vote was split evenly, 5-5, meaning the panel's order stands. Neither the panel nor the full court has yet ruled on the actual merits of the law, which was found unconstitutional by a federal judge in April. The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the law, and petitioned for a full appeals court review following the panel's order on September 12 allowing the law to take effect. The ACLU presented oral arguments to the panel that day asking the court to uphold the April decision striking down the law as unconstitutional and in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The following is a statement from Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project:
"Allowing this law to take effect so close to the midterm election is a recipe for chaos, voter confusion, and disenfranchisement. The court could have avoided this pandemonium and given Wisconsin voters a chance to cast their ballots free of obstruction. It failed to do so, and we are evaluating our next step."
In the wake of Eric Holder's announcement that he will be stepping down as Attorney General, the media is filled with right-wing bloviating (no, right-wing, Eric Holder's Justice Department is NOT "scandal ridden" ... any more than "Romney won Ohio").
This headline from The Hill stomped on my last nerve:
"Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder's successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced".
"This shall not stand!" proclaims man whose freshness date expired months ago. "Abuse of power" and "should not be countenanced" are, of course, code words for impeachment. Go with that, GOP!! It has worked so well for you in the past. If the Republicans want to waste their time on impeachment to please their shrinking base, let them. The country needs a strong, intelligent, principled, Democratic replacement to continue the important work that Eric Holder started; if we have a better chance to get that now rather than later, with a thinner majority, we should do it.
"We choose hope over fear. We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort. We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs; we choose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be."
-- President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2014
We come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope.
Around the globe, there are signposts of progress. The shadow of World War that existed at the founding of this institution has been lifted, and the prospect of war between major powers reduced. The ranks of member states has more than tripled, and more people live under governments they elected. Hundreds of millions of human beings have been freed from the prison of poverty, with the proportion of those living in extreme poverty cut in half. And the world economy continues to strengthen after the worst financial crisis of our lives.
Today, whether you live in downtown Manhattan or in my grandmother's village more than 200 miles from Nairobi, you can hold in your hand more information than the world's greatest libraries. Together, we've learned how to cure disease and harness the power of the wind and the sun. The very existence of this institution is a unique achievement -- the people of the world committing to resolve their differences peacefully, and to solve their problems together. I often tell young people in the United States that despite the headlines, this is the best time in human history to be born, for you are more likely than ever before to be literate, to be healthy, to be free to pursue your dreams.[...]
Fellow delegates, we come together as united nations with a choice to make. We can renew the international system that has enabled so much progress, or we can allow ourselves to be pulled back by an undertow of instability. We can reaffirm our collective responsibility to confront global problems, or be swamped by more and more outbreaks of instability. And for America, the choice is clear: We choose hope over fear. We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort. We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs. We choose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.
The people of the world now look to us, here, to be as decent, and as dignified, and as courageous as they are trying to be in their daily lives. And at this crossroads, I can promise you that the United States of America will not be distracted or deterred from what must be done. We are heirs to a proud legacy of freedom, and we're prepared to do what is necessary to secure that legacy for generations to come. I ask that you join us in this common mission, for today's children and tomorrow's.
I haven't forgotten Spike Lee's School Daze, made in 1988, which took a look at the doings of black students on an HBCU campus during homecoming weekend. Coming to a theater near you on October 17, is a new film, also looking at black college students, but this time on a white campus.
Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival's Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent, Dear White People is a sly, provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama. Writer/director Justin Simien follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college in a sharp and funny feature film debut that earned him a spot on Variety's annual "10 Directors to Watch." When Dear White People screened at MOMA's prestigious New Directors/New Films, the New York Times' A.O. Scott wrote, "Seeming to draw equal measures of inspiration from Whit Stillman and Spike Lee, but with his own tart, elegant sensibility very much in control, Mr. Simien evokes familiar campus stereotypes only to smash them and rearrange the pieces."
The single most important thing we as citizens can to do effect change is to vote. Not just in presidential elections but in every single election from school board on up. Elected officials make changes that impact us every day and the only way we can hold them accountable for their actions is to remind them that we vote - and that they are in office to serve us.
In 2008, 6 million Americans didn't vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn't know how to register. In 2014, we want to make sure no one is left out.
On September 23, 2014, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations from all over the country will "hit the streets" for National Voter Registration Day. This single day of coordinated ﬁeld, technology and media efforts will create pervasive awareness of voter registration opportunities--allowing us to reach tens of thousands of voters who we could not reach otherwise.
With the mid-term elections heating up and a dozen issues being promoted as The Most Important Issue of Our Day, it is easy to lose track of an issue that really deserves our attention: Climate Change. It is, quite literally, an issue that we ignore at our own peril.
In New York City on Sunday, the People's Climate March will serve to remind people of this vitally important issue and at least get it right-pathed even if it can't be immediately addressed.
In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.
With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we'll take a stand to bend the course of history. We'll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.
"What I have come to focus on is that in life and as a professional, the principles for which you stand are more important than the office that you hold. I'm very proud to have worked to vindicate the principles of the constitution, and I hope to continue to have those opportunities in the future."
The president addressed the nation on the ISIL threat Wednesday night.
President Barack Obama:
As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We've targeted al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We've done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.
Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We can't erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. And that's why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL -- which calls itself the "Islamic State." [...]
I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve.
But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. And that's why I've insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.
Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.
... in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. [...]
Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved -- especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America's core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.
Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. [...]
America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding.
Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. I do so as a Commander-in-Chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform -- pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and servicemembers who support our partners on the ground.
By now most of us should recognize the photos of Marina Silva, currently the Socialist Party candidate for President of Brazil, who may possibly defeat Workers' Party President Dilma Rousseff, in the upcoming elections. She's been attracting a lot of press attention here, with two recent features in the Wall Street Journal.
I've written about Ms. Silva on Black Kos before, in "Through a glass darkly: A United States lens on Brazilian Politics and Race." If she wins, she would become Brazil's first black female President. Several US news outlets have incorrectly stated she would be Brazil's first black president - but that is not exactly correct. It depends on whose racial lens one is looking through, and Silva, is "afro-descendente" (African descended) but so have been other Brazilian Presidents (see my previous article). Silva does fill out the census as "black".
While searching for news pieces from Brazil, on Silva, and Brazilian perspectives I happened upon a Brazilian website with a major feature on Silva. The article emphasized her Afro-Brazilian heritage, which is not surprising since the site is called Black Women of Brazil.
Fascinated, I spent the next 6 or 7 hours reading the features there, which ran the gamut from politics, culture, health, Afro-Brazilian religion and more.